Saturday, January 18, 2014

yo-yo #97: silver minute

happy new year! woohoo! it's hard to believe that 365 days ago i was still just shaking the rust off after spending my year with the 'eh'. actually i'm still kind of doing that. fortunately, the rust kind of suits me.

i haven't done much with the blog since then, i know. i've definitely picked up some cool yo-yo's and have imbued others with interesting experiences, so i should have no excuse moving forward. sometimes it's tough to look at a blank page though.

so among the interesting things that happened to me in 2013 were the disintegration of spyy, and my subsequent invitation to join the werrd alliance. i gotta say, after steve emailed the team to say 'i really can't keep doing this', i did not at all see myself joining another yo-yo team. when stu asked, however, it really felt like a good fit. i've been keen on their yo-yo's since trying the first tfl's in 07, and stu is always trying to nudge werrd toward being more of a lifestyle brand than just a yo-yo company.

i can get into that, because yo-yoing is kind of a lifestyle thing. what we've built is as much a way of life as it is a distraction. yo-yoing can speak volumes to the meaning behind being alone. it is fundamentally an introspective and self-sustaining endeavor, and it always will be. if chess is considered "the battlefield of the mind", then yo-yoing is like yoga. even if we play in a fairly sedentary way, our brains are twisting and stretching through the minefields of string geometry we devise. and yet, yo-yo is also a performance, inextricably tied to the aesthetic of dance. just try to play "introspectively" at a theme park or shopping mall. if you're any good at all, you'll draw an accidental crowd which will wonder why you don't have your hat out.

as crazy as it feels to say it, yo-yoing is something that can give your life meaning. when in line at the dmv or slogging through paperwork, i'll catch myself doing familiar tricks in my head, and the upbeat, carefree feeling endemic to the act gives me a lift. it's a rad enough deal that when i get dressed, i pick shirts that will contrast with my yo-yo and string. and it's something that many of us value enough to travel for, sometimes for days (or weeks). it's a part of our lives in which we all seek to improve in some way, and which we hope in turn, will somehow improve US.

on that topic, i was perusing the newest issue of surfing magazine the other day, and i came upon a pretty cool little article which i felt was relevant to this new year's offering. i've often drawn comparisons between yo-yoing and surfing (also skating, martial arts, music, madagascar hissing cockroaches, and pretty much whatever else), and this set of surfing resolutions resonated with me. here they are reimagined as yo-yoing resolutions (don't worry - there aren't 66 of them and none of them has to do with giving up bearings). i figure it's still january - not too late. anyway, here are some resolutions i'm feeling out.

  1. loosen up: you know the guy who yells "f--k!" if he gets a snag? the guy who doesn't talk to anyone at contests and gives his fellow competitors the stinkeye? the guy who, even after making his way out of the craziest, smoothest combo has a frown on his face like he just got kicked in the balls? don't be that guy. (side resolution: stop assuming that all yo-yoers ARE GUYS.)
  2. dial in your equipment: if after a month, you're still getting used to that new yo-yo's profile, cut your losses and sell it. if you've got a dinged up beater that you never play, sand that sucker down and give it to the kid down the street. this year, you're going to shed that dead weight, not in the name of fashion or fads, but because you really don't need more than a few great throws that fit your style perfectly. you need what you need to play like yourself. the rest weighs you down.
  3. throw at least 4 times a week: if you don't have kids, make it 5. true story: the last calendar day on which i did NOT throw was may 21, 2005. i find i just don't have a good reason not to. too busy? for a few flowy combos or a couple shoot-the-moons? c'mon. remember you're a better version of yourself after you've thrown, and it should take no more convincing than that to get that slipknot on your finger. make time.
  4. go big: like conde, right? nobody ever made real progress without testing their assumptions; without pushing the limits of what they thought was possible. you can do more with this little retro-winding double-knobbed toy than anyone has EVER done. on some level, you have to believe that. doubt is essential because it keeps your mind questioning, but it's also an anchor you should perpetually try to shake off. try tricks that people would assume are a waste of time and energy; tricks that defy something you assume is beyond what the world (or your skill) will allow. visualize what you'd like to do with a yo-yo... and then do it.
  5. break away from the crowd: this can be taken literally as well as figuratively. some of my favorite memories are of swimming alone at the rosen (r.i.p.) early in the morning while most throwers are passed out (or at the tail end of a bender). the circus taught us that crowds attract crowds, and it's awesome to yo-yo with your buddies, some of whom you might not get to see but a few times a year. but you've got to get that space, too, lest you fall into the trap of tying your own play onto somebody else. stylistically, you need room to breathe. take some time away from the internet, away from videos and #trickcircle and see where you go.
  6. throw everywhere: this one i made up. in the surfing article, #6 was "surf a wave that should not be surfed", but that doesn't apply easily to yo-yoing. although it kind of does. any surfer with even a shred of sanity will tell you they're afraid to surf big pipeline, but what are yoyoer's afraid of? non-yoyoers. i'm always surprised to hear how many players hate to throw in public, mostly because they don't like the idea of interacting with people who might give them a hard time. yo-yoing, however, is an outward expression as it is an inward exploration. if you can't walk that middle path, you're missing out. also, this is meant to suggest playing where there are NO people - throw on the tops of mountains, on tiny islands, in empty hallways, and on forest trails. for me, yo-yoing is a way of processing a moment; a momentary fist-bump with reality. don't hesitate to do it anywhere.

this is one of the first yo-yo's i got from werrd. it's a silver minute which in the course of my everyday play has been banged off of essentially all of the non-actinide elemenmts (not boron, but whatever). it bears some scars, but still plays totally true. i tossed one of the ctx bearings in there, and it's become my go-to modern yo-yo. when it's not on my finger, it's dangling the descender strap i got from bryan figtree. it's my every-day weapon against my own laziness, creative ennui, and tentative assumptions.

happy new year, everybody! i hope however you choose to do it, that playing yo-yoing enriches your life as immeasurably as it has mine.

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