Entries tagged with “chicago”.

The only thing I’m legally allowed to say is:

I auditioned for America's Got Talent

The Ultimate Battle Top Championship of the Universe will take place for the first time at the National Yo-yo Contest in Chico California this year, and I spent the weekend figuring out some of the details with my friends in Chicago. I was lucky enough to have a gig in Mount Prospect IL the same weekend that Alan Gray and family made their annual pilgrimage to visit the Wolff family in Chicago. Eric Wolff and Alan Gray are superstars in the top-spinning community and they individually made the two best tops in my arsenal.

Alan came up with the idea that if everyone in the contest had the same tops then it would be a contest of skill rather than a contest of who bought the best top. So he and Eric set about making several prototypes of the new battle top.

Alan with the afternoon’s work.

Eric, Alan and I all have slightly different ideas of what this contest should be about. Here are my two goals for the contest:

  1. It should be fun. i.e.: Not boring. Sometimes battletop contests get a little slow when you end up just standing around waiting to see who’s top is going to slow down and fall over first.
  2. There should be mayhem and destruction. When old-timers come up after my show to talk tops they often tell me about how they used to split tops in two when they would battle as kids. That sounds awesome to me… AND I recently learned the deadly overhand throw.

Eric’s son Woody came up with a good scoring system, and we all fleshed-out the tentative rules:

  • Everyone throws at once, and there are multiple rounds.
  • You can only score points if your top ends up spinning in the arena.
  • If you knock another top out of the arena (or hit it and keep it from entering in mid-air) you get a point.
  • If you land the tip of your top on the crown of another top you get two points.
  • If you break another top (or break a chunk off) with your top you get 5 points.
  • The tops that are spinning in the arena get points according to which ones spin the longest. If three tops are spinning in the arena, the first one to die gets one point. The second one gets two points, and the third one gets three points. If there are 10 tops spinning in the arena, it is the same point progression all the way up to the last one to stop spinning, which gets 10 points. If no one lands in the arena, no points are won.
  • Before the first round you decide on the winning total number of points. The number of players times 3 seems like a good recommendation.

This scoring system makes the game exciting, but it basically eliminates my favorite goal. There is very little mayhem and destruction. One possibility is that there could be a separate division that is just about the destruction, but I’m hoping that some of the other top spinners have more ideas. Please leave a comment if you do.

This time my dog and I are Eastward bound. First a stop yesterday in Cleveland to hang out with the illustrious Steve Brown , and today we’re in Leonia NJ staying with Cousin Scott and family. The purpose of this trip is to go to the opening of Lenore’s first solo NY art show tomorrow night in Manhattan. It should be great. We both have a number of friends in the area, so I’m hoping that it will end up to be a little reunion of all our East Coast pals. We’ll see who can make it. Then after the show I get to go to the weekly post-juggling-practice meal with the NY juggling club. Good Chinese food, and always good times.

It’ll be a short visit here; on Friday we’ll take off again back to the good ol’ Midwest. After another stop at Steve Brown’s house, we’ll be home again for a couple of days before heading up to Milwaukee for a gig (in Chicago), and for me to fly out to California for my brother’s wedding. Vader will hang out in his “vacation home” with Lenore’s mother in Milwaukee. After that I’ll be home for a few days, then back up to Milwaukee for the Shorewood juggling festival where I will be MC for the big show.

March is a big month for traveling but April won’t be so bad.

This weekend I went to Chicago even though I didn’t have any gigs. I just went up to hang out with my pals. It was the first time I’ve done that in YEARS, and it was really fun.

As luck would have it, the Threadless Christmas party was Friday night and my friend Harper invited me to come. Since I am often in Chicago in the middle of the day with some time to kill before or after gigs, I have spent a fair amount of time hanging out at Threadless. Mostly I hang out with Harper, but I know a few of the other folks there a little, so going to the Christmas party wasn’t the awkward I-don’t-know-anybody experience that usually happens when you go to someone else’s work party. The other thing that made it good was that Threadless really knows how to let it all hang out. Where most work places have one or two wild and crazy characters, at Threadless it’s the opposite, almost everyone is wild and crazy. There is never any shortage of wacky stuff going on with those cats.

Harper and Crystal


This weekend I had a couple of gigs in the Chicago area, but I went up a day early to participate in a taping for Chicago Public Access Cable TV.

Harper, Matiss and I showed up with a bag full of juggling machetes and two pumpkins.

We carved this one in advance, and the other was to be carved while we juggled.


Yesterday, Vader (my dog) and I left Indianapolis around noon Eastern time. We stopped briefly at the library to get what turned out to be a boring audiobook. I’m actually still in the middle of listening to Dune by Frank Herbert (and it’s AWESOME!) but it’s on cassette and I wanted to take the good car this time, and it only has a CD player. The plan was to drive up to Milwaukee, stop at Lynn’s house (my mother-in-law), drop off Vader and then head off to the gig at the Milwaukee Zoo. Unfortunately, leaving later than we should have (my fault, not Vader’s), coupled with unusually bad traffic in Chicago (we lost an hour), meant that we had to drive straight to the Zoo, and Vader had to wait in the car for me while I did the gig. For lunch I had packed a sandwich, some blueberries (that I got on Saturday when I performed at one of the Indianapolis Farmer’s Markets), some carrots and two cookies. Good thing too, since there was not time to stop for dinner before the gig.


I spent this week on the road doing shows. Monday was the Summer Music Clinic up in Madison WI, Tuesday and Wednesday down in Evansville IN, and then Thursday back up North to Skokie IL. It would’ve been nice if I could have had better routing so I didn’t have to do so much driving, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.


I got to spend the weekend in Green Bay WI this week. I was up there for a gig at the International Bay Fest, 3 shows on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. It was a good time. Since I was staying at my friends Jeni and Adolfo’s house I got to bring my dog Vader. I love it when I get to travel with my dog.

Jeni was gone, so Adolfo and I got to have a Man Weekend. We did Man things like make “wraps” (black beans, cilantro, green onions, sour cream, hot sauce, cheese, and green pepper on flour tortillas… and no, they weren’t burritos), eat unbelievably good ice cream sandwiches, walk the dogs, go shopping, drink smoothies (Adolfo is a master smoothie maker), and play video games. You know… man stuff. It was awesome.

Bay Fest went well, with decent crowds, especially Sunday afternoon. I had standing room only, and it was an outside show. I got to eat some delicious sweet corn. I’m still regretting that I only ate one ear. What was I thinking?

The drive home was BRUTAL (8 hours with no help from Vader with the driving), but at least I got to stop in Chicago and see my friends Harper, Hiromi (visiting from Japan!), Matiss and Erica.

I LOVE juggling festivals. Love, love, LOVE them. This weekend is the Toss Up Jugglefest at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire IL. Yesterday was also the Illinios State Yo-yo Contest as a part of the festival, and I was a judge. In fact, I found out once I arrived that I was head judge. I treid hard to make sure I abused my power. ;)

For me juggling festivals are fun no matter what, although I ususally don’t get much juggling done, and this fest is no exception. I already knew that a bunch of my good juggling and yo-yo friends were going to be here, but I got the added bonus that Crash, Sky, and Luke Wilson are here too!

The yo-yo contest went well, although it always takes longer than I want it to. Today I get to actually do some practicing… or at least I have the option of practicing… I will probably end up hanging out and talking.

I am in Chicago for the next few days staying with my friends Harper and Matiss. Tomorrow is day two performing at Math Bowl 2006 down in Chicago Heights, and after that Harper and I are going to go to American Science and Surplus to buy parts to make new gizmos! It’s been too long since I have made anything cool, and my focus at the moment is solar power. I have a new project and I want to make some cool little gadgets that relate to it. With luck I’ll find just the right parts and be able to make a really cute little gizmo. I’ll post more details once I have had a chance to work on it.