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Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, but what does that really mean beyond the possibility of a three-day weekend? Here is what I found out…

Firstly, Memorial Day should not be confused with Veteran’s Day, which honors the service of all our men and women military veterans. Memorial Day started as “Decoration Day”, originating after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died – today, Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring ALL those who died while serving our country.

Did you notice an American flag this morning?

On this day of memorial, the flag will be raised to the top of the staff and then lowered to the half-staff position which is in remembrance of the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service. At noon, the flag is raised back to the top of the staff where it will remain for the rest of the day. This act symbolizes raising the memory of the dead and declaring that their sacrifice was not made in vain. Our departed service members did their duty and more, it is up to us to continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Did you also notice, as you passed by a cemetery today, an abundance of flowers laid on the graves?

This practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers, is actually an ancient custom, one that took on greater cultural significance after the Civil War. After the government began creating national military cemeteries, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves took shape. Caring for the landscaping around the graves is another simple way to say thank you and to pay your respects.

And if you would like to leave flowers, I would recommend poppies. The remembrance poppy has been used since 1921 to revere soldiers who have died in war. This was inspired by a poem written in 1915 after the Second Battle of Ypres in World War I. The opening lines of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” refer to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldiers’ graves in Flanders. Three years later, Moina Michael, considered the Memorial Day Poppy Founder, wore a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed dozens more at a War Secretaries’ conference.

I hope this gives you a new solemn respect for this day, I know it certainly did me.

“Better than honor and glory, and History’s iron pen,
Was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow-men.”
~Richard Watson Gilder

Recommended books for adults:

–Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery: Where War Comes Home by Robert M. Poole

–Offerings at the Wall: Artifacts from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection

by Thomas B. Allen

–Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars by George L. Moss

Recommended books for children:

–The Wall by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler

–In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield, illustrated by Janet Wilson

–The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Walsh, illustrated by Layne Johnson

~Eliza G.

Eliza G

 

When she is not being a responsible adult and working at McKay’s, Eliza fills her time with numerous creative pursuits including: jewelry-making, etching, and crocheting. When she’s not crafting, reading, writing or plotting to take over the world, you’ll probably find her napping with her dogs.


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Publicity for Human Head Transplant May Actually Be Metal Gear Solid 5 Viral Marketing Campaign

A few days ago, my co-worker (let’s be real, he’s my work spouse) asked me if I’d jumped down the rabbit hole of “this whole head transplant/Metal Gear Solid V conspiracy theory.” I had no idea what this was all about, so I looked into it. In a nutshell, there is a theory going around the gaming community that the publicity surrounding the upcoming human head transplant surgery is actually a viral marketing campaign for Metal Gear Solid V, an upcoming video game title for current generation consoles. My friend told me some of the basic information and at first it sounded like a bit of a stretch, but as more evidence was presented to me (mainly through this YouTube video by user YongYea) it became more difficult to brush off the coincidences.

A user on the gaming forum NeoGAF originally pointed out the similarity of appearance between Dr. Sergio Canavero and the doctor who appears in the cutscene at the end of MGSV: Ground Zeroes informing Big Boss that he’d been in a coma for nine years.

The top picture is the real life Dr. Canavero, the bottom picture is the doctor character in the Metal Gear game. This is only the beginning. It just gets crazier from here.

Now, the supposed recipient of the head transplant surgery scheduled for completion in 2017 is a 30-year-old video game developer from Russia named Valery Spiridonov. A tenuous connection, but when seen as part of the whole, adds to the compelling nature of the theory and its connection to video games.

Furthermore, a British flag and map of the Republic of Cyprus are seen on the hospital wall during the cutscene, placing it most likely in a British colony on the island. Dr. Canavero (the real-life doctor) gave a talk for TED Limassol (which is an anagram for Solid Metals), Limassol being a city in Cyprus which is very close to a British colony.

The similarities don’t end there. In the Metal Gear series, Big Boss forms a base of operations for his mercenary army called “OUTER HEAVEN“, and Dr. Canavero’s head transplant operation has been code-named “HEAVEN” or the “HEad Anastomosis VENture Project.” Also, many of Canavero’s medical research documents refer to phantom pain, and the full title of Konami’s September 1st release is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Not convinced yet? Last year Dr. Canavero released a book which has chapter titles like “Clones”, “GEMINI”, “Frontiers” and “HEAVEN”. We’ve already covered the HEAVEN connection, but for the uninitiated, clones play a large part in the storyline of the first Metal Gear Solid game; a group of mercenaries at the terrorist base “Shadow Moses” are known as “Genome Soldiers” and are revealed to be clones of Big Boss, who is the father of twin brothers Solid Snake (the good guy) and Liquid Snake (the bad guy). “Frontiers” may allude to Militaires Sans Frontieres, or “the military with borders,” the name of the private military group that occupies OUTER HEAVEN. Lastly, in the Metal Gear universe there is another pair of twins, who have organic heads and cybernetic bodies, and are named… you guessed it, Gemini.

There are other connections that have been made, and some arguments are less compelling than others. I find myself intrigued by these conjectures, if not necessarily convinced. If you’re still with me, just know that I fully accept that there is a 99.97% chance that this is all just extreme coincidence. In all the presented situations, Occam’s razor says that it’s just a coincidence and that the simplest explanation is that the truth of the matter is on the surface, and can be taken at face value. But if you, like me, are a die-hard fan of the Metal Gear series, you have faith in that 0.03% chance that Hideo Kojima (the mastermind behind the entire Metal Gear line of games) is just crazy enough to pull off a stunt like this to end his wildly successful Metal Gear franchise with a huge bang.

And if you’re wondering if I wear a tin-foil hat, I can assure you that I do not. Instead, I simply line my regular hat with tin-foil on the inside, as I tend to draw less attention that way.


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Ready Player One, a book review

If you’ve been paying attention to recent sci-fi literature or are generally in the know about all things nerdy, you’ve probably heard about Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. It’s a novel set in the not-so-distant future where an expansive MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) called “the OASIS” has become the new reality for humans. Conventional civilization and society have gone by the wayside and all endeavors, capitalistic or otherwise, take place in the OASIS.

After the death of James Halliday, the inventor of the OASIS, a video of his will is released explaining that there is an Easter Egg, or hidden series of quests, programmed into the OASIS. A top-10 scoreboard is also integrated into the game, giving players the ability to track the forerunners in the quest for Halliday’s Egg. The search for the Egg becomes a massive worldwide effort, and the key to unlocking the secret is having an extensive knowledge of 1980s video games and pop culture.

The story is told from the perspective of Wade Watts, a teenager whose life is dedicated to hunting for Halliday’s Egg. His OASIS avatar’s name is Parzival, a corruption of Percival of Arthurian legend who is a crucial figure in the quest for the Holy Grail. Parzival becomes an unlikely hero when his avatar’s name is the first to show up on the scoreboard. I won’t spoil anything else by going into specifics, but the story is genuinely fun, surprising, and at times endearing.

I plowed through this book from start to finish in three and a half days, and it was an intense ride through waves of nostalgia. If you’re looking for a fun romp through the glory days of retro gaming with a unique sci-fi twist, I cannot recommend this book enough. Look for Cline’s next novel Armada due out in July.


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A Rose by any other Name May be as Sweet, but it May Cost More

Most people are familiar with Shakespeare’s line “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” from Romeo and Juliet. The idea that who or what we are is somehow separate from how we are defined is a swell one, but not one that is always based in reality. This is certainly the case with objects, where how it is defined can have an impact on how much it costs. And that cost, higher or lower, will have an impact on how many people purchase it, how frequently it’s distributed, and any number of other economic considerations.

e-reader 2

Books and the book world are not immune to the forces of these definitions, which can be seen in a recent debate over whether eBooks should be considered “goods” or “services.” For example, as Reuters pointed out last week, value-added tax (VAT) is cheaper for print books (considered to be a “good”) than it is for eBooks (considered to be a “service”). Two years ago, the European Commission stated that paper books can have a reduced VAT. France and Luxembourg have been applying these cheaper rates to eBooks anyway, but have recently lost their case. Unless they can convince the EU Commission to either change the definition of eBooks from services to goods, or to simply allow reduced rates for eBooks, it will be more expensive for EU publishers to provide them instead of paper books. While this may be bad news for proponents of the digital format, it’s good news for fans of print.

The book world isn’t alone in debating questions of definition and category in order to have a cheaper price. A similar story can be found in the land of toys, in the case of Toy Biz (a subsidiary of Marvel Comics) v. United States. In the world of action figures, the U.S. charges two different levels of tariffs. One level is for dolls (human figures), and another, lesser, amount for toys (nonhuman creatures). This led to a large debate for Marvel to essentially prove that their action figures were indeed superhuman, and, therefore, should fall within the category with the lower tariff rate.

Only time will tell whether or not the EU will eventually change the VAT for eBooks to be similar to those of print. But it’s worth noting that these definitional debates are impacting whether or not readers have cheap access to stories. So while the story may be the same whether it’s on an eBook or in a print book, it will not cost the same. And this cost doesn’t only vary because of the more obvious reasons of different production costs, supply and demand, etc., but also whether they are considered to be a “good” or a “service;” something that has nothing to do with the quality of work or the medium with which it is consumed.


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The Book Isn’t Always Better Than The Movie

Have you ever been involved in a conversation about a particular movie with a group of friends, when that one friend inevitably posits, “the book was better than the movie,” or “well, see, in the book…,” or, possibly the worst of all, “have you read the book”? If you’re an avid reader maybe you have read the book, but it’s more likely that you’ve only seen the movie and must therefore capitulate to the friend with the almighty book knowledge; but what’s the deal with that? Is the book always better than the movie? It seems like that’s always the case, but if you’ve read the title of this post then you know my possibly controversial stance on the issue. I’ll even agree that most of the time the book is better, but not always.

I recently picked up a book copy of The Prestige, Christopher Priest’s fantasy novel about two feuding magicians at the turn of the 20th century. The book was made into a film in 2006 by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, and holds an 8.5/10 ranking on IMDb.com, as well as the prestigious (see what I did there?) honor of being “Certified Fresh” by RottenTomatoes.com. While in theaters, this movie went under the radar for me but when it was initially released on DVD I picked up a copy. It has since become one of my favorite movies, so when I decided to read the book I was hopeful that it would enrich my enjoyment of the film. However, the book emphasized different themes than the movie and had an altogether different tone and form of storytelling — this is not my complaint, but it is worth noting.

Ultimately, the book was less than the sum of its parts; it told its story mostly through the diaries of the two main characters. It’s an interesting approach but it separates two sides of the same events by sometimes more than a hundred pages and in some instances can invoke confused back-and-forth page flipping. The movie version of The Prestige excels by intertwining the viewpoints of both characters into a single narrative causing the “big reveal” at the end to be effectively shocking, whereas the book splits the “reveals” between the two characters in a segmented and less graceful fashion. The book is actually quite enjoyable and stylistically is written quite well, but in what seems a practically impossible task, it serves as a rough sketch of story and characters for the movie version to distill and refine into masterpiece.

Lest you think me a bibliophobe, I have to say that McCarthy’s The Road is a much better read than the movie is to watch. The film serves as a good facsimile but with so much of The Road’s substance being in the prose, the book easily overshadows the film version. To my original point however, Palahniuk has said that he thinks Fight Club was improved by David Fincher, and having read the book (once) and seen the film (several hundred times), I’m inclined to agree. And then sometimes, going back to Cormac McCarthy, you get a book like No Country For Old Men, adapted to film by the genius Coen brothers, and the book and film versions are both so good that they are virtually equals in their respective medium. You just have to know that films and books are both equally valid forms of art, and comparing them can sometimes be like comparing apples to oranges.

I say reject the notion that books always possess intellectual superiority over films, but know that there’s a good reason that mindset exists. So the next time that friend tells you “the book was better than the movie” know that it really depends on which book and movie, and consider that each is its own iteration of the same story.


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10 Minutes is all it Takes

The following is a sweet tale told to me by an employee. I wanted to share it with you all this Valentine’s Day, and encourage you to appreciate all of the wonderful moments that make up this thing we call life.

~Sticker Ball

“A gentleman approached me with a book in his hand. He looked to be about the same age as my father, late 60s, gray hair and a beard. The topic of the book in his hand was thousands of things to do on a date and how to romance a woman.

“I’m looking for Valentine movies, do you have those in a special place?” I asked him for specific titles and he thumbed through the book. “I’ve lost my page” and he fumbled some more. He didn’t have his glasses so I flipped through the index, turned to page 215 and 336. “I want to do something for her each day,” he said.

“These will be in lots of different places,” I said. Some were Comedy, some Drama, some Thriller. “Can you help me find them?” he asked. For a split second I thought about everything I needed to do. My job is busy; always busy. Mountains of books to price and shelve, sections to straighten. Always busy. I thought of all I needed to accomplish this work day, but only for a split second. “Of course” I said and walked to the movie section with him.

I don’t watch a lot of movies, but I had seen some of the ones on the list. I plucked these off the shelf first. I’m a fan of romantic comedies so I handed him a few. He carried the stack. As we walked, he told me his story.

“I was married for 39 years and my wife died.” I wasn’t expecting this, I assumed he was just a sweet man doing something lovely for his wife. “I’ve been dating a woman who lost her husband. I was blessed with a wonderful woman and now I’ve been blessed with another one. I want to do this right.”

His stack grew. I steered away from some of the suggestions on the list. “Ghost” with Patrick Swayze, “The Notebook.” He specifically asked about the “Notebook” because he had heard of it. I told him a little about it and said it might not be a good one. He agreed. I handed him the funny, the sweet. Things they would laugh over, not cry. “I still get pretty emotional,” he choked and cleared his throat. When we were done, he thanked me and gave me a hug. We were both a little blurry eyed.

It was less than 10 minutes of my life. 10 minutes that I could have gotten a lot of work done. I did in a way, as I sold him a big stack of movies. Not because I wanted him to spend money but because I wanted him to find what he was looking for. I wanted him to have something to share with his new love. Something “Nice for her each day” as he had said.

It is often a series of 10 minute moments that build us, change us, and make us better people. He did that for me.

In the few close relationships I’ve had, I try to show the person I’m with I love them daily. Not just on Valentine’s Day. I’ve rarely made a big deal out of this holiday and during times I’ve been single snarled at it and saw it as more salt in the wound of the fact that I was alone. It’s always been one of those seemingly commercial holidays that are worthy of eye-rolling. All the pink and red, the hearts and chocolate. I know that for some couples, this may be one of the only times a year they put forth the effort to show their partner they care.

Show the one you love that you love them daily folks. And yeah, I think now I will always make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. This is the first year in many years I had even given it a thought and already had little ideas brewing in my head. We should all be lucky enough to spend 39 years (or more) with someone and if they leave us, lucky enough to find love again. I’ve been lucky enough to find it again and I will always be grateful.

Life and opinions can change in 10 minutes.”


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Sticker Ball’s New Year’s Resolution

For 2015, I, Sticker Ball, resolve to take better care of myself by dusting more often.

I hate cleaning. I really do. But I’ve found that if I don’t dust regularly, then dust will stick to my stickers and then my stickers stop being sticky. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but just imagine rolling down the street looking sexy, yet modest, in your sticker coverage, and then your stickers start to come loose. And possibly fall off. Your lower half is no longer snug up against you, but is instead flapping in the wind. This gives bystanders the rare chance to see your under-stickers (which is embarrassing), and if the stickers keep unsticking they’ll learn your whole sticker anatomy (which is humiliating). It’s something I have experienced once and would love to never experience again. How do we fix that? By dusting more. Bring it, 2015. I’m ready.

dustingsticker


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Tyler’s Top Five Favorite Comedy Films

5. Blazing Saddles

This Mel Brooks joint is easily one of the funniest movies of all time, and also one of the most overtly obscene. Taking place in the “Old West,” this movie tells the story of a corrupt political boss who, in an effort to ruin the town of Rock Ridge, appoints a black sheriff to the town. Rock Ridge’s presence is impeding the progress of the railroad, but Sheriff Bart soon becomes a formidable adversary to Governor Lepetomane and the owner of the railroad, Hedley Lamarr. Blazing Saddles has many iconic gags and memorable lines, the recreation of which are definitely not suitable for polite company.

4. Office Space

A cult favorite since its release on home video, this movie has spawned a lot of pop culture mainstays, namely the “mmm, yeah…” of Bill Lumbergh, or Milton’s plaint about his Swingline stapler. This movie is funny in an “a-ha!” kind of way, drawing on the frustration with the nine-to-five office job lifestyle, every ounce of which is exhibited through Peter, Michael Bolton, and Samir. Just mention “the copier scene” and anyone who’s seen the movie can relate to wanting to take out their aggravation on an ill-functioning piece of technology they’ve been forced to interact with at one point in their career.

3. The Blues Brothers

They’re on a mission from God, but that doesn’t stop Jake and Elwood from raising all kinds of hell. This film is a classic by any means, and features cameos from James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, and Ray Charles – giants of Soul music, in this fittingly music-centric movie. The black suit & tie look with black fedoras has now become iconic, and the nigh-indestructible car (which apparently has superpowers because it was kept parked near a power station) is a character in its own right. A lot of the comedy in this movie is big and over-the-top, but there’s comedy in the subtle moments too, such as when Elwood inquires stiffly about the Cadillac the brothers used to own but is placated when Jake explains that he traded it for a microphone. Great movie – but avoid the sequel.

2. Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

A masterpiece of British cinema, this comedy is one for the truly nerdy. Chronicling King Arthur’s quest to attain the Holy Grail, and his acquisition of knights along the way, the journey is replete with zany characters, ridiculous situations, and danger every step of the way (sometimes with sharp, pointy teeth). This movie is the model of British humor, including the highest of the high-brow to the lowest of the low and levels of absurdity that border insanity. You’ll know you’re in good company if you ask a friend if a swallow can carry a coconut, and their response is to ask “African swallow or European swallow?”

1. The Big Lebowski

Of course this is on my list – it’s probably on yours, too. Endlessly quotable, the Coen brothers struck gold with this comedy film that’s since become a cult favorite. If you know what happens when you “find a stranger in the alps” or if you enjoy imbibing White Russians, chances are this movie has infiltrated your life in some way. There are so many bizarre, hilarious moments in this movie that it’d be pointless to attempt to fit them all into this post. It’s definitely the funniest movie in Los Angeles county, which puts it high in the running for funniest worldwide, and if you don’t agree, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.


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‘Tis the Season

It is that time again.

The nights have gotten longer, the days have gotten colder; you’re making a list, checking it twice and desperately trying to figure out where the year has gone. Seriously, I can’t be the only one wondering that, can I? It is the season for traditions ­­– whether they are time honored or brand new, and an occasion to stop and reflect on the events that have shaped your life and the people that matter most to you.

My mother spent more than thirty years as a school teacher and more time than that as a lover of books. As an elementary teacher, her preferred tool for teaching simple and complex ideas to children were picture books. As my mother, she showed me that just because a book is written and illustrated for children does not mean that adults cannot be moved, inspired or taught something about themselves. That idea motivated me to start my own collection of children’s books while I was still in high school and my collection now is well over 100 picture books. I want to make it clear though, that these books are not for any future children I might have; this collection is just for me…future children will get their own copies to drool over. Whenever I’m feeling bummed out or unmotivated, I’ll pull some of my favorites off the shelves, lay down on the floor and read. Words are inspiring to me, but at my core I remain a very visual person and the easiest way to put a smile on my face it to put a book in my hands that was drawn by my favorite illustrator: David Catrow.

I wanted to introduce you to David Catrow (if you are unaware of his work) during this holiday season because my love of his work began with a Christmas book I discovered nearly 15 years ago. My sister and I were wandering around our hometown bookstore waiting for our mother as she systematically perused books when we picked up a copy of “How Murray Saved Christmas” written by Mike Reiss, illustrated by David Catrow. I was instantly hooked. “How Murray Saved Christmas” is an absolutely delightful and hilarious retelling of the immortal ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem.

murray

Inept, yet loveable Edison Elf accidentally knocks out Saint Nick on Christmas Eve with his “Jack­-in-­the-Boxer” toy. Oh no! How is he going to get all the toys to the good girls and boys? Enter Murray Kleiner, owner of Murray K’s Holiday Diner. It doesn’t go perfectly; Murray has to deal with an ill-­fitting suit, fight against sleigh­-sickness, and has a tendency of falling down the chimneys and landing tush-­first. Disheartened and losing the Christmas spirit, Murray is confronted by a six-­year-­old boy. After convincing the boy that “Oh, Santa is real, kid. It’s wrestling that’s fake,” Murray really embraces his role as a Saint Nick substitute…even bringing toys to the not-­so-­good kids and saving Christmas.

Reading it the first time, my sister and I were laughing aloud so hard we had tears in our eyes and were getting peculiar stares from other shoppers. We couldn’t help it. It’s a hysterical book and 15 years later I laugh just like I did the first time. You really must read it and see the illustrations to get the full effect. It’s a perfect union of words and pictures and there is actually quite a bit of humor that parents and other adults would appreciate. (Mike Reiss has won several Emmy Awards for his work on the first seven seasons of the Simpsons and was the co-­creator of “The Critic”.)

santa claustrophobia
And if you like “How Murray Saved Christmas,” I’d recommend the follow­up: “Santa Claustrophobia,” also written by Mike Reiss with pictures by David Catrow. In this story, Santa’s therapist, Doc Holiday, sends Saint Nick on vacation in hopes that the time away will help him get over his newly developed fear of chimneys. Doc enlists the help of the other holiday celebrity inhabitants in the town of “Stinky Cigars” to make sure Christmas still happens…things do not go well. Election Day Donkey and Elephant can’t decide who should be in charge, the Easter Bunny paints trucks, planes and trains like they’re Easter eggs, and Groundhog eats the “Naughty & Nice” List. Don’t worry though, all does work out in the end.

I could continue to praise David Catrow well into the New Year, because when you combine the right writer with Catrow’s distinct and stunning illustrations, you get magic. To see more images of his work, see a complete listing of his books and to learn more about this incredibly talented man, visit his website. If you’re looking for a special present for a child, a parent or a friend, I would like to leave you with my top five David Catrow books, and wish for you to have a wonderful holiday.

1. Cinderella Skeleton written by Robert D. San Souci

2. Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon written by Patty Lovell

3. Our Tree Named Steve written by Alan Zweibel

4. I Like Myself! written by Karen Beaumont

5. The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share written by Mike Reiss

~Eliza G.

Eliza G

 

When she is not being a responsible adult and working at McKay’s, Eliza fills her time with numerous creative pursuits including: jewelry-making, etching, and crocheting. When she’s not crafting, reading, writing or plotting to take over the world, you’ll probably find her napping with her dogs.


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Yo! Lemme see that yo-yo, yo!

PICTURE_ONE

Yo-yos. They’re toys. You’ve probably seen some kid playing with one, or maybe you’ve played with one yourself, but what’s the deal with them? Where did they come from? How long have they been around? Who plays with them anymore? I’m going to attempt to answer these questions in a somewhat entertaining manner, and hopefully you’ll learn something about yo-yos that you didn’t know before reading this article. Let’s go!

From Stephen G. Miller’s Ancient Greek Athletics

Yo-yos have been around for a long time. How long? Well, at least twenty-five hundred years. In Stephen G. Miller’s book Ancient Greek Athletics he writes that the yo-yo was a popular toy in ancient Greece, and yo-yos were most commonly made from wood, bronze, or terra-cotta. The vase painting seen above, ca. 440 BC, depicts a Greek boy playing with a yo-yo. As old as the Greek records are, it’s believed that the yo-yo may have originated even earlier in China. Dude, that’s pretty old.

PICTURE_THREESo what’s the allure of this basic toy that’s lasted for more than two millennia? Some might say simplicity, which is definitely a factor, since few parts and a simple design help keep the yo-yo cheap, allowing it to continue to be a widely available toy. Yo-yos typically consist of two circular discs – these days made of plastic – that make up the two sides of the toy, and the sides are kept together by a metal axle screwed into the center of each disc. Each disc also has a groove in the middle for a metal spacer that sits on each end of the axle. A metal ring bearing rests in the center of the axle between the spacers and holds the string, allowing the yo-yo to spin, or “sleep” without automatically retracting up the string.

Image courtesy of YoYoExpert.com

Yo-yos experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1960s and have been gaining momentum ever since. Yo-yo makers like Yomega and Duncan are major players in the yo-yo world, producing several different specialized models typically tailor-made for looping tricks, or for string tricks. Yo-yo competitions are now as commonplace as radio-controlled airplane contests, model train conventions, and horseshoe championships, finding its own niche culture among enthusiasts worldwide.

Gentry Stein, winner of the Class 1A championship of the 2014 World Yo-Yo contest

So if you’ve got some yo-yos lying around, break ’em out again and give it another whirl! Or if it’s not your thing anymore, I would love to check them out in the store. Now since you’re all jazzed up about yo-yos, enjoy this video of awesome yo-yo tricks!
-Tyler