Monday, July 31, 2006

EJC 2006 Photos

There are lots of EJC photos online. Of course it's fun to relive things and it's also fun to look for myself and my friends in the photos. Below are links to pictures I found of Israeli jugglers at EJC 2006:

Lots: from Ori Roth

Me: In volunteer workshop In the audience (really, I can see myself clearly in that one - under the left side of the clock and halfway down, I'm wearing a red shirt).

A bunch of 'em

Shiltons: Open Stage Two Three Four Five Six

Ron Atazky: Slacking off Watching

Dror: Sleeping


Guy Berman (and Tarmo): Enduring 5 Balls

Bar, Mickey, Dekel: Arriving Early

Tali: Ha Yelda

Links to EJC photos and videos.

This post has been updated and may be updated again if I find more photos.

Monday, July 03, 2006


I'm going to slow down my posting over the next couples weeks while I'm away at EJC. Sorry for the inconvenience. ;-)

Friday, June 16, 2006

What does a juggler look like?

I'm proud to have noticed the other day that if you search Google Images for "juggler" then the first hit is my picture!

Sunday, May 07, 2006


It looks like I'll be going to my first ever EJC. I'm so excited!!!

So far I know there will be a lot of Israelis going. I've heard so far about: Ori Roth, Assaf Shneider and his dad, Bar Mualem, Dekel Azulai, Yaakov and Leah Goodman, Ofek and Segev and Robert Shilton, Tom Eilon, Yaron Milgram, Daniel Baraket, Dror Friedman. Hopefully I'll hear about more in the next couple months until EJC.

One thing I'm going to have to do is pace myself. At IJC I worked out hard for the first couple days and was worn out for the rest of the convention. Also, I got really sore in a few weird places. I'm used to the fact that the bottoms of my feet always ache since I'm not used to being on my feet all day. The unusual pain I had this year was under my arms from all the rubbing as I juggled. Another annoying thing was that the skin on my fingertips got dry and cracked from moving through the air so much. And the cracks bled a lot when bumped by clubs. Oh, the bumps! I got lots of bangs with my new heavy one-piece clubs: on my fingers and bones in my hand, on the head and face, and on the toes. Ouch! Lastly, I my calves got sore for jumping when playing frisbee so much.

I also have to learn to travel light. I'm not good at that. I can't bring less than 5 clubs, 9 balls, a tent and sleeping bag, and clothes. Hopefully it'll mostly fit into one large backpack. And what about the return? Will I be able to resist buying new toys? I don't really need much but I'm sure I'll come home with some new toys.

I'm really looking foward to meeting people at EJC. There are many rec.juggling personalities that I've been reading for many years whom I'd love to meet. Then there are names I've read about online and in juggling magazines and seen on video - the main one being Jay Gilligan. And lastly, there are several jugglers who I have been chatting with for years and it'll be really fun to meet them in person, notably Tarmo and Norbi.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

IJC Was Perfect

It took a few days to recover and I'm finally taking the time to write about how great IJC was.

This was the first year that I was able to arrive a day early. There were a few dozen people on Thursday and I was soon put to work by Yanai sweeping the gym. They had swept a week earlier but since then many birds had dropped nesting materials throughout the gym. I noticed that the public bathrooms didn't have toilet seats and was thinking of complaining to the organizers; later when I went to the bathroom, I saw seats - the organizers seem to have thought of everything! I helped with a few other simple things and then was allowed to juggle. Most of Thursday afternoon I was the only one juggling but occasionally some others joined me. The only guests to arrive at that point were Nella and Roman of Tr'Espace. I immediately noticed their excellent control over excalibur-style diaboloing - they are the only people I've seen do it without needing to turn (later they actually showed me that they can turn against the direction most people turn). They had lots of stunning solo and 2-person moves. I spoke more to Nella than Roman and learned about their background and future goals.

Every year I bring a tent and have never actually used it, preferring to sleep in the gym. Since the camping area was fairly empty, I decided to sleep open-air without a tent. The mosquitoes kept me up a lot while feasting on my face. I woke up looking like I had chicken pox.

People started arriving throughout Friday including more guests. I socialized a bit but still managed around 12 hours of practice, mostly with 5 clubs. Itsik's son, Emil, retrieved dropped clubs and later told his dad that there was a terrible juggler that was dropping big yellow clubs all over the place. Lots of people were intrigued by my new clubs but nobody liked them. I threatened to use the hard one-piece clubs for combat. I got some workshops going in the afternoon. I skipped the evening show to dinner with some friends and only after I saw people heading back to the camping area did I venture back to the hall assuming there would be a lot of space to practice. I think that this was the most crowded I saw the gym the entire week. I borrowed someone's clubs for combat and had a lot of fun even though I never won. I dubbed Jochen of Get the Shoe - "The Terminator." He is large, emotionless, and juggles with robot-like precision. He won about 80% of the time before he got bored with us. In one round ending with just him and Ofek, he got on his knees to finish up.

Saturday I slowed down my juggling pace. I worked less on 5 clubs, spending time with less strength intensive skills. I met a woman named Tamar who was obsessed with balancing things and we came up with some fun multi-club balances - she had some that I thought were physically impossible and later would see her controlling them seemingly with ease. Some friends helped me with my handstanding and I made some decent improvement. I also worked a bit on 3 clubs while bouncing a ball on my head. I had barely tried it since getting a record of 12 bounces at last year's IJC. Well, I got over 20 bounces a few times with a high of 24.

I enjoyed watching the guests practicing. I didn't see Nella and Roman practicing hardly for the rest of the convention since there wasn't so much space and they seem to need about 10 square meters each. Talking and watching Maksim Komaro was fascinating. He said that juggling for him is work and his practice is highly regimented. He says he almost never plays around with juggling and only works on things that he intends to put into his show. He is very very precise and has beautiful new tricks he's working on, most of which are about 80% solid. Matt Hall also seemed to have a pretty structured practice session. And, as per his reputation he was helpful in the gym, giving workshops, and enthusiastic on open stage and renegade. The guys from Le Petit Traverse were technically excellent in the gym and seemed to be having a great time just playing around with silly tricks.

Some Israelis were showing hot tricks, too. Segev was wild with 5, 6, and 7 clubs. Little Ofek did 2, 3, and 4 diabolos and also 20+ throw runs of 5 clubs. Dekel, age 13, did lots of tricks with 3 diabolo shuffles.

In the evening, Le Petit Traverse put on a show. It was more like theater than juggling, but it was brilliant. Lots of clever humor, magic, and other surprises. Such unassuming looking guys but really entertaining and a well-deserved standing ovation with several curtain calls.

There was on open stage in the evening. I don't remember much but I'll brag about my contribution. I had a trick that wasn't solid enough to really perform but since I wanted to show off, I convinced a few others to come on stage and we would all attempt tricks that we could get once in 20 or so tries. So Segev tried 7 club flashes, Ofek 4 diabolos, Mark "Schani" Probst throwing a beanbag from his mouth to an ass catch, and Ron Beeri I don't remember what. I feel bad that I was the first to succeed, but I got my trick in about 6 tries. Basically I threw a baseball cap behind my back to a nose balance and then juggled 3 clubs with the balance. There was the first of 3 lame renegades in the evening but I have nothing to comment on.

Sunday brought a bunch more people including a lot more of the Jerusalem contingent. Games were in the afternoon and I had a lot of fun trying. The first game was diabolo into a bucket held on Guy Lev (the games organizer)'s head. Nobody succeeded the first 2 rounds but on the third, I made a beautiful shot and won a flower stick (yippee!). I'm happy that I beat all Israelis in the 5 club endurance but still lost to the 2 Get the Shoe guys. In the 5 ball endurance, I got bored quickly and hit a lot of nice tricks before I dropped. Bar Mualem kicked butt in 5 ball and 7 ball endurances which was inspiring. I participated in more and had fun watching, too.

In the evening, guests Peter Sweet and Maksim Komaro (and celloist partner) put on shows. Peter did a slackrope routine in nerdy style. Maksim interacted with his musician and then rocked with balls and buckets. Maksim ended with a great energy and got himself a standing ovation.

Afterwards was the 3 ball open. I don't remember the full lineup, but there was lots of great juggling. I wanted Sharon Cypis to get 2nd for his great tricks and style but Maksim beat him with lots of original tricks perfectly executed. But the big winner with more than 4 times as many votes as Maksim was easily Ori Roth. His totally original and technically difficult tricks were perfectly choreographed to music. It was reminiscent of Michael Menes' classic routine, but without the dance and body movement and still 10 times better. Awesome stuff, Ori!

Even though it rained a bit during the day, they allayed many people's fears and decided not to cancel the fire show. I've never seen it, much preferring to take advantage of the empty gym and juggle. There was another lame renegade that night.

Late at night a lot of frisbee was happening. A dozen or more of us stood in a big circle and passed around some 6 or 7 frisbees. It was challenging with all the action in every direction but it was a lot of fun. I think I played from about 2-5am. I got into bed as the sky was getting light.

I should have taken notes during Sunday's Israeli Gala show and I've forgotten much of it. Itsik Orr opened the show with his brilliant ball bouncing on drum pad thingies. Assaf and Ronen did some spoken comedy while acrobalancing around. Yaron and Tom did some character work while sharing 5 balls. Irena reprised her tightrope act from last year. Sharon Cypis did fast-paced cigar boxes. Ron Beeri did 3-5 clubs with style and originality. Itsik came back on for a 3 ball routine. Michal and Amir tangoed while sharing ball patterns. Amit ended with high energy fire staffs. There may have been more, too, but it's hard to recall.

I also should have taken notes for the International Show which was the highlight of the convention and perhaps my juggling career. Peter Sweet emceed and repeatedly had to bring acts back onstage for curtain calls. Matt Hall started with some breakdance and manipulating cigar boxes and diabolos. Afterwards he complained about his performance but I enjoyed it because I always enjoy people taking risks on stage and he hit a lot of really hot tricks. At the end, Matt accidentally threw one of his 2 diabolos up onto an overhead wire and it spun in place for a few seconds before falling off and him catching it to the amusement of the crowd. Maksim did a lovely 3 ball routine interacting with his cello player.

Tr'Espace did an amazing diabolo act. Some of their interaction was sensual as they shared a diabolo and sometimes the handsticks. Other parts were just intense as they exchanged diabolos while one excalibured and the other shuffled 2. Not only was the technical skill the highest level diabolo I've ever seen, but the way they routined it made the act the best I've ever seen. The pacing was unbelievable and I felt breathless at the end. Compared to other standing ovations that I've joined in on, I was one of the first to jump up the second their routine ended. This was one of the real highlights for me.

Itsik smartly scheduled an intermission after this act so we could absorb all that had happened. Petit Travers reviewed their ball manipulation and magic piece from their show the other night. Matt Hall returned with balls doing 5 including a trick that we discussed earlier in the gym whether he should risk it and go for: b633633 with the 3s carried high and dropped. He hit it with ease and then nailed 7 balls. Peter gave a beautiful 3 ball interpretation to a story about Einstein. Maksim had his partner flick beanbags from a board from 3 up to 6 balls with a lot of tension. Finally Get the Shoe did their wild club routine. This was the most fast-paced choreographed routine I've ever seen. It incorporated martial arts, matrix-like effects, clever humor, and extraordinary juggling.

After the acts all came out for standing ovations and multiple curtain calls, the audience chanted, "More, more, more!" The acts didn't know what to do, but soon Matt Hall came on and did one more big trick. The rest of the performers were surprised at the spontaneity, but eventually they one by one thought of something more to do to please the crowd. It was a brilliant ending to a great great show.

I don't think I've ever had an urge to hug a man before but later that night I gave Itsik a big hug for bringing over such great guests. Itsik intentionally upset me by suggesting he should retire on such a high note. Oy - that would be terrible. Itsik - you're great and IJC needs you!!!

Renegade later that night consisted of some parodies of the shows but overall it was as lame as most nights. I went to bed after Ori and Bar attempted to do more than an hour of 5 balls. Even though they failed Ori nearly doubled his personal best with some 42 minutes which was cool.

I was in denial on Tuesday that it was over and kept juggling while sadly saying goodbyes.

Another IJC Review:

Monday, April 10, 2006

Three of Us

At Yaakov and Leah's wedding, the photographer took a nice shot of me and my girls (Raheli, age 6.5; Bat-El, age 3.5):

Sorry, it's not nice to show-off but I couldn't resist. ;-)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Convention Workshops

I volunteered for many years to run the workshops at the Israeli Juggling Convention. I stopped volunteering a couple years ago but it's always just assumed that I'd do it, so here I am. Usually I start making phone calls and arrangements a month or so before the convention. Well, it's a week before and I made my first phone calls today. I'm a bad boy but don't tell the main convention oragnizer. I've actually already confirmed 75% of the timeslots I need so I'm sure it'll be fine.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Extreme Juggling

The latest attempt to make technical juggling palatable to the masses is X-Juggling.

First I'll give a simple logistical suggestion to the organizers for keeping the pacing of this event so that it will maximize energy and interest. Instead of having one staging area, have two. This way, after one performer finishes, the next can be ready in position and start without waiting for the first competitor to clear the stage (and dropped props).

I think that this competition will be very exciting for jugglers. I'm trying to figure how it is different than all the online juggling videos where the person took many attempts to do some juggling trick that they can hit once in many attempts. One problem might be that the competition will be less exciting than videos because the odds of hitting a trick in the short time are much smaller than the unlimited time one has for camera.

On the other hand, the emotion of watching close attempts could be very exciting. It is great to see people pushing the limits of their abilities and I know from gawking at people practicing in the gym, that sometimes near successes can be even more emotional than when a trick is hit. It's easier to appreciate how hard a trick really is when the person can't quite do it (that's why in circuses they often intentionally fail on a big trick once or twice before hitting it). And when you see someone getting close, you hope so strongly that they'll get it - it can even take your breath away. Hopefully X-Juggling will have the same exhiliration.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mazel Tov!

I've written about my juggler friend, Yaakov, who I introduced to a woman I met. Well, last night was their wedding and it was a blast.

There was a nice contingent of jugglers (including a couple who I had never met before). There was some 40 minutes of juggling with some dozen or more performers taking turns showing off.

I was nervous what to do since Yaakov has seen my show dozens of times (and Leah recently saw my full 45 minute show, too). So, the day before I decided to perform something that I had kind of worked on before but never really thought of performing since it's too similar to other things I already do. But as a one-time thing, it seemed appropriate.

I did 3 beanbags and a big inflatable ball with occasional headbounces - mostly 534 with the 5 bounced and going into solid headbounces (without juggling) and back to juggle all 4. I also did 4 bags with the big ball and I would switch from cascading all 5 to head bouncing and then return to juggling all 5 objects. It didn't go as smooth as in practice, but it was nice. The intro had some humor that went over well.

I was also pulled onstage to do a knife runaround with someone who I know does the runaround with a wrong rhythm so we ended up just doing a couple side styles and got through without any drops even though I was very nervous about this spontaneous appearance.

Not only did I know the jugglers, but I knew quite a few people that Yaakov works with. Also, I once worked with a relative of Yaakov who I hadn't seen for some 8 years. My electrician was also there which was a surprise.

The whole evening was really a lot of fun. I wish them a wonderful marriage full of love and happiness.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Jerusalem Circus

Tonight was the annual Jerusalem Circus show. The Jewish Arab youth circus is aimed at teaching tolerance and I've seen their shows for the past 5 years. The early ones were staged in the lobbies of schools but the past few have been in professional theaters. It's interesting to see many of the same performers year after year and how they've developed.

In general they put on a fairly professional show and director Slava Oleinik should be commended for what he's contributed. The skills are impressive, costuming and lighting fairly polished, and the routines thought-out.

This year, however, I didn't enjoy it as much as previous years. Sadly the solo juggler had way too many drops between some fantastic tricks. The 4 person club passing act didn't have one pattern in more than a dozen finish cleanly. The clowns weren't as clever as past years and my daughter even commented on one skit that she remembered being funnier last time. There was a Charlie Chaplin rola bola act that was one of my highlights this year and last - great skills, good character, and nice use of humor. Unfortunately, that was about the only memorable act. Previous years generally had a star or two but this year they seemed to make too many acts into ensemble pieces. For example, the tissue acts had too many people strolling around the stage so the main artist's skills weren't highlighted properly.

Regardless, I'm fairly certain I'll bring my kids again next year. I never like to miss circus opportunities.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Circus Wow

2 weeks ago my parents took us to Eilat for a long weekend. Aside from enjoying the sand filled swimming pools and sea excursions, the hotel I was staying in hosted the WOW Show. I knew I'd regret not going so I took my dad to see it with me (while my mom stayed with the little ones). The stars were the China National Acrobatic Troupe and they didn't disappoint.

I wish I had written down notes during the show, but I think I remember most of the acts (at least I remember the memorable ones, obviously). Acts included a nicely choreographed diabolo ensemble, some amusing magicians doing lots of spoofs, some heavy metal trampolining, a tissue duo swinging over the audience, acrobalance and throwing around girls with bowls balanced on their feet, a great risley (foot juggling and flipping of another acrobat) act, and a trick bike routine culminating in a dozen girls on bike.

But for me, there were two acts that stood out. These are skills I'd seen on video before and would say are at the highest level of circus skill.

The first was a slackrope routine. Tricks included handstands, headstands, swinging, and riding a unicycle upside-down (shoulder on seat and peddling with hands). This was comparable to a routine I saw win either a gold or silver at the Monte Carlo Circus Competition some years back (I saw it on video). The Wow Show kid looked to be about 10 years old and truly exhibited world-class skills.

The second great act was a cups and saucers kickup routine. I'd seen Rudy Horn's classic skill performed live once before when I saw I Chinese circus act that came to Jerusalem many years ago. The improvement in this show was something I have on a Chinese circus video which is to perform the whole thing on top of a rolling globe. It was amazing to see it performed to perfection! Here's the best photo I could find online of the stunt (about halfway down).

Overall the show was definitely worth the money. The skills were pretty high level but I thought that the presentation had a lot to be desired. In some places they tried too hard and in others it seemed like they didn't hardly consider performance aspects. It was definitely worth the 59 shekels (special price for Isrotel guests).

I'm Back

For all you faithful readers, I'm back. I survived having my parents stay with me for 2 weeks and got through the Purim holiday shows with 2 shows every day last week.

So... Let the blogging begin!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

Maintaining a blog isn't easy. Not only is it hard to think of new content for it all the time, I have to make time to write. Well, the past week's been a bust. I haven't thought of anything notable to write about and I haven't had all that much time anyway.

My days have been filled with taking care of my girls and settling into my new part-time job. The only time I have for it is after they go to bed, but I've got other things to do as well. As soon as I come online several people seem to show up for chat. Then there's email correspondence to deal with. I don't remember the last time I got so far behind on online juggling news either.

I also haven't had time for pursuing my juggling career as much as I had hoped. The good news is that the job is going well and the pay more than makes up for the loss in marketing my juggling. But juggling is still my goal and I have serious plans.

And I'm also serious about this blog. Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Exceding Expectations

I started my new job last week. So far it's going well - I can handle 3-4 hours/day, especially knowing that once I settle in, it's supposed to move down to 2.5 hours/day. ;-)

I have the benefit of knowing the owner of the company since I worked for 4 years at his previous endeavor. I also knew a small handful of the employees already. So, I had no problem showing up in my typically casual dress: shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals (gotta love Israeli winters!).

I wonder what the other people think, though. I'm supposed to be the department head and I'm sure they must be thinking that the owner is crazy. Especially the people whose boss I became. I personally am amused by the minor shock value I can provide. Well, at least I get a kick out of myself.

I've never had a problem in the past with coworkers' concern for my professionalism, even with my very casual demeanor. I once felt awkward, though, when I hired 2 men who were over twice my age to work under me. I've also had people with a lot more formal education than I. But in the end, it became obvious why I was the boss and there was never an issue with it. I even prefer knowing that I've earned the respect from my actions and abilities, rather than artificial means like fancy clothes, titles, diplomas, or intimidation.

But let's get on the real topic here: juggling!

I'm not sure why, but it's important to me to be respected by my peers. I love showing off, especially for jugglers who can appreciate the technical skills and originality involved in what I do. I'm very proud of my achievements and even more so when I can surprise people by my skills. The thing about juggling is that you can't tell from looking at someone how good they might be.

Many years ago there was a juggling shop in Tel Aviv that people used to meet outside of on Friday afternoons. I remember well the first time a group of us from Jerusalem showed up. The regulars had thought that nothing could be greater than the jugglers from Tel Aviv so I took a lot of satisfaction in blowing them away. ;-)

I would love to show up at the New York City juggling club and surprise Slammin Andy (one of my favorite online juggling personalities). He once wrote about how he judges new people even before they start juggling. I have a feeling that my shleppiness and one-piece juggling clubs would throw him for a loop.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Early Bookings

I generally book shows about a month in advance on average. I occasionally get things even earlier and have a few shows lined up for late summer already. And then there are freak things like the Turkey trip mentioned the other day which is 11 months in advance. So today I got an email asking to book me the day before the Turkey trip. Maybe I'll book next January up before next month is even full!

Loving Springtime

It's an amazing time of year. There is so much green everywhere and the wildflowers are in bloom. I'm lucky to live out in nature. I have to make sure to enjoy it more instead of spending too much time in front of the computer (it's nighttime now so it's ok).

The other day, I took my girls on a picnic and hike a few miles south of here. We saw so many beautiful flowers of every color, shape, and size. I made an effort to hunt down more and more different types and to teach my kids to appreciate them all.

Next week I'll take them to Givat HaTermosim, a hill nearby that has all the regular wildflowers plus a special type (Termosim) that only grow on this one hill. It's a beautiful place that I've taken my kids to a couple times already in previous years. Ok, I just got off the phone with a friend of mine, and we'll go together one day next week with our kids. I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Interesting Upcoming Gigs

A couple unique requests were processed today.

1. A family of former immigrants to Israel are now doing business from Turkey and are planning now for a January, 2007 bar mitzvah. Much of their event will be run by locals but they decided that it's crucial to have a Jewish juggler. Their plan is to fly me out on a Friday, arrange my accomodations, have me perform on Saturday night, and return me home on Sunday. Yes, an all-expenses vacation to Istanbul! Plus my regular fee, of course. I'm even going to collect an extra finder's fee for arranging a Jewish musician to come along, too.

2. An organization that supports disabled veterans is sponsoring a wheelchair basketball game and are in need of halftime entertainment. It's hard to play to large crowds on both sides
(especially when I don't juggle rings which are the ideal prop from side view), but they only require 10 minutes so I was able to come up with some suitable material.

PS - It's 1:30am and I wrote this post with one hand and a small child falling asleep on my lap. I'm losing the battle against jetlag.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Love at First Chat

The other night, I had a really pleasant chat with a woman on a singles website. Thankfully, she has excellent typing skills and the conversation flowed nicely. Last night we chatted some more.

Now is where I get nervous. It was off to a good start, but what does the future have in store? Will it remain as good? And to top it off, I've got a fear of rejection and therefore I get nervous about making the next step. I sometimes have the terrible attitude that it may be better not to try because then I won't fail.

(Ooh - I really should delete that last sentence because it's embarrassing to admit. I don't honestly feel, however, that it's hindered anything major in my life. I think it's normal to mainly pursue things that one will be successful with. I'm getting off-topic here so I'll shut up already.)

I'm pretty good at chatting (I think) and I could play it safe and chat some more. But what about if she offers me her phone number? Oy, I have problems with phone calls - chatting is so much easier. And I get particularly anxious about the first call. What if that original spark isn't there? It's so easy to push it off and leave the status quo which was quite good. But I know I should do it and move forward - hey, the goal is to actually meet the person and fall in love. Luckily, I rarely get rejected from phone calls with people I've chatted with - but that may be because I usually keep the first one to business: arranging the first date.

Ah, the first date. My first few after the divorce were tough for me. Not because I wasn't emotionally ready but because I had never really been on dates of this nature before. All my past girlfriends were women that I knew socially somehow for some period of time before they became my girlfriend. So online dating and blind dates are really awkward for me. I try conversing as much as possible to catch up on those months of background knowledge that I'm used to.

On my first few dates, I felt a serious pressure - probably because of certain unrealistic expectations I had for success. Luckily, I've gotten over that and have managed to have more fun on dates. But I'm still a bit nervous because I want it to work out. I want to end my online dating subscription as soon as possible. I was optimistic at first and only bought a one month subscription, but of course I've had to renew a few times. I don't want to be a life member of JDate!

Kids are Home!

My kids came back this morning! Woohoo! They've got jetlag and are taking naps right now. I'll wake them soon, though, so hopefully I'll have some sort of chance to get them on schedule.

They're the sweetest things ever. They ran over and gave me the most wonderful hugs at the airport. I picked them up and couldn't put them down until we got to the car. They are so sweet and wonderful. It's so cute to hear them babble on and on.

Once home, we jumped and cuddled and played on the bed, played with toys, went to the park, read some books, and played some more. They're so much fun.

Life is good!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Searches to my site

Below is the absolutely fascinating list of what people searched for to find my site in January. Ok, maybe it's not as interesting as AbbaGav's list, but it does say a lot about the deviants who find my web page.

# Hits Search String
1 385 18.47% back tattoos
2 100 4.80% juggler
3 72 3.45% juggling tricks
4 58 2.78% lip ring
5 53 2.54% lip tattoos
6 33 1.58% mickey mouse tattoos
7 32 1.53% ankle tattoos
8 30 1.44% jester tattoos
9 25 1.20% arm tattoos
10 22 1.06% shoulder tattoos
11 21 1.01% tattoos
12 20 0.96% scott seltzer
13 18 0.86% jugglers
14 18 0.86% juggling videos
15 17 0.82% pooh bear tattoos
16 16 0.77% pics of back tattoos
17 16 0.77% pictures of mickey mouse tattoos
18 15 0.72% anthony gatto
19 15 0.72% ring tattoos
20 14 0.67% cat tattoos

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Street Performing

When I spoke to Ofer a couple weeks ago, one thing he spoke about was street performing. When I first got started, I did street performing on Jerusalem's pedestrian mall, Ben Yehuda Street, but I hadn't really thought of going back since it's not my preferred performance style. But, as I'm getting started, I may have to compromise and do certain things just for the money. Actually, another good thing is that it's good publicity and hopefully it could help me get some gigs.

Last weekend I went to Tel Aviv's Nachalat Binyamin which has arts and crafts fairs on Tuesdays and Fridays. I saw 3 juggling street performances (Uri Weiss and wife, Gili, and Edgar (not to mention running into another juggler, Michal Abulafia, a little while later on Shenkin Street). I hadn't really seen any street performing for many years and it really got me thinking. Hey, maybe it's not as bad as I thought. I could see a lot of my material working in this setting. I have some ideas for how to customize my routines to the street as well as some nice additions that may work.

Yeah, I think it's something I'll pursue and try to develop to be ready by early summer.

Technorate Tags:

Learning From Nachshon

Thinking further about the name Nachshon (mentioned in one of my recent posts), I was reminded of the importance of the character in Jewish biblical history. I've even got a way to connect his story to my decision to spend less time working in an office, and more time doing things I love.

When the Israelites escaped Egypt and stood trapped up against the Red Sea, it was Nachshon who pressed forward. He stepped into the waters, started wading, and continued further into the deep waters. We all know that eventually the Red Sea split for the Jews, but it didn't occur until Nachshon pressed forward and got in as far as his nostrils. Further reading about Nachshon's bravery.

Nachson didn't sit back and wait for miracles to happen; he took initiative and caused the miracle to happen. We learn from this that good things don't come without making efforts. The bigger the risk, the bigger the potential for success.

The main purpose of this blog is to share my recent experience of quitting my comfortable hi-tech job to pursue my passions in life. I feel in many ways like Nachshon. I am taking a serious financial risk, but am starting to see the pay off. I've been semi-professional for years and get occasional phone calls for shows, but it was never enough to make me think I could quit my job. But the week I gave notice on quitting my job, it seemed that the number of phone calls doubled. And during the last week of working, I got a number of freelance computer jobs including a consistent long-term project at a company 5 minutes from my house (5 minutes in the opposite direction is actually Kibbutz Nachshon).

Ok, so I don't believe there's a metaphysical cause/effect connection here - it's really just coincidence. But it sure is inspiring to hear about people making unpopular decisions but then becoming heroes. Well, I may not have a fan club yet, but hopefully some reader someday will follow my footsteps and make their world a better place. Perhaps people will rethink their priorities and have the courage to do what is really important to themselves and what will have the most impact on their soul.

Aside from the root of name Nachshon being the the Hebrew word for snake, I think I may choose the name for my boa so I'll be reminded of the importance of controlling one's destiny.

Full Time Juggler

My last day of work was Thursday. Yippee!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Snake Lover

I don't want you to think that I don't love juggling (because I do, I really do), but I'm posting again off the normal topic.

I grew up in Arizona and spent a lot of my youth playing outside in the desert. Among my favorite pasttimes was turning over stones and looking for interesting insects and wildlife. One of the best finds was snakes. I learned a lot about snakes, particularly how to capture them carefully and how to identify and avoid the dangerous ones. Several even turned into pets. The one I had the longest was a longnose snake names Clyde (named after a snake in a poem by Shel Silverstein).

This was the perfect pet since my mother was allergic to furry animals. Also, snakes are good for kids because they're very low maintenance compared to something like a dog. You only have to feed snakes about once/week, they're quiet, they don't need to be taken for walks (slithers?), and they don't need to be given baths.

For many years, I've been wanting to get another snake. More recently, I was considering a ball python. I did a lot of research online and got really excited about the thought of buying one. I found some locals with experience with snakes to talk with and found out about a store specializing in exotic pets. A few weeks ago I visited with a friend of mine who is also hoping that his parents will get him a ball python for his bar mitzvah in April.

At the store, I enjoyed the ball python but after seeing the boa constrictors on display, decided that that might be better. In the shop, I met a woman snake owner who also recommended the boa. She actually lives nearby so I called her a few days later and arranged to see her snake. After hanging out with her for a while and discussing things, I became more sure that I needed to get a boa.

I called the shop the next day and they told me that they had some 4 month olds or I could wait a month and get a baby. I decided to wait. I called today and found out that there was a misunderstanding and the baby boa eggs haven't been laid yet and it'll be a few months even before they hatch. Phooey. I can either wait some more or get a medium-sized snake now. I have a feeling I'll wait.

Oh, I've got something a little bit on the topic of juggling. In one of my shows, I do some magic and throughout the show take different props from an "empty" box. I was thinking of maybe reaching in once expecting to take out more juggling props and coming out with a handful of snake. It could be a funny surprise. I've seen similar stuff done with rubber toys, but a real snake could be cool.

As long as I'm here, I can ask ya'll to help me choose a name for my future. Some of the names I've thought of so far include:

  • Nachshon - Nachash is the Hebrew word for snake and Nachshon is a biblical name. I'm not sure if the name is too obvious to a Hebrew speaker (for example, in English many children's books have a Sammy the Snake - in Hebrew kids books are all snakes named Nachshon?)? Perhaps a different Hebrew or biblical name could be nice?
  • Fluffy - just so I could tell people I have a pet named Fluffy and they'll assume I have a bunny.
  • Shorty - have you ever seen a tall snake?
  • Girldae - ok, this is a subtle one. Boidae is the scientific name for the boa family. I figured if I got a female, I'd replace the Boi with girl to get a new name.
  • Mr. ????? - Pets with titles can be cool. Perhaps Dr. or something?

Of course I'll have to see the snake and get to know it a little before I decide on a name. Sometimes the skin patterns or personality of the snake can suggest something.

If you've got any brilliant suggestions, please put them in the comments.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Typing Matters

Another excursion from the normal topic of juggling...

I took a typing class in high school but mostly cheated by starting on the timed tests before the fairly senile teacher noticed and continued after the buzzer, too. Many years passed and I was able to get through typing papers in college. I mostly kept my hands in the proper position but always looked at my fingers. Now, after 12 years of working in hi-tech, I can touch type pretty well. Except for when I chat with my sister, Ruth, I type faster than most of my chat buddies.

Anyway, the reason I've been thinking about typing is a conclusion I recently made about online dating, one of my recent favorite pasttimes. First of all, I get really turned off by poorly written profiles. The kind of woman I'm looking for can express herself well and is conscientious about her spelling and grammer.

But where typing skills really come in handy is with chats. A good chat is like a good conversation and should flow nicely. If one side can't type well, there is a lot of dead time and the chat can feel tedious. I'm all for informal chatting and even though I'm fairly compulsive about my spelling (though rarely use spell checkers), I am quite forgiving in chats because they are an informal medium. But sometimes online dating chats can be quite painful because of the lack of typing ability and the woman comes across to me as uneducated because she can barely get a sentence out.

But am I really only interested in women who can type well? Aren't there more important things than having good secretarial skills? Well, you know how important first impressions are. Anyway, I hope that women are at least impressed with my typing...


Of course I'd like to leave my mark in the juggling world, but I have many things I'd like to accomplish in life. In geek mode earlier today I read an article about Apple Computer's co-founder, Steve Wozniak. A lot of commendable things were written about Steve, but the quote that got me thinking the most is that "his greatest achievement is being a good father to his kids."

My kids are the most important thing to me. They make me feel happy in a way that nothing else can. I love playing with them, reading to them, teaching them, and just being with them. I feel pride in everything they accomplish. And I savor the purity of their love. And of course I give them a lot of love in return.

The past time has been rough because they've been with their mother for over a month. They will be returning next week and will be with me alone for more than 6 weeks until their mother returns. I'm totally looking forward to the time. It's precisely when my day job ends (yay - only one more week!) and I have a lot of things I want to do with them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Learning From Ofer

So, I met with Ofer last week. I wasn't sure what to expect.

I thought that maybe he would want to represent me as an agent. On one hand, I thought that he had bad motives - just to make money off me. On the other hand, I would like to have someone to find me some work. But it doesn't really matter, because that's not what happened - he didn't offer to help me directly.

But he gave me mountains of helpful information. He gave me lists of contacts in various industries - event organizers, schools, malls, trade show companies, even television contacts. He told me a lot about the different styles of the individuals and how to approach them. We spoke a bit about advertising materials and distribution methods. He gave me a realistic view of what the situation is.

And overall, he was just a nice guy. I spent about 5 hours at Ofer's house and I really appreciate his (and his wife's) kindness. I feel a guilty that I thought that he had bad intentions. He was truly selfless in what he shared with me. Thanks, Ofer!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Learning From Giraffes

There are two main things I've been thinking about learning to ride the giraffe unicycle the other night.

1. Fear is the biggest barrier to success. Fear of failing, rejection, humiliation, embarrassment, what others think, etc. have a huge impact on how we live our lives. Specifically for unicycle, the hardest part was overcoming the fear of falling. Yaakov even suggested intentional falls so I can learn how to fall properly and also to see that it's not scary. The thing is that it was scary. Riding next to the wall even without touching it wasn't so hard. But to ride out in the open was truly intimidating. My body actually knew what to do but it took a bit of practicing before my confidence increased and I was able to do just let myelf go. But once I did, it was amazing. I rode half a dozen times before I even had my first semi-controlled fall.

2. It feels great to do the impossible. I really never thought I'd be able to succeed at this but, I'm a juggler and I love a challenge. There is nothing like the feeling of success. The greatest thing about juggling is that you have so many opportunities to exceed your expectations. What a great hobby!

Riding a Giraffe

Tonight at juggling club I succeded in doing something that I never thought I'd be able to do: ride a giraffe (tall) unicycle. I used to own a uni and could do the very basics - ride and turn and get off without hurting myself. But I was never so into it so I sold it to my friend some 9 years ago. Maybe 2-3 times/year I see a uni lying around at juggling club or the convention and I prove to myself that I can still do it.

A couple times I sat on a giraffe unicycle to see what it was like. Once a few months ago some friends and I took turns trying to ride one and it seemed totally hopeless.

Recently my friend Yaakov went somewhere and saw someone with a really good giraffe unicycle and he decided that he needed to get one. Tonight I picked him up from work and we picked up his new uni. At juggling club he fixed up the chain and pedals and things and got to work riding back and forth holding on to a wall.

Soon he let me try. I didn't think it was going to work, but it really did. This was a great unicycle. Within a few attempts I was able to make 10 pedals along the wall without holding on. Shortly after I made a leap by going away from the wall some 4 meters across the room. Soon after, I was able to ride fairly freely and once did a nice figure eight for about a 30 meter ride. I even succeded to juggle 3 clubs for about 10 throws while riding.

Anyway, I'm thrilled with this new toy. I'm going to help Yaakov bring it most weeks and hopefully we'll both get better. And have a lot of fun in the process!

Updated Feb 5: Thanks to Yaakov for some pictures:

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Better Outlook

Ok, the situation has improved. In the past week, I've booked a number of shows, particularly in March. I assume that I'll get more because of Purim (Jewish holiday that has a carnival atmosphere and is highest season for jugglers) on March 14. Most of the shows I have booked in March are actually for bar/bat mitzvahs before and after Purim so I'm still hoping for more Purim-related gigs.

I also need to fill up February better. I've actually got more shows confirmed for April than February. I've also got one booked for May and another already for August.

I still want more...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Comedy Club Show this Saturday Night

February 4 @ 8:30pm (in Jerusalem):
Jerusalem's Off The Wall Comedy Empire presents: Variety Show With Jugglers Scott Seltzer & Josh Phaff
Headliner: Scott Seltzer, the known finale performer for the Cardo Culinarium restaurant (1993-1999). Scott also dabbles in magic, including Houdini style escapes. Aside for performing for your favorite Israeli politicians, Scott is recognized on an elite list of people who have successfully juggled 9 balls.
Feature: Josh Phaff is a very lively performer who incorporates audience participation and comedy. A unique blend of juggling, rope magic, balancing feats, eating and juggling fire- you’ll be entertained.
Special Guest: BorisMelamed (the smart one).
Location: OlaLa Cafe (kosher L'mehadrin, dairy) - 42 King George, Jerusalem
Entrance: 30shekel (students 25shekel).
Contact: 050-875-5688 David