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  #11  
Old 02-21-2019, 12:04 PM
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Default The Lag #10

July 1, 2018

The Lag #10
How’s the Water?

I’ve been in the shipping/receiving/transportation/warehousing industry for the better part of 30 years. To say I hate it, would be a huge understatement! Yet, due to poor choices and planning when I was a youngster, day in and day out, I serve my self-inflicted sentence. The things in my life which I truly enjoy, for which I have an undying passion are worked in to time which should be spent sleeping and cause me to suffer greatly as I cling to the few moments I can find each week to indulge in them. I am referring, of course, to the game of pool, and also to writing.
Lately I have started to look at things differently. Instead of placing the blame for my exhaustion and lack of motivation on my passion for pool, I would rather believe it is the boring, dead end, non gratifying, barely-pays-the-bills “real job” which deserves the credit for making me miserable! On Tuesday and Thursday nights, after clocking out from my “real job,” I run pool tournaments at Runway Billiards in west Mobile, Alabama. These tournaments have been known to last well past midnight at times depending upon the number of participants. So on many occasions after my 45-50 minute drive home I can crawl into bed at 2:00 am (or even later) for a quick nap before rising at 5:30 am to go to work. Many have asked, “How do you do that?” or “Why do you do that?” They don’t understand. Their thought processes conclude that I should not treat myself so badly and let someone else run those tournaments so I can get some rest.
My thought process is just the opposite. You see, I love what I do with the pool tournaments I run! Sitting there running the bracket, watching the matches, then writing about it in such a way to interest those who were not in attendance makes me happy. So I believe the need to get up early in the morning to go to a job I hate just so I can pay my bills and keep a roof over my head is what is causing the problem. Why should I even consider quitting what I love to be more rested for something I hate? I need to be looking to quit what I hate, to do what I love! There is one thing staring me in the face whenever I pick up this train of thought. That is FEAR. I have been punching the card my entire working life. When I am on the clock, it is guaranteed money. For me to venture out and try to make ends meet doing what I love to do is a huge risk. I have a family. There are others who rely on me to keep the lights on, water running, gas in the cars and the small luxury of cable television on top of maintaining the actual house. So a big, giant, “WHAT IF…” takes over every time I think about diving in head first. “What if I can’t pay the bills? What if I lose the house? What if, what if, what if…” Then I hang my head in defeat, punch my time card, and watch every tick of the clock in misery!
These days the effect it is having on me, my emotional and mental state, is becoming more and more severe. I know that most average, every day people hate their jobs. It has simply come to be accepted as “the way things are” and we just “do what we gotta do” to “keep on keepin’ on!” So am I being selfish in my inability to accept things for the way they are? Am I acting like an entitled brat because I want to do what makes me happy and quit what is making me crazy? Sometimes, that’s how I feel. I think our society has been trained to think along those lines in order to keep us down. It just is not right for me, or anyone, to feel guilty about wanting to be happy!
Earlier I mentioned some poor choices and planning when I was a young man. I certainly believe there are and should be consequences for bad decisions. If there were not, well, give America a few years and these youngsters of today will be in charge and show us what life with no consequences is like! But that is another topic. I do not believe I should be paying a penance for the rest of my life over the choices I made. I mean, I did not kill anyone. I never committed any serious crimes. I just had trouble prioritizing.
So today, thirty-some-odd years later, why should I just accept the fact that I come home wanting to eat a bullet more days than I do not? Why should that be considered a weakness on my part? Why am I just “lazy” or “unmotivated” for wanting to be happy with what I do? Believe it or not, I am not the only one who feels this way. These are very common thoughts by very common folks. I want to face these thoughts, these fears, and defy them! I want to do what I love, what makes me happy, what I have been told I do fairly well, for a living. I receive messages and comments nearly every day regarding things I have written. People compliment me when they meet me in person for the first time and tell me how much they enjoy reading what I write. I have been told I do a pretty good job running tournaments as well. These things are easy because I have a passion for them. I am able to put my heart into doing them because I care and want to do a good job. I want to run good tournaments and write interesting articles! Am I ready to dive in head first? Am I willing to go all or nothing? Well, I am not willing to lose my house and put my family on the street, so maybe I will dangle my feet over the edge and test the water. I have imagination and creativity, but I lack in other skills. Self-marketing being one. I want to do this, I am just not sure how to go about getting started. I have never been the person to brag on myself. I really do not like the attention. I suppose, though, in this endeavor I will have to learn to promote myself at least a little bit.
Welcome to the mind of an eccentric writer!
This is The Lag… Hit ‘em good, my friends!
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:06 PM
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Default The Lag #11

August 15, 2018

It’s Break Time

Well, it’s been several weeks since my last installment of, “The Lag.” This one is doubtful to be a real attention grabber. This one is more for me than anyone else, though I’m happy to share with those who may be interested.
If I were to be super creative, I might be able to come up with a metaphor about how life is like a game of poker, or maybe even pool. How we must play the hands we are dealt, or how we must make do with the way the balls stopped after the break, if I were very creative. But, I’m just not feeling it. I just do not seem to have that burning desire, that drive inside of me to write some thought provoking, insightful essay about pool and my life. You see, I am suffering from burn out. Not to be misunderstood, I still love the game very much! I am just going through a spell during which my attention is being drawn away from the game I love and directed toward some harsh realities. I have tried to play but have found that the solace, the peace I once found in playing just is not there right now. The pressures of life are bearing down harder than I can bear down when I’m behind a few balls in a game of One Pocket. My focus is gone and I am very easily distracted.
This is not the first time this has happened to me. In time, it will pass. As much as I would love to be able to focus only on pool and writing, the reality is most of the world does not care about our passion. Life goes on and with it, the responsibilities, obligations, and hardships of living. A lot seems unfair but that does not matter. Fate is not about being fair. Some of our fate is determined by our own decisions and some, I believe, is just dumb luck. Eventually, when I am once again comfortable I will be able to put some focus into playing. Until then it would be pointless and wasteful for me to even try. I am not giving up. Oh no, not a chance! As I have often stated in the past, this game is a part of who I am. Even if I wanted to, I could not shun it from my life. It would always be there in some form or fashion. Besides, I still have my tournaments (which I love doing, by the way!) at Runway which will still keep the fire smoldering within me!

In the meantime, hit ‘em good, my friends! This is The Lag…
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:08 PM
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Default The Lag #12

October 4, 2018

#12: Get Out of Your Head!

It has been awhile. It’s amazing how certain people or situations, or situations caused by certain people, can bring us down! Of course, this blog is about pool in some sort of way so I suppose I should relate this to pool somehow.
For several months I had a “situation” brewing which just seemed to slowly drain the life out of me. As the stress of this situation built, I gradually began to lose interest in the things I love and enjoy the most. My attitude toward life in general soured a bit. I didn’t want to ride my Harley. I didn’t want to play pool, and I certainly didn’t want to write about it. All things I once loved doing I no longer had the desire or the motivation to continue doing. I still felt a passion for all those things, but my motivation was suffering. I continued to play, but as my “situation” became more and more difficult to deal with, my frustration and anger from it spilled over into my table demeanor and my game suffered as well. Finally, I decided to take a break from playing as it was doing nothing for me but adding to my already overwhelming frustration. And as far as continuing with this blog? Well, it was supposed to be therapeutic for me and hopefully others who cared to read it. In my state of mind how could I possibly keep it positive even if I found enough motivation to get up and write anything? So the blog stopped.

As time went on, my “situation” continued to grow. I got more frustrated. I got angrier. I was at my wit’s end! I was hating life and fighting battles in my mind every day. Everything and everyone in my life was feeling the effects of this dark cloud which had parked itself right over top of me! I knew I had to do something I just wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. But if I didn’t do something quick things were only going to get worse, a lot worse! Then, it happened! I was getting ready to go somewhere and try to have a good time when it all came to a head and exploded. I did not get to fulfill my plans for that evening because the “situation” had instantly become top priority. In a matter of a couple hours that dark cloud had swirled into a tornado, touched down, and then blew away! I was tired, no, exhausted! Not from being down and unmotivated, but from the battle I had just fought and won! Once rested, I began to feel a little more motivated. The desire to do the things I love started to return. Creative thought processes were becoming more prevalent, and I wanted to play again!

My first time back to the table after rectifying my “situation” was still not pretty. I’ll admit, I struggled a little with some negative thoughts about not playing anymore and even questioned why, if I play this bad, I owned a cue! Only for a moment, though. I remembered my own words of advice to others who have stepped away from the table for awhile, “You can’t jump right back in expecting to play just as good as your best day!” My whole attitude had changed! I was able to take the defeat and learn from it just like the days when I was coming up. I didn’t let it pin me down. That was the difference made by having a clear head versus just a few weeks prior when life was my enemy.
It has been a couple weeks now. I am still not back to 100% but I’m getting better every day. My game is coming back fueled by an extremely strong desire to win (too bad my bankroll isn’t making such a comeback!)! I know I will never be among that group in the upper echelon of players. That’s not being negative, that’s being realistic. Even so, that does not mean I won’t try to be as competitive as I can be and possibly take one or two of them down when I have one of those days that I catch that extra gear!

Thank you to all who take the time to read and comment! I appreciate the followers and friends. Until next time: hit ‘em good, folks! This is The Lag…
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:10 PM
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December 13, 2018

#13: Catching Another Wave

Soon after The Color of Money (TCOM) hit the big screen in 1986 pool halls and bars across the country saw a huge increase in the popularity of the centuries old game. This has been referred to by some as “The Color of Money Wave.” Folks like me who were a part of that wave, had never even heard of The Hustler or had any idea that The Color of Money was a sort of sequel to the 1961 Paul Newman film. We were simply intrigued and mystified by the action and seemingly realistic situations portrayed by Tom Cruise and the much older Newman. We envisioned ourselves in the same environment and fantasized about pulling off the same schemes and hustles. Little did we know at the time, but this movie was bringing to the forefront an underground culture which had been in existence for a long, long time!

It has been estimated that the TCOM wave crested in the mid-nineties and since then the popularity of pool as more than just something to do while pounding down beers and throwing back shots has been gradually but steadily declining. For years there has been talk throughout the pool community that we need another TCOM to breathe some life back into the game. In 2002 Pool Hall Junkies was released. All of us TCOM surfers waited with breath baited and fingers crossed for another influx of new suckers and wannabe pool hustlers to start filling our pool rooms again. It did not happen. They did not come. In fact, Pool Hall Junkies did not do very well in the theatres and quickly became a subculture flick sought after by the select few deeply involved in the culture.

Now, most of us who jumped on that TCOM wave back in the 80’s, are past the half century mark in age. The memories we have of being introduced to pool, seeing some of the old hustlers who were doing what they had been doing for many years prior, sitting in the pool halls and listening to real-life stories of what really happened “back in the day” (stories that would put TCOM to shame!), are becoming blurred and fuzzy. Most of those old guys we sat and listened to are gone and with them a whole world of knowledge and intrigue has been lost. Now, as we sit in the pool halls we realize we are the old guys to whom the few youngsters look to for wisdom, guidance, and knowledge. Yet, there is something missing. Our hustling “career” lasted only a few years. With the dawn of technology, cell phones with cameras, social networks and the internet, going on the road and hustling pool across the country has all but been murdered! Everyone knows everyone and if you are lucky enough to sneak in under the radar, you’ll do it only once! For the most part the only thing happening at the pool halls is league play. Beer and liquor discounts for league players are dangled out to entice them to spend more money. The big tables have nearly become obsolete and those who are actually serious about playing pool are scoffed at and ridiculed for “taking up space” in the pool rooms! It seems as though the passion is gone and the up-and-comers are fewer and farther between. Those of us who remain true and loyal to the game cling to each other in fright as we watch our beloved culture as we knew it fade away.

Fast-forward to December of 2018. The Mosconi Cup, an annual pool competition pitting the United States against Europe, is underway. Along with the decline of American pool, the performance of this country’s champions in this competition for the last 8 years has been anything but stellar to say the least! Over time, the fans have somewhat lost interest and it became difficult to watch just for the sheer embarrassment felt for our revered players (not embarrassment OF them, but FOR them, empathy). In fact, when it started this year I was almost dreading it because of how it made me feel last year. Regardless, the MC was going to happen and as if to rub salt in our still fresh wounds, it was to be in London. Oh joy…
I’ll admit, I did not watch any the first day. Being busy at work was my excuse for not turning on the live stream. I saw an early post pop up, “SVB loses to Shaw, double hill.” That did not help. I wanted to believe Shane is the better player but why does this always happen at the MC? I shook my head and went back to work.
More posts pop up, “Young Styer is playing like a seasoned pro! Woodward in dead punch!”

What?

Billy Thorpe knocking ‘em dead too! That was it! I had to turn it on! For the next three days, I stayed glued, as much as possible, to the tiny 5 inch screen of my Samsung standing next to the computer on my desk at work! After Shane’s unfortunate loss to Jayson Shaw, Tyler Styer came out and dominated! It seemed like he was responsible for lighting the spark under the team! The American boys came together and marched forward as if they were on a mission! The European players seemed almost dumbfounded. This was supposed to be easy! The European fans that vastly outnumbered the Americans were not what we are accustomed to hearing. But it did not faze our boys! In fact, they thrived off of it! Then, when Sky Woodward wins the hill-hill game against Shaw and then mocks Shaw’s victory antics, it was like a war cry bringing in all the fans from across the country!
Finally, the United States is not a laughingstock. Finally, all the negativity is shoved aside and pool fans from coast to coast are watching on the edge of their seats with clenched fists, gritting their teeth, rooting for Corey, rooting for Tyler on the final day as they start to stumble. We did not give up, though! We just needed one more match! I’m talking to my phone, as I’m sure other are as well! Then there it is! A 1-9 combination by Shane Vanboening to win the final match! America had done it! The team had done it! The Mosconi Cup was coming back to the United States!

As I watched the post game interviews and saw Skyler “cuss” on live television (which was hilarious!), I started thinking more and more about it. Over the past 2 days I had been truly excited. I felt the exhilaration. I could feel the support the fans were giving the team. Is this what we have needed in America? Could this be the kick in the pants American pool needs to rebound? The way I felt when the Cup was over is the same way I felt while watching The Color of Money for the first time. Surely, if I felt this way, many others did as well and hopefully it will indeed be the catalyst for better days ahead!

Although I was slow to watch this year, I’m certainly glad I did! Everyone on that team deserves a hero’s welcome when they return! Johan Ruysink and Jeremy Jones did an amazing job as coaches and our boys all played very well! Styer had a magnificent rookie appearance while Woodward earned an impressive MVP! Way to go Team USA! You have definitely reignited my passion for the game!

This is The Lag… Hit 'em good, my friends!
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:13 PM
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January 29, 2019

The Lag #14
The Action Room

I have been sitting at my desk the past few days perusing Facebook for videos of the festivities at The 2019 Derby City Classic. As I watch these videos I am filled with excitement and longing. How I wish I was there!

The top players in the world are competing in several different disciplines of pool. Whichever discipline is your favorite, this event gives you the opportunity to see it played, up close and personal at the very best it can be played! Banks, One Pocket, 9-Ball, 10-Ball, and 14:1 are all being represented and performed by the best players of our era and others who are not afraid jump into the mix with them to find out where they stand.
Then there is the Action Room. It is a whole different world in the Action Room! Yes, you can still find some of the top players in the Action Room as well. This is where the heart of pool can be found! The life blood sustaining the game flows through this room. Outside of this room, on the big stage of the tournament, everyone is putting on a show. Players, hustlers, gamblers, and stake horses are all on their best behavior. Winning a specific discipline of this tournament is great for the notoriety of a player and gives that some player some recognition for the effort put into mastering the game. But in the Action Room is where the real pool is played. This is where the true essence of a player comes out. This is not a controlled environment. To play in the Action Room, a player must have true grit, a killer instinct, and an absolute desire to win!

I have never been to the “Derby.” The closest to it I have been was the Southern Classic in Tunica back in 2012 or so, whenever the first one was… That was the one I attended. From what I understand it was sort of a miniature DCC based on the same format. I can remember hanging out in the Action Room just watching. No, I didn’t play because my bankroll would not have lasted but a few minutes! But I stood on the outskirts, watched and listened. The fast talking hustlers, the big money men who sat quietly just waiting for someone to step in a trap, the players looking for someone to put them in the box, it was mesmerizing! How can anyone not love that? I could have stayed in there for hours and not hit a ball!

Amazingly, that’s the side of pool that is endangered. The “seedy underbelly,” if you will, is where it all started and what it really is all about. Instead of trying to hide this side of pool and brush it under the rug, we need to embrace it! The watered down versions of these games we have today are mere exploitations of the game in name only. Whether the Action Room is at the DCC or in the corner of your local pool hall, the real, true aura of the game can be found in the Action Room! Sure, sitting in the tournament room watching Alex Pagulayan play One Pocket is a beautiful thing and I love that as well! But behind the walls of the Action Room is where the real games are played! Anyone who thinks they like to play pool, owns a cue, or pays weekly league fees, needs to see real pool being played to appreciate what it really is! It will put into perspective one’s view of the game. Real pool is not for everyone. It takes a special kind of person to love and appreciate pool for what it really is. To me pool is beauty; pool is an art form; every aspect of the game, not just certain parts. I love this game just as much (maybe even more) today as I did when I was first bitten by the bug nearly 30 years ago.

This is The Lag. Hit ‘em good, my friends!
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:16 PM
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February 11, 2019

The Lag #15
The Brew ‘N’ Cue

1032 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee: look it up on Google Maps. There is a nice, big modern building which houses a women’s clinic and gyncology offices. It features a well kept parking lot and pristine grounds to welcome patients and make them feel safe in what was once a not so good part of town.

Let’s go back in time to 1989. The big, beautiful medical center is nowhere to be seen. Instead, a run-down, single story building is on the lot. Probably built in the 1950’s or early 60’s, this building had surely seen better days. Originally, it appeared to have been small strip mall type of structure containing maybe 4 or 5 suites and an underground basement. In 1989, though, it was home to the place which will always occupy a special place in my heart, the place where it all started, and the place where I first learned that “pool” was more than just a game to pass the time while drinking beer. This was the place where I learned that pool was a culture, a way of life, and a religion complete with its own “gods” who controlled everything on the tables. I learned there was also a set of unwritten rules which could only be learned by those who were willing to allow themselves to be indoctrinated into the culture. This was The Brew ‘N’ Cue!

The Brew ‘N’ Cue was a shrine to a dying era! Walking through the doors was like stepping into a time capsule. The decorum, the layout, the people, all gave it an aura which can only be found in the movies these days. On the other side of the front door was the bar area. A space approximately 25 feet wide and maybe 40 feet long with the bar running along the whole left side of the room. The rest of the space was filled with seating where patrons could sit, relax, and enjoy their beverages while watching the single television above the bar. Right in the middle of the right side wall, was a wide doorway which led to about 5 stairs going down into the pool room. Walking down the steps you were greeted by four 9-foot Gold Crowns with about an acre of real estate between them! To the left, against the wall was a pro-shop of sorts. In this pro shop sat Howard Barrett. Ball rental, minor cue repair, pool stories, and tongue lashings could all be obtained through old Howard, if he wasn’t asleep in his chair.

Walking deeper into the dark, smoky room you would find a row of Valley bar boxes. 1 quarter would get you 10 balls. There was no “bar-banging” 8-ball played on these tables! No sir! 9-ball rotation was the game for these tables and they were reserved for action only! A free Howard Barrett tongue lashing was included for the poor soul who shoved a quarter into one of these tables with no intention of gambling! That’s right, it only took one time for me to learn my place was in the very back where the tables had all 15 balls and the price was two quarters! “Action only on these tables! Idiots and bangers in the back! Y’all stay off these tables!” Of course, there were a few expletives intertwined amongst the words of his main message. He made it very clear, to me anyway, that there were certain people, certain players who, whether I liked it or not, were more important to the establishment than me and my friends were, no matter how much beer we drank or seasoned fries we ate! Yes, in the back behind yet another wall with two wide openings was “the banger area.” If you didn’t have your own cue, if you had no intention of gambling for more than $1 per game, and if you couldn’t make two balls in a row (on purpose), this is where you played.

I can’t be sure now how many evenings I spent back in the banger area peering through the doorway from our exile into the action area listening and watching wide-eyed as the hustlers and gamblers barked at each other, matched up, and argued over everything; which table to play on, how much to bet, what the spot should be, or if someone had moved the penny the wrong way. Occasionally one of those guys would make their way back to the land of the idiots and prey on the guy who had just purchased his new cue from Service Merchandise and thought he was a pool player. OK, that was me… That was when pool school really started!

On weekend nights The Brew ‘N’ Cue would get crowded. Just a few blocks from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, it was actually a popular hangout for students. In the basement was a large room with a stage where live bands would perform and for a small door fee, patrons could go downstairs and party to their hearts’ content. I believe that is called, “getting lit” nowadays. Yeah, we knew how to “get lit” back in the 80s, too. We just didn’t do it around the pool tables! Upstairs in the pool room the lights were turned down, the music was never too loud, and pool was being played. In the pool room, pool came first! The Brew ‘N’ Cue was a pool hall, after all, and Howard made sure it was run like one!

Of my group of friends it seemed I was the only one to have been bitten by the bug. Before long, I was going to the Brew ‘N’ Cue by myself. After being hustled a few times I finally realized there was a whole lot more to playing pool than I realized! I wanted to learn how to do it right! I sat on the sidelines and watched intently. I stayed out of the way and learned to respect the players who played this game. I would ask Howard questions. Much to my surprise, he was happy to get up and show me some things, if no one else was around. I was no longer banished to the back room. I was allowed to play in the action area, although if there was big action I had to make sure my small action was not in the way. We were usually a couple tables away from the high rollers. They grew to like me not because I was such a great guy, but because everything I won always went back into action. The money went up the food chain!

The Brew ‘N’ Cue was the epitome of what a pool hall should be! Looking back, one of the great things was they made room for everyone, but everyone knew where they were supposed to be. Pool players have never been able to keep pool halls open. Pool halls have always had to depend on others for the revenue. The Brew ‘N’ Cue allowed the “idiots” and the “bangers” to come in, spend money, and support the room, but they did not allow them to run the show. Not all of the bangers understood why they had to play in the back. Not all of the bangers understood why they had to walk around the outside of the room instead of right through the middle of the pool tables, but they did understand that they had to do it! And you know what? They did it, and continued to spend money, and came back to do it again on another night! Another crazy thing that happened was occasionally one of those “bangers,” one of those “idiots” would fall in love with the game and become indoctrinated into the culture!

I don’t really know how long the Brew ‘N’ Cue stayed on McCallie Avenue. In 1989 my son was born. Needless to say, my pool playing was cut back a good bit, though not as much as my son’s mother would have liked. Living on the other side of the county from Chattanooga, my play was limited to the game rooms which were closer by, and the occasional trip to Chattanooga. I was attracted to another pool room with an old fashioned appeal and started playing there more often at the time not realizing what I was missing at the Brew ‘N’ Cue. Then one day I just happened to notice, the building was gone and with it an era of pool in Chattanooga was gone as well.

There were other places to play in the city. The premiere pool room was Chattanooga Billiard Club in their nostalgic location on Cherry Street downtown. Shooters, turned to Parkway Billiards and stayed open after hours. CBC east opened in 1992 offering a more upscale billiard experience away from the college crowd. Hot shots, Diamond Billiard Club, EJ’s, Side Pockets, Double Hill Billiards, Breakers, many places came and went while some have managed to go the distance and are still there today. Ask any pool player from Chattanooga who is at least 50 years old about The Brew ‘N’ Cue. They all will tell you the same thing. That was the spot! That was Chattanooga’s Mecca for pool action! I think all of us really miss that place! I know I sure do! I wish there were more places like that these days but I’m afraid the days of the old-school pool halls are gone forever.

This is The Lag… Hit ‘em good, my friends!
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:18 PM
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Default The Lag #16

February 19, 2019

An Honest Humbling for a Hungry Hustler

It was 1993. I had been through my first divorce a little more than a year earlier. After spending several months getting my head back together I was back in the pool room. Picking up a cue after taking some time off turned out to be one of the best things I could have ever done, as far as playing pool is concerned. I had developed many bad habits with stance, posture, stroke, pretty much everything to do with how I played. But when I came back I had to relearn how to play and all of those bad habits were gone! Granted, I still didn’t really know how to make a ball, but at least now I had stronger fundamental base on which to build.

The new, East location of the Chattanooga Billiard Club had just been built. It was like nothing Chattanooga had ever seen! The mystical, dark, dank pool room was becoming a thing of the past and “CBC” was the pool room of the future. It was bright, clean, carpeted, and spacious with 24 tables including a Snooker table and a Billiard table, four 9-footers and the rest 8-footers. Two large, raised seating areas offered plenty of room for spectators and diners to sit in comfy chairs to sweat matches or watch the big screen televisions while they enjoyed a meal from the full restaurant menu and drinks from the fully stocked bar. Darkly stained wood and decorative brass bars embellished the interior giving it that final touch of “upscale” distinguishing CBC as a billiard parlor instead of a pool hall. With a club membership, drastic savings on table rental and pro shop items could be had by any who were willing to pay the menial fee for the annual membership. This was my new hang out!

Working 2nd shift at the Little Debbie factory since 1987, I had become somewhat of a night owl. I would rush straight to CBC after work and close the place down nearly every night. The night crowd consisted mostly of people my age who worked in the service industry or other local factory workers. There were a few guys who played better than the rest of us, but still not what I would consider good players.

I don’t remember how I happened to go into CBC early the first time but what I do remember is the daytime clientele was a little different! These guys could play! Most of them were older, retired or worked from home, or just had money and didn’t really have to be anywhere if they didn’t want to. All of them would play for a little cash. It didn’t matter what table. They played 8-ball, 9-ball, Snooker, Golf on the Snooker table, even some 3 Cushion Billiards, and One Pocket! I, like most everyone, had started out playing 8-ball not knowing any other games existed. Then I learned about 9-ball. What a game, that 9-ball! Flog at everything, chunking for the cheese! Now, that was fun! So naturally, 9-ball was what I wanted to play when I decided I was going to show these old fogies what youngster could do! I could roll the 9 from anywhere, and I did! Sometimes, it would even go in, sometimes… What I didn’t count on was, these old guys just went ahead and ran out. What? Where was the fun in that? Well, I imagine having a wad of cash placed in their hands after it was over was all the fun they needed! What was that saying Fast Eddie coined in The Color of Money? “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” On the flip side of that coin, money lost is twice as sour as money spent. I came to realize pretty quickly where I stood in the pecking order. Once I got that figured out, I was ready to be a student of the game and these old guys were going to be my instructors whether they knew it or not!

I started frequenting CBC during the daytime hours more often. Since they opened at 11:00 am, I had about 3 hours to play before I had to rush to work. The old guys were there every day and were more than happy to “gamble” with me for the short time I had available. Some days I would get so involved with playing that I would come down with horrible afflictions and not be able to make it to work. That happened way too often! In fact, my boss finally required a doctor’s note every time I was “sick” and unable to work. Fortunately, in those days medical insurance was actually worthwhile and a trip to the doctor for a cold, flu symptoms, or other minor ailments was relatively cheap. Yes, it was actually affordable before the Affordable Care Act! Anyway, so I found the most inexpensive and effective condition was viral Pink Eye. I found that out by actually getting it for real and missing two weeks of work while it ran its course. If I wanted a few days off work all I had to do was drive to the doctor’s office, dab a little soap in my eye and wait for the conjunctivitis diagnosis. BOOM! 3 days off work, minimum! I could play pool to my heart’s content! To this day I often wonder how I was able to keep my job at the plant for just shy of 25 years!

Every one of those daytime players had an impact on me and my pool game in some way or another. There was one guy in particular who actually referring to him as a “guy” seems somewhat disrespectful. He was, Mr. Allen. A military veteran from World War 2, Mr. Allen was confined to a wheelchair and appeared to be approximately 300 years old. He always wore a smoking jacket, an Ivy hat, and chewed on a half-smoked stogie as big around as the butt of a cue! Although smoking was allowed in CBC, I never saw Mr. Allen smoke his cigar. He just held it with his teeth and when he spoke, well, I think we’ve all heard or can imagine someone speaking with a large cigar in his mouth! Mr. Allen played One Pocket. He would roll around the table in his wheelchair bumping balls to the rail driving his opponents insane as they tried to shoot balls at their own pocket. I had seen the game before but never had any real interest in it. It seemed stupid and downright boring to me. If there are 6 pockets on the table why only use two of them? Yeah, crazy, what a dumb game, One Pocket! 9-ball was the game, baby! Roll them all, test the rails, one will fall!

In my simple, little mind I was an up-and –coming player with high aspirations of “going pro.” I had watched both The Hustler and The Color of Money several times and knew how to handle myself in the pool room. What attracted me to this game of One Pocket was not the intrigue of an intellectual game pitting the wits of each player against each other in a strategical battle of chess moves on the pool table. No, it was the fact that Mr. Allen had seemingly no stroke, couldn’t reach the cue ball if it was in the middle of the table, and appeared to miss everything at which he shot! Mr. Allen drove a brand-new, bright, red Cadillac Coupe de Ville with a white top. That car was always spotless, immaculate! I had heard he lived up on one of the nearby mountains, either Lookout Mountain or Signal Mountain, which was also an indication of being well-to-do. Yep, that was my incentive to learn One Pocket. How hard could it be, anyway? Mr. Allen was going to be my meal ticket. He was going to make all this time off from work pay off. I was going to beat him out of his fortune, a little at a time every day until I could afford the finer things in life! So I asked him to teach me the game starting out at $5 per game. Of course, it was a hustle. It was perfect! I was going to pretend I didn’t know anything, let him drop his guard, and then beat him out of his cash! By the end of that first day I had barely enough cash to get to work until payday. Eat? Luckily, the Little Debbies were free in the break room. They weren’t much for sustenance but they kept my stomach from growling! Boy, oh boy! What a hustler I was!

After that initial session with Mr. Allen, I was hooked! Needless to say, he put a humbling on me and made me realize I wasn’t quite as smart as I thought I was. I learned that One Pocket took more brains than brawn, and even though I might have been the better shooter, Mr. Allen could move circles around me! That became my daily ritual. I would meet Mr. Allen at CBC when they opened and play until I had to go to work, unless I called in sick. I’d like to think I was a quick learner, but in reality I don’t think I was. Mr. Allen would laugh and laugh at me as I would repeatedly get so frustrated I would start slamming balls around! Day in and day out we would play. For weeks, then months and I never finished a session ahead of Mr. Allen! I was learning though, and I put that knowledge to work at night, after work. The guys who came in at night would play and lose to me, just as I was losing to Mr. Allen. The more I played the game, the more I fell in love with it! No longer did I think One Pocket was a dumb, boring game. I was beginning to understand how complex and intricate it could be. I was learning how to out maneuver my opponents instead of relying on brute force and firepower to beat them. I was still a tiny, little guppy in a big pond, but I was growing. How much I would grow was up to me and destiny.

As time went by, I did finally start to beat poor, old Mr. Allen. I was no longer gunning for his fortune, though. I had grown to appreciate what he had taught me and respect him not only as a player, but as a person. He had to know my intentions when I came after him to play. He could have broken me, but he didn’t. Instead he just played for a measly 5 bucks a game, doing what he loved and helping a young, cocky dude learn the beautiful game of One Pocket along with a little much needed humility.

I don’t know what happened to Mr. Allen. I would assume that by now he has been gone for quite some time. I saw less and less of him as I dove deeper into this fascinating world of pool until finally, I had all but forgotten him. Again, life continued for me and I drifted away from the game. I can’t remember ever thinking of Mr. Allen again until just a few days ago when someone asked me how long I had been playing One Pocket. All of a sudden, a tsunami of memories flooded my mind and I have thought about almost nothing else! Maybe I’m getting a little sentimental in my old age, I don’t know. But I wish I could tell Mr. Allen how much I appreciate him and what he did for me. Back then, I really had no idea how great of an impact he was having on me. Now I understand. I never became the great player I once thought I could be, but thanks to Mr. Allen I developed a love and passion for the game of pool that would compete with anyone! That’s what Mr. Allen did for me and for that, I will be forever grateful! Now, I hope that somewhere along the way I have or I will spark that same passion in someone else and pass along the legacy of Mr. Allen.

This is The Lag…
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Old 03-14-2019, 04:46 PM
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The Lag #17
Pride, Passion, and the Pool Gods

Have you ever felt so discouraged with your game that you have vowed to quit and never play again? And then the next day or a few days later there you are, back in the pool room, looking for action or signing up for a tournament! How many cues have you broken in a fit of rage over a game lost, a miscue, or just plain bad playing?
Living down here on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi I can’t tell you how many times I have contemplated throwing my cue case with all of its contents over the side of the Ocean Springs Bridge into Biloxi’s Back Bay, or the I-10 bridge over the Pascagoula River, or maybe even into Lake Ponchartrain on my way back from New Orleans. Despite pounding the bejesus out of my steering wheel and screaming at myself for miles during the drive home, I have never actually followed through with my empty threats of chucking my equipment into any of the thousands of creeks, rivers, lakes or bayous which cover more area than dry land in this part of the country. I have, however, snapped a cue shaft in anger over the way I was playing. You better believe that shaft learned its lesson and never played bad for me again! How stupid! Snapping an OB Pro Plus shaft in half is like shredding two $100 bills into confetti and tossing the wad into the air to watch it rain. I have witnessed thousands of dollars worth of cues turned into splinters during fits of rage, so I suppose I’m the lucky one with my little $200 shaft!

What is it that causes these feelings, these actions by us pool players? Are we just that irrational that we will literally throw away hundreds or thousands of dollars over a mistake we have made? I mean, I have never seen a cue that makes bad decisions, bad games, lose more money than it has, or intentionally starts hitting balls badly out of the blue. And why do we threaten ourselves with quitting? Pool is a game for which a tremendous amount of skill is required to play well, but there is still a variable of luck involved, even at the highest levels. When we work hard to perfect our craft and then the pool gods come along and dash our hopes and dreams by letting a “banger” get the best of us in a tournament we tend to feel a bit hopeless, like we have just been wasting our time. Why strive to be the best we can be if we’re still just going to get beat by dumb luck? And let’s face it, some people are just more lucky than others!

So we still have not answered the question. Why do we do this? Why does this happen? I don’t think the question can be answered definitively, only speculatively, maybe. All I can do is speak for myself and assume that I am among the norm when it comes to the psyche of pool players. I think I can sum it up in one word: passion!
Those of you in the pool world who know me know that I am very passionate about pool in general but specifically the game of One Pocket. At 51 years of age I have been playing pool for the better part of 30 years and One Pocket for about 25 of those. Though I have never and will never be among the upper echelon of players, I believe I share the same amount of passion for the game as those guys. Just because it doesn’t translate into skill doesn’t mean it’s not there. I absolutely love the game and have dedicated nearly a lifetime of “spare time” to playing and mastering it. So, when something happens which undermines all of the hard work I have put into my game it is frustrating. For example: my opponent lays down a pretty good break. I have to study the table for a few moments to figure out what my answering shot is going to be. Finally, I find it and execute it perfectly. A few innings later, and I’m out of his break and have control of the table. I have one final move to make before I’m ready to start pocketing balls. I leave him buried in the stack with no way out. His only options are taking an intentional foul which would leave me in the stack, or he could jack up over a ball and attempt a long rail bank which would be catastrophic for him after the inevitable miss. How many of you can finish the scenario from here? He goes for the long rail bank, hits it so badly the object ball crashes into the stack breaking it wide open, and caroms into his pocket. Seven shots later the game is over after his “8 and out” from nowhere! Sure, it can be argued that his luck will not last, the rolls will even out in the end, and any other clichés of which anyone can think, all of which may be true. But the fact remains, it happened and the damage is done. I’m not speaking about damage to a bankroll or moving up on the scoreboard. I’m talking about damage to the mental game. I worked hard, I played the better game, and I stayed in control and lost to dumb luck. That will take a toll on anyone’s mind. Suddenly, instead of shooting with confidence and executing perfect moves, every shot is second guessed with a giant, “WHAT IF.” The elbow tightens up, the wrist starts flopping, the stroke gets jerky, all because in my mind my perfect game was not good enough.
Now it is no longer dumb luck. Now I am just playing bad. My opponent is not “getting all the rolls” as I am claiming because I can’t admit to playing this badly. I’m allowing him to “freestroke” on me. Mad and frustrated, I can’t accept the blame so I have to lash out. My opponent is just lucky, the pool gods hate me, the table is playing terrible, my tip is messed up, the excuses pour out doing nothing but making me even angrier because I know the truth! The truth is I played bad! I allowed one moment of misfortune to get to me so badly that I completely self destructed!
How many times have you watched a player self destruct? We sit in the crowd of sweaters watching a big money match or a tournament match between two key players and this happens to one of them. We can sit there, recognize what is going on and criticize it from our chairs, yet still fail to act accordingly when it happens to us. I believe it is all about passion.
Being a pool player is a state of mind. I don’t believe it has anything to do with skill. Anyone who has the passion to play the game, whether they play it well or not, is a pool player. With that passion comes a certain amount of pride. What? You think pool players have no pride? Every pool player is proud! Some can just hide their pride better than others which can be a good thing for gambling, but you better believe every pool player has pride in what he or she has accomplished! When something happens to hurt that pride we can be irrational. I think that pertains to everyone. The anger we display, the irrational behavior, it all stems from our pride being damaged and making our passion seem like a waste of time and energy. When the anger subsides and the irrationality is finished, that same pride and passion takes over once again driving us to fix whatever it was that went wrong. Weaknesses in our mental game can prove to be much more detrimental than any bad physical habits we may have with our stance, stroke, or bridge. No matter how much we practice, how many lessons we pay for, if we don’t develop our mental game our improvement is limited. We have to learn to bounce back and recover from these occurrences. The pool gods are always going to be there wreaking havoc whenever and upon whomever they choose. It’s up to us to develop our own defense against them and learn how to learn from the lessons they give us.
So the next time you see a pool player throwing his cue like a javelin, smacking it on the table like a whip, slamming down the rack and shaking his head in disgust, don’t write him off as a crybaby too quickly! He might just be a super passionate player being served a lesson from our beloved pool gods!

Hit ‘em good, my friends! This is the lag…
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Old 04-19-2019, 12:18 PM
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The Lag #18
$20 Per man, $2 Hickies

Golf, on the Snooker table, in my opinion one of the most fun games ever invented in cue sports! I was introduced to this game back in 1992 or maybe it was 1993 at the Chattanooga Billiard Club where there was a nine foot table which had been converted into a Snooker table with all the spots for the numbered balls as well as the “D” on the headstring for Snooker. As if learning to play Snooker was not difficult enough with those tiny balls and oddly shaped pockets, the “old guys” had to put regular America pocket billiard balls on that table and play Golf! I remember wrinkling up my forehead and asking, “What?” Of course, being the youngster with an ego made me the house sucker and before I knew it, I was playing Golf on the Snooker table!
I would like to think I may have actually won a few games, but I don’t remember for sure. More than likely, I did not win any but I do remember playing that game was really, really fun! The games in which I played were relatively cheap with 5, 6, or maybe 7 of us playing. Once all the hickies were added up the winner usually made out like a bandit! Like rotation ring games, the best player did not always have to win. Once a player started to get a few hickies, it became more and more difficult for them to catch up. Many times, the hickies would outnumber the price per man and even playing 25 or 50 cent hickies would add up to several dollars in our friendly game.

During this era the Chattanooga Billiard Club, or CBC as it is still called today, was getting quite a bit of action. Players were coming through town and taking on the best we had to offer. We had a few players and a couple of guys with sizeable bankrolls who didn’t mind putting those players in the box to take on the likes of Wade Crane, Gene Cooper, or a young, heavyset kid with super soft hands who called himself, Jeremy Jones. When these guys came through town inevitably there would be a game of Golf on the snooker table. When the prices of these games would edge up towards the title of this blog entry, I could be found on the rail watching the big dogs go at it! I remember that it didn’t seem to matter who was playing or how much the wager, someone playing would get their feelings hurt over the amount of hickies they were being charged. This would lead to some often times loud, colorful language which, to those of us on the rail, was quite entertaining! When the game was over and the bills were being passed around, there was always someone grumbling and wadding up his bills as he threw them on the table. Then they would flip coins and go again and someone else would end up being the whipping boy.
There was one such game with a high price tag being played one busy evening. This game was probably 7 or 8 handed but I don’t recall exactly who all was playing. I may have been known to ingest a few chemicals during that period and my memory of that time can be somewhat foggy. I know I was playing 9-ball a few tables away and my buddy, Chris, was in action playing 9-ball on the table directly foot to foot with the snooker table. Keep in mind I was pretty green but I had figured out that if there was “big” action, I did not want to be playing on any table directly adjacent to the big action table. I guess Chris had not figured that out yet, though he should have because he worked there! Anyway, this particular night he was off work and in action with someone probably playing $2 9-ball or maybe races to 5 for $10, something along those lines. Anyway, you get the picture, he was playing cheap, really, really cheap, right next to the guys who could have made a mortgage payment with what they would win in that one game of Golf! Chris was winning and he would holler down at me after every game with a big grin on his face (no, he didn’t do any chemicals he was just high on life!) to let me know he won another one. So of course, I would look over at him in acknowledgement and try to read his opponent for signs of giving up. Well, Chris had hollered at me, and I stopped to watch him break the next game. Did I mention that Chris was even greener than me? Yeah, he hadn’t been playing long so needless to say, his stroke did not always strike the cue ball where he intended to strike it. Yep, he might have hit this break shot a little low on ol’ Whitey! Or maybe a lot low! That sound, that horrible, horrible sound made when trying to draw the cue ball and it’s cued too low scooping it into the air, that’s the sound we all heard. Me, Chris, his opponent, and all the guys playing Golf, turned to watch the cue ball sailing through the air right toward the Snooker table! Everyone was frozen and the ball seemed to be floating in slow motion, but no one could move to try and deflect it away! When it landed squarely in the middle of the Snooker table it made that other awful sound heard in the pool room of a ball being slammed into the slate. As soon as it hit, everything shifted back to normal speed. The cue ball made it to the head rail of the Snooker table without touching a ball and immediately careened back down the table at warp speed. Before anyone could do anything to stop it, it had hit the top rail twice and was heading toward the bottom rail again. It never disturbed any balls in the Golf game! Not one! It didn’t touch anything! Somehow, Chris had managed to hit it straight, with no spin, and it had gone back forth twice without disturbing the high-action Golf game! He got lucky! I don’t think any of those guys would have physically hurt him, but I bet he would have gotten quite the tongue lashing from several or all of them! Though he could play dumb at times, Chris was not. He was a quick learner. After retrieving his cue ball, he and his opponent moved to another table as far away from the Snooker table as they could get! The Golf game continued with the old guys chuckling and shaking their heads at the antics of the uneducated youngster!

The Snooker table did not last long at CBC. Aside from the Golf games, maybe few games of 6-ball rotation, and the occasional game of Snooker the table sat dormant and was not much of an asset for the establishment. After removing it along with the billiard table on the other side of the building, two 9-foot Diamonds took their places. To this day those Diamonds are still there, right where once were a 9-foot Snooker table and a 9-foot Billiards table. I believe that was 1993 or early 1994. I have not played a game of Golf on a Snooker table since! It’s just not the same on a regular table. Those sure were some great memories, though!
This is the lag…
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Old 04-25-2019, 03:10 PM
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The Lag #19
April 18, 2019

A Day in My Double Life
5:30 am
My alarm goes off, waking me from a rare deep sleep during which I was dreaming about flying Jeeps doing aerobatics, and playing pool at the flying Jeep air show. I sit up, remove the ear plugs from my ears and the black sleeping mask from my face. It’s the beginning of a new day in the life of me, the lowly warehouse clerk.
6:30 am
I’m dressed and ready for work, but I am frantically packing my bag for my life after work, aka, “Life after death!” Yes, it’s Thursday and I have a 9-ball tournament to run tonight. So, I pack my tournament bag making sure all the necessary items are in there; my records book, sign up sheets, Calcutta sheets, Break & Run sheets, all forms I use to keep meticulous records of all my tournaments, my tablet, envelopes, pens, Chromecast unit, extension cord, “RESERVED” signs for the tables, and a shirt to change into after work. I grab my cues and head down my hallway to the front of the house, stopping in the kitchen to grab my 44 ounce coffee cup.
6:45 am
Finally, I am navigating out of the neighborhood, through the maze of school children and their millennial parents who never learned that standing in the middle of the street and not looking both ways before crossing the street can be dangerous, much less taught their children anything of the sort! Parents who are still children themselves and seem to think the fact that I’m in my car driving on the street while their little snot-nose brats are playing tag in that same street, should be an offense worthy of the death penalty! Once past all that I merge onto I-10 eastbound, headed toward Alabama and dodging the abundance of stupid drivers who use this thoroughfare every morning.
7:30 am
I walk into work. I’m almost always the first one there. I shut off the security alarm system and clock in as a feeling of doom and gloom settles in to make the next 8 and a half hours seem like an eternity.
8:01 am
My cell phone rings, it’s a call from home. Always worried when I receive a call from home during work hours, I answer it quickly. I am informed that I left my cues leaning up against the wall in the kitchen… Great… Now I can’t even practice. Oh well, right now I’m playing the worst pool I’ve played since I was learning to play so I don’t need them anyway. Hell, I don’t deserve to even own a cue, the way I’m playing now!
9:15 am
After answering several phone calls and emails, all of which were totally unnecessary, redundant, and just downright ignorant, I start writing this, in between more calls and emails.

Now, obviously my day has not ended yet so the rest of this is not true history. But, I can base the rest of this on my typical Thursday, which I will do.
From here on out I will be answering more calls and emails, maybe loading out a few customer pick ups, all while basically just wishing someone would shoot me in the head or a stray missile from North Korea would hit the warehouse, taking me out of my misery! I stay in trouble for my customer service skills, or lack thereof, never following customer service protocol and actually telling customers the truth, even if they don’t like it! I just can’t seem to grasp the concept of simply telling them what they want to hear to get them off the line! Also, being the writer I am, my response to some of the emails can be somewhat harsh. Apparently, I have a way with words which, when I want to do so, I can make the recipient feel very, very stupid. Evidently, some of the folks up in the corporate offices and the main customer service department have had their little feelings hurt by a few of my responses to their emails. What can I say, though? If you ask a stupid question, you’re going to get a stupid answer! Thirty seconds of research might lead some of them to the answer for which they are looking and would save them from the humility of being called out by me for their ignorance! Sorry, I have my own job to do instead of doing your job for you! Until 4:00 pm, this is my miserable life. This is who I am during the day.
3:54 pm
I have my desk cleaned. My keyboard and mouse have been shut off. I have already changed shirts, put my contact lenses in my eyes, and have my little day bag containing my glasses, contact lens case, and some medications from my recent illness, closed up and ready to go. I am, at this point, waiting for the clock to tick over to 3:55 so I can clock out and put an end to this work day!
4:00 pm
I am in my car once again dodging traffic in Theodore, Alabama and headed to Northwest Mobile where Runway Billiards is located. That feeling of doom and gloom is gone. Thoughts of order numbers, ceramic tile, hardwood, rolls of carpet and padding are nothing but a distant memory. None of that is my problem any longer! I’m on my way to my happy place!
4:30 pm
I have already carried an armload of stuff into the pool room. I am setting up my tablet with the chromecast, getting my paperwork ready, and laying the “RESERVED” signs on the tables I’ll be using for the tournament. It’s a precaution I take just in case a group of power drinkers comes in before the tournament and wants to camp out on one or more of those tables.
5:00 pm
By this time I am usually either practicing by myself or in some light action. Since my illness, which lasted most of February and March, my pool game has fallen off tremendously! So, I have become reluctant to play even if it is light action because I am so frustrated with my game. Practice, I suppose, is what I really need, but since I left my cues in the kitchen this morning I suppose practice will just have to wait!
7:00 pm
I will be sitting in my chair at the end of the bar from where I run the tournaments. I’ll be ready for sign ups from participants and selling tickets for the Break & Run pot.
8:00 pm
It’s Thursday so the Calcutta will be starting. Hopefully there will be lots of players and bidders to make the Calcutta a good one!
8:30 pm
Sometimes it‘s a little later than this, but most of the time it’s right around this time when I start loading the names into the tournament program to start the bracket. As soon as I finish and the bracket is set, I will call the first matches and the tournament will begin. Once the first matches are going, I will count the money, figure the payouts, and divide it all into their respective 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place envelopes. Now, I can settle back and watch some pool! Running the bracket is the easy part. For the next few hours life is grand!
11:00 pm
This is the approximate time of the Break & Run drawing. I do it when the tournament gets down to the final 6 players, 4 on the one-loss side and 2 on the winners side. Sometimes we get to that point more quickly than others, but I try to do the drawing no later than 11:00 pm, or very shortly thereafter. As soon as the Break & Run attempt is finished, the tournament is back underway with the final 6 players. This is the time when I try to pay the closest attention to what is going on, who is playing whom, the scores of the matches, any incredible shots, safety battles, break and runs, any information I might need to make my tournament report, which I will write on Friday from my desk in Hell, a little more interesting than the norm. Many times, as the tournament gets down to the final few players, the matches start to take a little longer. Players are being more cautious and taking their time looking for patterns and lining up their shots. No one wants to finish fourth! Usually, even third place is a decent payday with the Calcutta money, so getting knocked out on the bubble due to a careless mistake is something everyone wants to avoid. What it does do, is make for some very good matches of pool for the spectators who remain in the building to witness.
1:00 am
On most nights I am on the road by now, headed back home. Occasionally, we will still be finishing up at this hour, but that is a rarity.
1:30 am
I pull into my driveway, load up my arms and trudge to my front door. Joyce has gone to work so the house is empty with the exception of Drillbit. Drillbit is my 6 pound, 10 year old Chihuahua who thinks he weighs 100 pounds and is only 2 years old! By this time he has been by himself for several hours and needs to go outside. I put down my armload of stuff, turn on the outside lights, which I’m sure my neighbors love to see at this hour, and we head out into the back yard for Drillbit to walk around in circles sniffing for that perfect spot to lay his waste material. Sometimes that spot can be very elusive making the search time seem like hours! Finally, after “doing his business,” and hiking his leg on every fallen twig, fence corner, and plant that is taller than the grass, he is ready to go back inside.
Once back in, Drillbit gets his treat, takes it to bed, curls up and is asleep before I can even get my shoes off! I still have to get my coffee pot ready and take out my contact lenses before crawling into bed at about 2:00 am. As I close my eyes, knowing my alarm is going to rudely interrupt my slumber in less than 4 hours, my mind always starts replaying events of the day. What order number was that? What a shot on table #2! What did that customer say? Who won the hot seat match? That crazy woman in customer service wants what? Who played on table #1 after the Break & Run attempt? How many balls did he make? Where did I put that Return Authorization? That was a great out! Who shot it? Did I finish that requisition? Is the light bill due tomorrow? I need a new tire for my car. How many more days until the Buffalo’s tournament?
5:30 am
My alarm goes off… Somebody shoot me!

I know I’m not alone. In fact, most people who play pool or run tournaments also have day jobs. Unfortunately, having a “real job” seems to be a necessary evil. I wish that was not the case! I wish everything I did in some way had something to do with pool, but I suppose I need to keep a place to live and eating is also a bit of a necessity! So, we do what we have to do. We go to work. Our pool games suffer, maybe even our mental health suffers, but we keep doing it. We live the double life because we love the game!
Hit ‘em well, my friends! This is The Lag…
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