1000 Needles by Torrence Fisher, Swordguy Whips by Will Ringland

1000 Needles(針千本, Hari Sen-bon), also known as Blowfish, is a Blue Magic spell and a monster ability. Although it is not exclusive to them, the attack has become the trademark ability for the cactuar. The spell sprays a steady stream of needles at a target, and deals exactly 1,000 HP damage regardless of Defense, armor, Protect or (at times) Evasion. Source: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/1000_Needles

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Here’s the TL;DR for this whip review: this is the best paracord whip I have ever thrown.

Did I ever tell you about the few months I tried to make my own whips? It was weeks and days of over and under braiding, over under undulation matching my mood with the project.

Over 2
Under 2
Pull for tension
1 strand up
1 strand down
Repeat

It was months of plumbing the depths of my own obsession. When I take an interest in something, I am relentless, like a rushing wave, and pour myself over and under every detail of what I’m learning.

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Over 2
Arm up. The whip flows over your should.
Under 2
Arm down. The whip flows down the handle, the thing, the fall, the cracker and....
Cattleman’s crack.

There are limits, I’ve found, in my fascination. I would reach a metaphorical berm, a literal physician barrier, on the beach and crash against it. When you finish the first belly, you cover it with a paracord layer. This keeps it integral and begins building the taper, the latter of which is how a whip cracks. It is arguably the most important piece. Being unable to keep a tight braid on the first belly sabotages the whip.

My missing hand rarely interferes with things I really get into but this is one of those cases. Even the simple belly plaiting - 4 strands one other side, over 2, under 2 weaving side to side proved too hard for my one hand. My interest, along with the rising winter, receded.

The enjoyment, doesn’t die, however. Never dies. Just limited, physically, by the environment this time. My favorites whips, the best crackers, are all leather. The desire to crack outdoors persists in the winter, though it is at low tide. I do not take my leather whips out into the ice and snow and water just waiting to infiltrate the weave. Paracord whips, however, are water safe and I had been constantly searching for the right paracord whips.

Over 2
Up with paracord
Under 2
Down with leather

No paracord whip I had ever encountered could match the flow of leather and I left any cracking session with one vaguely disappointed.

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I first found Torrence Fisher, proprietor of Swordguy Builds (Etsy link no longer resolves) after watching videos of him winning a freestyle cracking competition at the LA whip convention this year. He was using a paracord whip and it moved like nothing I’d seen before.

Over 2
Up with belief in paracord
Under 2
Down with frustration over winter cracking

Lucky for me, he made the whip he used in that competition. And he was clearly my kind of nerd, I learned, when I found photos of a few video game inspired whips he’d made. I contacted him immediately about a custom build.

The goal was this: make a whip with great flow inspired by my favorite, little, pointy jerk from Final Fantasy: the cactuar. Bane of every game, especially at earlier levels, as the little bastard is nimble and mean. It’s primary attach, 1000 Needles deals 1000 HP of damage always. At best, a fully-leveled character has 10 hits, if the party encounters only 1 cactuar.

You never encounter a single cactuar.

Over 2
4 cactuar pop out of the sand to fight
Under 2
4 cactuar under the ground, impossible to hit

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The overlay design is inspired by the spiny douchebag. The handle resembles the black lines and spines of the cactuar. It seems fitting that you grasp this part given the pain the beast, and the end of a whip, can provide.

The transition knot is embellished with the two yellow/green cuffs. Like little lightning bolts, the yellow strands are obviously there to increase the speed of the whip.

Obviously.

The thong itself sees a few different patterns done in different shades of green. Aside from the attractiveness of each pattern, the overall effect gives the whip an organic, lush feeling. It is springy, smooth, and beautiful.

Where the thong meets the fall is something I’ve not seen before. Rather than a 4 plait point (fall hitch) knot, Fisher has tied a twisted paracord fall to the end of the thong which eventually tapers into itself and then knots to the cracker. (The internet calls this a tapered twist fall)

This is devilishly clever and a benefit you can only get from paracord because it is hollow. This makes the taper that much more gradual and less likely to steal energy from the crack.

In fact, this whip is so well made that I cannot tell where strands were dropped while plaiting. Previous paracord whips I’ve seen had lumps in them, generally from a poorly dropped strand in a belly cover which results in kinked whips.

Lumpy whips are not flowing, loud whips.

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Fisher added a little loop on the butt off the handle so I could attach a little cactuar charm I’ve had for years.

He and I independently named the whip 1000 Needles. I’t’ll cut through your armor so be careful with it.

Little details make the whip

The whip flow is remarkable. It tapers invisibly and bends and curves like a willow branch. Little things like coiling it to put it in my bag is joyful experience. I’m not being cute, it is markedly easier to put this whip away than any other I’ve had before.

It’s the detail work that gets you here. Smooth transitions between parts of the whip, from dropped strands, and carful attention to the decorative pats all build into a marvelous experience with this whip.

Having never before had a paracord I felty I could recommend without caveats, I’m pleased to say that this the best paracord whip I’ve ever used and everyone reading this should drench Fisher in custom whip requests.

It’s good timing too because he has just released a series of Halloween whips and a few specialmodels, also using techniques I’ve never seen before.

Cracking on

The summoning hour by Will Ringland

4am feels late instead of early. Getting out of bed at 4am feels backwards, like I’m supposed to be trying to sleep like I’ve been surviving some some insomniatic episode. One does not get out of bed at 4am. You can still get a solid 3 hours before work. Maybe 2 solid hours, if I fall asleep right now...

Getting out of bed at 4am feels like puinshment, like giving in to someone’s blackmail of sexy apes and overdue library books. 4am is incongruous. Everything is much bigger and much smaller, concurrently, and your brain just accepts that. Getting up at 4am is getting up to catch a red eye flight to a place that only exists in theory. Places have no substance at 4am. They are just on the map but all have become a catrographer’s decoy city. It is just fog and birdsong on a dark sepia backdrop. It’s a trap.

I was awake at 4 and felt pretty good but didn’t get up. Erri, our little poopomancer, is summoning poop golems again. She builds her little brown armies outside the boxes and leaves them to guard her squared cat thrones. We aren’t sure why. She wasn’t doing this a week ago and not much has changed since then.

But we do know that she likes a snack at 4:30 before her early morning summoning rituals. Me being cognizant, but skeptical of the solidity of the room around me, laid there listening to her walking around to the food dish, to the bathroom, to the spare room, under the bed, to the catnip fish, and wondered when she would start.

4am is for clandestine deals where both parties have traveled from far away, all night, with 16 knives hidden on their bodies. They meet to exchange small packages, large sums of money, and nefarious purpose. I shouldn’t be getting out of bed at 4am. I should be back in bed with my nose pressed into the crook of Alyska’s neck and trying to suppress the myoclonic spasms I tend to get when dozing with the weight of another person on my arm.

When I did finally get up at 5am, a much more reasonable time, there were no poop golems to be found. It is possible that I, heading to the bathroom bright-eyed and bespectacled, they retreated to regroup the next night, probably at 4am. After all, any cat caretaker knows that you only find poop golems when you can’t see and it is with your feet. Erri did stop, momentarily, to contemplate the shag rug outside the cat box - it is her favorite summoning space - and I stopped her up and put her in the box which she used with no problem like the many hundreds of times she has used them before in the last 3 years, the last 3 months of that in this very house.

So I’m up writing this, as is my constant desire for a perfect daily ritual, and struggling with the “correct” motivation to keep going. Once up, staying up is no issue. I just need the proper motivation. It seems, potentially, that, for now, dispelling the golem summoning is reason enough to stay awake with the alarm.

Eventually try the draw of the 1st cup of coffee will always win and I’ll find myself with it and some ritualistic morning device be it a book or a keyboard and blank page. I think it was the coffee that helped me write a book last year. I’m hoping it won’t be the poop golems that help me write the next one.

 Even poopomancers can be cute, like a necromancer in a pink tutu.

Even poopomancers can be cute, like a necromancer in a pink tutu.

4am is for clandestine deals where both parties have traveled from illusory distances, all night, with 16 knives hidden on their bodies. They meet to exchange small packages, large sums of money, and nefarious purpose. I shouldn’t be getting out of bed at 4am. I should be back in bed with my nose pressed into the crook of Alyska’s neck and trying to suppress the myoclonic spasms I get when the weight of love rests on my arm.

When I did finally get up at 5am, a time with edges... a time that actually exists on a nearby plane of reality, there were no poop golems to be found. It is possible that I, heading to the bathroom bright-eyed and bespectacled, they retreated to regroup for the next night, probably at 4am and with more knives. Any cat caretaker knows that you only find poop golems when you can’t see and it is with your feet.

After breaking the cats’ fast, Erri did stop, momentarily, to contemplate the shag rug outside the cat box - it is her favorite summoning space of green, nylon, twists that look like grass. I scooped her up and put her in the box which she used with like the many hundreds of times she has used them before in the last 3 years, the last 3 months of which were in this very house.

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So I’m up writing this, as is my constant desire for a perfect daily ritual, and struggling with the “correct” motivation to keep it going. Once up, staying up is no issue. It seems, potentially, that, for now, dispelling the golem summoning is reason enough to stay awake with my alarm.

Eventually, the draw of the 1st cup of coffee will always win and I’ll find myself with it and some ritualistic morning device be it a book or a keyboard and blank page. I think it was the coffee that helped me write a book last year. I’m hoping it won’t be the poop golems that help me write the next one.

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Sometimes, just a staircase. by Will Ringland

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West staircase, Capitol Building. Madison, Wisconsin.

One of my favorite, and most obnoxious, photography challenges is to take an interesting photograph of a mundane thing. It helps improve your fundamentals - composition, lighting, angle, lines.

So, given a staircase, what can you take?