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  #131  
Old 08-23-2018, 02:56 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default One more for the road

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

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

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

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

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

I have fiddled away most of my evening, typing, deleting and re-typing this short post, trying to get it to read like I wanted it to. A continuing problem, if you write. I don’t intend to write about everyone when he (or she) dies, but I could not quite let this guy slip away without some sort of notice. It would have bothered me, I know. Not everybody was a fan of San Jose Dick McMorran, but I liked him and I’m pretty sure I would have liked Kathy, too. See you guys later.
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Last edited by vapros; 08-23-2018 at 02:03 PM.
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  #132  
Old 08-31-2018, 03:08 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Super stars

Efren Reyes plays and plays

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.S. Wow! I never dreamed the word 'mor-n' would not pass this editor.
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Last edited by vapros; 08-31-2018 at 11:40 AM.
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  #133  
Old 09-09-2018, 04:00 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Nick the Crow

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

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

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

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

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

Once in court Nick the Crow was asked by the prosecutor how he had been able to rob such an endless number of people in his career by lying and misleading them. The Crow explained that it was tough to rob an honest man, and he seldom tried. He targeted the crooked people, by making them believe they were stealing. What a pool hustler he would have made!
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  #134  
Old 09-10-2018, 06:15 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Oh, say we can see

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

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

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

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

George Anastasia is writing about the same characters that Damon Runyon wrote about eighty years ago. Like George, Runyon was a newspaperman. He wrote about the guys and dolls (have you seen the movie?) on the streets of New York. They had funny nicknames, like the ones I mentioned yesterday, and lived their lives around the little crises that always seemed to find them. The difference is that Runyon wrote fiction and made up his own dialogue. Anastasia writes non-fiction and he gets his dialogue verbatim from the wiretaps. You couldnít make this stuff up, he says, because nobody would believe it. And yes, they talk like Tony Soprano and with his vocabulary, too. Another difference, and I find this astounding, is that todayís goodfellas handle such huge sums of money, yet they seldom have any in their pockets. They are racketeers, as defined by the law, but they are in businesses also. The money flows upward, and top bosses do get rich, but the street guys are mostly brokers. They bet with the bookies and borrow from the loan sharks and scuffle to make the rent. They live the life, seeming to be aware that they wonít ever get to retire. If they donít die violently they will probably go to jail.

Anastasia writes and speaks fearlessly. Itís what he do Ė yeah, I like to say that. He can speak of last yearís murder of John Doe and note that even though there have been no arrests it is well known that Joe Blow was the shooter Ė stuff like that. So, why doesnít Joe Blow kill him? I donít know. Maybe Joe figures itís what they call good ink. I will continue to read about it, but I wonít burden you with it any more for a while. Over and out.
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  #135  
Old 09-24-2018, 01:08 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Let's bowl this week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These strange people are artistically - if not politically - incorrect in sports. They come at us from the wrong side, and we do well to fear them.
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Last edited by vapros; 09-24-2018 at 06:36 PM.
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  #136  
Old 10-10-2018, 03:14 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Bike Race

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

In my program for staying upright for maybe a few more years I am doing some strenuous stuff on my pool table and watching old movies while pedaling my ass madly around the place on an old stationary bike. I havenít taken the cover off the table in a couple of weeks, and have gotten to play precious little one-pocket during that time, either. But I have pedaled off about twelve pounds on a diet of around forty-five minutes per evening, and thatís something, isnít it? Also, I believe I have developed an allergy to milk in my old age, and thatís bad news. I have lived on cereal and ice cream for many years. However I have bought some pills for that and it seems to be the solution. Sort of like doing the maintenance on your old car.

I love the old movies and the local public library keeps lending them to me in bunches and the time in the saddle is much easier with a familiar flick on the monitor. Speaking of the saddle, I found a padded cover for it today and I needed it badly. My butt has gotten pretty bony as I age. Recently I have re-watched Where Eagles Dare, The Wild Bunch, Nevada Smith and Key Largo, among others. Still standing by on the desk I have some Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Humphrey Bogart, Lee Marvin and Robert Mitchum. Pedaling like crazy and having to slow down and lean into the curves. Donít stand in my way.

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

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

Tomorrow, Iím pretty certain it will be Five Easy Pieces on my machine, and the French Connection the day after that. From there Ė who knows? Life moves fast around here.
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  #137  
Old 10-20-2018, 01:53 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Houston

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

I suspect that the enthusiasm apparent on the web site is reaching even those who arenít old enough to enter. We are told there will be a free live stream of the matches and thatís great. This may be the only event of its kind anywhere in this country and it represents some hard work by several of our members. Iím especially impressed by the tournament poster, which should become a collectorsí item, and I hope there will be a lot of them Ė I would gladly buy a couple to bring back to Baton Rouge for display in Bayou Billiards. I wish the One Pocket.Org logo and name could have been included for all to see.

I think the people at Bogieís will make every effort to host a memorable competition, again, and it should be a good move for the house, also. When I called a motel several weeks ago to make a reservation I asked to speak to the manager, but the lady said he was out this week for open-heart surgery! Thereís a tough dude. Anyway, if Iím still on my feet and thereís something to eat, if thereís gas in my hack and my laundry is back, if Iím in the right lane and I donít hit a train you can tell Ďem Iíll be there.

Watched a great match on YouTube yesterday, the finals of a ten-ball event at Hard Times Ė I assume this year, but they never said. A young Mexican player named Ruben Bautista went against Dennis Orcullo in a race to eleven. Both played well and they were neck and neck the whole way. Bautista was on his way, possibly for the win, until he made a serious error and hooked himself. Orcullo was the winner, but the young guy looked great and I will expect to hear his name more now. Good watching, even though it wasnít one-pocket.

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

In France he was arrested for forgery and served a term of several years in a French prison. When he got out he was extradited to Switzerland and spent some years in a jail there, and when that hitch was done he was extradited to the US and sentenced to a term of twenty years. After four years he was released to the FBI and has worked for them for more than forty years so far, much of it under cover. I found him a great non-stop speaker who never had to pause in his presentation. He had some excellent insights into the communication industry and what would happen in the near future. He said passwords would disappear forever, with a program called Trusona making absolute identification of us all. Some good information, and I recommend the show. Very impressive guy, as you might imagine.
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  #138  
Old 11-14-2018, 02:33 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Goin' to Houston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I stayed at a Rodeway Inn, where the chief attraction was that it was only about a mile from Bogeyís, but I must acknowledge there was plenty of hot water and the towels were not bad at all. All in all, I had a fine time for a reasonable amount of money. Iím not at all sure I could do it again next year, but who knows? If they get the road fixed in Lake Charles, you know what I mean?
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  #139  
Old 11-30-2018, 12:51 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Patsy

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

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When she finally ran down she asked me for the time, and I told her. 'Whoa,' said Patsy, 'I better go jack 'em up!'. And she hurried off to find the others.
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  #140  
Old 12-05-2018, 03:26 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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*** It came as a shock to me on the Sunday morning after the recent tournament in Houston to learn that a player named James Davis, Sr. was the guy who had split the money with Ike Runnels in the wee hours. I tried to recall seeing anyone by that name around the tables, much less that he had torched the field without losing a match. I had not watched him play Ė even for five minutes. While I was wandering around watching Joe Blow and John Doe, James Davis, Sr. was playing better than any of them. No doubt this says something about me and about James, too. Thereís a message there.

*** I had a very good waffle today and some grits and coffee Ė thatís a real treat. It occurred to me that it would be a fine thing if the U.S. Congress was turned over to the people who run Waffle House. They would get things done and send a lot of deadheads home. Apparently the rest of us wonít do anything like that. There was a notice on the door offering a free waffle to anyone who showed up in holiday garb on Christmas Day. I like free stuff pretty good, so I have bought one of them red and white Santa Claus caps. I thought it was a pretty cheesy cap for $7.95 Ė I should have shopped around, but a free waffle is a free waffle.

*** I donít know how it is where you live, but here in South Louisiana there seems to be a lot of stealing going on, and more than a few thefts have been done by the wives of elected officials who put their spouses on the payroll in jobs where their money is. In one rural parish the wife of the Chief of the volunteer department seems to have made off with $227 K, in about a year. When their insurance premium came due recently, there was less than a thousand dollars in the bank, and other government agencies had to bail them out. The Chief says he will pay it all back. Someone needs to pay closer attention, especially in those situations. Bad combination, your honey and your money.

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

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

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