Miles Walked On The Oche: 588
"No trophy! No flowers! No flashbulbs! No wine!
He's haunted by something he cannot define
Bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse,
Assail him, impale him with monster-truck force" - 'Going The Distance', Cake
We're back. Over 1000 unique visitors. Nearly 7000 visits. Over 500 hits from America. Nearly 1500 hits from the UK. Over 2,000 hits from...Belgium. Fucking BELGIUM. Do they even play Darts over there? Or do they just think it's something to spread on a baguette? (They eat baguettes, don't they?) Whatever keywords I'm using, they sure seem to appeal to the Belgians. Maybe 'Checkout' is a Belgian colloquialism for 'Monkey Porn.' I don't know what the hell's going on, but I'm not complaining.
Either way, after a blogging gap of 5 months, welcome to the latest installment of the blog that Hercule Poirot once commented on ("My 'little grey cells' are telling me this is, how you say, fucking idiotic") and that is spiking Darts sales in Burkina Faso: Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune. Firstly, mention should be made of the major cosmetic changes that have recently been applied to the Diary Of The Tungsten Trial To Titantic Triumph. Let's not have any new-Facebook-layout style rants here, Darts Fans; it was long overdue, and personally I'm rather pleased with it. It gives the blog the sense of unwarranted grandeur it deserves. Let me know what YOU think though. The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that it's been 5 months inbetween entries, and yet the practice hours have only gone up by about 150 hours. Not enough, I know, and it has to be said 5 weeks in a row out of those four months were spent without throwing as much as a single practice dart...but we'll come to the reasons why later (and why a half-finished version of this blog has sat on my laptop for the majority of that time, incomplete and unpublished...)
First up, I'm sure you are all bending your stems in anticipation of knowing the final placing of The Earlsdon Cottage LadyBoys in the summer Chapelfields Darts League B season. As I said at the start of the season, "Boys, I don't care if we mainly lose all season, as long as we don't come bottom. All I ask if merely that we do enough to come at least second from bottom. That's all." So naturally, we came bottom with just 5 points. 11 league wins for yours truly, but a few nightmareish, nervy performances still; but that's been addressed, and again, we will come to that later. Still, morale remains high, and the result made us more determined to do better in the winter season. The lads new to the game have installed home boards to get their practice up, and are approaching it with new gusto, which is genuinely heart warming to see. Despite a few personnel changes (1 now got to babysit on Wednesdays as his wife has work, 1 can't face the travel halfway across town on the bus anymore (but is available as backup) and one decided on the night of the new season that he had work commitments. Nice) the team is fired up, and, in our first match of the new season, we played the freshly relegated Highway Club. Nice bunch of lads, who unfortunately for us were missing a few key players, and were a man down automatically handing us 1 win out of the singles (7 singles matches, 3 doubles. I'm reliably informed their missing man was terrified of us and bottled it. Soiled himself, the story goes.) I chose this night to play some of the best competitive darts of my life, and even hit a two-dart 98 pressure checkout in the doubles (annoyingly, this sort of thing and this standard of play is fairly common for practice. Hopefully it's starting to break into my competition game. The end result? A draw, giving us 2 league points and putting us on nearly half of our total of the previous season after one game. To say the mood leaving the pub was ecstatic would be an understatement. The best moment, however, was whilst shaking hands with the very pleasant members of the other team, one of them, who'd played against my old team and myself about 5 years ago-when I first played darts on a casual basis, before stopping for several years-asked, 'When did you learn to play like that?' Probably one of the best compliments I've ever had in my life, if a little backhanded. He'd seen an impressive improvement, and had commented on it. If that wasn't a sign that I'm getting somewhere, then nothing is. Only a little thing, but I tell you what, Darts Fans, these are the moments you've got to savour, as if you don't you'll quit. Encouragement is rare when you're chasing a stupid dream, so grab whatever you can get. That also applies to going on the pull. Anyway, all that said, we'll no doubt get shafted next week. You watch, a few more losses and my previously shot-down suggestion of burning down the opposing teams' pubs before away games will suddenly start to seem more and more appealing. Although perhaps a little obvious who the perpetrators are when the only pub left intact is ours. We'd better burn it down too at the end of the season, just to be sure. EDIT: Coming back to this paragraph several weeks into the season, we've chalked up another win and to my delight monday nights have managed to become a regular team practice night. Great for me, but even better for the odds of the other guys improving; and they are.
Something I've noticed; I need a lengthy warm up, roughly 45 darts thrown. Otherwise, I start badly, and that bad start gets in my head, and it's all downhill from there. OR, I start to get annoyed with poor performance in my warm up, and think I'm just off my game for the night, and then go in with a lack of confidence. I now EXPECT to have a bad warm up; that means I can't get upset about it, and then when I play my game I find I'm playing well.
Other things that have gone out of the window-in a good way-is my limp wristed early release of the dart so it goes crashing into the floor a good two feet from the board. My grip is very light on the dart, hence me using very grippy darts, but even with that, some days I pick them up and they just feel like I have no purchase on them, so, in my unending quest to spend money on Darts Tat, I picked up a bottle of Mighty Grip. Not to be confused with Almighty Grip, which rather than being a sporting aid is actually that which God uses to keep a hold of his children. Apparently. No, MIGHTY Grip is a small bottle of powder that you put on your fingertips. The beauty of it is that it goes tacky very quickly but doesn't rub off onto your darts, and washes off easily. An unexpected bonus is that I now have the ability to scale sheer, smooth walls effortlessly. If only I could shoot webs as well. The MG has made a big difference to my game, as my throw feels more confident, but the downside is I can't really play without some sort of grip additive now, as the darts feel too smooth. I know, you'd think of all the things I'd be used to by now, being too smooth in any capacity would be one of them...
The thing is, Darts Fans, that I'm no longer using the same grippy darts I was last time. I've changed darts again. There's a reason why, but more on that later...again. I thought it may be interesting to have a quick look at the darts I've gone through, in an insightful feature I call 'Stop Blowing Money On New Darts.'
Long time readers may remember (though I HIGHLY doubt it) the original Tungsten Tools Of Tournament Testwithstanding: the Harrows Aliens (27g)-
I stuck with these for some time, and they are a great dart; in fact, three members of the team switched over to these too after trying mine, and I'd recommend them to anyone looking for a grippy, front weighted dart. But then the repeated great practice/poor match performance combo continued for one too many wednesday league nights/DartPro League games, and things just started to get ridiculous. The expectation of failure became overwhelming, and it took only a few bad darts to throw my head game into an incredibly dramatic downward spiral (read: tantrum.) I can remember, clear as day, one DartPro league game where I threw my umpteenth 26/21/11/7/3 and actually gripped my head in my hands and moaned in frustration, tears in my eyes. Things got so bad that I started avoiding practice, finding little reasons to do so, and worst of all I didn't even WANT to. Several weeks passed without practice. Hours lost (half the reason for the low hour addition above.) I knew something had to be done.
It was time to call in the professionals.
In a stroke of luck so precise it can only be described as the Gods Of Darts smiling down on me, proving (if any proof were needed) that I was the Chosen One of Darts, not only was there a new hypnotherapy centre within walking distance of my flat, but a hypnotherapy centre run by a hypnotist who was a part time referee/caller for the PDC. I shit you not. Sean Casey Poole (www.mickeytake.com - that's the website for his comedy hypnotist stage show, can't find the one for the centre, but it's Serene Mind and Body in Coventry if you want to google it and get the number) had the horrific, hellish task of sorting through my neuroses and hang ups to find the cause of the problem. He had to go and see another hypnotherapist afterwards to help him get over it.
Now, there may be many of you pooh-poohing the idea of hypnotherapy as an aid, but I couldn't disagree more. Darts is a game of millimetres after all, and therefore is a highly mental game. If you underestimate the importance of the mind in this sport, you just need to look at how many players are unable to perform without a drink. Either way, I sat down with Sean, who I can recommend very highly, and we went through the idea of me taking poor performance so hard; how it had led to me throwing games before they were even halfway over because I had just decided that I was going to underperform again. Through a very interesting session, he tried to press home what I knew on the surface, but couldn't internalise; the fact that sometimes you just play badly, and sometimes you play well, and you have to learn to be able to take the bad with the good. Obvious, right? I knew it was true already, but there's an immense gulf between knowing it and being able to accept it. And that's the thing with hypnotism; it's a very, very subtle fix. When you're under, you're conscious, and you know what's going on, but you're just very relaxed. When you leave, you don't feel like anything revelatory has occured. And when it comes to game time, you don't suddenly find yourself miraculously relaxed, or noticing anything different. You still feel pressure and nerves. You still worry about winning, and desperately want to. But you realise when the game is over, win or lose, that you just tutted over the bad darts, went and got them, and waited for your next go. That may sound like nothing, but anyone who's been lost in the self-doubting hell of an endless run of sporting bad form will know what I'm talking about. Either way, Sean made a difference, and I stopped worrying, but I still had lost my darting mojo, my get up and throw (oh, I must remember that one for league night. I'm sure they'll love it. As you can imagine, they all love my constant darting theories and philosophy, and in no way are sick to fucking death of it.)
There was only one way to get it back, one that has been proven to me over and over again, and this brings me back to the darts evolution listed above; go and buy new darts. I came home from league night one week after switching back-out of a mild desperation that still hung over from my pre-hypnosis matches-to my old Harrows Aliens, believe it or not, and putting in a great league performance as a result. Convinced the answer lay in a dart somewhere between my then current Hi-Tec Vice and the Aliens, I lost several hours into the dawning of the following thursday morning perusing online darts catalogues. I though I might have found my answer, and, too impatient to order online and wait, I rang the newly reopened Midlands Darts Centre in Yardley (about 25 minutes from Coventry) once I'd woken up. They didn't have the ones I was after (the name escapes me) but had an almost identical, locally made set. Naturally, I headed over (avoiding the potenial pitfall of getting directions to the Midlands Arts Centre down the road in Birmingham instead. I can only imagine similar confusion the other way round, with the box office staff manning the weekend matinee performance of Little Ayolf being asked where the 26g Dark Destroyers were by confused looking middle aged men in polo shirts) and spent a good two hours on the instore oches they had set up, blown away by the immense try-before-you-buy selection and the on hand advice of the owner (I cannot recommend this place enough.) In the end, I came away with something UTTERLY different than that which I'd come in for, and a whole 2 grams higher than what I'd been using:
And then...with a timing so perfect it can only prove, if proof were ever needed, that the Gods Of Darts think that I am in fact the antichrist of darts, for they struck me down with illness, and I lost another two weeks. And I don't just mean bad timing in terms of halting my major return to form. You see, Darts Fans, the thing is that lately, I've been struggling with a fairly major period of the blues. Mid-life crisis? Maybe. In my (very) early thirties now, and with a string of failed attempts at greatness to my name...and then I get up and face another day with only two very cute but conversationally stunted canines for company, and suddenly it can all get on top of you, very fast. Don't get me wrong; I know I am very blessed. I live in a nice home, financially we're doing ok, I have a loving girlfriend, etc etc. It's all good. And I would FAR rather have a string of failed attempts at what I wanted to achieve than to have settled for something less...but as I believe I waxed lyrical on last time, you can't help but find yourself looking in the mirror and seeing the age lines working their way in, wondering if you were right. The illness (nothing serious, just a long lasting and unshiftable bout of man flu) meant me staying in bed all day in an attempt to see it off, which really didn't help fight off feelings of isolation and wasted time. I mean, we're talking what, about a week or so ago this ended. And since then I've been playing catch up on not only various little jobs that need sorting (gig invoices, bills, finishing off my website for the music work-yes this will be plugged like a bitch on here. While I'm at it, buy The Physics Of The Dead for the Kindle/Kindle app for your smartphone for 89p from Amazon.co.uk. It's mindblowingly fucktastic) but all the other little bits of projects that I always seem to be working on. And in the frantic catch up of the last twoish weeks, the darts has suffered. So all of that-the mindgame crash, the illness, the catch up-has hit my practice hours hard. But don't worry, darts fans; I'm back on it as of NOW. I'd hate for you to worry, after all. Hello? Hey!
One important thing I realised only the other day is how it's has been months and MONTHS since I entered a tournament. This is because I decided to have some time away to improve before having another go-a good way of gauging progress-but frankly, I didn't mean to leave it THIS long, but on the plus side I reckon I'm so much better since the last one that in a local level tournament I could really give them a good game. Plus I have a season and a half of pub league competition experience under my belt since then. Don't scoff; the pressure in a pub league is far worse than a tournament, particularly if you're the captain, and a deeply sexual one at that. Think about it; you're in front of your mates-who have been drinking-and you can lose in just two legs. Most tournaments are best of 5 or, more usually, 7. Our pub league is best of 3. The margin for error is narrow as fuck, frankly, and so the pressure is high. Going to a tournament compared to that would be a walk in the park. So I make this promise to you now, darts fans; by next blog post (SOON! SOOOOOOONNNNN!!!!) I will have been to another tournament (as long as there are some on; I wrote that before I checked...)
Right. Now onto the fun stuff. In my spare time (minimal. Despite technically having all the time in the world, I never allow myself any. You wouldn't believe it, but it's true. So much so I have recently started to make an effort to allow myself it...) I've knocked up a couple of...DARTS T SHIRTS! WOOOO!! GUARANTEED to get anyone you like wanting to have sexual intercourse with YOU*. I've deliberately picked the nicer-fitting t-shirts, as I think baggy tees generally look a bit naff, which means they weren't the cheapest ones available, but they're still pretty cheap. BASICALLY, I love the idea of getting a cool darts T shirt to wear, or some nice darts merchandise, but I could never find any that were particularly interesting and/or actually funny. So I made a few of my own. The link at the top of the blog will take you to the shop, and just to ram it even harder down your throat, here it is again:
So far, there's just the three available, but if people like them I'll do a few more. All of these are available in a variety of colours, by the way. Here's the first:
That's right, YOU can be amongst the first to potentially get sued by the NBA for wearing this little beauty! Note the straightshootingdarts.com tag underneath (this blog's new URL, by the way) that will definitely get the men/women/violence going. Next:
YES, the blog title is in there, but it's actually a PHILOSOPHICAL DARTS T SHIRT. The text, a classic Shakespearian quote, reads:
Gettin' horny already, eh? You knows you is. Plus, you can show the world your love, support, and admiration for the most inexplicably still running blog on the internet. And the most basic (and cheapest) one is this:
Tell the world that YOU, yes YOU believe that you are the very future of darts! SEE how they admire your forthrightness and bravery!! Definitely. Definitely. I have to say, if anyone does buy one, for the love of all that is holy take a photo of yourself in it and send it to me. You would make my fucking year. (Probably also best to stay away from naked flames too. I can't vouch for how fire retardant these are. I'm sure they're fine.)
Anyway, Darts Fans, that's all for now. As I finish typing the last lines of this waaaayyyyy overdue update, I see it's now the early hours of my birthday. Which makes me think of presents. Which makes me think of what a GREAT Christmas presents any of the above shit would make for...I dunno. The postman. As ever, a very, very sincere thankyou for anyone taking the time to read this; the numbers do seem to be growing at an almost alarming rate, and whilst I can only assume that Google has confused the word 'Darts' with 'Cliff Richard's Naked Cock' and the unique user stats went mad as a result. But anyway, even if you wandered in here by mistake and stayed for the nonsense, thankyou. Your support is very gratefully received.
Straight Shooting Luke Smitherd
(*level of attraction from opposite sex generated by t shirt may vary, indeed to the point where the t shirt may even seem to have the opposite effect.)PS Book yadda yadda: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Physics-Dead-Supernatural-Mystery-ebook/dp/B004WPOJOW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321924826&sr=8-1
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Darts T Shirts