In the course of the past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel. A lot. I’ve been residing in Germany, learning the language, and living entirely off of my high school and college savings. I have the travel bug. I’ve got it bad. But fortunately, on this continent it’s easier and cheaper to get around. Therefore in the past year I’ve spent time in around 35 different cities in 9 different countries on 3 different continents. I’ve discovered my passion for hiking and hiked the Way of St. James in Spain, the West Highland Way & Ben Nevis in Scotland, and all around my home city in Germany. Next month I’ll enter into my 10th year of playing yo-yo and the influence on that in my life continues to be huge.
This video is a collection of my past year. It is by no means exhaustive of all of the places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, and people I’ve met, but it’s not a bad start. Working on this video has inspired me to want record more of the little beautiful moments that life has presented me, so I hope next year’s video will be even bigger and better.
Here’s to living life!
Anonymous asked: i saw your sexism letter and thank you for that, but , how many female throwers are in the pro scene today? -from someone who just found this website-
It’s hard to give you an exact number, but there are definitely more female yo-yoers in the scene today than ever before. Eastern Europe and Russia in particular seem to be churning out yo-yoers like crazy these days, and I’m pleased to say that there is a strong female representation. There is a female division at the European Yo-Yo Contest that will be happening later this month, so turnout for that might be some sort of indication.
In short though, if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say somewhere between 100-200, but who knows really. I could be way off.
(View the original post that sparked this question here: An Open Letter to the Yo-Yo Community)
Music has always played a huge role in my life and that was certainly true for 2012 as well. I started doing this list last year and I’m excited to expand and continue it this year. I highly recommend checking out all of these albums; it’s not too late! So, without further adieu, here are my favorite albums of 2012 (in alphabetical order):
Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE
Frank Ocean. You know him, you love him. I’m not sure how much more I can say about this album that hasn’t already been said. It’s just one hell of a solid and unconventional debut R&B album without a prerequisite of its listeners needing to be R&B fans.
Glocca Morra - Just Married
This is a sweet album that throws all sorts of stuff at you but still has you tapping your foot and singing along until the end. Jangly guitars, yelling, hand claps, harmonies, time shifts, thought-provoking lyrics, horns, gang vocals, etc, etc. Indie punk for people who want more.
Hop Along - Get Disowned
Any time a song from this album comes up on shuffle, I have to stop what I’m doing and pay attention. This album is one of those rare works that isn’t really doing anything new, but is, at the same time, totally new. It’s an album that came about 20 years too late, but also right on time. Frances, the frontwoman (writer, singer, guitarist), puts every song in front of your face and says, “This is me. Take it or leave it.” I’ll gladly take it, and put it on repeat.
Mumford & Sons - Babel
This is the follow-up to Mumford & Sons’s revered 2009 album, Sigh No More. And, it’s basically more of the same. But, unlike The xx’s new album, that’s not a bad thing. Babel is an incredibly well-devised folk album that’s extremely accessible. As proof, take a look at just a couple of its Grammy nominations: “Best Americana Album” and “Best Rock Song.” It seems like no one really knows how to deal with this powerhouse of a band.
Old Neighbors - Dishwasher
I’m pretty sure this album is just a demo from a band that will never produce anything more, which is really a shame. Upon first listen, it doesn’t seem like anything all that special. But, once you really dig in, there’s all sorts of hidden gems scattered throughout. Punk music for thinkers.
Purity Ring - Shrines
Hipster music. Yep, got damn hipster music. But good hipster music. I don’t really know how to describe this album because it’s not too much like anything else I’ve heard. You’ve got some electronic music that occasionally borders ever-so-slightly on dubstep in the background with a pop singer going on about various strange and sometimes gruesome topics over it. It sounds like I should really hate it, but somehow it defies all logic and is incredibly addicting. I’m still scratching my head as I bop along.
Spraynard - Exton Square
This is the only band that’s a repeat from last year’s list because I firmly believe that Spraynard is one of the best bands in punk out there right now. Exton Square is just an EP, but it already shows the band pushing their style and quality forward. Reminds me a bit of what Blink-182 did with their self-titled 2003 album. The opener of this EP, “Can I Borrow a Feeling?” stands out amongst the best pop punk songs I’ve ever heard. If this is a sign of things to come, then it seems like 2013 is going to be The Year of Spraynard.
Sundials - When I Couldn’t Breathe
Sing-a-long pop punk that’s simple and fun. Easy as that.
Title Fight - Floral Green
According to Wikipedia, Title Fight is a hardcore band or a pop punk band or an emo band or a post hardcore band or an indie rock band or maybe just no one knows what the hell they are. And it really doesn’t matter because in September, they released one of the best albums of 2012. Floral Green, along with all of their albums, is the kind of music that begs for repeat listens in order to try to be fully understood. I still don’t think I’ve totally got it, but all I need to know is that it’s always a good time to throw some Title Fight on the stereo, crank the dial to 11, and just feel it.
You Blew It! - Grow Up, Dude
When I listen to this album, I feel like I have my ear pressed to the basement door and am hearing music coming straight from the heart. It sounds like it’s just not meant to be heard by anyone. It’s too personal, not just in lyrical content, but in the way that the music is presented as well. To me, this achieves what every emo album hopes to achieve.
Life has a lot of surprises in store. When I was writing last year’s version of this post (and to a lesser extent, the year before’s), I was pretty much in the dark. I didn’t really have any idea what my year was going to look like. And this year’s version is going to be very similar to that. There’s a lot of things that are still very up in the air. But that’s what keeps life interesting, right?
At the very least, I know that my year is going to start off with a bang. I’m going to be in Berlin celebrating New Year’s. Fresh off of those shenanigans, two of my LA roommates, Scott and Jesse, and I will be heading off on a trip to Palma de Mallorca for 4 days, Barcelona for 3 days, Marrakech (my first time in Africa!) for 4 days, Girona for 1.5 days, and then heading back to my home of Marburg where they will stay for a couple of days before making their way back to LA. Should be awesome.
Two weeks later, I’ll be off on another trip for 2 weeks. One week after I get back from that trip, my girlfriend Jessica and I will be going to Budapest for a long weekend for the European Yo-Yo Contest. Then there’s a two month rest before (hopefully) heading to Istanbul for the European Yo-Yo Meeting.
In April/May I’ll be moving from Marburg to Montabaur, to Jessica’s parents house. She’s going to be doing the first half of a year-long internship there. We have plans to do a good amount of weekend-tripping while we’re living there because of the town’s close proximity to a lot of cool places.
But during all that time I’ll also be continuing to learn German at the language school I’m attending. My visa goes until the end of May. I have the opportunity to extend it for another 3 months, which I will be applying for when the time comes. If that works out, I’ll be staying in Germany until the end of August.
Regardless, whenever my visa is up, I’ll be going home to work for some time. In October/November, Jessica will be coming to the States to live and finish up her internship time. Right now she has secured a spot in a program in Salt Lake City. I’ve never been there or even to that part of the country, so if we end up living there, it will certainly be an interesting experience.
While the first half or so of the year seems to be pretty much locked down, the rest is so open-ended that I’m really interested to see where this all goes. So, here’s to 2013 being a great year!
2 years ago, I started doing these year-review and year-ahead posts. It’s always really interesting to take a look and see how I thought my year would go and how it actually ended up turning out. It’s also a great way to summarize and see how far I’ve come in just a year’s time. This year’s post is certainly no exception.
Looking back over the past 2 year-review posts (2010 & 2011), it’s easy to see where my life was focused and what it revolved around: college. 2012 was my first year of post-college life, which also makes it easy to see how small all of those seemingly big things actually were… But I digress.
Only 1 month after finishing my last college class, I found myself on a plane to Germany. I was off to live with my girlfriend, Jessica, in Marburg. But, before that life could start, we took a quick jaunt to the European Yo-Yo Contest in Prague. It was a really interesting experience and was one of the coolest contests I’ve ever been to. I competed in the international division and got last place. (Hey, I was competing against world champions!)
After the contest, I began the process of trying to find a job in a country where I (1) had hardly any connections and (2) didn’t speak the language. Yep, I’m crazy. Needless to say, that didn’t pan out. I spent nearly 3 months searching for and applying for anything and everything I could possibly find. I was averaging about 5-10 applications per week and… nothing. Not even a single interview. Dang.
But, spending those 3 months with Jessica was just great. It really showed me that I was in the right place and doing the right thing even if my employment situation was trying to tell me otherwise. We had a lot of fun, including a trip to Berlin, experiencing German Karnival, going to a spa for the first time, and hanging out at the German Easter Camp.
But, there is a maximum amount of time that a non-EU resident can live in the EU without a visa. And that is 3 months. And then I would have to wait at least another 3 months before I could go back. Double dang.
So, April saw me heading back home and furiously applying for jobs. Thankfully I landed a whole bunch of freelance work with a ton of different companies. I was editing and doing graphics for local news broadcasts GoLocalProv and GoLocalWorcester, teaching high school students at the New England Film Academy, creating videos for Dr. Donald Pelto, handing out samples of frozen yogurt for Sweet Scoops, and doing yo-yoing performances for Duncan Toys, just to name a few. I was working anywhere from 40-80 hours a week (usually around 60) from May to August. It was nuts.
When I got back from Germany in April I went to the Rhode Island State Yo-Yo Contest. It was a fun little competition. I got 2nd place in the X division and had fun hanging out with the old New England yo-yoers again.
In May, there was Senior Week. This was my last hurrah as an undergrad. Even though I was already graduated and had the diploma at home, I still hadn’t felt like I graduated. The week of being back in Boston, partying with my college friends, and then having the graduation ceremony, walking across the stage, and shaking the president of the college’s hand sealed the deal. It was the closure that I needed.
And, throughout the time of working my ass off, I managed to do some fun things as well. I went to the American Craft Beer Festival with my sister Sam for my birthday, went to Gloucester with my family for a long weekend, hiked Mount Wachusett, and took a trip to one of my favorite cities, Montreal, with my mom and my friend Katelyn. That last one was a really big thing for me. The past 2 years I’ve been globetrotting, much to my mom’s jealousy. She has the same wanderlust as I do, but hasn’t been able to take advantage of it like I have. This was my first opportunity to share an amazing experience with her in a foreign country. It was great. (Okay, I know Canada isn’t exactly foreign, but Quebec feels like it to me due to the French.)
At the end of August, I was off again for Germany. This time Jessica and I figured out that I could get a visa for just simply taking a German language course. That way I could stay without restrictions and learn the language at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone, as they say. And it’s been a very enriching experience. German certainly isn’t an easy language to learn, but I’m enjoying the process. Of course I’m also enjoying living with my lovely girlfriend as well… :)
Aside from that, this year’s yo-yo contest season was good to me too. I competed at the German National Yo-Yo Contest in Leipzig and placed 1st in 4A and 2nd in 5A and 2A. Two weeks later I headed to Vienna for the Austrian National Yo-Yo Contest and placed 2nd in the International X division and 4th in the International 1A division. Going to Vienna was yet again another fun time thanks to friends there.
So that brings us to now, the end of the year, where I just spent my first Christmas away from home. Jessica’s family was all too generous and extremely welcoming. It was hard to be away from my family of course, but I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Christmas in Germany is just lovely.
Looking back at the year, it’s really amazing how different it turned out to be than what I was expecting. This was my first year that I lived the majority of it outside of my home state, never mind outside of my home country. All there is to say is: Man. It’s been one hell of a ride.
Anonymous asked: I think you're really attractive and I have a really extreme yo-yo fetish and I've been stalking your life for about an hour and you grew up like 15 minutes from my house and I think its really cool that you drink tea. I wish you would be my boyfriend but I know this sounds really creepy. I really, really like yo-yos. I also like your post on sexism that made me so happy you have no idea at all whatsoever. I like you.
Wow. I’m flattered. I don’t think I’ve had a secret admirer since I was in 7th grade. But… a yo-yo fetish? Is that, like, a thing? As in, are there porn websites, forums, and blogs out there for the yo-yo fetishists of the world?
Also, do I know you, mystery person?
Dear Yo-Yo Community,
Over the past years, it has come to my attention that we have a big problem within the community. This problem is: women.
When I got into yo-yoing in 2003, I could have counted the amount of female yo-yo players on one hand. Today, with the international scene as big as it is and the power of the internet bringing us all closer together, it seems like there are more female yo-yo players than ever before. And this is a great thing.
What is not great however, is the treatment of these women within the boys’ club called the “yo-yo community.” I’ve had these thoughts rolling around in my head for quite some time, but today I saw something that put me over the edge and willed me to write this. On Facebook, a yo-yo player (who will not be named) wrote,
"I tried to grow tits, so I’d get sponsored more easily"
This status update (at time of writing, approx. 3 hours after it was posted) had 10 likes from male yo-yo players from the USA, Germany, France, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the UK and 3 supportive comments with several likes each. Therefore, the issue in question is not limited to one country or one sub-community, but specifically one gender from one community. Perhaps this is not reflective of only our community, but of society as a whole. But I’m not here to make broad sociocultural deductions. My concern lies within our small, tight-knit yo-yo community. This “problem,” “issue,” and “concern” that I’m referring to already has a name and that name is “sexism.”
That’s right yo-yo community, I’m calling you out as a sexist, immature boys’ club. And it’s not just for this one instance, it’s for a long line of injustices committed against several, if not all, of the wonderful female members within our community. For example, at EYYC this past year, I can remember the way that the guys made sick sexual jokes about Ann Connolly (who’s arguably the face of the female yo-yo community) and how uncomfortable she looked in many situations. I can remember at that same contest how Jessica Noll (a yo-yoer in the community for 13 years and also my girlfriend) had “Yo-Yo Bitch” chanted at her the moment she stepped on stage. The list goes on and on.
Guys, women are people too. They are not objects. They have feelings just like you and I. The way that you’re treating the women in our community will do nothing but drive them away. So be respectful. In fact, for all human beings, just simply follow The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2013 is quickly approaching and it’s time for a change. Whose side are you on?
PS: Please share this around, translate into your language for others to read, etc. Sure, this may bring me flak, but if it inspires just one person to re-evaluate their view towards women, then it is worth it to me. Thank you.
The New England Film Academy is a program for high school students to get a 2 week crash course in filmmaking. The students are split up into 3 groups of ~6 people each: 2 filmmaking groups and 1 acting group. In early August, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to lead one of the filmmaking groups through their journey. We had 2 weeks to script, shoot, and edit a short film. My goal was to guide them and teach them everything they would need to know while still allowing them to do everything themselves. Those 2 weeks were not the easiest, but I never stopped pushing the group. We had an extremely professional attitude the entire time, even better than some of the college sets I’ve been on. The actors we worked with were fantastic as well. A lot of the students showed a whole bunch of potential.
The reason why this was so important for me is because I would like to be a film professor one day. This was my first real experience with teaching film and it only cemented my desire to achieve my goal. There were a lot of challenges that came up every day; everything from dealing with behavioral issues to trying to figure out the best way to put my practical knowledge into words. In the end however, it proved to be an extremely worthwhile and rewarding experience. I am very proud of the work we did.
I’m posting this so many months later because I needed some time to remove myself from the project and look at it again with fresh eyes. It is by no means perfect, but considering the time limitations, the fact that all of the people that were working on this project were between 13 and 16 years old, and so many other factors, I would say it turned out damn good. And there’s a rare acting appearance by yours truly. Do yourself a favor and check it out in HD below:
Anonymous asked: Hello, I was wondering if the freebird 2 that you used in your new tricks video had friction stickers or SG stickers? Also I saw your video on the boston yoyo meet, is there another coming up soon? Thanks a lot and your videos are amazing!
Glad to hear that you like my videos! The Freebird 2 does indeed have SG stickers. That coupled with the redesign (including a large bearing) make it super smooth.
We have meets in Boston pretty regularly. At least once a month I would say. Lately we’ve been tending to convene at MIT. Get in touch via Facebook and I’ll hook you up with some details when things come around.
If any readers haven’t seen my latest video, check it out: