I’ve been insanely busy which is very similar to normal busy but has delusions and danger thrown in for free. If you don’t believe me you can ask Joanna, the mechanical hamster that lives among the sentient wax in my left ear. He’ll complain about having a girl’s name and you’ll need to have a good grasp of Swedish and semaphore to comprehend his responses but, if pestered enough, he’ll confirm that my busy levels have been hovering above the insane level for about five days now. That’s over a month in dog years.
When I’ve had a smidgeon of free time recently I’ve crawled into the chair in my living room and flicked on the television. Sport helps me relax. Well, watching sport helps me relax. Partaking in sport helps me sweat and I don’t need any help sweating thankyou very much. Damned armpits. Why can’t we sweat internally and then excrete it out later through a nozzle in the belly button? It would rust belly button rings and might persuade women with guts that extend past their waistline to damn well stop wearing cropped tops and these are good things. Why would God invent sweat glands, then invent t-shirts, then invent anti-perspirant deodorant. That. Does. Not. Work? Does that make any sense Joanna? Oh, good point …
The sports that currently have my undivided attention during the near-catatonia that follows in the wake of the insane busying are football and pool. The Copa America is taking place over in Peru at the moment and the World Pool Championship is being held this year in Taiwan. If you’re unsure where Peru and Taiwan are then let me explain: they’re on the other side of the planet. Bloody timezones. When Joanna and I take over the world everyone will move to Greenwich Mean Time and a series of space mirrors and space umbrellas will ensure we all get the same amount of daylight and night at the same time.
Now, I’ve mentioned the kingly sport of 9-ball pool before. I mention it every time there’s a world championship and every time that the Mosconi Cup takes place: that’s two articles a year I don’t have to give much thought to. As luck would have it I never bothered moving across many of my articles from previous incarnations of this site and my key demographic is the short-term memory problem-ridden, middle-aged male or female with no interest in pool making a "completely new and original" post about pool satisfy both criteria of "making sure people don’t think I’ve died" and "boring visitors to tears" almost perfectly.
Rules Of 9-Ball Pool – Brief Version
Balls in diamond formation, one ball at top, nine ball in middle. Hit cue ball at lowest numbered ball or it’s a foul. Any ball can drop in a pocket subsequently (i.e. you can hit the one ball and the three ball could drop in a pocket and that’s perfectly fine) and when the nine ball drops you win. Fouls are caused by not hitting the lowest ball first, not hitting the cushion with a ball after hitting the lowest numbered ball (so, if you cue and hit the one ball then either the one ball or the cue ball must hit a cushion afterwards), throwing the balls at the referee, or touching a ball with any part of your body (any part). Three fouls in a row and you lose. Pot the nine ball and you win. After a foul the opposing player has "ball in hand" which isn’t as dirty as it sounds and means that he or she (crazy!) can put the cue ball anywhere they like on the table but they only get one shot. Winner usually breaks but alternating break format can be used as well. After the break the breaking player can declare to "push out" which means he or she (double crazy!) can deliberately foul (pot another ball, miss all the balls, not hit the lowest ball first, but not throw the balls at the referee) and it doesn’t count. However, the opponent may decline to take the proceeding shot if it’s too difficult or the seat is comfy. Coughing when opponent is about to cue is not allowed. Excessive rubbing of cue is widely practised.
Agreed. All Americanisms are strange. The pool-related ones are:
- the cushion is called the rail,
- spin is called English,
- the cue is called "Thor’s Mighty Rod Of Ball Shooting",
- doubles are called banks,
- banks are buildings and loans, or is that building societies?,
- snookers are called snookers,
- "Holy crap, that’s impossible!" shots are called Massés.
Despite the subtitle I’m going to include some German pool players too. Ha ha, that’s a slur on Germans and personalities. I thought I’d explain in case it passed over your head. Man, am I insane or what! What man in his right mind would annoy the Germans? That’s right, no man. Actually, I like the Germans. They’ve got some great music, they love David Hasselhoff, and German porn is unsurpassable and I should know as I’ve tried to surpass it five times now and failed. And they’re very hairy – which isn’t something that appeals, of course – so maybe they know better methods to stop sweating. I’ll have to ask one when I next see one.
Steve is more well known in the UK for snooker than for pool because pool is shown on satellite and cable television and the UK consists of a higher proportion of tightarses who refuse to pay for premium television channels than any other country in Europe outside Albania (source: sounds reasonable in my mind) because they think it’s a waste of money and it’s no better. Strangely, these same people will happily drive cars when penny farthings are readily available and cheaper which makes them hypocrites. Steve Davis hates these people and often laughs at them on Sky Sports but they wouldn’t know because they don’t watch it.
Steve is also known as "The Nugget" because of the colour of his hair (nugget coloured apparently) and "Interesting" because he has a sense of humour. Steve likes to pace when under pressure. He has squeaky soles and this, combined with the number of nicknames, annoys American pool players, especially his nemesis, …
Earl is one of the greatest pool players in the world. He also has a moustache that wouldn’t look out of place on a nineteenth century Mississippi riverboat gambler’s face. Just above the lip and below the nose, obviously. Nevertheless, his skill at pool is simply incredible. He’s also slightly deranged or mildly unhinged or a raving lunatic (you pick one) and often attacks opponents with his shoes or jumps on them as they’re breaking.
Earl’s real strength comes from his Death Stare (+20 damage modifier against humans and dwarves). Amateur players have committed ritual suicide when Earl has wielded the full power of his weapon. Professional players tend to only become professional players by surviving a Strickland Stare-off.
Earl has tried to adopt new nicknames, including "Destroyer Of Worlds" and "Love me more than Steve Davis you unappreciative audience scum" but with no effect.
The most powerful form of defence against Earl is …
"The Referee" is less a nickname and more a title. In fact, it’s not a nickname at all. Michaela Tabb is the referee that knows how to handle Earl Strickland. I don’t mean that in a sexy way but feel free to interject your own innuendo anywhere you see fit.
Michaela is impervious to Strickland’s Death Stare because she’s a woman and, because she’s a woman, Earl is unable to attack her without overriding his original programming. Earl did once buy her some flowers after he insulted her on live television. That was the closest she came to breaking down and running away screaming.
Because she’s a woman – I may have mentioned this – and because most pool fans are men most searches on the internet that are pool-related are for pictures of Michaela Tabb. I suspect most people are hoping to find naked pictures but since Michaela isn’t a participant or referee of naked pool the chances of such pictures being found are slim to nothing. I have some though but I’m not sharing.
Fong-Pang Chao has the nickname "Stonefaced Killer" because he likes to invoke fear in his opponents. Not Earl-type fear because that’s a real and spooky power bestowed by the leprechaun that Earl beat but, rather, a psychological fear. Chao thrives on knowing that whenever he plays someone they’re never quite sure whether they might suddenly discover a shuriken in their spine or piano wire around their neck.
The truth, however, is that, before he became a world-class pool player, Chao knitted teddy bears for orphans and donated unwanted organs to victims of typhoons. Every day that he plays pool he suppresses the guilt that tears him up inside: could he be doing more to help the homeless? Should he devote more time to developing the cure for No Tastebuds Syndrome (By Proxy)? Why doesn’t he take a week off to build a shelter for the poor bunny rabbits in the fields? This inner turmoil mainifests itself as a look of fatal intent which is rather handy and helped to gain him his unwarranted reputation.
I told you I’d put a German player in.
Ralf is really small. I was surprised when I saw him but he is: he’s really small. Not quite as small as Marcus Chamat but not far off.
Ralf is also really bald. I was surprised when I saw him but he is: he’s really bald. Not quite as bald as a pool ball but not far off.
I suspect Ralf wears leather underwear under his pool-playing clothes. I’ve got no justification for this suspicion. It’s just a hunch. I think all Germans are required to by law. When I next meet one I’ll add that question to my one about sweating.
If you ask Marcus where his nickname comes from he’ll tell you that it stems from his stint working for U.N.C.L.E. with Ilya Kuryakin. But he’ll say that because he’s a filthy liar. Marcus is shorter than Ralf Souquet but can still see over the table edge which is pretty impressive. Unlike his doppelganger, Napoleon Bonaparte, Marcus has not led armies in great swathes across Europe and into Russia. Yet. But he will one day. Small people have lots of pent-up anger. You ask Kenny Baker. He will fly at you and tear your face off faster than you can suggest "Ewok movie."
There’s not a single person in the world who doesn’t like Efren Reyes except possibly Earl Strickland who hates everyone but that’s part of the curse that comes from defeating leprechauns. The reason that Efren is so liked is because he has a gland disorder that means he is constantly emitting a stream of pheromones that just make people smile. They also make rabid dogs roll over to have their tummies rubbed and cause rainclouds to dissipate. And the pheromones can be transmitted by television signal too. What I’m trying to say is: the guy’s just really, really nice.
Efren’s not just nice – he is really nice by the way – but he’s also a superb pool player. He learnt to play pool at a young age when his pheromones would attract sailors off the ships that docked and the overwhelming sense of well-being would quell the riots that normally follow sailors losing at pool to eight year old boys. This ability to not get killed has meant that his skill is now so finely honed that he must lose games on purpose to avoid upsetting people. Seriously, he can beat anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyhow. Anywhat.
Despite his nickname Efren Reyes isn’t actually a magician. He’s a Level 3 Balrog.
Francisco is another one of those "liked by almost everyone" pool players. In fairness, though, that’s because he hangs around with Efren Reyes a lot and those pheromones can linger in clothing for quite a while.
The reality is that Francisco Bustamante owns and operates the world’s largest dolphin squashing factory situated in a secret cave in the north of the Philippines. The sole reason for this truly evil task is to remove the flattened blowholes and use them as designer earrings for celebrities. The FB range of jewellery is worn by famous stars such as Judge Reinhold, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Corey Feldman.
Running any kind of secret cave-based business takes a lot of money. Some costs are kept down by using the rotting carcasses of the roadkill-resembling aquatic mammals to lure in kittens. Set on treadmills the kittens are able to satisfy all the lighting needs but that still leaves a lot of power to find for the Squash-U-Good 4000s. And that’s why Francisco took up pool.
Charlie Williams is very annoying. He does throw sweeties out to the crowd occasionally which is nice. Not nice enough to stop him being very annoying though.
I am not allowed to write anything about pool without including a positive account of Niels Feijen. This is because my beautiful, lovely, better half will kill me if I do otherwise. She thinks he’s gorgeous. She says the same about me but I’ve detected a difference. For instance, she doesn’t swoon when she’s talking about me. And she breaks eye contact, looks down, and her voice is much lower.
So … Niels is a really handsome man. I’m sure he’s really, really great at everything. If I wasn’t around I’d really, really like for my girlfriend to find someone just like him. Because he’s really, really wonderful. His nickname is probably derived from the way he terminates any doubt that people could think he’s too good looking for his own good. I really, really like Niels Feijen.
There are a great many other personalities in the game of pool. Regrettably, Joanna has just reminded me that my busy schedule permits no more time for frivolous article-writing. I have to concur with him or he poos in my ear.