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  • Busted

    The Louisiana Secretary of State had to resign this past week, done in by a complaint filed by a former employee. The lady says he has been harassing her sexually for the past ten years, and she’s got the goods to back it up. She has saved cards and letters and emails and there wasn’t much he could say. Now we have to pay him more than 100 G per year in retirement pay, and we also had to hire a lawyer to defend him against the charge. Whether he ever got what he was chasing depends on which of them you believe. He says that there was a consensual relationship at one time, and she says it ain’t so. I believe they shared a suite at a meeting out west, but she says it was an error by the hotel and she slept on the couch anyway. Sure she did.

    I don’t see that it makes much difference, either way. He’s busted, but good, and it cost him a much better job than I ever had, besides any plans he might have had to run for something better. I wonder if he ever thought it might happen or if he figured he was bullet-proof.

    The week before it was Bill Cosby, and a jury in Pennsylvania decided he had been committing crimes in the pursuit of his envie. Love letters were not his thing – he had some pills that worked quick. Ol’ Bill will go to court again to get his time, which figures to be considerable, but he’s out on bail and with appeals and all he might never get locked up. He’s eighty years old for cryin’ out loud. What were his gains and what are his losses? Here again, did he think nobody would rat him out? Who the hell did he think he was?

    President Donald Trump has his own miseries in this area. His tormentor is a porn star who just happened to show up a week before the election and said she would go public with her story, and she got some big cash to keep quiet. But she didn’t stay quiet very long and now everybody knows. Knows what? It doesn’t matter. The Donald did not write her mash notes and he didn’t put anything funny in her soda pop, but he’s busted just the same, isn’t he? And if Stormy’s tale is true I have to wonder how he got so rich without being smarter than that.

    Last summer it was Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly at Fox News, and then Matt Lauer at that other outfit. Same thing. And what about Bill Clinton and his juicy romantic adventures when he lived at the White House? It got him impeached, but in the end it wasn’t Monica who outed him. She was his loyal fan, at the very least, and she kept the secret as long as she could stand it before telling her friend and that was one mouth too many, in a manner of speaking. Personally, I’m glad he beat the rap, as it didn’t seem like a good enough reason to change Presidents. Even Hillary might agree.

    Far as I know none of these guys are pool players, but if they were they might be called ‘through tickets’ – players who keep gambling until they are busted.

    Sex is great, but it’s been getting men and women (and others) in trouble since the very beginning. The Bible presents it as an apple, to avoid using four-letter words, and the quest for the finest apple pie in town has led men astray all along the way; women too, for that matter. I’m not sure that our behavior is a whole lot worse than it used to be, but there’s no more secrets. The town crier is on the six o’clock news today, and if you’re doing wrong the rest of us will find out, if not today then tomorrow for sure.

    I wrote this Sunday night and put it aside because I didn’t know how to end it. Now it’s Monday morning and I still don’t know. There must be a moral here, but maybe it isn’t about sex, after all. Not about celebrities or politicians or anyone else who is getting into the strange apple pie just because he can. Maybe it’s about the gambling. Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose – but you already knew that.

    Finally, here is a bit of good news. In the Louisiana high school championship meet this weekend, a kid named Armand Duplantis cleared 19’5” in the pole vault. That’s a new world junior record.
    If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


    • Changes

      Big event this week at Buffalo’s room in New Orleans – major league one pocket matches beginning on Thursday, with sixteen of the very best players on hand. Until Sunday this will be action central, and maybe longer. One of the most notable features of this Pro Classic is to be the participation of Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes, who spoke up just in time for the final spot in the field.

      It’s no secret that one pocket is not usually played today as it was just a few years ago. The young guys love to shoot and they are good at it. Jojo, the white ball, does not command the same respect that he did when the twenty-first century began. The names that dominated my DVD collection have largely fallen by the way, at least so far as the current major events. I will note that of those players that proved most durable and competitive, four players seem to stand out. They are Efren, Jose Parica, Buddy Hall and Cliff Joyner. Nick Varner is no longer in the news, and Bill Incardona and Shannon Daulton are busy with other business.

      Jose apparently has retired from the big time and Cifff Joyner has only recently become victim of catastrophic health troubles, just at a time when he looked like he might have found new life. Hall has his own health concerns, and we must hope that he is well enough to compete at the senior tournament in Houston this fall. So, each appearance by Reyes at a major event might well mark the passing of an era of our favorite game. He’s an old man and looks like it, and apparently loves to take on the Filipino youngsters in the rotation games, where he blends in with the crowds in his shorts and flip-flops. Nostalgia will be heavy in the air this week at Buffalo’s and I would love to see Bata beat a few of the children.

      The world is shrinking up around us, in case you have not noticed. Fine players from other lands have been among us for some years, and they fly around over the oceans to show us their strength – and it’s considerable. They commute to work.

      One of the top bowlers in the world for quite a few years was from Finland; I don’t know if he is still around. Recently I have looked in on the PWBA tourneys – that’s the women keglers. I tuned in this week and saw a glamorous girl from Poland in a match with a girl from Latvia, fer cryin’ out loud. And lemme tell you, they were both turning the crank pretty good. The strikes come in big bunches these days, and in quite a few languages.

      In my own clan there are a few travelers, also. My youngest daughter and her family did a three-year hitch in Tokyo several years ago. They loved the place and came home and immediately started remodeling their house to look Japanese. I have a son-in-law who works in the oil business and he makes a two-day trip to the coast of Africa to earn his money.

      One of my granddaughters will take some classes this summer in Italy and Ireland, and I think it’s great for her. Leaving on a jet plane, no doubt. Another one has a summer job baby-sitting for a month or so, in Norway! I tried to talk her out of it, explaining that Norway is made mostly of ice, and with this global warming business will soon be nothing but a sand bar in the North Sea, but she would not listen. I’ll worry until she gets back home, so she can finish high school.

      My own traveling is pretty tame, by comparison. I would like to think I might make it to Houston in October, as a spectator, but that’s in great doubt. BRLongArm has promised to save me a good seat down at Buffalo’s this week and I will try to do that, to finally see the Magician in the flesh. Don’t get around much anymore – maybe I’ll write a song.
      If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


      • Tourney

        It’s 2:00 PM in Baton Rouge, and the third day of the OnePocket.Org member tournament is up on my monitor. This event is unique in several ways worth noting. Contestants have travelled to a town in California to compete for a nominal purse, with hardly any chance to make expenses. I am pretty certain they are all self-supporting, did not sleep in their cars last night, and will make this month’s mortgage payment whether they cash or not. Inevitably, gambling is happening at some levels, but I doubt the losers will be biting the winners for gas money to get home. (Probably) No stake horses were on the scene.

        Some of the players are quite expert at one-pocket, others not so much, but nobody cares anyway. Much. Matches are being scheduled without regard to age, weight, belt length or how much scalp is showing. They have assembled to celebrate and promote a game that one can play with gusto beyond the expiration date of many of one’s other indulgences and capabilities. They are on hand to get a look at one another, to fraternize, to drink lemonade and eat good food, to tell stories and to compete. One will be crowned champion today and a few others will also be given modest checks.

        One-pocket is, in many ways, an old man’s game, as we are smarter, craftier and more patient – are we not? Old man is a relative term. However, this annual members’ tournament, with a double elimination format of races to three, is a formidable grind for some of the guys. With just one table on the stream I saw only a few matches, but some of the deadeye gunners from Friday ran out of gas on Saturday and played far below their levels. Some matches went long, and I saw lots of wedges for a tourney without Mr. Varner. No doubt some will get home totally bushed. They will likely be on hand again next year, but even so . . . how about races to two, instead?

        Thanks to the proprietor hosting this tournament. He seems to be making the players welcome, but then they already knew he liked pool players, and one-pocket players are the pick of that litter, are they not? Daniel Busch, in addition to his role as a contestant, has provided a sharp and reliable stream, and for free, in comparison to the recent pro event in New Orleans. Guess what – Daniel can play.

        I have a couple of things I want to say about available streams – free or otherwise. Voluntary and unpaid commentators are a mixed blessing. They do their best to contribute, and maybe I am harder to please now in my old age, but I often watch these events with the sound off. Sometimes it’s the background noise, but usually the commentators are an overload. There is far too much input unrelated to the match on the screen. Seems to be worse on the west coast, where they all know each other, and news of recent local action dominates a feed that blankets the country. Coverage of the feature match suffers always, and a bit of dead air is okay when there is nothing that needs to be said. A continuing problem for streamers and viewers.

        Most streams provide a visible score board, but much too often they are not tended and thus unreliable. Incorrect or incomplete information is not at all helpful. When a 3-2 score is on the screen and only five balls are left on the table, one can only wonder. Get it right, pal, or call it off. We must have some consideration for the problems of those who stream matches for our entertainment when money and help are in short supply, but offer only what you can do right. As an old sign painter I have said many times that a homemade sign is an indication that you aren’t really serious about what you are doing.

        As of June 1, the local pool room is smoke-free, as per local ordinance. There was a lot of advance notice, and a number of smokers seem to have turned to vaping, but that is banned also. I’m not sure I understand this vaping. It produces something that resembles smoke, if that’s your yen, but what about nicotine addiction? At any rate, that’s illegal too. It will be interesting to follow. No doubt all the ashtrays will be picked up, but traffic in the joint might go up instead of down. We’ll see.
        If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


        • Father's Day

          It’s one AM in Baton Rouge, and coming up on my usual bedtime, but I had some stuff I wanted to write about tonight so I will stay up a while. And just so you will know, none of it is about pool, so any one who doesn’t want to persevere is okay to leave quietly now. Try not to step on the toes of other parishioners as you go.

          I hope all of you had as good a Father’s Day as I did. My girls came to town to see me and it was a great afternoon with many good things to eat, which is a feature of any assembly of my group. They brought me lots of good food to take home with me, and they have finally accepted that it is a waste to bring me things to cook. They just go bad in the freezer. Today I came home bearing stuff that needs only the attention of the microwave, and it’s all done up in the little plastic bags with zippers. At one point a husband was sent out for more baggies so as to divide the loot up into portion sizes. I’ve got chicken breasts, roast beef, already cooked rice, casseroles, salad and desserts. They can all cook. They are a really great bunch of people, and I can’t see them without the melancholy feeling that they are much better than I deserve. Anybody else?

          Then, back at home, I went to YouTube – I am a genuine addict. At least I am not watching on a mobile device as I roll down the roads. I watched an Elvis video called His Latest Flame. Never been an Elvis fan, but this was a totally enjoyable production number with dancing girls, teeny-bopper types that would never make it as fat bottomed girls. I found myself snapping the fingers of my bridge hand. (There – at least a poolish reference in this post)

          From there it was two songs by Charlotte Church, from back in the days when she was the cutest thing in the UK, and a fantastic talent as well. She did Bridge Over Troubled Water and then Amazing Grace from the same stage, with full orchestra. She did not remain such a cute kid, but who does, you know? Today I think she is an activist and maybe forty pounds heavier, but she can still sing if only she would.

          I’m a guy who goes to sleep with Forensic Files on my little bedroom TV, standing on end for prone viewing. (The TV, I mean) On YouTube tonight I followed a story about a guy who did break-ins in his neighborhood in Canada. He was stealing women’s underwear and family pictures from private houses. One woman who appeared on the video said he took not only her underwear but also her dildos. Over a period of several years he progressed to rape and sexual assault and finally he abused and murdered two women. The guy was Colonel Russell Williams of the Canadian Air Force and the commanding officer of the biggest military air base in that country! The first video was nearly an hour long and followed simultaneous stories about the man and the crimes. Fascinating viewing for all the crime buffs like me.

          But then there was a video nearly three hours long of an interview with the perp and an ingenious interviewer – just the two of them in a room – of the sort we see produced for our TV shows, but this one was real. Col. Williams was asked to come to the police station to answer some questions, and he showed up in jeans and a golf shirt, carrying his jacket in his hand. Plenty of smiles and a bit of camaraderie in a low-pressure setting. Before long, Williams realized exactly why he was there, as the interviewer asked him loaded questions and then sat through extended periods of silence as we watched the guy growing nervous and trying to form his responses during which neither man spoke at all. Eventually he did the only thing he could do, telling about his crimes and directing the police to the body they were hunting. They had him the whole time.

          Periodically the video was halted with Williams on the picture, and various police detectives explained to viewers just how the interviewer was breaking him down and getting what he wanted. A forensic psychiatrist was there and interpreted Williams’ folded arms, downward gaze and shifting positions on his chair. At the end, one of the cops predicted that the tape of that interview, nearly five hours long, would be shown to training classes all over the world as a demonstration of powerful technique on the part of the interviewer. So, if you like that sort of stuff . . .

          Anyway, I had a fine Father’s Day. If my luck holds out maybe I will get to play some one pocket later today.
          Last edited by vapros; 06-19-2018, 11:19 AM.
          If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


          • Look who's drinking

            Just before dark today I visited my favorite coffee shop, and took my café-au-lait and oatmeal cookie out on the porch, under an umbrella. Directly a half-dozen young guys came and set up at another table, and then a couple more and a couple more, and by this time they had borrowed all the vacant chairs, and still they came. Within a few minutes there was maybe fifteen of them, and I would guess their ages at seventeen to about thirty – all healthy and fit looking. At this time of the summer it figured to be a softball team, or maybe soccer or even rugby. But all of a sudden they joined hands and prayed the Lord’s Prayer, and then it turned out to be an AA meeting! I couldn’t have been more surprised if it had been the WCTU – what the hell is going on?

            Came across one of Louis Theroux’s videos today. Louis is a journalist with the BBC, and he seems to travel around the USA making interesting films. Some time ago I followed him around through some of our penitentiaries. This time he was in Las Vegas to learn how the casinos court the ‘whales’ and what they are willing to do to keep them happy. He teamed up with a guy at the Hilton who was in a rush to get to the airport to pick up their biggest player – or one of the biggest. Both the player and the casino guy willingly participated in the video, smiling all the way. No credit limit was mentioned, except that it was high. HIGH.

            The casino put the guy up in their biggest suite – they claimed it was the biggest in this country - fifteen thousand square feet! Does any member here have a house that big? The guy complained that it was a long walk from his room to his kitchen in the morning. Anyway, he played and lost, still in a good mood, and declined to say how much - but it was more than 300 G. On his way home they gave him a gift certificate for three thousand, I think to the Bergdorf Goodman store. There was a big red button on a table in his room, and he pressed it for the enjoyment of the BBC guy. It brought on a huge water fountain display right outside his window; quite an event to see. They said it cost ten G every time he pushed that button. The interviewer asked the guy if there was any chance that he might gamble away all his money in the future, and he grinned and said no chance. Mattress maker up in Canada.

            We also saw an elderly widow who was a nearly-every-day customer at the slots, and a popular player at the casino. By her own calculation she was loser in the amount of four million dollars in the past seven years. ‘What else am I gonna do?’ asked the lady. She also confided that she was not in danger of losing all her money. Several other players appeared on the film – none were winners in the long haul, and none seemed to care. The gambling was their entertainment. When you are winning, said one of the guys, gambling makes perfect sense. It always comes as a jolt to me to be reminded how many people there are in this country who deal in those amounts of money, people whose pockets seem to be bottomless. But then, I’ve never been to Vegas.

            I saw a video in which a young guy demonstrates how he can teach one how to do a standing back flip in only five minutes. There was actually about ninety seconds of rest time involved, so the thing really took just three and a half minutes. It occurred to me that it would be a fantastic ice-breaker and a wonderful trick to know. Maybe you are standing around with a bunch of suits – maybe the FBI or the IRS or the Rotarians – and suddenly you bust a standing back flip on them. Holy Mackerel! What are they gonna say to that, you know?

            But to be honest (and why not?) I’m afraid I may be beyond that sort of thing by this time. But somewhere on YouTube is another video where they teach one how to do the Moon Walk. I will ponder on that for a day or two. Stay tuned.
            Last edited by vapros; 06-27-2018, 04:15 PM.
            If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


            • West Coast Swing

              Wow – we’ve been in railbird heaven for a week. Beginning in Des Moines, the one-pocket matches were nothing less than great, and the quality has carried over to the West Coast Swing event at Chris Swartz’ California Billiards in Fremont. Seeing such performances is only half of it; even better is seeing the number of games in which a big lead in balls was at least threatened and sometimes sent down the drain. Nothing could be regarded as out of reach.

              Good thing I was having such a fine time because all my wagers turned to cow pies. I lost $50G (or whatever it was) betting that Efren Reyes would beat Alex Pagulayan. A guy offered 2-1. Bata was a warrior, as always, and made some spectacular plays, but he couldn’t overcome a couple of crucial scratches. Then yesterday I bet half a million that Alex could whip Dennis Orcullo, and that didn’t work out, either. My horse broke on top but wasn’t stout enough to win the money.

              Seeing the way things were going, I felt confident Dennis would do a number on T Rex, and bet accordingly, but Chohan went through Robocop like a pint of pluto water, and it didn’t take him very long, either. It’s difficult to think of something new to write about Tony C. Seems it has all been said, and then repeated and reiterated. He is devious and fearless and a super shot maker and no pattern is immune to his assault. I keep getting the feeling he sees something that none of the rest of us can spot. And when he needs a break, or a good roll, or a miss by his opponent, he gets it. Almost spooky.

              Having blown all my inheritance and feeling certain that my luck was about to change, I resolved to hit Vegas and get well at the tables but when I got to the station I found that I had missed the last bus by ten minutes. Oh, well.

              POV Pool gave us a superior stream, even offering a choice of two tables for our screens, and all for free. They deserve our support, and I will see about that later tonight. Commentating was spotty, but with some bright spots, and certainly good for unpaid talent. Our own John Henderson was the best of them all. Hendy speaks good English, knows his one pocket, and while Dennis is measuring all possible shots on the table, John does recollections of California pool from ‘back in the day’. In this he was supported by other commentators of similar generations. I can certainly relate to that. After about age sixty-five, back in the day is where it’s at. Don’t stop now. You gotta like John Henderson and hope for him to return to the mike many times.

              As always, the scoreboard was neglected now and then but over-all not too bad this week. So, now it’s Shane VanBoening and Tony Chohan playing a race to five for the top money, and I’m not likely to go to bed until it’s over. Who do I like? Well, I just told you – you gotta like John.
              Last edited by vapros; 07-07-2018, 01:48 AM.
              If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


              • Cold Day in July

                One pm on Sunday, and I’m checking POV Pool to be sure I’m not missing Bobby Emmons on the TV table. Nope, not yet. Ten balls on the table and a Magic Rack, but nobody in the picture. What time do the people in Arizona get up, anyway?

                Ahead to one of my favorite stops on the internet, the streaming webcam at Lazarote Airport in the Canary Islands. It’s right on the beach, at the very edge of all that dark blue Atlantic Ocean water, and a mighty pretty sight. There are palm trees in the foreground, blowing in the breeze – the breeze and the sunshine never seem to stop there. I can see the airstrips and I know just where in the sky the incoming traffic will first appear as tiny black dots. Amazing number of arrivals for a place in the ocean off the coast of Morocco; must be the tourist season. Big airplanes, too, and painted up in bright colors. I didn’t know there were so many airlines in the world. Is there a Thomas Cook airline? Most of the big planes have turned-up wingtips, like hawks. It’s a busier place than the Baton Rouge Airport. Whoa, here comes one with propellers – seems to fly okay, though.

                So many things impress this old man today. So many streaming webcams around the world, so many airlines, so many people/companies with enough money/credit to buy huge planes. What if all the money lenders decided they wanted to get paid Monday morning? No danger of that, I suppose. We are assured that 1929 couldn’t happen again, and we all believe it – don’t we?

                Anyway, back to business. The event at the Ice House seems to be a great success, in several ways. At least one of the commentators observed that the venue was perhaps the finest pool room in the country. Scott Frost has stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum, and we must hope that it goes well for Scott and his partner(s). The monthly nut must be ferocious, but we’re told that Tempe is a great spot for a pool room.
                The one-pocket event did not quite produce as much top-level entertainment as the previous week’s tourney in California. We saw good players miss ordinary shots to the four and one-eighth inch pockets and the final match just wasn’t the same without Tony Chohan. Orcollo and Roberts sort of plodded to the end, and I struggled a bit to stay up for it. Frost commented that the good players were all in favor of competing on tight pockets, and surely he knows more about it than I do, but I don’t like to see them miss.

                Good commentary continues to be a problem for Daniel and Geraldine, but they were fortunate to have Bernie P for a number of matches. Bernie is good at it, but there’s no excitement. With some of the others, personal conversations still dominate.

                Now it’s half-past eight o’clock and the ten-ball event is winding down – or up, maybe. As I type, Warren Kiamco and Omar Alshaheen are tied at three games in a race to thirteen for the first-place money. Perhaps I will go back and watch the end of that match when I finish my post. Or not. Bunch of new names in the field – at least to me – younger guys who didn’t have much trouble with the tight pockets. Eklent Kaci, (Kotchy) for example. I did not get to see him run eight racks, but he did it. Kept Alex Pagulayan in his seat the whole way. I didn’t even know there was a pool table in Albania. Hard to know who to fear nowadays. Maybe if I watched ten-ball now and then I wouldn’t be so surprised.

                The last streamed match Saturday night saw the veteran Thorsten Hohmann going against Bobby Emmons. I first saw Bobby on a series of videos from about 2014 when he went to California (Hard Times?) to play Efren Reyes. He had a pocketful of cash and was eager to put it in action. The Magician gave him 9-6 and took a lot of the cash, winning three races in one evening of action. Bobby is one of the people who can do races quickly. Efren beat him, but he did not scare him. When it was over he was plotting to do it again somewhere else for more money. I don’t think it ever happened, which was lucky for the young guy. He had little chance in that one-pocket match.

                Saturday night playing ten-ball on his favorite table at the Ice House was a different matter. Bobby is a local favorite, and with good reason. He’s action on the hoof, and he shoots straighter than Dick Tracy, ala Earl Strickland, and he can run the table much quicker than I can tell you about it. He was smack in his element, and his match with Hohmann was close only as long as they were trading mistakes. Trailing five games to two, he went from there to eight with only the pauses for Veronica to load the Magic Rack. (She looks like good help, and we must hope Frost is kind to her.)

                But today, Bobby is nowhere to be seen. Guess they shot him out off-camera, and I’m disappointed. You don’t have to like ten-ball to enjoy it the way he plays it. I hope all us one-pocket players appreciate how lucky we are. 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4, etc. Forget it.
                If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                • Alex, Justin, Florida, $$$

                  With this year’s West Coast Swing now in the books, players, backers, streamers and viewers will involve themselves with a number of heads-up matches in the gaps between upcoming scheduled events. Without a lot of advance notice we are advised of a major confrontation in Cape Coral, Florida beginning on Tuesday of next week – that’s the very last day of July. Diamond Billiards there is the home room of Justin Hall, who will meet Alex Pagulayan with an impressive purse in the middle. Alex will give up 8-7/9-8 and they will play one pocket until one is eight ahead. Ten-hour days of play starting at 3 PM EDT. Dr. Bill rates it an even contest, but we have seen that with players at this level the duke can go either way.

                  Already we are seeing some commentary on this site, several posts noting that the red label Diamond table where they will play is Justin’s favorite and perhaps a real problem for visitors. I’m getting the impression that some players find the red labels to be quirky; news to me. They are what I play on at Bayou Billiards. Big Truck advises that Pagulayan has the option to reject the table before game time if he does not like it, in which case the match is off. Either way, says BT, the house will be awash with backers and there will be lots of action in Cape Coral.

                  I believe he is dreaming of an assembly of players and stake horses on the order of an epic period of playing and betting that materialized here in Baton Rouge in 1998 – just twenty years ago. I was already contemplating an entry in this journal with memories of that golden time. We are not talking a weekend, either. For a period of several weeks I spent my evenings at Lambert’s RBDs, corner of South Choctaw and Flannery Road, mostly on my feet and with my jaw hanging open. One of Grady Mathews’ Legends of One Pocket tournaments had just completed down on the river at the casino boat. When it was over, the group moved east to Lambert’s and began to bet it up. One might call it an unplanned flash mob, and I can only question whether there was any precedent for the time span, the pool talent on the premises or the volume of hard currency in action. I wish them the best down in Cape Coral, but they are reaching for the moon.

                  Today, at the pool room, I sat with a couple of veteran pool nuts recalling the roster of players who went to Lambert’s in 1998. I have to do some name-dropping here, but my list will not be anywhere near complete. There were just too many. Jose Parica played an epic match with C.J. Wiley, who appeared at least once in a double-breasted suit. Doctor Bill was on hand, as were Danny Medina, Shannon Daulton, Jack Cooney, Marshall Carpenter, a guy called Muscle John – not the Strong Arm John who plays today – a player named Gentile, (not Chris), Marcus Chamat of the Swedish national team, Kim Davenport, Steve ‘Lizard’ Smith (who looked like Robert Duvall) Cliff Joyner, Reed Pierce. Top women players such as Vivian Villareall, Gerda Hofstatter and Helena Thornfeldt were there for a time. ‘Fly Boy’ Jimmy Spears lived here and was a regular at the joint and figured in some big matches.

                  Poker legend ‘Amarillo Slim’ Preston was on hand much of the time, and Sonny White flew his plane down from Hot Springs to play one pocket with Slim, reportedly for a lot of money. Large amounts were rumored for an astonishing number of the encounters we were privileged to see. Did all that money actually change hands? – Well, who knows, but this was a pool room and the money was there and often in plain sight. On weekends several armed security guards roamed the lot and the building, in case one might contemplate a heist – the take could have been impressive.

                  A stake horse named Mark, big guy with a pony tail, came to town with a mixed group and rented a house for the duration. That reminds me that Jimmy Mataya was here, too, but that’s another story.

                  This was an elite roster in 1998; big names all. It predates players named Justin, Shane, Corey, Dennis and Alex. No T Rex. There were no Chinese, Albanians, or entries from Dubai or the Low Countries. Blessed are the veterans among us who knew such rooms, such days, such characters and such billiard shenanigans. Never again.

                  We are told that smokers are okay at the Cape Coral room. Not so here in Baton Rouge; local ordinance forbids it, as of June 1. Mike Black, proprietor of Bayou Billiards, has built a covered accommodation behind the building for the smokers. Patio furniture, barbecue pit and big fan. Good room, good town. Good grief, it’s a quarter to one AM. See you later.
                  If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                  • Florida final

                    Seems to be a little something in the air, here in the first week of August, and it doesn’t feel like a touch of fall. I will open this post with some good news. Another long one-pocket match between top players is slated for the 17th thru the 19th this month, this one in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Corey Duel and Danny Smith will race to thirty – a switch from the format of the just-completed bout in Florida. A bit less gelt in the middle this time, but then there’s two weeks before game time and anything could happen. Several people are trying hard to be good to viewers, and I hope everyone feels as appreciative as I do.

                    On a somber note an old pool room in California has closed. The Jointed Cue has given up the ghost and left a lot of players out in the cold. Well, maybe out in the heat. We are told that a lawsuit has been filed, citing the ADA statute, and the proprietor told an interviewer that the cost of meeting the demands of the suit – bigger door, bigger toilet stalls and lower bar – would be more than the business is worth. Questions about that are going around in my head, but we must assume he knows. Bad news, at any rate.

                    The match in Cape Coral is over, but an echo or two remain. Justin Hall started fast, but then Alex Pagulayan did what he do, winning seventeen of the next twenty-three. The ‘gaff table’, as some have called it, was as tough as advertised but Justin’s mastery of it was missing. Turns out he’s not unbeatable there. He made a lot more errors than the winner, which is the way most contests are decided. Several negative influences have been mentioned here as possible reasons for his losing effort. I will note only that there have been exchanges on that topic on this forum. What else is new?

                    It was reported that at the end of the match Justin wanted to return to the table and try again, with the same spot, but that Alex turned it down. Explanations, conjecture and commentary about that can also be seen here. My own feeling is that he was not prepared to win that one, either – not that day. Some have said that he cannot beat Alex without getting more weight, and maybe he can’t. I believe Team Alex is a stronger group than Team Justin and that it was proven last week. On the other hand, Justin has scored some big wins over big players recently, playing much better than he did against Alex, so how would one handicap him? His position among the elite may have taken a hit, but he continues to be a member in good standing. Terry Hanna and Big Truck might put him back in the box soon. Or not.

                    Daniel, of POV Pool, has expressed some serious disappointment with his own game, and mentioned that he has thought of quitting. Let’s hope he doesn’t, he’s shown us so many times that he loves the game. Catch a grip, Daniel, and be realistic. Make peace with your level of play and be aware that you are better than the outing that has put you in a bad mood. You played Efren with the same weight as some pretty solid performers, and you were competitive. And if you and Geraldine have gone two weeks without smoking, man that’s how it’s done. Go ‘head on. Be healthy, smell better, help prevent forest fires, live longer, etc. We are looking at you.

                    Let’s keep talking. That’s why we’re here. Your opinion is as good as anyone else’s and don’t be timid about putting it on the table. If I like mine better I will say so, but I will use a funny emoticon, also. If I show up at Bogey’s in October I hope to be among friends.

                    So that’s what is in the air this week. You know who I miss? Shannon Daulton. He’s a warrior with more one-pocket savvy than anybody, and I love to watch him play. I believe you could call him on thirty-six hours’ notice and he could come around long enough to whip your favorite. The videos on YouTube are relatively old, as he is busy with other pool games today, but they are well worth watching. Bring up his match with Nick Varner from Goldsboro, North Carolina, and they will entertain you. In fifty-five minutes they can show you just how to conduct a one-pocket game. Artie B would love them. I think I will watch it again! But not tonite.
                    Last edited by vapros; 08-03-2018, 11:01 AM.
                    If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                    • Quiet Sunday

                      Sunday afternoon – sort of a quiet time between civil rights and this week’s big one-pocket match between Corey Deuel and Danny Smith, so I made a trip into YouTube. Always something to see there. I saw an old video of Milton Berle telling a story about having Elvis Presley perform on his TV show. After Elvis did what Elvis did, the show got about a half million phone calls about the performance and ninety percent of them were from people horrified by such a public display. Berle said he called Col. Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, and told him he had a super-star on his hands.

                      Then I watched a dramatic rescue of a guy at the very edge of Niagara Falls – I’m talking maybe four feet from the drop! The guy was despondent after gambling away most of his family’s money and he decided to do the dutch, but changed his mind at the very last second. It was in the dead of winter, everything covered in snow, and there he stood in less than three feet of frigid water, hoping someone would bail him out. It took more than a dozen brave rescuers with all their gear and a helicopter, but they got him out. I think there is a moral in this story, but it’s whatever you want it to be.

                      I just finished a pretty good book by Michael Franzese, ‘Blood Covenant’, and of course it’s all about his life in the mob – the Cosa Nostra. He is out now and is the only member who ever walked away and lived. Nice looking guy and an impressive speaker who is in great demand. Everyone wants to know how it is inside, including me, and you can meet the famous Mafiosos on YouTube. When he addresses a group he takes questions afterward and answers them all – all except one. Somebody always asks if he has killed anyone and he skates around that one. I have heard him acknowledge, in interviews, that he has been present for such things, but not say he has done it himself. The book is similar, but his account makes it obvious that others assumed that he had the authority to recommend it to the boss. He was a capo in the Colombo family and brought in a great many millions in cash, tax money on the sale of gasoline that had not been remitted to the various levels of government. He had a system and a big network.

                      Apparently, the outfit is not as powerful as it once was, and more than a few soldiers have rolled over and testified against the mob when they found themselves in trouble and looking at some serious jail time. They go into the witness protection program, but many go astray again and are back in court and prison. The old guys, including his stepfather, did the time and refused to be rats. Not so today. Franzese notes that he was one of six new members who took the solemn oath on a Halloween night more than forty years ago. The other five have all died violent deaths.

                      Just as in the movies (or in the Sopranos) before the oath they ask you directly if you are prepared to kill for the family, if ordered and without question. The more you learn about the mob and the mobsters the more you have to realize that their world and their lives hardly resemble those of the rest of us. It’s the wiseguys against the law and the police and the FBI, right from the first day. For example, Franzese writes that entering that life assumes automatically that you will spend part of your life in jail, and he has done that. Not nearly enough for his crimes, but he has spent a few years in stir, to be sure. That boggles my mind.

                      What else? Well, the New Orleans Saints have added a male dancer to their cheerleading troupe this year. They’d better be very good at football. Doctor Bill has rated this week’s match a tossup and his line says you can take your pick. This series of contests is great news for our members, and might produce some new fans for our membership list. Our solemn oath does not demand that you be ready to kill, and even cheap shots are tolerated only to a point.

                      Not long ago I noted here that I liked to visit a new website, Located in the Canary Islands, the camera is zeroed in on the runway of a small airport right on the beach. The site is new, as the airport seems to be. Grass is only beginning to grow in the infield. Well, the site has taken off and is a hot stop for a growing bunch of people in various places around the world. They can post in English, Spanish or in German, and they know each other by their screen names. (No, not me – before you ask) As of last month they had forty thousand subscribers! On the site, one can view arrivals and departures of dozens of brightly-painted airliners from many airlines I never heard of. They cross right in front of your eyes on the way to their parking lot. A couple of times I have seen the administration put the webcam in motion, panning and zooming and following the action closely and in good definition.

                      Such webcams have become very popular in the last year or two, and are streaming from surprising places around the globe. Airports, railroad yards, bars, tourist destinations, wildlife and of course the old Everett Tweakers. The one at Lanzarote is my favorite. Maybe you know some kids who like airplanes . . . .
                      Last edited by vapros; 08-12-2018, 07:27 PM.
                      If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                      • One more for the road

                        On Monday morning of this week Lenny Marshall made a post here, advising that San Jose Dick McMorran was gone, and I feel moved to make a few comments and observations – just because. At Dick’s age, such an announcement does not carry much shock impact; he lived his four score and a couple more, which ain’t so bad. Few of us go much farther. I did not know him personally, but I recall he reached out to me in my early years, saying I could call on him and Kathy at any time. Being what I am, I never followed up. I’ve been a member here since May of 2004, so we were early risers, Dick and I.

                        He beat Cliff Joyner in Baton Rouge in 1998 in one of Grady’s tournaments at the local casino. In the hill-hill match he frustrated Cliff and forced him to take a bad shot in the case game. I have the match on a DVD, and I imagine Cliff would roll his eyes as he recalls it. Can’t find any other visual record of his play. He was sixty-four years old by that time. Those who knew Dick, both here and on AZ Billiards, remember him as one of the old hustlers, traveling and playing in many towns around this country. He told me once that his first wife was from Houma, Louisiana - where I grew up.

                        Here on One Pocket.Org he was an active and popular member for some years, and we voted him into our Hall of Fame, but he and Freddie the Beard Bentivegna developed a thorny and bitter online relationship that they never patched up and we lost them both. How many stories did they take away with them? Freddie, or course, was an author who has contributed greatly to the history, lore and remembered adventures of the sport. As for Dick, though, we are indebted to Fast Lenny for a couple of interviews, the second of which I have seen just this week. Dick was a fine story teller and in addition to the entertainment value of his recollections I was impressed by his obvious effort to be objective and his reluctance to speak ill of his gambling contemporaries. He was as kind as possible to the villains in the tales, most of whom are gone and unable to speak up and dispute his words.

                        Dick and Freddie left gaping vacancies in our family and we have to be aware that their generation dwindles too quickly. Let’s hope that these two are finally making peace in whatever venue out there is gobbling up the old pool players. Let me recognize and applaud some good stories posted yesterday by our own John Henderson. I suspect there are more he could share (how about it, jrhendy?), and that there are many more guys who could contribute.

                        One thing leads to another. Noodling around on YouTube, I watched the finals of a WPBA bowling tournament in 1998 in Ft. Pierce, Florida. I could not help noticing that three of the five finalists were left-handers. Since my own background is in bowling, the balance of lefties and righties is a sore topic that goes back forever. I was immediately reminded of a PBA event in San Jose, maybe fifty or so years ago, and a story that I might burden you with one day soon, but not tonite. I wonder if (San Jose) Dick might have remembered. And while I am about it, I must note and insist that left-handed bowlers, like left-handed baseball pitchers and left-handed pool players have something extra going for them. Don’t try to tell me any different. I just know stuff and I can see.

                        I have fiddled away most of my evening, typing, deleting and re-typing this short post, trying to get it to read like I wanted it to. A continuing problem, if you write. I don’t intend to write about everyone when he (or she) dies, but I could not quite let this guy slip away without some sort of notice. It would have bothered me, I know. Not everybody was a fan of San Jose Dick McMorran, but I liked him and I’m pretty sure I would have liked Kathy, too. See you guys later.
                        Last edited by vapros; 08-23-2018, 02:03 PM.
                        If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                        • Super stars

                          Efren Reyes plays and plays

                          Now, there’s a neat bit of pool poetry for this journal – and before you ask, yes, I wrote it myself. A fresh series of Bata’s matches was posted about a week ago, featuring the Magician vs a lot of guys I never heard of before. Efren’s contests were held in conjunction with the 2018 Asia Pool Challenge at the Winford Resort Casino in Manila. Eight ball was the game, two racks was the format, the videos ran about fifteen minutes, and there were a lot of them. For a fee, I assume, one could play Reyes and have a photo op with him, if desired. Before a modest crowd at the casino he won most games and lost a few, all in good humor. There was an official racker on the job, and two young ladies in short shorts whose task it was to pick up the balls from the tray and place them in the rack. YouTube indicates that Ahmad Nisar took part in the action, as did Armin VanOverbeek, Yinan Chu et al. Pretty good show.

                          So what? Well, this small, elderly Filipino now with a sizeable bald spot is not quite the same warrior who took on the world and won, time and time again. Parica, Daulton, Varner, Hall, Strickland and Joyner could tell you about it. AccuStats could show you, as well as the streamers who have followed. This week I saw him miss some shots and overrun some positions , but still only a few. I would not recommend that you bet the rent money against him. More and more he stays in the Islands – the pool rooms of the islands, I mean. In this country he has been the Magician, over there he has been, and remains, a national treasure. And above all else, he plays and plays and plays. It’s his job, man, his gig, it’s what he do. I think it’s also his life.

                          It’s no secret that most super stars have come from the South. Witness Elvis, Ellie May, Shaquille, Jerry Lee and Jimmy Swaggart. We produce ‘em in our sports, our show business and our churches. Now YouTube has grown big enough to generate even more, and still from the South. The ***** Brothers travel the fairs and festivals of America, selling humor, folklore and Bluegrass music. When they are not on the road, they drift around in a sort of shanty boat on the Kentucky River, telling lies to anyone who will listen, making fun of each other and catching the occasional catfish through a hole in the floor. Self-nominated hillbilly comics.

                          From Alabama comes Nick Saban, a seasonal blight that appears annually during flu season, and just as welcome. He has about as much sense of humor as Nancy Pelosi. On the other hand, Hannah Barron is all over YouTube, and is seldom seen without a big smile on her face. Hannah is a small tomboy, standing five feet high and weighing one hundred fifteen and cute as a baby goat. She loves the outdoors, hunting and fishing of all kinds, she can dig footings and do carpentry, and she has her own web site and is hot enough to get paid endorsements for sporting goods. On the internet you can see her, dressed in a halter top and a pair of shorts about as big as my Sir Joseph pool glove, demonstrating how to clean a monster catfish or dress out a deer. Videos of Hannah noodling the big catfish have gone viral. In her bikini she goes into the water where they lurk in holes in the bank and snatches them out by hand.

                          A catfish can bite, but he’s not very good at it, and she ain’t scairt anyway. You may have seen the guys doing such things, maybe in other states, and they generally grab the fish by the lower lip and rassle him out. She isn’t big enough to do it that way. She goes into his gullet up to her elbow and grabs whatever inside comes to hand. We’re talking really big catfish – her best catch weighed fifty pounds! Hannah is a genuine super star of YouTube, and did I mention she is from the South? If you doubt it, go and see (and hear). She sometime goes into the water with a noodling friend she calls Mack – spelled Mike.

                          Across the river in Iberville Parish, a dismembered body was discovered recently. The local paper reported that foul play was suspected. They don’t miss much across the river.

                          P.S. Wow! I never dreamed the word 'mor-n' would not pass this editor.
                          Last edited by vapros; 08-31-2018, 11:40 AM.
                          If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                          • Nick the Crow

                            I have become a fan of a writer named George Anastasia, who has been writing about the mob – la cosa nostra – for the Philadelphia Enquirer, for thirty-five years. They give him free rein. He names names, reports indictments and prison sentences, cites murders and murderers, all in south Philly and New Jersey. On YouTube you can see his work on Mob Talk and Mob Scene. It’s amazing. George attends court and accesses the transcripts of conversations picked up on bugs, phone taps and informers wearing wires for the law. Lots of them talk to him, several embrace publicity; such as Skinny Joey Merlino, the local version of John Gotti. Joey seems to be the heir apparent to Little Nicky Scarfo’s place at the top. He is recently out of prison and likely to go back soon. I will write about this again tomorrow, hoping you will find it as fascinating as I do. Or not.

                            Day before yesterday I borrowed a couple of George’s books – non-fiction, true crime – from the library. The first one is largely from his association with one Nick ‘Crow’ Caramandi. Nick has been a scammer, con man and thief his whole life and does not mind saying so. It’s what he do. He assured George that sports betting and bookmaking and loan sharking are the primary sources of cash for the wise guys, and he explained the continuing relationship between bookies and loan sharking. If you are a regular bettor, said Nick, you can gamble on credit and settle up when called upon. When you find yourself in debt to a mob bookmaker, you have to pay him. Period. Or your credit is cut off. At the very least.

                            If you cannot pay, he will refer you to his loan shark, who will loan you the money to pay your bookie. Terms are three ‘points’ for a period of ten weeks. If you borrow ten thousand, you must pay back thirteen thousand after ten weeks. Can’t quite do it? Well, just pay the three thousand and he will extend you for another ten weeks. In truth, in the space of a year you might pay him $15,600 and still owe the ten grand. And the money is put back out on the street for other borrowers. He does not really care if you ever pay the original ten grand, but don’t fail to pay the three points when due. This is how gambling and loan sharking make the nut for the mob.

                            The first job I had when I got out of the military in 1955 was adjuster (collector) for a finance company here in Baton Rouge. I started in the small-loan department, and at that time there was no law telling how much interest could be charged on any loan of less than three hundred dollars. We were the loan sharks of the time. If I could keep getting the interest my employers were happy, and I saw some terrible amounts in the old cases. Paying the monthly interest was a permanent fact of life for some of the customers, even long after the used car was dead and gone. And yes, one could buy a reasonably functional used car for two or three hundred bucks in 1955.

                            Reading about the mob life is entertainment – living it vicariously, I suppose. Many of the characters in George’s book have nicknames. Nick the Crow, Harry the Hunchback, Nick the Blade, Chicken Man, Tony Bananas, Frankie Flowers, Pat the Cat, Nicky the Whip and a lot more. Virtually none of them ever get to retire. Somebody kills you or you go to the penitentiary, with few exceptions. To keep this post from being much too long, I will put up another tomorrow, offering George Anastasia’s observations on the current state, and prospects, of la cosa nostra.

                            Once in court Nick the Crow was asked by the prosecutor how he had been able to rob such an endless number of people in his career by lying and misleading them. The Crow explained that it was tough to rob an honest man, and he seldom tried. He targeted the crooked people, by making them believe they were stealing. What a pool hustler he would have made!
                            If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                            • Oh, say we can see

                              Today the sun shines pretty bright on the American mafia, the cosa nostra. This is not to say that things are looking rosy for them – quite the opposite. I am saying that they are much easier to see than they used to be. The mob has been lit up, so to speak, and has been forced out of the shadows. This illumination began in 1957 when the New York state police busted up the big conference of mobsters at Apalachin. Even J. Edgar Hoover finally had to acknowledge that crime in this country was really organized. Then, in 1970 Congress passed the RICO law. (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Since that time and under that law, the electronics guys have devised more and better ways to listen in on what the wise guys are saying and who they are saying it to.

                              Watching the videos of the wild animals in Africa it is obvious that the lions, leopards and hyenas are not as wild as they used to be – they can’t escape the truckloads of tourists that want to watch and the animals have to deal with it. It’s sort of that way in America for the wise guys. If they want to have a really private conversation they have to go and do it on the sidewalk outside of the social club or candy store where their private phones used to be. And on the sidewalk someone is getting it on video, and so the cops know who their friends are – or at least who they appear to be. The speakers might not even be certain of that themselves.

                              Enter the media, like George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Enquirer whose stuff I have been trying to follow. On a regular basis and in print and on television George tells all about the mob in his city. In New York it is a guy named Jerry Capeci, in Montreal there are a couple of writers with French names. Obviously the people (like me) want to know and somebody will oblige us. So, who is telling George? Well, he is a regular at the big court cases, for one thing, and the transcripts from all the bugs and wiretaps and body wires are public information, and he studies them all and does his reporting. In addition, he is a native of south Philadelphia and grew up in the culture there. He is on a first-name basis with many of the guys and some of them are willing to talk to him about the life they are in. It’s a life that most of us cannot even imagine, a life of crimes, jail and death. Even more, a life of treachery, deceit and distrust within itself.

                              The FBI and other government agencies have hit the mafia with a body blow, under RICO, because RICO crimes are federal offenses. Sentences are long and good behavior gets you nothing any more. You have to do it all, or at least most of it, and in federal penitentiaries, too. Where the old mobsters were tough guys, dedicated to the code of silence and willing to do their time without giving up anyone else, it’s not that way any longer. Omerta has gone by the boards. Facing forty or fifty years of hard time, today’s wise guys will deal. Everything they know is for sale to prosecutors, and the prosecutors are buying and the guys on the street are watching one another from the corners of their eyes. Being a ‘rat’ is not the killing offense it once was. There are too many, and the witness protection program is taking them in and hiding them and giving them new names. It’s certainly not the end of the cosa nostra, but it’s a major change. They are looking for new and safer ways to do what they have always done. It is still all about money.

                              George Anastasia is writing about the same characters that Damon Runyon wrote about eighty years ago. Like George, Runyon was a newspaperman. He wrote about the guys and dolls (have you seen the movie?) on the streets of New York. They had funny nicknames, like the ones I mentioned yesterday, and lived their lives around the little crises that always seemed to find them. The difference is that Runyon wrote fiction and made up his own dialogue. Anastasia writes non-fiction and he gets his dialogue verbatim from the wiretaps. You couldn’t make this stuff up, he says, because nobody would believe it. And yes, they talk like Tony Soprano and with his vocabulary, too. Another difference, and I find this astounding, is that today’s goodfellas handle such huge sums of money, yet they seldom have any in their pockets. They are racketeers, as defined by the law, but they are in businesses also. The money flows upward, and top bosses do get rich, but the street guys are mostly brokers. They bet with the bookies and borrow from the loan sharks and scuffle to make the rent. They live the life, seeming to be aware that they won’t ever get to retire. If they don’t die violently they will probably go to jail.

                              Anastasia writes and speaks fearlessly. It’s what he do – yeah, I like to say that. He can speak of last year’s murder of John Doe and note that even though there have been no arrests it is well known that Joe Blow was the shooter – stuff like that. So, why doesn’t Joe Blow kill him? I don’t know. Maybe Joe figures it’s what they call good ink. I will continue to read about it, but I won’t burden you with it any more for a while. Over and out.
                              If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                              • Let's bowl this week

                                Didn’t get to play any one pocket for a couple of weeks, so on Saturday night I played a while with the Long Arm guy. I played so miserably that I went home and put the cover on my pool table. I don’t even want to look at it this week or think about it, so I will do this post on bowling. I warned you several weeks ago that this was coming, and you can read with me – or not. Actually I’m leading up to an item on left-handers, but that requires a brief explanation first.

                                I have commented that home court advantage is greater in bowling than in any other sport, because of differing lane conditions. Unlike golf, the bowling ball is in contact with the lane from the time you release it until it hits the pins. All the good bowlers roll a hook ball and today the hooks are violent and spectacular, but the goal is the same. The right handers are shooting for the one-three pocket, and for lefties it is the one-two. but the route they take is dictated by the lane.

                                The path of the ball is friction first and then traction. The lanes are dressed with oil every day, and it is there for the friction. There will be oil for about thirty five or forty feet, and beyond that point the traction begins and the ball hooks to the left. When I was involved with the game the American Bowling Congress was all-powerful and they required that the oil was applied gutter to gutter, and the Secretary of the local association was charged with seeing to it that the proprietor was in compliance.

                                It’s not that way any longer. You put the oil pretty much where you want it, and if you watch a video from a PBA tournament you will probably see a representation on the screen of the oil pattern they are using this week. The machine that dresses the lanes is programmed carefully to repeat the same application each day of the tourney. They rotate a half-dozen patterns from week to week and there are minor differences, and each pattern has a name. Tell these guys which pattern they will encounter this week, and they can tell you which players are likely to be hard to beat. Each has his favorite and the successful touring pro must handle them all. The oil enables the bowler to slide the ball to the spot on the dry part of the lane where they begin to pick up traction with their 11-5 rotation and begin the hook. Maybe even 10-4.

                                In the qualifying rounds the lane is slick in the morning, and on the early squad scoring is more difficult due to the fresh oil, making it harder to hook the ball, although this has changed a bit. The oil is carried away by the balls, the lanes become drier as the day goes along and scores are better on the evening squad. This was much truer in the early years, and a mid-level PBA member named Don McCune, from Munster, Indiana, solved the problem by soaking his Columbia plastic ball overnight in a bucket of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). He invented the soaker, a softened ball that one could hook on the early squad. Before long, parking lots at tourney sites held many RVs with a bucket of MEK and a plastic ball underneath, a definite safety hazard. Something had to be done about that before a tragedy occurred. The PBA invented the durometer, with which they checked the hardness of the balls, and the soaker was history.

                                This is roughly true in the local bowling establishments also, as they dress the lanes the same every day and the bowlers who bowl there learn how to be successful under those conditions. The local star bowlers are usually lost in other establishments where different game plans are required. I have seen tournaments where bowlers averaging better than two hundred in other cities become very average performers, some embarrassing themselves with scores of thirty pins less. The differences are less today, now that dressing is more nearly uniform from one house to the next, but home court advantage continues to be very real.

                                All this is preamble to my brief tale about the left handers in the PBA. In the early years of the tour the lefties suffered, because there were fewer of them and thus less traffic on their side of the lane, and it took longer for the optimum scoring condition to develop. For them the morning squad lasted all day, so to speak. But they did not suffer in silence, and the PBA could not ignore their complaints forever and they began a search for an answer to a very tough question. How to make the left side of the lane change during the day exactly like the right side? To make it double-tough the righties were watching them carefully and suspiciously and it made for a ticklish situation.

                                I have to admit I don’t know exactly what was done to bridge the gap, but the lefties have been served and the solution must have been reasonably acceptable to both sides and parity has come to pass. Today they coexist. Early experiments though brought mixed results, and spectacular failures did happen. One group or the other was usually outraged at the results. Witness the historic PBA tour event in a western state, in which a great majority of the twenty-four finalists were left-handed. There has been no repeat of that fiasco, but the move did produce such dominant super stars as Bill Allen, Dave Davis, Johnny Petraglia and ultimately the untouchable Earl Anthony. I’m telling you, fellas, I know stuff and I see things. From Shannon Daulton to Jason Shaw to Phil Mickelson, portsiders have something extra going for them.

                                These strange people are artistically - if not politically - incorrect in sports. They come at us from the wrong side, and we do well to fear them.
                                Last edited by vapros; 09-24-2018, 06:36 PM.
                                If it ain't funny, it ain't much.