Entries tagged with “tops”.

I was just at the Flatland juggling festival this weekend. It was way more fun than I expected, and I had pretty high expectations.

One of the highlights was the festival t-shirt. It is cool to begin with, but it has a giant top on it. I thought at first that it was my big top “Chubby” but then figured I was just being vain. Then I ran into the guy who made the shirt. He asked me “Did you see Chubby on the shirt?”

It actually IS my top on the shirt! That’s SO awesome. Now it’s my new favorite.


The Ultimate Battletop Championship is a contest that Alan Gray, Eric Wolff and I designed to see if upper lever top-spinners could break each other’s tops.  So far no one has managed it, but we’ve realized that we would need crappier tops.  In order to get the best players to participate I decided that we needed an awesome trophy.  So for each contest I make a mechanical trophy where one top breaks another top, and the winner gets to keep it forever.  Here is the trophy for this year’s contest at the MadFest Juggling Festival in Madison WI.

First the video:

Then the photos:

Trophy for the 2011 Ultimate Battletop Championship: Wisconsin by markhayward534, on Flickr

Trophy for the 2011 Ultimate Battletop Championship: Wisconsin by markhayward534, on Flickr

Trophy for the 2011 Ultimate Battletop Championship: Wisconsin by markhayward534, on Flickr

Trophy for the 2011 Ultimate Battletop Championship: Wisconsin by markhayward534, on Flickr

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

I auditioned for America's Got Talent

Miamisburg was fun!  There’s nothing like getting free drinks at the local bar because you’re hanging out with the Pastor.  It was really fun to see Mike Hout in his official capacity, which was surprisingly the same as how he is when we hang out at juggling and yo-yo conventions, only he had on nicer clothes.

Here are some photos of our raucous time:

It’s the TOP hat bistro… get it?

That’s right… I may not be the first visitor to the Top Spinning Hall of Fame, but I’m the first one to get my photo taken in front of the sign!
(You’d be bleary-eyed too if you’d been up all night carousing with Pastor Mike.)

I couldn’t resist stopping for a waffle snack on the way home. It was delicious.

Yup.  That’s right.  I made a new trophy for this year’s contest at MadFest:

Yup.  I think I finally have all the parts I need.  This photo actually has quite a few projects in it, including the machinery for the pumpkin laser vortex… but that’s another story.  And yes, that is a Barbie hair dryer.  This trophy will be for the 2009 Ultimate Battletop Championship: Wisconsin, and it’s gonna be awesome.  You can see it in person if you come to MadFest.

I spent this last weekend in Chico California at the National Yo-yo Contest, and it was a lot of fun.

The official Duncan Crew photo for Nationals 2008.  No one else was around but Mark McBride and me.

The official Duncan Crew photo for Nationals 2008.  No one else was around but Mark McBride and me.

The trip out was more than a little brutal. First of all, any voyage with three different flights is going to be  difficult. If you do take a trip with that many flights, I recommend that you don’t eat a bad sandwich in Las Vegas and then throw it back up on your next flight like I did.  Not fun at all.  It is very hard to puke on a plane and not get any on yourself. I still had another flight to go too.  Once that horrific ordeal was over, the rest of the weekend went really well.

Whenever I go to a yo-yo contest or a juggling convention I usually have a goal in mind.  For this contest I wasn’t really sure what my goal was until I looked at what I had packed. The most normal thing for people to bring to contests is a fairly big case full of yo-yos, and for some people, a few tops as well.  I was trying to travel light to avoid the airline baggage fees, and I realized that I had packed a mere 4 yo-yos but I was bringing 8 tops.  During the course of the weekend, two of the yo-yos never even made it out of my bag.  I guess I’ve got tops on the brain.

I spent most of my time hanging out with my top-spinning friends. It was awesome.  Alan Gray, Eric Wolff, Jon Gates, Jorge, Hans, Catherine and I had our own little posse of spin.  We shared some tricks, and had a good battletop contest.

Alan, Eric, Me, Hans reflected in the spinning Silver Surfer top (a highly polished Quicksilver).

Alan, Eric, Me, Hans reflected in the spinning Silver Surfer top (a highly polished Quicksilver).

One thing I always forget about Nationals is how short it is.  I got out to Chico on Thursday night, watched the Vice Presidential debate, and then hung out with the few others who were there.  Friday it rained, so the prelims were moved to Saturday. The result for me was that the contest felt even shorter than normal. Since almost everyone goes home Sunday morning, the contest really felt like one day this year.  It’s a lot of effort and money to get there for just one day.

There were some delays on my flights home, and I had to literally sprint through the Denver airport (at altitude, ug) after they called my name on the intercom. It took over 30 minutes to recover and stop coughing, but I made my flight.  In the San Francisco airport there was an awesome exhibit about the space race and its effect on popular culture from the 30s through the 60s.  They had toy robots and space guns and flying saucers and lunch boxes and all kinds of incredibly cool stuff.  It was one of the highlights of the trip.

All in all it was a good weekend.  I just wish Chico weren’t so far away from Pittsburgh.

I just started another ebay blitz.  I like to do my ebay selling in spurts.  That way I can really just focus on that, and it’s much easier to do everything assembly-line fashion.  As usual I have some yo-yos, some tops, and some random stuff that I don’t want anymore for sale.  There are a couple of things on there that I think the yo-yo collectors willbe really excited about, but we’ll just have to see.

You can see my auction items here.

Last weekend we held the 2007 Ultimate Battletop Championship of the Universe, in Chico California at the National Yo-yo Contest. It was a blast. In order to keep the game interesting we leveled the playing field by making everyone use the same tops. Alan Gray made 25 battletops, and he sold out right before the contest started. There was so much interest that I even sold two out of the 5 I brought.

There were two rounds to the contest: Long Spin, and Death and Destruction. In the Long Spin round you get more points the longer your top remains spinning compared to the rest of the players in the arena. In the Death and Destruction round, spinning doesn’t matter at all, you only get points for tops knocked out of the arena, and damage done to other tops. Halfway through the contest we decided that it was also a good idea if you got a point for a top ricochet that hit another competitor. This rule addition was developed after a competitor (who shall remain nameless) got it in the nards off a bad bounce.

Alan designed the battletops to be just the right size for a bottle cap to fit on the crown. On one hand, the bottle cap lessens the potential for destruction, but it made the tops way more awesome, and easier to identify quickly during a battle. In an amazing coincidence, there was an Old Town Root Beer Company just down the street that sold literally hundreds of kinds of small-batch soft drinks, and they let us take any of the used bottle caps we wanted.

In an effort to make the contest as awesome as possible, and to entice people to compete, I spent a few days making a really cool trophy:

We had 20 competitors and a bunch of spectators. With the help of the illustrious Mark McBride acting as MC/herder, we got all the people organized and had a great contest. It had all the suspense, intrigue, and action that you could want… well, with one exception.

Part of the reason that we designed this contest the way we did was so that we could find out if it is really possible to split a top in two in the midst of a battle. Anyone who has ever played with tops in public has had someone come up to them to tell about how they used to battle as kids, and break each other’s tops in two. I believe that it is possible with the right conditions, and the right top, and if anyone can do it, I think it is committed top-spinners.

We had surprisingly few direct hits in this contest, especially considering how much damage was accomplished at the Indiana State contest last month (mostly by Heidi… she was on FIRE). Since we had so little damage in Chico, I’m going to have to hold out on any conclusions about top splitting, and we will just have to do more battling.

Although there were no split tops, the arena (a trash can lid) certainly got a lot of abuse. I was not the only one to lodge my top into the plastic, and punch a hole all the way through.

I was surprised by the number of competitors, and the number of spectators (as well as the fantastic amount of noise we made), and it was great to be a part of such a raucous good time. There will be more glorious battles in the future… and Alan already gave me the idea for the next trophy.

This year Takeshi scored an amazing hook-up for the Indy State contest: it will be held at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.  Sept 22nd, 10-5pm.  More info here.

Also, with a little luck, we will have a trial run for the set-up and scoring of the Ultimate Battle Top Championships of the Universe too.  The actual contest will be at the National Yo-yo Contest in Chico CA in October, but we have to make sure that it’s going to be a good event first.