Amoeblog

The 2008 World Yo-Yo Contest

Posted by Whitmore, July 25, 2008 05:15pm | Post a Comment

For any alternative sport/entertainment fans looking for a new fix in the pedestrian gene puddle of cable TV athletics, one event next week just might be the best thing to ease your cravings since competitive eating and Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi. It's time, once again, for the World Yo-Yo Contest held annually in Florida. The 2008 event will take place in Orlando at the Rosen Plaza Hotel on July 31st, August 1st, and August 2nd.

There are several categories and divisions in competition, such as '"One Handed String Trick Division," "Two Handed Looping Division," "Two Handed String Trick Division," "Off-String Division," "Counter-Weight Division," and a lot of other divisions and descriptions and concepts I just don't quite understand, but it's absolutely amazing to watch. My five year old son and I were glued to Youtube this morning watching some of last year’s competition. Tricks like the Nunchuk, Atom Smasher, White Budda, Warp Drive, Brain Twister, Superman, Shoot the Moon, Sword and Shield, Double Iron Whip, Lladder Escape, And Whut, and Eiffel Tower have come a long way from simply Walking the Dog. And, oh yeah, read some of the posted comments on these YouTube videos! There are some serious yo-yo geeks out there with one helluva critical eye!

Anyway, here's a clip from the 2007 Champion, Yuuki Spencer, an incredible freestyler with a love for death metal. Yuuki won both the U.S. Nationals and Worlds in 2007, an extraordinary achievement to accomplish in the same year.

One Man's Basura is Another Man's Trash - 5

Posted by Whitmore, June 27, 2008 08:12am | Post a Comment

Some facts on garbage: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds per week and 1,600 pounds a year; multiply that by the United States population of about 300 million, and you have one hell of a mountain of trash. And this average only considers households and not industrial waste or commercial trash.

The garbage produced in a year in the U.S. alone could fill enough garbage trucks to form a line to the moon… or cover the entire state of Texas two and a half times … or bury more than 990,000 football gridirons six-foot deep in compressed waste. Also, Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the entire fleet of commercial jets in the US.

And for those inclined, here are a few more dumpster diving tips.

Tip # 1 - Never, and I do mean never, climb inside a dumpster that is equipped with a trash compactor. Sure some of those tales may be just urban myths, but once in a while down at the ol’ landfill a grisly discovery finds some poor sucker, flashlight still in hand, squished like a bug.  

Tip # 22 - I always avoid climbing a fence to reach a dumpster. Here are a couple of reasons why: first, if there is anything worthwhile to be had, chances are middling to good that the wares will be lying around outside the fence. The fact is most people are lazy and won’t take the time to put their trash bag down, reach in their pocket, fiddle for some keys, struggle with selecting the right key, unlock the fence, pick the sack of garbage back up, open the dumpster, drop it in and the relock the gate unless they absolutely have no other choice … and even then they’ll find an excuse. And the second reason for not climbing a fence: As a kid, my little sister slipped climbing over a chain link fence. She caught her arm on a spike, and as she dangled there, frantically clawing at the air and at the fence, screaming “there’s a hole my arm, there’s a hole my arm!” every thrashing twist ripped a bigger gash in her bicep, until finally it tore loose. The sight of a dripping hunk of skin hanging from a spike on a fence and the blood soaked cement below has stayed with me for many a decade. Simply put -- I don’t climb fences.

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Eric Dolphy

Posted by Whitmore, June 20, 2008 04:04pm | Post a Comment

80 years ago today, in 1928, the legendary jazz musician and groundbreaking force of nature Eric Dolphy was born in Los Angeles. He was one of guiding forces who piloted the "new thing" of jazz though the late fifties and the 1960’s. His unique improvisational style intoned wide intervals, extended techniques, scorching intensity and unexpected sonic explorations on alto sax, clarinets, and flute. Such sounds were seldom heard before and seldom sound as accomplished since.

Educated at Los Angeles City College, he walked the fine line between traditional/mainstream jazz and the avant-garde like few musicians could. Though his work is often classified as simply “free jazz,” Dolphy’s playing was more then just his own idiosyncratic personal voice. He touched on the history of most jazz styles, from New Orleans to bop to third stream; he experimented with various non-Western music and 20th century classical ideology, pioneering extensions as both a soloist and as a jazz composer. His influence is still felt today.

During his short time on the scene Dolphy played with almost every great jazz musician of the day including, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Chico Hamilton, Oliver Nelson, Max Roach, Gerald Wilson, Abbey Lincoln, Gunther Schuller, and Andrew Hill. In his own bands Dolphy included the likes of Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Woody Shaw, Richard Davis, Ron Carter, Jaki Byard, Roy Haynes, Mal Waldron, Booker Little and Freddie Hubbard.

At the age of 36 Eric Dolphy died in a diabetic coma in Berlin on June 29th, 1964. Dolphy was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame shortly after his death.

Here are some moments:





Cyd Charisse 1922 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, June 18, 2008 03:35pm | Post a Comment


There was one thing my Dad and I always agreed on, even when I was a teenager and we were unlikely to find any common ground: we were both awe-struck by Cyd Charisse, the greatest and sexiest of all of the Hollywood Musical dancers. She was gorgeous, strong, and always brought a little extra sizzle and nuance to her work.

Charisse died Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering an apparent heart attack. She was 86.

Cyd Charisse danced in some of the greatest Movie Musicals during the hey-day of Movie Musicals. She first gained attention in 1943 in The Harvey Girls, and went on to appear in The Zeigfield Follies, Till the Clouds Roll In, and Words and Music. But she really hit her stride in the early 1950’s with Singin' in the Rain, where she danced with Gene Kelly in what can only be described as one of the steamiest of all Hollywood ballets. She went onto star in other classic films such as The Band Wagon, Brigadoon, Deep in My Heart, It's Always Fair Weather, and Silk Stockings.

In 1952, at the height of her career, her legs were reportedly insured by Lloyds of London for $5 million dollars. She was even featured in the 2001 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Valuable Legs" in Hollywood history.

Born Tula Ellice Finklea on March 8, 1922, in Amarillo, Texas, her older brother nicknamed her Sid as a variation on Sis. She eventually changed the spelling of her name while at MGM, to “give her an air of mystery.”

She began ballet lessons at the age of 6 after developing a mild case of polio, leaving her right side slightly atrophied. Later her family moved to Los Angeles where as a teenager Cyd married her dance instructor Nico Charisse. But after eight years of marriage they divorced in 1947. The next year she married singer, actor and nightclub entertainer Tony Martin. A marriage that would last till her death this week -- almost 60 years.

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Artists in the Workforce: 1990-2005

Posted by Whitmore, June 13, 2008 01:21pm | Post a Comment

"Artists in the Workforce: 1990-2005," a 140-page study, was released this week by the NEA and is the first nationwide look at artists and their demographic and employment patterns in the 21st century. The report profiles eleven different artistic occupations, including actors; announcers; architects; art directors, fine artists and animators; dancers and choreographers; designers; entertainers and performers; musicians; photographers; producers and directors; and finally writers and authors. The study draws its conclusions from the U.S. Census Bureau data and other government agencies and arts organizations. Here are some of the NEA’s findings:

Numbering almost two million, artists are one of the largest classes of workers in the nation, representing 1.4 percent of the U.S. labor force. As a group, artists number only slightly less than the U.S. military’s active-duty and reserve personnel, which stands at about 2.2 million. Based on the findings in "Artists in the Workforce," artists earn some $70 billion annually, but the median income from all sources in 2005 for an artist was $34,800, higher than the $30,100 median for the total labor force, but well under the average for professionals of $43,200. And artists generally earn less money than workers with similar education levels.

Between 1970 and 1990, the number of artists more than doubled, from 737,000 to 1.7 million -- a much larger percentage gain than for the labor force as a whole. Between 1990 and 2005, the growth of artists slowed to a 16 percent rate, about the same as for the overall labor force.

Some of the findings were a little surprising. For example, computers have apparently led to a decline in traditional visual artists. There was a huge jump in those who identify themselves as "designers," which includes Web designers. The number of art directors, fine artists and animators fell from around 280,000 in 1990 to around 220,000 in 2005. Designers, nearly 40 percent of all artists, increased from around 600,000 to around 780,000.

Artists tend to be more entrepreneurial -- 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed. And at the same time, artists are underemployed; one-third of all artists work for only part of the year. A couple of examples: only one out of eight actors works full time, and just one out of four musicians.
Artists holding college degrees rose between 1990 and 2005, and they are twice as likely to have a degree as any other U.S. workers. Among artist occupations with the highest educational attainment levels are architects, writers, and producers.

Women remain underrepresented in several artist occupations. Men outnumber women in architecture, music, production, and photography. Women outnumber men in the fields of dance, design, and writing. The percentage of artists who are Hispanic, Asian or Native American grew from 9 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2005.

The Pacific Coast region has the highest number of artists per capita, 95 per 10,000. The East South Central, which includes Alabama and Kentucky, has the fewest, 47 per 10,000. And some regions have their own unique concentrations of artists. New Mexico has the highest share of fine artists, mostly due to Santa Fe, which has the second highest number of overall artists per capita. Vermont has the highest proportion of writers, and Tennessee --  mostly due to Nashville -- has the highest proportion of musicians. Las Vegas has the highest rate of dancers and choreographers, whereas Orlando, Fla., home to Walt Disney World, leads the nation in entertainers and performers.

Since artistic employment opportunities are greater in metropolitan areas, nearly 20% of all U.S. artists live in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, and Boston. Los Angeles-Long Beach area has the most artists overall, around 140,000, followed by New York City, around 133,000. And half of all artists live in just 30 different metropolitan areas.
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