not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake
nothings

Boing Boing linked to this promo for an ESPN juggling competition show. If you've seen my home page, you know I juggle (or I used to, anyway), and since I have broadband and the net is much more interesting than it was five years ago, I decided to see what I could track down of Anthony Gatto.

Anthony Gatto, you see, is the serious record holder in the juggling world in terms of juggling the most objects for extended periods of time. (Though some people on that page have higher numbers, you will note that they did not technically juggle them, merely "flashed" them--threw them all up and caught them all. Almost all of his records include more catches than objects, and he has all but one of the records involving at least twice the catches as objects.)

Although apparently he'd already been playing Vegas earlier, Gatto came to fame in the juggling community when he won the 1986 US Nationals juggling competition at age 13. (Not the Junior competition, which he'd competed in in previous years.) Mostly by juggling more things than anybody else was even trying in competition, and doing so flawlessly. IIRC, his one drop was due to a bad throw-in from his Dad, although I can't find video of the competition online. (There's also a cute bit where the guy who had to perform after him jokingly attempts as many objects as Gatto, since it was no doubt already clear that Gatto had won.) The day after the competition, Gatto put on a brief show to demonstrate, unfortunately the linked videos do not have their frame-rate set so they run stupid fast, at least under Windows.

Anyway, Gatto's homepage has a whole bunch of videos showing large numbers being juggled, although the page has a scrolling marquee that says it's his friends-only password-protected page. Oops? Or maybe he opened it up intentionally at some point and forgot to fix the marquee. He has more here on homepage.mac.com.

I once saw some footage of him juggling 7-ish clubs that was set to something like Philip Glass because it just looked amazingly mechanical and regular. Therefore it was cute to find this video (15MB) where someone made a montage of every time he dropped during a practice session. Of course, this isn't him dropping while juggling 3 balls, but while trying insanely large numbers (including, apparently, 12 rings). There are about 80 drops in this three-minute video; his actual average time between drops would have been over two minutes. Note that this is a practice session, not a performance; his practices at events inevitably drew crowds of juggling fans to watch. (Among other things, you never knew when he would set a record, as he did with seven clubs for over a minue.)

Although last I heard Gatto reportedly only practiced a half an hour a day in his twenties, he apparently did little other than juggle in his years before 13. I mention this because juggling in literature is often overdone; in reality, rarely will someone who is not a "professional" juggler on some level (able to devote enormous amounts of time to their craft) be able to juggle more than five balls (in a cascade, not a shower) or four clubs.
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