Author Archives: Dartoid

Column #609 My dart room is under ATTACK!

Friday, January 7, 2022
Column 609
My dart room is under ATTACK!

I used to throw league with a great player from Houston named Dave “Buddha” Fasnacht.  He helped me with my stance and my grip and my mental game – and he gave me some advice that I’ve been trying to follow ever since.  According to Buddha, I needed to get serious about my practice routine.  This meant I needed to hang a board in my living room.

Now there are spouses and there are spouses and I have one of the best.  My wife understands my love of the sport.  She tolerates my late nights out and my early morning returns, smelling of smoke and stale beer.  She understands more about strategy and out shot percentages than most of the people I shoot against.  What my wife also knows, and she knows this without any doubt whatsoever, is that she doesn’t want a dart board hanging in her living room.  Imagine that.

So, when my wife came up with the idea to redecorate the garage, ostensibly so I could have a “nice place, close to the living room” to practice, I leaped at the opportunity.

Together we headed to the paint store to pick out colors for the walls, the ceiling and the floor.  My wife chose “Mild Wild,” a sort of swimming pool blue.  Next, I was constructing utility shelves.  Four of them.  Bolt by bolt.  Two hours each.  I made friends with spiders.  Patched holes in the plaster.  Mopped up oil.  Washed paint out of my beard.

In two weeks, the project was complete.  And it looked damn good.  After years of marriage my wife finally had a clean garage, and I was the proud owner of a powder blue dart room equipped with everything a serious darter could possibly desire.  A new board.  Special lighting.  Three trash cans.  Two bicycles.  And a Plymouth Horizon.  Yep, while my wife watches the nightly news from the comfort of our living room, I can now throw darts from the front seat of my car.

My friend Tommy Molina stopped by for a few beers and to check out my new set up.  We ran through our usual routine.  A little cricket.  Some ’01.  It was about midnight when Tommy bet me ten bucks he could pick off an ant that was sniffing its way across the number four pie. Three darts.  Three misses.  Beer money for me.

As a second ant appeared near the bottom of the board I stepped to the line.  Told Tommy I’d stick the little guy when he crossed into the double three.  A tough shot any day, even without the ant.

The ant stopped just below the wire.  We waited.  We waited longer.  We grabbed a couple beers…

And, damn, if there now wasn’t another ant wandering below the nineteen.  A couple more back up by the number four pie.  A few on the scoreboard.  Dozens near a (previously unnoticed) pile of sawdust in the corner by the utility shelves.  My Mild Wild dart room was under ATTACK!

The exterminating company has just pulled out of my driveway.  “It just like big game hunting, but on a smaller scale,” the guy told me before blasting eleven colonies of some three thousand carpenter ants each.  He then presented me with a $580 bill.

For this, plus the cost of paint, pain and suffering I could have finished off the basement. What worries me now is that my wife tells me this is our next project.

From the Field,

Dartoid

Column #608 All fables have a moral (I suspect John Lowe will agree!)

Wednesday, NOvember 25, 2021
Column 608
All fables have a moral (I suspect John Lowe will agree!)

Once upon a time there was a monkey.  His name was Mickey.  He was a dumb monkey but, he was not the president of a country.

Mickey the monkey lived in Africa.

The other monkeys ate coconuts.  They knew where to find them.  They climbed trees to get them.  They used rocks to crack them open so they could eat them.  Sometimes they even played catch with them for fun.  The other monkeys knew lots about coconuts.

But Mickey knew nothing.

One day Mickey got an idea.  He decided to write a book about coconuts.  He planned to call it Coconuts by Mickey, make many clams, and laze away his days in a fancy home high in a shady tree.

Mickey traveled around the jungle and asked the other monkeys what they knew.  He wrote what they told him on palm fronds, made copies, and set up a shop in a clearing on the edge of a small pond where the other monkeys came to drink the cool water and wile away the day with their friends Petunia the pretty parrot and Harlan the hedgehog.

The first day Mickey sold four of his books.

The next day he sold just two.

Sales continued to languish for days.  Something was wrong and Mickey began to worry.  His dream of a cushy retirement was in jeopardy.  Mickey was surrounded by hundreds of his frond tomes but for some reason the monkeys weren’t buying.

Late one afternoon after the monkeys hopped on the vine highway and swung home for supper and just before nighttime enveloped the forest and Latrell the lion began to prowl, Mickey approached Petunia and Harlan…

“Hey guys,” he asked, “by chance have the monkeys told you why they aren’t buying my book?”

“Why certainly,” replied Petunia the parrot, “They think its doody.”

Mickey couldn’t believe his ears.

“That’s right mate,” said Harlan the hedgehog, “Your book is rubbish.  You don’t know sod all about coconuts.” (Harlan was originally from Bournemouth.)

“But I asked the other monkeys!” offered an exasperated Mickey.  “What am I going to do?  I worked hard and invested many clams.”

“Yo!  Ax a frickin’ expert ta write da frickin’ book ya dumb frickin’ primate – and den ya jus’ might make som’ frickin’ clams!” roared Latrell the lion as he bounded from the adrenalin grass on the side of the clearing.

“Please don’t eat me!” pleaded Mickey.  “Just tell me what to do.  I’ll pay!”

“Yo!” said Latrell, “da monkeys, dey’ll dig deep if da book don’t be cheap.  Ya’ll jus a dumb monkey.  Find ya ass a ‘telligent monkey dat actually know somethin’ ‘bout da coconuts.  Get his monkey ass ta do da work.  Toss the cat a clam and den keep mos’ da clams for ya own self.”

So, Mickey travelled around the jungle again and found Moeshe.

Moeshe was one of the monkey elders.  He was a real macher in the monkey community and highly respected.  Once he had even been the jungle coconut cracking champion.  All the monkeys looked up to Moeshe.

Mickey offered Moeshe a deal.  It seemed like a good deal.  Moeshe agreed to write down all that he knew in return for one clam for every book that Mickey might eventually sell.

For months, Moeshe slaved away.  When he was finished, he gave his manuscript to Mickey.  Mickey made copies and then set up his little shop again in the clearing.  He priced the new book at twenty clams.

What a difference!

Whereas Coconuts by Mickey was a dismal failure, sales of Coconuts by Moeshe took off immediately.  Mickey sold dozens of Moeshe’s book and dutifully paid him one clam each.

“What a smart monkey I am!” thought Mickey, as he began to make plans for his tree-top retirement retreat.

But Moeshe was smarter.  He was much smarter…

Moeshe began to wonder why he, the smart monkey who had all the knowledge and had done all the work, should receive just one clam for each of his books while Mickey the dumb monkey pocketed nineteen clams.  It wasn’t fair!  It wasn’t right!

So, Moeshe went back to work and wrote an entirely new book.

He made copies, set up his own little shop in the clearing right next to Mickey’s stand, and began to sell his new book.  He called it Kibitzing about Coconuts with Moeshe and he priced it at thirty clams, fifty percent more than the book Mickey was hawking.

The monkeys and even many of the other animals swarmed Moshe’s shop, ignoring Mickey right next door, and in just days Moeshe’s first printing sold out.  Moeshe reprinted again and again.

The rest is history…

Moeshe the smart monkey who knew everything about coconuts lives a life of luxury with Petunia the pretty parrot in a lavish home atop the tallest tree in the forest.

Mickey the dumb monkey who knew nothing about coconuts spent years trying to recover his investment in the stock of his own book and Moeshe’s first book but failed miserably.  He briefly rented a flat in the crook of a tree from Harlan the hedgehog.  In the end he was eaten by Latrell the lion – a fate he deserved.

The moral (all fables must have one):

Buy John Lowe’s new book!  He’s the real deal, the Moshe of darts.  Unlike many of the sniveling, whining, cry-baby professionals today, he’s been a class act from the beginning.  Order John’s new book, The Nine Dart Legend, at jloweprodart@aol.com and receive it, signed, in time for Christmas.

Alternatively, if you want to read some “Micky-crap” – Google “Dartoid, book” and purchase one of mine.

From the Field,

Dartoid

Column #607 The General and Mr. Magoo

Wednesday, October 22, 2021
Column 607
The General and Mr. Magoo

Sitting at the table next to me at dinner was a tall, gray-haired man.  About seventy years of age, his hair was cropped tight, military style.  He was dressed casually in a blue, short sleeve shirt, pressed beige Dockers, and black loafers.  Back home I’d have thought him a respectable fellow.  Maybe he was a retired General.

Across the restaurant was another man, animated with silver glasses, shorter, rounder, bald with a white goatee, but also well into his late sixties.  In his loose-fitting jogging clothes, he reminded me of Mr. Magoo.  Back home I think I would have liked his company.

But I’m not back home.

Cuddled next to each was a small, young girl, neither near twenty-years-old, each possibly not yet a teenager.  Both wore their raven-black hair tied in a ponytail, the way my daughter used to do.  Both wore short skirts and bright tight-fitting tops to help market their undeveloped bodies.  Neither smiled.

I am in Bangkok – sitting in the restaurant of the Nana Hotel.  Everywhere I look the scene is similar.

It’s no longer dinnertime.  It’s 3:00 a.m. and the place is bustling.  Nana Entertainment Plaza, the “new” Patpong, located directly across the street (Sukhumvit, Soi 4) has just closed for the night.  Deals are still being negotiated.  “You like?  I show you good time.”  It’s about $25 for a “short time.”  About $60 for a “long time.”  Tiny girls and old men pair off.  They head to the elevators.

Other men, younger, perhaps aware, perhaps not, are with gorgeous women, dressed beautifully, like showgirls from a Las Vegas nightclub.  But the women are not women.  Their deep voices, large hands and Adam’s apples give them away.  The women are called “ladyboys” or katooys in Thai.  They are “she-males.”

Earlier, I threw darts at a highly recommended bar in the Plaza called the Woodstock Rock-n-Roll Bar and Restaurant.  It’s an outstanding venue.  But what I saw coming and going was like nothing I’ve ever witnessed.

Just before dinner and prior to entering the Plaza, I nursed a Singha at an open-air bar called the Golden, on the street just across the way from the Plaza entrance.  The night was early.  It was still light.  Small children offered to sell me gum and roses.  A wrinkly-skinned man tried to interest me in a “Rolex.”  Women strolled by with babies in carriages.  Taxies, tuk-tuks, and occasionally a car streamed by, filling the already stagnant, humid air with the choke of spent gasoline.  On the other side of the street a vendor sold insects dipped in hot sauce.  Along the sidewalk a man walked with a tall pole from which fluttered numerous small birds, apparently tied to strings.

I headed to Woodstock just as darkness fell.  As I walked under the red and blue neon Plaza archway sign, I could begin to hear the music.  As I weaved further into the throng of people, the sound of the music grew stronger and the flashing rainbow colors of the bar signage pulsated with the beat – Cat House, Lolly Pop, Pretty Lady, Spanky’s, Fantasia, and the G-spot.   Hundreds, thousands it seemed, of beautiful girls and girls who weren’t girls closed in.

Not nearly as many boys, men, and old men surveyed the amazing scene.  In a dozen different languages, the negotiating began.

The Woodstock Rock-n-Roll Bar and Restaurant is located at the very back of the Plaza, on the second level.  It’s prominently marked with a large yellow sign and a red arrow.  A ladyboy in a revealing white-lace top and bottom propositioned me as I climbed the stairs.  I just don’t understand…

When the large double wooden door of the Woodstock closed behind me, I was transported back to a time and place I did understand.  One entire wall of shelves was lined with CDs – Canned Heat, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, the Band, the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, the Animals, Joe Cocker, the Byrds, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.  My first thought was of Doctor of Darts, Patrick Chaplin.  Chaplin collects CDs of old 1960’s psychedelic rock bands.  He would love this place.

Woodstock is not crowded and comparatively quiet compared to the bizarre world that gyrates just outside its doors.  It’s appointed in red brick and creamy wood the color of a Thai girl’s skin.  Much like an old 1960s tearoom, the large, multi-level Woodstock is somberly lit, illuminated only (except over the pool tables and dartboard) by numerous small triangular green lights strung from above.  Black-light posters cover the walls.

I ordered a Singha for a little less than two dollars from a large selection of local and imported beers.  After surveying a varied menu offering everything from spaghetti to New England clam chowder, I opted for a local dish, kao phat mun goong (fried rice with spicy shrimp) and headed to the board by the bar.  I shook my darts from their case and stepped to the line.  Pool balls cracked on the other side of the room.  From speakers somewhere in the ceiling Bob Dylan was blowing in the wind.

Woodstock only has one dartboard, but it’s hung right and well lit.  The backboard is a swirl of thick rope.  There’s a large chalkboard, set up primarily for Mickey Mouse, and a rubber mat.  The area’s cozy.  It’s perfect.

I warmed up for about an hour before one of the bartenders, a girl named Plon, asked if I wanted a game.  “Sure,” I replied, “Mickey Mouse?”  I was surprised when she said she’d rather throw 501.  She excused herself briefly and returned with a set of darts and, under her arm, another chalkboard and a grease pen.  Now, I was more than just surprised.

I find people like Plon everywhere I go.  They don’t know what they are doing but they have talent.  They just don’t know what to do with it.  They throw alone.  They play the customers.  They learn a little.  But that’s about as far as it ever goes.  A few years back I met a guy, just like Plon, a bartender in another bar in Bangkok.  He was good.  We threw all night and then, the next night, met at another bar called Square 22 (Sukhumvit, Soi 22) and threw with some of the guys from the Thailand National Team.  I don’t know if he ever went back.  I hope he did.

Plon managed a handful of tons and a 138 but, fortunately for me, went down (no pun intended) to defeat 5-0.  I say fortunately because, had I lost, the night would have ended early.  Humbled, I’d have been forced to shake hands, pay my bill, and head out the door to face the ladyboys.  I threw alone until the music died, the green lights dimmed, and the bar, and Plaza, closed.

After passing back through the still milling, still negotiating crowd, I found my spot at the Golden and ordered another Singha.

For another hour, I watched people.

Then I wandered to the busy restaurant for a cup of coffee and a snack.  The General and Mr. Magoo were back.

I wasn’t surprised, just disgusted, to see them with two new little girls.

From the Field,

Dartoid

 

Column #606 RIP, Errol Magtubo

Wednesday, September 28, 2021
Column 606
RIP, Errol Magtubo

Yesterday, I lost another darts friend from the Philippines (Errol Magtubo).  Last October, Mon Sabalboro succumbed to Covid.  What is happening to the world!

The column below from 2002 doesn’t describe my first visit to the Philippines but it does recount the wild night I met Errol and others.  It remains a night to remember!

RIP, Errol.

______________________________________________________________________________

According to the Department of State, due to a rash of post-September 11 “bombings, kidnappings, murders and other violent incidents,” travel by Americans to the Philippines is pretty much a dumb-ass thing to do.

Tourists have been shot and killed while hiking on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province.  The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has attacked a resort on Samal Island near Davao City, Mindanao.  They have captured tourists from Palawan Island and currently hold them hostage on Basilan Island in the Sula archipelago.  Bombs planted by the Indigenous People’s Federal Army have been found with triggering devices and others have been detonated, killing and injuring dozens of people, in the Makati commercial and tourist area of Metro Manila.

So, kinda like Scotland’s Jamie “Bravedart” Harvey, brave darter that I am, I write to you today from smack in the MIDDLE of the Makati tourist and commercial district of Metro Manila.  Actually, maybe I’m just a dumb ass.

Just to be safe, I registered with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy on Roxas Boulevard three days ago.  It was en route to the first darts bar on my list anyway.  They asked me the “purpose of my visit.” I said to “throw darts.” They advised me to “remain vigilant,” increase my “awareness” and gave me a brochure.  These guys know a lot about the mental aspects of our sport.

My itinerary for this darts excursion was graciously arranged by the Board of the Darts Council of the Philippines (DCP).  A cornerstone of Filipino culture, the hospitality I received from the DCP’s president, Andrew Arrieta and his cohorts in darts — Ramon Sabalboro, Amante Santos, Steve Dorotheo and Errol Magtubo — was just tremendous.  By this I mean they paid for all the beer.

We met up first at a little restaurant and darts bar called the San Mig (at the Ortigas Center Complex in Pasig City).  Over dinner I was bombarded with information about the goings-on inside the Philippines’ darts scene.

I learned that, in addition to an active, committed, darts-savvy Board, the DCP has an unusual Honorary Board Chairman, Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel, Jr., a REAL LIVE member of the Philippines SENATE.  This gave me a first indication as to how the DCP has managed to achieve so much for our sport in this country.  Arrieta and his boys understand that among the keys to success, the first and most important is: leadership.

I was given a printout of the National Rated Player Listing.  New York’s Francis Llanes, California’s Sammy Cruz and Virginia Beach’s Robert Dysangco will be pleased to know that their former countrymen still appreciate their accomplishments.  Each of these Filipino-American shooters is prominently recognized in the DCP’s listings.  Llanes was a member of the first-ever Philippine National Team to compete oversees — in 1980 in Newcastle, Australia.  Some ten years later, Dysangco practiced his way out of his barrio to make the National Team and finished in the top eight at the 1990 Pacific Cup.  In 1988, Cruz made it to the top eight in the Philippines National Championship.

I was provided the most recent issue of the DCP’s darters’ newsletter, Dartslink.  I couldn’t help but notice the long list of sponsors.  Included were Terton Craft, Toby’s Sports & Hobbies, Winmau Darts & Sports Resources, Unicorn Darts, Robson Sports Craft, Dartware (owned by Board member Dorotheo), SV More, E-Fasteam 2000.com, Alpha Insurance and the San Miguel Beer Corporation.  The DCP also counts among its backers the Philippines Sports Commission, Philippines Olympic Committee, Philippines Charity Sweepstakes Office and a number of other members of Congress.

It’s an amazing array of support that will make it possible for the DCP to host four major tournaments over the next twelve months, each with prize money in the 100,000 Peso range.  And this doesn’t count in-kind support.  For example, last year’s Men’s and Ladies Singles winners at the Philippine Open EACH received 500,000 Peso scholarships to medical school.  Imagine THAT!

The Philippine Open Men’s Champion, Dixie Ybanez walked away with an 80,000 Peso cash prize and a trophy valued at 17,000 Pesos.  Another 100,000 Pesos are collecting interest in a bank somewhere — waiting to be awarded to whomever notches up the elusive nine-darter.

Currently Arrieta and his crew are promoting tournaments in Baguio, Bulacan, Quezon, Cebu, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro, Tarlac, Batangas, Dagupan, and Olongapo.  They are watching leagues sprout up in all sorts of unusual places, like within the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Trade and at Philippine Airlines.

AND they are laying plans which may well see the Philippines selected as the host country for the 2007 World Cup.  It would be a hell of a great choice!

Clearly these boys have landed on a simple formula.  They’ve mixed active, involved leadership with a steady watering of the grass roots.  They communicate across their rank-and-file.  They remember those who paved the way.  AND they pound the pavement like professionals to secure the essential dollars.

It’s a formula that’s working.

Today, more than 3,500 players are involved in league play in Manila alone — more than in all but a couple of American cities.  There are nearly 25,000 active shooters country wide.  This alone is a feat.  The Philippines is an archipelago of some 7,000 islands, almost 900 of which are still uninhabited.  Getting to the corner pub for a shoot is often no small task.  But they do it.  They do it in droves.

From this broad base of competitive spirit has emerged the cream which forms the Philippines National Team — a team which (finishing seventh among the ladies and eight among the men) even surprised itself at the 2001 World Cup in Malaysia.  The team has just returned from a third-place finish, after New Zealand and Australia, at the Asia-Pacific Cup in Bangkok.  They are already booked for the 2003 World Cup in Epinal, France next fall.

But the final bit of information I was given was the most remarkable of all.

Contained in a small folder handed to me by Dorotheo was a newspaper clipping from a recent issue of the Manila tabloid, Tumbok.  According to Dorotheo, later in the evening there was to be a special Luck of the Draw to introduce the National Team to the public and give them a proper “sendoff” before heading into the coming year’s international competitions.  The kicker though was buried in a sentence at the end of the article:

“Magsisilbing special guest sa gagawing presentation ang sikat na international darts writer na Dartoid na nasa ating bansa upang mag-observe sa mga local tournaments.”

What this says (again, according to Dorotheo) when translated from native Tagalog is, basically, that yours truly is a “RENOUNED INTERNATIONAL DARTS WRITER who will be serving as a special guest at the evening’s shoot.” From this I can only surmise that Dorotheo is on drugs.

Thanks to Manila traffic, which is arguably the worst in the world, we arrived at the Amber Ihaw-Ihaw Restaurant (at the corner of Filmore and Emila Streets in Makati) just as the Luck of the Draw was getting under way.  I was promptly introduced to the members of the National Team — Dixie Ybanez, Celso “Boy” Parafan, III, Joseph Domanis, Robert Reyes, Jan-Jan Hinojales and Baby Villanueva.  I was handed the first of several San Miguels and sent off to the boards to meet my partner in the Draw, Edwin Dalusong.

Sadly, Dalusong and I were quickly dispatched.  But I must be honest.  Even though my partner was, technically, legally blind and even though he had no arms or legs and had to sort of scoot his body and head to the line on a skateboard, it was I who let our team down.

Okay.  Okay.  Part of that paragraph above is bullshit.  I don’t know where it came from.

Dalusong was great.  He’d throw 140.  I’d throw an eleven.  He’d throw a ton.  I’d drop my beer on the floor.  The truth is that we got whooped two straight, entirely because I sucked.  I saw Dalusong only once more during the evening.  He was in the Men’s Room smashing his head against the wall.  So, I stole his skateboard.

I found my way through the crowd and sticky air to the right side of the bar to watch PCD Board member (and one of the Philippines’ great-shooting old-timers) Sabalboro, who was also going down to defeat.

Another San Miguel mysteriously found its way into my hand as we wandered off to shoot nine-ball on the other side of the pub.  We matched up pretty well.  Tied at three-all and with the stick in my hand (is this proper pool lingo?) I was looking at just the eight and nine balls remaining on the felt.  I carefully lined up the shot.  Took a deep breath.  Stroked my cue.  And BAM, I rammed the-nine ball straight into the corner pocket!  Afterwards, Sabalboro told me he thought I could be pretty good someday if I learned the rules.

I was given more beer and introduced by Dorotheo to a bloke named Chito Torres.  Torres collects darts paraphernalia — old darts, shirts, tournament programs and the like.  I found it curious that Torres had with him several albums crammed with part of his collection of flights.  I wonder if he always travels with his albums?

Torres told me he has thousands of flights.  I can’t attest to this.  All I can confirm is that he has the most complete collection of flights featuring naked women that I have ever seen.  Perhaps this is why he carries his albums with him late at night?

As the evening wore down and as the San Miguel stock began to run dry, I was guided to a board to take on, one at a time, Dorotheo (who way back in 1980 was on the traveling team with New York’s Llanes when the Philippines competed at the Pacific Cup in Australia), good ‘ole nine-ball guru Sabalboro (for years one of the top shots in the country and 1999 Philippines Masters Champion) and Parfan (winner of the 2001 Philippine National Open Singles Championship, the 2002 Philippine Masters, and current #1-ranked men’s darter in the archipelago). Whew.  That’s a long sentence.

How the HELL do I get myself into this shit?

First up was Dorotheo.  I handled him.  I was feeling good.  Capable.  Confident…

Next up was Parfan, the current Filipino Top Dog.  He sports a ponytail, but they call him “Boy.” Doesn’t make sense.

The game: 501.  Best of seven.  Or maybe it was five?  Maybe it was nine?  San Miguel’s a pretty nice brew…

I jumped off fast on Parfan.  I took the score down quick and closed first, though not in remarkable fashion.  Feelin’ good.

I notched up the second game with a come-from-behind 110-close.  Feelin’ BETTER than good!  I was gonna kick this “boy’s” ass!  I could feel eyes turning to watch.

The truth be known, I don’t exactly know what happened next.  Parfan (who it turns out, recently followed a perfect nine-darter with a ten-darter in National Team qualifying competition) turned his darts into overdrive and smoked me like I was a spindly Narra tree on the side of Mt. Pinatubo.  I never saw another opportunity to close.

And then, as surely as he did in nine-ball, Sabalboro tore me up in cricket.  And I KNOW the rules of cricket!  He was kind in victory though.  He bought me another beer, gave me a fancy darts case and introduced me to a couple of the bar’s pretty Guest Relations Officers, named Lika and Sharon.  Something about them reminded me of Chito’s flight collection.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized something wasn’t right.  Don’t get me wrong: I woke up feelin’ out of sorts but chalked it up to the effects of a dozen free San Miguels.  I popped a couple of Alka-Seltzers before making my way to breakfast.  But I still couldn’t shake the feeling.

I was sittin’ in this Malaysian restaurant in front of some spicy rice entrée, sippin’ mango juice and flippin’ through the little brochure that I’d been given at the U.S. Embassy when it struck me exactly what was wrong.

“Maintain a low profile at all times,” the brochure warned.  “Beware of unknown individuals who try to befriend you.  Tourists frequenting lower quality nightclubs are particularly vulnerable.  Criminals have administered drugs proffered in drinks to unwitting visitors to facilitate robbery and assault.”

MY DARTS!!!

The realization that my most precious possessions were not IN my possession immediately shoved my hangover aside.

SOME BASTARD STOLE MY DARTS!!!

A waitress appeared at my table-side.  “You have telephone call,” she said.  “Please go to registration.”

“Huh?  Me?  Really?” I said.

I walked across the restaurant to the hotel lobby and approached the girl at the front desk.  “My name’s Seigel.  I have a call?”

“Yes sir.” She smiled as she handed me the receiver.

“Hello?  This is Paul Seigel.”

“Dartoid!  It’s Steve.”

“Steve?”

“Steve Dorotheo.  From last night.  You left your darts in my car.”

“Really?  I didn’t even realize they were missing.”

From the Field,

Dartoid

Column #605 Fortunate, humbled, sad and proud – there’s more to life than darts!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Column 605
Fortunate, humbled, sad and proud – there’s more to life than darts!

When I flipped on my laptop and polled for messages, buried among the list was a curious return address: jloweprodart@aol.com.  Could it be?  I immediately clicked away.

The e-mail was from John Lowe.  One of the greatest darters to ever step to the line, winner of more than a thousand tournaments, had sent ME a message.

I scrolled down.  I was amazed.

It turns out that “Old Stoneface” counts himself among the half-dozen, mostly sexist men who smoke banana leaves, who read the drivel I knock out each month in my column, “Dartoid’s World.” Clearly, Lowe’s moniker should be changed to Old Stonedface.

His message was brief.  He wanted to know if I could get him a hooker.

No. No. THAT message was from the Old Dart Coach.

The gist of Lowe’s message was that he was working on a couple of new projects, his fourth book and a special website.  Doctor of Darts, Patrick Chaplin, was doing a piece.  Lowe wanted to know if I would contribute a chapter.

So, I popped off a return e-mail.  “Me?  You want something from me?  Who is this really?

A few days later another message appeared.  “I’m not looking for a piece from somebody who’s ‘been there, done that.’  I’m looking for something from someone who’s ‘been there, seen that.’  You’re probably the most traveled darts person outside of the professional ranks.  Barry Twomlow had that distinction until his retirement.  I would ask you to write as little or as much as you possibly can.”

He wrote that he was looking for some “funny stories” and he had some of his own.  For example, one time Lowe threw at the “top of the CN Tower in Toronto whilst some cowboy was yodeling.”  Another time he “played on a cruise liner whilst sailing through the Bay of Biscay in a nine-force storm.”

So, I wrote him back again.  “What’s a ‘whilst?’” I asked.

Actually, I explained that, while honored to be asked to contribute to his projects, I felt out of my league.  “I’ve also been in the CN Tower,” I wrote, “but I got thrown out for playing strip-pool in the lobby.  While it’s true that I traveled a lot, except for being pretty certain I hold the record for the most consecutive 26’s ever thrown and once being defeated by my dog, I really don’t have any claims to fame.  I’ll do what I can.”

So, I dug into my files.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed some amazing experiences.  I’ve bicycled 2,000 miles from Dublin to Moscow.  I’ve polled a dug-out canoe down Botswana’s hippo-infested Bora River.  I’ve white-water rafted Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River.  I’ve tracked mountain gorillas deep into Uganda’s Impenetrable Forest.  I’ve ventured 500 miles up the Congo River in search of elephant poachers.  Basically, I’m just a big, damn dummy.

Along the way I have been earnest in my search for the Holy Grail – the perfect game in the perfect darts-dive.  And, of course, the perfect beer.

On six of the seven continents and in more than sixty countries I have had the pleasure of going toe-to-toe and mug-to-mug with some of the best darters and hearty drinkers on the planet.  A pool shark from Seoul.  A tough shooting “working girl” from Ho Chi Minh City.  An eleven-year-old hustler from Puerto Vallarta.  From Beijing to Moscow to Sri Lanka, from Tokyo to Johannesburg, from Bangkok to Bombay, I’ve stood at the line – often in the most unbelievable of circumstances.

There are two experiences however, that remain particularly special in my memory.

Some years ago, I found myself in Bombay scouring the streets and back alleys for a game of darts.  Thanks to a twelve-year-old boy named Johnny I finally found a game, sort of, but en route my search crossed the line between a simple adventure and a sort of awakening.  The day made a difference in my life.

As I was looking for a taxi, a dirty little boy approached me with his sisters, begging for money for milk.  Quickly we struck deal.  In return for five cartons of powdered milk, Johnny agreed to serve as my guide for the day.  After a quick walk to a grocery, we hopped into a cab together.

I showed Johnny my darts as we sat in the back of the cab and explained what I was looking for.  He held them in his hand.  I showed him how to aim them and pretended to throw at an imaginary board.  I then carefully tucked them back into their case.

We talked as we cruised the city.  I learned that Johnny had no home – he lived with his family in cardboard boxes in a vacant lot.  I learned that his mother was dead, and his father drank and had no job.  I learned that Johnny hadn’t attended school for years because he had to earn money for food.  He’d learned his English from tourists like me.

We went to the zoo and circus.  We made our way to the top of a cliff to gaze at the Bombay skyline.  We toured the glitzy high-rise buildings at Nariman Point and ate samosas at the five-star Taj Hotel across from the famous Gateway to India monument.  We watched snake charmers coax cobras out of wicker baskets on the waterfront.  For hours, perhaps for the longest stretch in years, not once did the thought of throwing a dart cross my mind.  The same could not be said for Johnny.

As night began to fall the little boy took charge.  The taxi driver began to hit the bars, one after another.  We’d stop.  I’d run in.  I’d locate a snooker table and have a beer.  I’d dash out.  But Johnny was undaunted.  He insisted he knew where I could get a game in Bombay.

I found myself at the end of a dark alley.  As we headed into the dark, I could hear Hindi voices and the familiar rhythmic thunking of a game in progress.  As we drew closer and moved into the dim light, I could not possibly have been more astounded at the sight before me.  There, lying in the dust was a huge, ringed, tree stump.  Dangling from it was a knife.  And standing but ten feet away from me were four blokes holding more knives!

I didn’t throw during this trip to India.  What I did was make a friend.  And as I’ve written, I learned a lesson.  A homeless kid with a limited future reminded me that, sometimes anyway, there’s a little bit more to life than darts.

On another occasion getting to where I threw required a harrowing three-hour flight in a beat-up old Cessna – without maps or radar – through stormy African skies.  To stay safely below the turbulence, we cruised just above the canopy of the rainforest and weaved in and out of the mist that rises so eerily from the trees.

To suggest that I knew where I was when I stood at the line this night would be a serious stretch.  I was in the Congo somewhere.  Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Primitive people.  Mysterious sounds.

I was somewhere east of Gabon and south of the Central African Republic.  The closest collection of people was some twenty miles away in a Bantu-occupied mud-hut village called Mbomo.  The barefooted tribesmen here are darters from way back.  They blow the poisoned-tip version from little bamboo tubes.

The largest so-called major cities, Kinshasa, Zaire (site of the famous Ali-Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974) and Brazzaville (Congo’s capital), are, at best, a week to the south by way of the Le’Koli and Congo Rivers.  Just to the north is the pristine “Last Eden,” the Nouvabale Ndoke Forest.

What I can guarantee about wherever I was is that the darts set up was excellent.  This is because I hung the board myself.  I bought it.  I carried it from Johannesburg in a bag.  I nailed it up with a rock I found in the bush, to a tree by a bend in a river.  This board has to be hung as far away from the civilized world as anyone can get.

I’m not sure what numbers most in the African night – the stars twinkling in the incredibly vast sky or the fireflies flitting like so many scraps of glitter against the darkness of the ancient forest.  Movement is constant.  Sound is incessant.  The lights of the night seem to dance to the symphony of a billion unseen creatures.  The “thunk, thunk, thunk” of my darts only added another instrument to this uniquely African chorus.

I threw alone this night.  My concentration has never been better.

My return to the real world was wilder than my journey from it.  The second plane was even more decrepit than the first.  As we landed on dirt airstrips at village after village, people fought with each other and the pilot to get a seat.  Seriously overweight, carrying a good half-dozen more than its capacity, the plane lumbered its way back to Brazzaville.  Sandwiched between a woman dying of AIDS, a shackled elephant poacher and a baby gorilla in desperate need of a diaper, I held my darts close and hoped for the best.

So, if you’re ever trudging through the Congo rainforest and happen upon a lonely dart board dangling from a tree, enjoy your game.  You can thank me for setting it up – if you ever get back.

Oh, there are other stories.  So many of them…

There was the night in the dark and mist in the middle of nowhere, and against the better judgment of everyone I knew, that I pulled up to the gate of Diepkloof Prison – home to some 20,000 killers and rapists and worse – in Soweto, South Africa.  Before me loomed a sprawling cement fortress, surrounded by consecutive two-story high walls of barbed wire.  Soft light from inside illuminated the bars on the cellblock windows.  I could see the movement of the forgotten souls inside.  This night I threw against the prison guards… and felt bad about having a good time.

Once in Hanoi, in the former North Vietnam, in a bar called the Spotted Cow, I played against a fellow named Quyuh.  Thirty years prior we could have just as easily been chasing each other with rifles through the slosh of a rice paddy.  This night when I finally got the better of the guy, he simply shook my hand, smiled and said, “good game” and then – in what I guess is some sort of local display of resignation – smashed an empty beer can into his forehead.  It felt good to have a friend, instead of an enemy.

Once in Venezuela I found myself in the fog among the legendary billion-year-old table-rock formations (called tepuys) that shoot into the clouds from the jungle.  From this very spot Sir Arthur Conan Doyle drew inspiration for his book “The Lost World.”  From the highest of the tepuys, Auyan-Tepui, the cool water of Angel Falls tumbles eight times farther than the water over Niagara.  Here in the undergrowth thirty-foot anacondas slither and remarkable carnivorous plants chomp the unsuspecting bug.  Razor-toothed piranha lurk in the water.  If one is lucky, they might see the recently discovered fruit-eating fish – which leaps in the air to grab nourishment from the trees.  It is near here in the small indigenous village of San Raphael where I was coached in the art of “cerbatana” (blow darts) by a Pemone Indian named Carlos.  We focused foot-long bamboo projectiles at a mark on a tree.  I lost 2,000 bolivars (about four dollars) and headed on.  I felt humbled.

In Kathmandu, Nepal, I once threw at a bar called the Carpe Diem.  I stood at the line at the foot of Mt. Everest, where the clouds touch the sky, and the sky touches the heavens.  I felt awe.

In Bangkok, Thailand’s notorious Patpong District – at a bar called Cosmos in the middle of the wildest stretch of nightclubs, strip joints, whore houses, con artists and who-knows-what-else that exists anywhere on earth – a 78 game shot against the owner of the bar once earned me the opportunity to select my reward from among a short-skirted bevy of bargirls.  I traded my winnings for a bottle of beer.  I felt silly.

Then there was the night I threw in a bar called City Slickers in New York City.  Late at night, as I wound my through the traffic out of the city, two huge, parallel beams of light appeared outside my window.  They reached from the ground and shot gallantly into the sky.  They reached from Ground Zero into the heavens.  I’ve never felt so sad.  Or so proud.

Time and again I am reminded of how special the sport of darts really is.  The ability of shooters from extraordinarily different cultures, who don’t share a lick of language between them, to compete and share in the humor and tension of a game and even debate the finer points of play, is almost uncanny.  I suppose this is possible because of the “language of darts,” that special connection… that unique ability to communicate, that simply exists between people who share a love for the sport and a basic understanding of the rules.

For a couple of darters, who under normal circumstances couldn’t give each other directions to the loo, to come together and enjoy a few games of darts over a beer and under the smoke in the back room of a neighborhood pub, seems to be the most natural thing in the world.

My darting experiences may be unique.  I suppose I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel and step to the line in such unusual circumstances.

But at the end of the day my experiences are not so different than those of any other darter, recreational or professional.

Not one of my experiences is any more special than the next.

But together, they are a collection of incredible memories.

In “Dartoid’s World” throwing darts in a little bar in Beijing is no different than blowing darts in the middle of the rainforest.

Playing a stranger in Reykjavik, Iceland, is no different than to playing a stranger in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Throwing against a friend in league is no different than throwing against John Lowe in a tournament.  Well, except for the result!

In “Dartoid’s World” throwing darts is nothing more than a labor of love.

It is my honor to be able to share my “world” with you.

From the Field,

Dartoid

Column #604 As the World Cup heats up, a word about willies and women…

Saturday, September 11, 2021
Column 604
As the World Cup heats up, a word about willies and women…

Today’s Dartoid’s World issue is a joke but not of the sort readers have grown accustomed to finding in this space.  It’s not about any of the screwy things that are found out and about the wacky world of our sport.

In fact, it’s not even about darts.  I didn’t write it.

However, the joke was sent to me by a darts player – so there is a darts connection.  Of course, I must protect the name of the person (and I do mean “name” because his first and last name are the same) who sent it because he’s a friend, is married to a good woman, has a young child, a professional job and leads a civilized life in Nashville.  He’s also a damn good shot.

I receive a lot of crap e-mails.  Most of the time I delete the messages when they pop onto my computer screen.  It’s a powerful feeling.  It used to feel great to hit the delete button when messages came in from the founder of The Darts Website That Shall Not Be Named.

But occasionally one catches my eye and makes me makes me laugh.  Out loud.

This one did.

So, since I have absolutely nothing else to write this morning (I had hoped to write a daily chronicle of my experience as a member of the US World Cup Team but for some reason wasn’t selected) – and since the joke is slightly vulgar and sexist and therefore consistent with the usual fare at this website, I am passing it along.

After all, I am Dartoid!

So…

A man wakes up in the hospital bandaged from head to foot.  The doctor comes in and says, “Ah, I see you’ve regained consciousness.  Now you probably won’t remember, but you were in a huge pile-up on the freeway.  You’re going to be ok; you’ll walk again and everything, but your penis was severed in the accident, and we couldn’t find it.”

The man groans, but the doctor goes on, “You’ve got $9000 in insurance compensation coming and we now have the technology to build a new penis.  They work great but they don’t come cheap.  It’s roughly $1000 an inch.”

The man perks up.

“So,” the doctor says, “You must decide how many inches you want.  But I understand that you have been married for over thirty years and this is something you should discuss with your wife.  If you had a five incher before and get a nine incher now, she might be a bit put out.  If you had a nine incher before and you decide to only invest in a five incher now, she might be disappointed.  It’s important that she plays a role in helping you make a decision.”

The man agrees to talk it over with his wife.

The doctor comes back the next day, “So, have you spoken with your wife?”

“Yes, I have,” says the man.

“And has she helped you make a decision?”

“Yes,” says the man.

“What is your decision?” asks the doctor.

“We’re getting granite countertops.”

GOOD LUCK DANNY AND CHUCK!

From the Field,

Dartoid

Column #603 Whoopin’ darts ass in Paradise

Monday, August 9, 2021
Column 603
Whoopin’ darts ass 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.  Bikinis are everywhere.  The nightlife runs into morning – the Dos Equis 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, #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 who has ever wandered here looking for one!

Anyway, 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 tosses 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 the planet 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 of 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 8:00 p.m., 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.

A short 30 minutes later, we headed our separate ways.  I, the victor, to a 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.

From the Field,

Dartoid