Tuesday, December 16, 2008

yo-yo #'s 14 and 15: pair of proyos

my 2a sucks. blows. it goes from suck to blow. it is atrocious. ok, it's not THAT bad. it's really my accursed left hand (the "sinister", as it were). my right, i can loop in any which way until the string unwinds. my left is not as good, but it really isn't until they both get together to tango that the hideous travesty unfolds.

i like to fancy myself as being cut from a kind of "o.g. yo-yo cloth", as if, since i like playing wood a lot, i'm channeling barney akers or gus somera or something. understand that i'm not egomaniacal enough to actually "have" this thought (though i guess i just did), but the "idea" of the old demonstrators kind of underpins everything i see in yo-yoing today. i think what appeals to me the most is the inherent minimalism. compared with today, where we (as a society) seem to believe that no field should be left fallow and all possibilities should be explored (if only for the sake of exploration itself), half a century ago, things were simpler.

so i guess the "germ of an idea" is that i should be able to live simply, too. and not just "get by", but "thrive" simply. those guys didn't have bearings, didn't have a wide variety of available materials, and didn't have the myriad and complex play-styles that have developed into modern yo-yoing canon. back then, you played a wood yo-yo. if you were good you played two. if you were great, you might make up some tricks of your own. i wasn't yo-yoing back then, and i'll welcome contradiction by anyone who was (or steve brown), but as i see it, the wild, obsessive need to be innovative that seems to consume so many yo-yoers today is a relatively recent development. fueled by the technology, the perspective often seems that if you aren't breaking new ground in yo-yoing, then you're doing something wrong. 50 years ago, making up new tricks was all fine and good, but it was being able to execute and perform the fundamentals that set you apart.

so what did the old demonstrators do? they got really, really, really good at the fundamentals, and at performing.

with so many yo-yo's, so many established tricks, and so many technological developments, it's easy to hide from the basics now. there IS no real canon anymore. lots of the most popular, most innovative players never bothered to learn some really basic tricks, because let's face it: learning basics isn't that fun, and you aren't extrinsically rewarded for it. in aikido, we call it kihon. the basic elements that you need to understand to manifest the art. but if you can "kick ass" without learning the kihon, i mean... why bother, right?

at any given contest, sport ladder is the territory of as few as 3 or 4 intrepid beginners. and the 2a ladder is almost totally ignored. the ladder is largely shunned by advanced players because the prevalent mentality is that good yo-yoers are innovative first and consistent second. i hope i don't sound embittered; that's just the way i see it. freestyling provides a stage (literally) for showcasing the new-and-improved, whereas ladder is where yo-yo tricks go to die.

although i love the ladder, i fall into this as much as anyone. once again, my 2a (2a, which 50 years ago was how you proved yourself to be a "real" yo-yoer) blowsucks. and so, by the outmoded standard to which i hold myself, my status as a "real" yo-yoer is decidedly shaky.

yeah. and you know what else i suck at?

cutting carrots.

seriously. the other day, i was chopping up some carrots for a salad. my 10 month old son was doing his waddle-around-the living room thing. his new favorite game is pushing a sturdy, cube-shaped cardboard box around the entire house. occasionally, he'll pick it up and carry it a few steps, and he looks just like one of the world's strongest man competitors... except he's a baby. well, he sprinted into one of his trademark learning-to-walk faceplants and started wailing. i looked up to check the damage and... zzzzzt!

i almost cut my right index finger off at the knuckle. (it's damn funny that i spend so much time a.) flipping razor sharp bali-song knives around and b.) training with razor-sharper samurai swords and i never cut myself. but, hand me a kitchen knife to cut some veggies, and i'm as good as dead.)

it started bleeding... a lot. evidently there are quite a few capillaries that have to provide oxygenated blood to your fingertips, cause it was an effin' gusher. i felt bad for having to basically ignore my son's fall, but he comes from hardy skateboarding stock; he's gotta get used to it. i immediately ruled out the possibility of going to get stitches, basically because i think i'd rather bleed out through my finger than take a 10 month old to the e.r., especially with me reduced to one working hand (which would be used to apply pressure to the shredded one). if i needed to get stitched, i figured stacy could sew me up after she got home from her practice. we've got some thread somewhere.

after i stopped the bleeding (an hour later), it occurred to me that i really wanted to play some yo-yo. the feeling that followed could only be described as a "oh... damn" moment. with my finger carefully bandaged, and thus three times its normal size, there was no conceivable way for me to play. plus the idea of 1a string-burn over the raw cut pretty much made me want to vomit. it kind of still does, actually. but i wanted to play, so i was left with the mixed blessing of working on my left-handed loops.

i no-jived it up for the rest of that day and the next. in the evening, my wife and daughter went out for a lovely evening at the ballet (which must be pronounced as my daughter says it, accenting the 2nd syllable: "the BAL-let"). the baby and i opted for some late-sunday mall xmas shopping. i picked up "a little something" for my wife (go ahead and read it stacy, i'm not telling), a couple books for my mom, and some polar bear figurines for the little girl at the k-b... where i also spied... a duncan proyo aisle display. and, since k-b is closing its doors nationwide, and EVERYTHING MUST GO, they were on sale for a whopping $0.65 each. it was the single greatest yo-yo discount i have ever seen. for a buck-thirty, i walked out with a pair of emerald green (favorite color) and clear loopers; with the new caps, no less (did oke rosgana do these? they're FRESH!).

i got home, adjusted the string, and tried them together. my finger was still mummified, but except for super-hard catches, seemed painless and secure. partly bolstered by the fact that my injury had resulted in a more confident left hand, my 2-handed had greatly improved. i was also shocked to remember how much i used to like proyos. they are really, really good yo-yo's, and they immediately rekindled the flame of my desire to solidify the basics; to get consistent at the canon, even if i have to define it for myself. innovation's fine, and i'll keep making up tricks... but there's a lot to be said for appreciating simplicity.

it's a few days later now. i'm down to 2 band-aids while playing, and i haven't been able to put the proyos down. everything nice and familiar about a wood axle and all the consistency of a plastic body. although the memory of many epic cookie-dough-brick-eating sessions with my friend in college prevents me from saying it's the best $1.30 i ever spent... it certainly was a solid deal!

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