Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yo-Yo Friends

One of my absolute favorite things about yo-yoing is the community. There are such solid people here that are always so forthcoming with their time and their advice and yo-yos. I’ve never heard of a story where someone wasn’t allowed to try someone’s throws at a contest. It’s as though we have a sort of unspoken agreement with each other that everything I have is yours, from my tricks to my advice to my throws, and you need only to ask to receive. I know that I wouldn’t be nearly as content without the knowledge that we have such kind folks in our midst.

I’d like to tell you about some of the specific people I’ve met in my relatively short time as a yo-yoer that have really influenced me.

Robert Kyte was the first person I ever bought from. It was pretty early in my yo-yoing career, and I knew right around nothing about anything, most of all the trading system. I happily sent him money (15 dollars here, 20 there) in the mail for various yo-yos, never once considering that he might be a scammer. If it wasn’t for his solid dealings, I would have been turned off the B/S/T entirely. And it wasn’t just a seller/buyer relationship. Mr. Kyte was free every day for me to IM and ask my little yo-yo questions to. He never, ever, asked me to just search for something. He taught me many things about general yo-yo stuff and maintenance. I must say that having someone to always come to for whatever petty little question I needed to ask was pivotal in my development as a yo-yoer. Since then, I have always tried to act as he did toward newer yo-yos, in the hopes that they might be as helped as I was.

I've known Andrew Moser since middle school. I got him into yo-yoing perhaps 6 months after I did. He comes over and we have “yo-yoing occasions,” a term he coined. We trade tricks and stories, try each other’s yo-yos and so forth. He’s taught me loads of tricks, such as kwijibo and Brent Stole. Really, he is the sole reason I’ve done some of the most fun yo-yo related things. He drove us to Nashville for the Tennessee State Yo-Yo Contest. He came out to the first meet I ever attended when Brandon Jackson came to Toy’s ‘R Us. Recently he came out to out local park with me to meet a new player who moved to town. If it weren’t for Moser, I would probably just sit around the house while a ton of awesome events pass me by. His goal is for us to attend at least two contests this summer that AREN’T TN States.

I met T.J. Van Baalen through a trade as well. Since then we’ve just sort of been online buds. We talk time to time about yo-yo’s, movies, talent shows, just whatever’s on our minds. He’ll IM me to tell me one thing or another, and it’ll always make me cool to be on his list of people to tell. He’s a cool guy that I’m glad to know.

Chris Allen runs another super-awesome yo-yo blog,, where one can find all the yo-yo news ever. It's amazing. In addition, he runs a club for young yo-yoers where they can learn tricks, buy yo-yos, and so forth. Recently he organized the wildly successful California State Yo-Yo Contest. Chris isn't the most innovative player out there - instead, he's more of a performer, doing shows under the persona of "Dr. Yo-Yo." Basically, the guy is everything I strive to become as yo-yoer. He always has time to advise my decisions on videos, moderating, and even this blog.

Frank Bradley is one of the only reasons that I am a yo-yoer. It started in 10th grade, when I got my Duncan Mosquito and brought it to school. Frank was quick to tell me about his younger days spent winning contests at a local Zainy Brainy. He told me about his 100 dollar yo-yo, the Eldridge. The price tag blew my mind at the time. He drew me a picture of it, and described how you could change out the halves for different shapes. I immediately went home and Google'd like mad for this mythical yo-yo. Through this research I found YoYoNation, and this community, and and really got started on this hobby. Later on, it turned out Frank had made the entire thing up, for reasons that were never quite clear to me. He recently got himself a Wedgie, and we throw together often.

I believe I started talking to Ed Haponik around the time the wood thread came about over at YYN. The first No-Jive video blew my mind, and that was before I even knew who Ed was. I really dug the fact that he has intensely developed beliefs on most all aspects of life. Also a sword. We talked sporadically over IM for a while, him sharing his philosophies and tips on wooden yo-yos, and me trying to somehow keep up. His blog came about, and that is one of the best things for yo-yoers to read. I finally met him at TN States ’09, and yes, he’s just as cool in person. He performed a trick that involved smacking himself in the head (accidently?), and put me in his little compilation video. I think he has a natural ability to make anyone feel welcome and awesome. Ed always has time for me to IM to ask about whatever, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"It Looks Cool"

When I first started this blog, I drew up a list of 30-40 ideas to be sure that I had enough material to get going. Naturally, I took the list to my yo-yo club to see what they thought and get some of their own suggestions on why yo-yoing is awesome to them. Someone, and I wish I could remember who, simply said, "It looks cool." Immediately enthusiastic agreements came from all sides.

"Yeah, it just looks cool!"

"Yeah, totally!"

And it floored me, because that's it. At its most base level, yo-yoing just looks cool. It doesn't matter if its a simple gravity pull or a tech routine so rapid that you need a slow-mo replay to score it. This hobby/sport is, by nature, dazzling. None of us would be doing this if it were some ugly mass of strings. We wouldn't have huge stages to perform on if it wasn't fun to watch. We wouldn't strive as hard to learn boingy-boing or a thumb grind if the final effect wasn't captivating.

I’m not saying that we only yo-yo for other people to watch, no no. I’m just saying that when the string catches the wind just so in a trapeze-and-his-bro slack, it looks really, really cool.

Monday, April 12, 2010


"That's how tricks have meaning - when you have to pay a price for them."
– Ed Haponik

When you injure yourself yo-yoing, you know you’re doing it right. You’ve lost all inhibitions, and you’re just out there rocking things as hard as you possibly can. And, hey, yo-yos are pretty hard – you’re bound to hurt yourself eventually. This are some of my...more memorable marks.

Finger string mark – We’ve all got one of these. It’s like you’re married to the hobby, but you’re too much of a dork to realize that the ring doesn’t go on your middle finger.

Calluses – You may not realize it, but yo-yoing gets you calluses on your fingers. It all sort of depends on what your style is, and what tricks you do over and over. Like everything else, they’re personal. And hey, even though you didn’t get your calluses from chopping down trees or saving a whole bunch of children from a lot of fires, it doesn’t make them any less manly.

White stuff from throwing cotton string – I don’t know what the deal with this stuff is. The skin is kinda rough, pretty dry, and all white. Is the cotton drying out your hands? Is looping causing some sort of callusing thing to happen? Who knows! All that matters is that it’s a sure sign you’re doing something right.

Perfect circle mark from the yo-yo hitting your arm – I’ve always liked this thing. It doesn’t take much force, and I figure it helps that I’m super-white, but the perfect circle mark is always delightful.

Busted Anything – Lip, teeth, nose, head. It’s all the same. At TN States Ed gave himself the nice wound below (as well as the origin of that opening quote). I find it funny that these super heavy, hard metal yo-yos that we sling around all crazy never cause any real harm – but one light, relatively soft-wood No-Jive just destroys the head of a newbie looper.

Funny bone – String catches a third of the way down the string and it swings in that perfect arc to ARGH-ANGRY-PAINSVILLE!

Racking yourself – When it happens, the only thing we can do is stop throwing long enough to manage a sympathetic, "Dude." Pfft, but after that you're on your own. Man up!

This is Ed's head after a "failed" attempt his trick "Flinch." This also happened to be what spurred the opening quote.

Friday, April 9, 2010


This is one of the hot-button issues among yoyoers. Is vibe okay? Should it be okay? Are you defamed for discriminating against this characteristic? When does vibe become too much? How fun it is that this is a topic of our heated arguments.

I don't know when I started to love smoothness as much as I do. It might have begun around the time of receiving of my California from Ben. This vibe-free world was new and incredible, and suddenly my standards went through the roof. See, I love grinds and if my your yo-yo has ANY vibe, I’myou're going to feel it. And to me, grinds, like any yo-yo trick, are about the FEEL. If it doesn't offer visceral satisfaction, I don't do the trick. To this end, a grind on dead smooth yo-yo is as good at it gets. I get such satisfaction from that silky smooth feeling as I get from landing any slack/tech/[insert hard trick here]. That is how I yo-yo, and that is what's fun.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Taking Picture of Your Yo-Yos

It doesn’t matter if you own an umpteen-million dollar camera. It doesn’t matter if know anything about shot composition or F-stops or exposure or depth of field (For the record, I don’t, those are just my “camera buzzwords”). It's about getting out in nature; showing off your favorite throws, walking around trying to find nifty places to shoot from/at; and just goofin’ around and having fun with a camera. Even if, at the end of the day, you’ve only got either blurry or poorly lit photos to show, at least you’ll have the memory of making them.

Note: This is of this No-Jive, from around 10 months ago.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I really like giveaways. Winning them (of course), and running them. I like the idea of people making something specifically for "me." Is it narceisistic? Well, how about a different question: do you like free yo-yos? That's what I thought.
I did a little giveaway on YoYoNation back a year or so ago, and it was a total blast. Here is the entry that won:

Pretty awesome, right? The guy MADE that. Anyway, I've been needing to do another contest for a while, so I figured, why not tie it in with this blog? Here are the rules:

- You MUST be following this blog to win.
- You get a MAXIMUM of three entries per person.
- Entries MUST be created AFTER this contest was announced. Add something like a piece of paper with the date or some such identifying mark for photos and videos.
- Entries must be emailed to You can post them publicly if like, but I must have an emailed copy.
- Anything counts as an entry.

What am I even talking about with that last one? Well, here's a quote from the original giveaway.

To win, you may simply do whatever you wish. I will choose the best entry. Examples of entries are things like short stories or amazing yo-yo trick videos, examples of your accomplishments, or pictures of you yo-yoing and giving a thumbs up or something. Anything is game. Keep in mind what you're doing, though. The best poem will lose to the best story, because I don't care much for poems. I judge on effort and overall quality. Laughing is always the best, but awesomeness is a close second. You could also include a description of why you think you should win, but I do not place much importance on this because I have no way of verifying this sort of thing.

Basically, I want everyone to have a chance to win, regardless of where you strong suit in yo-yo-related activities lies. Do what you love to do, and your passion will show through in your entry.

I will taking entries until Sunday, April 25th. Please email me with any questions or comments. Oh, the prize! Sorry, nearly forgot. I don't have a lot of yo-yos to offer. The prize is simply a well-loved black/yellow Lyn Fury, set up unresponsive. Also, I will be throwing in a mystery metal! Also well-loved, but this time a secret!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Surprise Tricks

With modern, unresponsive, epically long spinning yo-yos, the dynamic between player and yo-yo has changed. It is no longer all about pushing the yo-yo to the very limits in terms of its performance - it's about pushing yourself. You no longer have to make and mount your own canvas before you can work - a modern yo-yo is a perfectly machined canvas just waiting for you to paint it with who you are.

For this reason, a yo-yo throw is able to have a lot less forethought or intended direction (both literally and figuratively). You can just sort of, well, sling it around however you want, do random junk with the string, and just have fun with it. It is out of this that so many awesome things can be formed. You all know what it's like, you're tossing the yo-yo around when suddenly it falls into some crazy mount. Maybe you can figure out what you did, and maybe you can't. But whatever the case, for that brief moment you are full of surprise and elation, and you're reminding why yo-yoing is so fantastic.