Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Beach Cubing, Bro edition.

I bring a 3x3x3 Rubik's cube with me to the beach - I have to presume that nobody that would be reading this is surprised by that. Most of the time, I just have it in my hands to fidget with. Lately when we go to the beach, we've been taking the world's cutest dog with us, so nobody notices the cube much anyway. I used to take a standard cube from eight or so years ago to the beach, knowing that it was always the same cube that went to the beach, but I was a little disappointed in the ratty-looking stickers as they wore down. This year, I started taking  a new Hasbro cube since I already knew that I couldn't hurt the plastic tiles much, and I recently gave it a good silicone spray bath and have improved its turn-ability a lot. I don't know if the silicone spray takes the logo off since I already accidentally removed it with sunscreen.

When they do notice that I have a cube, I never know what to expect, and I really try to tailor the experience to the audience. If it's a audience of one or two, I try to let them lead with their specific questions, and then explain the best I can from there. What's funny to me about the audience of one is that it's rarely an actual one-on-one experience, it's just that the one person is one person out of whoever is present.

If it's an audience of several people, I try to figure out the dynamic of the group and try to figure out if I have to lead with comedy or showmanship. With a group of serious young men, I seem to have to lead with showmanship, and usually that entails a good first solve. I have such low expectations for the Hasbro cube and I tell people it's going to take me 40-45 seconds and I often surprise myself and knock it out in much less, but never less than 30 seconds. After that, the funniest part of the dynamic is the serious young men saying to each other "Can't you do that? I thought you could do that."

If the group of people is a little bit older or has had a few adult beverages, usually I can lead with comedy. At very least I can lead with the explanation at a leisurely pace, unless there's a clamoring for the showoff part. In the explanation, I usually show a routine or two, to demonstrate the idea of a number of moves that represent moving a certain number of pieces in a certain way (like R2 U R U R' U' R' U' R' U R' moving three edges around in the U layer, or R' D' R D' R' D2 R D2 to twist three corners in the D layer while moving some edges aroud). Once they have the idea, then I can show them something a little sillier. I do the move F2 R2 F2 R2 F2 R2 on a solved cube and then turn the cube towards them, showing them the df and the dr edges that have been moved to the U layer, and then turn the cube the other way to show them the uf and ur edges that have been moved to the D layer. Once I show them that, I hold the cube with my middle finger and thumb on one pair of edges, and my other middle finger and other thumb on the other pair. You can get it back to the solved state without having to remove your fingers.

I guess it's only funny if you've been drinking.

The other night the group I was performing for were UK tourists, having a bit of fun paddleboarding and throwing a rugby ball around. When it was time to do the "prove it" solve, the person I handed it to seemed fairly careful with the scrambling, and it was only once I started turning the cube at speed that it occurred to me why.

"Feels like you got quite a bit of sunscreen on the cube here."

"Actually it's sausage fat."

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