Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Because Samm Made Me.....

Well its obvious I suck at this blogging thing. At this pace I may get six or so done this year. I will be honest and admit the only reason this one is getting typed out at the very last second possible before the deadline is because one of the heavy hitters in the industry made it known in no uncertain terms that it would be in my best interest to just shut up and do this shit. Who wields such power ? Who intimidates men with but a few polite words ? Behold......


Ms. Samm Diep ladies and gentlemen. Don't be fooled by the sweet smiling face. Samm is a gangster. Ok..not really but Samm is really sweet and when she asked me to write something for this months PoolSynergy how could I refuse? I just had to remember my damn log in for this thing. On to this months topic...."Whats in your case and why?"

I should start out by admitting that I am a gear queer. Doesn't matter if it's IPSC shooting, photography, video or pool. I like nice gear and I like trying all different kinds of things to see if there something out there I like better. This means I have owned, tried, bought, sold and traded ridiculous amounts of cues and cases. I have ran the gamut from hauling around a 3x6 Justis full of crap that weighed as much as a Hyundai to a 1x2 Ron Thomas with one cue for everything. After years of switching constantly I have finally settled down a bit and have used mostly the same set up for about the last year or so.

In my old age I have taken on a bit of a minimalist outlook on things. This is shown in the case that I have been using for the last couple of years. It is a custom 2x4 made by IMO the best case maker in the world Mr. Jack Justis. I called Jack and asked him if he would make me a case with no pockets. I had never seen one of his 2x4's without pockets and thought it would have a nice clean look to it. There was a practical consideration as well. When I travel I put my case in the bottom of a duffel bag to check it. This means pockets get crushed because there is often a lot of crap on top of the case. I invariably lose any pool gadget in my possession anyway so there is no reason to carry a bunch of crap I will just end up leaving on a table at the Riv, Derby City or some pool room somewhere in the country never to be seen again. Besides when you play as bad as I do you dont really need a bunch of extra crap. My Justis:


Jack did a fantastic job on the case. He lasered the TAR logo and "" on for me as well as making a nameplate with my internet handle on the lid. The JCIN was something I came up by combining my initials with my location at the time I created it which was Indiana. It is also a play on the fact that for most of my life half the people who see me everyday call me Jason anyway. There must be an innate need in peoples minds to convert Justin to Jason for some reason so I decided to just give them a good excuse.

I have a few cues that I rotate through depending on my moods. One of my favorites is made by Steve Lomax. It is a Nigerian ebony cue with double silver rings and a pimptastic genuine Ring Tail Lizard wrap. IMO you have to be careful with wraps as blingy as a Ring Tail. If you put them on a really fancy cue it can take it from cool to something that looks like you swiped it out of Kanye West's game room. For me the simple ebony cue balances it out nicely. The shaft has an ivory ferrule with a Kamui Black Super Soft tip and a taper that would make Earl proud. The cue plays great and is one that I will not be letting go of.


I also have one of Steve's famous jump cues but mine comes with extra bad assedness added. Steve made this as a special 1 of 1 for us to raffle off at the Derby last year. It has a custom logo we designed together by combining his logo with ours. It is also signed and dated one of one by Steve. Everyday at Derby I looked at the thing and lamented the fact that the one person who had no chance to own it was me. A fine gentleman named Bill Trimble won the cue and because he saw the lust in my eyes for it he was kind enough to work out a trade deal with me. So thanks to Steve and Bill I have the jump cue that John Wayne would of used.


One of the other cues that sees a lot of use is a slick little sneaky made by my buddy Eric Crisp of Sugar Tree Cues. He made it from a Dufferin blank and added one of his signature "Razor Wire" rings to the but and some extra crispy brown phenolic at the joint and butt cap. The main feature of the cue is one of Eric's amazing shafts. I asked him what the ferrule was and he said "I don't know. Some dude sent me stuff to try and thats whats on here." So I just tell everyone its made out of a mysterious substance called Unobtanium. It has a Triangle tip on it and plays amazing. I have been working on a design for my dream cue for Eric for about a year now and finally have it figured out. My first concept cue. Till that one gets done I will be able to get my Sugar fix with this bad boy. Sorry for the horrid pic I was up against the deadline as usual and dogged it.


The final cue that I have been playing around with for the last 5 or 6 months is, hold in your gasps of horror.......a production cue. But it isnt your dads production cue. It is a very simple wrapless Mezz EC-7 with the WD-700 shaft. My friends Caroline Pao and Mika Immonen own Mezz USA and I was hanging out in their booth last year at the APA Nationals in Vegas just looking at their wares and shooting the shit. As I handled the cues I was amazed at the quality and feel of them. To me it is better than many custom cues I have handled. The shaft taper on the WD-700 shaft is perfect for me and the fit and finish overall is outstanding. Fast forward a few months and I had pestered Caroline enough that she sold me this cue. I like straight forward players cues and this one is just that. I tell everyone that will listen about Mezz and the quality product they make. Their EC-7 line is a tremendous value and they are sold by some of the best people in the game.


I will be packing up the Justis along with five tons of TAR gear in a few weeks and heading out for what I think will be one of the best matches we have ever done. On October 12-14 TAR 19 will feature Mika Immonen vs Shane Van Boening in a $10,000 entry winner take all 10 ball race to 100. The match is at Amsterdam Billiards in NYC. We have two of the biggest players going head to head in New York City. I am all jacked up for this one. If you are interested in watching the match in person or online via PPV streaming more info is available at

a_TAR19 copy_800

Thanks to Samm for getting me off my ass and resurrecting this thing again. I plan to do a few more during the lead up to TAR 19. But we all know how that has worked out in the past....we'll see.

What I am listening to: Jamey Johnson's new album The Guitar Song just dropped and if you like old school, drink Jack till you cant see and go shoot stop signs country music it is the absolute mortal nuts. Here is a cut from the new release.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why Pool Doesn't Suck.

Damn. This thing is still here. Looks like that whole daily series thing from Florida didn't work out after all. My bad yo.

Well I have decided to bring this thing back from the dead. Since everyone's favorite cupcake the PCN dude (or as I call him the heartless fag who likes to make the fat jokes behind a keyboard) has decided to pussy out and quit the blogging game due to a little heat from a fellow fat man I see an open niche for a blog with a high asshole content. Right up my alley. So here we go.....

A lot has happened since I last posted here. This is where I am supposed to tell you how jacked up the pool world is, how horrible a future this game has and how the people all blow cancerous rhino dick.....but I won't. "But why?" you ask oh intrepid reader of pool blogs? Because while pool can suck at a high level for those trying to make their living in and around the game it really is not that bad when viewed with what I believe is the proper perspective.

To make my point let me tell you about what I used to do. I used to work for Ford Motor Company as an hourly Union employee. (UAW Local 1111 RULEZ!!!). Did it for 9 years. Made about $3o an hour plus full benefits. Sounds good so far right? Except I was completely and 100% miserable. Hated it. It really was no one's fault but my own I guess but then I got a roll. In December 2006 I took a buyout offer that allowed me a little freedom. For the first time in my life I did not have to worry about a weekly paycheck and could look around and see what I wanted to do. That is how TAR was born with the help of some other people.

Fast forward to today. I just got back from one of the best trips I have ever been on. The reason it was so good was because of the people I was with. Every single one of them I have met through pool. In this blog I want to introduce you to some of them. Cue travel log portion of blog in 3...2...1...

The trip started out with that orgy of pool known as The Super Billiard Expo in Valley Forge, PA. Allen Hopkins and crew nutted it again this year. Last year TAR had a booth and did well but this year things just didn't go right in order for us to do it again. (AKA I am a procrastinating dis-organized dumb ass who didn't get the TAR shit ordered in time.)This year my plan was to go and film the annual American Cuemakers Association dinner and to generally make contacts and enjoy myself. All of which I accomplished.

Many of the people I mentioned enjoying the company of happen to be cuemakers. In my experience they are a special breed especially the great ones. John Showman and his wife Merylane Showman are proof positive of that. I met John through TAR and I am very fortunate have become friends with him. John is a guy who LOVES the game of pool and holds the giants of cuemaking who came before him in the highest regard. It is always a true pleasure to talk cues with a maker of his status and he shares his knowledge and experience freely and in most cases with a heavy dose of humor and a pinch of sarcasm. My kind of guy.

This year John and Merylane built a TAR cue and case to help us out. They know TAR is far from lucrative and they went out of their way to create something to help us out because they believe what we are doing is good for the game. Words can not describe what it means to me personally. I am serious. It is not a money thing. That means something too of course but to me the thing that really gets me is that a master of his craft took the time create a cue, his wife created a case and together they said "We like what you do, this is for you". When TAR is long gone, somewhere in a cue collection there will be that cue and case because he made it. A guy will pick it up to show someone and say "Let me tell you about this cue. John made it for The Action Report" That means more to me than I will ever be able to express. Thank you to John and Merylane for such a special gift. I met these people through pool.

While I was at Valley Forge and in the days after I got to hang out with one of my favorite people on earth. I guess technically she is only really half a people but the size of her heart makes up for small stature. Ms. Sarah Rousey inspires me. No bullshit. Real talk. Aside from being one of the people on this earth who can induce tears rolling down the cheeks laughter from me with a single comment she is a remarkable young lady. She has a great talent for the game but it is not the talent that seems to come so easy to a few. Sarah works hard for everything and when you get to know her that is something that sticks with you.

She works a full time job when not on the road for pool in order to maintain medical benefits that she must have. For such a young lady she has a great deal of experience in how things work in the pool world. Her mix of enthusiasm and almost road weary cynicism is something I enjoy greatly. You see IMO Sarah gets it when it comes to being a pro player. She markets herself and does things proactively to to help herself. Many players can learn a lot from her in this department.

I hung out with Sarah and her boyfriend Jason "The Canadian" Klatt for a couple of days in New York after the SBE. It was a redonkulously fun time. I am actually laughing now as I write this. Just a short story to illustrate the fun factor of these two. It was about 4 AM and we were on the way back to the home we were staying in. In the car was Sarah, Jason, myself and the lovely Ms. Caroline Pao our guide through the jungle that is NYC. We decide to eat and go to some late night joint in the city. They seat us next to a table of about 8 no shit real deal cross dressing "IT"S FABULOUS!!!!" trannies. I mean these guys were all in. Sequined evening gowns, high heels, some with wigs on some with wigs off. You could tell they had just had one hell of a night of trannieing and were taking the edge off.

Caroline being a native New Yorker doesn't give it a second look and sits down as if it is a normal everyday occurrence to be seated next to a basketball team in evening gowns. Did I mention one of these dudes was about 6'8" ? Swear to God. Sarah being from the midwest like me was a little hesitant but we both rolled with it. "The Canadian" on the other hand....let's just say that based on his reaction if we ever have to invade Canada we should lead off with a massive airborne operation of trannies. We won't have to fire a shot. Poor jason was so uncomfortable I could not help but laugh uncontrollably at him. Sarah being a supportive partner joined in with me. Below is a pic of said discomfort. I could tell a hundred more stories that bring a smile to my face involving Ms. Sarah Rousey. I met her through pool.

While in New York I had the great pleasure to hang out with the coolest couple of the interweb pool world Pool Monkey and Brooklyn Jay. I met these two through the online pool forums (those of you who get that joke appreciate it) and consider myself very lucky to have done so. It is a blast to hang out with them as being New Yorkers their ability to cut through the bullshit is remarkable. I enjoy that very much. The fact that they double as a comedy team is a bonus. To illustrate that fact here is a short story from the now legendary JimboArmy party room at this years SBE.

CKurzweil of the JimboArmy forum brought various and sundry meat products for everyone to snack on at the party. (You da man sir!) He makes these products at a company he owns and does a damn fine job of it. One of the things he brought was this mouth watering ass burning Hell Jerky. He told the story of a guy asking for hot jerky and then coming back saying it wasnt that hot. Then he said "After the next batch he never said it wasn't hot enough again". That is the shit we are talking about here. It seems Jay is like me in that he prefers to not sweat and cry while eating so super hot shit is not an everyday thing for him. Below is the story in pictures of what happened.

Once again I could tell a hundred stories involving these two that make me smile whenever I think of them. I met them through pool.

One person who I admire for many reasons is a young lady who most of you know as a pro pool player. Ms. Caroline Pao is that and much more. Lets face it, there are some players who NEED the game because due to circumstance or personal choice they have no other real marketable skill. Caroline is not one of those people. She has a Masters degree from NYU was at one time a working pastry chef in New York City and is one of the most all around talented and hard working people I have met. She is also quite possibly the nicest person walking the face of the planet today. Actually the window is open. It's a mortal lock. Nuns and social workers get the 6 out.

Aside from playing the WPBA tour Caroline runs not one but two companies with help from her partners. Those companies are Mezz USA and Billiard Life. Take it from a guy involved in one pool company who cant play a lick, playing at the highest level while trying to keep two businesses straight is nuts. Caroline does it with style and grace.

She also is funny as hell. Case in point: It was another late night in NYC and we were making our way back to New Jersey (Base Camp for the assault on NYC) Sarah Rousey is piloting the return flight with Jason and Caroline in the back, me riding shotgun (one of the only benefits of being the size of an adolescent elephant is that you generally get shotgun by default). Jason had long since fell asleep and Caroline was giving directions. It was late and we all were tired. No crazy drinking stories here just a long night of eating, laughing and a long day before it.

Well I am talking to Sarah and we notice that we have not received any instructions lately on where we are supposed to navigate to. For those who have never driven in NYC it is very difficult to describe. If you are a male take out your junk and slam it in the car door. This will give you the starting level of anxiety you feel while driving in the most fucked up road system this side of Bangladesh. This is what Sarah is dealing with and unbelievably well I might add. I look back to determine the problem with our faithful navigator and see it right away. I turn to Sarah and say "She is asleep". At which point she looks at me like I have a dick growing out of my forehead and says "Well then...wake her up." Never one to disobey a direct order from a legal midget I tap Caroline on the leg and say "Caroline wake up...which way do we have to go." She promptly opens one eye for a tenth of a second and says "Go straight."

Since this is a viable option at this point in the journey Sarah looks somewhat skeptical but holds course based on our updated information. Five minutes later Sarah somewhat urgently says "I have to make a turn....wake her up and find out which way." Once again I tap our fearless leader on the leg and say "Sarah has to turn ...which way?" At which point Caroline, very suspiciously in my eyes, does the same eyeblink and responds in a very groggy almost dreamlike voice "Go straight." At this point I realize that our human GPS has fallen into an endless loop and the directions are not to be trusted. I admit that at this point Sarah and I are laughing our asses off but we do have that turn to make. So instead of the gentle leg tap for a direction I give her the "Wake the fuck up before we drive into a river" shake. Caroline being Caroline wakes up realizes what has happened and immediately apologizes for failing to do less than her absolute best at the duty at hand. I could go on for twenty pages about things that make me smile or laugh when it comes to Caroline. I met her through pool.

I realize that this manifesto length blog post may be more than you signed on for but I wrote it all to make my point stated above. You see for a long time I was a guy in a factory standing in front of a machine thinking to myself that out there somewhere were people doing what they wanted to do and enjoying life. I know now I was right about that because I am one of those people now and it is because of pool. More specifically it is because of the people in pool. The ones I mentioned above all hold a special place in my heart but there are many more out there. So whenever you get down on the game remember that it isn't really that bad and that some amazing people are in there with you.

Thanks for reading and I will do my best to try and keep this thing somewhat current.

COMING UP ON TAR: TAR 18 Bartram vs Appleton May 24-25

Stay tuned kids.

What I am listening to: