Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Juggling, Epiphanies, Processes

The enjoyment I take from juggling stems from the cocktail of emotions you can feel during a good session. From the intense frustration and anger I feel when I'm constantly failing to learn a pattern or, worse still; cocking up a pattern that I know I've mastered long ago. To the unbridled joy gained from successfully completing a new pattern for the first time. Combined with the long tail of the juggling learning curve it means that its a hobby where I can continuously challenge myself to learn new things.

I find that there are two key moments when I'm learning a new pattern or trick. An initial moment of epiphany when I'm first able to complete it successfully and then the moment when I realise that I'm now able to repeat it without any conscious thought. The 1st time you complete something it often feels awkward, rushed or just plain messy, but it is still a very satisfying moment. I then repeat and practice the trick, focusing on being smooth, controlled, precise and flowing. I'm building up muscle memory and finally will be able to hand the trick off to my subconcsious. At that point I take great enjoyment from the sense that I now have that knowledge contained somewhere in my grey matter, able to seemingly automatically recall it at any time.

I've found that my process for learning new patterns or tricks comes in two very different types;

1) concentrated, focused effort to learn a particular pattern
2) from random experimentation during a session when in the zone

The 1st situation really requires me to be in the correct frame of mind before even starting to juggle. Its the process required when I'm learning something from someone face to face, via youtube videos or from a juggling pattern animation program. Usually I've picked up my balls with the specific plan of learning something new. I'll break down the pattern into sections and work out what each hand needs to be doing. While practicing each throw individually, I'll be extremely focused on visualising where each ball will be travelling and try to work out a rhythm. Then its just time, patience, practice and dedication. This process can become very frustrating and I often finish sessions without "getting it", feeling disapointed and unco-ordinated. However, the enjoyment gained when I finally nail something that I've really struggled with is extremely satisfying. Most of my favourite tricks were ones which "put up a fight" when I was learning.

The 2nd situation is far more wonderous and hard to explain. The goal of most juggling sessions is to "get into the zone". That special situation where I feel totally at ease, perfectly confident that between my hands, the balls and gravity, everything is in balance. Patterns flow into each other and the momentum of the balls lead me to string certain patterns together. During these moments of flow, with my brain working so fast that time dilates and gravity seems to fade slightly, occassionally my hands will find a pattern which I had no forethought of.

Early on in my career the chaotic imperfections of my throws lead to this happening quite often. Since youtube wasn't around back then and I didn't have a juggling mentor, it was how I stumbled onto a lot of basic patterns. These days I really enjoy juggling with background music is because I'm able to use changes in the music to trigger changes in my patterns. Its incredible how your body/brain can react to make an unusual catch or throw to stay in time with the beat or to react to a break. The times when those strange chaos throws feel good, I'll try repeating it and attempt to lock it into my subsconcsious.

Anything that is around 110 to 160 bpm works a treat. I match the music to my mood and then the type of balls to the tempo of music. Heavy balls for meaty hip hop, with lots of over hand grabs slapping the catches in time with the backbeat. Lighter balls for dancey tracks (Daft Punk and Kraftwork are amongst the best music of this), the faster tempo leads me towards tight site swaps and Mill's mess style arm crossing.

I've lost access to the video camera, so no footage! D'oh.

Friday, August 14, 2009

District 9

I blame Peter Jackson for making me appear to be a selfish, forgetful and all round useless bastard. Last night at the last minute we decided to go see District 9 at the cinema, completely derailing my plans to call my wonderful older sister on her birthday.

On the upside, the movie was beyond awesome. I was greatly reminded of Peter Jackson's 1st movie, the incredible Bad Taste. Totally over the top gore and effects which bookend around a sci fi storyline crafted wonderfully out in left field. The dash of social commentary and the wonderful South African accents round it out nicely. Basically I agree with these 7 reasons to go see District 9.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Case You Didn't Know

Hard earned blisters have all but healed
The torn flesh mended, tender yet resealed
Last of the physical reminders retreat
Leaving only memories of things incomplete
Dreams I was fed which took root and grew
Pushed me away and you've taken them with you

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


On the weekend I went to see DrewMoney's housemate and his band rock out. Before and after his set (which was highly entertaining and very very rock) we claimed the pub's Foosball table.

There was some discussion about whether spinning was allowed, those making cases against spinning were easily drowned out by my triumphant outbursts each and every time I spun the shit out of my strikers and rammed another goal home.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ain't It?

Ain't it strange how life can twist and turn
Isn't it weird how love can sooth or burn
Don't you ponder how things ebb and flow
Doesn't it frustrate you how you can never know?