WELCOME to Dartoid's World, the only column about darts that has been ranked three times consecutively in a row one time right after the other among the top causes of barfing.
Today's subject is my recent three-week 28,000-mile darts journey from Tampa, Florida to Thailand, Cambodia, Korea, Los Angeles and someplace called Pasco in southeast Washington where I threw a challenge match and met a darter named Shawnee Jumping Turtle.
My first stop was Bangkok ¨C there had just been a coup here so I thought it would be a good place to visit and throw darts.
I hoped to interview the long-time head of the Thailand Darts Association (TDA), Vichai Govindani, but he refused to meet with me because, in his opinion, I don't write 'seriously' about the sport. Go figure.
So I can't share much about the state of darts in Thailand except that they didn't field a team at the recent Asia-Pacific Cup, they have withdrawn from the World Darts Federation, and there currently is no visible semblance of organized league structure in the country. I guess things are going really well under Govindani's leadership.
I did however get to shoot often with my friends Tom Makela (who runs TDA website at http://www.tdadarts.com/) and Trond Hundstuen. Although Tom and Trond are from Finland and Norway they know a LOT about darts in Bangkok. They showed me around for several nights and it was all very exciting. The first night Tom nearly got in a fight with a big guy from Australia. The second night Trond nearly got in a fight with a big guy from England. The third night I met a katoey (lady boy) wearing see-through panties and I have absolutely nothing more to say about this.
The next day I hopped a plane to Cambodia. Pol Pot's regime exterminated two million people here and there are land mines all over the joint so I figured it would be a good place to visit and throw darts. But there's not much happening in the way of darts. It would be a good place for Govindani to live.
My third stop was Korea. Seeing how Seoul is just 120 miles from Pyongyang where Kim Jog-Il was blasting off nuclear bombs I thought it would be a good place to visit and throw darts.
After a $95 taxi ride from the airport to Itaewon and checking in at the only decent hotel in the area (the Hamilton) I met up with Karl 'Taechon' Hartman and Mike 'Petro' Petrucelli at a bar called the Blue Frog.
Here are Taechon's directions on how to get from the Hamilton to the bar: Walk outside and look across the street at the Burger King. Cross the street in front of the bakery and then cross the next street to get to the front of the Burger King. Burger King will be on one side of the street, the side you are standing on, and (a bar called) Gekos will be on the other side of the street. Go up the street between Gekos and Burger King, staying on the Burger King side. After about fifty feet you will come to a small convenience store and then a Korean Pharmacy. Next you will see a small ally. Turn left into that ally. The Blue Frog is about 2/3s of the way up the ally. It will be on your left. There is a small door and it's easy to miss. Look for the frog on a sign.
Of course I got lost. So I stopped at the Burger King, ordered a Whopper, and asked the girl at the counter for directions. She was very helpful. "Yes, you can get fries with that," she explained.
Eventually I found the bar. I drew a good Korean shot named Squash for the Luck of the Draw. We would have won if we hadn't been knocked out in the first round.
Many players entered the shoot. Those on the following list agreed to mail me 10,000 Won each if I mentioned their names in this story: Chon Il Kim, Rick Horton, Tom Cassady, Duke Gates, Grant Knigh, John McCrarey, J.J. Hwang, C.H. Lee, Vivian Han, Min-Young Lee (who is the owner of another darts bar in Itaewon called Shooters), Kevin Kwon, Eric Wheeler, J.P Morning, Rick Faulk, Bill Rago, Chris Hayes, Jessee Crawford, Mike Philips, and Doug Moulton. Of course, Taechon and Petro were there too. They each agreed to send me 100,000 Won. Kamsahamnida to all of you!
The next morning I headed by bus with Taechon and his girlfriend, Sri from Thailand, and Petro to Songtan for a tournament. Called 'the ville' by the troops stationed ten miles north at Osan Air Base but officially known as Sinjang-dong, Songtan easily hosts the most darts bars per square foot that I have ever come across in my travels. We stopped for lunch at a place called Sam-il Bulgogi House, had barbeque puppy sandwiches, and then headed to a place called Xenis to warm up.
I drew a lady named Lil Vaughn (who used to live in Denver and told me to say "hi" to Pam Patton) and we finished sixth. After the tournament I threw a few games with Lil's teenage son, Kile. He told me he was 'honored' to play me and that he had once played another great darter who looked like Elvis, named Paul Lim, whoever that is.
My partner Squash from the night before and his partner Ajax placed third in the tournament. Taechon and his partner finished second. Petro and his partner came in eleventh. Mild mannered Nikki Choi ¨C currently Korea's top Korean shooter in both in both steel and soft (and who hopes to compete internationally) ¨C wound up finishing fifth with his winged partner Angel.
During the tournament I met a host of other players and learned a bit about the local legends that have set the standard for those competing today. There's Orlando Conception (creatively called 'O.C.') who shoots infrequently these days but is still considered one of the best in Korea. There's 6ft 4ins Jim Genessy (nicknamed 'Arms') who also rarely plays anymore but when he does throws forty-gram monsters. There's 'Sky' who shoots with half-gloves like the ones weightlifters wear and who is one of the most consistent players making the rounds. There's the money game player Mr. Lee (aka 'Littleman') who owns the Giant Club and Mr. Yeom, who was once one of the few players who could give O.C. a game ¨C until his American girlfriend 'sapped his stamina'. And there are the future legends, Taechon and Petro, who I guarantee you, were they competing regularly on the American circuit, would quickly be ranked among the best in this country.
From Korea I headed to Los Angeles because it was due for an earthquake and I thought it would be a good place to visit and throw darts.
I hooked up with John Denich, a member of the Canadian species who I met years ago in an oddly named little bar called Sailor's Dickie in Toronto. Denich took me to a Luck of the Draw at a joint called the Dolphin Lounge in Anaheim near Mickey Mouse's house. Here I drew a nice guy and decent shooter named Allen but we were knocked out early by one of the teams that eventually made it to the finals.
My early exit provided me a great deal of time to talk with John's wife, Kimberly, and some of her buxom friends. The subject turned to animal rights. Apparently many of the Hollywood starlets are into this so I am now a vegetabletarian in addition to being a dartistite humor grammartarian.
I also had the chance to meet a real live celebrity. His name was Brett Maret. If you have never heard of Maret go out NOW and buy Niall Edgeworthy's book, Planet Darts, wherein he follows world-ranked number one, Colin Lloyd, around the tournament circuit. The author and Lloyd devote almost three pages to insulting the hell out of Maret, a former Mr. Universe contestant and one of the most physically intimidating darters ever to step to the line.
Finally I was pleased, albeit startled, to bump into the American Dart Organization's (ADO) Katie Harris who stopped to say hello with her other half, the soft spoken Herman Weinstein (who couldn't seem to remember my name). The reason I was startled is because, truth be known, the real reason I was in town was to research an investigative story about a seamy sex scandal at the highest echelons of the ADO.
Had word leaked out? Was Katie checking up on me, trying to head off my expose? I just don't know but I think I covered my concern. We had a beer and talked about the demise of the World Series of Darts, rumors of a Pro Darts Tour, and Anne Kramer's campaign to have certain ADO officials committed to a mental institution.
My last stop before heading back to Florida paradise was in Pasco, Washington, the epicenter of Erik 'the Commandant' McVay's fascinating SEWA Darts website (www.sewa-darts-com). I was told that Pasco, located as it is at the confluence of the Columbia, Yakima and Snake Rivers, was a cozy little town where early man once walked, Lewis and Clark once camped, and apples, cherries and grapes now flourish during the sunny 300-plus day-a-year growing season.
So I really did think Pasco would be a good place to visit and throw darts. What I wasn't told about was the COLD! The snow doesn't pile up here much but that is only because the baby snowflakes don't want to freeze their frickin' arses off when they hit the ground. So they melt instead, and then turn into black ice causing little old ladies to slip and smash their wrinkled faces.
John 'Jester' Prescott met me with his silky ponytail (and his truck) at the airport and off we headed to the Parkade Bar and Grill in Kennewick. Here we met up with McVay and all sorts of other regulars from the SEWA Darts website such as Darci 'Kyjosa' McVay (better known as the Commandant's wife), DeeAnn 'Loveit' Till and her husband Ken, and the famous aforementioned mentioned Shawnee Jumping Turtle. Called 'Biggie' for short, Shawnee's real name is Shawnee Thunder Pony Big Mountain. An Indian, he hails from Bangalore which is near Terra Haute.
Actually Biggie is from the Virginia Beach Nation which just goes to show you how small the world really is. I used to live near here myself. It turns out that Biggie once shot arrows with many of my old buddies like Shane 'Humping Bear' Meeks, Chris 'Pumping Breakfast' Bender and Pocahontas Borgeson.
I met some others too, notably Sandi Knight, who did her best (but not quite enough) to pitch me for selection as a future Dartoid's World Double Out Girl. I also met Sandi's husband 'Lucky' Lou, Jan and Roger Shroder, John and Glenda Schmeltzer, Mike and Connie Rutz, Ross Albert, and Dean Kelly. Just like all of my new friends in Korea each of these Pasco People also agreed to send me money if I mentioned their names, although nothing has arrived. Sandi is supposed to send photos!
The Pacso People taught me a new game called Thirty-one. Any number of players can compete and it works like this. Each person begins with a score of zero. The first person to throw has to tally a score of thirty-one with three darts. If they hit thirty-one exactly, their score remains at zero. If they score more or less than thirty-one the difference is added to their starting score. The next person up has to score exactly what the person before them shot or add the difference to their starting tally of zero. And so on and so on. Once you tally 100 points you're out. The winner is the person who lasts the longest without going over 100 points. It's a stupid game, meaning I lost.
My final day we headed to the Keg Tavern for a special challenge match between myself and the Commandant. I was pleased to meet the Keg's owners, Lance and Renee¡ä Stevens, two of the local league's most generous sponsors. Charlie Swanson was there and so was Cesar Nunez ¨C battling it out a league make-up match. Former ADO National Youth Champion Kevin 'Rainman' Luke (who has reached puberty) was also present for a make up match (with McVay) and then was kind enough to chalk McVay's and my challenge match.
Now don't ask me how I get into such things. I just do. It's a sickness.
McVay and I mixed it up a bit, deciding to throw an array of games ¨C the winner to be the first to take five. On top of this, to make it even more interesting we wrote the names of the games on little pieces of paper and then wadded them up. We threw for cork with the winner to then throw the first dart and THEN pick one of the wadded balls of paper to determine what game would be contested. So, for example, if you threw you first dart at the triple twenty, then un-wadded the ball of paper and discovered the game to be 301, you found that you had wasted your first dart.
The whole thing made about as much sense to me as Thirty-one but it was great fun and in the end I have to admit that the unusual format worked to my advantage. McVay won 5-4 but would surely have crushed me had we just thrown just cricket or 501.
It is therefore out of nothing but respect for his great talent that I say to the Commandant here and now: Screw you! I'll bet it feels good to beat me ¨C probably just about as good as the Chicago Bears felt the time they almost lost to the Piqua, Ohio Pee Wee Wieners. Probably Teachon feels good too. And Petro. And that little kid, Kile. Screw all of you!
On the final night of my road trip, it was off to the Commandant's barracks for some grub and then Jester's for more darts. Dinner was fantastic. McVay makes a tasty turkey stew!
Darts was great too. I learned another game called Bow Tie, supposedly invented by Bob Anderson, where you throw at just the double eleven, double bull, and double six. I kind of almost won before it was decided to quit because everybody felt it was unfair that I made them wear blindfolds.
I also met another new person. He wasn't an Indian but he was interesting and had a bone in his nose and a funny nickname all the same. He was from New Zealand and everybody kept calling him Kiwi, apparently after those little green fruits that my wife sometimes tries to make me eat.
That was my 28,000-mile darts road trip. I'm back home now in Tampa, Florida. Last summer there were five hurricanes and last week there was a tornado that demolished a subdivision ten miles north of my home. In the preserve behind my house there are alligators and snakes. In my garage there is a little spider, called a Brown Recluse, which can kill you. We affectionately call him Biting Chunky (after Steve Brown).
Even though there has never been a coup here, aren't any landmines, the governor isn't testing nuclear bombs, it doesn't snow, and there aren't earthquakes ¨C don't go thinking that Florida isn't every bit as nice a place to visit and throw darts as those where I have just been.
So give me a call. Let's throw a challenge match. Even Thirty-one is okay by me.
I'll show you some good old-fashioned southern hospitality. And if you win I'll introduce you to Biting Chunky.