Shooters

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To Daniel Negreanu; (professional poker player, billiard shark, chess thinker, hockey enthusiast, theatre goer, soccer lover, etc, etc, etc)

You will receive this attempt to connect by hand written registered letter and thereafter email communication. Upon an appropriate duration of time and whether successful or not gaining a reply, will be posting verbatim this same in entirety to my webpages ‘Blue Quadrivium’. Should you be curious about these ongoing efforts for your attention, please feel free to contact me and we can arrange to meet in person on behalf of my dime, with anticipation of a comprehensive conversation.

The location was Central Billiards on Queen Street directly beside the KFC, west from a traditional English pub. Crusted throughout the neighbourhood homes were assortments of eclectic proprietor fashion shops, varieties of restaurants, turn of the last century theatre’s alongside or inside Anglican churches, college student flats, grunge clubs, rave havens, tucked back alley speakeasies and goth lairs. This pool room after a long run has vanished, although have heard the business may have commenced in a new downtown spot. We crossed paths briefly. You were an unwilling intermittent spectator to my games during a period spanning two or three weeks and otherwise we don’t know each other from Adam, except on these two, possibly three instances, having you suggest challenge to shoot me in a game of snooker. Attempting to jog memory, as irrelevant moments are seemingly inconsequential, particularly since I rejected your requests and had someone not made it known of your infamy growing, myself would have been void a remembrance. As it happened, hindsight suspects you began scouting this place, searching for matches as interlude to other interests (notably found nearby, south on King St and north in Chinatown, carried nightly underground poker games) as no one had seen you prior and later discovered you were from Scarborough, which in my youth had as well been home. (Victoria Park and Finch) At the time of your asking, virtually all my arranged playing devotion spanning some 18 months was to a gifted Vietnamese who carried the name ‘Anthony’. He was a detestable fellow and was representational of competition I found attractive seeking because feeling cordial with an opponent was never motivational when in heated struggle of imaginary mortal combat. Anthony didn’t display iota of physical threat toward any of our regular membership, as I would shy this type be they lacking a disciplined disposition toward proper gamesmanship. Admittedly he was brutally stubborn and introverted, particularly with a perceived foe. We never acknowledged each other but for confirming scores and rare one word outburst to an onlooker would emit as unseemly fiery grunt or a curt verbal slap. We habitually wagered 20 dollars a game, in sets of five or seven and loser was additionally obliged to pay table rental. His marksmanship was outstanding, as his potting percentages from difficult angles and at all distances, including shots directly off the rail, were on the edges describing a superior talent. His weakness was white ball control. Keenly new to larger snooker tables, made readily available in Canada linked to the British Empire military and lacking practice with seemingly heavier weighted balls inside a smaller circumference, was expanding his curiosity outside shooting primarily American 8-ball. His second hindrance, being rather diminutive he was forced to undertake an abundance of awkward rake shots but despite this early shortcoming was becoming proficient with this tool as well. Despite his ability to pocket high risk shots, the frequency of needing to make them was where our battles for advantage were fought. My game, was patiently waiting for what was left easily available from misplays, converting them into decent point gains and then running for cover with safeties or snookers. (hooks) All in all our game results showed equivalency, during long unresolved fights for supremacy. (This Included two numbing the body sessions and memorably insane, 40 hour, twice thru to the morning again into the next afternoon non-stop marathons) Nonchalantly you observed segments of these exchanges and of course wanting to play rather than watch, would dismiss impatiently quick, likely uncontested by others because they were fearful of your reputation for relieving players of their cash. Of these exquisite credentials I was ignorant, otherwise would have respectfully entertained your skills and made a contribution. Probably. 

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This billiard hall most often utilized two affable employees shifting night and day duties, named ‘Simon’ (Lebanese) and ‘Auggie’ (Greek). Apprising the culture that was prevailing, for those with skin in the game, Auggie had a charismatic brother ‘Chris’ who thoughtfully contributed throughout the community and was a working main stay at the popular ‘Queen Street Video’, a so called centre of gravity in its heyday. This sincere staff having become friends looking out after one another, would generously volunteer information they thought would be useful and served also to deflect low level corruption that may accidentally venture or attempt to invade our collective safe space. A chore they were adamantly efficient at sustaining. If you recall the entrance had a (bullet-proof?) glass enclosure, required the attendant to screen potential players, needing to pass scrutiny and lock released into premise by an agreeable buzzer, after interrogation. This gave us an opportunity to once over guests if so inclined and cunningly performed as an open to all advertising exposure to an oft bustling youthful street. The place was a premium top notch establishment operated by Chinese ownership. I admired the crisp vibrant tight pocketed professional to specification tables, always spotless cared for manicured cloth and full compliment of proper quality accessories, among other ritual social amenities.

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As you came, so you went, never returning and would be to no ones surprise, for your quests are documented as action oriented. Thereabout a month after you ended visiting this potential venue, I as my weekly habit allowed, arrived early and cheerful. Auggie came hurriedly rushing from behind the espresso machine counter and questioned if I remembered you at all, offering clues in support. For a few minutes I racked my brain searching for an image but to no avail. Finally I said something to the effect, “Auggie, I recall a guy was sitting here in this chair”, stepping forward I pointed to the chair, “and this guy asked me a few times if I felt like shooting, otherwise I can’t remember anything else about him”. Shrugging I mentioned as reasoned excuse, “we never talked, why”? “That guy just won the largest amount of money ever paid out at a poker tournament”. Opening an opportunity for humour due to my meticulous obsessive tendencies, I retorted dryly, “Well isn’t he lucky he didn’t start shooting pool with me”. I never asked but had an impression the two of you may have chatted and chance would have it, my blog will have a murky photo of Auggie working the bar, with spectacled Marvin hunched in the foreground, taken long before your appearance and discontinuations. I learned more about you, as your popularity on T.V. began to swell but the best I could ever say to myself, ‘well he does seem vaguely familiar’. It was because of Auggie’s testimony, I trust it was you. To read this story has little value, as is. Surely many have had visions or nightmares of your whereabouts. Would you want it any other way? Reputation goes with the territory and escalates the competitive stakes. Makes life worth living. 

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I continued playing out of this home hall and then fate would intrude, returning to family, putting cue’s aside, pressed into duty with a happily gifted responsibility. The downtown core no longer suitable for this adjusting lifestyle, having alter work place inside the city to outside boundaries of Toronto and finding an amicable environment in small village Kleinburg. 

Forwarding again a few years and nostalgic, finding an opportunity to visit my favourite downtown haunts, I dropped in to this old hunting ground, to sure enough find former best enemy ‘Anthony’ sitting in this same popular slightly elevated seat, probably lonely. Facing away from the door and overlooking the playing area, he wasn’t mindful of my approach, although I’m certain he was cognizant someone had entered the premises, made by his cautionary quick slight to the side glance. Almost on top of him from behind, I noticed a disfigurement, as though a miniature tractor had partially plowed through the one side of his skull, leaving a protrusion. The healed wound was concealed by his thick black hair. Instead of saying hi and giving him a hug, which is strangely what I felt like doing, as if absence of hate makes the heart grow fonder, this huge scar impacted, causing consternation with attempts to sympathize the trauma that must have been endured by this type of injury. He was instantly charged and equally enthused to see me, as we exchanged affirmative smiles. “Anthony, what happened to your head!?” Released from hesitation, expressing in a fragmented English, he responded incredulous, “six of us, hand grenade, kill three us, throw me in bamboo tree, head stuck six hourrr,” holding his hands close to his torso extending four fingers and two thumbs representing six, nodding his noggin repeatedly yes. “Jesus Christ, I exclaimed”! He dispersed some other details, outpost, two others seriously mangled, defending artillery positions and such. I never did find out the method of extraction, medical attention, surgery and pain. Instead, midstream he silenced, looked away, contemplated, uncomfortably rearranged his body, then shot a sharp look simultaneously throwing one arm in the air as ‘devil may care’ and stated in matter-of-fact, “I kill 98 people”. The k in kill crackled, opening up a palpable visual, as if accountable to a river flowing blood, his Vietnamese accent had people strangely sound like ‘peephole’. The event was foreign to me. Our relationship had turned surreal. I was now taken aback a second time and heaved feelings from my raw lungs aghast, repeating in gulping disbelief “98 people”! Insane Rambo, revenge seeking Commando, or any well done, self-respecting hero worshiping war flick, would have duress despite mega buck budget, to improvise 98 dead, probably the bare minimum lengths a consumers attention who goes for that sort of thing needs to be tickled, to become a gross profiting box office spectacular. This conversely was real. Sensing disbelief and not for a millisecond did I imply any kind of doubt, he continued with explanation to attribute a majority of these deaths to one skirmish. Lifting the arm closest that hadn’t been in the air, flush above the railing in front of him, his slightly tilted head peering sharply thru black rimmed glasses, then with a quick jarring lurch downward as though foreboding that they had suddenly appeared and was on placement commands firing, his precision driven attribute to physically support a narrative, “they coming down mountain on path”. He didn’t need to say anything else. I could vividly picture the scenario. After all I’d been playing games for fun with components of their unfortunate demise. I understood the likelihood of what had transpired. Surely an ambush. His patrol squad caught a mass of NVA supported by Viet Cong on a ridge, in no man’s land and Anthony raged a tripod placed heavy machine-gun, shooting a dissecting frenzy, so that they didn’t have opportunity come off that trail in #’s, desperate to push them back. Slaughter or be slaughtered. Doom or be doomed. 

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A tendency to double back into the past can be painful but it can also be eyeopening. It’s why I hurt myself sometimes against perceived better judgement. This chance re-meeting went far and beyond, finalizing why I cherished his stringent company. He was one tough prick.

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Maybe it went down alternatively, I wasn’t there and didn’t carry on with query. Aside the updating of diabolical weaponry, war in essence tends to be redundant, except for personal loss attached to an individuals first relationship with murderous grief at the hands of his fellow human oxymoron kind. Bearing witness to a face contorted by inexplicable horror and then ask why we write military books about situational strategy, while in rummage of mutilated bodies to see who shot who, in keeping score for records and posterity, as an edge in coming conflicts and for a theatre near you. Where does all this end for victims and relative’s subjugated to these barbaric acts, should we sympathetically pretend they’re lucky to have survived this mind numbing catharsis, is diddly-squat lip service support, to help get over the hump of psychological destruction, when the soul innocence lost, will never be recovered, pleading eternity to be restored. 

 

 Anthony and I had a poignant heart to heart about geopolitics, both historic and in present context, from his perspective as a former front line soldier, who’d been caught in a dirty conflict, performing duty, like any other Joe Schmo that has to commit despicable acts to fulfill someone’s sick need for power, pushing people as chess piece, to have them satisfy their lust and greed. (“All The Kings Horses”, by Kurt Vonnegut) But of course when it’s over, it’s always somebody else’s fault. ‘To the victor the spoils’. That’s where the next war prepares gestation. Righteousness hides itself in forgiveness until the appropriate moment of perceived advantage and then, strike’s again. Repeat. This one time was also the only time Anthony and I meaningfully spoke. The enemy who became friend.  

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Anyway, where was I Daniel. Oh yeah, I really hadn’t any reason to meet with you and there wasn’t any driving ambition to do so, other than wondering if you were actually a better shot amongst our fraternity of fine shooters and then to mention this oddity, that infinitesimally included you. However, that changed in the summer of 2014, as my life having always been adventurous, was bestowed outside myself something what I felt was a profound vision. Idea stimulating idea and stumbling thunderstruck into conceptualizing renovating the Colosseum in Rome with a new functioning Colosseum over the top of the old one, to serve a twofold purpose in preservation and as well housing a world class soccer field for world cup entertainment, among a slew of other generating possibilities resulting, was awe inspiring. It would be for anyone with common sense. And in the highly improbable impracticality that this perception wasn’t conceived in my mind, participating the inspiration of many association’s and God’s will, then for the sake of forgiving argument, I’m dedicating the conclusion of my life advocating for rejuvenation of the Roman Colosseum in this aforementioned construct, as well support initiating all other offshoot projects culminating from this endeavour. A legacy worthy of commitment. A legacy I give opportunity to have anybody dragged into sharing, if need be kicking and screaming.  

Upfront what needs to be presented to those unfamiliar with Daniel Negreanu is the sheer width of abilities and perspectives that emanate from your likeable. The genius, is that you intuitively navigated an initial stroke of skill mashed with luck, into a long running, profit making career. Poker table’s and pool room’s arguably haven’t been described as receptacles conducive to producing savoury thought provoking characters. So it has been gratifying to circle back to media after durations of sometimes years, pleasantly surprised to find your positive aura still haloing and performing as a spotlighted force. Not a small feat in a quickly unamused, discarding, fickle world. You’re always polite, thoughtful, adorning, even a comforting demeanour, offset by competitive shrewdness, portrays a bright individual sighted into various components of living and a capability to reinvent yourself by drawing strength in examination of all forms of intellectual thinking. Is that thick enough for you? Couldn’t say it, if it weren’t true and many smarter adherents agree. In rarity finding you utterly bored, that I find amusing as a viewer, partially for not accidentally finding the cutting floor in edits, still have a sense that craving to claw into the game is roving just beneath the surface and could at any moment roar, propelling an undetermined vigour to take flight. You refuse to die. Odd in that poker is a game whereby we sit, math and bluff. My good friend Razvan, as well of Romanian origins, keeps himself abreast with all things science, medicine, music, computer technology, although his strongest acuity is engineering and stone building. Upon learning you come from this wild strong stock, wasn’t surprised, having encountered in work place and social gatherings this group of survivalists to be highly motivated. Wondering could this be attributed to Romania’s position on the world map. Its consistent runs of oppressive governing neighbours and own internal corruption, having prompted random individuals to cleverly liberate themselves, to achieve fulfilment.     

In believing I have grown to somewhat understand you and over duration infused this with my own active mind for fresh approaches, has culminated a new high-value poker event that intends to incorporate hidden traits of your competitive spirit, left dormant by the inherent format of the game. This concept in the broadest sense would transition the current approach, expanding client interest by compelling recreational users who are unable to contribute consuming commitments and as well further carry your base support with added participating possibilities. This foundational change could backfire as I’ve witnessed when altering a status quo but on the other hand suspicion is, if we so to speak successfully reshuffle a restructured deck we could have it become a catalyst for incredible gains to a new audience, made possible by recent technological advances. Incorporating combinations of revising elements we may stimulate less often tapped strengths namely leadership and allow the innate requirement of mastermind ooze from you in service as a headliner and originator toward a monumental new vehicle, against an abundance of shrewd challengers wanting to be supreme. Seceding the internal operational blueprint be assembled better by your knowhow, rather than myself who has limited experience in the presence of the poker playing world but as a nonchalant unbiased can clearly see potential, be willing to present multiple periphery dynamics, having you evaluate the nuts and bolt that would steer the inner mechanics, which I may contribute with forward nudging theories. Sporadically as a teenager I played Acey Deucey, one eyed-jacks, hi-low, split pot poker just to name some of the well known gimmickry that needs a fully backed judicial system and if that be unavailable, might is right policing weaponry, to sort out who won, in situational participation with various groups of Italians, Greeks, Jamaicans, Canadian Indians and Russians. Love cards but can’t find the desire to sit for required non-stop lengths awaiting results and more than likely invited to games because impatient is an easy mark, becoming animated and best described death knell for an ‘open book’ sort of fellow, never discouraged me to spend money socializing, inside reasonable controlled toll limits.  

The partial premise for this concept percolates dating forty years to a three day stint as taxi driver having acquired the needed provincial licensing. As precursory entertainment to Formula One or Stock car racing, whereby taxi drivers with perfect driving records, permitted through business company leaser with insurances to qualify, would tournament there skills on uniquely orchestrated tracks before main events to inspire contrast appreciation of motorized speed and acumen. More than that I won’t say without giving away the main core of thoughts on this matter, reserved for dialogue with an interested party.   

 

The world is evolving, with or without us, mere specks in volumes of unimaginable energy.

 I’m a terrible poker player. Probably because I’m easily animated and therefore simple to read. The term is Open book. I’m a walker talker tinker tailor soldier but not a spy. On top of that I’m in patient and can’t sit for more than three hours and not become antsy. My occupation as waiter has made me even more so.  I played a lot of various forms of poker in my teens with several diffrent groups including Italians, Jamacians and Indians but it was sporadic without being serious. For me the curiosity of understanding people through the medium of games has always held fascination. I think my success in playing with so many diverse groups was partially based on that I was an easy mark and jovial about it. 

What the heck does this have to do with you 

Even to hint at the idea immediately exposes it to oh well that’s so obvious. it always becomes obvious after the fact

You have to be in these types of levels of concentration for extended periods

I also noticed that you have an environmental component to your portfolio and this idea has a strong back door benefit to shrinking human consumption which unfortunately may be a detriment to other industries that may want to pushback its relization. Change is inevitable and this porthole is well sequenced in becoming passed into as relevant.

010010I will conclude by itinerating an archive of my unforgotten competitors, loosely associated with with their location and between these the some I will never have opportunity to thank enough for teachings of geometric possibilities through their excellence. This is also to serve as a curious investigate, should there be between us any other 7 degree’s of separation, despite that you are 10 years my junior and having diverged the Canadian billiard scene, quite long ago now.         

I began publicly playing out of Mario’s Pool Hall on Victoria Park south of Van Horne, after having self instigated tenure of honing in our family designed rec room. Inconspicuously we generated many great shooters. I don’t claim to have had many century games, an indicator of proficency but produced a shockingly early teen one here opponent evidenced by miffed Ray St-Germain who was our grade school all sports athletic star. Our most notable player nick named ‘Jimmy the Greek’ left for a  scholarship to the States. Can’t recall his last name but would we be surprised if it weren’t something ‘opoulos’. He wasn’t Stephen Hendry but was getting there. Basketball provided a better opportunity with focus. Then there was Macedonian Carl who on the side was a profeeter and profited immensely from running a shady pyramid scheme, to only later call the police on himself, unbeknownst to any, as a way to deflect the anger investors were about to suffer from loses. I left for Europe and there played very little but for an American military base in Germany I was often invited to visit. 

one armed val used a rake in evry shot frighteningly skilled Houdini Marvin the actor, Indian Mike the year I extensively shot with him went to vegas finished fourth in a major tournament and Duke Red Bird Coloured Stone and relating to the former Duncan Street Grill chain, Wayne, Marvin, Jimmy the Greek Old man bill and his legend father from previous era eight ball jack who shot out of the second floor turn of the century hall on the west side north of the Eaton’s Center, smithy montenegran Croat and brother Slavko not quite as good and more equal in ability to me still today considered Toronto’s  top street shooter, Shaun, The Academy of Spherical Arts if you went further west In my mind I called him John Wayne with his health card buried his friend told me his accomlishments. and the rest of the slingers at the okay corral, undercover Charlie Macedonian Carl, the VIP room and my first field of action Mario’s Pool Room on Victoria Park my first of sparse record of centuries in my teens against Ray St. Germain our schools Athlete of year many times over and enjoyed playing third and fourth fiddle, a very good guy. And of course shooter’s on Lawrence  and Shark’s at the corner of Steel’s and Islington south of Vaughan

I can’t remember all the Peter Paul’s and John’s or Kwan’s  ho’s and Casey’s I’ve played

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everthing is about cmmitment and the time need to execute commitment if you even plan to sencierly be in the equation

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A tribute to the best shooters in my family isn’t me, it’s the females. I count no less than five relatives with a genetic disposition that outperforms mine in accuracy, precision and balance. Including one sister I recognize this skill because although above average myself it’s in tactics that I excel and you can’t apply tactics unless your capable of truthfully anyalyzing your opponents or teammates limitations and abilities. Have any of our female clan expended consuming energy in applications of my own would out perform my natural abilities fairly easily. So yes, the real shooters in my family are the women accept they’ve applied these skills to gratefully better endeavours, for the most part. Actually both my sisters and at least one of my daughters were both better natural athletes, plus mechanics than myself. I excel at hunting and avoiding the hunter. I always envisioned my strengths as coach, tactician, motivator counciler. 

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We can’t all be Muhammad Ali, Bobby Orr, Novak Djokovic, Tom Brady and Micheal Jordan but the closer we get there the more we appreciate the amazing of their skill and God’s greatness.   

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So Ya—Jay                       Can’t Get It Out Of My Head–Electric Light Orchestra

Telephone Line-Electric Light Orchestra(Live At Wembley Stadium)

Evil Woman-Electric Light Orchestra(Live At Wembley Stadium)     Queen——I Want To Break Free

Steve Miller Band–Joker                                       Steve Miller Band—–Keep Rock’n Me Baby

Keith Hampshire—-Big Time Operator                 Nirvana—-Smells Like Teen Spirit

Nirvana—–Come As You Are                               AC/DC—Shoot To Thrill

Guns N’ Roses—–Sweet Child Of Mine                AC/DC—Hells Bells

Red Hot Chili Peppers—-Californication               Red Hot Chili Peppers—–Give It Away Now

Red Hot Chili Peppers—-Under The Bridge          Sinead O’Conner—–Nothing Compare’s To You

Pink Floyd—–Money                                             Pink Floyd—-Uncomfortably Numb

Pink Floyd—–Time                                                Pink Floyd—–Wish You Were Here

Santana—Black Magic Woman                              Hollies—-Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress

Thelonious Monk—Straight, No Chaser.         David Bowie and Queen—–Under Pressure

David Bowie—Heroes                                            David Bowie—

Schubert——-Symphony No 9 in C major.       Haydn—Trumpet Concerto No 2 in C major

Brahms—Violin Concerto in D major

Tartini—–Violin Concerto in E major

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