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  #131  
Old 08-23-2018, 01:56 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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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 01:03 PM.
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  #132  
Old 08-31-2018, 02:08 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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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 10:40 AM.
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  #133  
Old 09-09-2018, 03:00 PM
vapros vapros is offline
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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, 05:15 PM
vapros vapros is offline
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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, 12:08 PM
vapros vapros is offline
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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 05:36 PM.
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  #136  
Old 10-10-2018, 02:14 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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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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