good bye, mr. kyle

chris kyle, a decorated former SEAL and best-selling author, was killed on feb. 2, 2013.  he was 38 years old.

kyle was best known as the SEAL sniper with the most confirmed kills in the US military history.  after his service, he penned the book American Sniper which became a best-seller.  details are scant at the moment, but it seemed that kyle was killed at a charity event by a former Marine with PTSD.  it was believed that kyle was trying to help the former Marine deal with his problems.  the motive for the killing is unclear for now.

a while back i recommended mr. kyle’s book on this blog.  for what it’s worth, i really enjoyed your book mr. kyle.  i’m saddened by your senseless death, and i thank you for your service to this country.  rest in peace.

ugghh. f~*ing pool forums.

recently i heard about this chalk by balabushka, the same balabushka name of the legendary cues.  it is marketed as a premium chalk and priced around the level of blue diamonds and NIR super professionals (i reviewed both NIR and the blue diamonds some time ago), but not anywhere near the kamui’s stratospheric range.  (the kamui is still at $30/cube, but time will tell if the company will shoot it to $50.  as a side note, i hear the kamui 0.98 makes a heck of a mess, a problem supposedly addressed by the kamui 1.21.  if it’s anywhere near the NIR’s messiness, i’d pass.)

but what is this chalk?  i decided to take it to the intarwebs and get some answers. first, i found some pictures.

apparently there are two versions of balabushka chalk.  the picture above shows the old stuff.

this pic shows the new stuff.  the new one is the chalk i’ve been hearing about.  just by looking at the two pictures, i can see the two chalks have different consistencies.  mr. google gave me some more links and off i went.

my first query led me to the above post.  someone on the azb forum said that the balabushka chalk is actually a blue diamond covered with a balabushka label.  if that’s true, the bala would be a mini bargain since they’re overall cheaper than the blue diamonds.  (the balas cost a little bit more, but you get three chalks vs. the bd’s two, making the balas a bit less per chalk.)  hmm.  intriguing.

the second post i found concurred with the first.  seems like the balas are private label bds.

the third post went further, stating the balas may be better than the bds.  wow!  this is looking better and better.

huh?  now i get a totally different answer.  “i know for a fact that the chalk is made in their own factory.”  this means the balas are NOT made by bd’s company, which is longoni.  however, the post did say that the balas are slightly better than bds.

unfortunately, further web searches yielded more conflicting answers, so i decided to make things easy and called one of the companies that sell the bala chalks.  according to the sales rep, the balabushka chalks are NOT made by bd, and are slightly less sticky than the blue diamonds.  the rep said that although the balas worked fine, he personally liked the bds better.  bottom line: stick with the original.

again, my search reinforced my dislike of pool forums.  you get one person saying a product is such-and-such without a shred of proof, then someone else repeats it verbatim.  pretty soon, it becomes truth and people will make decisions based on faulty information.  who knows?  maybe the person who perpetrated the false info is getting a nice kickback from the company, or maybe the person is a paid rep to feed bad info to the web to increase sales.  you just can’t tell for certain.  sure, there are some nice people on the forum boards, but many are reprobates, suck-ups, turncoats, or know-it-alls who are completely useless in your quest for higher pool knowledge.  based on my experience, when you see a post on a pool forum, always look for evidence that backs up a claim, be it pictures, videos, or math equations.  there is just too much bulls~* out there.  as far as the balabushka chalk, i’ll have to try it out myself to see how it works.  at $8 – $10 a box, it won’t break the bank.  if it does work for you, you’d have gained a small edge in this very complex game.  in that case, do leave a comment here on your experience with the balabushka chalk.

just in case, and other random thoughts

i was going through the pool matches on my dvr.  (i have a small collection of it.  and i wish my dvr has a bigger hard drive.)  i had no idea i recorded the 2009 wpba pacific coast classic & never watched any of the matches; this was the tournament where they televised four quarterfinals, two semifinals, and the finals match for a whopping total of seven hours of pool.  that’s quite a coverage for a single tournament.

anyway, i began to go through the matches starting with the first quarterfinals match.  the third quarterfinals match had jennifer chen battling karen corr; rather, the match had karen corr unleashing total annihilation upon jennifer chen.  yeah, it’s that match—the one where corr obliterated chen 7-0.  i haven’t watched too many jennifer chen matches; if i did, it was a long time ago and i don’t remember them.  watching this match now though, the one thing that really struck me was the weirdness of chen’s form (at least in this match).  first off, she had this wavy, loopy warm-up stroke.  her wrist turned outward, but she didn’t really lock it.  there was a slight sidearm stroke going on.  she also incorporated a wrist snap, & she tried to punch her shots with the wrist snap . . . it looked like a mess.  there just seemed to be so many factors in chen’s form that could work against her.  i’m not saying that chen’s a bad player; she has the hardwares to quiet the doubters and critics.  but man, she has a weird form.

all this led me to think about fundamentals.  i think good fundamentals are there to get you through the bad times; a contingency plan for the times when you shoot like crap.  when you play well, it pretty much doesn’t matter what you do; you’ll run out and make great shots when you’re on.  but when you’re playing bad, the values of solid fundamentals really shine through.  i think of it as a back-up plan: when i play bad (and i will, because i’m human), i can go back to my fundamentals to get me out of that slump.  this is the paradoxical nature of pool though: us players are forever trying to get in the zone, where you’ll stop thinking about fundamentals and just shoot.  but you must have solid fundamentals to get to the zone.  weird, huh?

anyway, i was glad to see chen on tv; she went through a really rough spot, but now she’s competing again, and i believe she either opened up a new pool hall in china or trying to open one.  hope she does well.

i found lil’ al romero’s number in case you want to order a cue.  (562)867-3580.  get a sneaky or a break & jump sneaky; they play solid.

btw, this whole cycak business just further reinforced my beliefs about forums.  if you read the omg vs. cycak thread on azb forum, it went from straight discussions about the match to forum members hurling insults at each other in practically no time at all.  i’m just glad i’m not part of any of that.  also, ms. cycak went on a posting rampage & wrote of bunch of stuff about people making fun of her hair, her attire, or the way she supposedly treated the workers at the pool hall.  unfortunately ms. cycak completely missed the bus.  people didn’t become outraged at the way she looked or how she treated others; it was about what she did, which was welshing a bet.  after practically hundreds of comments and several blog posts, she is still not getting that.  f~*ing amazing.

oh, i practiced with weasel again.  during our practice session, i noticed that he would try to subtly shark me, which led me to think about the way we approach the game.  when a person sharks, the person’s attention is on the opponent, not on his/her own game.  instead of being able to learn from the practice or the match, that person is wasting valuable energy on the other guy.  i think that in pool, worry about your own s~* first and concentrate on improving your game.  when you pay too much attention on how to shark your opponent, you’re losing the chance to improve yourself.

hey, i learned something.  cool.