Unpaid Bill

vapros

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Tigers and Tide

Tigers and Tide

You better believe there is joy in Mudville. Louisiana is in love. Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers have gone into Tuscaloosa and beaten Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide for the first time in eight years, and are now acknowledged as the best college football team in the country. To understand the magnitude of this win, you must know a bit about the history of these two programs. They are in the same division of the SEC and have played each other a great many times. Alabama has a comfortable edge in the long series. A pretty good coach with a healthy winning record, Charlie McClendon, lost his job at LSU many years ago, primarily because he couldn’t beat Bear Bryant. More recently another pretty good coach with a healthy winning record, Les Miles, had to give it all up – mostly because he couldn’t beat Nick Saban. Yep, it really counts that much around here.

Coach O has done the trick in front of the biggest TV audience in the past eight years. Game of the Century, or course. The previous record was in 2011, also Game of the Century, also LSU and Alabama and LSU won that one, too. I’m a football fan and a fan of the Tigers, but not at the level of a great many citizens of this state, for whom it is life and death. Most of all I am happy – really happy – for Ed Orgeron. He is a blue-collar coach in the strictest sense of the sobriquet and a Cajun to a like degree. There is nothing sophisticated about Bebe, as his wife calls him. He is from Cut Off, Louisiana, below which is the salt marsh, and not far below, either. He is big-eyed, hoarse voiced and speaks with the ultimate Cajun accent, and he is dedicated to the guys on this team – guys who would fight the Red Chinese Army with a Ginsu knife for him. Orgeron has knocked around in the coaching profession, going where he could find work, doing what needed doing, learning his trade. He was less than successful in the job at Ole Miss – he says he discovered you cannot handle the boys in the backfield the same as the down-linemen. He is humble, church-going each day, and most proud of bringing football success to his state. No matter where this all goes from here, it’s been fantastic and Bebe is loving it.

And the Heisman Trophy is Joe Burrow’s to lose and we are pulling for him to go on being the best quarterback in the country – what a tremendous gap he will leave in just a couple of months. I am recalling a season sixty years ago, when a stud ball carrier named Billy Cannon won the award as the only previous LSU Tiger. So much for football. As Coach O says (every time he is on camera) Go Tigahs!!

But it’s not all football here in Baton Rouge. There is rap, too – very possibly the rap center of the world, or that’s the way it appears. The rap culture is everything to an uncounted number of musicians (?!) and their fans and they are making videos to display on YouTube and the rest of the internet – videos with gold teeth, gold jewelry, guns, flashing hand signs, underwear, huge quantities of hard cash and a running commentary on who is king today and how he has journeyed from the hood. I’m not talking rap songs, but rather monologues about the state of the genre, delivered with mumbled authority. Candid comments are made about such topics as death, drugs, police and jail – who is slated to go in and who just got out. Violent death occurs not infrequently among them and with minimal shocking power.

I said possibly the rap center of the world because their performances and their troubles with the law follow each other to many other states and venues. Many lines are crossed in many ways. I thought about offering some links for the convenience of any of you who might be interested, but decided I would skip those. In case you are curious, search for the Baton Rouge Effect or Top Boy Gorilla affairs. My interest is not much different than that in La Cosa Nostra. Dynamic people who are closer than we think.

Watching a match video recently - not one-pocket - between Josh Filler and Marcel Price, I was mystified to see the way they racked the balls. If there was a template there, Magic Rack or Accu Rack, it was totally invisible on the video. No one seemed to ever adjust it, remove it or replace it. Wha’s up wi’ dat?

An item of note to me, at least. Last week this journal reached 25,000 views – proof of something or other. Thanks, folks. Later.
 

vapros

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I say Football!

It’s seventy-nine degrees today in Baton Rouge, gasoline is $1.99/ gallon, and Louisiana is having a wet dream over the LSU Tigers and a baby-faced quarterback who will run the table against Georgia tomorrow in Atlanta and then get the Heisman Trophy two or three days after that. I have no doubt that the Tigers will win the SEC Championship and might even win big, but they will be one of the four teams in the hunt for the CFP title either way. LSU and Ohio State will both be there. And what if Georgia beats LSU – they are a good team – well, humble pie is not bad if it is fixed right. I have eaten more than a little.

But, treat yourself to a look at Joe Burrow, the world’s best football player short of the NFL. What a story! He came to LSU when he was not chosen as the Ohio State quarterback. He will be a hero here forever – everybody loves Joe and he loves ‘em back. Nobody could write it better. Sixty years ago a local boy won the Heisman at LSU. Billy Cannon got the award largely on the strength of a fantastic punt return against Ole Miss, but it wasn’t the media event in 1959 that it is today and there weren’t millions of dollars to be made. If I recall correctly, Cannon signed with the old AFL for a modest check and some gas stations. Today in Louisiana it’s bigger than the impeachment – and not nearly as silly. This ain’t Duck Dynasty, folks. This is football and you will have to excuse us this year.

Here in the Bayou State, good news and reason for jubilation is not always at hand, as you may have noticed. Baton Rouge has recently been cited as one of the most dangerous cities in this country, and New Orleans is not far behind. It’s a fact that a lot of powder is burned locally and the casualty list of dead and wounded is pretty discouraging. Still talking football, one of the big annual events is the Bayou Classic, in which Southern University and Grambling take their gridiron teams and their marching bands into the Superdome for a spectacular production, and celebrations continue late into the night and are not always contained by the police. Ten people were shot on Canal Street in the early morning hours of last Sunday – luckily I believe all will recover. A similar number were knocked down three years ago on that weekend. The reputations of a couple of fine schools take a serious hit every year and the gun-control people never fail to spread the word.

Maybe you recall a news item from several weeks ago, about a lady from Florida and a disgruntled camel at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete. Without going into detail, the camel sat on the lady and the lady bit the camel. Well, I lived in Grosse Tete for a couple of years and ate many meals at the Tiger Truck Stop (it’s a fine place to order homemade pie), and now the proprietor has a billboard on I-10 inviting travelers to stop in for a bite! The board also features a handsome portrait of Casper the camel, who appears to be a bit proud of himself. It’s an ill wind, as they say. . .

I’m not yet comfortable navigating the updated website, but with so many members helping I expect to see the light soon. At the moment I am just hoping today’s post can find its way into my journal. I will try hard.

Geaux Tigahs!
 
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vapros

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Next year is here

Been a month since I posted and a lotta stuff has gone down. On this site we’ve been thru two major changes in that time, and lemme say the latest one looks really good. As the least computer-savvy member of the group, new things intimidate me but maybe it will all shake out. As an old sign-painter, I take an interest in the type styles and sizes – I believe it’s a large part of effective communication on paper or on the screen or on someone’s wall. I managed to make a post today in bolded type, but have not been able to adjust style and size. Just could not get it to work. This journal post is in 12 point Tahoma and I am curious to see whether that will follow it into our web site. By the way, I still think the default print is a bit too small. Since most of the rest of you seem to have pictorial avatars now, I will try to get my own, but I will need a photo. I will ask Big Al.



As a fan of the LSU Tigers, it has been a great month. First, the SEC Championship game and a big win for Joe Burrow and the Tigers. Georgia has frequently gotten into the big game as the winner of the Eastern half of the conference. In recent years, the best teams have been in the West and two or three good outfits get left at the post as a result. Then in the semi-final game of the national championship LSU destroyed Galen Hurts and the Oklahoma Sooners. Burrow threw seven touchdown passes before halftime and the matchup turned out to be a laffer. Lots of offensive records. For the past three years this championship series has included the best three teams in the country – and Oklahoma.



Nothing left of the season but to beat Clemson for the title, and it should be a great game down the river in the Super Dome. Gonna be tough to take down the defending champs, but I think we will do it. I really believe that Joe Burrow is the best thing to happen to college football in a long, long time and he has had the best season ever, and in the SEC. Clemson better wear their hard hats. Burrow is a fine young guy who is taking it all in stride and keeping his feet on the ground. Around here, Joe is bigger than Shaquille O’Neal ever was. What a storybook season for Burrow and Ed Orgeron, a couple of rejected guys who have jumped off the benches to put together a fantastic year. Got to hope they win it all.



But in the Super Dome today, not so happy an ending for the Saints, as future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees fumbled for the first time this year and they lost to the Vikings in overtime. As he nears forty-one years of age one has to wish good things for him every Sunday, but it does not always happen. That’s pretty old in the NFL.



And in the islands an elderly Efren Reyes seems to play every day, but not quite like he used to. YouTube offers an apparently endless series of ten-ball matches with younger Filipinos – usually races to 21 games. Last night I saw him lose to a sixteen-year-old before a packed house of onlookers. Various streamers, often a function of JefGaling Productions, film these matches and put them on the air almost instantly – I see them dated two weeks ago, two days ago or even twenty minutes ago! The towns change and the venues change but the conditions are always similar. As many spectators as can squeeze into a room with no A/C, a Star table (which seems to roll dead true) piles of talcum powder on the rails to slick up the cues and a guy in charge of dipping his finger into the talc and marking the location of any balls that might possibly be disturbed by the next stroke. I have yet to see that precaution come into play. Bata the Magician is showing signs of wear. His head is balding and his face is lined and he winces at the mistakes that he makes more often than in years past. Like everyone else in the joint he wears below-the-knee shorts and rubber sandals. I guess he can’t quit playing and the watchers can’t quit watching. Lots of pool fans in the Philippines.



As a few of you may recall, I reported a cornea transplant in my right eye in May of last year. Unavoidable, as the local doctors struggled to preserve a bit of sight in an eye that can make out the big E at the top of the eye chart on a good day. The idea was to try to have a spare in case something happened to the other eye, but in such an event I would certainly be disabled anyway – unable to drive or read. Difficulties after the transplant kept me consulting the glaucoma doctor, the cornea doctor and the retina doctor, as well as ten drops each day from five different prescriptions. I entered the coverage gap in my insurance. So I made a special appointment with the guy who has been trying to maintain some use in the eye for about twenty years and I told him I was shutting down the program, as the eye was not worth it to me and I had decided not to buy it any more medical care or any more eyedrops. He took it pretty hard – he had more feeling for the eye than I did – I have full faith in him and we have become friends. He understood, but there was bad news. You can’t just quit, Bill, he said, not with a transplant in the eye. The transplant would probably be rejected and a painful infection would follow. So, at least until the anniversary in May, I continue to doctor the eye. I have cancelled the next appointment with the cornea guy and the one with the retina guy – they are out. The whole experience was not such a big thing to me. I’m eighty-seven years old and the good eye should get me home from here. At my age nothing is very serious. Better not be.



I won’t wait a month to post again. I have a growing list of little items for which I will offer original commentary – pool or otherwise. Go Tigahs!
 
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vapros

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Big Weekend

Big weekend. Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday – his one hundred nineteenth. He always wanted to be six feet tall, and missed by half an inch. He wanted to live to be a hundred and he missed by just two years. I was his only male heir – didn’t make any difference, as he didn’t leave anything. I grew up with four sisters, married and had four daughters and since then I have had six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, all girls except one. Does that indicate anything? Probably not.



Tomorrow is Game Day, and the LSU Tigers will win the national championship, beating the defending champs, Clemson. The bookmakers say it will be close and maybe it will – either way. If Clemson wants to win it, they better not waste any possessions, because my guys can score on anyone. The ball will be in the air many times. It might not be enough if Joe Burrow had only two or three of the best receivers in the country, but he has five and they communicate. When they line up and look at the defense, those guys make the same reads that he does and everyone knows what to do and they do it often. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I don’t think the other side can keep up. And if we win the good times will roll – New Orleans and the SuperDome ain’t seen nothing like it before. This is big.



And some lesser things are happening also. I have not watched the big match going on in New Orleans, but the reports indicate that Bustamente is having his way with Cory Deuel. Cory’s one-pocket game has been something other than either traditional or Chohan-ish, and he is not really coping with Django’s solid style. It will be interesting to hear his reaction to this experience. Does anyone believe he might change?



I have both a pool table and a computer in the big room at my place – they are maybe six feet apart. There’s a limit to how long I can stay at the table so the ‘puter gets much more of my time and attention. YouTube continues to fascinate me and it just gets bigger and bigger. To get access to many of the videos I want to see, I must sit thru one or two five-second commercials, not a great inconvenience. Beyond that are the fifteen second pitches which I usually mute, and the longer ones that generally offer the option to skip, so I do. I have to anticipate that this will get worse rather than better, but everything has a price and I will pay. My preferred bedtime has long ago gone by the boards, and I find myself frowning at the clock in the wee hours. Will try to do better.



Currently I have watched several episodes of the Two Ronnies, the very best of the British comics who performed for many years on the BBC. Both are gone now. Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker were committed to entertaining us and would dress up and do just about anything for a laugh, including a bit of slapstick. British comedy is the best. Next to that, the funniest vids are the bloopers of Bill Dance, a professional bass fisherman who falls out of boats and breaks up his tackle and butchers his lines in the commercials. There is TheDailyWoo, which is an endless series of amateur videos by a guy who travels – I mean he really travels, and films as he goes. One of his gigs is traveling across the country, skipping the cities and the Interstate highways and taking the backroads and exhibiting the towns that generally can’t be found any other way. Minimum commentary and detail and no candidate for prizes, but if you come from a small town, especially a small town in the South, you might find that Woo has been there and taken pictures. The titles of the vids are pretty specific, so you don’t have to search. On the extreme southern edge of Louisiana, Cow Island to be exact, the local priest has added a new sort of church service. He prepared a good quantity of Holy Water (did that need the caps?) and had it distributed throughout the area (his parish, maybe?) by a crop-duster. Not only that, we are told that individuals can bring their own water to him and he will do what is necessary to make it holy. I still don’t know what the procedure might be, but before you ask I guarantee that the concept of making Holy Water is one I would not touch with a long-handled mechanical bridge.



I have a lot of fun with this journal and sometimes it is neglected because I’m not able to come up with a post that I believe would interest such a narrow group as ours. I would like to see someone covering the pool scene – someone closer to it than I am. Other than occasional references I don’t try. However, with YouTube right at my fingertips there are plenty of things I could get into and offer to readers. For example, I would like to write a bit about the narrow boats of the UK and the canal system they travel. I could tell you about the guys who search out the small canals and ditches and creeks, without a boat, and fish for small fish with ultra-light tackle and one-pound line and tiny lures. The guys who shoot rats with high-tech airguns, the folks who are moving off the grids and living in various and novel structures, the ones who dig in the ground for relics of old wars and such as that. So I will. Instead of posting them in this Unpaid Bill journal I will put them up separately and label them so you can tell what the topic is and skip it if you like. And in the new format I will be able to tell if anyone is reading. The current journal notes 27K views, but no longer keeps a running tally for me.



Anyway . . . . Go Tigahs, just one more time!
 

vapros

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Flying to the DCC

I am envious of all you guys who are off to the Derby City Classic. A spectacular event, to put it mildly, and one that every player should experience at least once. Once – that is the number of times I have made it, and it was back in maybe ’08 – give or take a year or two. I recall that it was at the original venue, the Executive West at Louisville. Several local fans had already left and a member of this site, cooldudela, had encouraged me to catch a plane and go to the tournament, and I randomly queried one of the smaller carriers (did Kmart ever have an airline?) and was advised via email that if I submitted my credit card number I could make an offer to ride in one of their unused seats. I think I bid about $42 for a round-trip and they jumped on it. Does any airline still have such a program? Anyway I packed my toothbrush and my other shirt and caught the flight out of New Orleans.

It was a very exciting trip, even before we landed in Kentucky. There I am rocked back in an aisle seat, reading an article about soy bean futures in a Penthouse magazine no doubt left behind by an earlier traveler, and I suddenly noticed a man on his hands and knees and carrying a flashlight, crawling down the aisle toward me. My neighbor identified the guy as the copilot (Second officer? First alternate? Graduate assistant?) and he was obviously conducting a search, and I rolled my magazine so as to hide the cover until I realized he was looking under the seats. With a sort of ‘aha’ gesture he stopped at the seat just ahead of mine and dove under it, alarming a fat lady a little more than somewhat. What he had discovered was a small trapdoor in the floor. Below the trapdoor, once he had it open, was a window through which one could verify that the portside wheel was properly in place. The copilot got to his feet, smiling, and gave me a thumbs-up and headed back to the cockpit, presumably to advise his superior that all was well outside and it was now okay to land the airplane. I fought off an urge to access the little window to see for myself. Looking back, I have to say that it was one of the very few things that could have made that great tournament something of an anti-climax.

At any rate, I hope that all our members who make the trip win enough money to cover their expenses – if not through the prize lists, then at the tables in the action room. The cash will be there.

Steve reported this week that he had been able to play a few games of one-pocket recently with The Magician – Efren Reyes. A red-letter day, to be sure. Bata is still my hero (with Jose Parica) and I still tune in to some of his matches in the Philippines, posted on YouTube, even though they always play ten ball there. The young gunners in the islands seem to be a little less star-struck than Steve may have been, and they give him lots of action. Just a few days ago he won a match, getting the nine ball and a game on the wire. Sometimes he loses, too, but he keeps playing. Sometimes the stakes are noted on the stream, such as a recent contest for 44K in local pesos. I think that might be about $800, at the current rate of exchange. They will bet it up. The match was in a village on the island of Bataan, a locale very familiar to those in my age group. In World War II, a great many of our soldiers died along the road during a death march to a prison camp. When they could no longer keep up they were left in the jungle where they fell. Long time ago.

The President is on trial, Harry and Meghan have sort of resigned from the royal family, Coach O has been given a raise – to six million dollars per year – and the Astros have been busted peeking into the catchers’ mitts of visiting teams. That about covers it.
 

vapros

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The latest in banking

It’s a chilly and damp Friday night in Baton Rouge and in less than a half-hour we will enter the month of February. Gasoline is generally $1.92 per gallon here, but there is a convenience store on O’Neal Lane where you can buy Exxon gas for three cents less. Which reminds me that on Thursday I went into a branch of Chase Bank on O’Neal to pick up some cash for my pocket, but inside the place there was no counter to be seen and no tellers at all. A very short lady approached and asked if she could help me. I asked her where the tellers had gone and she explained that one could no longer get cash at that branch, except through the ATM machine. What the hell, I asked her, are you pulling my weenie? No, said the short lady, we are a full-service branch, except for money. That will take a bit of getting used to – a bank where you cannot get money. That’s like a full-service dairy, except for milk.



Up the river a ways the Derby City Classic is winding down and players and gamblers are beginning to check out and go home. Billy Thorpe has taken the one-pocket again, in case anyone thought it was accidental that he took it off the first time – 2017, I believe. After more than fifteen years of this event the old guard is losing its grip, for the most part. When Shannon Daulton was Thorpe’s age he was a fire-breathing force in our game, but I don’t know if he even made the trip this year. Reyes is well into old age, Parica has pretty much called it off and Orcollo and Pagulayan are losing matches to the new players. A young lady has knocked off T Rex already in the nine-ball event. Google that. Youth will be served – always been that way.



‘Way over to the east I believe the Democrats have scratched in the left corner pocket and will fail to convict the president in this impeachment action. Impeachments are the ultimate political confrontation between Republicans and Democrats and most of the voting is right down party lines. When the opposition party is controlling the House of Representatives, every sitting president will be at risk. Fortunately, the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate to convict him, as this is not like being found guilty of DWI and fined a thousand dollars. The most important politician in the country is in the dock, and his enemies are trying to run him off for doing what politicians do. Looks like a narrow escape this time, but the law says his sins must be greater than this. Poor old Joe Biden might have to throw this party. Not only has his party failed to bust President Trump for blowing the whistle on Joe and his boy, Hunter, for what they have been doing in Ukraine but the other hopefuls for the coming Democratic nomination will beat him to death over the same activities. But they probably won’t have to give the money back. It wasn't a total loss for the Dems - Trump now has an impeachment on his resume, probably what they were hoping for, anyway. Something to mention this fall.



In Durham, North Carolina, there is an elevated railroad crossing that offers 11’8” of clearance for the street traffic below. It has been dubbed the ‘Can-opener’ bridge because since 2008 one hundred fifty-three too-tall trucks have hit it. Just about every one of these collisions can be seen on YouTube, because locals have installed cameras to record them. The railroad installed a sturdy crash bar to take the blow in order to protect the rail bridge. There is a flashing warning sign before the bridge, and a traffic light within about a hundred feet, so the most spectacular events occur when the light is green and speed is greater. But more than once a driver has waited for the light to change so he can make his error. Trucks that are only a few inches too high might lose only the roof, but many taller vehicles seem to blow up and lose everything down to the wheels. There are other can-opener bridges, many on the east coast, but the main attraction is the one at Durham that claims more than a victim per month. In November they were able to offer an additional eight inches of clearance, but already there have been three more instances of damage to trucks. Man has to know his limitations, said Dirty Harry. Measure your durn truck.



Now and then I like to go to Whole Foods for a made-to-order sandwich, but now the only straws they offer to sip your pop are made of plain paper, and lemme tell you they can kill your appetite. They stick to your lip and make you want to spit something out. They claim to be saving the planet by outlawing plastic straws. Little do they know I am bringing my own. Get all I want at McDonald’s.
 
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vapros

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It’s Sunday night and I’m on break from all the unbelievably astute posts I have authored in the past forty-eight hours. Much more active than usual, and I take that as a good sign for the site. A small number of us have saturated two or three threads dealing with proposed rule changes for the game and perhaps we are now posted out and ready to rest. The topic is important and we must hope for other members to join in and make their preferences known. I won’t abuse the journaling privilege by sneaking in any cheap shots here.

Random stuff this time. Gasoline is $1.82 in Baton Rouge and the daytime temperature today went to seventy-two degrees. The local coroner’s office reported 1845 cases of opioid ODs last year and 127 deaths. A pedestrian got hit by a train last night and seriously injured, right on Florida Boulevard. I have waited at that crossing many times and the train zips by at maybe five mph. Remarkable event. In New Orleans a shmuck named Joey Chestnut ate forty bowls of beans and rice in eight minutes, and the following day he ate a two-foot slice of pizza in a minute and eight seconds. I saw his picture and he is a skinny guy. While lounging in front of the coffee shop on Airline Highway on Friday I saw a truck go by (actually, I saw a lot of trucks go by) with a big ad on the side promoting Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey. It was the very next day that the guy was hit by the train, but there may not be any connection. Watching an old interview of Bing Crosby on YouTube, he told a story about joining Paul Whiteman’s band as the vocalist. He said Whiteman required that even the singers had to play an instrument, so they finally got him a violin with rubber strings. It came to mind watching the fiddler on the Cajun music video. He could really go.

Mardi Gras is right around the corner, and then Lent. The ladies of the big Presbyterian Church in the middle of town will sell a large amount of gumbo every Friday, both for sitting diners and for takeout. Big annual function. They don’t rake in the cash like the Catholics, but they do pretty good. Delicious gumbo sells in south Louisiana. Mardi Gras out in the parishes of Acadiana is not like in the cities, and their costumes and masks are all homemade and very imaginative and can be discarded at the end of the day. They get a crowd together and chase chickens for the jambalaya and gumbo. Lots of funny things can be seen when the Cajuns drink beer and try to catch the chickens. In a cow pasture. This is why the costumes don’t survive the day. Turn a chicken loose in a pasture some day and then try to run him down.

I enjoyed some of the one-pocket action on the stream from the Markulis tournament. I was impressed, and learned a few things, watching Oscar Dominguez – I had never seen him play before. However, he lost to Ian Costello, who proved to be a player, also. But in the final, John Schmidt showed us how to run balls and he won the event. My own game has improved a bit this winter and that is encouraging at my age. Most of my practice is not at pocketing the balls, but rather in discovering what Jojo, the white ball, is willing to do and what he can do if he really tries hard. Opportunities for billiards and in-offs appear more often than I had ever noticed before, and add new possibilities. Pocket speed is a great weapon, especially on banks, and I have learned to leave more of them short than to over-hit them. I don’t mind leaving them a yard short if that allows me to pick my spots for Jojo. That’s from watching Bata. Probably won’t live long enough to learn combinations – is combinating a word? – but Artie would be proud to know my serious errors are down, at least a little.

Gonna find a match to view on YouTube while I do 30 – 45 minutes on the indoor bike. Pity that my butt has gotten so bony in my old age. That’s what gives out. Maybe I will get to play tomorrow. Later -
 

vapros

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I watched a couple of great one-pocket matches on YouTube yesterday. I saw Billy Thorpe beat Chris Melling and then Tony Chohan. Both matches went hill-hill and both were played quickly. I thought Melling sort of self-destructed in the last game (that means he failed to shoot the shots I had picked out). In the other video, Chohan apparently thought he had found something nice shortly after the break and he blew the rack apart, but the shot didn’t go and Thorpe ran 8 and out. Thorpe looks to me like the best banker living today and that would make him one of the best at one pocket. He sees ‘em and knocks ‘em down one after another and it must be discouraging to an opponent to see him getting down to shoot one. Hard to see how any player in the world would be favored to beat him right now. Banking is mighty big. Yes, and JJ’s Bad Boys streaming shows continue to present the very best picture in their videos. Bright, sharp and colorful.

Local news – a seventy-seven-year-old man is in jail here, charged with murder for beating his forty-year-old mentally-disabled son to death with a broomstick. He explained that the son didn’t come to this time as he usually does. A guy wanted in an armed robbery threatened to jump off a bridge over the river last week and halted all the traffic in both directions. Someone must have talked him out of it, or the story would have been reported in the paper. It’s only newsworthy if you jump. A state trooper is also in jail, charged with distribution of child pornography. He might do poorly if he is sentenced to prison – especially as he was Trooper of the Year for Louisiana in 2018. You never know, I guess. Mardi Gras season is in full swing and the carnival parades are in sight in all directions. Bright plastic beads have been the traditional throws for many years, but other small items can be seen, too. As usual there are some indignant complaints about several black or slave-oriented dolls being tossed from some floats. In today’s social climate, it’s not easy to identify the offenders, who aren’t likely to ‘fess up, but these are predictable annual sins during Mardi Gras. PC is sometimes left in the street, like beads.

Speaking of which, how about this idiot lawyer, Michael Avenatti? He is an avowed enemy of President Trump and represented the stripper who claimed an affair with the Donald and supposedly received a chunk of cash to forget about it. Avenatti was the darling of the liberal media for most of last year and was a hot item for talk shows and interviews and was mentioned as a possible candidate for president later this year. Instead, he has been found guilty of an extortion scheme against Nike and is also likely to face charges of fraud and fiscal misbehavior in other matters and could get some serious time. The most amazing part of all this is that he made himself a public figure and a political big-timer with all that baggage! Did he think nobody would notice? Did he believe his enemies would not dig around in his dirty laundry? Anyway, he doesn’t seem to have any friends today, and the people who loved him a few months ago are now doing like the crawfish, who generally backs up wherever he wants to go.

Baton Rouge has a really fine public library system, with a state-of-the-art branch within easy reach, wherever you live. A few days ago I visited one I had not seen in a year or so. Right in the middle of the joint they have built a circular book display. It’s maybe eight or ten feet across on the inside and hundreds of popular books are offered on shelves from the floor up to table level, which is as tall as it gets. There are books on the inside and on the outside. On the hard floor in the middle they have provided comfortable padded stools about sixteen inches high and equipped with short backs and wheels! So the books are pretty much at eye level and you can move around to see them all, without getting to your feet. I was one of several senior citizens zipping around silently and feeling like midget auto racers. I could not help recalling the old Indian describing his first glimpse of a bicycle. ‘White man sit down, walk like hell’. That’s what we were doing. Old people matter at the library.
 

vapros

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Mardi Gras has come and gone and the carnival season was fully as long as the six weeks of Lent will be. A great many King Cakes have been baked, sold and eaten – I would not even guess the number. How many strings of plastic beads have been tossed by float riders to the parade watchers along the streets – people who will go to fist city for these beads and then leave them in the street for the clean-up folks? Millions, without a doubt. What’s a greater memento of the season than beads and trinkets? That’s easy – it’s to take home a painted coconut from the parade of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. The tradition is more than a hundred years old. Early coconuts were tossed out with the hair still attached, but no more – they are smoothed, painted in bright colors and handed down rather than thrown. Flying coconuts were lethal objects and lawsuits were not uncommon, generated by real or imagined injuries. Governor Edwin Edwards and the state Legislature had to enact a law in 1987 (the Coconut Law) to enable the practice to continue. Casualties for this year include two people who failed to survive being caught beneath traveling floats, and at least two fairly serious injuries from tumbling off, but none reported from falling coconuts.

In case you are interested, or even if you aren’t, the schedule for next year’s parades is already posted online. Themes for the next season’s celebrations are already in place for the more than fifty krewes that will take to the streets of New Orleans. And down on the riverfront, the fourth generation of Kerns is already building the floats in their facility, Mardi Gras World, where some 400,000 square feet of studio is devoted to this big-money business. When you are in the Crescent City, tours of the joint are available every hour on the hour and well worth the effort to go. There is probably not another such operation anywhere in the world. If I can gather up some good information, I might do a piece on it soon.

While we wait for Good Friday and then Easter, we will observe Lent – at least a lot of us will. Lots of Catholics in South Louisiana and during Lent the practice of skipping meat on Fridays in favor of fish will be the rule in a lot of households. It is widely believed that clergy types are authorized to say words over racks of ribs or T-bone steaks and magically turn them into trouts or flounders. Mind you, I have never witnessed this taking place, but I have lived here a long time and I hear things now and then from others whose names have slipped my mind. Personally, I have discovered sizeable chunks of pork sausage in excellent gumbos prepared during the Lenten season, so it just goes to show you.

Speaking of fish, they have spotted one in the Gulf of Mexico – well, actually there are a lot of them, but only one that made the news this week. A female Great White Shark (I believe sharks still only have two genders) that measures fifteen and a half feet long and weighs in at 2,078 pounds. The science guys are pretty excited about her arrival off the coast of Louisiana. Just last September someone caught her in Nova Scotia and took her measurements and tagged her and put her back in the water, and after such an experience who could blame her for hauling her freight to the Gulf? The tag attached, or inserted, made it possible to follow her as she swam southward. Beautiful sign, said the scientists, it shows the Gulf is healthy again. Some might marvel that she was able to find the route to her destination, but just think about it – all she had to do was follow the coast and hang a right as she passed Miami Beach and bingo – or voila, as we say along the Riviera.

Today being a Sunday, I read all the comics in the Morning Advocate, must be a couple dozen, at least. I have wished I could be a cartoonist since I was maybe eight or nine years old, but got too busy making a living to go that way. What a great gig it would be. Even now, if I could draw I could illustrate my entries in this journal and that would be a great improvement. As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words and possibly more if it were a funny picture, which is the best kind. With my very limited talent I could have drawn the shark and a couple of the coconuts. Maybe I will offer it to Steve. Or not. See you later.
 
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vapros

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Local news - Marucci Sports has been sold for 22 million dollars. In 2004 three guys started making baseball bats, found a good market and then began to merchandise other sports stuff and here they are taking in so much cash it sounds like something the government is buying. By looking around I discovered that they are now the favorite brand of major league ball players, by a pretty good margin. Old reliable Louisville Sluggers are running a distant third. Ash is no longer the best wood for a bat – today it’s maple. Their operation is maybe half a mile, as the crow flies, from my address. Could be as much as two miles if the crow is driving a Honda. Every once in a while somebody proves to us that it can still be done. Go ‘head on.

Also locally, a woman pleaded guilty today to several crimes she committed while high-jacking a pickup truck. The driver left the truck running, with the a/c on and his dog inside, while he went into a donut shop. The woman jumped into the truck and took off, dragging the owner across the parking lot as she went. She drove to another location and abandoned the vehicle, locking it up with Roleaux, the dog, still in it and the windows closed.. He died, of course, of heat exhaustion. The woman could be hit with some serious time for all that. She ought to be sentenced to do it in a locked pickup truck with the windows closed. That is pure meanness of the worst kind. Maybe someone in the jail will sentence her to something appropriate.

I watched a fine match on YouTube from the 2018 West Coast Challenge. Alex Pagulayan and Dennis Orcullo played a race to four. In game three, Orcullo led by 7 balls to 0, and left Alex in a position that appeared safe. Jojo was resting near his pocket and there were only three balls on his side of the table. He made an unlikely-looking long two-rail bank on a ball near him and then ran the table to win the game. He really had to stiff that first shot – try that bank on a ball from the far side of the center line. Two or three balls were up-table on Dennis’ side and the last shot was a bank on a ball near the side pocket. This was the kind of an out that got Efren Reyes crowned The Magician in other years. I think Alex is still the best there is today. One might think a shocker like this would take the starch out of Dennis, but not so. From 3-1 he came back to win the match. This is why we watch one-pocket. I recommend this one for watching.

On the other hand, I watched part of a match from the 2019 Derby City Classic. Skylar Woodward spent almost two hours beating Mika Immonen by 3-1. I was amazed to see that Immonen seemed to be completely unfamiliar with one-pocket. He failed to move balls to his side of the table, neglected to break up clusters when he had the opportunity and agonized over routine escapes. I’m hoping I just got a wrong impression of his play, but he seemed lost at the table. And here’s an unusual sight in our game – Josh Filler knocked Jojo clear off the table in another contest.

It always takes me two weeks to get comfortable with the onset of Daylight Saving Time. The only good part is that the dashboard clock in my car will show the correct time from now until about October. The Master Gardeners will put on a program at the public library on Thursday evening, but I’m afraid I will miss it. No doubt in my mind. Maybe my car won’t start or I may be committed to attend my brother-in-law’s graduation from driving school or something. Just a bad night for educational opportunities. But bless them that has dirt under their fingernails. I won’t say I envy them, but I am greatly impressed, because I could never get anything to grow. If I tried to plant a garden, nothing would come up except maybe broccoli or a turnip. No tomatoes or snap beans or anything edible. Speaking of which, crawfish are available early this season, but not yet reasonable. Boiled on the hoof they are going for nearly $5.00 per pound. That doesn’t mean people are slow to buy – only that they are paying more. We do what we have to do.

We have enjoyed some excellent WWYDs and discussions on the site recently, and that’s a healthy sign. Several relative strangers have turned up in the dialogs and contributed stuff that might benefit the rest of us, if we would only pay attention. And lemme note that for a few days we had a rush of confessions in the Out of the Closet thread. Good jump in the list of responders. I’d like to encourage others to chip in, at least with minimum information for the members. I’m trying to enlist a good-looking lady from the ophthalmology department at Ochsner, to sign up and be a member. She is much smarter than I am, but I learned long ago not to let that interfere with the business of living. We could use more ladies here, especially if they would speak up and participate. She is from Ukraine, but I feel certain she bailed out before any of the Bidens showed up. See you later.
 

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It’s Friday the 13th in Baton Rouge, the temperature is 80 degrees and gas is $1.88/gallon. I don’t know why Friday afternoon traffic is so much worse than on other days, but it is. Went to the big Walmart today and waited in a long line to pay for my stuff. Everybody is laying in provisions for a long siege. Popular items are bottled water, Gatorade or equivalent, candy bars, chips and dip, frozen pizza and toilet paper. I didn’t notice much beer in the buggies, but we could have some casualties here even if the coronavirus never arrives.

The new disease is terrorizing the whole country, it seems. I will call it a superabundance of caution, but there isn’t much doubt that it’s among us now. None yet in Baton Rouge, but the state has 36 cases, nearly all around New Orleans. An assisted-living facility there has no less than eight. Schools are closing up here, including LSU and Southern U, and all instruction for the balance of the school year might be online. No athletic events, not even practices, allowed by the SEC, the College World Series is called off and even the Masters Tournament in Augusta is postponed. Locally, the bishop has told the Catholics they need not be ashamed if they don’t show up for mass for a few weeks. That’s serious – I don’t know how it is in your area, but in south Louisiana there are a great many people who attend church just about every day of their lives. I believe Coach Ed Orgeron is pretty regular at whatever chapel is within his reach. He’d better be – Joe Burrow has gone off to the NFL draft, if it happens at all. The Tigers still have Myles Brennan, and he has waited patiently for his turn and I would love to see him succeed. Tall kid with a great arm.

Not everybody in town is in lockdown. Even at times like these there are some who are out and about. Last night there were four fires in the downtown area, set in the dark by arsonists say the authorities. Someone torched a law office not far from the courthouse and burned it to the ground. The lawyer told reporters he would be in court today as scheduled, in the pursuit of justice. That would be comforting, no? One house was set afire by someone who kicked in the door and tossed in a fire bomb of some kind. There were people in the house, but I think they escaped. All this does not even count an old man burned up in a house fire out in a suburb. Four killings in the space of two days in Baton Rouge. Three were pretty much part of a pattern here – young vic, no perp, no wits. The other one involved a woman shooting her husband with a .40 caliber pistol. Then she stumbled, and while stumbling shot him several more times, more than he could survive, I suppose. Good opportunity here for me to report without commenting.

I have a feature on my email that gives me a word each day. Mostly the words are common and unremarkable or else obscure and unusable. But now and then – here’s a new one, retronym. It refers to the former name of something that likely has a new and improved version. Maybe the maiden name of a recent bride or such as that? Here’s another, dogfishing. Guys – or ladies – using social media or dating sites in the hope of hooking up have found that their chances are much improved if there is a dog in the picture they submit. Doesn’t have to be your dog, either – borrowed pooches are okay. I suppose maybe dogs are darling to dames. Hey, I could write a song . . . you think? Or not. Maybe the word tomorrow will be coronavirus.

The experts are telling us to self-quarantine if we can. Stay in the house, don’t go to school, or to work, or to church. Or to the poolroom, for that matter. Don’t go where the people are. I looked in at the joint today, and I could go there without encountering very many people. It was pretty quiet and I had to reflect on the guys who normally play in the daytime, as I do. Most are older guys and retired and might not be in the pink, one might say. We are told that the coronavirus would be extra tough for senior citizens, and double tough for those over age 80. No warning for those about to turn 88, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination, you know? So, what will I do to avoid possible trouble? I don’t know yet, you might say I’m standing by at the moment. Being schizoid, quarantine is a natural state for me; I have lived alone for forty years but I will miss getting to play one-pocket. Looking around the place, I have books and a pool table and a computer and I don’t get lonely. I’m scared of getting sick, but dying is nothing at all. I will post again in a few days and update the members here. I won’t lose any sleep worrying about coronavirus. Wash your hands and I’ll see you later.
 

vapros

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As of this afternoon there are 280 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, and 7 deaths so far. This morning it was 240 and 5, and up to 257 cases by noon. The majority are still in the New Orleans area, but now there are two cases here in Baton Rouge, and this town is closed up as tight as a clam’s ass. My best friend called me today, from Lafayette, to see if I wanted to go to lunch with him when he got back to town. This is something we do a couple of times a month. Are you crazy, I asked him. There’s no place to go where they would even let us inside the door! So he agreed I should stay close to home and be careful, and we would have lunch when all this is over. This is weird, folks. This guy retired as executive director of a major social program for the state of Louisiana – he was my boss and retired thirty days after I did - a guy with plenty of common sense, but here he is. Unlike me, he couldn’t stand being idle, and currently he has taken a job ferrying cars around the southern part of the state between dealerships. I’m sure he makes at least one trip a day to New Orleans, which is the hub of this disease today – he is obviously not a believer.

In truth, I don’t want to see him for the next several weeks, as he might well be a carrier. I am hoping I won’t have occasion to have to say that to him – he is my very best friend. I really don’t understand. Kaylee Hartung, local girl now working for ABC, reported today that she has the virus. Recently she was in the Seattle area reporting on the situation there. Now she is sick.

Got a letter today from the 2020 census people. It gave me a census ID number and told me to access their website and complete their questionnaire, or else they would send someone around to my place to take care of it. So I did it, just before I started this post for my journal. All the questions were easy and I think I aced it. Knew all the answers. I won’t have to do that again.

I am on a mailing list for a local dermatology outfit, ever since they treated me for a little cancer on my nose a couple of years ago. Who would have thought they could market derma-surgery by mail? Well, I guess they can, but this week they are offering a new service, timely in this shelter-in-place circumstance. They call it Telederm and all you need is a Smartphone. Take a picture of your zit and send it in and they will diagnose it and treat it for you. Billing and payment the same way, no doubt. Computers are great. I wonder if Walmart could fax me some groceries? Here’s another one – right up the road in the city of Central, the pastor of the Life Tabernacle Church says his congregation is not afraid of the coronavirus, and they treasure their freedom of religion. Sunday he reported more than 1000 people showed up at church services, and no less than 350 for the Tuesday night session. However, the police visited him after church and told him the National Guard would break up any more gatherings of more than 50 people. He might have to adjust his budget.

In the absence of sports programming on television, some fans have contacted the local media to suggest that they rerun the LSU football games from the glorious recently-completed season. Tiger fans can never get enough, and who can blame them? I guess for Arkansas supporters they could watch Gilligan or Leave it to Beaver.

I encountered some mighty slow performances this week on YouTube. Dennis Orcullo and Bob Herchik spent more than an hour on the first game of one-pocket in their match. They lost me at that point, but they were much quicker than a young man named Ko Ping Yi. One could grow a small mustache waiting for him to shoot. In his 9 ball contest with Fedor Gorst, Ko dawdled and sighed and circled the table and shook his head and considered his options for minutes at a time. Misery to witness, and he was actually a good player when he got around to it. Anyway, wash your hands and I’ll see you later.
 

vapros

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It’s 87 degrees in Baton Rouge today, gas is going for $1.85 or less, and I need a haircut that I’m not likely to get any time soon. The pool is already in service and a fat lady is taking the sun this afternoon, right outside my window. She will have no trouble maintaining the required separation – she’s the only one out there. Louisiana has coronavirus. Yesterday there were 1388 cases and 46 deaths. Today the numbers are 1795 and 65. It is spreading faster here than it has anywhere else in the world, including Italy and Spain.

All aspects of this medical nightmare are at the critical point, or beyond. There are serious shortages of all the things needed – facilities, medicine, tests, supplies, doctors, nurses, etc. The Governor has ordered us all to stay indoors, and most of us do. The nursing homes are really suffering. In New Orleans an assisted-living place has nearly thirty cases and at least nine deaths already. Tom Dempsey lives there – he is one of the original Saints, and his 63-yard field goal was an NFL record for a long time. Haven’t heard whether he is among the casualties. And over in Lafayette, a business has assured the public that ‘After all, your health remains our utmost concern and responsibility’. It’s a joint that sells alcohol and tobacco. That’s chutzpah. Enough.

In one of the WWYD threads this week, Beatle referred to the ‘hit and hide group’. That is an interesting label that points up one of the distinctions between levels of play, members or not. Beatle didn’t offend me, but he did describe me. I hit and hide and it’s part of my game plan. Eight and out is rarely the way I go – I mean hardly ever. Getting my eight in a couple of scoring innings is an accomplishment for me, and three or four – or more - is much more common. Bata is my idol, but Jojo is my hero, but then I generally play other hit and hiders. It really is a group, as he noted – it’s not only me – I’m pretty sure there are some others, even among the regulars here, but never doubt that we are players, because we are. And I’m sure it is an even larger group among the lurkers, lots of them beginners to one-pocket. How many members do we have who can be said to be active; who post on a fairly regular basis? Maybe three dozen – not more. Lurkers are a silent majority, and just as important as Republicans. Hitting and hiding, if done well, works pretty good. (MS Word makes fun of me sometimes, but I don’t care)

Here's a bit of trivia for you, courtesy of my oldest daughter. In about 1640 the Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam built a wall twelve feet high, to keep their enemies out. But in 1664 the British came and ignored the wall and took the town from the sea. Before long, New Amsterdam became New York and the British tore down the wall and built a street there and named it, appropriately, Wall Street. I didn’t know that, either.

Wash your hands and be well. I’ll see you later.
 

vapros

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It’s 73 degrees today in Baton Rouge, and gas is anywhere from $1.29 to $1.76 per gallon – actually there are a couple of spots in New Orleans where it is selling for .99, but who wants to go to New Orleans? Who wants to go anywhere? Nobody likes to see Louisiana people coming, and in some states they are almost forbidding us to even show up. Besides being unloved, the falling gas prices are more bad news for us, as this state lives on the oil business. As of April Fool’s Day we have 6424 cases of coronavirus and have already lost 273 of our citizens. The governor says we must stay in our houses at least until the end of April, which is a long time. The streets are deserted and you could run every stop sign in town without hitting more than four or five cars. My fear is that before long some people might begin to question what we are doing and go outside again, reasoning that they have had neither cough nor fever yet.

The local preacher who defied the regulation against assembling too many people has been arrested for doing it again, made bail and has done it yet again and says he will continue doing it in his church, where crowds of more than 300 people are coming to services. The authorities don’t seem to know what to do with him, but maybe they can fine him enough to help with the weak oil prices. If the present virus gets started in there somebody might do something to him. I saw him recently on Dr. Phil’s TV show, and Phil was pretty much in agreement with him, or at least not willing to label him crazy.

What else locally? Well, here where I live they are taking advantage of the traffic stoppage to patch up the pot holes in the driveway. Big Al has given me a baggie full of rubber gloves to wear when I go to the grocery store. Joe Long called me recently and we spoke for the first time in a year. He wanted me to know that if I drove down to Buffalo’s joint in New Orleans I could probably get played, and I have made a note to that effect, for when the emergency is over. Then a couple of days ago Joe called again, just to be sure I was doing okay. That was good. In a recent interview our governor responded to a comment by saying ‘I cannot say that’s not inappropriate.’ If you have any major-league politicians in your area, send one down and maybe we could match up. If the money is right you might be able to get a one-liner or two on the wire.

I had an armload of library books, but I read them all – except for a couple of experimental writers who failed to make the cut – and now I am catching up on some stuff from my own shelf. Right now I am re-reading one of my favorites, Education of a Wandering Man, by Louis Lamour. This guy was a tremendous story himself, and the book is not about his writing, but rather his reading and traveling and listening. He was a voracious reader of anything he could get his hands on. Coming of age in the Great Depression he quit school in the tenth grade at age fifteen and left home. He hitchhiked, rode the rails, walked deserts, looking for work when there was none to be had. Many times he boxed four rounders for bean money, and went to sea on any vessel sailing in any direction. He made the acquaintance of sailors, hobos, bums, thieves and kings around the world and gathered stories as he went. If you enjoy Western books you know Louis Lamour as the best and most prolific of all the writers. Can’t get enough.

Still on YouTube every day I watch videos of many kinds. I love the dogs and elephants and all wild and abused animals who are being rescued, rehabbed and released by more and more organizations for that purpose around the world. Plenty of game cameras in action everywhere, including the cameras high up in the nests of eagles as they lay eggs and raise their young birds. A young guy named Noah, who is big into herping, has the NFK website and travels the South and the Southwest, prying under debris and finding snakes, which he photographs and releases. He picks up and handles the ones that are not venomous. Lots of snake bites, but no poison. Who knew there were so many corrugated tin and rotting plywood sheets lying around in the tall grass of this country? Noah and his pals love to look underneath them. Also, I go for true crime and the underworld and for interviews with interesting people, famous or not. I have revisited some of the epic confrontations in older movies – maybe showdowns you haven’t seen. I watched the last moments of Jack Palance as he drew on Alan Ladd in Shane. ‘So you’re Jack Wilson?’ I saw Burt Lancaster wielding a broken beer bottle as he made Ernest Borgnine and his knife back down in From Here to Eternity’. ‘If there’s any killing done here, I’ll do it!’ There was James Caan’s knife trick that killed the cowpoke in El Dorado and Gene Hackman sounding off to the rednecks with somebody’s nuts in his fist in Mississippi Burning.

There is literally no end of great things to see. I won’t live long enough to see them all, and neither will you, but I’ll see as many as I can. Wash your hands and I will see you later.
 

vapros

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Today is Wednesday. It’s 86 degrees here in Baton Rouge, gas is $1.59 and I have burned about a gallon and a half already this month. First things first – as of today 17,030 cases of coronavirus have been identified in Louisiana and 652 people have died – five in East Baton Rouge Parish since yesterday, all men over age 60 with underlying medical conditions. With the governor’s shelter-in-place order for at least the rest of April, if you die in a hospital of this virus you die pretty much alone, maybe with a nurse in attendance. Some of the nurses are taking it pretty hard, too. Far as I know, only the Ochsner hospitals have adopted a policy of letting in a visitor to say goodbye. Sort of risky.

Down in New Orleans Tom Dempsey was a victim this past weekend, dying where he lived, at Lambeth House. He was at least the 14th at that facility, out of an unknown number of cases. They have quit reporting on the virus deaths in nursing homes, for some reason. Tom was born with no fingers on his right hand and no toes on his right foot, and was the place kicker on an early Saints team. His 63 yard field goal was a record in the NFL for many years, and he hung on with other teams in the league for several years after the Saints let him go. He was one of the last kickers to approach the ball head-on, as Pete Gogolak and his brother Charlie were changing that part of football toward soccer kickers. Gogolak got his start with the Buffalo Bills of the old AFL, being drafted in the 12th round to replace a kicker who had kicked one field goal in 16 tries.

Following a link put up by the One Pocket Ghost, I was treated to a fine match from the 2019 Fall Classic, as Scott Frost beat Tony Chohan by a 4-2 score. Couple of the best, for sure. The match was streamed by Sully Vision, with commentary by Josh Roberts and another player. Got my first exposure to a bit of advanced electronic technology – a program that transcribes the comments instantly and puts them on the screen for the convenience of the viewers. I was much impressed, but then technology is always impressive to me. The thing was not perfect, however. When one of the guys announced that he was flabbergasted the system put up the translation without delay. ‘Fabric Austen’ said the screen. I thought that was pretty funny, but it got better. Within a few minutes the program mentioned its sponsor, Sally Vision. Dumb machine.

What else . . . . ? Yeah, I rolled out early yesterday to go shopping at Walmart at their geezer’s hour, 6 AM. I stood in the line waiting to get in, and you wouldn’t believe how long a line is required to accommodate 40 people standing 8 to 10 feet apart. The WHO says we should wear a face mask, in addition to robber gloves. So I cut the last eight inches off an old tee shirt and then snipped it and tied it on. It probably looked pretty weird, but I intend to still be here next month. A sorry bastard in New Orleans has been arrested for stealing 80 of the N95 masks needed so badly by hospital doctors and staff, presumably to mark up the prices and sell them on the black market to make some pocket money. I hope he develops ptomaine and lockjaw and lives to be 400 years old. In the middle of the day today the police were called to the site of a shooting that left three dead people, right up the street in Zachary. Maybe a murder/suicide, we are advised. Don’t know if it might have been caused by folks cooped up with one another. That’s risky, too.

I noticed on YouTube a video entitled How to Transform Your Toilet into a Bidet in less than 30 minutes. I was involved with something else at the moment, and by the time I got back to it I was out of the mood, so another opportunity was wasted. Now Bernie Sanders has called off his run at the Democratic nomination for POTUS, leaving only Joe Biden to carry the flag this fall. Poor Joe might be committed to one of the rest homes before the election-after-next rolls around. Or maybe even before this one. Except for the politics, one could have some sympathy for him, striking out after wanting it for so long. Wash your hands and I will see you later.
 

vapros

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It’s Wednesday again in Baton Rouge and the temperature will dip down to 46 degrees during the night and I have the heater in action again. I failed to make note of the going rate for gasoline, as I have enough in the tank to see me through to Labor Day, given consumption under this quarantine. I bought my groceries during the geezer hour again yesterday, meaning before daylight. I got the last gallon of orange juice and the last gallon of my milk in the joint. Last week’s shortages are repeated, with one exception – toilet paper. There was more toilet paper on display than I have ever seen there. No doubt it means that everyone has enough on hand now, and that is good news. In New Orleans the sewers were backing up, choked with the toilet paper substitutes being utilized.

I have gotten away from commentary on the pool scene for recent entries in this journal, but YouTube has suddenly provided a lot of matches for my viewing pleasure. Today, out of the blue, they offered a straight pool match from 1990. Johnny Ervolino and Earl Strickland, in Earl’s first 14.1 contest ever. I can’t recall seeing Ervolino at all, previously – not anywhere among my 100 plus match DVDs. He looked smooth and slick, and ran 81 balls in his first inning after the break. Instead of enduring the rest of the race to 150 points I went to the end to see just how bad it must have been for the Pearl – only to find that he had come back and beaten Ervolino! Dr. Bill and Danny DiLiberto manned the mikes and provided some entertaining exchanges, with visits from C.J. Wiley and veteran Cicero Murphy, but they neglected to provide scores for listeners, so I don’t even know the final. Ervolino and Strickland – who do you root for, you know what I’m saying? Brief glimpses of Steve Mizerak playing on the next table.

And a veritable deluge of one-pocket matches from the 2020 Derby City Classic – good stuff provided by Railbirds TV. Last I heard, streamers like Railbirds were permitted to film the action, but could not do any commentary during the tournament. I think it’s still that way, so commentary has been added after the fact at a remote facility. Jeremy Jones has done a lot of it, and JJ is always good. I enjoyed watching Efren Reyes, back at the DCC after skipping recent years there. He won both matches that I saw, but I don’t recall just how long he lasted in the event. He isn’t the Magician that he was for so many years, but he can still run balls almost as well as today’s best players. He would be a contender in any one-pocket contest. I would guess that he misses the game, playing exclusively ten-ball with the young guns in the Philippines. Another name from the past appeared and played this time – Cliff Joyner. I watched two of his matches and can’t say it was good to see him back. It was not. JJ treated him as kindly as he could, and even Francisco Bustamante seemed to have some misgivings about thumping him, but he couldn’t compete, and it was sad to see. Most of us here can recall when he was possibly the best in the world and on a par with Efren, but no more. Barring something miraculous, his health issues may have damaged him too much. I can’t imagine who benefited by his entry.

A player named Phillips Yee beat Ike Runnels in a good match. I always like to watch Ike play. He culls his options and when he shoots he seldom seems to be surprised at the result. One can see how important it is to know where every ball will stop. There was one pretty good wedge created in their last game – Nick Varner would have loved it. Runnels and Yee averaged 21 minutes per game, in sharp contrast to Tony Chohan and Josh Roberts in their first match last weekend. They played 18 games in four hours, meaning one every 13 minutes. Different strokes, of course. Not like Ike at all, but both superior players.

Tonight I made it a point to pull up YouTube at 7 PM, to see Justin Hall and Richie Richeson. I settled in to be entertained, as Richeson has been a top-level competitor for a good many years and has entertained me on many recorded matches. However, he played poorly, getting no rolls and making more than a few doubtful choices that mostly went badly for him. It took Justin only 40 minutes to put him away. Looking back, I found it odd that Railbirds posted a promo earlier in the day, promising this match. One might have expected a much better contest than it was.

The current quarantine that has grounded so many of us is proving quite troublesome in a variety of ways. Reports of domestic violence have gone ‘way up, including some against kids. Not all of us are suited for the mandated proximity with others, even family. It was reported that in a Texas County eleven suicides have occurred in a period when the death toll from the virus was just six. A dilemma and cause for doubts. Here on this website, a thread on Coronavirus Politics is still going strong, having produced more than 500 posts in only five weeks. Surely this much communication and cyber-baloney and this many insults will result in the establishment of truths and resolution of disputes and will see a number of members crossing the political aisle to join the other side. So far this has not happened, but the disease will keep us in our houses and at our keyboards for some time yet, so there is still hope. Wash your hands and I will see you later.
 
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vapros

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It’s Wednesday again and here in Baton Rouge the temp is 82 degrees, gas is less than $1.40 a gallon and there is no line at the pump and no potential customers in sight in either direction. Tornados and big hailstones are forecast for this area tonite and tomorrow and that’s not good news. A lady I know who lives up the road at Leesville had half of her roof caved in on Sunday, by falling limbs, and the rain flooded the house. She had just spent a slopjar full of money renovating the old homestead two years ago. It seems a tornado passed directly over the house. It was not on the ground at the time, but in passing it took out about forty of her big trees and sent down the limbs that hit the roof. Spoke to her yesterday and she reported that her yard was full of Baptists, busy cleaning up the premises. That’s good – she has been giving them ten percent of a pretty hefty income for a good many years. She said there was a chance that she could sell the downed trees for pu’p wood if there is anyone to buy it and haul it. Leesville is shut down too, except for Fort Polk.

On the website there has been not a single post in the political thread this whole day and that is good news, indeed, but we must hope that nothing serious has happened to the combatants. Instead, we have been treated to photos of some great gardens and houses – a very good swap for all of us. Who knew pool players were making so much money? I hope for more of the same – surely there are others that we have not seen. The quarantine has provided us with a number of excellent WWYD projects, courtesy of the One Pocket Ghost and others, and we are getting fine participation with good discussions and a bit of top-level advice - on what you should do, not what you would do. Two different things.

The coronavirus is changing the world, and don’t doubt it. It’s a social emergency and financial disaster in addition to the medical pandemic. Our governor is faced with the responsibility of designing the life of the state when the shelter-in-place order expires at the end of this month. We have 25,000 cases identified so far and nearly 1,500 deaths, and while the rate of increase shows signs of levelling off, it is far from over and he is feeling pressure to let people back out on the street and back to work. Tough call for him and for us, but we can’t quarantine forever. It won’t be carte-blanche right away, and there will be some more casualties among the first people to break cover – offsides penalties of a sort – crossing the line too soon.

Maybe you recall that I mentioned a local minister who has defied the governor’s order about how many people should assemble in one spot. He has continued to have church services, and is arrested when he does, but he cites the U.S. Constitution and religious freedom for his policy. New charge on him this week, aggravated assault. He was accused of trying to hit a demonstrator in the street with one of his church busses. He has a fleet of such vehicles to deliver his members to his church – and by the way, it’s a pretty impressive church, too. And he is asking them to donate whatever checks they might receive from the government, as he says his evangelists and missionaries haven’t been paid lately. One of his lawyers is in the hospital, trying to recover from the virus, one of his parishioners has died from it, and attendance at the church is falling. He announced to the media that the coroner lied about cause of death for the old man, and has said the police are lying about the head-count of people coming to church. This is an ugly situation that won’t go away by itself. This guy is not Jim Jones, nor is he David Koresh and he has not built a compound for his operation, but he is something other than most of the other preachers around here. Pastor Tony Spell and his Life Tabernacle Church are in the national news, especially since the sports scene has gone quiet. One might suspect that he is loving it. Stay tuned.

Got to move along here - I am happy for Django Bustamante as he continues to play well and so far is ahead of Alex Pagulayan in their present PPV one-pocket match. He and Warren Kiamco have had resurgences recently and both are older than today’s Whiz Kids and that’s a good sign. The game is changing, as we all know, but solid and calculated play can still win. I have always admired Bustamante’s silky stroke, and he and Chris Melling are my idols in that department. I came across Mark Wilson’s three-video instructional presentation on YouTube, and sat thru the whole hour. He breaks down the preparation for the shot into five categories and stresses their importance – all the things to be done diligently before you hit the cue ball. I believe I do them all correctly, I just don’t do them very well. An elderly con-man named Robert Rackstraw died last summer in the San Diego area, effectively ending the latest investigation into the identity of D.B. Cooper, who hijacked an airliner in 1971, sold his hostages for $200,000 and some parachutes and then jumped out of the plane over the Pacific Northwest, taking the loot with him. Disappeared. A California news reporter feels certain Rackstraw was Cooper, but I guess the mystery is still available for the next inquiry.

Word of the Day, according to my computer service, is ‘obstinate’, meaning perversely holding to your opinion or purpose, in spite of reason, arguments or persuasion. I thought it was a word sent to us from heaven and was planning some brilliant cheap shots related to our latest political dust-up, but since it is mute for the past twenty-four hours I will hold my fire. Maybe it’s over – or not. Secondary words, also today, were clean, sanitize and disinfect. Wash your hands and I will see you later.
 

vapros

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It’s Wednesday afternoon and the temperature is 68 degrees in Baton Rouge. Gasoline is $1.44 this week and there are more customers than there should be. The governor has extended the quarantine until May 15, but not everyone is waiting. You can see the traffic building. I rose early yesterday and went to the geezer’s shopping hour before opening at Walmart and there was hardly anyone there buying. Obviously they are coming in at their leisure. Everyone wore a mask and social distancing was getting only minimal attention. Shortages are less severe. I bought an item that I needed to return and I went back today, but they were not taking returns! Coronavirus, they explained but I did not understand. We both handled this item yesterday, why not today? Maybe I will get my fourteen bucks later, or not, and I may have to jump through some hoops to get it.

In West Feliciana Parish they are starting to ignore the quarantine order and things are opening for business, things like sitdown restaurants – but with precautions and limited diners inside at a time. They are pointing out that there has been little evidence of the pandemic there, compared to New Orleans and Baton Rouge. But things being what they are, there will be customers coming to town from other areas and we must hope they are not sending out for trouble. Lots of controversy over this thing, like whether the treatment may be worse than the ailment. Plenty of learned voices on both sides, and among them some are likely right, but nobody knows which ones yet. I’m sure it is the same all over the country, but probably less severe in most places. Right up the street in Central, Rev. Tony Spell continues to make news. He was arrested and jailed recently over an incident with one of his busses and a protester on the street. His wife went to the pokey and paid his bail and got him out, and he was fitted with an ankle bracelet and put on house arrest and warned not to hold services until further notice. So he went to the church and conducted a service, and I think he must be back in jail because members of his congregation are demonstrating and calling for the police to let him out. They are clogging up the phone lines at the PD, and the usual police calls might have to wait. Don’t know what’s next, but I doubt Rev. Spell will go quietly. Something will have to give.

Here at the website business is as usual, and there is good participation in recent WWYD threads as well as non-pool topics. No blood is being shed, and political discussions are locked down, at least for now. That’s good news. We are seeing some new members taking part, and even a few veteran members making their presence felt – people like Jeff Sparks and Dr. Bill, who advised today that he was in pretty good stroke ‘for his age’. Now there is a phrase I hear all too often – just today I heard it from my PC doctor. Sure, most people would be dead by now. However, I feel pretty sure Dr. Bill can still draw the cue ball. Yessir, I can recall how, at his age – never mind, I couldn’t draw the cue ball when I was his age, either. Pretty frustrating – I visit YouTube to watch my favorite player, Kristina Tkach, and she can draw the ball. Come to think of it, just about everyone on YouTube can draw the ball – maybe it’s a requirement. Kristina and I have some similarities, she has copied my demeanor at the table and I have copied her manner of addressing Jojo. Next time I see her we will have lunch and talk about it. And she can teach me how to draw the cue ball.

And a few bits of less important stuff. Last week was National Library Week, but they were all closed. Heisman winner Joe Burrow, on TV last week for the NFL draft, was wearing a gold chain around his neck, with a pendant in the form of a 9, his jersey number. A gift from local rapper, Boosie Badazz, it had six and a half carats of diamonds in it. Joe didn’t look all that comfortable in it, but what could he do, you know what I mean? Always standing by with some family-style entertainment is the British Royal Family, a dysfunctional clan if there ever was one. Harry and Meghan have broken out and planned to make some big money in Canada with merchandise with the royal crest on it, until the Queen Mother put an end to that. Prince William and Prince Harry are on the outs, and Kate looks down her royal nose at Meghan, who never knows just when to curtsey. Then there is Prince Andrew, who is in disgrace for some bad judgment that began with some teeny-bopper girls, and now just tries to stay out of sight. Queen Elizabeth, an old, old lady, must be rolling her eyes over the antics of her progeny and the thought of which ones might rule the land when she is gone. If they were in this country they could be on AZ Billiards.

I saw an excellent video from the scene in Africa. More and more the tourists have been crowding the wild animals and leaning in for photo ops as if they were at a zoo, and I have wondered how long they could get away with that. Well, sometimes the animals do go on offense and we get to see it on video. Big cats that jump into the trucks, elephants and rhinos that charge the vehicles and an ostrich in pursuit of two guys on bicycles, who have all they can do to stay in front. The chase went on for more than a mile, and believe me, them long-legged birds can hoof it pretty good. All very satisfying. And if you might be having a sort of blaah day, look in on Hannah Barron in Alabama. She is the rugged outdoor girl who hunts, fishes, noodles for monster catfish and builds houses in her spare time. Cute as a bug, Hannah is always cheerful and laughing, and it makes you want to join in. I’m a fan.

That’s it. Wash your hands and be well. See you later.
 

vapros

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Messages
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It’s Thursday afternoon and the temperature in Baton Rouge is 76 degrees, gasoline is still around $1.45 per gallon and traffic continues to build, day by day. Global warming has not really set in yet, but there are noticeable signs of serious cabin fever. People are calling each other to ask if they know anyone who has died from the virus, or even taken sick with it. We assure one another that nobody in our circle is a victim, and what the hell is going on here, anyway? A guy I know, who a month ago had a decontamination station set up in his garage, now is calling for the governor to get out of the way and let commerce begin again. For those of us who have retired and still are receiving our monthly checks, the pandemic emergency looks much different than for the ones whose incomes have suddenly shrunk up or disappeared. I have been broke and I have been unemployed and once I was bailed out by a loan from a friend, but that was a long time ago and I can recall that it was pretty bad.

Counting flowers on the wall doesn’t bother me at all

We have seen more than two thousand deaths from the coronavirus, but we remind ourselves that most of them were old people who already suffered from something else and likely were in nursing homes or in jail, and what does that have to do with the rest of us? On the other hand state health authorities did a mass-testing program at one of the women’s prisons and found that 85% of the inmates tested positive. And most of them had no symptoms, but presumably could infect others. That’s a sobering thought. Southern states with Gulf coast beaches are suffering from the absence of college kids on spring break, and a lot of small merchants make their nut for the whole year in the spring. Many businesses across this country won’t make the nut at all this year. But the disease experts, for whom money is not the primary concern, warn us that it’s not safe yet and we should lay low a while longer. For me it’s more like the norm, and I will stay around the house, at least until the pool room opens.

Playing solitaire ‘till dawn with a deck of fifty-one

I’m a reader and I miss the library. There is a canvas tote-bag in my car right now with about seven books that are long overdue, but the library doesn’t want them back yet. The return portals in the outside walls are all locked up tight, with a message that nothing will happen until the COVID19 thing is over. I suppose they are afraid that I might be a carrier, but I imagine it would be okay if the librarian just remembered not to touch her face afterward. I’m about ready to go and get them out of the car and read them again. There is not much to choose from on my own bookcase – I have enjoyed ‘Around the Bend’ a book of great pictures from a trip down the entire Mississippi River – from Lake Itasca to the Gulf - by a famous local outdoor photographer, C.C. Lockwood.

On my breakfast table now is ‘Home Country’ by the best-known correspondent of WW II, Ernie Pyle. I picked it out of desperation yesterday. It’s a collection of stories, published in 1935, and it’s really good stuff, to my surprise. He is funny as hell, and travelled the country when he was writing a syndicated column. He visited Kansas and Oklahoma during the six-year drought of the 20s, spent time in Mexico and South America, marvelling at the many ruins of ancient civilizations, great buildings knocked down by a huge earthquake hundreds of years ago with walls perhaps still inhabited by local residents who have no interest in the stories behind them. Down by the river in Memphis he met a man who lived in a tiny house built of junk. The guy painted his house at night, in the dark, with whatever paint he had on hand, and then rolled out eagerly in the morning to see what he had done. That touched my funny bone. I wrote this journal post last night, but this morning I discovered that the whole thing was about COVID19 and so I deleted it and started over. That is a dreary topic by it’s very nature, and I also realized that I didn’t know diddly-shit about it, and that applies to many people who write about it anyway.

John Henderson has posted an item today from a book called ‘The Last Fighter Pilot’, about a guy who flew P-51 Mustangs over Japan in the Big War. This is a subject dear to my heart and I will try to find the book. Such veterans are disappearing fast. WW II was the major event in the world history of the twentieth century, and deserves to be remembered for so many reasons. Also, watch the presentation on this site of the recent discussion of the prospects of the pool rooms following the current pandemic. POVPool has prepared it and it features our own Jerry Matchin.

Go to the internet for good books and movies and to YouTube for entertaining videos. Stay in the house until the ‘all clear’ and wash your hands and be well. I will see you later.

Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo-
Now don’t tell me I got nothing to do.
 

vapros

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Messages
3,541
It’s Wednesday in Baton Rouge and the temperature is 82 degrees and the governor is backing down on this quarantine thing, but a little bit at a time. A lot of businesses can reopen on Friday, with certain restrictions. My barber called me today and we made an appointment for Thursday, the 21st day of the month – best he could do. Lot of customers waiting, I’m sure. That’s okay. I needed a haircut six weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure I will still need one next Thursday. I know he has been hit hard, like lots of others. We are told that the COVID19 is easing up and it’s gonna be okay if we wear our masks. On the other hand, we had a big jump reported today in the number of new cases. No doubt they know what they are doing, but I will creep out and get my haircut and then hang around the house for a while longer, to see what happens. Got my groceries and my exercise bike and my ‘puter and YouTube and plenty of toilet paper.

Biggest one-pocket news recently was from Roy’s Basement in Virginia, and I know a lot of members followed the two days of great action. Tony Chohan and Josh Filler played a race to 21 games, with some murky amount of money bet on the result. Filler won it by three games. I could write a whole lot about what I think I saw in the match, but there’s no point in it, so I won’t. It would be fascinating to see this evening’s ranking of the five best players in the world – or maybe the top ten. By the time Filler makes his trip to Germany and gets back stateside – don’t forget the quarantines involved for travelers at this time – negotiations for future contests will be in the works. Who wants to play him? Who is willing to play him? Don’t all speak at once. His game resembled Chohan’s, but he played it better than TRex.

Being the junky that I am for true crime and goodfellas, I have sort of kept an eye on an elderly gangster named Frank Cullotta for the past year or two. Longtime associate of the Chicago combination, he was sent to Las Vegas in 1970 to watch the back of Tony ‘The Ant’ Spilotro a friend from boyhood. The Ant was the head criminal there at the time. When the FBI proved to Cullotta that Spilotro had put out a contract on him, he became a government witness, testifying in many cases against his former colleagues. On YouTube (where else?) I watched a number of interviews with Mr. C, and he came across as the ultimate hood and criminal. As for The Ant, he and his brother were murdered and buried in an Illinois cornfield and resurrected in a popular gangster movie – I can’t recall the name.

Now, an old man of eighty-one years, Cullotta has a website and is making videos! Coffee with Cullotta, and I’m loving it. Frank is rough as a cob and as ugly as homemade sin. He wears various hats and often has an oxygen tube in his nose. He drinks coffee and sells personalized coffee mugs and is a mellow former gangster who promises to answer the questions sent in by his fans, as far as he can. He’s colorful and pretty funny. He doesn’t know much about the New York families, but he claims to know everything about the wise guys in Chicago and Vegas. He explains that he has total immunity for the crimes he has admitted, as part of the deal he made to become a witness. Cullotta admits to two murders directly and two more indirectly, whatever that means. His reputation is that of a hit man, but he says he was primarily a burglar and armed robber and sometime getaway driver (wheelman). He tells good stories, answers questions in detail, names names and entertains us all. I promote this stuff because most people really don’t know the kind of criminals that populate that life, just barely beyond our field of vision. Many are rotten and deadly beyond our imaginations, and Frank Cullotta knew them and can hardly wait to tell us. I’m listening.

Keep an eye on Roy’s Basement. A bunch of top players are hanging out around there, and Roy promotes action and brings it to us at no charge with his state-of-the-art video equipment. That marks him as a billiard philanthropist, and people like you and I are the beneficiaries. Plenty of pool streaming at various levels of excellence has become visible in the last couple of years, and no doubt is standing by for the end of the current pandemic. So – is one-pocket building a head of steam? I don’t know – could be. The money is better, but it’s far from good. Roy was soliciting donations for James Aranas (Dodong Diamond), who is back in the Philippines, I believe, and awaiting the birth of his first child. Nothing wrong with that, except that Aranas has become a top name in pool, but apparently has not prospered. What else is new?

In case you have forgotten, this Saturday will be Gabriela Sabatini’s birthday. She will be fifty years old – can you imagine? Where have the years gone? If I have her number I might give her a call and extend my best regards on the special day. Or not. How many pesos would it cost to call Argentina? If only I could see just one more Sabatweenie . . . Wash your hands, wear your mask and be well. See you later.
 
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