Monday, September 28, 2009

ed's first dead string

"it's so haaaaaaard... to say goodbyyyyyyyye... to YESTerdaaaaaaaayy..."
when i was 12, i went to see jodeci, boyz 2 men, and mc hammer live in concert.

so i killed my first string. it didn't break; i just played it into total ickiness... i'm not squeamish, but when a string is so gross and frayed that it starts to impact play, i have to switch out. that first one was good though, and it now forms the core of the ball which will, in time, come to envelop it.

the stuff plays great at first... after i twist it, the string settles into a level of tension that is just TOO low. i have to throw a 5 second ufo to get the consistency that i like. but then, obviously it kinks up all crazy until it's broken in. the trials of figuring out the tension has led me through every imaginable response setup on my flying v's. it's hard to be 'ok' with the idea that this string is harder to play than slick-6 or poly, or even pre-twisted cotton. i'm just not consistent with it yet. my yo-yoing isn't anything special, but some of my 'harder' tricks are all but impossible with this stuff (at least insofar as i've tried). it's difficult to temper yourself and say "that's not the kind of yo-yoing that's appropriate for me right now." we kind of train ourselves to hold onto the mindset that the longest, most kinked and complicated combos have the greatest value. playing old, thick, rope-like cotton starts to dissolve those assumptions away, and it's a little scary (because why did i even LEARN that hard stuff?) i'm led now to do simpler, shorter tricks, and as it turns out... yo-yoing is just as fun and just as meaningful that way.

it's gratifying to recognize that string is not 'just' string. it's kind of like when your power is out and you realize for a few hours how pathetic and useless we've become as a race. i'm used to treating the string as if it's 'extra', as in 'not really part of the yo-yo'; just an expendable little doohickey that, though it enables play in the first place, has no real value. having to twist it and fight it and maintain it in order to play, however, has already made me realize that it's pretty important, and easy to take for granted.

i have a closetfull of string; all sorts. i've put it all into a big box and i've moved that to a very high, very inconvenient spot in the attic, just so i won't be tempted. i'm not actually afraid that i will be, but this is a project i mean to really commit to, and i felt that putting my string away was a nice ritualistic gesture.

i've also started a log. within, i'm just going to keep track of how many strings i wind, and which yo-yo's they go on. i have a lot of yo-yo's, and a lot of cotton string. even though THIS cotton feels rougher and stiffer than most, i don't want to 'accidentally' cheat, so i want to know which yo-yo's have this string. i'm also curious as to how many strings the cone will produce. so far i've twisted 7.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

rogue 5 standing by

good god.

i received my cone a few hours ago, and i am... underway.

the box was small and apparently insignificant, but i really wasn't prepared for its contents. i'd told myself 'oh sure. i'll play cotton for a year.' upon ripping open the box and hefting the spool however, it became immediately obvious that this is A LOT of string... and twisting it is going to be ENORMOUSLY inconvenient.

bear in mind, i'm not saying the latter with a sad, burdened heart. i want to be inconvenienced. i signed up for it. my whole life (and probably yours, too) is built around convenience. it's become a god of sorts, and we're all idolaters. between our cars and dishwashers and our pills and our cheeseburgers... every aspect of our lives is dominated by the theme of convenience.

what do we do for ourselves anymore?

you might say that twisting my own cotton string isn't a big way to shrug off that mantle, but i'm a yo-yo player. string is a necessity, and the more you play, the more you consume. i wouldn't say that i'm overly wasteful, but this project isn't so much about waste as it is appreciation. am i really too busy to twist my own string? there's a lot of fat i can trim from my days when i look at it honestly. yo-yoing is important to me; it's worth a few extra minutes here and there. during those minutes, every day, my pledge (or intention, anyway) is to remind myself that playing yo-yo is the reward. it's worth it.

i've twisted two strings so far. i actually videoed the first one. the process took me 03:53. the string i ended up with was a little short, but certainly playable. the texture of this string (when twisted) is divine. far stiffer and thicker than the pre-twisted cotton you get from the online stores, it feels similar to the string that comes on the tom kuhn yo-yo's i've bought. managing tension is going to be one of the main travails. i'm pretty sure i can refine my technique to get strings twisted pretty quickly.

i think i'll be especially concerned with making the strings last. every throw is one step closer to the string's demise, and that's brought into staggering relief when you have to measure, twist, cut, tie, adjust, etc. the hope is that by the end (or at this rate by the beginning), we'll have a deeper appreciation for the throws to which we commit.

this string is not easy to play. it will NOT respond like highlights or your favorite 'boutique' type 6 poly or even pre-twisted cotton. nailing the tricks i love to nail is going to be a challenge, but again, all the more rewarding for that. if i were really concerned with 'progressing' along the extrinsic lines of learning faster, longer, harder tricks... this project would constitute an egregious error. anyone who knows me though knows that's not really what i'm about. i think this project is going to drive my yo-yoing deeper 'inside'. i think (or hope) it'll make me less concerned with what tricks i can do, and more concerned with what the tricks i do mean to me.

enough typing. i'm gonna go play, otherwise this thing'll last for damn ever.

Plus One

Ed received his cone of string today, and while I was digging around in my attic I made an exciting discovery:

I have a third cone of untwisted yo-yo string.

Ed and I spoke and we have an idea for a Third we just need to see if he's into the project.

Thanks for your patience with this....we'll be getting underway shortly!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cones To Balls: Introduction

Back in the "glory days" of yo-yo play, pre-twisted string was something of a luxury. The original yo-yo demonstrators simply had large cones of untwisted string, and would make their own as they needed them. 

These are cones of untwisted yo-yo string:

Back in 1999 on the Vans Warped Tour, Mark McBride & Steve Brown decided to collect up all the used string from the tour and wind it into one giant, stinky ball. 

This is a ball of used yo-yo strings:

One of these cones is being shipped off to Ed Haponik in North Carolina. The other will remain in Ohio with Steve Brown. Once Ed acknowledges receipt of his cone, Project Cones To Balls will begin.

Both Ed and Steve will ONLY use yo-yo strings they hand-twist themselves from their cones for a period of one year or until their cone runs out....whichever comes first.

Both players will be allowed to pre-twist strings for themselves to use later, but no more than 15 at a time.

The purpose of this:

We are a disposable culture. We use things and throw them away and never think twice about them. We rarely use anything to it's fullest potential or to the true end of its life-span because it's cheap and easy to just toss it and get something newer or fresher. Yo-Yo string is an object which, by it's nature, must be replaced often. They are used and thrown away without any thought given other than "Oh, time for a new string" and off they go. But if the act of replacing a string becomes tedious, and the act of throwing away a string becomes important, then it forces the player to make every throw count. If every time you throw your yo-yo it places you one step closer to having to sit down and twist, measure, cut, and tie-off a new string for yourself then you are far more likely to place greater value on each throw and try a lot harder to make each throw count.

So, for one year or until they run out, Ed & Steve are going to make every single throw count. This blog will serve as their running journal of the process, the pitfalls, the insights, and general musings on the state of yo-yo play as they attempt to do it the hard way for a very long time.