Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why we play pool

I bought myself a copy of The Hustler up in Harbin a year ago, but I only just got around to watching it again.

I suppose "Fast Eddie" Felson might rank as one of my 'Unsuitable Role Models'.

Here's his great - inspirational - speech about how he feels when he's playing the game.

"I just had to show those creeps and those punks what the game is like when it's great, when it's really great. You know, like anything can be great. Anything can be great. I don't care; bricklaying can be great, if a guy knows... if he knows what he's doing and why, and if he can make it come off. When I'm goin', I mean, when I'm really goin', I feel like a... like a jockey must feel. He's sitting on his horse, he's got all that speed and that power underneath him, he's coming into the stretch, the pressure's on him, and he knows... just feels... when to let it go and how much. 'Cause he's got everything working for him: timing, touch. It's a great feeling, boy, it's a real great feeling - when you're right and you know you're right. It's like all of a sudden I got oil in my arm. The pool cue's part of me, you know; it's... the pool cue, it's got nerves in it. It's a piece of wood; it's got nerves in it! Feel the roll of those balls. You don't have to look, you just know. You can make shots that nobody's ever made before."

And, of course, immediately after that, his kooky girlfriend Sarah, suitably impressed, comments, "You're not a loser, Eddie. You're a winner. Most men never get to feel that way about anything."

It's a great, great film. And, while not being anything like the player that "Fast Eddie" was (nor half the player that Paul Newman was, either), I do know that feeling.

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