Monday, September 21, 2009

Galveston- F.I.D.O.

Well I dogged the whole five blogs in five days thing. Shit happens. That is my new outlook on the pool world as a whole. Amused detachment. Because if I actually spend too much time thinking about the state of the game I get too pissed off and cynical. Take for example this past Saturday. I am in Galveston for this end all be all million dollar extravaganza trying like hell to keep an open mind. I had spent all day and most of the night in the tournament room on Friday so I was unusually tired Saturday. I was looking at some of the reaction online to the fact that all of the pre event bullshit about $50,000 first places and other failed promises seemed to not bother anyone in the least. Or at best a very few.

So I started thinking about things and kept reading the responses some of them by people who's opinion I give some weight to. I started to get mad. I mean pissed. What the fuck is wrong with people in this industry? In my entire life I have never seen a more ethically challenged business and lower expectations from customers and people involved. I really started to get worked up and started to seriously ask myself some hard questions. Is this what I want to invest my life in? Do you really want to be in a business where the bar is set so low that flat out misinformation is accepted and overlooked? In a business where a little bit of money spread around can absolve any and all past transgressions because every one is so hungry for any scrap they can get?

I had a long talk with myself and I didn't like what I was coming up with. Then I kind of calmed down and realized that despite the metric tons of bullshit that seems to cover the ground everywhere you look in this industry there are some very bright points and even some inspiration. I also realized that pool is no different than any other business when you get right down to it. If you look hard enough in any business you will find the bullshit and less than ethical behavior. It just seems to be so readily accepted in pool and that is what really bothers me. I believe we get the game we deserve, If we do not mind bullshit falsehoods and inflated claims then guess what? That is exactly what we will get until everyone makes up their mind that it has to stop.

For anyone who has not been keeping up with the latest AZ Billiards Forums hot topic (how dare you fail to be hardwired into the pool intarweb!!!) The World Classic in Galveston promised $50,000 for first place in the Open 10 Ball event and the Amateur 8 Ball Team event. The way they presented it on their website was that the entry fees would be used to payout the fields while the top heavy first prizes would just magically be there. Anyone who asked the rather simple question of "How?" was branded a naysayer and too negative. Well fuck that. It is a logical question and one that evidently the promoters couldn't come up with a viable answer for because guess what? Those $50,000 guaranteed first places turned into a $22,000 added 10 ball tournament and $9000 for first place for the team events. The ten ball event is bullshit but I can almost stomach it. It is a respectable added money event. What puts me on mega-head spinning-puppy kicking-TILT is how in the fuck do you explain going from $50,000 guaranteed first place to $9,000 in the team event????

Yes the promoters put on an event. Yes they lost an asinine amount of money to do it. Yes it was probably the best one pocket field in the last 10 years. They deserve credit for all of those things. They also need to explain beyond "At least we did something" why after 6 months of non stop hype when the rubber met the road shit changed drastically at the last minute. If they don't at least address it then I will never support another one of their events. I am sure that will not keep them up at night but you know what? It will allow me to sleep a little better knowing that I at least put my money where my mouth is. I passed by the promoters in person a couple times in Galveston and debated just asking them "WTF?" but in my state of mind I would not have done any good. I don't really care why they didn't pay. They didn't seem to care about all the people trying to figure out how it would work so the hell with it. It's their chicken they can fuck it anyway they want to.

The spin has already started and the "At least they are doing something" crowd is going to win the day and sometime in the near future a bunch of pool players and fans are going to go to another bigger than life event and get one broke off in them just like always. You know why? Because at least they are doing something.

In this my hopefully last Galveston themed blog post I would like to share the conclusion that I came to that Saturday in my hotel room. I realized that while the industry is fucked up like Channel 4 (you know that one channel you had when you were a kid that would never come in right? The one with Super Friends on and you never could get that shit to tune in) it also is what I love to do and has let me meet some amazing people and do some awesome things. I realized that as bad as things sometimes seem they are not pull the pin and see what's next bad. There are some wonderful honorable people in this business. Whenever I get down about this industry and lately it has been a lot I have to remind myself how lucky I am. Then I refer to my time tested personal motto that has carried me through many things more jacked up than anything the pool world can throw at me and that is: F.I.D.O.

Fuck It Drive On.

Ok. Now that I have all the maudlin shit out of the way time for some funny road stories from the event.

Friday finds me back in the bleachers with my main sweating buddy at this event Bill "If you don't play 14.1 you can kiss my ass" Maropolis . Somehow the topic of total spectator capacity came up and we figured it to be about 1800 give or take. Then Bill went on to compare the events VIP spectator amenities to other events. You see Bill is the Efren Reyes of pool spectating. Its not even close. The rest of the world gets 9-7. Bill has a collection of VIP passes going back to the 70's. He has been to more events than Simonis 860. So he knows what a good VIP seating arrangement is supposed to be like.

He begins to pontificate on the situation: "Well the bleachers are pretty high to start with but the biggest problem is I don't have a table. How can it be VIP without a table? Where am I supposed to eat my chicken strips? Where am I supposed to set my Taco Bell?" all very valid and hilarious points. He then mentions that he feels a little silly for firing $200 at the "PLATINUM VIP SEATING BADGE" when there is often no one even looking at the passes to begin with. I agree with him that this would cause me some annoyance would I too have donked off a similar two bills. I joke that he was probably the only guy who sprung for the entire event PLATINUM VIP SEATING BADGE. I joked that he probably had number 001 on his badge. We laughed and then he said through the chuckles "You know what....when I went to pick up my badge at registration I told them my name and that I was here to pick up my PLATINUM VIP SEATING BADGE and they said " you are the one. We have been waiting for you." I literally cried laughing.

So naturally I asked Bill to see this now mythical and certainly one of its kind credential. He pulled it out (I thought heard some faint noise in the background...almost like angels singing) and showed it to me. It was beautiful in all its majesty. Then I noticed something at the bottom. It was a number. That number? 101. I told him that I bet they started the numbers at 100 like checks. Bill agreed. We both cried laughing.

Some pics of Bill and the only known Galveston World Classic PLATINUM VIP SEATING BADGE in the known universe.

Right after the above gutbusting laughter session happened I overheard this little exchange that I can only describe as hilarious and somewhat typical:

Pool Player: "Hey Alex. I got a story for you. I get busted last night and pawn my cues for $500. Then I get in a game for $500. Win that and then get in another one and win two sets at $500 each. So in a few hours I go from being broke and pawning my cues to being up a $1000. What do you think of that?"

Alex Pagulayan: "Can I borrow $500?"

A pic of Alex and Scooter. This is the picture in the dictionary under both action and donkey.

Sunday I went out to dinner with Shane and out of the blue he says "You know how many guys have won the US Open more than once?" I started naming names but he knew exactly who had done it. Me thinks the kid has his sights set on Virginia. Shane is one of those guys I mentioned earlier who is one of the good guys. He is a hell of a champion and a great person for the game. Kid is pretty funny too.

Off to L.A. tomorrow for TAR 16 Dominguez vs Morra.

What I am listening to:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Galveston Thursday- These Bleachers Suck

Just to get everyone up to speed I am a vampire. Not the suave blood sucking prince of darkness bad ass kind. Just the kind that has managed to create a schedule where any exposure to sunlight makes me curl up in the fetal position and scream. Said schedule, while good for Wal Mart shopping and getting things done on your own, does not mesh well with pool tournament match scheduling.

I would give you a time breakdown on yesterday but I am so mixed up I am not sure it would make sense. But I will try it anyway.

2:00 AM Thursday: Leave tournament room and go to hotel. Work on blog entry and photos.

6:00 AM Thursday: Post blog and pictures. Surf net, read AZ and Facebook while attempting to fall asleep

9:48 Am Thursday: Enter into Galveston Challenge Match thread on AZ. Instantly know I will regret it. Continue trying to fall asleep.

10:30ish AM Thursday: Realize I am a complete failure at one of natures most basic tasks. That is falling asleep. Decide to go to the tournament room and see if the players have burned said room down upon finding out the first place money for the team event was cut by $41,000.

10:45 AM Thursday: Arrive on site to find that all is in good order at said tournament room. I see no signs of spent torches or bent and bloody pitch forks anywhere. Seems the villagers are at peace in the land. I am strangely disappointed. But hey...whats 41 dimes here or there. Besides I didnt have a dog in the fight but I find it telling that all the noise made by certain cheerleaders and self appointed representatives of the organizers has grown suddenly quiet. The silence about the dirty business of actually carrying through on bigger than life pay out promises is deafening. More on this later.

11:20 AM Thursday: I engage in the mandatory tribe sanctioned practice of sampling the host venues concession stand fair. Being a very health conscious man and always treating my body like the temple it is I only order from three of the basic food groups: The Hot Dog group, The Coke group and The Hershey Chocolate Bar group. It's not easy keeping this physique. It takes true discipline.Total cost for this feast: $8.00.

11:23 AM Thursday: Consume said hot dog and attempt to rate it on the pool tournament hot dog continuum. It falls somewhere between Derby City 2006 and Valley Forge 2008. Not a bad dog.

Noonish Thursday: I check out the charts to see who is playing in the next round. See there are some good matches in the 8 ball division. Corey vs Archer and Alex "The Greatest Karaoke Singer Who Has Ever Won The US Open" Pagulayan vs Lee Van Corteza. I am a happy camper and proceed into the mountain range of bleachers to find a spot to sweat and shoot photos.

12:15 PM Thursday: I run into my buddy Bill "All Games But 14.1 Blow Dog" Maropolis in the bleachers. Bill is one of my favorite dudes because no matter what he always finds a way to crack me up and today would be no different.

12:30 PM Thursday: Match play begins. I notice that while looking very impressive in both size and quantity these bleachers suck for actually watching matches. There is a railing to keep people from going over the front edge and falling 120 feet to their death.(You will notice that I use a little artistic license from time to time. This is one of those times.) That rail is at the perfect height so that when you sit in the front row with your buddy Maropolis it cuts across the view of the tables perfectly so you have to hunch down to see under it. After the first 90 seconds this begins to suck.

My options were to move up and farther away from the tables or keep working on my new spine curvature. Instead I just shot the shit with Bill about all things pool. While we engaged in laughing our ass off at various things and people in the pool world we heard what sounded like some one doing body work on a 1978 Ford LTD. Metal on metal banging. Loud. We were not the only ones to notice this because Gabe Owen looked up after a shot with that "WTF?!??" look on his face and I don't blame him. He came to a pool tournament and an auto body class broke out. I would be a bit miffed as well.

Being the intrepid and fearless soul that I am I decided to investigate this hellish noise by walking fifteen feet up to the top of the bleachers and looking into the feature table pit from where it was emanating from. It was only then that it all made sense, for there 1500 feet below me (there's that artistic license thing again), were four men working on long heavy aluminum trussing. I am assuming they were working on putting up some lighting for the feature table in an attempt to fix the FUBAR situation that had been in place previously.

Bill came up to see what was going on as well and we began chatting about the course of events that were ongoing at this tournament. It was quite a good conversation and we laughed and talked while watch the men below beat and bang on the trussing without a care in the world. I know there is not much they could do about the noise. Their job was to get the job done. It was whoever scheduled a construction project in the middle of a $600 entry fee tournament who fucked up.

So Bill and I continue having a great conversation until I think of something and start cracking up. I say to Bill" Do you realize that we are each about a 1000 miles from home for the sole purpose of coming to a pool tournament as spectators, we have the best players in the world playing down there and we are standing here at the top of the bleachers watching four guys put together a giant erector set?" Bill LOL'ed.

After our revelation we went back down and took our seats to watch the matches. Sure enough after the first 90 seconds of hunching to see under that fucking rail the bleachers started to suck again. By this time I had gotten a little sleepy and figured I would head back to the room and catch a nap then come back for the one pocket finals.

3PM Thursday: Get back to the hotel and as I inevitably always do, decide to check on AZ for all the latest scoop. Low and behold I find that one lady on line is convinced that TAR is the expletive spewing demon spawn of the pool streaming world. Well when someone is wrong on the internet you can't just let that shit slide.

4:21 PM Thursday: Finally decide that sometimes when someone is wrong on the internet it is best to just let them live on in their happy little universe where horse racing is the moral benchmark by which all other endeavors are measured.

4:22 PM: Thursday: Pass the fuck out.

6:00 PM: Sleep through Efren vs Cliff

9:00 PM: Sleep through Efren vs Shannon

11:00 PM: Sleep through Efren bitching to his close friends about having $10,000 taken out of his fucking first place money to spread among the players because no one figured out that if you promise $25,000 for first and dont add any more money to the entry fees then there is going to be a large disparity between first and the rest of the field. (Maybe I was dreaming this part. Efren is such a gentleman I doubt he would say a word. But I sure as hell would if I was him.)

2:30 AM Friday: Awaken to realize that I had slept through most of one day at the very tournament I had traveled to see. Kick self repeatedly in ass. Resume online scanning to see what I missed.

3:30 AM: Begin Facebook chatting with Sarah Rousey and Derek Disco. Begin laughing.

4:30 AM: Sarah and Disco log off. Stop laughing.

6:00 AM Friday: Begin working on this blog.

10:00 AM Friday: Finish this long ass blog entry and realize telling the world how much of a dumb fuck you are may not be the best thing. Oh well. Good news is I am refreshed and ready to roll all day and night tonight. I will be heading to the tournament venue shortly to catch a full schedule of matches if I can find a way to outsmart those ass breaking, spine curling bleachers from hell.

Tune in next time kids for some exciting news about the new Team CSI as well as updates from my daily jackassery. I also want to send a shout out to my favorite WPBA players in Colorado: Sarah "The Grumpy Munchkin" Rousey, Caroline "Dont call me Capao" Pao, Ga Young "I only wish Justin would move to Korea so we could be together" Kim and Angel "Insert witty nickname here" Paglia. Good luck to one and all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Galveston Wednesday- Nice joint.

Made it to Galveston without any big travel hassles which is always nice. Why you hold a tournament an hour away from the nearest major airport will always be a mystery to me but after I saw the layout at Moody Gardens I can see how a good argument could be made.The place is nice.

Talked to some of the vendors and they all pretty much are doing the same thing. Standing around looking at each other wondering if anyone is going to show up and buy something. It don't look good. The funny thing is the people that are walking around are the who's who of pool players in the world. In the first hour I said hello to probably 5 of the top ten players in the world. The talent here is amazing.

I walked around and checked out the venue. Based on what I was told by staff they have 40 bar tables and 40 big tables set up in the main tournament room with 10 or so mixed tables in a green room down a hallway. Evidently there are about 100 bar tables sitting in trailers that never got unloaded. Due to a scheduling glitch with the hotel the tables were not able to get set up till Monday and by then they didnt really need them so in the trucks they sit.

The floor plan is bit hinky IMO. They have the vendors kind of scattered willy nilly amongst the the bar tables and it makes for some goofy traffic patterns. But seeing as the turnout is small I guess it doesnt matter too much. Basically it looks like what it is; a first time effort. The room itself is one of the nicer ones I have been to and they spared no expense when it came to seating for spectators. They went CRAZY with bleacher seating for the pro arena and feature table pit. I have no idea what the capacity is but it is more than anything I have ever seen with maybe the exception of the US Open. Optimistic is a good word to describe it. For anyone who has never priced setting up bleachers in a hotel it would probably give you a heart attack what they had to spend on this. They didnt scrimp thats for sure.

I checked out the now somewhat infamous streaming set up and was shocked at the lighting set up. They are using spot lights suspended over the table instead of the standard set up ESPN and Matchroom use which is fluorescent Kinoflow type lights which provide a soft even light instead of the harsh hot light they have here. More than one person said the lighting "sucks" for the players with harsh shadows on the table and balls. Supposedly they were working to change somethings but it was basically the same when I left. The one camera I saw was the overhead view and it was something I had never seen before which means it is either some high speed broadcast unit or what it looked like to me which is something from about 10 years ago. Overall the set up looks impressive on site but the end result for the online viewer frankly sucks for what was supposed to be something special. I have my thoughts on why that is but for now I will just keep my mouth shut.

I was wore out from traveling and being on a vampire schedule the previous week so I went back to the hotel about 6PM and crashed out till midnight. I went back to the event center and walked around looking for something to get into. I ran into Joey "GO GALVESTON !!!" Aguzin and Boradriver from the AZ forums. We drank a beer together and shot the shit. I mentioned to Joey that I had seen people online were not happy with the Gabe/Scott exhibition and he agreed that they basically were just shooting at their hole nonstop. I slept through the whole thing so I have no opinion.

As I was talking to Joey Mark Griffin walked up and I immediatly started talking shit to him about how bad i would thrash him on the pool table were he impetuous enough to try me some. Ten minutes later we were on one of the nine footers in the pro arena locked in mortal one pocket combat. I promptly thrashed him 8 to 1 in the first game. That is the good news. The bad news is I think he got used to cue I loaned him cause I didnt win another game. My story is that since he is at such an advanced age I felt it would only be right to show him the proper respect by easing up on him. Hey...its my story and I am sticking to it. Mark called it quits and took off for his room and I hung out and knocked some balls around for awhile and then took off myself.

It is now 3:30 AM local as I write this and the one thing am curious to see tomorrow is the reaction to the news that the $50,000 guaranteed first place in the amateur open 8 ball teams event has been reduced to $9,000. Oh yeah, me thinks some shit will be stirred up with that one. Or maybe not. I can't figure the pool world out. People get bat shit crazy about trivial things like phenolic tips and don't even bat an eye when prize funds change or don't add up at events all over the country. So I expect something between a full out revolt and no change whatsoever tomorrow.

Overall first day impressions:

1. Nice place to hold a tournament

2. Best field in the U.S. this year Pro wise.

3. These guys are gonna lose their ass on this deal. (General peanut gallery consensus $300,000- $500,000 loss)

4. I am glad I came and look forward to seeing some awesome ten ball this week.

More to follow tomorrow. I was gonna post pics here but it is easier to just do a picture thread on AZ Billiards forums so that is where you can see them. Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Galveston - 4 hours to take off.

I have severely neglected my blogging duties in the last month and ...well I forget how long its been. Since the Shane vs Frost match I know. Shit has been busy. We had an awesome future match up in October blow up in our face only to maybe have a shot at doing it if 2000 things fall into place. That's always nice.

I went to the APA Nationals at the Riv and hung out with all the uber cool peeps at he Mezz / Billiard Life booth along with TAR sponsors Royce and Jessica of OB Cues. Always nice to see friends from all over the country in one place. We are a scattered tribe.

Eric Crisp of SugarTree cues was able to make into Vegas for a few days. We joked about some IMO unwarranted heat he was getting in an AZ thread. I told him he should adopt a motto that a bar manager friend of mine used to use on shall we say undesirable or unruly hooligans. The name of the place was Kip's so when someone acted stupid or overly entitled my man Jim would tell nicely to "Fuck off" But this was just the set up. When they invariably went on the "I am the customer and you are here to serve me..." spiel he would drop punch line. With a big bright shining smile and murder in his eyes he would say "Welcome to Kips! We put the FUCK YOU!! in customer service." Everyone around died laughing and the target usually stumbled drunkenly on his way. Sadly Jim no longer works at Kip's.

Since Eric is not a complete donkey like myself he decided (wrongly IMO) not to adopt Jim's customer service motto. Damn shame if you ask me. Just for the record there isnt a better dude out there than Eric Crisp. All haters can suck a bag of dicks. Hey this is my blog I can be the asshole here if I want.

I also hung out and shot the shit with two of my favorite cue repairmen/comedians Joe Blackburn and Steve Lomax. I had a an old sneaky that needed a tip and ferrule that I had stashed away until these guys rolled back into town. Thats right I actually wait as long as it takes to see theses guys for a tip and ferrule. I have had too many experiences with hacks and would rather shelve a cue and wait than deal with the bullshit of a guy learning his trade on my dime. Before you fire off the emails I know there are a ton of great repairmen out there. I just dont feel like finding them . I know how it is going to turn out when I hand these guys a cue.

Next big thing was the International Cue Collectors Show in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was the second time we were invited to this show and it is one of my favorite things to do all year. Some of the rarest and most interesting cues in the world are on display. For a cue nut like me it is Disneyland. I was able to meet all of the displaying collectors and to a man they were friendly and very hospitable in sharing their collections. No matter what the type of collection it was cool to see the passion these guys had for the cues.

I got to meet a guy I have had a few run ins with online as well. I met Mr. John Barton of JB Cases. Despite some of the theories online he was not retarded nor did he have horns growing out of head while wiping his ass with the flag. In all seriousness John was a gentleman and very helpful in explaining some vintage cases from the Glenn Collection as well as some of his own creations. On some things we will never see eye to eye on and that is fine. I look forward to the next time we meet so I can learn some more about his craft. Things can take on a tone and life of their own online that never seems to carry over in real life face to face meetings. Every once in awhile I am reminded of this and this was one of those times.

I could go on forever about random stuff and maybe in the future I will write down some funny stories I have left out. But I am here to return to blogging with a vengeance and I will tell you why. There is a little tournament down in Galveston that you may have heard of. It seems the best players in the world have descended on this small island to play tournaments and action matches. It also seems that the only information coming out of this island is via a stream of varying quality (I already used up all my asshole allowance for this post) and the tournament brackets posted by Bad Boys Billiard Productions. There have been a few random updates on AZ as well but those have trickled off it seems.

So my goal is this....wait for blog post a day complete with pictures from Galveston. Tournament, Action, Funny Shit, Bull Shit whatever will be included. I will probably go heavy on the photos since so far I have yet to see one from the venue. That is fucking nuts. Maybe I just don't look in the right places I don't know. I had my issues with this event and I am happy to say on some things I was wrong. Most of the things I thought would cause problems did (Come on its my blog I get an I told you so.)

The thing that gives me real hope and makes we want to help in any way I can is that people I know there say these guys are dead serious and making changes when they can. Changes that benefit the players. So I want to go see what its all about and try to get involved for the next one....and from what I hear they are saying there will be a next one. But even if there isn't these guys deserve a lot of respect for actually doing this thing. I think financially they are gonna lose their entire ass on the deal and they could see that in the final days going into this thing. But they didn't pull the plug, didn't cut and run and for that I give them mad props. It is a simple thing but sometimes a rare one in this upside down pool world. is 4:30 AM as I write this in a laundromat across from UNLV in the Vegas hood. Yes I am a big believer in procrastination. But hey I am the only guy here so is the big winner? My plane leaves at 7:45AM for Houston and then on to Moody Gardens to see what all the hub bub is about. I will be there till the bitter end or someone kicks me out one or the other. Check back in 24 hours.......