Every time Elon Musk’s dazzling transportation system of the future, the Hyperloop, gets a mention in the press, so does air hockey. Musk described the Hyperloop back in 2013 as “a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table” and that innocent description seems to make it into every article about the new technology. Lately that has been often, since two competing ventures recently filed for permits to make Hyperloop test tracks a reality.
So air hockey has been on my brain a little lately because of this and I wonder if it has been on others’ as well.
Twelve years ago I set out to make a film about air hockey and a small but passionate group of people that competed seriously at it. Although Way of the Puck was eventually released in 2010, the lion’s share of the photography was done between 2004 and 2006. In fact, a very early temp version of the documentary played at the Houston International Film Festival in 2006.
This was the year of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and Justin Timberlake’s “Sexyback.” The year of Dreamgirls and The Departed. The West Wing was still on the air. “SPARTA!”
A lifetime ago.
Thanks to the Hyperloop, however, I’ve gotten curious again about air hockey. What happened to all of those guys in Way of the Puck? Were they able to grow the sport at all? Or did they abandon their love air hockey for more practical things? It’s not the early 1970s anymore; it’s 2016! Is anything happening at all? Perhaps I should reengage with the strange universe of air hockey to see if anything interesting is still going on there…
Here at the Way of the Puck website we intend to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of that initial festival run by rolling out a limited series of air hockey-related articles, interviews, and posts over the coming year. We’ll publish an interview with the current world champion, a 16-year-old high school junior from Beaumont, Texas. We’ll put out a first-person account of a California player brought in to battle test an air hockey robot. We’ll see what’s happening on the manufacturing side of air hockey, if anything. We’ll look up our friends in Spain and Venezuela and explore whether air hockey interest has continued to spread internationally. And we’ll check in with some of the main characters from the movie to see where they are now: the Promoter, the Guru, the Ex-Champ, and the Entrepreneur.
And what’s up with this upstart AHPA? Is this a rival air hockey league or just another promotional body? Are they trying to secede from the air hockey Union? Never forget: Nobody respected the AFL in the beginning either.
Then again, people disrespected the USFL as well—and rightfully so.
Stay tuned. Air hockey still loves you.
We are currently in the process of revamping the Way of the Puck website. Please excuse our mess! Regrettably, many things have happened in the interim, including no longer being represented on iTunes.
But we plan to bring more new content to the site, including an exclusive interview with World Champion Billy Stubbs, who sheds light on his obsessive training regimen and his obsessive collection of Kid Robot Dunny vinyl toys… Stay tuned!
HOLLYWOOD, California: Way of the Puck, the just-released documentary about professional air hockey, was feted Thursday night at Barney’s Beanery’s landmark West Hollywood location. Air Hockey World Champion Davis Lee Huynh and second-ranked California player Joe Cain journeyed from the Bay Area to celebrate and to mentor guests about the finer points of air hockey tactics and technique.
Michael Rosen, Commissioner of Major League Air Hockey, traveled from New York City to meet the extended creative team behind Way of the Puck and to encourage more competitive air hockey play in the Los Angeles region. Rosen is one of four central characters followed around by director Eric D. Anderson in the feature-length documentary. “It was a perfect way to kick off our DVD release,” said Anderson. “We had guests fly in from all over the country, including a large contingent from Seattle. Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised, since fans of air hockey tend to be passionate people!”
Anderson and guests tried their luck against the three professional players on a new Dynamo Fire Storm air hockey table, purchased by Barney’s Beanery for the event. “It was important to me that we choose a venue where people could play a little… and hopefully re-experience the singular, inexplicable pleasure of hitting a lexan puck across a floaty blue surface.” Pucks and mallets were provided for the occasion by Mark Robbins, air hockey guru and CEO of Shelti, a Michigan-based table games manufacturer. Way of the Puck is the only feature film that digs into the curious subculture of competitive air hockey. It is currently available for sale at the film’s website: http://wayofthepuck.com
Check out the new DVD casewrap for Way of the Puck! Many thanks to designer Eric Sommerfeld for his great work.
Please note that this collector’s edition DVD will contain:
- The full 81-minute Way of the Puck movie with Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 surround mixes
- Feature-length audio commentary with director Eric Anderson and air hockey guru Mark Robbins
- Eleven deleted scenes
- High resolution trailer
- Enhanced anamorphic presentation for widescreen televisions
- Our “Repeat after me: I can become the best air hockey player in the world, I just have to want it badly enough” postcard
- Scene selections
- Mr. Sommerfeld’s excellent DVD face and casewrap design.
Also note that the downloadable and streamable versions of WOTP available in the coming months will not contain these extras!
I’m pretty sure this means “Danny Hynes is an eight-time world champion,” if my remedial high school German serves correctly. The Germans do compound nouns as well as the Japanese do compound verbs — that is to say, brilliantly — and WELTMEISTER sounds pretty freakin’ great for a title if you ask me.
Yes, fearsome 8-time champ Danny Hynes was featured recently in an Austrian sports glossy called, well, SPORT. Probably one of the most brilliant defenders of the modern era, Hynes also has a varied attack that combines brutal straights and unders with delicate off-speeds.
He also has superb Hand-augen-Koordination!!!!
Babelfish does a decent job decoding this article; any German-speakers out there to help with the subtle bits?
Click on the images below for a full-sized scan of each page!
It’s been a long hard slog, but we are near the end of it. Way of the Puck, the finest feature film about professional air hockey ever made, will be released on DVD in October of this year.
Features will include:
- Way of the Puck (TRT: 81 minutes)
- 5.1 Surround mix
- Commentary track featuring director Eric D. Anderson and air hockey guru Mark Robbins
- Deleted scenes
- Original trailer
- letterboxed 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio
Pre-orders will begin in earnest in August. Stay tuned…
Praise the Table!
You have stumbled upon the maiden post for the Way of the Puck Blog. We are quite happy to be out of the editing room and here in the relative civility of the blogosphere! Can you tell? For those skimming, here is the most important takeaway of this initial post:
***WAY OF THE PUCK (the finest feature film about professional air hockey ever made) WILL BE RELEASED ON DVD IN OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR.***
Sorry to use all caps there, but In order to celebrate this release, we are SCREAMING as loud as our keyboards can SCREAM. (Sounds of pounding of table). And so, 3 months early, we are launching the Way of the Puck Blog to ramp up to this release and to try to dig even deeper into the secrets of air hockey. Hopefully many of you will come along for the ride. I urge everybody to subscribe to the WOTP Blog RSS feed for maximum efficiency!
Here is a basic outline of what the blog will feature, in no particular order:
- Way of the Puck related news
- Air hockey related articles, essays, interviews, and other bits
- Discussion of other independent and sports-related documentaries
- Random non-air-hockey-related items we think our audience will appreciate
- Everything else
Thanks again for stopping by. We believe quite strongly in our little film–it’s been a real labor of love–and we encourage everybody to support the cause and to spread the word about Way of the Puck. Word of mouth will be key to the movie’s survival, so anybody you can bring into the fold is a big deal, since we are a tiny movie and we can’t afford to rent billboards on Sunset Boulevard!
Please check out our Facebook page, Twitter feed, and trailer on Youtube. The website will be active in a few days. Links are available in the rightmost column of the blog. And leave a comment if you are so inclined…. we’d love to hear from you!
Air hockey lives forever!