Do you ever shoot pool? I do. It's one of my favorite activities.
When I was young, I played a lot. It was a fun activity in college. Two decades later when I started riding motorcycles, I returned to the game. My friend Rich, a biker, owned a seedy bar and we used to hang out there and play late into the night. Rich is very good and our lengthy games sharpened my skill. For a while, we competed as a team in a local billiards league and did quite well. I stopped playing when Rich moved to Las Vegas where he lives now. I visit him occasionally and am impressed that he has a fancy pool table in his living room. Not every wife will let you do that!
There are several billiards games, the most popular of which is eight-ball. That's my best although I sometimes play English billiards -- which uses only three balls on a table without pockets. That requires totally different skills.
The reason I mention billiards is because I'm getting back into the game. Last week I pulled my cue-stick out of storage and headed down to a local pool-hall. (Yes, I have my own cue.) I'm out-of-practice but a few months of steady play will bring back my ability. What I love most about pool is its meditative quality. It quiets your mind and trains your body to be steady and smooth. It's a lot like motorcycle-riding; you're dancing with the forces of nature. At its best, billiards makes me feel closer to the center of the Universe.
Pool is also cool. It was the subject of "The Hustler", a classic film from 1961 starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott and Piper Laurie. In the movie, Jackie Gleason is mesmerizing as Minnesota Fats, a legendary pool player whom Paul Newman's character is desperate to beat. The tension during their bouts is amazing. Many years later (1986), a sequel was made with Tom Cruise and Paul Newman ("The Color of Money").
"The Hustler" was shot in grainy black-and-white, which perfectly suited the material, and the shooting was actually done in New York City where the drama takes place. The film was nominated for nine Oscar awards and won two.
"The Hustler" stimulated huge national interest in pool when it was released. I saw it as a teenager and was entranced by a tricky pool-shot in it called a "masse." With a masse, you hit the cue ball very low (below its center) which causes it to jump into the air. Jump! Once it becomes air-borne, you can make it leap over over balls. I learned how to do it and it's my favorite way to impress people. When you're in a situation where the cue-ball is blocked from an object ball by other balls, you can make the cue-ball leap over them to get to the object ball. People's eyes widen when you do it right 'cause they didn't think it was possible to make pool-balls jump in the air, certainly not with control.
If my return to pool takes root, I might get a table for my house; there are beautiful ones, ranging in style from traditional to modern. (See below.)
Have I enticed you in playing? Maybe we can go to a pool-hall together... Rack 'em up!