Juggling in a cone

Years ago I knew some folks who were obsessed with the Bungie game Marathon. Relative to first-person shooters today like Half-Life 2 and others, it was almost unimaginably primitive. Still, at the time it was cutting edge stuff, and it let you do fun things like play with the physics of the game. You could try the following scenario, for example: what would it be like if your weapon’s recoil violently shoved you toward whatever you were shooting at instead of away from him? Now make gravity negative, and the only way to keep from floating away is to shoot at the ground and anyone below you.

Playing around with the basic laws of physics was the first thing I thought of when I saw this video of a man juggling inside a giant cone. Yes, it’s gimmicky and a little cheesy (did you ever see the ads for the clear Champagne Glass tub in the Poconos?). Nevertheless, it is hypnotic. After a while, you start to think, cool… I want to live in that world.

Beatles juggling redux

I’m betting that in the last two weeks somebody sent you a link to the video of the guy who juggles to Beatles music. In case you are one of the people who missed this gawk-and-forward juggernaut, here it is. Chris Bliss juggles continuously throughout the entire “Golden Slumbers” medley from Abbey Road. It’s a well-choreographed routine, the crowd goes wild, and the video propagated like a wave throughout the entire blogosphere. But what was really interesting was the juggle-geek backlash. If you’re a serious juggler (I’m not), you might look at this guy Bliss and say “What a hack! Only three balls… the only thing he has to be proud of is that he went dropless for four minutes and twenty seven seconds.”

In fact, that’s exactly what a juggle-geek named Jason Garfield said. In fact, he said much worse here, if you care to read it. Garfield is a phenomenal juggler, and he posted a sort of challenge video using the exact same soundtrack as Bliss, but doing a much much harder routine with five balls. Now what do you think about that? It really leads to this question: what is the nature of entertainment? Or rather this: what do you owe your entertainer? Garfield’s opinion is clear: you owe it to him to know the difference between hack juggling and “real” juggling. If you can’t tell the difference, he don’t need your steenkin’ applause. Here’s Garfield: “It’s fine if people are entertained by this. But they should not assume he is a good juggler just because he kind of juggled to the music with three balls. A perfect example of how little people know about juggling is that one of his strongest audience response points was when he JUST juggled the BASIC pattern.” Stupid audience! Doesn’t know its juggling patterns!

People may say Bliss is a great juggler, but what they really mean is they saw him perform and they were entertained. Bliss knows how to work the crowd. John Grisham put a lot of talented writers out of work. The contempt of angry geeks is cheaply had, but an entertainer is an entertainer.

I found this last quote on Garfield’s STOLEN MATERIAL page.

… in the juggling community, if you are performing
these routines you are considered to be at least partly a hack.
The percentage of your entire act that is made up of hack material
determines the percentage of how much of a hack you are.

1. Juggling while eating an apple.
2. Passing around a volunteer and knocking something out of their mouth.
3. Juggling Chainsaws
4. Juggling Knives
5. Juggling fire (Torches)

I know I’m embarrassing you, because I saw you doing that flaming chainsaw routine of yours last weekend. You hopeless hack.