Wednesday, August 5, 2009

yo-yo #52: spyy skyy chaser

i've just been a mess all week. i don't know how my wife even puts up with me. been all gloomy and moody and surly. slothful and listless. a real pleasure. i like to think that my "base" disposition is pretty even, and this attitude is pretty unnatural for me. so i kind of try to delve into these darker emotions when they arise.

worlds is obviously next week, and i'm elated to be going, but whenever elation is abundant, i find that it's frequently accompanied by elation's miserable doppelganger. worlds is hectic, and it just simmers with nervous energy. it's also a contest, and i'm not altogether clear on how i feel about that notion itself. also, i'm going alone; leaving my kids with their grandparents and my wife to fend for herself. not the worst i could do to them, but there's still a modicum of guilt.

i'm doing 1a, and the battle with myself over whether and how i should be motivated for that is something for which i was not prepared. i've competed some, and i did ok at nc states, but i feel like since this is worlds, it "matters", or at least... it's "supposed to". it should be preemptively stated that i'm not looking to win; (at the risk of sounding defeatist) i truly don't even want to. i haven't put in the time, practice, or consideration to even be in the running, and the title holds no glory for me whatsoever, especially given its inherently subjective nature. i revere the winners for their skill, and the amount of work they have to put in, but being champion has never been for me.

so why even get on stage? hundreds of people will compete this year and virtually none of them comes in with a legitimate chance (or even sincere intent) of walking out with the "big yo-yo guy" trophy. some of them will get on stage just to say they did it (to others, or just to themselves). some of them hold making it to finals (or even just round 2) as their deepest ambition, and after that "whatever". for me, i feel like it's kind of a pilgrimage. it's the biggest stage in yo-yoing, and whatever my grievances or misconceptions about how the winners are chosen, i feel like i should put myself up there at least once, even if only for a minute. if i have any hope for it, i hope i throw yo-yo like myself. i hope i don't get carried away with the moment and let my yo-yoing go all to hell. i hope that i don't walk off the stage with any regret (though in my experience, that's more a choice one makes than anything else). i'm an "old man" (by yo-yoer standards). i've seen things and done things that i hold much more meaningful than this (honestly, throwing wood in my backyard is no less important to me). i guess i hope i can keep my perspective that balanced.

i won't be using either of these yo-yo's for my 1a 1-minute. i'll be using the flying v, which actually constitutes another reason for getting on stage in the first place. steve buffel is considerate, almost to a fault, and would never pull the "sponsor card", issuing an edict that i compete (he even suggested i use a no jive). but i'm really proud of the yo-yo we made, and i feel like it deserves a moment on stage, too. and if said yo-yo gets pissed at me for wielding it poorly, well... tough shit, flying v!

the final and most ridiculous reason why i'm doing 1a does involve these yo-yo's. i wanna do ladder. seriously, i really like ladder. i won the "old guy" ladder at worlds in 07 (not to toot my own horn, but i win a lot of "old guy" ladders). i've talked about this before, but i think ladder is rad for two reasons. 1.) it is totally quantifiable. you've got to hit THIS trick THIS way, and if you don't you're done. no one can possibly dispute the winner afterwards (like anyone would even CARE to: "i had cuartero in first for ladder, what about you?" "psh. cuartero?! that guy has some ugly-ass pop-'n-fresh! adam brewster's gerbil took it for me."). and 2.) i like "canon". i like "kata". i like the idea that some yo-yo tricks should be preserved, and that virtually everyone should know them , so as to share some common points of understanding. i don't feel that EVERY trick on the ladder is super important, but most of them, and i think the idea is well-conceived. if you can't do kamikaze or black hops, i think you should learn those tricks. i think they're valuable. i think developing the ability to hit those tricks on command is valuable, in part for the tricks' own sakes, but also because of the fundamentals that learning them teaches you.

i'll grant you i'm not someone who "practices ladder", because well... i can't imagine anything more boring than practicing a whole list of tricks i already know i can hit. but the question of whether i WILL hit these tricks i've learned is actually pretty exciting for me.

ladder is largely viewed as "the kiddy pool" of yo-yo contests, and for pretty good reason. at most state-level contests, if you freestyle, you're precluded from ladder. otherwise, the top players would beat up on the newer players in every division and snag all the prizes. takeshi told me he HATES when experienced players do ladder, because it just depresses the newer guys and turns them off of yo-yoing. i agree with that, but i also just... really like ladder, and i don't want to apologize for being good at it. that's why i really dig contests like worlds, which have ladder, but break it into divisions. you've got the ladder for people who JUST want to do ladder, and then ladder for people who want to freestyle in one of the "championship" divisions. same tricks, but two separate pools. my only gripe is that not enough of the freestylers actually DO the ladder, and i think that's generally either because it's too easy, or because they're too cool for it. if i were mickey, and i already won ladder with no misses, then i can totally understand. lots of great freestyle players don't even know all the ladder tricks though, and i kind of think that's too bad. yo-yoing's an art, but it also has structure and pedagogy. i don't think anyone's too cool to learn 25 yo-yo tricks. hell, maybe it should be 40 tricks, or maybe have the 1a and 2a lists consolidated. anyway, having won it in my age group once, it wouldn't sit right to try and do it again, so by entering 1a, i get a whole new field and don't have to feel like a schmuck (i mean a bigger one than i already am).

i like packing early, and i'm trying to decide on the yo-yo's i'm bringing to orlando. it's amusing to me that there was a time whence i would have just said "all of em", and then spent the next few days lugging around a huge case. nothing could be less appealing, and though, as my friend jonrob says "can't hate on a case full of yo-yo's", neither do i feel like showing one off or standing guard over one next week. i got an AMAZING shipment of yo-yo's from steve this week, with a little of all of the yo-yo's spyy's put out lately. i was immediately blown away by these little beauties (i'm the type of guy to refer to yo-yo's as "little beauties"). the skyy chaser is being produced in both big c-bearing/silicone and medium-big d-bearing/pad form. it's small, about the dimensions of a skyline, but it feels disproportionately substantial. i'm not going to try it, but i feel like i could probably kill a rhino with one of these, at least a baby one. the red-orange (or orange-red - screw you, crayola) NON-blasted ano finish is flawless, and is most at home out in the sunlight. the laser art, lifted straight from the hood of a firebird, hints at the yo-yo's hidden muscle. everything about it screams performance, and so i'm pretty set on using one of them for ladder. i want to use a yo-yo that i won't have to worry about. (while "no jive ladder" is seriously fun, i've been there/done that).

winning would be fine, but like deciding to freestyle at worlds in general, it's more of an internal struggle (or "turmoil" - hi, dazzling dave!), and if you're tying any particle of self-worth to "how you do" relative to others, i'd argue your energy is misplaced. much like how i feel freestyling should be, i don't really care if i win, or anyone beats me. it's just about doing as well as i can, and so i'd really like to go perfect (at least the 1a list; on 2a my punches have always been awful and i'll be lucky to get past them at all). so, yeah. i'm not sure if i'm the first person who's kind of just doing 1a so that he can do ladder and not feel like a turd, but... well there it is. see you at worlds (who am i kidding, i'll probably crank out #53 before i leave).

writing this is a pleasant reminder that, no matter what drama and baggage you take with you, be it desire for "champion of the world glory, "what am i doing this for" confusion, or "i hope my wife eats ok while i'm gone" anxiety, worlds is first and foremost a celebration of, as boyd seth said recently "the string that ties us together". and it's gonna be an effin' party.

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