Taxing Situation
by: Mary Price, cosmic insultee

(April Issue 2002)

April. The IRS is OUR FRIEND ... Yikes. I personally, think we should all be able to claim everything related to our pool endeavors on our income tax. Think about it.

Exemptions - let's see. One for me. One for my wicked step-sister who occasionally takes over the table in the middle of one of my games. One for my mentally challenged step-sister who also captures my cue long enough to completely confuse the issue, - never a really good visit, if you know what I mean. Then, of course, I cannot forget my very reclusive brilliant twin who can rarely be coaxed out. So, that is already 4 exemptions, and I am sure I MUST be forgetting someone.

Medical bills ... hmm. Those not-to-be-enumerated spankings are sometimes severe. The toe-stubbings and choking incidents can certainly be problematic. Hyperventilating from close-calls is very hard on the body, lungs and cheeks (depending on how close the call is), and then there are the sore throats occasioned by periodic screaming at the cue ball to stop. And palm-flattened foreheads are very expensive to restore. I am not sure that teeth-gnashing and hair-tearing repair bills are valid but they could perhaps fall under work-related, couldn't they? I also believe the plastic surgery required for blue-chalk removal should be included under that same umbrella.

There can be no question about the ophthalmology bills for all the should-have-gones and those rare eye-poppings triggered by some of the lucky rolls. Claiming liquid consolation under medication costs might be pushing it a little ...

Tournament entry fees are surely the same as professional dues. If they aren't, I just cannot imagine what would be. Room and board for working away from home - I will have to look up the allowed amounts for that. The travel expenses themselves are perhaps in the gray area but I HAVE to go to those tournaments, darn it, and the only way is to travel there, so they certainly should be allowed.

Well, I am ready now! Break out those forms and let me at them! I cannot help but feel, though, that we should be exempt from tax filing when our birthday falls on the cutoff date, don't you? After all, it does seem like a bit of a cosmic insult ...

Happy tax day, all you honest (of course) & upright (at least when sober) citizens.

Daysie May
by: Mary Price, dancer and long rememberer

(May Issue 2002)

The month of celebrating life and lives. Dancing around the Maypole (perhaps really a cue implanted after a particularly lovely shot) is an ages old means of celebrating the life force of spring, the renewal of energy after the long depths of winter. Industrialization has diminished our awareness of the flows and ebbs of life. Now, many of us do not dance at all.

Appropriately, the demise of the month is our national day of remembering those who have gone before us. This year will be a particularly poignant Memorial Day, filled with the breadth of the losses we faced nationally, and the depth of the loss to those family members left behind after 9-11. We all find many different ways to remember, or carry, or promote the goals of those we have loved, who are now gone. Mostly, we let them live in our hearts and those quiet safe places within our spirits.

Pool players, however, have a tradition I think is truly wonderful. We have memorial tournaments, promoting the game we all love in the name of the missed one, who also loved the game. Some are long-standing and well-attended. Some are new, sadly; some get dropped for lack of continued sponsorship, not necessarily lack of players. Some are in the memory of great players, some for players who loved the game regardless of their own skills. What better way to salute the dedication of the missing ones? As long as the tourneys run, there is a statement that someone still cares and survives to play.

It is a sad thing, to me, when good reputable memorial tournaments are discontinued because the houses out of which they have always been played no longer care enough about either the missing one or the players who love to come play the namesake tournament. I understand that change is the only thing that never changes - some things just change at a different speed than we might wish.

I wish you the sweetness of memories, the gladness of being and the peace of acceptance. Be safe and don't leave us yet - there are enough tournaments for now ...

Forever June
by: Mary Price, roamer of greenfields

(June Issue 2002)

June. That month of the longest day and the sweetness of early summer. That month of attrition in the pool ranks when players chase smaller balls on larger, softer fields of green. When shooting means trap or pigeons. When shark-bait takes on a whole different meaning and table runs are between picnic benches.

Summer - the time for regrowth of energy and enthusiasm in preparation for the autumn onslaught of Tournament Time and league-filled winter. Many of us take these months off from shooting pool, believing the break is good for our game. We go off to let the sun shine into different rooms. And for some it works well. I have actually given up pool for a chunk of time, personally testing this theory. I was highly successful for 9 whole days, then the memory-echo of the clacking balls and feel of my cue drove me to the nearest table!

How many driving passions can any one mind sustain? Perhaps for some, the passion is actually the competitive nature of the games played. Competition igniting the coals of the soul, creating room in the psyche and releasing energy for more than one consuming activity. For me, pool is more like picking up the hot coal - can't let go and the burning stays with me always. I was recently watching a commercial video of pro players, commentated by one of the top women pros. She excitedly awakens each day because she knows she will get to play for x number of hours. She happily goes to sleep each night because she knows when she wakes up she'll get to play again. This is driving passion; the burn that stays, combusting with firestarting competition. For this deep enduring grand obsession, there is only one kind of green field, and the passion becomes the greenhouse for growth.

Happy longest day, and may the sun grow your spirit in many shades of green.

Independence Day
by: Mary Price

(July Issue 2002)

Hot dog, anyone? Perhaps some ice cold watermelon? Day off work, for sure. Boatride or fishing? Maybe camping; maybe golf, horseshoes or tennis. Maybe just home and fun activities with the family. Wait! - Hold real still and listen really hard ... deep beneath the clamor of our rushing to recreate ... ooh, can't quite catch it ... THERE it is ...! Drumbeats, heartbeats. Cries - victory or death? Both. So hard to hear them. Insulated by obtuse blindness, we happily partake of the fruits, trampling on the dust of the providers. But, that isn't fair, is it? After all, once a year, we do wave the flag around and proclaim our freedom loudly and spectacularly with thousands of dollars worth of fireworks. Can YOU see the rocket's red glare within those wonderful explosions of sparkles? Do you hear the cannons within the noisemaker booms? Do you weep when you hear a young person sing our National Anthem? Hopefully, we thank all those who have given everything from mind to limb to life each time we jump in our car to run off to a touranment; or when we dash to the airport for a trip across country, bounded only by time and financial constraints instead of guards and checkpoints. Or when we gather freely in large groups for tournaments? Well, maybe we don't remember to thank them. But we can feel them crowding around us when the flag is raised. There is probably not a single true American who could not see them among the rescue crews in New York.

I was recently privileged to attend a program honoring former POW's. Those ex-POW's in attendance fought in WWII. Standing with those men who live daily with their sacrifice was a tremendously humbling honor I cannot begin to describe. The Pledge of Allegiance became a proclamation of pride, and acknowledgement of an entire ethos, not just a rote recitation of something ingrained as a child. The Star Spangled Banner was led acapella by a 16-yr old Eagle Scout - the contrast between his youth and their 60 years of post- incarceration was time-lapse life. His beautiful soaring young voice pulled me into bustling recruitment centers filled with rushing, vibrant young men ready to go to war. His youth proclaimed continuity and each of those men who gave so much stood a little taller. In those moments I was filled with an encompassing love for the incredible human spirit manifest in each of those courageous men.

Recreate this holiday with joy and celebrate the spirit of all those over the last 200+ years who have given us our lives, and silently sing them thanks.

Dog Days
by: Mary Price, loller in sunshine

(August Issue 2002)

Long, hot August days. Dog days of summer. The long-awaited heat making us want to lay around snoozing, hopefully without our tongues hanging out We associate so many things with our furry best friends, the four-legged ones, I mean! Run with the Big Dogs; in August, even the Big Dogs are on the porch. Dogged the shot; just cannot seem to get onto the origin of that one? (if you have any ideas on this one, email me (really): Doggedly pursued the win; we have all been there. In the doghouse; we won't even GO there! Hair of the dog - not a pool player around who knows what THAT is yeah, sure. Dog tired; after all, it is soooo hard chasing butterflies and sleeping all day - must be a musher thing. Up to our knees in well, never mind that one. Meaner than a junkyard dog - never in reference to a poolplayer, of course. Found you like a bloodhound; sometimes good, sometimes not so good!

Have you ever wondered why there are so many associations related to animals in our conversations? Sharks, dogs, turkeys, chickens. Maybe poolplayers are just naturally more visual. Maybe we are saying that WE are animals at the pool table! Maybe we are saying that we do not have to be verbally capable to whup 'em like an orphan step-dog, I mean -child. Maybe we just LIKE sharks, dogs, turkeys and chickens. Who knows? And, I am sure, at this point, who really cares?

Happy Summer, players tournament season is getting closer!

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