it’s magic

some time ago i got my hands on the russian Magic Chalk.  i finally got a chance to perform a test drive.  below are my impressions.

i’ve tried other brands of chalk before (the NIR, blue diamond, & predator), and i’ve seen the name Magic Chalk floating around, but i never decided to give Magic Chalk a whirl until recently.  it’s dr. dave’s experiment that changed my mind.

after my brush with the so-called super chalks, i personally feel that while those chalks do offer an improvement in grip, the effect is slight at best.  thus my own experiments stopped at blue diamond chalks, since i didn’t feel the need to mess with other stuff.  BD chalks has remained my favorite super chalk, until now.

i came across dr. dave at random.  according to his bio, he’s a mechanical engineering professor at Colorado State University, and he has posted a number of pool videos online exploring various topics in pool.  (read dr. dave’s bio here.)  one such video was his experiment on chalks and their ability to keep generating friction after chalking only once.  the actual experiement covered a lot more ground than that, so i’ll let you read the article yourself and watch the video on your own time.

dr. dave’s chalk experiment

according to dr. dave’s results, if you chalk after every shot, it does not matter what brand you use.  however, if you don’t like to chalk after every shot, then Magic chalk is the clear winner of the bunch, even beating the very expensive kamui by a wide margin.  based on the results, i decided to give Magic Chalk a spin.  i do like solid evidence derived from experiments.  frankly, i’m sick of some hypeman giving lip service without providing a shred of evidence.  and i don’t ever want to hear stuff like “i shot a hunnert consecutive shots after chalking only once with the (insert super chalk of the month here) without proof.

subjectively, the chalk dust from the Magic chalk seem to be a little finer than the BD dust.  when i apply the chalk to the tip, the Magic Chalk has less build-up than the BD, meaning the Magic Chalk does not cake up as much as the BD.  when i shoot with heavy spin, the Magic Chalk is less prone to miscue than the BD, especially after shooting two or three shots without chalking.  i know that chalking after every shot is good practice, but personally i feel that you gain some mental momentum when you can shoot three shots without chalking.  that’s just me though; don’t copy my bad habits.  chalk afer every shot and save yourself some money.

is Magic Chalk worth the money?  i think it’s worth my money.  i like that it generates a bit more friction than the BD chalk, and i like not having to chalk after every shot.  (i’m lazy.  there.)  i like that the chalk gives me more confidence on heavy spin shots and power draws.  will i buy some more?  absolutely.  do i recommend it?  yes.  should you buy it?  i can’t answer for your wallet.  you decide.

a bunch of reviews

it’s been a long while since i posted anything, so here are some stuff for your perusal.

friend of mine treated me to some ocean delicacy.  behold its glory.

uni

uni closeup

it is sea urchin.  or uni if you’re japanese, or a sushi lover, or a japanese sushi lover.  what, you think all japanese folks are sushi lovers?  you racist bastard.

aaanyway.

for those who love sushi, you’ve probably had uni before (and maybe paid a pretty penny for it).  but it is quite an experience to eat it fresh.  i’ve often heard of food shows talking about getting closer to the source, or having more affinity for your food by gathering it yourself.  for me, a total city boy with no outdoor genes whatsoever, this is darn close to catching then eating something with my own hands.  i can see why people would want to catch and eat a fish, instead of buying one from a market.  it is that understanding of what you’re putting in your mouth that brings you closer to what you eat.

maybe this is a sign that i should go kill something.  that will please some vegans.

the flavor of the uni is pretty hard to describe.  it started salty and slightly briny, but much less than i had anticipated.  about two to five minutes after i ate a piece, a sweet flavor emerged.  even from all that sea water loaded with salt, i still tasted a sweetness similar to crab meat, except deeper.  umami is an overused word now, but in this case the word describes the uni flavor quite well.  it’s just one of those thing you have to experience yourself, because no two people would get the same sensation from uni.  at least that’s what i think.  btw, the uni roe is the reproductive organ of the sea urchin, in case you’re not already grossed out.  just here to help.

on the pool front, i’ve recently had a chance to try out the poison vx break/jump cue.  here’s a picture i snagged from the poison cue website.

poison vx break jump cue

poison vx break/jump cue. image retrieved from http://poisonbilliards.com/.

the vx break/jump cue comes with a phenolic tip as standard equipment.  i think the basic gist of the cue is to give you a more efficient way of transferring power to the cueball.  the hard phenolic surface offers almost no shock absorption, so whatever energy you generate will go into the cueball with minimal loss.  i don’t know the weight of this particular break cue, but it feels quite light in my hands.  unfortunately, this break/jump cue did not immediately give me a magical break, so i declare this product a failure.

all kidding aside, i had to really practice my break to get a feel for this cue.  the phenolic tip worked great for transferring energy, but it was also more prone to miscue than leather tips.  i found that concentration was the key to break well with this cue; when i focused on hitting the center of the cueball, the break worked very well.  when i didn’t, i’d miscue like a total amateur.  wait, i AM a total amateur.  never mind.

just like any equipment i’ve ever used, practice is the key.  no cue will give you a magic break/stroke, and this cue is no exception.  but it does work well when you figure out how to use it.  as far as jump shots, i did find it easier to jump due to the phenolic tip.  maybe that’s cheating, but i like that it made things easier for this lazy azz.

players cues makes the HXTP1 pure x break/jump cue.  the pure x breaks down into four pieces, which gives you more configurations.  if you focus a lot on your jump shots, the pure x may work for you since you can customize the length of your jump cue.  i haven’t used it yet so i can’t say how well it works, but the pure x does look like a neat concept.  try them all out for yourself is all i can say.

aside from work, i’ve had a chance to watch a few movies.  Runner Runner is a movie about online gambling, starring ben affleck and justin timberlake.  the movie was panned by most critics, but i thought it was entertaining.  it’s no oscars effort, but i didn’t think it was that bad.  just don’t buy the dvd.

Seeking a friend for the end of the world is a movie about two people connecting right before a giant asteroid is about to strike the earth.  steve carell and keira knightley headline the flick.  the movie surprised me.  the bond between carell’s and knightley’s characters were very sweet and moving.  if you didn’t watch it yet i think you’d be pleasantly surprised.

i also watched R.I.P.D.  i know, dumb show, but i liked it.  the movie made me laugh, so i don’t care.  at least i didn’t watch Twilight.

that’s it for now.  until next time, folks.

maybe we’re really like strangers passing one another on a moonless night

the weather lately has been unpredictable.  yesterday was unbearably hot, and today promises another descent into the furnace.  not much to do except to survive it, i guess.  so to my fellow californians, drink plenty of iced water, try to stay cool, and be safe.  if you drive, don’t be stingy and turn on your ac.  better that than a heat stroke.

this past weekend i was in dire need for nourishment, so i went with this delectable option.

that’s a bowl of beef noodle soup, or pho in the original language.  here in socal, pho is a staple of asian cuisine, along with other famous asian dishes like fried rice and sushi.  i’ll just say that the healing power of pho is phenomenal; it’s the perfect blend of spices, meat, soup, noodles, and veggies all in one bowl.  anthony bourdain loves this stuff.  people say that the ones in vietnam are wayyy better, but vietnam is like a few thousand miles away, and i like the local version just fine.  when i get the chance, i’ll sample the authentic pho.  until then, i’ll go with the ones i can find around the neighborhood.

before we begin, just want to briefly mention a chalk comparison.  a while ago i tried and reviewed the nir super professional chalk.  after comparing the nir to its sister product, the blue diamond chalk, i have concluded that the blue diamond works much better than its kin.  granted, the super pro is a good chalk, but the bd just sticks to the tip better, and doesn’t make a big mess.  plus, the bd chalk has a much finer grain than the super pro; the little dust that comes off the bd when you chalk looks almost mist like.  the dust from the super pro, in contrast, seems heavier and drops to the ground faster than the dust from bd.  so for me, i’ll stick with the blue diamonds because they are (to me) a better product.  my impression: master chalk/triangle chalk = average, nir super pro = good, blue diamond = better.  when i get enough change from my panhandling gig, i may pony up for that magical kamui crack powder chalk and give it a spin.  (my fellow bloggers ms. omgwtf and mr. frerking both reviewed the kamui chalk some time ago; check it out if you like.)  that is assuming i can find any in stock.  and now, back to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

i previously wrote this post about something completely different.  after reading through it a number of times, i didn’t think the post said what i wanted to say.  so i decided to change the whole thing and do a little personal narrative.  after all, picking on myself is more instructive.

it’s hard to make friends at the pool hall.

i think that at the pool hall, it’s easy to make acquaintances.  if you have been going to a pool hall for some time, you will probably have a bunch of them, and that’s just the natural progression of frequenting any business.  at the pool hall, you’re likely to get to know the counter person, the regulars who play there, players you practice with, people you buy and sell pool equipments to and from, and hustlers and gamblers trying to make a game.  but for me, i can’t say that i have friends at the pool hall.  i think that at pool halls, there is a basic element of distrust, which create an atmosphere not friendship-inducing.

of course, i’m talking strictly about myself.  when i say friends, i’m referring to a specific definition of my own choosing.  simply put, it’s who i share with.  for example, when i have a great day, i don’t call acquaintances to celebrate; i don’t know these people well enough to have their phone numbers.  instead, i call up my friends for some good old revelry and grubs.  if i have had a terrible day, that too is reserved for my friends.  joy, pain, meals, drinks, company–in some ways, my friendship is defined through sharing.

at the pool hall though (and i suspect in many other areas of life), we have many different people with many different ideas of what a friendship should be.  some are content at the surface level: a shallow and loosely-defined type of friendship.  others view friendship as an ever-changing set of alliances due to switch any second depending on what is happening, or what is perceived to be happening.  and there are the loners who don’t feel the need to know anyone, except maybe a small handful of people.

looking back on my pool days, out of the hundreds of people i’ve met, i had made exactly one friend.  a shocking statistic to me, when i think about it.  so now you know my bias.

in a previous post i touched on the subject of “limited purpose venue”, or lpv.  the reason i look at pool halls as a limited purpose venue is because to me, there isn’t a lot to do at the pool hall except to play pool.  since i believe that i’m more likely to make acquaintances at a pool hall than friends, i focus on pool when i go.  i rarely eat at the pool hall.  sometimes i’ll buy a soft drink, but that’s about it as far as my tab goes.  for me, pool halls are a true lpv, because the social aspect is fleeting at best, the owner has put the disco plan on halt, and the steakhouse inside the pool hall is not forthcoming.  the only constant thing at a pool hall is pool.

when i see the people at the pool hall hanging out with one another, i can’t help but think certain questions.  do they share meals with one another?  do they share stories and jokes and private laments?  do they care about one another as i do with my friends?  am i just socially inept and thus incapable of making friends?  and most important of all, do i actually want to make friends with people at the pool hall?  i say the last statement without an ounce of snobbery.  i’m not looking down at the people at the pool hall; it’s simply a flat question i ask myself.  we all do it when we meet new people: do i want to be friends with that person?  so please don’t take it the wrong way.

the answer to my questions is that i don’t have an answer, just like i don’t have answers to most of life’s questions.  which is apropos, because pool is often a microcosm of life.  and since i don’t have answers to my questions, i will remain a poolriah, looking from outside in.