Blink receives Major FUN Award

Today's Major FUN Award goes to:

Blink is a card game for two, maybe three players. Since I especially games that tend to make people laugh, Blink is exactly the kind of game the Bernie Award is meant for.

The fun of it is similar to that of the double-solitaire game poetically referred to as "Spit." It's a game of speed and matching. But it's a special deck. And therein lies its, um, specialness.

There are three attributes to each card: color, number and shape. This is one more attribute than a standard deck of cards.

The deck is divided evenly between two players. Each player has a hand of three cards. Two starting cards are turned up. And the game begins. Players simultaneously place a matching card on either of the two starting cards and pick up a replacement from their deck. There's no turn-taking. So, while you're engaged in solemn deliberation as to which of your cards you should place on the card with three red triangles, I blithely slap down my one red star card.

The first player to have played all her cards wins.

The three different attributes are just enough to make potentially excessive demands on your mental powers. The simultaneous play is exactly what is needed to make the game engaging and o so delightfully tense. Which is why you so frequently find yourself laughing helplessly. Since any play can make it easier or more difficult for the other player, there's nothing to take personally. Except the fun.


Fun and Work

Doug Germann writes: "We need more play at work. Any ideas what we can do in a small office (3 of us) to make a playful atmosphere?"

I'd suggest two different approaches. First: ackowledge the fun of work. Spend some time, at least once a week, maybe during a staff lunch, talking with each other about what was fun that week. You might take a look at an article I wrote on "Fun and Flow" - it could help give you a common language for talking about fun and related funonema.

Actually, just bringing fun into focus as a living, functioning, integral aspect of your work together goes a long way towards making work more fun.

Next, set aside 45-minutes each week as a Fun and Games sesssion. Have someone bring in a game that he or she likes to play. Especially a game that might make people laugh. This F&G sesssion doesn't have to be at work. It doesn't have to be during work. It doesn't even have to be just with the people in the office (inviting the significant others always adds a certain other significance). And don't just play the game. Make it the rule that the person who introduces the game has to also teach a favorite variation. If there isn't one, make one up together. A game that you change together becomes a shared property - a manifestation of your community.

Then, of course, there are toys. O, so many toys. I find the toys from Office Playground to be consistently office-worthy. And then there's Fidgets.

VISPO - Langu(im)age

Interested in exploring more of Arteroids developer Jim Andrews' multimedia/poetic works? Check out his Vispo website.

Arteroids 2.02

Blow up words (not worlds). Hear funny, human-made sounds. Play the Major FUN Award-winning Arteroids - "A literary computer game for the Web ó the battle of poetry against itself and the forces of dullness."

Note that this game is actually funny, and fun, and, well, puzzling in a poetic sort of way. Try the play mode. Increase the level. Note - this is very cool.

Then read the essay.

Part of the idea of Arteroids is to investigate the slide of game, play, and art into one another. When is a game art? When does a game impose a competitive emphasis that rules out certain types of play? If the text becomes unreadable, it rules out certain types of play that are simply a part of reading. But, also, when the text becomes unreadable, it makes for a better game, if you like playing the game.

Arteroids shifts the focus between game and play, between text as readable literary object that gets its primary meaning from the meaning of the words to text as meaning via sound, motion, and destructive intent. When does "poetry" mean poetry, and when does it mean arteroid? It is a question of velocity, density, and other such concerns of visual (even multimedia) rhetoric, of emphasis and intent. This slides around in Arteroids.

What are the possible roles of language in dynamic multimedia work for the Web? Can poetry go here and live? Well, judge for yourself.

My own feeling is that a synthesis of media and arts, including text, along with things like programming and its domain of art such as computer games, changes them all in certain ways, limits them and expands them in ways that are challenging and generative of new media language.

A bit more about Jim: "I've been a programmer since about 1990. Before that, I worked in radio/audio and did a literary magazine. My site has been up since 95. The Canada Council gave me a Senior grant to do Arteroids. Currently, I'm Artist in Residence at a college in Toronto.


Writing Across the Arts - From Art Criticism to Art Play

I was Googling for Art Play and came across this weblog named "From Art Criticism to Art Play" - a weblog that is part of a course being taught by Barbara Ganley at Middlebury College. The purpose of the course, she explains, is:

To explore and write about the arts in 2002 can be an exhilarating though baffling journey through traditional, academic and journalistic print forms and new, often non-print forms, including hypertext and multi-media texts. Some arts writers are playing with a blurring of writing genres and a breaking open of forms, even stepping past writing to enter the artform itself. Certainly it is a most interesting and confusing moment to be writing about art, now when our very notions of what makes good arts writing as well as what makes good art are in flux.

This find makes some big connections for me. The art/play connection, which, of course, so to speak, is central to helping me understand the power of fun. The learning/weblog connection which gives me so much hope for the promise of co-creative, collaborative, on-line learning. The work of the Center for Educational Technology which happens to have the wisdom to be working with one of the closest of my virtual friends, Bryan Alexander

The Mirror Project

"Adventures in Reflective Surfaces" - The Mirror Project

Here's a frame-breaking exhibition from "a growing community of like-minded individuals who have photographed themselves in all manner of reflective surfaces" - a near perfect example of both the fun of art and the art of fun.

"at a dollar store w/ my mom, i noticed these mirrors. i like how im in all of them. using my moms digicam "

thank Shikencho for the link



You see, that's a person in the middle of this big ball. He's got about 700 mm of air between him and the ground - that's about 2 feet for you metrically challenged folks - and this air cushion keeps him safe as he hurtles down the side of a hill at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour. The idea is that as the ball rolls around, the person inside (known as "the Zorbonaut") becomes pinned to the inside, just like water inside a bucket being spun around your head. (My physics teacher from many years ago claimed that this was due to a force called Inertia, but us less enlightened folks refer to it as centrifugal force - See Mr Saunders I was listening - it was just my eyes that were closed.)

Humor Fusion

I announced Major FUN Award to the DeepFUN group, and was delighted to hear that Roz Trieber has announced her candidacy:

At this time of my life I switched from bugs to people that means changing from a medical technologist to a health educator turned humorist. I have branded myself "silly" by wearing a "beanie" hat (like Cecil and Beanie) covered with silly buttons. I wear this hat everywhere including business and social functions.

I am involved in many business and civic organizations. People laugh, chortle, guffaw and point their finger. We laugh and I observe more people change a frown to a smile and say "you made my day."

I'm silly, funny, and include laughter and the unexpected in all of my presentations. Publicly, I'm the lady with the beanie hat on. I actually have several hats that go with different outfits. Talk about coordination!

He deserves paradise who makes his companions laugh. --The Koran

Roz calls herself "The Naturally Funny Lady who wears a "beanie hat" all of the time"

Here's an article from Roz: "When Things Get Tough, Take Yourself Lightly".


Loving Fun

I decided to call the weekend course I'll be teaching at Esalen in March "Loving Fun." The term has been with me for many years, describing and reminding me that not all fun is loving, and that it's the loving kind, despite its many interpretations, that I am here to teach - to couples, families, singles, teachers, nations...

I had already written about the psychology and sociology of Loving Fun, and today decided to search for the term. The top three entries all pointed to my site, which was, to say the least, gratifying. But then I discovered many, many links to the Christine McVie song "You Make Loving Fun." And, despite its popularity and emotional depth, I found its wisdom questionable.

It's not YOU who makes loving fun.

It's US.

The Bernie

It is with a sense of vast self-import and potentiating glee that I both introduce, announce and unveil the soon-to-be coveted

As Defender of the Playful, I must be on near-ceaseless vigil for those acts of extraordinary public silliness, those manifestations of innovative invitations to genuine play, those inventions and intentions that make the world a little more fun. Hence, at long last, after great deliberation and untoward exercise of self-restraint, I have gathered the necessary conviction and self-assurance to hereby and -with announce and establish for all time, until further notice

As devoted daily readers of this clearly invaluable weblog, you both may and should have noticed that I, with increasing frequency, have been more than mentioning toys, games and people of play who and which have achieved my personal noteworthiness as somehow exemplary of actual fun. If you feel that you are such person or that you have produced such a product, neither hesitate nor refrain from contacting me immediately. You, too, may someday earn the potentially cherished privilege and right to have a Bernie of your very own.

The Soon-to-be-Coveted Bernie was designed by herself, Webmistress extraordinaire, Julie Wolpers

539 Drinking Games

Here is a significant compilation of drinking games. Why, you ask, would I, a play-advocating chai-totaller, manifest such interest in drinking games? Well, I'm delighted that you asked such a profound question. Drinking games, sans drinking, are oft the source for some of the most pointless of the pointless games in my collection of the aforesaid. Broaden your mental horizons and try these games just for the fun of it. They could very well lead you to some stunning moments of non-alcohol or drug-induced inebriation.

A few more half-baked games over which to mull

Visiting Halfbaked from time-to-time is, from time-to-time, positively enlightening. Though this time was between times, I did find these hopeful signs of playful potential:

Two-Ball Sports - why do people always jump to innuendiotic conclusions whenever someone contemplates the potentiating glories of games with two balls?

SuproBall - Capture the Flag plus Handball

and Artillery Golf - golf with a bang. By the way, see the aforementioned page for a virtual panoplay of golf-related halfbakedness.

Spectacular Fun: Introducing Voyager III

OK. Doc is a Geek. And his passion for fun technology is legendary and irresistable. So he shows me this free, downloadable demo version (enthusiastically underlined, bolded and italicised because I couldn't believe it was only a demo) of this astronomy program called Voyager III. He uses it almost every night with his five-year-old Jeffrey. And we spend the next half-hour at least speeding through the universe. And, no, it's not a game, it's a scientific instrument. A guide to the heavens and the celestial events therein playing. And, because it gives you so much to play with, it's truly spectacular fun.

There's a big lesson here about fun and toys and games and stuff. But there's an even bigger lesson waiting - one about the whole darn universe!

DeepFUN Blogged by the Big Blogger

Doc Searls Weblog is probably one of the most often cited as an example of how a weblog should be written. It's personal, informed, honest, well-written. And Doc has been my friend for, what, 20 years?

When he chooses to write about me, it's like receiving an Emmy. Because he does it, not just out of friendship, but out of a genuine understanding of my work and life, and he does it personally, in what you would call an informed, honest, well-written way.

So, here's the link.

I dance the Dance of Glee.

Nikko iRacer cars

"It's the tiny car which boasts some cool functions, its gun-grip handset, fits nicely into your hand making it very easy to manoeuvre. We believe it to be the most excellent remote controlled car ever invented and it's also one of the smallest measuring just over 4cms.

"The ultimate executive toy to circuit the desk jotter, this minute car lives inside the handset which is a fast charger, taking only two minutes to power up, allowing the car to run for 10 mins consecutively.

"Powered by 4 x AA batteries (not included). Flip the top of the handset and slot the car to connect to charge.

"With more features than most of its counterparts, this car allows you to quite literally drive it around the desk. You are sure to find the handling most impressive, a unique steering wheel feature enables to car to be directed more accurately. The cornering and power switches give you an all-together better drive and the accelerator trim can be adjusted, to suit your speed requirements. So you can finely, tune your vehicles handling towards you."

Circuit your jotter today!

Thumb Helmets

Thumb wrestling is easily one of those games - you can play anywhere, anytime, with anyone. And sometimes it hurts.

I, as a service to man and womankind, have taken Thumb Wrestling one step further, establishing for all time the legitimacy of the Thumb Helmet, which, in turn, gives rise to a new caste of Thumb Warriors, establishing "The Way of Thumb" whilst elevating the entire experience to that of a truly non-martial art.

I invite, nay, seek out and enlist your participation in this historic opportunity for the further formulation of said same.

Party games for kids and grownups and grownup kids and kidlike grownups

Here's a collection of 220 children's party games and 120 adult party games. Indexed alphabetically, it may take a while to find exactly what you want (no search engine). The original collection is in Russian, and the English translation is a bit clumsy. But, nevertheless, it's a treasure.

83. MATCH AS A SPEAR. ( Joking.)
Draw a line on the floor. The player must throw a usual match as a spear not overstepping the line. Choose the winner judging by 3 throws.

Fidgets - The Ultimate Pencil Upgrade

"You may know about Fidgets" says son-in-law Tom. "They are our newest obsession at work."

From a quick glance at the animations for each of the four different Fidgets, and the clean, unassuming webpage presentation, I must say that this elegant piece of compassionate silliness seems destined for something akin to worldwide dominaton.

$7.00 gets you all four different Fidgets. Free shipping, even.

More Evidence on How Play Enhances Cognitive Development

In case the people you're trying to convince to bring more play into kids' lives need More Evidence on How Play Enhances Cognitive Development, this is one more resource.

Presidents - A Card Game

Presidents is yet another bizarre card game for the fun-minded few

To get a taste for the politics of this game, read on:

At the end of each round, the seating arrangement is changed, and all players are given new socioeconomic positions of sorts. The person who scored highest in the last round is declared the President (or King or Queen or Prime Minister or Dictator), and is given the seat of his choice. Players then assume seats clockwise from him according to their performance in the previous round. It is highly recommended for all players to associate titles with their seats... for example, the President may be sitting next to the VP, next to the landowner, the bourgeois, the farm worker, and the peasantry (pit). If you've followed directions correctly, the pit will end up on the President's right.

For subsequent rounds, the cards are shuffled, dealt, and distributed as usual. However, the peasantry must now pay taxes to the ruling class. The highest and lowest on the socioeconomic ladder exchange cards as follows:
3 or 4 player game: Highest scorer gives Lowest scorer his one worst card, Lowest gives Highest his one best card.
4 or more players: Highest and Lowest exchange 2 best/worst cards in manner stated above. Second highest and second lowest exchange 1 best/worst card in same manner.
People not on the very top or bottom do not, and may not, exchange cards.

Ah, the intrigue!

The Playground Initiative

Though most of the material is in Swedish or Finnish, there are enough external links, photographs and diagrams to get the idea and the spirit of this remarkably reassuring effort for providing for and supporting children's play.

via Jay Beckwith

Child's play vs. adult play

A correspondent writes: "But you have found the answer for adults ---you are basically helping them, through fun and play, to bring back the memories of what it is to be a child."

I respond: adults, we have more to play with, more strengths, competencies, capacities. We're bigger. Stronger. Different than we were as children. So our play is different. And there are great benefits from recognizing, affirming and exploring that difference. I am not interested in getting adults to play as we played as children, because we
are not children, and we have other ways to play that are more relevant to us.

The spirit is the same. The flesh is different. And so is it's form and meaning.

Take a look, for example, at how we adults played the Panther Person Porcupine game. There was no fighting or tantrums or hurt feelings, no grabbing or accidental hurting. We were graceful, in control of our bodies, patient, subtle, reflective, funny, giving. Not that we played better than kids, not that kids can't be all those things, but that we played as adults. We were not innocent. But we were open to each other, compassionate, caring, enjoying our foolishness even while we knew better.

Assassin at the UVA

Stephanie Pratola writes:

FYI: I just got back from visiting my son who is a freshman at the
University of Virginia. I thought the deep- fun group might be interested
in the "fun" they are having in the freshman dorms at UVA. It seems they
are organizing dorm wide games of "assassin" that go on for
....days...weeks...whatever until there's a winner. Players sign up and put
in a nominal amount of money, like $1. This "pot" goes to the winner (last
player remaining). Players agree on type of "ammunition" ( usually a rolled
up sock). They also decide on where there will be "safety zones." For
example, "no one can kill you in your own room." They also decide on other
ways to be "safe" . For example: if you wear your boxer shorts on the
outside of your clothes or if you have a bagel on a string around your neck,
nobody can "kill" you. You are killed when someone hits you with their
ammunition. You report to some central game keeper if you are killed so
people can know who is left to be "gotten". These games result hilarity
such as students showing up for Advanced French Grammar Class wearing boxer
shorts on the outside of their khaki shorts ...groups of students with bagel
necklaces, etc. Lots of people carry around balled up socks. It helps
people get to know who is in their dorm because the games are played among
kids who live in the same dorm. There are about 180 kids in each dorm."

Mrs. Mumble, Trip to Japan

Two clearly pointless games from Gunjan Saraf of Working Humor

1) Mrs. Mumble

A very simple game. A person starts by asking anyone in the circle
- "Is Mrs. Mumble at home?"
That person replies ...
- "No Mrs. Mumble is not at home. Please ask my neighbor."
The first person then has to ask the same question to the neighbor
(person seated next to the person whom you asked this question)

And so on around in a circle.

Sounds silly right. There has to be a catch somewhere !!
Oh yes there is .... I forgot to tell you about it. This entire
conversation must be carried out without letting the person
you're talking to see your teeth.

If they do see your teeth you're IT (or tagged or whatever
you call it there) and you then have to ask the question.
You can start from anywhere in the circle.

2) Trip to Japan (Not recommended for groups over 15 people)

The person leading the game starts by saying
"My Auntie went to Japan from there she brought me a fan"
As he (or she) says the word fan he starts using his right
hand to start fanning himself. Everybody in the group has
to repeat that statement one after the other and as soon as
they say it their hand must get (and remain) in motion.

As soon as everyone in the room is fanning away, the leader
carries on with "My Uncle went to Yugoslavia from there he
brought me a yo-yo" Now the other hand must get in motion.

Then you can send a relative to the US for chewing gum, to
India or China for a cycle, to Brazil for a football (which can either
be kicked or headed), to Persia from a cream which made you
develop an itch and so on and so forth till the group is buzzing
with pointless activity.

[This game is 3 times the fun when played on a bus where people
outside can see the frantic activity but have no idea what's going on.
It's amazing fun seeing their reactions though it sometimes makes some
players very self-conscious]

Bernie on "Challenge"

The final installment in the series of clips from Esalen is this short presentation on "Structuring Fun."

Here, I present the theory of the "slanted high bar" - demonstrating how games and relationships that give people the opportunity to determine their own challenges tend to be the most fun, the most inclusive, the most effective.


Astro-Logix. Hmm. Looks like a great toy. Haven't played with it yet. Not much on the website about it's actual makeup. All I could find was:

The glow in the dark Solar system is supplied in a robust storage tube, which contains the following:
70 x 40mm long tubes
20 x 3 spigot hubs (connectors)
20 x 4 spigot hubs
20 x 5 spigot hubs

Well, whatever it is that you get with it, it's clearly potentially deeply funworthy.

Puzzled? Not puzzled enough? Check out for a significantly impressive collection of the aforementioned.

Santa Barbara revisited

Though the plan is for a five-day program at Santa Barbara (Oct 21-25), several people expressed interest in a shorter, two-day program.

So here's the thought. If we could get enough people to register (a minimum of 12) we could offer a 2-day commuters' program for $225, $325 for people who want to stay at the center. It'd start Monday, October 21, at 5:30 p.m. (with dinner) ending at 9:30, then go all day Tuesday Oct 22nd (8 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.) with breakfast, lunch and dinner and Wednesday,October 23rd with breakfast and lunch 8am until 5 p.m.

If the five-day commitment, or cost, was a barrier, please let me know as soon as possible if you're interested. I'd need to have twelve people registered by October 1st. Not much time, I realize, but, with a little help from such wonderful friends, well, anything's possible.

Roll Over

See yet one more moment of wackiness from the Esalen program - this one, the game we wound-up calling "Roll Over" - click on the image to see why.

Egyptian Rat Screw

As the author explains, the card game called "Egyptian Rat Screw" "has nothing to do with Egypt, rodents, or screws." The game is "extremely fast-paced...vaguely reminiscent of slapjack, spit, speed, stress, nurse, etc. for two or more players. It can get pretty hot. Anyone can play, but to be good requires quick thinking, fast reflexes, and tough hands."

Mao - the card game

Mao is a variant of UNO which is a variant of Crazy Eights. I'm not sure if "variant" is the right word. Perhaps "deviant" is more descriptive.

Original Card Games by David Parlett

Yes, people are still making up new card games. You can too. See David Parlett's Original Card Games for more permission.

Children's Games in Street and Playground

Children's Games in Street and Playground is an anthropologically objective study of children at play, at unstructured, unsupervised, actual play. It will restore your faith in kids and fun and freedom and recess, even.

The one reviewer (who turns out to be me) wrote: "This book will help you regain your faith in children and respect for their games. It has been the cornerstone of my work for twenty years. It should not be out of print. Accurate, honest, direct observations of children at play, without the constraints of adult supervision, outside the boundaries of their playgrounds."

Fun at Recess

Here's a sweet little collection of recess games - in case you need to remind someone how, for example, to play Men from Mars.

"One player stands in the middle of an open area and says "I'm the man from mars. I'll chase you to the stars because you have on (you can say any color). The people who are playing with that specific color on have to run to the other side. If the man from Mars gets you, you are out. The last person tagged is the winner." - of course, if I were playing the game, I wouldn't have anybody be out. Rather, I'd make them Men from Mars, too. After all, aren't we all?


A Recess Resource

One more resource - the IPA - the USA branch of an organization devoted to "the Child's Right to Play." See especially "How to Plan, Organize and Implement a Playday" - probably the best way I know to bring community together and remind them what play is for.


The Benefits of Recess

In case you are still wondering about what you can tell the authorities about why kids should have recess (given how far from childhood they've let themselves become), here's "A Position Statement on Young Children and Recess" from the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education.

"Recess contributes significantly to the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive (intellectual) development of the young child (Clements, 2001). Recess is one of the few places and times during the day when all these developmental domains are utilized in a context that children view as meaningful. Children must function in all the developmental domains if they are to successfully adapt to school and societal norms. The domains are empirically related and should be considered intertwined. For example, social interaction and physical activity facilitate cognition; recess (indoor and outside) offers the opportunity for this development. On the playground, children can be observed actively practicing the learning and cognitive skills acquired in the classroom."

And that's only a sample paragraph from this sadly much-needed plea for playtime.


The Recess Problem

Here's an article from almost a year ago, describing a growing, and, from this player's perspective, cancerous practice afflicting the student body. I quote:

"As many as four out of ten schools nationwide, and 80 percent of the schools in Chicago, have decided there's no time for recess. Instead of romping in playgrounds, kids are being channeled into more classes in an effort to make their test scores rise on an ever-higher curve."

What's wrong with these people? With us that we would condone such a negative, damaging, uninformed practice?

Look at me. I'm ranting!

I know that this doesn't seem like a big-time rantworthy issue, given our current, ever-escalating war. On the other hand, this is something whose evils I understand. Depriving kids of recess, when kids already have such few opportunities for unstructured socialization, is depriving them not only of their childhood, but of a sane, happy adulthood. Without unstructured, free play, where are they going to learn leadership, where the skills of community-building, where the art of friendship, where the practices of collaboration and co-creativity?

It worries this particular fun guy. It worries him enough to make him sound not very fun or funny.

Time for a game.


Camping Games

250 camping games - yours for the playing.

Like, for example:

Beat the Bunny (circle/passive)

Equipment: Two balls of different size. The bunny (small ball) is started first and is passed from child to child around the circle. When the bunny is about half way around, the farmer (large ball) is started in the same direction. Note: The farmer can change directions to try and catch the bunny, but the bunny can only go one way.

Games of Native Alaskans

The online publication "Alaska Native Games - A Resource Guide" could very well redefine your entire vision of competitive sports.

For example, there's the Ear Pulling Contest:

Requires the athletes to pair off against one another with a loop of string placed over the same ear of each competitors in the face-off. The competitors face each other. No jerking is allowed and one must use a steady pull straight back and try to make to other person give in. This is a test of strength and endurance.

For another: Eskimo Stick Pull

Consists of the two athletes sitting on the floor facing each other with feet touching. The stick is held over both athlete's toes. One athlete holds the stick in the center with his hands together while the other athlete's hands are on either side of his opponent's. Each athlete uses a steady pull straight back trying to pull the opponent directly to him or the stick away from the opponent. No twisting, jerking or regripping the stick is allowed. This game is based on the skill of grabbing and holding onto a fish.

The Second Cooperative Sports & Games

Searching for "cooperative sports" the most frequently cited is Terry Orlick's The Second Cooperative Sports & Games...

It is a bit sad to learn that there are so few resources on this vital topic still available. And yet, there's at least this, and a very wonderful this this is.


The teachings that we promulgated in the New Games (movement) are miraculously still alive and well, probably aliver and weller in Europe than they are in the States. Convivial is one such organization, teaching peace through play throughout Belgium.

Cosmic Encounters potentiated

My friend Peter Olotka sent me this article about his still-under-development masterpiece, the online version of Cosmic Encounter.

"But Peter," I replied, "the game is still not ready to be played. It's beautiful, promising, exciting, even fun to play with. But there's no game!. So, what can I tell people aside from the fact that if they can actually want to play the game they have to buy the board game from maybe Amazon - which'd be cool because then I'd get maybe a quarter or even 32 cents." (this is not verbatim, but a close approximation.)

Peter replies: "The story line is that I am in this business thanks to Bernie DeK who, a)sent me a fan letter re: cosmic and then b) Bernie was written up in Omni mag as the guru of game design; which c) made me call him to ask how I could become like him; and d) to which he replied "I'll have CTW [Children's Television Workshop - the Sesame Street people with whom I was sesaming] hire your brain"; then e) I became a pro instead of a part time dabbler which led to f) todays Cosmic Online... in a somewhat convoluted warpishly wormholey way. "

The Philosophy of Kissing

Ever since I began compiling the Lexifunnicon, I have experienced a preternatural fascination with unnecessary definitions. Today's find - the Philosophy of Kissing in which learn the subtle differences between a Platonic Kiss, a Socratic Kiss, et, actually, cetera. From

Thank for this indefinably fine find.


Construcards - one small step from "house of cards" - one giant step for house of card builders.

Museum of Bad Art

The Museum of Bad Art - "a community-based, private institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory. "

"( 377 x 450 x 256 / 63 k / jpeg)
Acrylic on Canvas by Unknown
Acquired By: Scott Wilson from trash

"This disturbing work "makes an offer you can't refuse". The chilling, matter-of-fact manner in which the subject presents the severed head to us is a poignant reminder of just how numb we have become. The understated violence implicit in the scene speaks volumes on our own desensification, our society's reflexive use of force, and the artists inability to deal with the hindquarters of the animal."

Hang Ten Remotely

Remote controlled surfing. At last, hang your plastic ten while your actuals are safely soaking on the sun-drenched sand.

Figure around $200. Might as well get an R/C Surfer Lisa with "waterproofed antenna (for better range), quality foot straps, counter balanced, waterproofed switch, receiver and hatch," or for only $350 with "19 turn motor, water-cooled esc, mod motor coil, performance prop, Dean's ultra-plugs and plumbing"

This is serious stuff, dudes and dudettes. Rip da bomb toob remotely, man.

Click this, and you too can sound like a surfer.

I Doubt It (and you should, too)

Today's game of the day is another card game - one that we'll be playing Thursday at the Teavern in Manhattan Beach - called I Doubt It. (click for the description).

This is a game that requires people to lie. It's a kid's game, they say.

It has many variations, including a Russian version called, logically enough, Verish' Ne Verish', and another which I choose not to mention. The fact that there are at least three known variations makes it perfect fodder for a Wacky Card Games gathering, where the whole focus is on making up wackier and wackier variations. The fact that lying is required (lying isn't really lying when everyone knows that you have to) makes it all the wackier.

My wife, Rocky, hates this game, and all its variations. Games that make you lie. For some, the whole idea is just too wacky to play with.

Preparing for the Santa Barbara retreat

Consider yourself invited to a small gathering in Santa Barbara this Tuesday evening. We'll be playing a few games, of course, and talking about the October 21-25 retreat in the lovely hills of the aforementioned.

Wanna know more?

click to send Bernie e-mail

Practice Play - the spiritual connection

From a webpage called "Practice Play"

Play is the exuberant expression of our being. It is at the heart of our creativity, our sexuality, and our most carefree moments of devotion. It helps us live with absurdity, paradox, and mystery. It feeds our joy and wonder. It keeps our search for meaning down to earth.

Practice play by doing things on the spur of the moment. Take time out to experiment, to try on different parts, to relax. Laugh heartily at jokes, situations, and yourself. Remember, laughter heals body, mind, and soul, and by extension, communities.

Also from the same page:

The word "silly" derives from the Greek "selig" meaning "blessed." There is something sacred in being able to be silly.
ó Paul Pearsall in The Heart's Code

This is a remarkable collection of resources connecting play and spirituality from Spirituality and Health.

More Play, More Peace

Here's Peace Through Play - an organization in the UK "for transforming the Culture of Violence into
a Culture of Peace by realising the inborn creative potential on children, young people, yourself." Read "The Link Between Peace and Play":

In young children at play there is at times discernible a quietude and calm as though they possessed a deep, private and distant existence, which is just beyond the observer's understanding. It emanates a sense of peace. A fragment of this property, which might be defined as childish innocence, stays alive in each individual into maturity, but may remain dormant. Wisdom, and the flashes of intuition and inspiration that occur from time to time throughout life, spring from this same quiet place. This quality in young children, ephemeral as it may appear, is a powerful force, and lies deeply embedded in the psyche. It is culture-based and linked with the world of myth, magic and the imagination. Play is its natural expression, and in playing the creative energies are released. These may take the form of singing, dancing, music making, painting, sculpting, building, working in wood or other materials, including water and wind; embroidery, roleplay, story telling, poetry, or in many other ways; some original and inventive, some picked up from others. Play and creating are often indistinguishable from each other.

Then there's Let Us Play that seeks to build "peace and reconciliation through sports" and has been active in Bosnia. And the Canadian Organization Building Peace Through Play, and Playground for Peaces - "a joint project of the Middle East Children's Alliance and the Welfare Association," and "Peace Through Play"

Think there's a message here?

Understanding the Science of Pleasure

Pleasure. Hard to say that word without little thrills of almost-guilt. Which is exactly the point. Understanding the Science of Pleasure takes pleasure seriously, as a scientifically good thing. This is great stuff for those of us who need the validation, and those of us who make us need the validation. It's almost like you can't get enough.

Pleasure is important to health in two ways. First, it can act pro-actively to promote good physical and mental health and protect against ill-health (inoculation). Second, it can aid the process of unwinding and protect against recent unpleasant experiences (antidote). Research shows that experiencing pleasure leads to a reduction in the stress hormones, such as cortisol, and leads to a strengthened immune response and therefore greater resistance to infections and disease.

- feelings of well being benefit the body by lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and increasing immunocompetence

- when people relax, there is a significant increase in the activity of natural killer cells which comprise a major defence against infection (Kiecolt-Glaser et al 1986)

- similarly, laughter lowers serum cortisol levels reducing the potentially damaging effects of this hormone on the body (Berk et al 1989)

- positive mood states increase the salivary levels of immunoglobulin, which renders the individual more able to fight off respiratory infections (Stone et al 1987).

Playing for Peace

It turns out that there are several organizations who have successfully made the peace-play connection. One such, Peace Games, "is a... violence prevention program that empowers elementary school students to be peacemakers. The ... Peace Games approach uses cooperative games and community service activities to teach students how to create their own safe schools. Peace Games has opportunities for volunteers and AmeriCorps members to teach."

Then there's the Footbag Peace Initiative, "dedicated to the sport of "FOOTBAG" (known widely though incorrectly as "Hacky Sack") and to the healing, dancing and playful impulses aroused in us when we play."

And Play for Peace - which sees itself as "a process of community building. Rather than being an event or program, it is the creation of ongoing learning partnerships that free each child to build positive, life-long connections with others. Especially among people with a history of inter-cultural tension, cooperative play is one of few bridges that promotes cross-cultural relationships."

Play on, o playfully peaceful warriors, play on!


Urban Legend Zeitgeist

Not actually "fun" - though often funny, Urban Legend Zeitgeist is a staggeringly large, and growing collection of bunk and debunk. Given how much bunk we connected ones have fallen heir to, this resource is not only entertaining, but often vital. Even I, your fun-loving yet wisely skeptical host, was almost taken in by the Nigerian Scam and the jdbmgr.exe virus hoax.

I was led to this significant resource by Linkfilter, who, in recognition of Friday the Thirteenth (which, apparently, today is), linked to this explication of the origins of said same.

Gyro Ring

And then there's the Gyro Ring.

Magic Sand

Click Magic Sand to see a clip of this stuff in action.

You can get this stuff from Flinn Scientific (800/452-1261) and Educational Innovations (888/912-7474) or make your own by spraying dry sand with ScotchGard and allowing it to dry overnight. It was also sold by Wham-O.

Here are some more clips of this amazing stuff.

From the Journal of Chemical Education.

Thank Milk and Cookies for the find

Art e-zine

In answer to the pressing, yet still unasked question, "where'd you find that paper doll gallery?" - see the Art e-Zine for something close to endlessly playful artlike stuff.

A quote: "Play with your stuff and see what comes to life"

Paper Doll Gallery

And you thought Paper Dolls were for kids!

Why Recess?

This, found in the archives of the Center for Disease Control, was written in response to a growing trend in the US and UK, especially, towards eliminating school recess.

Recess periods, which are regularly scheduled periods within the elementary school day for unstructured
physical activity and play, provide another opportunity for daily physical activity, along with social and
cognitive benefi ts. Some large school districts have, in recent years, eliminated recess altogether, reportedly
due to safety concerns and a desire to increase time for academic instruction. However, studies have found
that (1) students who do not participate in recess become fi dgety and less able to concentrate on tasks
and (2) the longer children sit in classrooms without a recess break, the less attentive they become. Recess
also offers students one of their few opportunities during the school day to interact and develop social
skills, such as negotiating and cooperating, with minimal adult interference.

...all of which makes me understand why my advocacy of adult recess seems to have been largely ignored by the corporate universe.


City-Wide Street Art Game

A correspondent from an "adventure based learning center" in Australia asked for some Art Games. My first recommendation was, of course, Redondo.

Continued searching led me to this City-Wide Street Art Game from the eternally resourceful Halfbakery:

On a selected day, the puzzle-setter proceeds onto the streets with paint or chalk, having in mind an image or picture to draw. They make marks on the sidewalk/pavement of different streets. To the casual observer, these marks will not be significant, but to someone watching the progress from a satellite they will be highly significant, forming parts of the image superimposed onto the streets below.

However the puzzle-solvers will not be watching from above. They have to run around the streets looking for traces of paint, marking them on the maps in their hands, trying to work out what the puzzle-setter is drawing. Once they have an idea, they take out their own paints and try to complete the picture before the setter can. Each time the puzzle-setter comes to an already-painted place, they identify the team by their paint colour and score that team one point. If the solvers paint the wrong place, they score nothing.

For more art-like, play-like ideas from the Half-Bakery, see these search results.

Remembering 9-11 - continued

This, from a correspondent:

I moved here to Seattle from the metropolitan NY area and also grew up in NY state and attended a state college. Two of my classmates died in the Twin Towers. I knew Al Mayer quite well as he was in my major and had also grown up with one of my roommates. He would often hang out at our place and he was always the life of the party. Although I had not seen Al since we graduated in 84 I have often thought of those days and how much joy they brought me.

Having lived in the metro NY area for several years I have friends and aquaintances that live there now that lost multiple friends and loved ones last September. They attended several memorial services over the weeks that followed 9-11. While I did not personally know those that died (other than Al), I witnessed the grief of those that survived them. What struck me time and again was that even in the midst of their grief there was a tremendous strength and hope.

My to honor both those that died and those that loved them by embracing the paradox of all that life has to offer. I am going to a memorial service at my church, and ...[it] also happens to be the first day of a salsa dance class that I am taking (and I am really looking for to it!)

This past year (and this summer, in particular) continues to teach me about the paradox of life and how it continually asks us to hold it all.... the grief and the joy, the feelings of helplessness and strength, terror and peace. This is not an easy task by any means, and my rational mind does not have the capacity to reconcile any of this. Instead I am finding (and continue to find) some greater part of me that is connected to something larger than this life, that trusts in this life regardless of what is happening around me. It is this part of me that is inspired to move forward, to long for peace, and express my grief and joy. And..., this is what I shall do in memory of Al, his family, and all those that died as well as those who loved them.


I think this'll be my only blog entry for today.

Nerf-like balls

Searching for big bunch of soft, seven-inch, nerf-like balls?

It turns out that Poof Toys sells them for $2.50 each in boxes of 6, minimum order $150.

Adaptive Games

Searching for Adaptive Games. Because, in essence, that's the core of my funwork, the key to the fun community. I found this remarkable little list of pointers from a young lady named "Jenn" - a "Special Needs Mediator." Each item in this list could apply directly to facilitating a fun community:

Adaptations are made according to:

Participant's leisure interests - if the person is uninterested in activity, no amount of adaptations will create interest
Functioning level and skills of the person - not all activities must be adapted: assess the situation, participant's abilities and skill level
Age of person - gear activities towards age(s) of participants
Access to the necessary material and equipment - consider what resources are available, less expensive adaptations may be found

Keep in mind when adapting activities:

Does the adaptation change the activity so much that it is no longer recognizable as the same activity?
Does the adaptation match skill levels?
Will individual be able to participate with others or does modification restrict choice of partners?

Playground Games from the Inclusion Project

Searching for more Paper-and-Pencil games, I came across this lovely collection of Playground Games from the Inclusion Project of the East Sussex schools. Check out, for example, their Paper and Pencil Games collection. Though the games aren't as strategically sophisticated as Sprouts, they are clearly fun, clearly things kids would play, and possibly things in which even you in your vast maturity might contemplate engaging.

The Game of Sprouts

Uh-oh, another game of the week. That's two in two days. Dast I contemplate a "game of the day"? Nay, I dasn't. 'twould be too dastardly.

Dasting along, I found this page of Paper and Pencil games which happened to include not only the game of Sprouts but also this lovely animated illustration:

The rules follow:

The players take turns moving.
A move has two parts: drawing a line and making a new dot.
The line must go from a dot to a dot so that it does not cross another line and so that once the line is draw, no dot has more then three lines coming out of it. The animated game marks these used-up dots with red X's. You might want to circle used-up dots.
The new dot goes on the line the player just drew (this means it starts with two lines coming out of it).
The winner is the last player to move. Notice in the animated game that there are two dots that are not used-up at the end. They get marked with light blue X's because, even though they are not used-up, you can't use them as the ends of a line without crossing another line.
As the animated game shows a line can go from a dot to itself as long as you don't break the "three lines" rule.

Developed by the mathematicion Conway (inventor of the Game of Life), Sprouts is one of the few paper-and-pencil games with the simplicity of Tic Tac Toe and the elegance of a true strategy game.

There are two other games on this page, each with animated directions. Of the two, Pipelayer is especially attentionworthy as a game that is: a) strategically interesting, and 2) not widely known.

While you're at it, you might as well check out all the other playworthy links on this quite amazing Math Night Resource Page. It is very heartening to discover an educational project manifesting such a fine sense of appreciation for fun.


Yes. Tiddlywinks. The official site of the North American Tiddlywinks Association.

Be sure to check out the Lexicon where you'll learn the true meaning of: "I can't pot my nurdled wink, so I'll piddle you free and you can boondock a red. But if Sunshine gromps the double, I'll lunch a blue next time."

Game of the Week - 99

Here's a "feature" I thought I'd try out - a "game of the week." Once a week I'll write up a game that is simple enough to teach in a few minutes (seems to be a core critereon for anything I do) and fun enough to make people laugh out actually loud.

This week's Game of the Week is a card game called "99." It's one of those games that my son and I would play a lot when he was a boy, and that we still have fun with now that he's in his 30s. Since my new found "Card Games Website" does such a good job, I thought I'd just share their description of the game with you.

Each player begins the game with 5 pennies (or chips). Deal out 3 cards to each player from a standard 52 card deck (if more than 4 people are playing use 2 decks and give each player just 3 pennies). The undealt cards are placed on the table to form a face-down stock.

The player to the left of the dealer starts and the turn initially passes clockwise. On each turn you play one of your three cards face-up to the centre of the table, call out the total value of the face-up pile (as per the table below), then draw the top card from the stock. When the face-up pile is empty the count is zero. For each card played add the pip value of the card played to the total value of the pile. Jacks and queens count as 10. The following cards cause special effects:

Ace - increases the value of the pile by one or eleven, at the player's choice.
Four - the value of the pile remains the same but the direction of play reverses.
Nine - counts as zero - the value of the pile remains the same and play passes to next player in turn.
Ten - increases or reduces the value of the pile by ten, at the player's choice.
King - the value of the pile is set to 99.

If you cannot play without taking the value of the pile over 99, you lay down your hand. The play ends, and you toss one penny into the center; players who have no pennies left drop out of the game. After each hand, the deal passes to next player to the left of the previous dealer who is still in. Hands continue till only one player has any pennies left, and that player is the winner.

When someone plays a nine or a four they repeat the value of the pile, calling out "pass to you #" or "back on you #" respectively. For example here is part of a four-player game; play is currently running clockwise. Player 1 plays a King and says "99". Player 2 plays a nine and says (looking at player 3) "pass to you 99". Player 3 plays a four and says (looking at player 2, since play order will now run counterclockwise until another four is played) "back on you 99". Player 1 plays a ten and says "89". Player 4 plays a eight and says "97". Player 3 plays a four, looks at player 4 and says "back on you 97" (now we're back to clockwise), and so on.

This game should be played very rapidly. It is easy to forget to draw a replacement after you play a card. If that happens it cannot be corrected afterwards - you must get by with just two cards for the rest of the hand.

Be sure to look at the other games on this page for ideas on how to increase or decrease the complexity of this simple and rather tasty little game. I don't use the penny scoring method. But that's because I generally don't keep score.

Create a Band

Create your own band! Select the players, instruments, background, lighting. Spend a lot of time for no reason at all.

Thank Random Drivel for the link.

Happy New Year

Here's a very silly Rosh Hashanah flash thing. Not living in the inner circles of high Judaica, I found this silliness something that actually restored my faith in something.

Thank zFilter for this questionable find.

Burning Man

Of all the events I'd never go to, Burning Man (too hot - it's in the desert , too expensive - $200 for advanced tickets, too uncomfortable - you supply the tent, the water, the food) has got to be one of the happiest displays of something approaching pure fun and interpersonal pyrotechnics on this planet. It was held just last weekend over the Labor Day holidays.

All of which is to say that Patrick Roddie has compiled a most view-worthy series of photos of the aforementioned.

Thank Linkfilter for the find.

Remembering 9-11

Below is a letter I sent out to the DeepFUN discussion group.

People are asking me about my plans for 9-11. So I thought maybe it'd be something we all'd want to share.

I plan to go out to the beach and play paddle-volley-ball with my wife.

I figure that maybe going out and playing in public like that is a kind of Freedom Flaunt - a way for us to demonstrate, to each other, at least, that the terrorists didn't win, weren't able to take away our joy, our ability to celebrate life and each other.

I know that there were great, profound, painful, irretrievable losses on 9-11. But I also know that if I had been one of the lost, I would have wanted people to remember me with a rededication to life, to joy, and not necessarily at all to flag and country.

But that's me. That's what I would want for myself. So, I thought I'd use this forum to learn what you'd want for yours.


If you have anything to add, anything, please e-me.

Duck-Duck-Goose - how I got into playing with grownups

I was invited by the UKPlayworkers to write a piece explaining why I have focused on adult play. It was a good question, especially in the light of the growing trend to create yet more limits on children's playtime and activities (see this story on children campaigning against the "Culture of Caution"). So, I wrote this piece. Actually, I think told it better in this interview (you'll need Real Player to hear it).

Cross the River and other games of logic

Here's a collection of logic games from Platelina Games. Flash makes them fun!

thank Ultimate Insult

Puppets of India

Fun takes on a magical, mystical quality in the eyes and hands of Indian puppeteers. See Puppets of India for a taste of wonder.

Thank Alamut for the pointer.

You Deserve a Standing Ovation

Give yourself a virtual Standing Ovation. Don't ask why. Just click and be appreciated.

A gift from the profoundly silly folks at Playfair, as directed by friend and former student, Emperor Matt

Intergenerational Vacations

Then there's this amazing list of intergenerational vacations offered by Elderhostel.

e.g.: Wasatch Mountain Winter Wonderland: A Family Holiday Skiing Adventure!
Experience an unforgettable week with your children and grandchildren on the "best snow on earth" and greet the New Year at Park City Mountain, host of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Beginner to advanced ski lessons; time for personal skiing together as a family; snowboards welcome! Enter the world of Olympic excitement and get an inside view of Olympic Park at the Nordic ski jumps, bobsled, luge, and skeleton track. Trace Olympic history and watch athletes train! Discover how thousands of underground tunnels intersect deposits of silver, gold, and copper that are later turned into space shuttle parts and the 2002 Olympic medals. A thrilling snow-tubing park and horse-drawn sleigh ride await you! Relish time with family in Utah's high country.

Guidelines for Intergenerational Play

This from a "publication sponsored by Crayola":

Adults can learn to become play partners by trying to regain the playful attitude of a child. Let go of the adult notion that play is only for children. It is the fortunate adult who has never completely abandoned childish things.

Donít worry if you donít know how to use some toys. Let your imagination be your guide. Using toys in novel ways will help a childís creativity.

Let older children teach you how to use the latest toy or computer game. They will take great pleasure in teaching you what they know.

Play at the childís level. You can add to the complexity of the play, but let the child determine the direction of play.

Have fun! Donít use playtime to stretch your childís skills. They will develop anyway. Just have fun together.

Encourage and congratulate children when a difficult task is completed. This will build self-confidence.

Do not solve every task for the child, but encourage her to solve the problem for herself. Doing something for a child is not playing.

Do not choose toys or games that are too complex for the childís capabilities. Something too difficult can be frustrating. And something too easy is no fun.

Safety is the first requirement of all play. Ensure that toys and games are suitable to the childís age and abilities. Read the safety information on the package.

I agree with everything except the "...congratulate children..." line. This is the result of a lesson I learned from my granddaughter Maya (5). Whenever I congratulated her, she got angry with me, almost in tears. I learned to squelch my joy at her victories. Hard to do for a grandparent. But clearly I was taking something away from her with my excitement, not leaving her room for her own.

Other than that particular quibble, I think this list offers all of us good, reliable guidance about playing with anything and anyone.

Homonyms and other Wordplays

Alan Cooper's Homonyms is the very stuff of car games, waiting-in-line games and restaurant games. As a gamelike experience, try the Hinky Pinky approach: select a homonym, think of a definition for the word pair and see if your playpal can guess the words. You ask for an example? Try: things done with a chopping tool. If you can't figure out the answer, look at the second item in Alan Cooper's Homonym list.

For a compendious list of links to other sources for word play, see, oddly enough, the previously blogged Word Play, where I found, for example, The Daily Arrebus

link via the Presurfer



Doublemaze is not your typical move-a-ball-around-a-maze puzzle. Because you're moving two balls around two mazes at the same time. It's wonderfully challenging, graphically pleasing, and a good stretch for the bicameral mind.

It's also one of many masterful puzzles by friend and puzzlemaster Scott Kim.

Panther-Person-Porcupine, the game

It's a game. It's a work in progress. Amazing webmistress Julie Wolpers has been hard at work making visual sense out of the digital video leavings from last fortnight's Restoring Fun session at the Esalen Institute. Here's a rough cut of one of our collective moments. Presenting the game of Panther-Person-Pistol as played by the fortunate few.

Virtual OM

Virtual OM: playfulness of the trippy kind.

Animations, screen savers, graphics, music for the deliciously weird.

via Everlasting Blort

Speed Stacking. One small step for play. One giant step for a player.

How fast can one stack and unstack a bunch of disposable cups? In case this is a question you've been asking yourself, take a look at this marvel of Speed Stacking :

thanks for this find to both Milk and Cookies

More stuff on Toy Guns

Here's an actual article mentioning the National Toy Rifle Association. They didn't happen to link to my site. Probably a case of parallel unvention.

And here's a collection of articles related to everything toy gun collected by "Guns and Stuff"

Passing Humanity

Here's a little piece I wrote about a game-like thing I do when I go for a walk. I thought I'd share and maybe you'd share back. I'd really like to collect some of the strategies people use to establish friendly eye-contact with passing strangers. e-me with yours.

Office Olympics 2000

Show your boss the description of the historic Office Olympics 2000 games, including the daunting Video Cassette Boxing.

A world of meaningless competition awaits.

"Laugh longer, live louder"

Here's a collection of pithy quotes about fun and play and happiness and stuff, courtesy of yours, truly.

Soda Constructor

Of all the virtual playthings on the Internet, Soda Constructor has got to be one of the deepest and most playworthy. There's a Soda Zoo full of amazing critters to play with and a community of critter-makers to join. The little critters look innocent enough when in their conceptual cages. But click on them and a wold of virtual, playwithable wonder will be revealed unto you.


Perceptual Motion

When Todd Strong, an old friend from New Games, first showed me Dice Stacking, I thought I was watching a magic show. When he showed me his book and let me try it, I still thought I was watching a magic show, even though I was doing it myself!

While you're visiting his site, be sure to check out Devil Sticks, Diabolo and Poi Swinging

Invention at Play

In answer to the question "Does Play Matter?" from Invention at Play from the Lemulson Center for Invention and Innovation

There is something about the skills fostered by play that inventors value and keep using as part of their working lives. The playful approaches cited by creative adults form an interesting parallel to the four kinds of childrenís play that child-development experts identify as more or less universal:

Make believe/visual thinking
Social play/collaboration
Puzzle play/problem solving

While you're playing around, try a game of Tinker Ball.

Bard Lindeman on Aging

Several participants at Esalen were well into their Seniorhood. I was touched by their openness and playfulness. This led me on a search. I found this:

As senior adults, and outrageous older men, we are well-advised not to take life too seriously. Further, we have license to keep alive within us that inner child. "We are intended to remain in many ways childlike," anthropologist Ashley Montagu once wrote. "We were never intended to grow up into the kind of adults most of us have become. We are designed. . . to grow and develop in ways that emphasize rather than minimize childlike traits."

An educator, as well as a shrewd observer, Montagu suggests we have only to watch children to understand the essential nature of fun and abandon. To children, curiosity is as natural as breathing. From curiosity comes playfulness, open-mindedness, the willingness to experiment, flexibility, humor, energy, and, of course, imagination. To my mind, none of these qualities is precluded by aging. Therefore, we outrageous guys have every right to test ourselves by asking the following question: "How many of these behaviors do you see within yourself today?"

Because confession is good for the soul, I admit that I sneak into swimming pools. Just like some kid, I find a way to cross the line from outside to inside because I like to swim and I especially enjoy trying Out different pools. Much like the boy who collects baseball cards, or the matron proud of her row of antique clocks, I collect pools where I have beaten the gate, so to speak.


Playfulness and evolution

The following is from the 1998-1999 Bradley Lectures - this one by Virginia Postrel, editor of Reason magazine and author of The Future and Its Enemies:

We human beings, however, play all our lives. For a human being not to be creative and curious is a sign of senility, not maturity. This playfulness gives humans an evolutionary advantage: An adult who continues to play will be more adaptable still, able to draw not only on old experiences but on the desire for new ones.

The spirit of play allows us to adapt to an unstable environ ment and to venture into new territories. Human beings can flourish from the tropics to the Arctic, through earthquakes and hurricanes, plagues and droughts, because we have developed the resilience that comes from play.

Playful Parenting

Here's another book title I wish I had used for a book I wish I had written: Playful Parenting.

I found it via a review in my search for Toy Gun stories. Here's an excerpt:

...Playing guns is now a big hit at our house. There's one key caveat here: We use pretend weapons over realistic toy ones. As Cohen points out, what else can you do with a "real" gun besides shoot people? Pretend weapons, though, grow out of a child's needs and concerns and are endlessly creative.

For instance, my guy built a Lego gun that "shoots" film like a video camera. And he makes a finger love gun that fires hearts and kisses. (This idea, lifted wholesale from Cohen's book, initially bombed. But I stuck with it, and now it's a keeper.) And sometimes his "hand" gun discharges water to put out fires, or fire to light candles, or oxygen to help people breathe, all current preoccupations of my son's. So far this works for us. I get into the game because no one is maimed or destroyed, and I'm enchanted by where his imagination takes us. And the little guy gets to play gun until he's had enough -- which is much sooner these days, now that I'm a willing participant. He even says, "Don't worry, Mama. It's just a pretend gun, not a real one."

Here's the author's website.

Smoke Ring Wars

Redondo Beach, CA. The National Toy Rifle Association today announced that its coveted, but non-existent, NTRA Pullitzer-like Prize for Achievement in Non-Aggressive Weaponry will go to Zero Toys for producing the smoke ring gun.

found on Milk and Cookies.

National Toy Rifle Association

Correspondence (and the lack thereof) to and with Major Fun.


Sorta Golf

OK, so it's not Tiger Woods-worthy, but Sorta Golf takes the rest of us one step closer to the greens of fun and frolic that games are all about. See especially the Sorta 7 Ammendments to the USGA Rules of Golf.

Thanks Dave Leibriech for letting us know about this sorta enlightened approach to golf and life.

A Flash Alphabet Puzzle Thingy

There's something wonderfully artistic about this silly puzzle. Clearly, someone was having fun. And it might as well be you.

Thanks, o Everlasting Blort, for the find.

Board Game Central

For information about commercial board games, and EVERYTHING connected, see Board Games Central - a site as extensive and manifesting as much integrity as their featured site, The House of Cards. And yes, in case you were wondering, the other featured sites, Solitaire Central and Puzzle Central are equally impressively encyclopedically fun.

The House of Cards

The House of Cards has an extensive collection of cardboard and virtual card games for those who find themselves on a desert island with an Internet Cafe. This site is an intelligent, well-researched resource for the playful many. See, for example, their page on UNO. The authors not only describe the commercial game and its rules, but also, bless them, include a link to the Card Games Website, where, amongst their many resources, can be found a minor compendium of UNO variations.

Domino Plaza

At the Domino Plaza in the Family Games Plaza, "you can find the rules to virtually any domino game on earth. If you are looking for the rules of a domino game, you've come to the right place. If we don't have the rules ourselves, you will probably find a link to somewhere else."

See, for example, the Classic Block Game, in which, unlike the Draw games, all the dominoes are distributed to the players at the start. Then see the Hungarian, Italian, Mexican and Jamaican variations on that page. There are even solitaire-like games mentioned.

Makes me think maybe I'd better pack a set of dominoes next to my card deck in my emergency desert island entertainment kit.

Party Games for Adults and Family

Here's a sweet collection of games for a Fun Night with friends and neighbors-who-could-be-friends.

A few of my favorites:

Fruit Croquet
We play a game for guys only, but everyone can play!. You'll need a pair of pantyhose and 2 oranges or apples per person or if a relay per team. Take one orange or apple and place it in one leg of the pantyhose. Now tie the pantyhose around the players waist (it can go through belt loops) so that the fruit is in the front of the person and between their legs. Place another piece of fruit on the floor between their feet. Now they players must use the fruit in the stocking to move the fruit on the floor from the starting line to the finish line. If individual players the first one across the line wins. If you are playing teams then it becomes a relay where the pantyhose must be exchanged from team member to team member and the first team to have each person complete their section wins. NOTE: This game is best played outside or on an easy to clean surface. Not recommended for carpets!
(if the between-the-legs humor is too adultish for some, just hold the pantyhose-handled fruit thingy like a croquet mallet - less suggestive, and still hilarity-evoking)

Silent Charades.
On little pieces of paper, write up a bunch of things to act out in pairs. You will need to know how many people are going to play so that you have the correct number of papers. (2 pieces of paper with the same thing on it--ie: ballerina, ballerina, elephant, elephant, etc.) Put them all into a hat mixed together and have everyone draw out one piece of paper. When everyone has a charade, say go, and everyone begins to act out the charade on their piece of paper. The object of the game is to find the person with the same charade as yours. When you find the person that has the same thing as you, sit down on the ground.

After the game is over, have everyone ask their partner what they were, if they were wrong they are out. There can also be a prize for the first pair that sits down. This game is the most fun when you can make each thing pretty difficult to act out.

Bubble Gum Game
This game can be played as a relay race or be based on individual times. Split your guests into teams of 3-5 people. Get some paper plates, bubble gum, and whipped cream (in a can). Put a piece of bubble gum on the plate and swirl the whipped cream over it until the bubble gum is completely covered. Then have your guests dig through the whipped cream and find the bubble gum. Here's the catch, players must keep their hands behind their backs and dig through the whipped cream with their faces! Once they find it, they must chew it and blow a fairly good sized bubble. Go through until every one has had a turn. The person who blows the bubble first is the winner. You can also do several rounds until you have one winner. *Depending on what your guests wear, you may want to have a towel or garbage bag to use as a bib.

For a related, more traditional version of this game, see Flour Mound as found on The Party Games Idea Resource Page - another valuable resource for similar shenanigans.

A History of Playing Cards

If I had to choose one game-like thing for my stay on the proverbial desert island, it'd have to be a deck of cards. No one game has generated more variations or shown more extended play value. And here's its history from the International Playing Card Society.

Thanks to Presurfer for the pointer.