good pool is relative

if you follow pool regularly, you’ve probably seen the 2012 hard times 10-ball finals.  the match was between dennis orcullo and shane van boening.  if not, watch it below.

i personally find the commentary annoying; hit the mute button if it bugs you too.  dennis ended up defeating svb 11-3.

orcullo’s win over svb by such a wide margin was not an isolated incident.  in 2007, orcullo beat svb by the score of 7-0 in the enjoypool.com 9-ball finals.  in the 2012 match, dennis missed a total of three to four shots.  now, svb is arguably the best U.S. player right not, and a missed shot against him typically means a two-to-three-game swing, more if his break is working well.  here, dennis missed three to four shots, and still managed to beat svb by eight games.  that’s just some scary stats in my opinion.  how well do you have to play to beat the best U.S. player like that?  i had the chance of watching svb play in person, and he could put away racks like drinking water.  shane’s pool talent is for real; you can’t hype that kind of ability.  somehow, dennis plays even better.

watching the two pros play just reinforces my previous belief that playing well is a purely subjective measure.  “good” in one room may mean dog crap in a different state; a player ranked a five may be a seven in another city.  with players improving everyday, and tougher opponents constantly emerging from overseas, the limits of pool keep getting pushed further and further.  champions today are b players next year; the A player is a C in six months.  rankings has, and always will be, speculative in nature; this cannot be helped, no matter how concrete you wish the ranking to be.  all we can do is try to improve our own game and hope that we can keep up with the rising tides.

now, a totally different topic.  i’ve been reading lis wiehl’s eyes of justice, a crime novel released this year.  the story starts off unfocused, but the pace & direction pick up around the 2/3 mark, so you’d need some patience with this book.  personally i think eyes of justice is a decent time killer and a solid rental, but i don’t recommend it for purchase.  also, try the autobiography american sniper by chris kyle.  very entertaining.

i should probably end the post here, but ehhh . . . what the heck.

mmm.

perfection.

lastly, a random observation.  dogs sit on you.  cats drape over you.  😀

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avarice

i don’t want to get into specifics, but recently i had a conversation with someone about the state of pool.  (don’t you just love the sound of that?  seems so grand.)  i heard the take on pool that was funny, frustrating, and heartbreaking all at the same time.  it almost make me want to quit pool, but it is what it is.  as earl rogan once said, “pool is a beautiful game played by ugly people”.  it unfortunately is quite true on more than the fashion front.

i wrote a post awhile ago about the difference between gambling and hustling, a subject i consider a dead horse due to the severe beating i unleashed upon it.  simply put, hustling, which involves deception and cheating, is bad and bad for the sport.  gambling is a neutral activity; think lottery tickets.  because gambling is neutral, it can become good or bad depending on what intention you put into it.  hustling, since it involves lying and cheating, is almost always bad.  yes, there may be some exceptions, but tell me the last time you saw a hustler ripping 10 grand off a mob boss to save an orphanage.  just doesn’t happen.

so what intention is behind hustling?  i’d say avarice, both in a material sense and a mental sense.  i contend that people hustle not only for the money, but for the feeling of power that comes with hustling.  after awhile, a person can become so greedy for that money and the feeling of power that the act of hustling becomes an addictive drug, because merely gambling is not good enough anymore.  as with any drug, after you’re severely addicted, you use the drug not to get high anymore, but merely to stop you from crashing––what is called drug dependence.

Drug dependence means that a person needs a drug to function normally. Abruptly stopping the drug leads to withdrawal symptoms.

National Center for Biotechnology Information

i don’t have any research to back this up, but i personally believe that you can become addicted to lying, cheating, and hustling.  the price you pay is the erosion of your soul, your sense of right and wrong, and your moral character.  when a person has developed this “i’m gonna get mine, and i hope you get yours” mentality, that person is pretty much done.  we are very much influenced by our beliefs.  if you live by avarice, you will die by avarice; if not today, then tomorrow, because someone will return payment in deadly ways that will kill you.

so please, be kind to yourself.  if you must have avarice, then be greedy for your good name and upstanding character, for the price of you is above rubies.

on the munchies front, a friend of mine dropped off some spring rolls.

i’m sure many of you have eaten spring rolls before; the ones i got were the vietnamese variety with peanut sauce.  (i’ve heard that some places serve it with a plum sauce, but i’ve never had it.)  the thing about spring rolls is that they are very refreshing on the palate, since nothing in the roll is fried or salted.  the rolls rely on the ingredients and the sauce to bring out the flavor; once dipped, you get a coating of peanut sauce to counteract the pleasing blandness of the ingredients.  it’s a perfect snack or lunch if you don’t want to get weighed down after eating.  if spring rolls are not available around your neighborhood, look for online recipes; i’ve found a few and they look very straightforward to prepare.  you can also check out the various peanut sauce and plum sauce recipes for different flavors; the once i’ve seen also look simple to make.  happy grubbing!

[nov. 30, 2011] i just realized that the spring rolls in the picture look like weird alien fingers.  hee hee.

adaptation.

recently i had an equipment malfunction, and i was forced to shoot with something i’m not familiar with.  boy, i struggled on the table.  what looked to be easy outs became a game of shank-the-cueball; it would have been a sad occasion were you to watch me play.  it came down to the equipment having a different reaction than what i was used to––i couldn’t make the cueball do what i wanted.  i think this is one of the things that separates the greats from the also-ran: the ability to adapt to different equipments and conditions.  good players don’t get thrown off just because something is going wrong; they adapt, and find ways to run out or to win.  i think i’m probably too pampered equipment-wise; i may need to switch to a good ol’ cuetec and have at it.  too many times things will not go as planned, and having the ability to adjust on the fly is a huge plus in any pool situation.  along with a million things i need to work on my game, here’s another one for my list.  the expression “learn something new everyday” certainly applies to pool in a big way.

also, a few weeks ago i was watching the chuck markulis memorial tournament online, courtesy of mr. chen’s free stream.  man, the chat stream can be brutal.  however, with cameras and live streams and dvds, it is more apparent that pool is a show-me game; you cannot hide anything once you get to the table.  if you can’t play, people will know.  all the cameras in this modern age are just there to provide additional evidence of your skill, or lack thereof.  i remember writing the post pride a while ago that got some interesting comments.  i still stand by my position that pride is useless.  the more i learn about pool, the more i realize that i know jack s~* about the game.  the more i learn, the more i realize i have to learn.  it’s a never-ending cycle of discovery leading to more discovery; there is no end to pool knowledge once you begin your exploration.  but hey, the journey is fun.

as i delve deeper into pool, the more i appreciate the simpler things: hitting balls without english, playing natural shape with medium speed, shooting with a smooth and unhurried pace, all the things that make watching pool a lot of fun.  weirdly, the more i increase the power of my stroke, the more i’m impressed with players that just play natural angles with medium speed and run out, a style opposite of a power player.  between a power player and a natural shape player, i’d be more worried about the latter.  i guess as i increase my knowledge, my tastes change in this game.  i suspect that in many sports, players have the tendency to go back to the simple things as they progress.  in pool, you certainly don’t try to run racks by doing a lot of fancy trick shots; you run out by sticking to the simple shapes.  don’t believe me, watch roger griffis.  (wonder if he still plays.)

on the food front, sometime ago my friend and i went for some grub.  my friend wanted thai food, and i of course won’t argue with that choice.  (i guess i’ve been on a thai binge; first the noodle soups, now this.)

the top picture was the thai shrimp soup; the bottom was a thai chicken salad.  (i can’t attest to the authenticity of the salad, so don’t ask.)  there were some other stuff, but i was too busy eating so i didn’t take pictures of the entrées.  sorry.

the meal was delicious, and we walked away full and content.  still looking for more noodles though; when i find them i’ll post some pics, if i remember to take them.  🙂

♦     ♦     ♦

this week, we’ll look at the phrase “three sheets in the wind”.

according to phrase finder:

 . . . sheets aren’t sails, as landlubbers might expect, but ropes (or occasionally, chains).  These are fixed to the lower corners of sails, to hold them in place.  If three sheets are loose and blowing about in the wind then the sails will flap and the boat will lurch about like a drunken sailor.

there you have it.