Monday, August 29, 2005

One-Eyed Jack and the Magic Eye Patch

Though I haven’t been posting too much lately, don’t take that to mean I haven’t been shooting pool. I have been. And, I’ve been playing pretty well. Yes, though I’m pushing 60, I am still improving.

Most recently, I came in 4th place, one spot out of the money, at the “A” nine-ball tournament at DJ’s two Thursdays ago. Considering the caliber of some of the players, that’s about as good as I can ever hope to finish. Likewise, I finished third at the big $250 added 8-ball bar tournament at Classic’s. As I predicted several weeks back, the money attracts all kinds of hot shots, one who’s been on the pro tour.

The latest boost in my play has to be credited to the eye patch. I started wearing it around the house a few weeks back hoping it would encourage my dominant eye to be more dominant and thereby eliminate the problem I have zeroing on object ball contact points. It may have helped in this regard, but honestly speaking I forget to put it on most days and therefore haven’t given it a true test. When I wear the patch, my wife calls me One-Eyed Jack.

Anyway, more significant is the fact that I’ve been wearing the patch while practicing my long straight shots. Nothing will point out faulty alignment quicker. When you can start popping in those long straight shots one-eyed, you can be pretty sure you're in line. Hopefully, when you remove the patch the good alignment will carry over to your other shots. It has for me. I was missing a lot of shots and blaming them on my vision. Now, it’s apparent that at least some of those misses were due to bad alignment.

Another thing I’ve been doing involves the use of a small disk (see earlier entry on my aiming device), about the size of a silver dollar. The disk has a single line through its diameter. In order to help me visualize the contact point on the cue ball, I place the disk flat on the table between my bridge hand and the cue ball. The line on the disk must be placed at the same angle as the object ball to the pocket. Looking at the lead edge of the disk helps me locate the contact point on the cue ball. At least that’s my theory. And you can’t argue with success.

A few weeks ago I mentioned my latest pool story, Remembrance of Ignominious Things Past. In an example of cross-promotional brilliance, I redesigned my pool t-shirt. It has the familiar flaming 8-ball image on the front, and on the back it states pool rule 6: “When you bet and lose, YOU HAVE TO PAY! Otherwise, people might think you’re a freakin’ scumbag.” Be the first on your block to order one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Farewell To The Tennessee Rambler

Last Saturday, July 6th, men and women of the cloth (the green cloth, that is, preferably Simonis) gathered to bid farewell to our friend and fellow pool shooter James. Five years away from his native Tennessee was enough and he’s now looking forward to returning to all the gang back home.

More than anyone else, James is responsible for what has come to be known as the Florida Barroom Tour. He not only found the tournaments, some in little hole-in-the-wall beer joints, he also spread the word.

He’s made a zillion friends down here all of whom are now lamenting the fact that tournaments will never be the same – not as lively, not as enjoyable. He leaves here owing no one, but being owed by everyone. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

Below is a portrait of James at the party as he studies a game in progress. In the background is one of the many admirers who attended the soiree.

The party was hosted by Chris and Jim. Chris and James have been on the first place team in their pool league the last few years. I’ve had a few rule and procedural disputes with her at tournaments and therefore have always avoided contact with her or her sharp-shooting spouse. However, they proved at the party, once and for all, that they’re much better people than I am. Not that that’s anything to brag about; the way I figure it, three out of four people you pass on the street are better than I am. Check that - my wife says it's more like 99 out of a hundred. Anyway, in their case it is significant - they are much, much better and nicer. The party was great. We had a little tournament in the garage - I think I came in third – and I hear that some of those straight-shooting animals were still pocketing balls at four in the morning, long after the older fellows were home and in bed.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Perfect Alignment

The planets were lined up just right, I had a good draw, I got a few good rolls, and I might’ve been a little lucky because for the second time in about 6 weeks I won the Friday night stop on the local bar room tour. Top prize was ninety bucks instead of the usual hundred because of a sparse field, I guess.

Like I have said, my friend James is moving out of Pasco County and back to Tennessee in a couple weeks, so my participation as a regular on the bar tour is about to come to an end. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met a lot of nice people on the circuit, as well, of course, as more than a few slugs. It’s the game they play that I’ve had enough of. It looks like pool, it even smells like pool, but to me it just isn’t pool. It’s sort of like comparing miniature golf to that game Tiger Woods plays, if you know what I mean.

I mean, sure, I’ve won a few tournaments but I’d be much more pleased with myself if I entered an ‘A’ tournament and won a match or two. If you want to be a pool player, you gotta play pool.

So, after James leaves I’ll be performing my wizardry in the pool halls of Pasco County. At least, that’s the plan. I might sneak back to the bars once in a while, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

And there are other forces at play here, like I don’t smoke. Sure, there’s a lot of smoking in the pool rooms, too, but most of the pool rooms around here have smoke eaters and other types of ventilation. This is not the case with the beer joints. They could give a shit about your lungs. I quit smoking back in 1990 and I like to kid myself into thinking my odds of getting lung cancer have gone down. It’s hard to kid yourself when after a night of pool playing you come home with aching lungs.

Then there’s the fact that I don’t drink. I haven’t had so much as a beer since I was diagnosed a diabetic back in 2000. I’ve been told I can have an occasional beer with little consequence, but, the way I look at it, if you’re not gonna get bombed why drink at all. I do feel obligated to buy something when I’m out, so I’ll usually buy myself a water or a diet cola. (Note: I didn’t endorse any particular brand of diet cola because as of now I haven’t received that $50,000 check.)

That’s about it. I’m still practicing about an hour a day, working on my stroke and my shot making, and I’m still wearing the eye patch over my subdominant eye hoping to make my dominant eye more… dominant. Is it doing any good? I don’t really think so; not yet anyway. But, I’m a stubborn mother f’er - I refuse to give up.