The Sex Life of Socks

Yes, someone has written about the Sex Life of Socks. I found it Googling for "The Joy of Sox." I was following up on Tuesday's Schmerltz re-evocation. I suppose I should have expected no less.

Here is but a small sampling of the insights awaiting you:

From a human perspective, the mating behaviour of socks seems highly ordered. Each sock has its destined partner from day one, and barring accidents or natural disasters, each pairing is supposed to last for many long, toe-warming years. And when at last an elderly sock gives up the ghost and disappears to the great laundry basket in the sky, its bereft partner will surely find its life devoid of purpose, and relinquish the will to grip, only occasionally getting a second chance at a useful existence as a glove puppet, duster, or novelty penis-cosy.

However, this vision of socklife actually reeks of prejudice, half-truths and out-moded moral standards. Try looking at things from the point of view of a sock. (If you are by nature unimaginative or overly literal, then lying on the floor with your head in a shoe might help.) Why should creed, colour or the presence of man-made fibres dictate a sock's choice of life-partner? They shouldn't. Socks don't ask for much (when was the last time you heard one ask for anything, in fact?). All they desire is freedom to choose who they wish to love, whether for a lifetime or a day, and not to be shackled into an unfeeling relationship just because humans deem it right. So there.

For more musings on the secret lives of sox, see also: The Bureau of Missing Sox


You've probably seen it on TV. A basketball court with trampolines. Apparently it's called Slamball. It's got teams. It's got action. It's official. It's just about impossible to find a place that is actually set up for the public to play. It's probably the perfect TV sport - accessible only by TV. I founed another "official" Slamball site.

Clearly, I've mixed reactions about this innovation. I applaud the inventiveness, the action, the challenge. But I am less than impressed by accessability, or lack thereof. Even if they eventually build Slamball courts for the public, It might turn out with all this need for expensive, special equipment, that there's too little room for fun.


My hope for the future of sports now that I found New Zealand GolfCross, I Google my way to Wallyball - a kind of volleyball game played on a kind of racquetball court. It's already a very "official" sport, with official rules and official equipment. Which is perhaps the discouraging part of the whole endeavor. On the other hand, it appears to be an exciting, challenging, and, dare I say it, fun activity that, with a little enlightened lightening up, could be played in many off-the-wall environments (like hallways, gym corners, alleys).

Anyhow, for a taste, here's some answers to FAQs:

The ceiling is in bounds only on the side of the team that is returning the serve or volley, provided a player on that team touches the ball first.
Each team shall be composed of two (2), three (3) or four (4) persons. Each team shall be allowed one substitute or alternate player. When a team has been reduced to less than the allotted number of players, a substitution may be called, the game may be forfeited or the game may continue with remaining players, i.e. two (2) against three (3), three (3) against four (4) (must continue to play by 4 person rules).
Teams entering league or tournament play shall be classified into one of the following divisions:
Open, Advanced, Intermediate and Novice.
Men’s 2, 3 or 4 player teams.
Women’s 2, 3 or 4 player teams.
Coed 2, 3 or 4 player teams.
In four- (4) person play, the server on offense or defense cannot spike or block the ball, fake either one or even attempt either one.
A player, who participates in a block and makes only one attempt to play the ball during the block, may make successive contact with the ball during such play even though it is not a hard driven spiked ball. Players participating in a block may participate in the next play; this second contact shall count
as the first of three (3) hits allowed a team.
Contacting two (2) or more walls with the ball are allowed only by the team in possession of the ball on their own side provided a player on that team touches the ball first. If the ball crosses the net after contacting two (2) or more walls without making contact with a player, a side-out of serve will be called..
The ball shall be spherical, weighing not less than nine- (9) ounces (280g) nor more than ten-(10) ounces (280g). The ball shall not be less than twenty-five (25) inches (62cm) nor more than twenty-seven (27) inches (68cm) in circumference. Ball pressure should not exceed eleven (11) pounds for the pink balls. We recommend the official ball.
...of course.

An Audio Journal - One man's inner theater

On yesterday's walk, I overheard a couple say the name "Carl Rogers." This name has a certain magic for me - Rogers was the founder of Client-Centered Therapy, and was, for me, one of the most inspiring leaders in revisioning mental health. In many ways, his model for letting the client be the author of his own healing influenced my understanding of how to facilitate children's play.

So, I turned around and caught up with the couple, trying to find out if they were using one of my heroes name in vain. We walked together for a while (me walking the opposite direction from home, but definitely going the right way) that's how I met Jim Morissett. We both carried voice recorders. Only his is better. And he uses it to create an audio journal, the first I've encountered online, in which he records his daily conversations with himself.

He left me with this poem (Hiaku-ish - 17 syllables exactly):

Work exists in the service of play
It's surely not the other way

This morning, he sent me the link to one month of his musings. I was touched and delighted by his inner play, and thought you might be, too. You'll need Real Player.


Speaking of odd-shaped balls, here's the PhysioRoll - a kind of dumb-bell-shaped ball. What, perhaps, one might consider calling a "Dumball."

All of which is to continue on the theme of changing the shape of sports by changing the shape of its, umm, play objects. Dumballs, Eggballs, could each and both lead us to the invention of volleyball and perhaps even soccer variations of the non-round-ball type. Each of which, as Burton Silver so lyrically implies, could "challenge human ingenuity and reinvigorate the human spirit "

Egg Balls

"Say, Bernie," you silently exclaim, "how did you ever manage to find such a cool and clearly obscure sport as New Zealand GolfCross?"

Thanks for asking. It was one of those amazingly rewarding surprises that make this whole blogging thing pay-off, in a conceptual, spiritual kind of way.

I had been thinking about Volleyball a lot, and wondering if maybe a new kind of ball would result in making the game new enough to bring more fun for more people. I was thinking of a cylindrical ball, actually, but when I was in Pennsylvania at my friend Bill's gym, I saw these large, oval, exercise balls. And decided that maybe one of these would work. So, I Googled my way towards "oval balls" and finally found these Egg Balls on the web.In the very same listing, I found the story about New Zealand GolfCross, and once again, history was made. Or something remarkably like that.

New Zealand GolfCross

Apparently, once you get rid of all that putting nonsense, the notion that golf balls need to roll clearly becomes obsolete. As we all know, it's not the putt, but the flog after which golf is conversely named. Hence, the invention the oval golf ball and birth of New Zealand GolfCross. A small step for golf, you say. Yes, but a giant step for golfkind.

Burton Silver of New Zealand has taken the flogging part of golf to the next level, inventing not only a new kind of golf ball and a new kind of non-hole-in-the-air and what might very well prove to be whole new game.

It turns out that an oval golf ball is reportedly far more condusive to both not-rolling, and more controllable flogging. According to the official NewZealand GolfCross site, the ovality of the ball allows you to:

1. Hit the ball straight every time.
2. Perform controlled slices and hooks with ease.
3. Adjust the degree of fade or draw you require.
4. Generate backspin — even with a wood or out of the rough.
5. Apply top spin to achieve long low running shots and,
6. if you really want to show off, do double curves and play tunes.

Says Mr. Silver:

“It seems strange and sad to me that we don’t do more to encourage a spirit of innovation in sport. Because inventing new activities and getting people to participate in them is so exciting and stimulating for all concerned. It always leads to new discoveries about our physical and mental capabilities and skills, and it presents us with new challenges, which is surely what sport should be about.

“It’s my belief that the creation of the new in sport is as important as the celebration of the old. That actively experimenting with sport and staging new events challenges human ingenuity and reinvigorates the human spirit and I’d love to think that GolfCross® may in some way act as a kind of catalyst in encouraging us to explore all the other new sporting challenges that are just waiting to be discovered out there.”

Hi ho, Mr. Silver!

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ZOOM games

Ever watch Zoom? It's definitely one of the best school age kids show to come out of public TV. I especially like their games (naturally), because they came from kids. And, lo and behold, here's a page full of all the ZOOM games fit to play.

Fling Sock Field Manual

They call it a "Fling Sock." We called it a "Schmerltz." They make theirs as follows:

Bean bag end - Sinks securely into the palm of your hand. Double bagged and filled with non toxic polyethylene pellets(the same material used for sandwich bags)
Tail section - Made of durable tie dye colored nylon fabric. Trails behind the bean bag when thrown providing a long, easy-to-grab target.
Handle - Soft foam enclosed in heavy duty nylon. Provides a specific comfortable place to hold so the spin and timing for release are always the same. That means your throws will be consistent. Keeps the tail from sliding out between fingers so tail catches are automatic.

We made ours by putting a tennis ball into the toe of a sock and making a knot above it (or not).

Whether you make your own or buy the commercial version, here's a Field Manual for many hours of active and attractive flinging.

From the perspective of someone facilitating a play event, these Schmerltz/Fling Sock thingies, once in flight, are as eye-pleasing and crowd-gathering as a Frisbee. The tail flutters in the air like a giant sperm. Throw a bunch of them at once to fertilize the playful imagination.

From the players' perspective, the Field Manual demonstrates how many different ways there are to play with this toy, and how inviting it can be for people of all skills and ages.

An Intergenerational Games Night

I haven't been able to stop thinking about the magnitude of family fun described in Jan Nickerson's response to my open query about intergenerational games. Yesterday's Drawing Quotes game was part of it. Today, I decided that I had to blog the rest of it.

Jan writes (Bernie laboriously adds links where appropriate):

Our ages range from 10 to 17 for kids, 40's and 50's for adults, and 75-85 for grandparents. We especially like to play family games on New Year's Eve - fun for all!

There's never time to play ALL the games we're prepared to play - we just self-organize around whichever ones people want to play. By having the round robin, people can choose. Those who want to play Magic, for example, can for one 30 minute round, and still be available to play other games during the night with people who don't play Magic. If you've ever been to an Open Space Conference, that's basically how we organize it. Half hour time slots are rows of the matrix, Rooms with game selections are columns of the matrix. Kids get to choose who they'll play what against in each time slot, making sure that they play at least 1 game with each person there (works for 8 people). After the kids have chosen, which includes committing adults in different time slots and games, then the adults fill in the empty slots. Don't worry if a game takes less than 30 minutes - time to play another quick version, or refill a drink. This variety and mixing gets our kids asking for game nights with the family and friends.

Computer games we love to play include:

Zoombini, and all of the Dr. Brain's (e.g. see how many puzzles you can do in 20 - 30 minutes)
Jigsaw (Bernie notes: this online Jigsaw puzzle site allows you - if you join, for free - to upload your own photos and make puzzles out of them. All puzzles on this site can be made more or less difficult, changing the size and number of pieces. Very cool.)

Board games we love include:
Apples to Apples (great for all ages 11 and up) (there are sets allowing you to extend the age range downward to 7)
Loaded Questions (GREAT fun, especially for friends and family you don't necessarily see often - perfect for holidays)
Cranium (fun to see who becomes the resident actor, singer, artist, or factoid expert!)
Elferraus (German game by Ravensburger, building up and down sequence with 4 suits)
Hot Seat (like loaded questions, esp good for teenagers)
Jenga Truth or Dare (like Jenga tower of wooden sticks, but each one has a truth or dare challenge - good for teenagers)

Old Standby Favorites:
Card games/activities:
Crazy Uno (see instructions in the Deep Fun weblog - or just google search for them)
Sequence (my husband and I have played this at least once a day, for 2 years now!) - see below for rules variations
House of Cards (see how many cards you can add to the house of cards in 5 minutes, without making it fall)
Fluxx (rules change every hand!)
Bali (like double solitaire, but with letters building up words)
Magic (for those who know how to play)

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Drawing Quotes

This is a variation of telephone game, but done with pen and paper, using quotes and drawing. (see also: Exquisite Corpse)

All this takes is a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, per player.

Each person writes a 3 - 10 word phrase (could be famous saying, book title, or just something quirky you thought up) at the top of a vertically-held sheet of paper. Write your own name at the bottom of the sheet, so you know when it comes back to you. Fold the top over so no one can see the quote and pass it to the left.

The next person looks at the phrase and draws images connoting the the phrase. Then folds the paper down another flap, so the next person can see the drawings but NOT the phrase. Pass the paper to the left.

The next person looks only at the drawings, and right below that writes the phrase that reflects the drawing. Fold the paper down another flap, so the next person can see only the most recent phrase,but nothing preceding it.

Continue until the paper comes back to the first person. Generally 1 sheet of paper suffices for 8 people.

The person who originated the phrase now reads the last phrase, then the original phrase, and then everyone looks at the paper, hooting and hollering hysterically over the pathway the message took.

Jan Nickerson


Checkers Anyone

Next time someone asks you if you want to play checkers, start by asking them which version they want to play.

I first learned about the power of this question maybe 35 years ago, when I encountered R. C. Bell's Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations. The book led me to the realization that there really isn't a "real" game of, for example, checkers - there's checkers as played in the States and checkers as played in Italy and checkers as played in England. (see this site to learn how to play these International versions.).

Then I discovered that by deciding which version we wanted to play that day, we were somehow making each other more important than the game. We could decide that we didn't like a particular version or that we wanted to change a rule or try something new. And in making that kind of decision, the game became a tool for building a relationship, a thing we could explore together, side-by-side, not as opponents, but as players, looking for a way to have fun together.

Which, ultimately, let me to understand the nature and nurture of the Fun Community - all because of my discovering that there's more than one way to play everything.


And yet another Major FUN Award is most joyfully presented to Brainstrain - a delightfully challenging guessing game combining competition and cooperation with some significant silliness.

For three to six "adults of all ages," Brainstrain is played in two stages. The first is a kind of Twenty Questions on speed, high speed, actually, because you only have a minute to guess. Next, if you haven't, by sheer coincidence, psychic power or genius, managed to guess correctly, you play a kind of Password game, where other players give one word clues. And, if you are successful, you, and the player who gave you the clue, both advance.

As in Twenty Questions, the object of the search is a person, place or thing. Each player is given three write-on, wipe-off plastic cards, one for each category. Each then decides what to write on which. This is a very efficient way of avoiding having to deal with a deck of hundreds of cards. The players get to make up their own. It also makes the game more in control of the players. They can each determine how difficult to make the game. Depending on their level of compassion or competitiveness, there are enough rounds played to make sure that everything evens out.

There's a race-track-like board, a die that determines whether a successful guess will advance the guesser 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, or 14 spaces, and, silliest of all, headbands for wearing the card you're guessing on your forehead. These headbands, it turns out, are a perfect touch. They add at least 40 gigglewatts to a game that is challenging enough to get almost too serious about.

All in all, Brainstrain is a delightful game. Writing your own cards and wearing them on your head give the game an almost homemade feel - making the game a warmer, more personal experience. The two phases of guessing create a perfect tension and balance, psychologically and socially. The race to be the first to earn 16 points in all three categories adds just the right focus and intensity.

Name Your Silly Self

Sometimes, what you need most in life is a new name for yourself. A name for your silly self. Especially when you it's time for Silly to get out and play. Well, it is with consummate joy, or something of similar ilk, that I introduce you to the Renamer, which, courtesy of Harriet Meyerson of the Confidence Center, will, based on the first initials of your first name and the first and last initials of your last, arrive at a name truly worthy of your royal Silliness.

The secret of the appropriateness of it all: "This script is derived from a children's book called Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants , by Dav Pilkey. In this book, the evil Professor Poopypants forces everyone to assume new, ridiculous names."

Consider this an essential resource in the search for Silly.

Your friend and mine,

Lumpy Bubblechunks


Today's Major FUN Award goes to Hoopla, a guessing game that combines Pictionary ("Cloodle"), Charades ("Soundstage") with two original guessing game formats to create a challenging, collaborative, and high-gigglewatts experience of party-perfect fun - even for a party of two.

The two original guessing games are Tongue-Tied, where you have to use clues starting with the same letter, and Tweener, where your clues must be in the format: "It's bigger than....but smaller than...." Each is fun in itself. Each more effective depending on what you're trying to get everyone else to guess.

The things that you're trying to get each other to guess are determined by the cards drawn from a deck of 285 cards, each illustrated with a color photo. The category (an essential clue) is written on the back of each card. The game you play is decided by the toss of a novel ten-sided die. The fifth choice is called "Wild Hoopla" where you determine which of the four guessing formats you're going to use. Contrary to expectations, this choice can burn many delightfully agonizing seconds while you figure out which format is most appropriate to, say, "Microbrew" or "Elton John" or "PEZ."

Then there's a really well-designed mechanical timer that ticks the time away quietly, but thunderously enough to keep the pace, and players, well-nigh unto frantic. You start and stop the timer by hitting it - which, depending on the difficulty of the card, can prove a most satisfying vehicle for self-expression.

Given my bias towards cooperation, I was especially happy to discover that Hoopla is, in fact, a "Pointless" game. No scores are kept. The objective is for everyone to get everyone else to guess all the cards drawn in the alloted time - which is just short enough to make victory most definitely sweet.

All in all, from design and manufacture to playing the game, Hoopla proves itself a most Major Fun-worthy game.

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Third National and First Latinamerican Conference about Cooperative Physical Activities

In today's mail:

Dear friend:

This e-mail is only to inform you about the Third National and First Latinamerican Conference about Cooperative Physical Activities that we are organizing. It will be in the La Mota castle, in Medina del Campo (Valladolid), Spain, from the 30th. of June to 3th. of July of 2003.

It will be a little Conference, 100 people at maximum, with a special filosofy:

1. Nobody pay and nobody gain. The inscription is absolutely free.
2. A person who presents a communication or a workshop accepted by the organization has payed accommodation and manutention in a double room with a bath in the La Mota Castle.
3. This year, by the first time, it's possible to present a virtual communication. The organization will select 10 virtual communications. The author of a virtual communication must to response by e-mail the questions that participants in the conference can answer him/her during 7 days after the conference. These coomunications will be certificated by the organization.
4. All the communications, workshops and lectures will be included in a cd-rom. Every participant will have freely a copy of this cd-room.

There is a web to download all the information about conference (in Spanish)...(sorry for my bad English)

Cosmic Encounter - The Movie

Want to goose yourr potential for cosmic alienness? Take a gander at this QuickTime movie of the Cosmic Encounters to be.

Two-Balls-Tied-Together: the precedent

As you know from reading my precedent-breaking article Of Schmerltzes, Sockballs and Pantyhose , I have, for many years now, been advocating the development and exploration of the play value of what one could only call "Two Balls Tied Together." I originally described this concept to Games Magazine many years ago when I was contributingeditor. We even had a photo shoot. But, alas, it was deemed too unproven for the Games-reading masses.

And today I discover that there is an actual Native American precedent for this very same initiative, apparently called "Double Ball"

I quote, in smirkful glee, from Stuart Culin's description:
The peculiar ball employed for this game is composed of two small stuffed pouches connected by a band, or two billets of wood about five inches long, made like thick pegs with heads and ornamented on all sides with carvings; a leather thong five to eight inches long is attached at each end to the neck of each of the two billets...

Properties.—One double-ball; as many sticks as players; red and yellow head-bands, equal in number, for the two sides of players.

Directions.—The double-ball should be made in camp in the following manner: A strip of leather or of strong, closely woven brown cloth from fifteen to twenty inches long. For six inches from both ends the strip should be about seven inches wide; the portion of the strip between these wide ends should be about three inches wide...Two wickets, made by crotched poles about five and a half to six feet high, having a bar fastened across the top, are placed in line with each other, one at the East, the other at the West, and as far apart as the limits of the camp grounds will permit. A red streamer to be tied to the eastern wicket and a yellow streamer to the western wicket.
Clearly it is the great spirit of my Native American brethern speaking through me. Let it not once again fall on the deaf ears of the white eyes.


High Ballocity

Searching for FAMILY FUN, as I've been wont to do of late, I Googled my way to Delta Play - manufacturers of those play complexes you see at some shopping malls, restaurants, airports, movies, resorts, cruise ships...

My chief complaint about these structures has always been that I can't go on them. And it irks me. Because it seems to me that the best kind of play available to adults is the kind of play that includes everyone - even kids. And vice versa.

Well, I am irked no longer. Take a look at this:

See those adult-looking people?

And look at those mothers play!

OK, it looks like it's all about getting to shoot things. Which, in fact, it is. Which, in additional fact, proves to be a most funworthy experience. But it's also a kind of dry water park, crowded with a cornucopia of cunningly air-powered foam-ball launching devices that lend themselves to discovery, exploration, and other forms of politically correct softplay, like, for example, as listed on their website, these:

Master Blaster
Features: Button-Activated Compressed Air Blast, Automatic Delay, Easy-Load Ball Insert. .

Ball Fountain
Features: Button-Activated Compressed Air Blast, Automatic Delay, Ball Loading Tray, Multi-Ball Blast.

Cannon Blaster
Features: Button-Activated Compressed Air Blast, Automatic Delay, Easy-Load Chamber, Multi-Ball Blast.

Ball Dump
Features: Tipping Basket, Mechanical Action, Auto-Retract, Dumps When Full.

Ball Levitator
Features: Mult-Port Continuous Air Blower, Visual & Scientific Ball Floater Activities.

Hyper Blower
Features: Multi-Ball Air Blower, Continuous Run, Easy-Load Ball Insert, 8" Ball Tubes.

Ball Vacuum
Features: Multi-Ball Air Blower, Continuous Run, Easy-Load Ball Funnel, 4" Ball Tubes.

Flash Play

Searching sources for evidence of play on the web, I discover, courtesy of The Meaning of Life, this rather remarkable set of playful explorations of abstract Flash animation.

Interactive Illusions

Remember the Koffka Ring? It appears, so to speak, that the authors have gathered more of these wonderful, interactive illusions.

Lovely fun.

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Dr. Toy

Today's Major FUN Award goes to Dr. Toy (aka Stevanne Auerbach) for her lifetime, one-woman campaign to help people make the connection between good toys and effective parenting.

I've known Dr. Toy for maybe 20 years and consistently been impressed by her good heart, her commitment to children, her dedication and fortitude. She had at one time created an amazing resource for kids and parents - a toy library and museum - a "Games Preserve" for toys and teaching the wisdom of play. Money was never her prime objective, and, sadly, when her museum was affected by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 and forced to close she was never able to amass the resources to rebuild. In 1986 she lost everything in a five alarm fire in her home and office in SF (fortunately her book The Toy Chest had already gone to the publisher and was printed. Limited copies are available from Dr. Toy.)

She resumed evaluating toys and consulting to rebuild her life. Her web site was the first site on the internet devoted to toy information. The San Francisco International Toy Museum opened in 1986 at The Cannery in Fisherman's Wharf and served over 50,000 children until it was forced to close. Dr. Toy is working with a dedicated group to relaunch a new toy museum in Oakland.

Her spirit is clearly indomitable. Her Dr. Toy award is recognized throughout the industry.

She is the author of two new books: Dr. Toy's Smart Play: How to Raise a Child with a High PQ, and FAO Schwarz: Toys for a Lifetime: Enhancing Childhood Through Play.

Her website is a rich resource of toy reviews and articles about play. She is the kind of person who makes the Major Fun award worth the effort.

Play on, Dr. Toy!


Commercial family games

Here's a good collection of commercial family games

The introduction demonstrates the spirit that formed the collection:

"I have learned that to be with those I like is enough."
- Walt Whitman

Spend some quality time with the people you like most… your family. Set up a family game night once per week. Turn off the dreaded TV. Laugh together, challenge each other, and grow closer. These games will promote family unity, open lines of communication, and bring fun to everyone involved, kids and adults!

Playing games and having fun with your family

Continuing to explore "family games", I found this on Epinions: "Playing games and having fun with your family." The author lists 35 different fun activities, all within the spirit of healthy family play. Here's a few that seemed to best reflect that spirit:

3)Toy Stores~~Go play. Ever been to a toystore and told your kid not to touch. Don't do that this time. Do it with them. Push every single button, and pick up every single doll. You won't get in trouble. And some toy stores have video game display systems set up. Hog them!
11)Fingerpaint on the floor~~honestly. If you have lineolum, I promise washable fingerpaints won't hurt the flooring. Oils and acrylics will.. so do not use those. Just move the table out of the way and have fun. Who knows.. you might end up with a lifesize horse.
18)Wash the Car~~A chore yes, but not when it involves water and kids.
29)Scrabble (lots of small words like no, but still)

I especially appreciate the spirit of it - the willingness to be a little messy, a little unstructured, a little risky. I think it captures the spirit of family play, at its best.


Korfball, invented in 1901 by an Amsterdam schoolmaster, Nico Broekhuysen, is a game comparable to netball and basketball with one major exception - the game is designed to be played by mixed teams. It was designed by Nico Broekhuysen in this way because he wanted a game which could be played by his schoolchildren where both boys and girls were able to compete on an equal footing within the same game.

It is the world's only true mixed team sport with the rules laid down so that both men and women have equal opportunities.

It was first demonstrated in Holland in 1902, just a few years after James Naismith invented basketball in the USA. A national association was formed in Holland in 1903 and soon the game spread to almost 40 other countries, including Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Germany, India, Indonesia, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Taiwan and USA. The Federation International de Korfball was formed in 1923 and this changed its name to the International Korfball Federation in 1978. The IKF is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and is a member of ARISF and the IWGA. In the latter organisation, which organises the World Games - for non-main Olympic Sports and held the year after each Olympic year...

The Fun only Stops if you let it

A correspondent adds to a dialogue we're having about Play Deprivation on a message board called "Footprints in the Wind":

"Take away the free play and my son would never have warmed to the concept of preschool. Free play and creative art projects were what he experienced on his first half day and I am certain that is what made the transition acceptible to him. It introduced and socialized him to his teacher and fellow classmates. He normally has little desire for social interaction outside of our home. I feared his introduction to "school" would not go well, but play was the transition factor! I propose that the decision makers for the removal of recess were bottom line thinkers who have no day to day contact with anyone under the age of 18!

"...we do themes at work when things are dull or when things are dicey. Silly hat day, Happy Campers (Flannel shirts, jeans, boots...smores! We even put a tent up in the middle of the workfloor..this was a time when we were all having to work long hours and joking about "living" at work.) We do themed lunches/dinners...the night I returned from maternity leave my coworkers threw a potluck and all the foods had to start with "B" for Barb. When a boss retired who was German we did our theme was "Goodbye Ol' German Guy" (had his full approval) you name a german food dish and we had it. This month we are doing a "new recipe" must bring a dish you've never tried before. The boss is away for a week...I have already secured some Search/Rescue police tape to stretch across her office doorway...the fun only stops if you let it! "

CheerStix and ThunderStix

You know those obnoxiously noisy things they're banging at the World Series?

They're from two companies: a Japanese/Korean company called CheerStix (sources say this all started in Korea - they don't say North or South - which leads one to speculate if this is yet another global threat from one of the Axes of Evil) and another, ThunderStix (from Vonco) a packaging company.

Yup. For those who make the noise, noisemaking is fun. And then there's the rest of us.

Chance and Odds

A correspondent asks:

"I'm a final year Graphic Design student...struggling to find research about 'chance'. This year all the students have the opportunity to write their own projects. I had the starting point of paper, which progressed to playing cards and tarot cards, which then developed to the theme of chance. I am trying to convey through my project that life is made up of chances, and that the smallest chance (whether you walk or take the car)can make a huge difference to your own life and the life of someone else. Unfortunately, although I find this topic extremely interesting I am having difficulty in researching and coming up with ideas of how to visually portray the idea. Any pointers? Do you know of any really interesting everyday chances that can affect you? Just anything that you can do to help me, even a general summary of your thoughts on this matter would be extremely useful."

And behold and lo, I find, amongst my myraid musings, this article: Chance & odds: Accounting for nature and other more or less wild things and also this one on the solitaire game Gaps. So I send the links and look forward to the reply - a most welcome challenge, this search for a way to portray the play of chance in everyday life.

The Picnic Initiative

I've been thinking about "intergenerational games" - I guess because I had an inquiry from a publisher about said same. And because son-in-law-Tom is so involved in the aforementioned. And maybe even because it's something I had thought about before, years ago, when I came up with what I called "The Picnic Initiative."

I was trying to find a family-based equivalent for the New Games Tournament. A smaller, more intimate scale event that was in its way a kind of intergenerational celebration in which fun was actually supposed to happen. Which turns out to be the traditional family picnic. You know, the eat-togethers we have usually in summer, sometimes in a park, sometimes on a beach. Private affairs, for the whole extended family and friends, usually in public places.

The more I read what I had written (which, I admit, is both cute, a little strange and a bit sketchy), the more I started liking the idea, thinking maybe it was inspired or something. Something that shouldn't be forgotten or overlooked or unlinked to. An easy, approachable, important thing for us to do together in family as extended as we are.



If you like pure strategy games, here's a site that includes some of the most interesting, new and old. Most games descriptions include rules, tactics, puzzles, a downloadable version and can be played online.

Toy Libraries

Toy Libraries. Here's an apparently proven concept and profoundly sensible service. I've found no equivalent in the US.

...toy libraries offer services to local families based on regular toy loan for a nominal fee (and sometimes for free). They provide carefully selected toys to borrow, play sessions, and a friendly, informative meeting place for parents and carers.

The first toy library was started in 1967 by Jill Norris, a Froebel-trained teacher and mother of two children with disabilities. The idea grew from families exchanging toys in their own homes and fundraising to provide specialist toys and equipment. Soon recognised as a valuable resource for the community, by 1973 the scope had widened to offer all children the opportunity to borrow toys through local toy libraries.

Toy libraries are often run by volunteers; many are parents themselves. Some are run by paid workers and others are part of a service offered by professionals: nursery and school teachers, social workers, health workers and others. All NATLL member toy libraries are managed locally and are responsible for their own funding arrangements.

There are over 1,000 toy libraries throughout the UK, serving approximately 250,000 children.

Gallery of "Misused" Quotation Marks

Those of us who have learned "respect" for the nature and function of the "rules of grammar" can only but celebrate the "corrective" power of playfulness as manifest by the advent of the sorely needed "Gallery of 'Misused' Quotation Marks"

thank the Excitement Machine for the link

Neitsche on Levity


"I would believe only in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity - through him all things fall. Not by wrath does one kill but by laughter. Come, let us kill the spirit of gravity! I have learned to walk: ever since, I let myself run. I have learned to fly: ever since, I do not want to be pushed before moving along. Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself, now a god dances through me."

found on Alamut

Michael recommends

Computer-game-playing webmaster Michael, brother-of-son-in-law-Tom, recommends:

I love this a slot car track and race...



Save the chickies! I love this one. Don't let the pastels and hypnotic music fool you.
It gets tough!

Here's a link for a lot of games by the guy who did bauns and chickens. They are all beautiful and whimsical, and deceptively hard! Try them all!

Another collection

Discover games at

If you like games enough to want to expand your repertoire beyond the offerings of commercial conglomerates, or if you are an independent game producer hoping to get the word out, could prove to be a major find.

Founder Mary Couzins explains:

I have been through the process having invented and produced five games myself including one licensing/consulting agreement with University Games. I started to help other game inventors. There is strength in numbers. That was obvious the first time we went to Toy Fair as I had been there previously under Game Geste with my games. Many industry people (retailers, licensors, manufacturers) walk past your booth if you are a 1 or 2 game booth. As we were jammed with people the last 5 years. In addition we receive over 250,000 page views per month. Hasbro, F X Schmidt, Mattel, University, as well as European and Australian game companies and many others all visit. They search for new product at our site because it is the only place Independents
can get together. Several of our members have received licensing agreements (both here and abroad) due to our services (including myself).

We do not review product. All games are welcome. We are here to help you promote your product by taking it to Toy Fair (the biggest industry show) in New York, in September your game would go to The Toy and Game Inventor Forum pn Las Vegas (where we are not only exhibitors, but I am a speaker on the Inventor Success Story Panel), in the summer possibly GenCon and Origins, promoting your game on our site, we do emailing to over 7,200 people in the industry, and you would be eligible to participate in our postal mailings to catalog (March), retail people (August) and our press release mailing in the summer/fall. Members also have available to them many industry lists, retailers who will carry their product, tips for saving money and have access to the private member bulletin board. In addition, I give out my home number and will try to help you in any way I can.

We are also working with game companies (Hasbro on down to our independents) to put on a huge consumer show set for Labor Day weekend on Chicago's Navy Pier next year. This type of show has been popular in Europe for some time. We think it is time it be done in the U.S. There will be life size games, game shows on the Skyline Stage, dockside inventor signings and much more. As I am sure you know, there are no game shows aimed to the family in the states (GenCon and Origins are a different segment of the game world). In Europe such shows are very popular.

I want people to rediscover game playing. Get to know your kids in a non-confrontational way. It is a good excuse to get together with your neighbors (or anyone).

For the huge collection of independent games, for the innovative, modestly priced service to independent game producers, for the vision, fortitude, and heart needed to produce a game show aimed at the family, gets a Major FUN Award.


Time Hunt

I received the following from a playful correspondent. I tried the game (broadband definitely recommended), decided it wasn't my cup of tea, brewed about it for a while, and further decided that it was lovely enough and deep enough to be worth our collective tasting. Registration required.

This is a metaphysical sort of Myst-like game that took Danny Kodicek and friends three years to make. It is done in Shockwave, Flash, and uses some server side technology. I have gone back several times. I haven't solved any of the puzzles yet, but they look juicy, they're the sort of puzzles you can appreciate even if they knock you out for a while. Like the Turing machine, forinstance. Has to do with the 'universalis machinus', no doubt. Poverus=Giordano Bruno?



Dance a pas de trois or deux to the music of Thomas Le Saulnier in this lovely work of loving fun by Nicolas Clauss.

Thank b3ta for the link


b3ta - the most recent addition to the "blogs o' fun" list.

Check out the Challenge Archive for significant participative silliness, like, for example, the Executive Toys collection.

Executive Desk Toy

"This image explores the results when power is used to intimidate, and fear is employed as an instrument of control."

I want one!

From Ron Matzov's Creation Gallery.

Binding Fun

You know how it is with fun. One day, you're just playing around. The next day, you discover an art form. Like bookbinding.

Which reminds you that those wonderful clacking Jacob's Ladders you used to play with were also a kind of bookbinding.

Which of course reminds you that so were those amazing flexagons you just might have been lucky enough to play with when you were a kid. Remember? Out of a single strip of paper? Which you'd fold and then paste and then unfold endlessly until you rediscovered the endlessly binding and unfolding mysteries of basically everything.

Dealer's Choice Poker

Though I'm not a gambling man, as it were, I draw, so to speak, considerable encouragment from knowing that there are so many variations of Poker. It testifies to the spirit of creative play, even when there are non-playful things at stake.

From Silly to Fun

After my keynote address (way too little time - especially since I started off with a game, which meant that I had to get people, who were sitting around tables, to rearrange themselves until each table was filled - but worth it all, you betcha. Fun for 300 teens and adults.), I led two, ninety-minute workshops. We played maybe seven funnish games, including such all-time favorites as: Bernie Lightens Up, Panther, Person, Porcupine, and Prui. I had maybe four minutes at the end of each session for random comments. At the end of the second session, this leather-coat-wearing, homeboyish-looking teen said: "When we started, I thought this stuff was silly. Too silly for me, I tell you. But near the end, I realized how fun it all was." And I beamed the whole way from Allentown, PA back to Redondo Beach, CA.

Questionable Koosh

A correspondent writes:

I sent you profuse thanks a while back for listing your link to Star Magic and its Koosh balls. It is with great sorrow that I update you on my disappointing experience with those New Yawkers. I ordered 2 of the great big fat rainbow Koosh balls shown on Star Magic's web site. Sam asked how I heard of their shop; I blamed you and Deep Fun, of course.

I received 1 pretty Koosh in flirty blues and greens and the world's ugliest color of mustard (Dijon) Koosh. I emailed Sam to ask what happened to the cheery rainbow Kooshes as advertised, but he has not responded.

At least I am no longer Kooshless,

Your friend in glee...



The rules are essentially the same. The properties are either the graves of saints or locations where miracles occurred. When you purchase a property you may choose to build churches or a cathedral. When you land on someone elses property, you are required to tithe.

'Chance' is replaced by 'Act of God'. Examples include:
- A member of your congregation finds the face of Jesus on a taco, the faithful flock to see it... +$500
- You are inexplicably struck by lightning and need to spend three days at a private hospital -$200

note: Following tradition, values on the godopoly gameboard are the same today as they were in 1935.

'Community chest' is replaced by 'Collection plate'. e.g.
- A wealthy donor croaks and leaves you his jewelled pet bowl collection... +$100

Instead of going bankrupt, players are excommunicated.

Best of all, if you sin...

go to hell, go directly to hell. Do not pass God, do not collect $200.

Serious Putty

Serious Putty -like Silly Putty, only not.

Silly Putty comes in a plastic egg. Serious Putty comes in a small vinyl Brooks Brothers suit.

When you drop it, Silly Putty bounces. Serious Putty stops, assesses the situation, and issues a report.

When you press it against the comics, Silly Putty picks up an impression of the comics. Serious Putty picks up an impression of the Wall Street Journal.

When you subject it to sudden stress, Silly Putty breaks. Serious Putty drinks more coffee and works extra hours.

Juggle Mania

I keep on coming back to this Juggle Maniagame. I guess because it's juggling - and almost as challenging as actual juggling, and of the same spirit - nothing to kill, nothing threatening, a meditative merging of eye-hand-mindfulness.

Zen Counting

I had a chance to meet with a few representatives of the local Peace Games contingent. Deliciously committed people, who, thanks to some outside funding, manage to get an hour a week in a few select schools to teach kids about the power of community: conflict resolution, cooperation, mutual empowerment. It's been maybe twenty-five years since I got to visit an urban school. So much dedication. So little recognition.

And I learned a new game. Zen Counting.

You're with a bunch of people. You close your eyes. Somebody starts the count by saying something exactly like "one." Whoever is so moved then says "two." Anyone can say the next number at any time. However, if two people call out a number at the same time, the count has to start over.

We played to twenty. We got to eleven. In four rounds. Not an easy game. But fun. Definitely fun. It's neat how, when you "lose," it's never one person's fault. Then there are the strategic implications. If you respond faster, is it more or less likely that you'll succeed? Are there clues we can give each other by the way we say the number? Can we somehow decide that Bernie always goes after Melissa?

Of Videogames and Community

The next generation of emergent games will allow game players to shift their priorities, rethink their strategies, and evolve their approaches to play as they play in a collaborative online community.

A Rogue's Perspective on Gaming

Let us hope so. Let us hope that gamers develop new strategies for a viable world order - alternatives based on collaboration and community - and bring them to us in a real world, desperately holding to dreams of peace.

Forgive the unfunnitude of this post. I was watching TV this morning, finding myself forced to acknowledge the inevitability of war with Iraq and the ascendance of the AntiFun. As I've said before, in times like these, public fun is a political act. We will need to take to the streets, with newer games, renewed celebrations of our capacity for joy. Again, the words of Mark Twain: "The human race has only one effective weapon --and that is laughter."

Backyard Artillery

Apparently, the search for Deep FUN needs must, from time to time, expand beyond the pale of profundity, to "toys of questionable value" - like for example, the Incredible Rubber Band Machine Gun.

I think maybe these toys-that-shoot-things are even more important in a world of people-who-shoot-people-for-no-reason. There's a piece I wrote years ago about Toy Guns, and, though it may be historically more difficult to rally today's multitudes around this questionable cause, I think we need to play with this stuff, need to acknowledge the fun of it, need to demonstrate to ourselves and each other that even automatic weaponry can be transformed into a plaything capable of bringing genuinely safe delight. That's the power of play

And, should you find the image of a machine gun just too powerful to play with, there's The Amazing Catapult Watch.

Bernie Lightens Up

In answer to the question: do you know a good warm-up activity for just about any group or reason?

Players stand in a circle.

Bernie (or whoever happens to want to) starts.

He says: Bernie lightened up

Everyone: How did Bernie lighten up?

Bernie: (twirling his moustache) Bernie lightened uplike this, like this.

Everyone: (twirling their moustaches) Bernie lightened up like this, like this

Sally, who is standing next to Bernie, says: (twirling her moustache) Sally lightened up.

Everyone: (twirling their moustaches) How did Sally lighten up?

Sally: (twirling her moustache while raising and lowering an eyebrow) Sally lightend up like this, like this

Everyone: (twirling their respective moustaches while raising and lowering their personal eyebrow) Sally lightened up like this, like this.

George: (who is twirling his moustache while raising and lowering an eyebrow) George lightened up.

Everyone: (twirling their respective moustaches while raising and lowering their personal eyebrow) How did George lighten up?

George: (swinging his left foot back and forth while twirling his respective moustache while raising and lowering his personal eyebrow) George lightened up like this, like this.

key - once a motion is started, it must continue, more or less unchanged (less is better) until the person whose turn it is decides enough is enough already

note - this very same game is also known as: "Bernie Found Nirvana" "Bernie Called a Meeting" and "Bernie Went to Sleep"

The First International Conference and Festival on Traditional Plays, Games and Sports

Planning to April in Bangkok next year? Then you definitely won't want to miss The First International Conference and Festival on Traditional Plays, Games and Sports.

At present, the international sports have been influencing the exercise behaviors among the people around the world while the traditional plays , games and sports of many countries are being ignored and having been less interesting. In order to promote and support these valuable local plays, games and sports as modern contemporary sports. This event will offer the opportunity for scholarly educators from various countries to exchange their knowledge related to their professional areas such as history, child development, humanity, sociology, physical education, recreation, physiology, folklore, sports science , and etc. For the most advantages of the participants, festival on traditional plays, games and sports will be demonstrated in order to apply the knowledge into practices. This event will also cerebrate the 150 cycles birthday of our King Rama the fifth in the year 2003. His excellency has been recognized by the UNESCO as the world famous person especially in the areas of education, culture, sociology, humanity, social development and communication.

Sounds like fun, no?

The Koffka Ring

Things may not be as grey as they seem, at least if the seeming is via the Koffka Ring

Another trick from One-Trick CyberPony

The School of Fun Arts

Anything that calls itself "The School of Fun Arts" has got to be worthy of our serious consideration, so to speak. Dance, drama, art for kids 4 up. May it prove to be as funsy as it is artsy.

The Minikin Incarnadine Cowl-Titivated Gamine

Here, at last, "The Minikin Incarnadine Cowl-Titivated Gamine"

Erewhile there existed a jejune hoyden, who had secured the veneration of all, even those who had espied her for merely a singular discrete trice. Her consanguinities comprehended, among others, an enate predecessor, possessing the prosaic appellation of grandmother, and via the largess of this clement crone, she procured a Lilliputian capote, with a most vermilion capuche, whence her winsome sobriquet, "Little Red Riding Hood", was so engendered.

One of three Fairy Tales for the Erudite.

Sited by Memepool

Killing Fun

A friend in West Virginia writes:

"Hope all is well out there. We're just starting to change colors in the trees here; of course, everyone is way too worried about this sniper on the loose to appreciate them. Sadly, the kids suffer because they can't go outside to have FUN at recess now until this person is caught."

This is awful stuff. To be reminded that the joy of this world is so fragile, that one person can take the fun out of so many lives, can use fear to blind us to the very colors of fall, can take recess away.

It's also a reminder, isn't it, of what we are really here for, of where we really are, of the sheer delight that this world has for us, of the sheer wrongness of those who can so easily cancel the celebration of life. A reminder of what we are playing for and against.

Paper Models

Print, cut, fold, paste and link your way into the miniature world of Paper Models.

Thanks, Only Son, for the link.

Fun vs. Entertainment

"Fun is what you do for yourself.
If somebody else does it, it's entertainment."

from the movie "State and Main"

Peace through Play

Peace through Play - "for transforming the Culture of Violence into a Culture of Peace by realising the inborn creative potential in children, young people, yourself"

Where I found this article on "The Link Between Play and Peace"

Where I found this:

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....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.

This force is refreshed and renewed every time it is used. It gives self-confidence and a certain protection from negative influences. It has the properties of healing, revitalising, strengthening and calming. The products of our creation are an outward sign of our personality. By creating outwardly our personality is affected inwardly. This means that we are involved in creating the person we become. By using our creative potential, we are able continually to recreate ourselves. Creating is an important source of our inner peace. By creating we are able to contribute to the shared pool of peace that exists in the world.

Apples to Apples

Today's Major FUN Award goes to Apples to Apples. In fact, it goes not only to Apples to Apples, not only to the two editions of Apples to Apples Junior or the Apple to Apple Booster Kits, but also to the veritable makers and marketers of Apples to Apples, Out of the Box Publishing.

But first, let's talk Apples to Apples.

It's a party game - from a little party of four players to a significant party of ten. It's a card game. A lot of cards. 432 cards, by my count. Nicely made, highly-shufflable, plastic-coated, square-cornered cards. Well-designed, easy-to-read cards with cute commentaries. And a card tray to hold three stacks of 'em. And clear rules printed on stiff, coated paper. This is typical of Out of the Box products. Lots of consideration given to look and feel and longtime replay value.

But enough about how it looks. It's how it plays that makes it so Major FUN Award-worthy.

There are two different kinds of cards. The Green Apple cards describe characteristics, like: Influential, Wicked, Distinguished. The Red Apple cards are people, places and things. Each player gets seven Red Apple cards. One player, who gets to be the Judge for that particular turn, selects a Green Apple card. Then everyone else more or less races to play a Red Apple card or two that fits that characteristic. What constitutes a fit can get very iffy in deed. Given, for example, a Green Apple of INFLUENTIAL, which of these cards would you play: COCKROACHES, HOOLIGANS, JAMES BOND, WHEAT, ICEBERGS, GRAVITY, or THE UNIVERSE? Some are clearly iffier than others. One could say that THE UNIVERSE is more influential than HOOLIGANS. In fact, one could even say that GRAVITY is even more influential.

It turns out that that very iffiness is what makes the game such a delight to play. There are no right answers. It's up to the imagination of the players, the judgment of the judge, and whatever subtle pressures one puts on the other.

Because a different player plays Judge each turn, the iffiness gets spread around evenly enough to make the game as fair as it is fun.

As to its Gigglwattage, it varies in intensity. Generally, the game is about a 40-Gigglewatter. But, from time to time, it can get blindingly funny.

And then there's the Major FUN Award that goes to Out-of-the-Box itself. Every game I've looked at from them so far has that well-designed, carefully considered, made-for-easy-fun feeling. And they make good use of their website, going to the extent of offering downloadable rules for each of their games - just in case you need an extra copy.

A Major FUN Award for the game. A Major FUN Award for the company that makes it. O, the enthusiastic endorsement of it all!


Medieval and Renaissance Games

When searching for a really good game, it oft behooves one to seek out the really old ones. Hence, the inestimable value of such resources as Medieval and Renaissance Games.

In fact, whilst perusing this site, I found a link to the famous Libro Delos Dados within which this image of four men playing Alquerque was thereupon found.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Crokinole

Here it is, at last. Everything you ever wanted to know about Crokinole...and probably a lot you didn't.

Actually, a deep resource about a most playworthy game.

After you've learned everything, be sure not to miss this Canonical List of Game-Related Quotes.

Today's randomly-selected quote:

"Work and play are words to describe the same thing under different conditions."
- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Elliot Avedon Museum and Archive of Games

The Elliot Avedon Museum and Archive of Games is a virtual gift to anyone curious or amused about the history of games.

For a taste of this treasure, here's the famous Breughel painting of Young Folk at Play.

Clicking on the image will take you to another page where a description of each game can be found. I mean, haven't you ALWAYS wanted to know what those people were doing, for example, here:

Dwyle Flunking. Who knew?

And then, of course, there's that Ayo game from Burkino Faso we were all wondering about.


Today's Major FUN Award goes to Curses - a game of geometrically increasing silliness for 3-6 players, age 12 and up.

There are two decks of cards and a very nice hotel-type hit-the-top-and-it-rings bell. One deck of cards is called "Challenges," the other "Curses."

Let's start with the "Curses," which, of course, are the real challenges. A Curse is something silly that you have to do. For example, you might have the Curse of having to talk in a French accent, or having your wrists glued to your head (well, there's no real glue, but you have to pretend there is), or having to bow every time someone applauds. As the game progresses, you get more Curses. From other players, actually. Remembering two Curses is at least twice as difficult as remembering one. By the time you have three Curses you are at a conceptual point likened only to patting your tummy and rubbing your head while singing "Boat your row, row, row." In a French accent.

When you break a Curse, some observant player dutifully rings the bell. If you break enough Curses, you're kind of out. Kind of, because you still get to be a bell-ringer and cause of Curse-breaking.

The Challenges make the Curses evermore Curselike. You might have to ask someone else out to a school prom, or be in a TV commercial explaining why your deodorant is best or demonstrate how you celebrated your what you did when you scored the winning touchdown in the Superbowl. Each challenge takes on a very different light when you have to perform it under multiple Curses.

Curses radiates at least 120 Gigglewatts of pure Guffaw-power. It's can get very, very difficult to play, very quickly, and is challenging enough to occupy the most limber-minded of collegiates, whilst silly enough to keep even us over-the-hillsies laughing and coughing in glee.

The only niggle I have is with the quality of the cards. They don't pass the shuffle test very easily. But that, compared to the sheer hysteria that this game catalyzes, is clearly, at most, a nano-niggle.

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Rocky's one-woman art show

Sacred wife Rocky is having her one-woman art show at:

The Coffee Merchant
Redondo Shores Shopping Center
407 N. Pacific Coast Highway
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 379 0494

Until November First. Come on by.

In the mean time, here's her website.

Los Angeles Game Night

Who knew? Right here in Los Angeles is a well-established Game Night event where people gather every month just to play board and card games. Now that I'm starting to review board and table games (picking up where the Games Preserve left off - yes, the Games Preserve, my Eastern Pennsyvania retreat center for the preternaturally playful, 1971-1981), I'm finding out that the spirit of fun and games is very, very much alive. O, the sheer glee of it all!

Meeting Meter

Ever wonder how neat it would be if people only knew how much that long, boring, unproductive meeting was costing them, second-by-second?

About fifteen years ago, I realized that what I knew about facilitating games was exactly what I needed to know about facilitating meetings. In my attempts to help people become more aware of the "meetings problem," I created a software tool I called the "Meeting Meter." Later, my friend Matt Daw made a javascript version of it so I could share it for free. Take a look at it. Play with it. Read the research. Click the links. Show it to your boss. Who knows, maybe it'll be the very thing you need to make people think before they call the next meeting to decide whether or not they should have a meeting to discuss meetings.

Hot Bread and Butter, a Pancake is Burning - kids' games from one world

Years and years ago (at least thirty), some kids in Philadelphia taught me the game of Hot Bread and Butter. It was a turning point in my understanding of games and kids. Today, I found the description of a game played in Belarus called A Pancake is Burning - a kinder, gentler game, perhaps, but the same game, playing with the same theme of the risks of and rewards for leaving home. I am amazed all over again.

I found the description of a Pancake is Burning in this collection of kids games from around the world.


Skully - a kind of shuffleboard played with bottlecaps - is probably history now. It's a history that shouldn't be in books, but, somehow, out in the streets again, or, at least, thanks to this site, online. Because it was a kid-made game, it stimulated creativity as well as skill-development, experimentation as well as socialization.

Here's an excerpt from the section on how to make a good Skully bottlecap.

I've used almost every top imaginable. Pop off and twist off soda tops, glass rings from the bottles, etc. I had a top for every situation. I even used the plastic covers from coffee cans, I'm talking the 3 lb and 5 lb cans. You had to see the looks on the other kids faces and the fights when I took one of those out. One of my favorite tops was the white plastic pop tops you used to get from the prescription medicine pill bottle. In the days before child proof caps.

Another favorite was the desk and chair gliders from school. The secret to a good top was the weight. The large tops were good for blasting the other kids tops into the next neighborhood but for normal game play you needed a top that was as low to the ground as possible and heavy. 95% of the time when people tried to blast me, they would just wind up flying right over the top of my cap and chasing there top down the block.

My secret to making a good top (since my days of playing skelly are long gone I guess I can let it out now...). Like I said it was the weight. The way I accomplished this was to take a medicine top or later on, a chair glider. Before I would melt the wax in it. I would place a penny or a nickle, depending on how much weight I wanted, in the bottom of the top. Then I would melt my wax on top of it. This would give me a small heavy top that would glide the length of the street if I wanted it to.

Positive Psychology

Interested in the psychology of happiness? Check out this relatively new movement amongst the comparatively enlightened psychological few - Positive Psychology and maybe these articles from Positivity Central

Can't we all just be happy forever?

According to David Myers and Donald Campbell, the answer to the question: "can't we all just be happy forever?" is: If you woke up tomorrow to your utopia--perhaps a world with no bills, no ills, all As, someone who loves you unreservedly--you would feel euphoric, for a time. But before long, you would soon recalibrate your adaptation level. Before long you would again sometimes feel gratified (when achievements surpass expectations), sometimes feel deprived (when they fall below), and sometimes feel neutral. That helps explain why, despite the realities of triumph and tragedy, million-dollar lottery winners and people who are paralyzed report roughly similar levels of happiness. It also explains why material wants can be insatiable--why many a child "needs" just one more Nintendo game. Or why Imelda Marcos, surrounded by poverty while living in splendor as wife of the Philippines' president, bought 1060 pairs of shoes. When the victor belongs to the spoils and the possessor is possessed by possessions, adaptation level has run amuck.


I dunno. "Sillywise." Kinda struck me funny, funwisely speaking. Thought I'd share, thoughtwise.

Molecules with Silly Names

Googling for "Silly", this Molecules with Silly Names was the very first. And, in a scientific sort of way, definitely silly.

How silly can names for molecules get. See, for example, to name but a few: Arsole, Bastardane, Munchnones, Cummingtonite, and, of course, the ever popular and yet perternaturally mysterious Unununium

Touch the Future

Touch the Future

Our goal is to model Optimum Learning Relationships between children and adults by applying what athletes and martial artists call The Zone, researchers call Flow and children call Play to parenting and education. The internal state, which allows elite athletes to consistently perform at extraordinary levels, is universal and applies equally to learning, performance and wellness, at any age, in any field. Optimum becomes easy, the miraculous natural for children and adults when resistance to learning and peak performance is reduced or eliminated. This is what nature intended. It’s who we really are.

Puzzle Playground

Like puzzles, illusions, tricks, toys? Check out Puzzle Playground - very cool, clear, graphic, deep collection. With solutions and print and play options.

Bookworm - the game

There are some computer games that are designed for one player, but can be actually even more fun with a group of kibbitzers. Bookworm is one of them. A word game that's a cross between Boggle and Bejeweled, Bookworm manages to be unique and eminently playable. And fun, too.

Thank Shikencho for the find.

Crazy Eights, Rule Change and Social Literacy

My little piece on Crazy Eights just got bigger. I found myself needing to add "whys" to it. And in some ways, it and got a little wiser in the process.

I was focusing on what I like to call the Social Literacy aspect of playing with rules. (Social Literacy is a great term, used, naturally, to mean different things than I intended it to mean, but all somehow wonderfully complimentary - see for example the Social Literacy Curriculum The PeaceZone Program)

So, after much musing and mousing, the following is what got added:

Crazy Eights is the kind of game where sooner or later somebody does something not very nice, or not very helpful, to someone else. Sometimes the thing they do could even be interpreted as "mean" - except for several very important things:

One, Crazy Eights is just a game, and no matter what people do to each other, it's all for fun, and whether you win or lose has really nothing to do with how good or loved or valued you are as a person.

Two, sometimes when you do that "mean" thing, you don't really mean to be mean, if you know what I mean. You have no choice. The only card you can play is an eight. And when you play it, the player next to you isn't going to be happy. Even though it's your sacred parent or cherished spouse or valued sibling or delightful child who falls victim to your unavoidable discard, what else can you do? It's not your intention or your fault. You have to play.

And finally, the fact is, and everybody knows it, no matter how strategic you try to be, how cunning or caring or kind, winning or losing are really more a result of luck than skill. That's why Crazy Eights becomes such a perfect community fame. It's fun. It's easy to learn. But especially because it gives people a chance to play with behaviors which, under normal circumstances, would be considered "not nice."

No matter how wonderful a community is, no matter how loving or supportive or caring or compassionate, there are times when people do things to each other that really aren't very nice. Times when people are just too busy, or something happens that really has nothing to do with anyone in the community, but still makes people angry or impatient or inconsiderate. And for a community that tries to be kind and caring and compassionate all the time, these relatively minor upsets can throw everybody off balance. For a community to become truly healthy, people need to develop the understanding and strength to deal with each other when things aren't so nice - when passions and tempers, discomforts and fears get the better of the best of us.

So as long as Crazy Eights is fun for everyone, then those aspects of the game that we might consider to become negative, actually become a source of healing - of extending the repertoire of behaviors and emotions that can be safely expressed. There are many things that people can do in a game of Crazy Eights to try outdo or undo each other. When you use a wild card, you have the opportunity to change to a color that the next player might not have, and consequently force that player to draw another card. And, as other people get close to winning, these opportunities become necessities.

There are a couple of key ideas that make all these hard things fun.

One is that we are playing the game for fun, because we want everyone to be having fun.

The other is, we are all only playing, and even though we're playing with behaviors that really aren't very helpful or "nice," because we're playing with it, and because we are all having fun with each other, we can be of great help to each other in learning how to deal with these behaviors in "real life."

Ultimately, if we're really going to play with these unhelpful behaviors, we're going to want to go beyond the rules of the game. Because playing with a behavior means that we have to try different things. We have to toy with it. We have to learn what happens when we change this aspect of the game, this rule or consequence. We have to let the game become a laboratory that allows us to experiment, observe, draw conclusions.

At the same time, we have to keep it fun, because only as long as it's fun for everyone can the game be a healing, joyful experience. As soon as it stops being fun, the negative aspects become just too negative to play with. One of the most remarkable assets of Crazy Eights is not the rules, but how many ways there are to change them. There are so many things you can do to make the game meaner or sillier, faster or funnier, easier or gentler. Ultimately, the more ways you play Crazy Eights, the more positive the experience becomes.

It becomes a better game, not because of the particular rules that you're playing it by, but because you've played it so many different ways that Crazy Eights time becomes a celebration of a growing bond between each and all members of the community. As the community becomes more proficient in changing rules and devising new rules, the community members also develop what might be called a kind of "Social Literacy." Understanding how a new rule could affect the game and the relationships and the experience of each player is a very complex and sophisticated social skill. It is a skill that is essential to leadership, effective parenting, facilitation, teaching, to developing and maintaining healthy relationships, to personal and social empowerment.

And because Crazy Eights is such a flexible game, so easy to change and explore, Crazy Eights time becomes a perfect opportunity for both personal and social development. An opportunity to learn together. An opportunity to grow together. All for the sake of play. All in the name of fun.

Fidgets get the Major FUN Award

Today's Major FUN Award goes to Fidgets.

Your set of four Fidgets arrive in an upscale-looking pin-striped baggie, tied with an upscale metalic baggie-tie. They are mounted on what must be the state-of-the-art in upscale-seeming pencils - each pencil decorated in an iridescently swirling abstractly gleaming metalic sheen. I tell you, the presentation alone, especially given what is actually being presented, makes Fidgets border on BERNIEworthiness.

In answer to the question "Which Fidget is Best," I can only say that as I become more and more of a Fidget Aficionado, I have come to prize all four, equally. Each Fidget lends itself to a particular kind of musing. My set of Fidgets has become a set of conceptual golf clubs. Sometimes the flippant spin of the wingnut Fidget is the only Fidget that will get me to the green of mindless musing, sometimes the complex turnings of the "Bump and Run" unthreaded hexnut.

But what really transports Fidgets across the border into land of that which has received the Major FUN Award is the sheer silliness of the whole concept. It's silly to have these things on top of your pencils. They don't erase very well. They don't help you write any better. They are, if anything, top-heavy pencil toppings. But they also offer mute testimony to a very human need, perhaps a dysfunctional human need, but a need, nonetheless. And they raise it to an art form. And they bring pleasure. And they are frequently fun. And I'm keeping the whole set.


Not-so-Crazy Eights

I've been working on creating a one-day program for school counselors, social workers and family therapists - a program that is based on card games and maybe some commercial games, exploring the games as vehicles for establishing something like a family fun community.

The idea is to teach people how they can change the rules of games to make the game more fun for everyone. Making anything fun for everyone is a complex, challenging and highly rewarding endeavor, especially in the family.

I've written about the card game Crazy Eights in that context and invite you to read, play, explore, examine, comment, kibbitz, add your own stuff.

Adventure Games Theater

Adventure Games Theater

We provide personal development and team building experiences through workshops and summer camps. We use an experiential curriculum of play, theater and interactive games for the purpose of teaching and inspiring mental, physical and spiritual well being within a community setting. These programs are custom designed to meet the needs of individuals, schools, organizations and businesses. We offer nine weeks of summer camps for teens during the months of June - August, and an increasing variety of programs for youth, adults and intergenerational groups during the fall, winter and spring months.

The cornerstone of our programs is our unique mythical game in which players enter a magical world. Participants act out many roles, becoming heroes, heroines, magicians, faeries, healers, sages, warriors, and more. This experience of embodying archetypal characters helps them explore diverse aspects of themselves and their relationships with others. Participants play cooperative games, and learn team building, community growth and awareness. AGT provides players with safe boundaries, important challenges, obstacles and struggles. Through triumph and positive reinforcement, participants learn creative problem solving, conflict resolution, develop increased self-esteem, and overcome fears. For teens, emphasis is put on taking responsibility for one's actions and creating a supportive and nurturing community. For adults, the emphasis is often on reawakening the playful self and encouraging introspection and growth through the experience of mythic community.

A participant explains:

"Epic stories written by thirty people at the same time, part running through the woods like a maniac with foam weaponry, and part creating an absolutely amazing, complex, meaningful story populated with fascinating characters.”

More Fun at Work - the Stress Party

Doug Germann adds to our Fun and Work correspondence:

"A few years ago we threw a party--noisemakers, hats, and a cake--simply because we were getting stressed out. It kept us going for weeks!"

A Stress Party! What a great concept! Noisemakers, definitely. Hats and cake, why not? Silly String? Maybe something to punch?

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