Gorillas and Stairs and Preachers, Oh My!

Getting there early and getting a jump on the preachers doesn’t work. 
The moment I move out of the center of the circle to take a drink, or towel off, or anything else, they just barge right in. I’ve never dealt directly with this guy before. I dub him “The Judger” because the central refrain of his spiel kept coming back to, “I am here to judge you.” 
When he first barged in, I tried to make a deal with him, that he could have one side, and I got the other. But the moment I moved around a bit, away from the center, he just moved right in. As a result, I spent a lot of time kicking directly in front of him. 
I contrasted him. I outlasted him. Both my radio and the Accordion Playing Gorilla outblasted him. He packed up and left after an hour. 
Having the Accordion Playing Gorilla show up was definitely the highlight of my day. I had an absolute blast kicking to his music! 
I seem to have developed a new filming style, too. It’s called “accidentally leaving the camera on.” I’ve done this, I think, the last 3 times in a row now, including Thursday’s session. I didn’t even realize I was filming that rally. This especially sucks because I’m still using MiniDV tape; it’s expensive and the ingest time is a bore. I’ve got to get a handle on that, even if this accidentally taped rally was a winner this time. 
I thought I needed to get a handle on my footbag rotation, but this may not be true. I was rotating through 5 different bags already, and just wound up with 3 more. Rather than hold some back, I’ve ended up putting all 8 in rotation. Rather than having the same specific order every time, I’m just going to mix them up and plop them down in random order, with one exception: my PhatTyre Sport bag named Rasta always goes first. And, The Man, my blue/white Abshire bag, is gets last or next to last. And, there’s got to be at least one other bag in between the the two Black/Gold, Gold/Black Abshires named MIZ and ZOU
More props to another fellow footbag player goes out to Allan Haggett who does the most awesome incredible multilevel footbag moves. He has inspired me to have a little fun of my own on the stairs on Speakers Circle. 
Guiltless rallies still elude me though. It’s like my skill just dropped off a cliff. Since midwinter, before I got my new shoes, I’ve barely even hit a string of 10 – no matter how hard I’ve tried. 6 months ago, my benchmark was 20+. That’s a precipitous drop. I just can’t do it. It’s hard to explain. 
After the preacher came, barged into the circle on me, spent an hour on his spiel, and finally left, I stepped into the circle to make the following announcement: 
“I think the one big difference between that guy and me, is that I am not here to judge anyone. I’m just here because I love to play Hacky Sack. I think you’re all beautiful, wonderful, and incredible – just the way you are. I appreciate everyone letting me be out here. Thank you!” 
2:25/42:30 – Thanks for tuning in! 

That’s Reverend Hack Man, to You

At this point, I’m convinced Jackass Brother Jed and his minions are stalking me. They haven’t been at Speakers Circle all week, but on the one day I can go out there to play? Of course…
So, I’ve started playing the whole thing up. The atheists help too. They now come and plague the hate preachers at every chance as well, making sure that there’s plenty of action at Speakers Circle any time the preachers are there. They provide a great foil, getting right in the preacher’s faces with their signs, and often drawing them out of the center of the circle for a ‘discussion’. That’s when I move in.
One of them carries around a sign: “I will give $500 dollars to anyone who can convince me your religion is real” I’ve seen the envelope with the money, he really does carry it on him when he does this.
A couple times now, I’ve been able to use this as an opportunity to loudly proclaim: “Hacky Sack is MY religion! Can I convince you Hacky Sack is real? After all, I could really use the $500 bucks. I’d buy EVERYONE here a Hacky Sack with that money!”
The students seem to love that.
The best part is, I got at least 3 new “converts” to Hacky Sack today. The one guy in the video, whom I ended up giving a footbag to; a soccer player who swears he had never played footbag before today, but freaking tore it up (and I think he’s genuinely hooked); a girl that does hula hoop (like, seriously); and I think there may have been one other guy who was trying it for the first time as well.
I had been solo kicking for nearly 2 hours when the soccer player and a couple other guys came over and asked to use one of my footbags. Within 10 minutes, there were 8 people in the hack circle, and we pretty much took over the area. I ended up hacking with the circle of students for another hour and a half, showing them how to do tricks like pendulums and clippers, or whatever else they asked.
At a few points, I would count the people in the circle and loudly proclaim: “The Hack Man has made SIX new converts today!” The crowd always cheered for that, too.
Before I go, I should link in last week’s video too, since I didn’t write a blog for it last week. You can hear all the banter between the hate preachers and their hecklers, who drew them out of the circle for me.
I think I might have started something. Until I challenged Sister Cindy a couple months ago, the preachers had pretty much total run of the place. Since then, the students have been setting up tables in the middle of the circle almost every day, denying them their ‘place’, and the atheists and other hecklers have been both very creative and absolutely relentless. Last week it was some guy with a “God Hates the Seattle Super Sonics!” sign, totally dogging the preachers and ruthlessly mocking them.
I’ve lost what few shreds of reservation I’ve had about the issue; when I show up now, I just crank up my radio and literally hack right around them. We are going to reclaim the circle from the hate preachers. 
2:15 / 2:30 (was actually 3:30 but almost 1:45 circle kicking) – 40:05 for the year so far. Thanks for tuning in! 

Catching Up on Falling Behind

It’s been almost a month since my last blog post. Shame on me. But even more concerning, from a footbag perspective, is that my difficulty level seems to have fallen off a cliff. Witness last week’s video: 

To be clear, this is not the fault of the new Abshire bags I just unboxed. I had some decent rallies that day, I just didn’t get them on tape. But the definition of “Decent” has degraded to a more just a measure of length, not difficulty level. I haven’t plotted it yet, but this has been going on since last fall. I just can’t hold guiltless rallies like I used to. 
Part of it, lately, is the new shoes. They felt so perfect and so wonderful when I tried them on at the shoe store. Two weeks later, I hated them. The left shoe was way too tight. Do my feet really swell up that much? I finally crammed a block of wood and cloth in it for a day and a half. That has stretched it out, but the new shoes still feel really clunky when I kick in them. It’s been so long since I broke in my last pair of shoes, I don’t remember what it was like. I don’t think it was this bad. 
The core issue, though, is joint pain and strength. My knees hurt all the time now, and I just can’t put that much bent-knee pressure on them. But I really blame my back for this. My sciatica has been the worst it’s ever been in springtime. It usually bugs me in the winter, and gets better in the spring. Not this year. It gives my hip joints, knees, quadraceps, and ankles ‘phantom’ pain. And no matter how much I tell myself it’s just phantom, my body refuses to ignore it. 
The end result is, I just don’t have the strength and accuracy to play at the 3+ add level much anymore. This week’s best guiltless string was probably in the low teens. Even when I was going crazy for my student project filming a few weeks ago, I’m not sure I broke 20 contacts. A year ago, I could almost always break that; suddenly now, I rarely attain it. 
I certainly hope I can get back to the typical 20+ guiltless contact level, but there are no guarantees. I’m getting older, and life isn’t getting any easier. I didn’t even get to kick at all Spring Break week, despite the beautiful weather. I had to work, work, fucking work. There’s no sign that will let up, either. 
Now, since it’s been so long, I’m trying to reconstruct my kicking time. Last post was just before a Thursday session. Using my Twitter stream and past YouTube posts to reconstruct my footbag timeline: 
Thursday 3/15 – 2:15, First session with my new shoes, and I gave away my Red/Black PhatTyre Sport to some students doing a scavenger hunt. Of course with the legendary Hack Man’s footbag, they definitely won their scavenger hunt challenge! 
Thursday 3/22 – 2:15 again. Between last week and this week, I got new PhatTyre footbags, and filmed my First Rallies with them. Thanks Toes and Flying Clipper Footbags
Thursday 3/29 – The tweet says it all: @h4x354x0r Today is my hallowed FOOTBAG THURSDAY! And… I’m pretty certain I’m going to get screwed out of kicking today. Work is hell. And, I most certainly did get screwed out of kicking that week. 
Friday 4/6 – Finally caught up with footbag log! I would have done more, but was squeezed between work appointments and family obligations. Barely 2 hrs. 
So, 6:30 total footbag time since last post, for 25:20 hours total for the year. Still doing great on annual time goal, now if I could only do bit better on the guiltless strings. Thanks for tuning in!