Pointing is cricket

I’ve observed quite a bit of controversy during Cricket matches lately.  And it always revolves around the same issue–pointing.  Or to be more precise, what some folks consider “excessive” pointing.

To state the obvious, pointing is a strategic part of the game.  Everyone has an opinion on darts strategy it seems, so here’s mine.

To begin, there is no rule limiting how much or how often you or your opponent can throw points.  Accordingly, the best way to keep from being pointed, excessively or otherwise, is to close your numbers before your opponent does.  Granted, that’s easier said than done, but complaining about someone’s points is well, pointless.  You’ve got to take care of business at the oche.

Since no one in my circle of darters is likely to be appearing on ESPN anytime soon, we are all going to be faced with the issue of when and how much to point.  Some of that will depend on the game situation and your foe, but there are some general rules of thumb I think apply in most circumstances.

1.  Being ahead on points is a good thing.  A very good thing.  As long as you have more points on the board than the guy (or gal) you’re playing, you can’t be beat!  How many points should you be ahead?  Depends on your comfort level.  I personally like to stay up by 2 bulls (that’s 26 points if you’re counting properly).  Your mileage may vary, but I do believe there is such a thing as too many points.  I’ll discuss that a little later.

2.  Make all your darts work for you, especially that third one.  Let’s talk this through.  Say you open the game with a single 20 and then hit the triple with your next dart.  What are you going to do with that third one?  Yeah, yeah, you’re going to throw it at the board, but where on the board does it have the most value to you?  The experts (at least the ones in a book I read when I first started darting) say you should expect no more than a single mark on any given dart.  Which makes sense when you consider the odds.  If I get one triple out of 3 darts on average, I’m throwing damn good.  And I think that’s true for most of us grunts amateurs.

So, should I use my last dart for a single 19 or stay on the 20 for the points?  I’d rather have a 40 point lead and no 19s, than 20 points and one 19.  Here’s why.  Let’s say your opponent answers with a 5 mark on 19s.  You are still up on points, with the 20 closed.  That’s pretty good shape.  And here’s what I’d do next, I would try to close the 19s.  If I hit a single 19 and then miss on the second dart, where is my third dart going to have the most value?  Back up top!  If I’m up by 22 points, my foe will need two 19s before he even thinks about working on closing the 20s.  I pretty much stick to that strategy all around the board–if I can’t close a number with my third dart (again, assuming I’ll throw a single) and I have the opportunity to throw it for points, that’s where it is most likely going.

3.  When is enough, enough?  As stated earlier, you’ll find your own comfort level. If I’m up by a couple of numbers (or god forbid, down by a couple) I’ll alter my strategy accordingly.  I’ve seen a lot of really good players once they get up on points make that third dart “work” by throwing at the bull.  I’ve been on the wrong side of that strategy a few times, and trust me it is disconcerting to be down on points and seeing the bulls get closed mid-game.

And remember this–sometimes points just happen.  You (or your foe) is going to hit a triple when a single would suffice.  And we’ve all seen those irritating occasions when a shot at the 15 turns into a slider triple 17 for points.  Ok, well it’s not so irritating when you have the “good luck”, but the point is that its nothing to get overly upset about.

4.  Winning is the point.  I play to win.  And like most people, I really don’t like losing.  If I get beat by a superior player, thems the breaks.  If I beat myself, then it’s on me.  Darts is a funny game in that while you are playing another player, it really comes down to you and board.  If you take care of business at the oche, you’re going to win your share of matches.  If you let what your opponent is doing with his darts get inside your head, you are likely going to lose.  And if your opponent figures out that throwing “excessive” points is going to rattle you, well, guess what?  They are going to throw those points.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it much either.  But rather than get mad, I try to get even.  I said earlier that as long as you are up on points, you can’t lose.  But on the flip side, until you close all the numbers and bulls, you can’t win.  So, someone throwing points they don’t need instead of working on closing numbers they do need to close is actually doing you a big favor.  In my head I’m always saying “thank you for keeping me in this game!”  You don’t always come back when you are down a hundred or more points, but as long as you have an open number to shoot at, you’ve got a chance to win.  A few timely bulls or some trip 15s eats up a big points lead real quick. And I see exactly that happen pretty damn frequently.  So, I say let them point and thank them after you take the W.

5.  Darts is a game.  A game usually played in bars.  By people in various stages of inebriation.   And maybe at times we take it all just a little too seriously.  I guess I’d just remind everyone that we are supposed to be having some fun at this game.  I understand that some of us are more competitive than others.  But getting angry is counterproductive to throwing good darts, so there is really nothing to be gained from going down that road.

Darts is a game, but I don’t think it’s a “gentleman’s game”.  There are good darters and bad darters.  Nice people and not so nice people play the game.  People have different ideas on how to play the game, some are good (mine) some are not (theirs).  See what I mean?  Play your game and let them play theirs.   You can’t make your opponent play it your way.  If they take a bad strategic approach to pointing, it’s on them, not you.  Don’t take it personal and by all means, let your darts do your talking!

I’ve seen some really stupid stuff.  Like the guy who threw for points needing only one bull to win.  That’s just plain ignorant.  And probably unsportsmanlike.  Don’t be that guy.  And more importantly don’t  let that guy drag you down to his level.

Let me finish with a story about me.  I was playing a person who is not only an outstanding darter that I admire and respect, but also a friend.  In a tournament cricket game he opened with a 9-mark, all 20s.   And I was pissed because to my way of thinking after 60 points, I’d have moved on to another number.  Of course, an angry darter is a crappy darter and I lost the match.  Afterwards I said some words I almost immediately regretted.  After I calmed down and apologized we had a nice talk.  He said he was really surprised by my reaction.  He said he stayed on the 20s for two reasons:  he was “feeling” that number and he respected me enough as a player to figure out he was going to need those points to beat me.

And that’s really the lesson in a nutshell, isn’t it?  Make the third dart work for you and don’t take it personal.  One man’s “excessive pointing” is another man’s show of respect.

On the beach


No, I’m not talking about the fine Neil Young song.  We made a weekend sojourn to Naksan Beach on the sea that is not of Japan but is instead simply East.


In the past I’ve always driven but seeing as how I don’t have a car here now, we took the bus.  We had the Express direct to Sokcho and hopped another for the short ride to Naksan.  About 3 hours total (not counting 50 minutes on the subway to the bus terminal).


We did make one comfort stop along the way.  I was a little nervous when I saw that we were in “Gang Land” but I didn’t spot any Crips or Bloods, so it was all good.


As is our custom, Jee Yeun took charge of securing our beachfront lodging.  Our regular place only had one room available (we went with another couple) and most of the places wouldn’t discount their prices (getting a cheap room is a matter of honor to Jee Yeun).  Apparently, October is still high season at Naksan because of all the folks enjoying autumn colors at Seoraksan coming down to the beach to sleep. We wound up getting both nights at the place pictured above for W125,000, a reduction of W15,000 from the initial asking price.  Score!


The view from the room.

The aforementioned other couple, Lonnie and Jaime.


And yes, here is the evidence that I was in fact on the beach.  But not in the water.


Truth be told, there’s not a lot of nightlife in Naksan.  So, we made our own–Korean style.  Which is defined as drinking beer in front of the 7/11 store and watching the people pass by.  It is actually more fun than it sounds.


There must be 50 places serving fresh seafood in Naksan.  Three of us weren’t feeling fishy, so we found the one place that served samgyupsal.  We cooked it up with garlic, kimchi, and onions and it was indeed a tasty treat.  And no worries, Jee Yeun got her raw fish the next night.


Next morning we made the short hike up to Naksansa, the famous Buddhist Temple.  You can read some history, including the tragic fire of 2005, at the link.  The hilltop setting overlooking the ocean is really incredible.


It ‘s probably bad form to take a photograph of Jee Yeun during worship, but I tried to be discreet.  If I ever prostrated myself like that I’d never be able to get back up.


Jee Yeun also paid her respects to Haesugwaneumsang (Bodhisattva of Mercy), known as the goddess Gwanseeum-Bosal (no, I don’t know what I’m talking about, I lifted that from Wikipedia).


Did I mention how beautiful it is there?


Lonnie is the bald miguk in this picture.


Lonnie and Jaime pause to reflect on the beauty of their surroundings while contemplating the deeper meanings of life.  Me, I was just trying to catch my breath.


The temple bell.  Being the irreverent punk that I am, I couldn’t help but imagine how it would be if you put a man between the clanger and the bell.  Talk about a nutcracker!


Naksan Beach as seen from the temple grounds.


Jee Yeun replenishes the water bottle for our trip back down the mountain.  Or hill as that young whippersnapper Lonnie called it.


So, while Jee Yeun and I napped, Lonnie and Jamie taxied out to Seoraksan for more hiking.  Later on we reconvened at the convenience store for some beer drinking.  Up and down the main drag these horse drawn carriages hauled smiling Korean folk while blaring “Gangnam-style”.  One time of that was more than enough, believe me.  But what we saw was even more distressing.  These were not even full size horses, and they were pulling heavy carriages fully laden with people.  At a fast trot.  That’s what got to me.  I’ve done carriage rides, but at never more than a walk.  With strong draft horses doing the pulling.  These little guys were huffing and puffing, and in the two plus hours we watched they never got a break.  Lonnie couldn’t take it anymore, so he bought a huge carrot which the horse pictured above surely did enjoy.  Then it was back to work for him and we moved on to the beach to burn some money fireworks.


We were feeling the craving for some beer with pizza to wash it down, so we did that.  I was also getting close to drunk enough for some…


…norebang!  Ah yes, Saturday night is not complete without the traditional Korean singing room.  I’m told that when I sing folks can literally feel my pain.  Or maybe they just feel pain.  One of those.


And all too soon our quiet weekend on the beach was drawing to an end.  We caught the bus in front of the local K-Mart.  It was not the express bus to Seoul, in fact it was the direct opposite.  We crawled at a stop-and-go pace all the way over Seoraksan and down into the valley below.  Once we reached the 4-lane things hadn’t much improved so the driver made an announcement in Korean which must have been “hey, hold onto your seats, I know a shortcut!”  Lordy, lordy, we were back in some mountains and this time it was a one lane road.  Which our bus amply filled.  Fortunately there was not much traffic, but when we did encounter another vehicle they’d pull over as far as they could and we’d somehow manage to squeeze by.

Ah well, six hours later we were back in lovely Seoul.  And so ends this tale of adventure from Korea.  Stay tuned!

Vis a Vis(a)

I applied for a fiancee visa for Jee Yeun in January.  In June I was told more information was required, which I dutifully and promptly submitted.  In August I got the good news that the United States Customs and Immigration Service had approved the application and the package had been transmitted to the State Department’s National Visa Center.  Hooray!

On August 21 the State Department advised that my visa package was being transferred to the embassy in Seoul.  The letter further advised:

“Your fiance will soon receive a packet with instructions from the consular section on how to apply for the K1 visa and what documents will be required.” 

So here it is mid-October and said packet has not arrived.  Today we journeyed out to the embassy complex to find out why.  Arrived at ten minutes after eleven only to be told that the immigration office is closed for lunch until one o’clock.  Must be one helleva lunch those folks eat.

We cooled our heels at the local Burger King (I had the Whopper set) and then reappeared at immigration at the appointed hour.  Well, the first window that opened said they couldn’t help me and sent me to another window.  Unoccupied and unattended as it were.  I rang the buzzer and a young woman appeared.  I presented her with the letters from USCIS and State and she advised that I had to schedule an appointment online in accordance with the instructions in the packet I was sent.

I took a deep breath and then another and said “the reason we are here is that we never received said packet in the mail”.  And she said, “oh no, we don’t mail them, we send them via email.”  Ok, well I never got them in my email either.  To which she replied “maybe it went to your spam box’.  Maybe so, but what do I do now that I’m standing here in front of you?  She had to check and disappeared for awhile.  When she returned she had a copy of the transmittal letter (which had today’s date on it) and asked me to confirm the email address was correct.  It was.  So, she said she’d send it again and told me to be sure and check my spam box.  Okay, will do.

Got back home and sure enough the packet had come by email right after I left the embassy.   Nothing in the old spam box though.

So, the long awaited packet with instructions requires certain actions (like a physical examination) and submission of documents (almost all of which I submitted in the original visa application).  But alrighty, we’ll get it all done (again).

Unless I get killed jaywalking.

Thar she blows

So, I’m crossing a side street near the U.S. Embassy today and I hear a whistle fervently blowing.  Turns out it was a Korean cop getting on me for jaywalking.  Who even knew they had whistles?  I mean, all these years I’ve been dodging motorbikes on the sidewalks of Seoul and nary a tweet from the local constabulary.

So, selective enforcement or racism?  Or both?

The Itaewon singles scene


So, I signed up for a singles dart league here in Itaewon.  Last night was the first for competition.  The format is “a race to 9”, meaning you keeping playing until someone wins 9 legs (games).  Potentially, that can require throwing 17 straight games.  I was fortunate enough to take my match 9 straight.  I’m not sure I’d have the gas to go much more.

Anyway, it should be interesting and it will give me the opportunity to throw a lot of darts and hopefully improve my game.  Although I doubt I’ll ever throw quite as well as I did last night again…

Everyone’s a comedian

Or so it seems.

Yesterday Jee Yeun and I had our semi-annual doctor appointments with Dr. Yoo at Soonchunhwang University Hospital.

Jee Yeun is doing fine and I’m still too fat.

When Dr. Yoo completed his examination of Jee Yeun I said “Doctor, Jee Yeun frequently complains of being bored.  Can you prescribe something for that?”

Without missing a beat he replied “Viagra.”

If you could burn farts for fuel…

…we wouldn’t be in this mess.  C’mon, you know it’s true.


In California people double the value of their car every time they fill the tank!

Energy Secretary Cho said it was desirable for U.S. fuel prices to rise to European levels.  Finally, an Obama administration success!

Meanwhile we sit on oil reserves equal to all the known reserves in the Middle East.  Unemployment soars, and we won’t drill oil, build pipelines, and jump start the economy by reducing our dependence on expensive imported oil.

I keep hearing Obama talk about raising taxes on the middle class.  Hell, the price of gas has almost doubled on his watch.  And that has a disproportionate impact on the poor and working class.

The country is in the very best of hands.

Another night, another tourney

This time we played a supercricket format at Pub Dolce Vita.


Your humble blog host and his partner Chris Werner took home first place money…


…and the fans went wild!


As is our custom, following the tourney we retired to a favorite restaurant for some fine Korean delicacies (in this case Don Valley for samgyapsal).

Tonight is league night in Itaewon where I’ll be making my first appearance of the season with Dolce Vita’s What the Bulls? team.

Ain’t life grand?

Saturday night in Itaewon

Successfully completed the long journey to Korea.  Full flight (isn’t it always?) out of Atlanta.  Jee Yeun and I wound up seated in the “baby row” again.  Two one year old kids–one was mostly sweet and calm, the other was a screamer.  All right, no one wants to be jarred from an already uncomfortable sleep repeatedly, but it’s hard to blame the kids.  I’m pretty miserable confined to my seat but at least I can watch movies and periodically move around.  For a child to have to sit on mommie’s lap for 14 hours must be torture for them both.  Whatever aggravation I felt was more than overcome by empathy for parents in an “I’m so damn glad that’s not me” kinda way.

After a good night’s sleep and an afternoon nap, it was time to renew my acquaintance with Itaewon.  Ran into my nephew Justin on the street and we had a couple of beers together at Dolce Vita.  Then it was off to Itaewon’s newest dart bar, the Beer and Barrel for a little tournament action.


A third place finish for me and my partner Bridget.


Some hanging out and drinking with friends…


And a dinner of galbi and sides to cap the evening.

Tonight it’s back to Itaewon for a supercricket tournament at Dolce Vita.

I guess you could say I’ve gotten what I came for.

The curse of the fishes

Last time we were in Korea our garage refrigerator stopped working when the GFCI tripped.  This wouldn’t have been a big deal except for the fish we had in the freezer.   It took weeks to get rid of the smell.  Hell, for all I know it still stinks and I’ve just gotten used to it.

To avoid a repeat of that fiasco, before departing we gave all our stock of frozen fish to my daughter-in-law.  She just informed me that she forget about the fish and left them in her trunk.

It’s been 85 degrees this week in South Carolina.

Neither rain, nor hail, nor dark of night

The mail must go through.  Snail mail at least.  I’ve had email with aol from the beginning of time.  Well, internet time anyway.  And I never switched to the glamor babies like gmail simply because after all these years people now how to find me.  It would be great if you could have your email forwarded like the post office does, but apparently that is just a dream for the future.

I bring this up because when I tried to log onto my email account I got a message that it has been “blocked” due to “suspicious activity”.  Hmm.  So, at first there was a screen for changing my password.  The security questions it asked were the last four digits of my SSN and my birth date.   That seemed plenty suspicious to me because that kind of personal info can get you past most gatekeepers (like bank accounts).  Concerned someone was Phishing, I logged off aol and tried again.  This time it didn’t ask the security questions, just said I was “blocked”.

There was an 800 number provided (lot of good that does me in Korea!).  Well, I’ve called it on my dime 3 times now and got the same message about “due to unusually high call volume” I have to call later.

I had the bright idea of sending them an email to inquire as to what was going on, but when I tried to log on I got this message about my account being blocked…

Curses, furled again!

Shutting it down around the old South Carolina homestead.

Ant poison in the yard.  Seeds in the bird feeder. (Damn, I hope I got those in the right order.  I guess I’ll know if I return to find ants devouring the carcasses of dead birds).


Furling the Taeguki (and Old Glory) until our return.


And putting the trusty kimchi pot away.

A tad more packing to do.

A money dart tournament tonight at the Duck.

A little sleep, then off to the airport in the early morning hours.

UPDATE:  Ok, got just about everything in the suitcases.  Had to do some shuffling around to get the two big bags under 50 pounds.  It’s close, but I should be golden…

I read the news today

Oh boy.

But here’s a day in the life for you anyway:

They took my neighbor away in an ambulance this morning.  I hope things work out for him, but I’ll not be surprised if he isn’t here when I return.


So, through some mystery of physics a goodly portion of my clothing seems to have shrunk while hanging in my closet over the years.  Nothing to be done about it, so I loaded them up in the automobile and gave them a ride over to the Goodwill store.  At the bottom of that pile is a 47″ flat screen TV.  I brought it home all the way from Korea and then I learned just how unforgiving electricity can be.  You can read all about that unfortunate incident here.  Also donated were a set of home theater speakers, a dog carrier for my parent’s now deceased dog, and a couple of used up designer purses.

After leaving those treasures behind (thanks for the memories!), it was on to downtown Columbia to visit the Registrar of Voters.  There was a surprisingly large crowd of folks there to register and/or cast an absentee ballot.  After suffering the line and completing the appropriate paperwork I exercised my right of suffrage.


Of course, voting is a private matter and I work hard to maintain a neutral political stance here at LTG.  Alright, maybe I don’t work that hard at it.  Suffice to say, I hold the view that we are Taxed Enough Already and voted accordingly.

Next stop was my credit union where I withdrew some cash money that I will soon convert to Korean won in order to pay for life’s necessities these next three months.  Well, I’m going to buy beer and Jee Yeun is going to pay her taxes.  And we’ll be eating out a lot at our favorite Korean restaurants I suppose.

I also needed to get a document notarized, a service my credit union has ably performed for me on numerous occasions.  To my chagrin, the notary advised that they cannot notarize “legal documents”.  I pointed out that this was the same type document I’d had notarized before, so she went to get a manager.  The manager came up front and said “I’m sorry” which I interpreted to mean go fuck yourself.  So, I left an unhappy camper.

In a tragedy of epic proportions, Jee Yeun ran out of kimchi last night.  I was quite certain that she would be suffering severe withdrawal symptoms prior to our Friday arrival in Korea and I can’t stand to see the poor girl suffer.  So it was off to the Korean market for a small batch of that pickled delight to tide her over.  That put a big smile on her face, believe me.

Next on my itinerary was the Bank of America to make a deposit.  I had Jee Yeun stand in a longish teller line while I hunted down a bank official to see if they might be willing to notarize a legal document.  To my relief they had no qualms about doing so and soon enough the task was completed.  Assa!

The final stop on my quest was the Kroger supermarket for some necessary supplies to sustain me in the Land of the Morning Calm.


Just the bare necessities, mind you.

And now you know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.  Or not.

I guess I’ll call it sickness gone

It’s hard to say to say the meaning of this song

An ambulance can only go so fast

It’s easy to get buried in the past

When you try to make the good thing last.

–Neil Young