More from: Life

Movies I watched in 2013

I looked back through the movies I watched in 2013 and made some lists. I watched 61 movies (at least, I think I missed a few). Overall, I think I had a good year watching movies.

Yup! (knew/heard it was good, was good):
District 9
Cabin in the Woods
Brave
2 Days in Paris
2 Days in New York
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek Into Darkness
Casino Royale
2001
Dumbo
Sunshine
Skyfall
Independence Day
Apollo 13
Psycho
Mary Poppins
Four Weddings and Funeral
Trainspotting
Terminator
Terminator 2
Les Miserables
Dredd
Source Code
Gravity
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Jurassic Park
2001
Fifth Element
Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Okay category A. The Anti-Disappointment (thought it would be bad, turned out better than expected (either good or okay)):
Green Lantern – took two attempts to get through
Megamind
Megamind
Dark Shadows
The World Is Not Enough
John Carter (of Mars)
Oblivion
Now You See Me
Cloud Atlas

Okay category B. Just Okay (knew/heard it would be okay, turned out okay):
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
A Good Year
Octopussy
Star Trek 2009
Flight
Robot and Frank
Despicable Me
Hitchcock
Slumdog Millionaire
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Despicable Me 2
White Christmas

Disappointment (heard/remembered it was good/okay, turned out barely okay/bad):
Perfect Pitch – took two attempts to get through
7 Psychopaths
My Fair Lady
Hugo – didn’t finish
Elysium

Known bad (heard/knew it was bad, was bad):
Armageddon
Jack the Giant Slayer
Man of Steel

Ultimate Disappointment (heard it was bad, turned out worse than I could imagine):
Prometheus
The Great Gatsby

Seen before (26):
2 Days in Paris
Armageddon
Octopussy
The World Is Not Enough
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek 2009
Casino Royale
2001
Dumbo
Sunshine
Skyfall
Independence Day
Apollo 13
Psycho
My Fair Lady
Mary Poppins
Four Weddings and Funeral
Trainspotting
Terminator
Terminator 2
Source Code
Jurassic Park
2001
Fifth Element
Curse of the Were-Rabbit
White Christmas

All (61):
Green Lantern
Megamind
Prometheus
District 9
2 Days in Paris
Cabin in the Woods
Brave
Armageddon
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
A Good Year
Megamind
Perfect Pitch
Dark Shadows
Octopussy
The World Is Not Enough
Two Days in New York
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek 2009
Star Trek Into Darkness
7 Psychopaths
Flight
Casino Royale
2001
Dumbo
Robot and Frank
John Carter (of Mars)
Sunshine
Skyfall
Independence Day
Despicable Me
Apollo 13
Jack the Giant Slayer
Oblivion
Psycho
Hitchcock
My Fair Lady
Mary Poppins
The Great Gatsby
Four Weddings and Funeral
Trainspotting
Slumdog Millionaire
Terminator
Terminator 2
Les Miserables
Dredd
Source Code
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Gravity
Man of Steel
Despicable Me 2
Hugo
Now You See Me
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Cloud Atlas
Jurassic Park
Elysium
2001
Fifth Element
Curse of the Were-Rabbit
White Christmas


Luke Wilson

I’m not sure where this is going, but I have to write something. Luke Wilson died a few days ago, and the news hit me really hard. Hopefully this can clear up, for myself and anyone interested, just what he meant to me, and what’s going to change in my life now he has gone.

Pretty often I’d meet a juggler for the first time, and after a brief introduction, they would ask me: “Are you Luke Wilson?”

“No,” I’d say, “I’m the other British professional juggler who lives in Germany, has a German girlfriend, travels and performs around the world, hosts shows at many conventions, etc, etc… and who is also called Luke. I’m the tall skinny club juggler called Luke, and Luke is the small skinny club juggler called Luke.”

I can see where the confusion might arise. Luke and I acknowledged the confusion, and our position of being the two Lukes in the juggling world, with a our online rivalry both claiming to be the Real Luke.

Back in early 2001 I invented a ring trick. You place a ring on one ear, and with a shake of the head, you transfer it to the other ear. I showed it off in a best trick competition at the BJC 2001, and it got a good reaction. Other jugglers started calling it Luke’s Ear Ring Trick, which I thought was pretty cool. Then someone said they had seen Ian Merchant doing it a few months before. Which I also found pretty cool, as so many times two jugglers build on the same existing concept to come up with the same new trick.

After writing about this on my website, I got an email from Luke Wilson saying:

“What is the trick? If it involves hanging the ring on one ear, and then
flipping it around your face to a catch on the other, then the name is
correct :-)

If the trick is another: please expand details!

Regards,

Luke (Not Barrage But Wilson)”

As you can see, right from the start, we had more in common than just our name. We’d both invented the same trick! The ambiguity of “Luke’s Ear Ring Trick” seemed to make sense. We stayed in contact from then on for various reasons, including the fact that people presumed that the luke@juggler.net email address would reach the Luke Wilson, and not the actual Real Luke (why would the non-Real Luke have the juggler.net address?).

Later in 2001 I attended Luke and Ben Richter’s workshop at the London Juggling Convention called “Encyclopedia of Contemporary Club Juggling”. It inspired me to write up my thoughts about ring juggling in a similar categorical way, leading to The Endless Possibilities of Ring Juggling essay/workshop guide.

I could go on and on about the small ways Luke Wilson influenced and inspired me in my early years as a juggler. I’m sure everyone has similar stories. His presence in my life grew though, into a friendship. We weren’t as close friends as others, but we were good friends, and constant friends, due to the similar paths we’d chosen in life, and due to the similar paths life had chosen for us.

It’s only now Luke has died do I realize that Luke’s constant presence became the guide for my entire life. I never thought “If I could be like anyone, I’d be just like Luke Wilson!” and, as I said, so much of life is outside of anyone’s control.

But Luke was four years older than me, and so often the same number of years ahead of me in terms of his juggling career. Sometimes more, sometimes less, I guess. If ever I wondered if I was doing okay in my progression as a juggler, Luke’s life and career was my go-to guide to know I was on the right track.

Luke Wilson performed in the BJC public show in 2000 as a Gandini, and in 2003 in his Luka Luka double act with Ilka Licht. Well, once I’d performed in the same show, I knew I’d be on my way. In 2004 I performed in the BJC Public Show as a solo act, and headlined the Dutch convention gala show… but then I met Luke backstage at the EJC that same year, and he was performing his devilstick act. In the Gala show… for second year in a row, having already performed with Ilka in in the 2003 EJC Gala.

Well, not to worry, the EJC Gala was a still a few years off for me. Pola and I performed our double act in both the BJC and EJC Gala shows in 2006.

At Bamberg Zaubert, a street show festival, I noticed Luka Luka listed as a previous winner. Once Pola and I won the main competition, I sent Luke a message about it. His response?

“I won it twice, once with Ilka and once as a solo magician.”

12 months later, when Pola and I won the same competition for the second year in a row, I felt I could continue the conversation with Luke as an equal.

“Luka Luka” and “Luke and Pola”, two English-German juggling couple duo club juggling shows. Here’s Luke Wilson and Luke Burrage similarity trivia fun fact number 83: both Ilka and Pola, our respective juggling partners and first German girlfriends, lived in Aachen. Ilka also studied architecture, and Pola worked as a graphic designer for an architecture firm.

Of course, both of our relationships with our German juggling/life partners ended, and we both had to go through the same issues that brings up, professionally and otherwise. Thankfully Luke had gone through that years before me, and while I we didn’t talk about that in depth, I remember thinking “It won’t be a problem… Luke’s been there and done that, so I should aim to be as professional about it as he was.” Pola and I went on to perform our last contracted shows together, despite the pain and annoyance of breaking up, and we’ve stayed friends since. Both Luke and I found new German girlfriends (you know, because we both lived in Germany), and earlier this year he followed my lead, for once, moving to Berlin.

So it was never conscious decision to do what Luke did, but in any professional situation, Luke was my go-to guy. Often we’d chat online or in person, and our conversations would typically revolve around our common job and work. To be clear, our work was traveling. We had ongoing battles comparing how many flights we took per year… with the loser being the one who’d flown more times.

But our common job was performing juggling. We weren’t just jugglers, we were performing jugglers. I don’t remember a single conversation in the last 6 years about juggling itself, or any kinds of trick. It was all about performing. Which is good, because we could both talk endlessly about our views on performing and our approaches to stage craft.

Here’s a random exchange from Skype:

Luke Burrage: Just found a video on an old hard drive of you performing a club routine, outside, in the wind, with trees behind, and you’re wearing a pink top. When was this?
Luke Wilson: EJC Edinburgh opening show, 1998.
Luke Wilson: I think, to my shame, that I even hold up a moistened finger to indicate the wind…

Our onstage personas and juggling style differed in so many ways, with his based on crisp precision and mine on exuberant freedom. However, at the roots of both our shows we always found similar ideas and ideals, with both of use knowing the reason for every single element of our acts, and why we included or excluded simple things such as individual blinks or turns of our hands.

In 2008 I was in charge of the EJC open stage tent, and I decided to make a list of all the possible jugglers I knew I could rely on to host a show in a professional manner. I wanted someone who I knew could do a good job, and because I’d be busy doing other work, I wanted them to be able to do it without any input or help, and more importantly, would cause me no stress at all.

When I’d finished compiling that list, Luke Wilson’s name wasn’t just at the top of the list, it was the only name on the list. Just Luke. Nobody else I’d worked with before or since at juggling conventions came close to his level of preparedness and experience.

And so, of course, I spent some of my meager budget to make sure Luke would be there to host a show. In the end Pola and I only ran four of the open stage shows, so I hosted two, Pola one and Luke the other. Luke was, of course, utterly professional, so much so that we hardly had to talk about the show itself at all. Which is exactly how it should be! The technical crew of the open stage venue said that the four shows we put on were all better organized and presented than gala shows at other conventions.

At the EJC in 2010 I once again ran the Open Stage shows, and asked Luke Wilson to host again. Throughout 2008, 2010 and 2011 (when I was running the open stages at the EJC) I was always inviting new people to host shows, with varied results, some bad and some good. With Luke though, I knew that even his worst show would be good. I knew because everything he did, and every decision he took, and every way he responded on stage, was based on a strong foundation of technical performing knowledge and a deep understanding of the concepts and philosophies of being entertaining. This was backed up by a successful career as a professional juggler and show moderator.

So often I didn’t even have to ask Luke about a subject, it was good enough to consider “What would Luke do?” Then next time we chatted online it could be about Star Wars or bikes or all the other geeky interests we had in common.

What all this builds up to is why Luke’s death it me so hard. Like I said, we weren’t close personal friends, which is why I didn’t know he was struggling with cancer until a few days before he died. Our busy work and travel schedules rarely coincided enough to schedule social visits. But Luke was a good friend, and a constant friend.

The fact is, I always presumed Luke would be around, and I always presumed he’d be a few years ahead of me as a professional juggler. Time after time I’d perform somewhere, and Luke had performed there before me. At the Israeli Juggling Convention in 2002, I found it amusing how many jugglers were doing his style of club juggling, as he’d been there in 2001. Repeat this and other similar stories over 10 years, and I gained a huge appreciation on how treasured he was in the juggling world.

More recently, Luke taught at circus schools, and he directed a show at the Leipzig Krystalpalast. My unconscious presumption was that, within about four years, I’d also be teaching at circus schools and directing shows. It’s not something I’ve been actively pursuing, but because Luke has gone there before me, I kind of assumed that it was where I’d be heading in the future. I have my own projects and plans, of course, but it’s more on the level of what I can be proud of accomplishing.

Luke Wilson has always been the standard, or the yardstick, that I’ve used to measure my own progress. He hasn’t been my guide in terms of “I have to do what Luke does” but instead in terms of “how am I doing? (glance at Luke) Okay, I’m doing just fine.”

And now I don’t have guide. I’m now the only Luke who is a professional juggler from England living in Germany… with all the other similarities we shared, those we chose and those which just came with the job and life.

In four years time, I’ll have caught up with the end of Luke’s path ahead of me. I’ll be striking out without him. Our journey together, offset as it was, will end.

The reason I’m crying as I finish writing this is that I never told Luke how much he meant to me. Partially this is because he kept his suffering private, and I simply had no opportunity to explain all this.

But the main reason is that I didn’t even understand this all until he died. I didn’t just lose a someone, a friend, I lost something else I didn’t even realize I had until it was gone.

I thought that when a friend died I’d not mourn their death, but celebrate their life. I tried to do that with Luke, but all I could think about was Luke’s future and how much it meant to me. I didn’t understand my grief over the loss of Luke’s future for a few days, but I think I worked it out. It’s selfish, I know, this presumption that he’d always be Luke A and I’d always be Luke B. I was invested in Luke’s future in a way that can only come all the facets of life we shared, and I didn’t understand that until it was too late to tell him.

Now I’ve got to get on with life myself.

Thanks for reading.


The Tjibaou Cultural Center, New Caledonia – November 2011.

Years ago I read a big book called “Buildings of Wood”. It’s a big coffee table style book, with loads of amazing pictures of amazing wooden buildings. I made a note of a few of the buildings, making sure I visit them when I had the chance, and I’ve ticked a few off the list, including buildings in Sweden and the Faroe Isles.

Wood isn’t a very common building material for modern buildings, but one really stood out. The Tjibaou Cultural Center is in New Caledonia. But New Caledonia is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Why would I ever be passing through? But as it happens, my job means I could turn up anywhere in the world. I had just one plan for New Caledonia, and I managed to get across to the Cultural Center and back, and not miss the ship.

If you ever visit, and just want to take a photo from the outside of the building (like I did, as I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough time to look inside), you must park a distance away, then pay to get into the grounds. It’s not possible to get close without buying a ticket. Which I didn’t know. But by the time I got there, after many years and after traveling half way round the world to see it, I just paid the money and checked it out. I’m glad I did. It really *is* a unique building.

New Caledonia

New Caledonia: no description

New Caledonia: no description

New Caledonia: no description

New Caledonia: no description

New Caledonia: no description


I love to read comments and feedback about my blog posts. Please email me, I reply to every message: luke@juggler.net


Tip: let a member of the opposite sex help you fill out your online dating service profile.

Based on a true story (for real):

“It wants a profile picture.”

“Use the same one as your Facebook profile, as you look cool with the camera in your hand and the way it covers half your face makes you look mysterious.”

“Really?”

“Hell yeah!”

“What should I put in the ‘I’m really good at’ section?”

“Put the video of you juggling in different places around the world. Girls will love that!”

“Really? I thought it was a bit nerdy.”

“You have no idea, do you?”

“Hmmm, okay. Six things I can’t live without? Well, my laptop, obviously…”

“Don’t say your laptop!”

“Why not? It’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought, and without it I wouldn’t be filling out this stupid OkCupid profile… How about ‘I can’t live without hugs’?”

“Perfect.”

“I was joking.”

“Hugs is cute.”

“You should message me if… You want an interesting adventure.”

“I’d message you.”

“The truth is I’m looking for sex.”

“If the girl is also looking for sex, she’ll interpret that as interesting and adventurous sex.”


“Get a job!” – bootstrap pulling skills and becoming a professional juggler.

This story was originally written as a forum post, when someone asked, in relation to Occupy Wall Street reactionary comments like “Get a job!”:

“Please could some of you successful forum members tell the story of how you became successful at your job, outlining how much that was down to your own skills, and how much help you had along the way?”

Here’s how I pulled myself up by my bootstraps.

My original plan was to be a professional entertainer of some sort. I loved performing, so aged 13 I chose to study performing arts at school (GCSE level). Then aged 15 I decided to study performing arts full time at college for two years.

Of course, during this entire time I had support from my parents. My father is disabled, and hasn’t had a proper job in about 28 years, so my entire family had support from social programs of one type or another.

At college I lived with my parents, of course, and during the course of college I had free meals and free bus transport and grants to help me out. I bought my first PC using a grant.

After college I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do music or theater at university. I took a year out and worked for 9 months in a school kitchen, washing dishes and cleaning tables.

I decided to study music production, a degree called Creative Music Technology. At university I had some grant support, but most expenses were covered by student loans. I supplemented this by working night shifts at a supermarket, stacking shelves. When I left university I moved back in with my parents for a few months, and got a job working at a day care center for mentally and physically disabled people.

During this time I’d taken a lot of time to juggle, and it was a really fun hobby. I didn’t consider it to be a serious career option though.

My brother-in-law worked for a TV station, and mentioned a job opening. I applied, without the company or the interviewers knowing I was related to a manager. I didn’t get the job, as I could edit audio but wasn’t skilled in video edited on their equipment. A week later three people were fired from the company, and so suddenly they needed people to fill the vacancies. They asked if I’d take a job.

I moved to a new city, and stayed at a friends house until I could find a home of my own. I ended up living my friend for the next 18 months.

After two years working for the TV station, doing sound mixing, editing, camera work and other production duties, I quit. I loved the work itself, and the people I worked with, just not the people I had to work for. All four people in my department quit within four weeks of each other, so it wasn’t just me who had problems!

I had another job lined up, but a two month gap with nothing to do. I’d planned to go traveling, but due to weird life events, I ended up studying circus acrobatics. Again I stayed with friends, and when I decided not to take up the other job offer, I stayed with my parents between travels, and even getting a arts council grant to return to study acrobatics for another two months.

Due to not wanting to work in offices and studios, or sitting in an editing suite for eight hours a day, I decided to try to make it as a professional juggler. I made some money from paid gigs, but for a while my largest income was from making juggling beanbags and doing street shows. I traveled a lot, met a girl, and finally moved out of my parents place to Berlin.

I worked as juggler, and also a tour guide, in Berlin. Later Pola and I got a good recommendation from other jugglers to work on cruise ships, and they also recommended us to their agent. That now accounts for about 90% of my income per year.

Now I do well for myself. I could earn more money than I do, but I like to have a healthy work/home balance.

My bootstrap pulling skills:
* I didn’t originally plan to be a professional juggler; it wasn’t more than a hobby.
* The first career I aimed for only lasted two years.
* Once I settled on the idea, I worked very hard to be a juggler and entertainer.

Help I had along the way:
* Parents constantly giving support and a place to live between travel and jobs and even careers.
* Government grants for college, university, and even acrobatics school.
* Student loans.
* Free at point of service healthcare (with national health insurance payments only when an employee, not when self employed).
* Friends helping me out with housing, and even large short term loans.
* Family connections.
* The juggling scene providing unmeasurable teaching, help, advice, encouragement, etc.
* Volunteers organizing juggling conventions and festivals where I could practice juggling and entertaining on stage.
* Other jugglers providing connections and information about gigs and agents.

Conclusion:
* Almost everything I rationally decided to do, career-wise, didn’t fit me and my life.
* Almost everything that happened to me accidentally led to better opportunities than anything I consciously planned to do when setting out.
* Without help from other people and government social programs, I’d be totally screwed.
* It takes a lot of hard work to be a professional entertainer.
* I’m very happy to do crazily hard work to give other jugglers the opportunities that I had myself (Eg. running workshops, organizing shows and open stages, helping run conventions, creating the British Young Juggler of the Year show and competition, etc etc etc).
* I’m happy to pay taxes.
* I’m happy to support other artists financially if they need and/or ask for help or a loan.


I love to read comments and feedback about my blog posts. Please email me, I reply to every message: luke@juggler.net