Posts Tagged ‘billiards’

Half Year Review

on January 6, 2010 in Misc Comments Off on Half Year Review


With the New Year now underway and my one-year plan almost at the halfway point, it’s time for a review of my progress.  I’ve already talked about the mental and emotional changes the plan has made in me.  Now here are reviews for my progress in the areas of physical prowess and knowledge.

First up:  Parkour

My nine classes last July/August/September got me into shape more quickly and painfully than any other activity I’ve ever attempted in my life, and the boot camp atmosphere taught me that I could push my endurance much farther than I thought possible.  The stunts – from jumps to cat hangs to swinging by my hands along high bars – revealed niggling fears lurking within me which I was unaware of and had to overcome.  I also discovered I’ve got almost zilch upper body strength.  Since the classes ended I’ve kept up the sit-ups, push-ups and squats we did in class.  On the downside…

I have not maintained the same high standard for strength and endurance.  Yes, I’m generally in better shape, but out of a combination of laziness and crappy weather (this is Denver’s coldest winter in years) I haven’t been running in the park two blocks away nor have I been practicing chin-ups on its kids’ Jungle Jim.  Over the Christmas holiday my brother helped me by showing what muscles I have to develop if I ever want to do chin-ups.  He also laughed when I referred to my shoulder muscles.  “You don’t have any shoulder muscles!” he crowed.

One interesting side-effect of the parkour training:  I’ve developed the odd habit of sizing up the exteriors and interiors of buildings around me to figure out how I could climb them should the need arise.  It’s almost a compulsion.  How would I climb up over those elevators?  Could I get up to that balcony?  Anyway, once my upper body is stronger, I’ll start climbing the wall at REI before making a fool of myself around buildings.


My pool/billiards skills have languished because I haven’t practiced them outside the two classes I took.  Being gone over the holidays and again the bitter weather haven’t helped.  But I’ll be taking another class in a few weeks from The Viper, and I resolve to head to the Wynkoop for practice sessions.  I mean, how hard can that be?  Buy myself a beer and practice for an hour or two.  Maybe I’ve kind of blown off billiards because it’s entertaining and not arduous, and there’s a puritanical part of me that tends to put off pleasure when I could instead be working at something.  Yet one of the most important aspects of my Layla plan is to have FUN.  Which brings me to….

Paragliding and Skydiving

The weather is still too damned cold.  I’m hoping that maybe in March or at least April there’ll be a warm enough day to make paragliding possible.  As for skydiving – a bunch of friends have decided they want to try it with me, and since they’ll be gathering from a couple of different states, we’re all aiming for one week in June.  But I think I’ll go ahead and learn to jump on my own first, and in April or May if the weather permits.  Then I’ll really have fun when I go with them.  I am afraid, however, that I might fall in love with skydiving, and the trouble is the sport ain’t cheap.


Damn.  I mean it.  Like, double damn.  I’ve really been lazy.  I’ve been studying French or Arabic only on an irregular basis.  When I’m in any kind of class I tend to be much more disciplined, so what I’m going to have to do is create some kind of similar structure.  Hence I’ve decided to write short entries in this blog much more frequently in order to document my almost daily progress with my plan.   Sometimes I might just list what I’ve done in the last couple days much as if I’m writing in a diary, but that should do the trick.  For me, making my private behavior public can be a powerful motivator ’cause I embarrass easily.

Lock picking

See description of my language studying.  Resolve here and now to be super diligent at learning how to pick locks.

And now for some good news.

I can FINALLY get back into fencing and get to REI and take an upcoming four-part session of aerial dance (à  la Lara Croft’s bungee dancing scene in Tomb Raider) and other Layla stuff because I’m about to become the proud owner of a hot little used red Chevy Aveo.  No, it ain’t no fancy sports car, but it beats my old Nerdmobile, especially because it’s hot red and can run and doesn’t smoke like the engine is on fire when I drive it.

In summation…

Will I meet my one-year goal to become like Layla after the coming six months are up?  I believe so, although the last few weeks of my plan might be a real crunch time.  Will I be happy if I reach my goals?  You know, I’m not sure.

The truth is, I’m beginning to feel that my original goals weren’t as ambitious as they could have been, that I could have set the bar even higher.  Hell, now that I’ve started on this path I want to achieve and do much, much more than I’d first planned.  In the last couple days I’ve also seen how my becoming Layla is forcing a kind of liberation on me.  I hadn’t thought that I was in a rut, but that’s how deceptive ruts can be:   sometimes they get wide and deep when we’re not looking, until one day we wake up and realize we’ve settled into a place we just don’t want to be anymore.

Does that mean there’ll be a Becoming Layla Level II and maybe Level III?  And if so, what will such plans entail?

Stay tuned for further developments.  I’ve got some pondering to do.

Pool with The Viper

on October 27, 2009 in Misc Comments Off on Pool with The Viper

Okay, so maybe pool/billiards isn’t Layla’s top skill and action heroes don’t rely on it to save their necks. But everyone knows that if James Bond or Lara Croft ever walks into a posh private billiards room in Monte Carlo he or she could pick up a cue and beat the pants off any opponent, even a world champ. And that’s because Bond and Croft are just plain cool.

Hence I consider it my action hero duty to learn billiards. Hence last night I had my first billiards class with Melissa “The Viper” Little.

She’s ranked twelfth internationally among women, just returned from playing a tournament in the Philippines, and talks about appearing on ESPN the way other women chat about shopping at the Gap. So you know she’s gotta be good. And with a nickname like The Viper I was expecting a tough, leather-clad biker chick who chews nails and swigs beer. Instead we five beginner students were greeted by a pleasant mom with sparklies on her t-shirt who was the model of patience and eager to share her love of the game.


The class, which was on the second floor of the Wynkoop (downtown restaurant, micro brewery, game place) was two hours, and as you might expect for a rank beginner like me there was only so much I could learn in that time. Yet simply getting down the correct stance, attitude, grip, strokes and follow-throughs started to make a real difference in my game. Yes, there’s still massive room for improvement, but at least I now appear to know what I’m doing at a pool table instead of rambling around it like a posturing twit.

At a hundred an hour I can’t afford The Viper’s private lessons. But the good news is she teaches two hour clinics for $35 one Saturday a month. For me that’s a great way to spend some winter afternoons. Beer and pool. I’ve got class.