Author Archives: Dartoid

Column #579 The Darts “Warthog Distraction”

Friday, November 1, 2019
Column 579
The Darts “Warthog Distraction”

About an hour ago, by candle-light and with a half-dozen warthogs grunting their approval only yards behind the line, I took out 109 here in western Uganda at the Mweya Lodge on the Kazinga peninsula in Queen Elizabeth National Park. In consideration of the conditions, I decided to pack it in for the night.

It’s now about 1:00 a.m. and the power is still out. The one and only telephone line has been down for two days. There’s no hot water. And, just a toss from my banda (hut) a hippo is chomping grass as I write. Such is life in this remarkably beautiful land that Winston Churchill called the “Pearl of the Nile.” Such is life in Uganda…

My journey began a week ago. My first stop was Entebbe, scene of the legendary airport raid in 1976 when the Israelis rescued a group of hostages from the clutches of the mad dictator, Idi Amin. I took a shot, but struck out, at the Victoria Hotel (situated at the edge of Lake Victoria, source of the mighty Nile River). There’s a pool table. Pizza. Mosquitoes. But, no darts.

So, I headed to Bwindi in the far southwest of the country. After a two-hour flight in turbulent thermal air, a three-hour drive along a terribly pot-holed dirt road and another three-hour trek into the misty Impenetrable Forest, I found myself face-to-face with a family of endangered mountain gorillas. Unfortunately, they seemed more interested in eating crickets than playing it.

I packed up again and moved to the very far northeastern corner of the country, to the isolated, tranquil and scenically spectacular Kidepo Valley National Park. This is lion, cheetah and leopard country and the Chief Warden, Anjelo Ajoka, took me on the game drive of a lifetime. But still, no darts…

The fact is that darts does exist in Uganda. It thrives. It’s well organized and extremely competitive with a countrywide system of leagues and teams. Within the limits of their meager budget, the Uganda Darts Association (UDA) does its best to send its national team to international competitions.

But, the place to throw darts in Uganda is not in the bush. The place to get a game – and a damn good game at that – is at the Rhino Pub off the lobby of the Kampala Sheraton. The set-up is excellent. A mug of Nile beer is just 1,800 Ugandan shillings (about $1.65). And, the resident band (Waka Waka) is alone worth a visit. It was here that I met up with (and was beaten up by) Fanta Lillian, a sharp shooting member of the Ugandan national women’s team. The best I could manage was two out of six games of ’01.

Damn, this woman was good! And aggressive – with 150 remaining in our final game she took a bead on the double bull. Don’t ask me why. She nailed her first two darts though and only a wire spoiled a spectacular, albeit unconventional, finish.

All of this is no more than my way of explaining why I am now sitting in the middle of nowhere, during the shank of the evening, nervously watching a beady-eyed hippo chew up the lawn outside my window. Having been beaten to a pulp in a civilized venue, having been trashed by somebody named after a poor-selling soft drink, I figured I needed time to reflect.

The way I look at it, as talented as I may be when it comes to taking out the double when nobody is watching, when it comes to serious competition my game needs a lot of work. I need to find an edge.

As accurate as any of us might be when we’re thunkin’ our own board, practicing against only ourselves, when the chips are down, when an opponent of some experience is also at the line, all of our games need a little work.

Yes, the way I see it, if this hippo doesn’t eat me, when I get home, the next time I’m in a tough match needing just one more dart to close, and my opponent’s at the line staring down a game shot, what I’ve gotta do is create a distraction to get myself one more trip to the line.

So, what I’m gonna do is unzip by bag and release some of these warthogs into the bar.

From the field,

Dartoid

November 2019 Double Out Shot: Eva Herzigova




Column #578 Nigel Brown – the man who never missed the bullseye!

Tuesday, October 17, 2019
Column 578
Nigel Brown – the man who never missed the bullseye!

Remarkably, amidst the usual gibberish posted at the Darts Discussion Group no one yet has related the story of the man who threw perfect darts.

Nigel Brown hailed from Hawkshead in the UK’s beautiful Lake District. He wasn’t a tournament competitor but was well known countrywide in the 1940s (around the same time as Jim Pike). Brown made frequent appearances at exhibitions and was renowned for his uncanny, almost savant-like, ability to hit the bullseye (this was long before machine darts manufacturers invented a bull as big as a bus).

Never did he miss.

One day he was recognized in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. A man named Mateo Garcia asked him to do an exhibition. Brown respectfully declined. “I’m on holiday with friends,” he explained. But Garcia persisted, offered a tidy sum and Brown acquiesced. They agreed to meet that evening at a pub called Pub-Tenerife (today quite famous in part due to Brown’s once having visited).

As the story goes the evening was extraordinario. For an hour or more Brown pounded the bullseye at will, mostly red. 20 bulls. 50. 200! Never a miss. Perfección!

Until…

One of Brown’s darts with their red, white and blue Union Jack flights deflected and landed just a smidgen outside the green bit, landing slightly left in the 12 (hugging the wire). For a moment the large crowd was uncertain if it was a miss, but it was. A hush, then murmurs and then chaos ensued as Brown yanked the errant dart from the board and erupted in anger.

“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” Brown screamed as he slammed through the crowd and exited the pub. “Fuck this! Fuck Spain! Fuck darts!” he exclaimed over and over from the pavement outside. Then as dozens of stunned patrons watched, with all his might he threw the dart that missed into the sky and stormed off.

While it may be said that “what goes up must come down” this red, white and blue flighted dart never did. Maybe it stuck in a tree. Weird, but apparently true. From that day forward Nigel Brown was never seen in public again. Only his reputation lives on. Check Patrick Chaplin’s website.

One of the people who observed this event (and who related it to me) was the Old Dart Coach, Howie Reed. “The Brits can be a bit nuts sometimes,” he said. “So can the French.”

He then told me about his flight back to the States. Remember, this was in the late 1940s and smoking was still allowed on planes. Dogs too, if they were small. And behaved.

“I was in a two-seat row by the window. Seated next to me was this French lady holding a little dog named Pierre. We were cruising the clouds somewhere over the Atlantic and I lit up.”

The dog began to cough.

S’il vous plait, Monsieur. Could you put out your cigar? It’s choking ma petite Pierre.”

The lady was quite attractive so those of you who know Howie will not be surprised at his response. “Are you married? Have you heard of the Mile-High Club?”

The pretty lady responded, “How should I say? If you don’t extinguish your cigar, I must throw it out zee window.”

And of course, Howie shot back, “Mademoiselle, be forewarned, should you touch my cigar – and I’m not talking that cigar, although I do encourage you – I will grab your mutt by the throat and toss him into the clouds.” For emphasis, “I blew a puff straight into the dog’s face.”

What ensued is exactly what you might imagine!

The lady (it turned out her name was Monique Dubois) grabbed Howie’s stogie (“a fucking Montecristo!”) and threw it out the window. In a flash, Howie kept his promise and sent Pierre right behind it.

“It was crazy,” Howie said. “Air was rushing in, or maybe it was out, the window. Papers were flying about. Momentarily the plane became unsteady. Drinks spilled. Stewardesses appeared from nowhere. Passengers were yelling.”

“Monique was screaming. She cried. She was inconsolable, weeping non-stop for the remainder of the flight.” As Howie remembers it, “Well, I did get to hug her a lot and but that’s all I got.”

As they deplaned at McCarran airport in Las Vegas, Howie’s hometown, Howie graciously helped steady Monique as they walked together down the steps of the plane, continuing to apologize and console her.

And that’s when it caught their eye!

Suddenly, Monique began to leap for joy, smothering Howie with kisses. “Je te pardonne!  Je te pardonne! I forgive you! I forgive you!”

On the tail of the plane, hanging on for dear life, was Pierre!

And can you believe it? In his mouth he was holding Nigel Brown’s dart!

From the Field,

Dartoid

October 2019 Double Out Shot: Candice Swanepoel




Column #577 Darts near the Kremlin

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Column 577
Darts near the Kremlin

For thirty-two days my life was a pain in the ass. Literally.

What was originally to be a week-long Guinness tasting holiday in Dublin with three buddies somehow turned into a month-long, 2,000-mile, bike ride from Dublin to Moscow. Don’t ask me how this happened. I no longer remember.

What I do remember is that I was assured it would be “a kick-ass month to remember” and that I would have more than ample opportunity to check out the pubs and the local brews — and throw some darts along the route — from Dublin, through England, Holland, Germany, the former East Germany, Poland, Belarus, and across Russia to Moscow.

Well, MY FRIENDS ARE MORONS!

The truth is I never had enough energy to do much more than shove carbohydrates into my face and crash on the floor at the end of each day’s ride. I can barely lift my throwing arm, let alone sit on a barstool. My hair looks like, well — like hair looks when it’s been stuffed into a plastic helmet for thirty-two days. AND — worst of all (this is REALLY BAD) — I possess absolute proof that sitting on a bike for ten hours a day will turn that most vital of male organs into a soft-tip dart.

Now that the hell-ride is over, I have managed to locate a darts bar in Moscow, and it’s worth a visit. It’s called the Armadillo and it’s located adjacent to Red Square at Khrustal’nyi per., 1, Building 86. The outside of the joint is a mess due to construction but the inside ain’t half bad.

While the Armadillo’s owners are striving to create a casual American ambiance, they have a ways to go. The place is safe though (they have their own security) and the service is easily a notch or two above similar establishments where Russia’ s new capitalists are still unaware of the correlation between a the tightness of a waitresses sweater, her smile and the size of a tip. The prices are modest. A beer will run you about $5, which, for Moscow, is quite good — but the locals drink nothing but vodka. The fare in this American-like pub is, of course, Mexican — but it still beats the hell out of Russian staples such as Borscht, bread, cabbage and potatoes.

The Armadillo is far from the nicest pub in Moscow (check out the bar at the Metropole Hotel if you want to see an amazing place — the working-girls here are like right out of Playboy), but it’s got atmosphere, live music on the weekends (Country Juan and the Comrades, I think) and a relatively young, up market crowd. And, as noted earlier, the place is safe — which is quite remarkable in today’s Russia, where the local Mafia is prevalent in establishments of this type.

Most amazing of all, and most important, is that the place has FOUR dart boards. They are surrounded by pools tables (which I suppose, however misdirected, is the one American bar decorating touch that the Russians have fully emulated).

So, I ordered a bottle of peppered vodka and threw a bit of practice. Poured some more vodka and shot some pool with my biking buddies while Country Juan and the Comrades did their thing in the background. I munched a couple of Russian/Mexican/American burritos and washed them down with still more vodka.

I then headed into Red Square with my friends where we wisely traded all but our underwear to some guy with no teeth for Hard Rock Cafe tee shirts, even though there is no Hard Rock Cafe in Moscow.

I’m now exactly four hours into the flight home and have ALREADY intersected my original point of departure — Dublin — from more than a month’s worth of hell ago. I’m hung over. I can’t feel my ass. My willy no longer functions. And my favorite clothes are tooting around Moscow on some homeless guy’s back.

Yep, there’s a moral here somewhere.

And that, I’m afraid, is that among morons, I’m the MAN.

From the Field,

Dartoid

Column #576 Darts in Paradise

Monday, September 23, 2019
Column 576
Darts in Paradise

Far be it from me to steer anyone away from a couple weeks of sun and fun in Puerto Vallarta – the place is amazing.

Pristine beaches etch endlessly into the sunset. Bikini-clad girls are everywhere. The nightlife runs into morning – the Dos Equi’s flow. And the food puts my favorite local Mexican haunt to shame.

But the darts scene is another story altogether. Except for the Lobby Bar of the Marriott Casa Magna (Paseo de la Marina, No 5) by all appearances there isn’t a game to be found in the entire city. I imagine I am one of the few people that has ever wandered here looking for one!

Eventually, I found some “action” and in so doing was able to validate the theory that humidity adds years of life to a dartboard. Just a few warmup throws had me dripping in sweat. I figure that’s the way the theory works – set up a board in the middle of one of the most humid places on earth and, since no one can tolerate more than a few minutes at the line, the board will last forever. This board couldn’t have been used a half-dozen times since the battle for the Alamo…

I imagine this is also why the lighting was virtually non-existent… because the board was hung before electricity was invented.

So, I threw for a while in the heat and the dark. Munched some nachos and drank a few beers. Whatever I could do to keep cool. Trying to survive… or lying in wait. Perhaps a bit of both. I wasn’t sure myself.

Around about 8:00 pm a long-haired kid named Luke sauntered in. Coke in hand. Wanted a game. Said he’d throw the bar darts. Asked how much money I had. Right.

So, we threw a few games of cricket. Sweated. Sipped our drinks. Talked about nothing that made sense to me… at least not these days. Rock groups. He was into “sweet young things” on the beach.

And about a half hour later we headed our separate ways. I, the victor, to a late business dinner…

…and Luke, a tad humbled in defeat, to bed… when you’re eleven years old the sun sets early no matter where you are in the world.

So much for darts in paradise!

From the Field,

Dartoid

September 2019 Double Out Shot: Sommer Ray

September 2019 Double Out Shot: Sommer Ray



September 2019 Double Out Shot: Sommer Ray