Sunday, June 7, 2009

Got Mule?

After the negative vibe of the whole UPA shenanigans I thought I would write about something that brings me great joy. That is the music of Gov't Mule. My all time favorite band and IMO the Efren Reyes of blues/rock bands. They kick copious amounts of ass.

A Dead Head friend of mine turned me onto the Allman Brothers about seven years ago. I had heard them before of course but only the stuff on the radio. He showed me concert DVD's and I really got into it. The improvisational nature of their stuff as well as the eclectic mix of songs worked for me. My buddy told me "You should check out Gov't Mule if you like that"

I did and I have been a Mule junky ever since. The front man for Gov't Mule is Warren Haynes. A stone musical genius who has one of the most soulful voices I have ever heard . He is also a legendary guitar talent. The real hook for me with this guy is that he writes some of the most amazing songs. Just knock out stuff. You can read about the history of them here.

In some TAR matches we have to supply the background music. Most guys want something playing so that there is not complete silence and the tension that goes with it plus the background noise tends to drown out the expert in the second row who likes to tell the guy next to him how Alex played that position wrong. :D

Gov't Mule usually is on in the background at some point during those occasions. I have had more than a few people ask me "Who is that? I like that music." They are the nuts. Here is a little YouTube clip to sweat if you like:

The really cool thing about these guys is they do their own amazing original work and some wildly varied covers. Everything from Black Sabbath to James Brown and it is all awesome. Warren Haynes plays with damn near everyone it seems. From Dave Mathews to the Grateful Dead and many people I had never heard of. I use Mule and Haynes as kind of a guide to new interesting music. One of the newest groups I found is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I saw her in a YouTube video performing with Mule. This chick is amazing. Check her out:

Another kick ass site for music lovers is Sugarmegs. This is a site for tape traders and was mainly a Dead thing. It has since exploded into all types of music. It is thousands of recordings of live concerts. All of the bands in the list allow tapers so it is legal. The quality ranges from bad to perfect but there is an unreal variety of music to listen to for free. If you like Mule, Allman Brothers, The Dead or just about any Jam Band they are there. Plus some crazy stuff like concerts from the 60's and 70's that are pretty cool.

Check out Gov't Mule. If you like them buy their shit, it is well worth it. I recommend The Deepest End concert set that includes a three hour DVD.

A bit from one of my favorite Waren Haynes creations:

"Time drags by
When you're boring
Don't care what you do care what you say
There comes a time
When you got to let the monster inside you
Let him come on out, come on out and play

Step right back and watch me now
I'll show you how it's done
Stay right here with me now
Till the damage is done"

~Thorazine Shuffle by Gov't Mule

Random life observation: Why is it that the hotness of a chick is in direct proportion to how crazy she is ?

Till next time.....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why the UPA is Stupid

This is a post I made on AZ Billiards Forums. It goes with my previous post so I copied it here.

I am a little pissed right now so let me preface this by saying this post is strictly my opinion and has nothing to do with TAR. That said, check this crap out.

I am all pumped up to go to the UPA event here in Vegas to hang out and watch some of my friends play, take photos and I was planning on texting some match updates. I get to the "arena" and ask the lady at the door how much. It is $10 for the 10am-4pm session $15 for the late session. $25 a day seems a little high but oh well. I ask how much for the whole event. She says $60, so I say "Ok, I will do that." Then she asks if I am an ACS member to which I reply honestly "No." She then informs me it will be $75 for the whole thing.

I'm sorry but $75 to watch a 31 man field with only 1 or 2 of the top ten players is just nuts. So I calm my inner nit and just pay $10 for the morning session figuring I will shoot some pics and see how the event goes.

I get into the "arena" and I am carrying my camera gear in a backpack. I set the back pack on a chair out of the way and start to put my kit together. A lady in a referee shirt comes up and says "Are you involved with this event?". I was a little weirded out by the question and wanted to respond "Not if you paid me." But I just asked her what she meant. She replies "Are you a player in the event?" I say "No." She then proceeds to tell me that you have to pay to be able to watch this tournament at which time I raise my right arm and put the little paper wristband right at her eye level.

She says she is sorry she didn't see the wristband and that not only is she the only referee for this professional event this session she has to watch the door too in order to make sure no one gets in without paying. I tell her "No worries." and go about my business.

I get my stuff put together and go sit down in the stands away from everyone else and take some photos of Josh Ulrich and John Morra playing their matches. John finishes his and comes over, sits down and we talk about the event. As we are doing this I am shooting pictures.

Frank Alverez enters the "Arena" and makes a bee line straight toward me. At this point I say to myself "Self, this is gonna get weird." I was right.

Frank: "I am Frank Alverez President of the UPA. Who are you shooting pictures for?"

Me: "Just for myself really."

Frank: "Who are you with? What media?"

Me: "The Action Report"

Frank: "The Action Report? Whats that?"

Me: "You have never heard of The Action Report? Really?"

Frank: "Well yes but I don't know who you are affiliated with"

Me: "Uhhhhh....what do you mean?"

Frank: At this point he mumbled something about BCA or...I am not sure probably because I was a little freaked out at this point with the interrogation.

Me: "There are people who want to know about this event and I was going to tell them about it. That's all."

Frank: "Well you can shoot pictures if you give us copies of them."

Me: "I am not going to do that."

Frank: "Why not?"

Me: "Because I do not do that. If you want me to stop shooting pictures of your event so I can tell people about it at no cost to you then that is just fine with me."

At this point I think it set in on him how terrible he was coming across because he mumbled some more and said "Well....let me get you a media pass...and...."

By this time I had time to think about totally absurd and stupid this whole thing was and I was pissed so I just broke my stuff down, set it beside me and said "Don't worry about it." Then he just walked away.

Keep in mind, we are at an event with 31 players and five of them are players anyone has heard of. I swear I was the only paying spectator because the only people were there with players. I am shooting pictures with a $4000 camera rig minding my own business and I get the third degree from the owner and president and basically shaken down for the ability to take photos.

I always try and see the other guys point of view but in this case I keep coming back to the same thing. If a promoter is this bloody stupid and short sited then screw him. Here we are at a so called professional event with a referee/bouncer and the biggest concern of the president is that god forbid someone may actually give a sh!t about his event. The same guy who sanctioned a tournament that aired the top finishers and then all he could do was shrug his shoulders. It pisses me off.

Never mind that the company I work for has put more money in players pockets over the last few years than his whole pseudo organization. I am probably still a little pissed so I may be being too hard on the guy but no matter which way you cut it is just dumb.

What if they held a tournament and no one came?

One of the benefits of living in Vegas is that I get to go to things that I otherwise would never travel for. This weeks example is the Diamond World Summit of Pool produced and promoted by the UPA. It is being held in conjunction with the ACS nationals at the Riv. I have to say that anyone who would actually fork out the dough to come just as a spectator would be really disappointed.

I was at the Riv on Monday the 1st to sweat my man John Morra playing a little snooker in the Can-Am challenge:

This pits four Americans vs. four Canadians in a snooker battle royale. It was fun just to watch the guys walk around the 6x12 football fields they call snooker tables. Needless to say Team Canada was whipping that USA ass. After sweating the snooker (or as Allison Fisher calls it: Snu-kahhh. God I love that word when an English female says it) I walked my nosy self on over to see how the pro set up was coming for this weeks event.

Here it is in the early stages:

The layout is simple and a bit optimistic as far as spectator seating but overall I like it. I like it much better than the clusterfuck that was the Predator World 10 Ball set up during the BCAPL nationals. That is the worst layout ever. Ever. After scoping it out I started looking for guys who would actually play the event. Aside from John and hearing that Rodney was in the house I was thinking we might just have the worlds smallest $20K added event.

Yesterday (Tuesday the 2nd) I went back to sweat the Pro-Am (whatever the hell that was supposed to be) which the UPA site said started at 8 PM with the player meeting starting an hour earlier. I get there at 7 when the player meeting was supposed to start figuring I could just wait if the meeting was closed. Imagine my surprise when I walk in and see Rodney hitting balls with 3 random fans in the stands watching and a few people at the TD's desk. That's it. I was like WTF??? To quote a friend of mine "I have been to 4 State Fairs, 3 goat ropings, and a donkey show but I ain't never seen no shit like this."

I talked to Rodney for awhile and shot some pics of his new John Showman cue. The cue is the triple nuts. John's work is just perfect, really no other word for it. Plus he is a big fat fucker just like me which really makes him cool in my eyes.

This is supposed to be a major event. Where is everyone? I know most of the guys are in Manila with an event coming up in China but I figured they would get at least 40 players here. I figured most guys were probably just late or blowing off the meeting so I went to eat. After dinner I walked back and ran ito this guy practicing:

Mr. Stevie Moore is in the hizzy. Shit was looking up.

Stevie is one of my favorite dudes. He is hilarious and is a true killer when he is in the box or playing a tournament match as well as being a complete and total gentleman win or lose. After we caught up a little bit I put him on the spot:

Me: "When are you gonna get your ass back in action?"

Stevie: "Soon. Them motherfuckers won't know what hit 'em"

Like I said, a killer. Love that dude.

We started breaking down who was there and he said the last he heard there were 31 paid entries and they were doing the draw as we were speaking. First round the next day was at 10 A.M. and Stevie didn't like that one bit. LOL He said "Hell, we only got 30 players. Why start so damn early. Who the hell is gonna be here to watch at 10 A.M. ?" I agreed whole heartedly. But what are you gonna do?

Oh yeah, that "Pro-AM"....never happened. I guess you need both Pros and Ams for that and both were in short supply. I want to say that I am happy to see anyone doing a $20K added event but I just wish it could have been scheduled better not to mention promoted better. Getting a $20K chunk of money invested is a big deal and to see it basically just put off in the corner as a side show to a minor league nationals event really sucks.

This is the first UPA event in 14 months. The last one was the star crossed Phoenix event where the top players got air barreled. Which I never did understand. The UPA is charging a $125 tour fee on top of the $300 entry for this event. What the fuck good is it to pay a $125 tour fee to an organization that can't guarantee you will get paid at one of their sanctioned events? But you do get a t-shirt and patch. The good news is I hear that no such bullshit will plague this event. The money is there. The fact that we even have to talk about it pisses me off though.

Fuck it. It beats nothing at all. At least some of the guys will get a payday even if it is in a gaffy format that gets drug out over 4 days. Oh yeah the format, 9 ball, race to 13, double elimination which is all cool. Here is where it goes off the rails: ALL BALLS MADE ON THE BREAK IN THE RACK END POCKETS SPOT BACK UP.( Got clarification on the corner pocket thing. It is just the 9 ball that spots if made in the top two pockets on the break) Three balls must go past the side pockets on the break. It makes my head hurt just thinking about all the bullshit that will come from this. Best part? The Diamonds they are playing on are ball return tables. No way to just reach in the corner pocket and pull out which ball went where. Someone will have watch which ball goes in the corners. It will be a goat fuck unless I miss my guess.

Of course the easy way to fix the wing ball going in every time in 9 ball is do what everyone else on the planet is doing: Play 10 ball. Fuck that. Makes way too much sense.

So I am going to go sweat the 10 A.M. round. It has been awhile since I could just sweat matches and shoot pictures and I plan on enjoying it to the fullest over the next couple days. Despite all the holes I can poke in the event and format at least Frank Alverez and company are doing something and that deserves some support and recognition.

My pick to win is Stevie or this guy:

Extra points for you if you know who he is. I will post more about this extravaganza later.