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PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog: Bus Flow

A drawing of Doc Pop standing in front of a bus. He is holding a spray can in one hand and a yo-yo in the other. A graffiti tag on the bus behind him says "PopCast"

In the newest episode of PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog, I teach an original trick called “Bus Flow”. This is an extremely smooth and flowy trick, along the lines of Skin The Gerbil. Bus Flow has mostly intermediate trick elements, with a few advanced moves at the end. So if you are an intermediate player looking to push yourself a little, this is a great trick to work on.

This is my first new video since the Desert Island Yo was released, so I talk about that a little bit as well.

Also in this video, I talk about a graffiti handstyle that developed here in San Francisco that was an inspiration for the trick I shared. The style is called “Bus Flow” or “Frisco Flow”. Here this short video by Dregs One:

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PopCast: Falling Leaves

The newest episode of the PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog was shot during a short camping trip at Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe. I talk about bears, yo-yo concepts, and my favorite bird app (it’s not Twitter).

The main focus of this episode is a trick called “Falling Leaves”, which I made up while on this vacation. So I’m sort of teaching Falling Leaves as I’m still figuring it out myself. I think I’m known mostly for my yo-yo moves and concepts, not my tricks, so I’ve been trying to branch out into longer tricks and combos.

Here are some clips of Falling Leaves in action:

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PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog: The Matrix

This episode of the PopCast yo-yo vlog teaches how to do the Matrix with style and flow. This trick is a little over 20 years old, and it’s one of my more popular tricks. I feel like most yo-yoers know how to do the Matrix, but they might not know how to put it together in a way that flows.

So I talk about how to link “alpha” style moves together smoothly, and I also tell the crazy story of a yo-yo that “melts too easily”. I hope you enjoy this episode!

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Who invented the yo-yo bind?

In this episode, I’m joined by Josh Yee and Connor Scholten to discuss the history of yo-yo binds. Our goal is to reveal the first time a yo-yo bind was documented, who was the first player to use one in a contest, and what was the first “bind return only” yo-yo.

This episode was a ton of fun to research, and I learned a lot. If you enjoyed it, be sure to watch our other video; The History of Slack Tricks.Links mentioned in this episode:

Music at the end of this video performed by Emily Hopkins

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Why does Midjourney create beautiful art when I use the yo-yo emoji?

Y’all know me, right? So you know, when I got access to generative art tools like Dalle 2 and Midjourney, the first thing I tried using as a prompt was the word “yo-yo”. That’s a no-brainer, and you may have already seen my video about it.

Using AI to reimagine yo-yo tricks

While making that video, I had a strange realization that anytime I used the πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji), I’d get a beautiful fantasy landscape that was filled with gorgeous pink and blue colors. Like this:

Midjourney prompt: “πŸͺ€ –aspect 16:9”
Midjourney prompt: “πŸͺ€ –aspect 16:9” (one yo-yo emoji)

You see what I mean, right? Every time I use the prompt “πŸͺ€” (yo-yo emoji), I get images that feel like these beautiful science fiction landscapes. I wanted to test this out a little more, so here’s what happens when you try adding an extra πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji) to the prompt:

Midjourney prompt: “πŸͺ€πŸͺ€ –aspect 16:9” (two yo-yo emojis)

Can you see it this time? Very distinct colors, outdoors, clouds… To me, it has the vibes of dawn in an N.K. Jemisin novel. Did you notice that several of these images have a figure facing away from the viewer, wearing a robe and a red hat? There’s one like that in the first batch of photos too. Hmmm…

Alright, let’s try three yo-yos:

Midjourney prompt: “πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€ –aspect 16:9”
Midjourney prompt: “πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€ –aspect 16:9” (three yo-yo emojis)

I should mention that the πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji) is one of the few emojis that has landed on a single default color yet. Depending on what browser you are using, you may see green, purple, red, or many other colors. I talk about that in this video:

Let’s add one more πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji):

Let’s go crazy:

Midjourney prompt: “πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€ –aspect 16:9” (12 yo-yo emojis)
Midjourney prompt: “πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€πŸͺ€ –aspect 16:9” (12 yo-yo emojis)

Still seeing towers and clouds, though it looks like the colors get slightly oranger when I add more yo-yos. Let’s try something completely different:

Midjourney prompt: “πŸ€“ –aspect 16:9”

Okay, this is useful. I tried using πŸ€“ (nerd face emoji) as a prompt, and I felt like what I got was similar to the yo-yo emoji generated. What happens when we try the 🀷 (shrug emoji) emoji?

That’s interesting. Maybe this style of art is what happens anytime you input a single emoji as a prompt on Midjourney? Let’s try a different emoji to be sure:

Okay, that’s REALLY interesting! When I use the πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji) or πŸ€“ (nerd glasses emoji), I don’t see anything in the AI generated images that looks like it understands the emojis, but when I use a πŸ₯¨ (pretzel emoji) I see a lot of pastries. There are still clouds and pastel colors, but there are also cookies, scones, danishes, eggs, whipped cream, and other delights. This is the first emoji that the AI seems to “understand”. Huge air-quotes on the word “understand”.

I thought this might be because the AI has seen more examples of the πŸ₯¨ (pretzel emoji) in its training, so it has a better time pulling up relevant results. Considering the πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji) isn’t extremely widely used, that could explain why I’m not seeing images with yo-yos in them, but looking at the statistics on emoji usage I see that the πŸ€“ (nerd glasses emoji) is used far more frequently than the πŸ₯¨ (pretzel emoji), but I’m not seeing images of people wearing glasses when I use that one… so why is πŸ₯¨ (pretzel emoji) the only emoji so far that’s giving me results similar to the emoji?

What happens when we use β˜•οΈ (coffee cup emoji)?

Okay, those both give me coffee vibes. It is worth pointing out that β˜•οΈ (coffee cup emoji) and πŸ₯¨ (pretzel emoji) are used far less frequently than πŸ€“ (nerd glasses emoji), but they might get used in ways that are more consistent for the AI to generate images from. Let’s change things up. Let’s try using letters:

Midjourney prompt: “M –aspect 16:9”
Midjourney prompt: “C –aspect 16:9”

Oh wow, those “C” images look great! Did you notice the hooded figure again? They appear in the πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji) prompts and in letters. A figure facing away from the viewer, wearing a long robe in a fantasy landscape setting. It’s almost like a ghost in the algorithm. I’m going to name them Aileen.

And what happens when we double the letters?

So what have we learned? Not much.

  • When we use a πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji) as the singular prompt in Midjourney, we get a beautiful pink and blue image with clouds and spires that have nothing to do with the prompt.
  • Using other emojis like πŸ€“ (nerd glasses emoji) or 🀷 (shrug emoji) yields similar results.
  • Some emoji, like β˜•οΈ (coffee cup emoji) or πŸ₯¨ (pretzel emoji) yield images that seem inspired by the emoji.
  • When we increase the number of emoji in the prompt, we tend to get fewer pink and blue colors. To me, the colors seem to have more orange. Adding multiple emoji seems to increase the number of humanoid characters in the AI generated image.
  • A common figure that appears in these images in a person in a robe facing away from the camera. This almost seems like a default character stuck in the AI. I call them Aileen.
  • When we use letters instead of numbers, we tend to see warmer images. There seems to be a fifty chance we’ll see that letter in the final image too. So if we type “Z”, we are likely to see a “Z” appear in the final image about half the time.

Here’s my best guess, Midjourney’s AI was trained on a lot of art that looks the same. When you give the bot very little info to work with, it’s going to default to something that looks a lot like a fantasy landscape image. If you give the bot more to work with (ie add more emojis or use words that it has more data on), then it will give you a more diverse set of results with different color palettes, objects, and landscapes.

In other words, the πŸͺ€ (yo-yo emoji) emoji is the least relevant thing to feed to Midjourney, so it resorts to a default set of images that are already gorgeous to look at. That’s my guess.

To test that theory, let’s try one more experiment. What happens if we insert a blank prompt. Will we get a pastel scene with a robbed figure in the foreground and lots of clouds? Since Midjourney doesn’t allow you to have a blank prompt, the closest thing I can try is an “_” (an underscore). Let’s try it out, shall we?

Midjourney prompt: “_ –aspect 16:9”

Well, that certainly looks familiar to several of the earlier results, though less fantasy/sci-fi feeling. Maybe this is the closest thing MidJourney has to a default image if you don’t give it a prompt it can work with.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the “πŸͺ€” and the “_” prompts yield the same results? Is this what MidJourney cranks out when it doesn’t have enough info to work with? Let me know your theories below.

Midjourney prompt: “Come on Aileen –aspect 16:9”

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PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog: An interview with AndrΓ© Boulay from YoYoExpert

This episode of PopCast is an in depth conversation with AndrΓ© Boulay from I asked AndrΓ© about how he got into yo-yoing, how the pandemic has affected the hobby, what it’s like switching from being a yo-yo pro to being a yo-yo store, and if we’ll ever see another Dark Magic.

PopCast is a crowd sponsored yo-yo show. Huge thanks to Taka, John Anderson, and the rest of my sponsors on Just a note, AndrΓ© is one of the sponsors of this show, but he had no say in any of the questions I asked or how it was edited. I just thought he’s a cool person with a rad yo-yo story.

I’m giving away The Dark Magic bootleg yo-yo that we show during the episode. This has been a coveted part of my collection for a while, but it seems like the perfect giveaway. Find out how to win it on my

Bootleg Dark Magic

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How to get an exclusive Superblack edition of a Weekender, Shawn Exploder, or Bolt II yo-yo

Many of y’all may not know this, but the PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog is a crowdsponsored yo-yo show. It’s made possible with the help and support of my patrons on (shout out to John Anderson, Taka from Spingear, and the rest of my sponsors on Patreon). As a special thanks for their support, I offer my patrons a 10% coupon code and access to a virtual yo-yo club each month.

I also offer an exclusive “Superblack” colorway to my Patreon backers whenever possible. The Superblack editions are yo-yos that are laser etched before they get anodized. The end result is a subtle black-on-black logo that looks super rad.

I’m currently offering Shawn Exploders, Weekenders, and Bolt Part IIs in this Superblack color. If you’d like to get your hands on one of these special editions, sign up for the Patreon for as little as $2 a month. This will get you a 10% off coupon and access to this post where you can buy the Superblack yo-yos.

Superblack Bolt Part II (photo by Shawn Garcia)
Superblack Bolt Part II (photo by Shawn Garcia)
Superblack Shawn Exploder with complimentary yo-yo stand

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PopCast Vlog: The Overhand 1.5 Whip

I’ve been wanting to do a tutorial for the Overhand 1.5 Whip for many years. It’s been one of my favorite moves for a while, but it’s always been a little hard for me to break it down. I’ve finally shared a tutorial and I think it does a great job teaching this beautiful flourish. You can see it here

Huge thanks to all of my sponsors for their support and to Clifton B., the editor I hired to put this video together.