Wednesday, December 15, 1999

RaNTing of a C0untryman - Part 2

Chilling 1983, the year of the coldest winter in the Pairies, with the "Chinook" wind blowing at 40 mp/h; temperatures was below the -30°C range. The place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Edmonton Oilers (ice-hockey team) were having a good season. I was the new kid in town.
Staying on campus at U of Alberta was cool and cold. Cool because there were three foosball tables on campus. Cold because, I was from Malaysia... =)

Edmonton was strange and new to me (before I found out about the foosball tables). Staying in Lister Hall dormitory was not exactly exciting. We used "Monopoly-type" money to buy our food and being an Asian, I love meatloaf and liver.... hmmm... yummy!! Apparently, my room mates have a problem with that. Hey, to me that was my high point in staying at the dorm... =)

During that semester, I made a lot of new foosball friends. And I have to tell you about this guy called Ken. There is a mall-type apartment on campus called Hub Mall. It is "H" shape (cross-section) with the ground floor being a drive through. The shops are just above the drive-through and on top of the shops are three floors of apartments overlooking the shops. Pretty cool. Anyways, Ken's mom owned a video arcade centre there and he was there to take care of the shop.

The first time I was there, I walked to the coin counter and got some quarters from Ken. There were no foos players there at that time. So, as I normally would do, I pumped my quarters in and started to practice my back-pin shots alone. Ken came over to watch as I was practicing. He was wearing a jacket and his left hand was inside the pockets. He asked me for a game and I happily welcomed him.
Ken looks about 22 years old, and was a skinny and short, about 5' 3". His hair was parted down the center and the face is shaped with a pretty squared jawline with thin lips for his mouth, that somehow put an almost permanent smirk on his face.

Without looking up as I placed the ball into the serving cup, I prepared to serve. As I served the ball, I looked up and was stunned!!! Ken is WITHOUT a left hand!!! He was using the stump of his wrist where his left hand used to be, to control the five men. "Wait a minute," I thought. "What the..." I was either too polite (yeah right) or for fear of offending him, kept my thoughts to myself. I lost 5-0 to him that first game. For a guy without a hand, his five-men control was amazing (put some of us to shame).

Since that first game, I became a regular at Ken's place. In between classes, I would dropped by and we would have a couple of games.

And it was at Ken's place that I met Edward and Frank. Two brothers who are really into foosing. These guys would drop by during the evening and we would foos into the night, playing at every foos joints in Edmonton. This went on for the four years that I was there.

End of Part 2

Wednesday, December 8, 1999

RaNTing of a C0untryman - Part 1

Foosball has come a long way for me. I first saw a foosball table in Singapore back in December 1979. It was the year-end school holiday, and my parents decided that I was a pain in the ass back home in Sibu (a five-minutes-by-car-anywhere town in Sarawak) and dumped me with my cousins in Singapore. "Perfect!" I thought. The opportunity to see the sequel to Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Alien was a godsend!

Amidst the Star Wars and Alien hype, was the opportunity to play video games. My cousins and I would trooped into a video arcade in some shopping centers feeding twenty cents coins into the machines until we ran out. At one of these video arcades in a shopping centre called Peace Centre, were about 6 foosball tables. We used to call them "Soccer Tables". I cannot remember the actual type or name of the table nor did I notice. It was playing soccer on a table and that was it!!!

Like probably everyone else, we spinned the rods amid the shouting and cheering... :-) It was FUN!!! After a few games, I realised that I can actually move the ball from a man to another before shooting. Hmmm... little did I realised that, that shot I did was called a "pull-kick". After the school holidays, it was back to Sibu and school (sigh!). Foosball was forgotten and, girls and skateboard were "in"... (evil grin).

Mr Sulu, Warp factor 8 to September 1981. Steady as she goes.... and I was in Vancouver, Canada. The place was "Dog & Fun". It was a video arcade in downtown Vancouver on Granville Street. Table was a run down TS (Tournament Soccer). Met a guy by the name of Al who ran the place and was inducted into the world of foosball! He told me not to use the five-men to score but rather use the three-men. I got from being "trashed" to being the "trasher". Not bad, I thought. Until.... 1982.
I went to this place called "Clementine's". Being under age (below 19), I fequently sneaked into this happening disco club on Broadway. No... it was not to dance the night away, nor the booze, nor the women! It was because of the two near perfect condition foosball tables! That was when I met Cavian, a friendly and cool Iranian dude who happened to be studying at the same college as me. After the Shah of Iran was ousted by Ayatollah Khomeni, many Iranian families left their home country and moved to Canada. Cavian was one of them.

Cavian was a "plumb" and sturdy guy with hair stupples covering half of his face. The only guy in our college that drives a brand new Nissan 280zx.... woooo... =) Back in Iran, Cavian had a foosball table in the house and naturally, he was one of the best players at Clementine's. From Cavian, I aquired a variety of foosball shots and skills, and finally settled on back-pin. With back-pin came the "brush" and "bank" shot combinations for both the three and the two men. It was Cavian who first showed me the aerial shot from the goalie. Whoah!!!

Players used to come from all over Vancouver and greater Vancouver areas to play. It was not long before Clementine's became the happening foosball joint. And me... a pretty good all-round player... heheheh.

Our daily routine would be something like this.... after Clementine's, we would hopped from a foosball joint to another. The last stop would be Denny's, a 24 hours restaurant, and we would probably reach home at about 6:30 in the morning.

End of Part 1