Cross-Cultural SackySackness

Take a look at what these kids are doing. Making a Sacky Sack, no? Exactly as described in the afore-underlined link, they are balling up plastic bags and putting bagged-up bags in other bags. And I must tell you that I, as one who has actually constructed such Sacky Sack, find myself, as I ball and bag, at one, in play-potentiating delight, with the children of Burundi.

OK, so they had to go to the town dump to get the plastic bags and they're not really making a Sacky Sack. So they're going to cover it with scraps and make it into a soccerworthy joy for-relatively-ever, and my Sacky Sack stops with the last sack. Though I sometimes put them into panty hose.

But the connection is there. And immediate. And I can feel it. And I am honored. As if I had been handed a kind of a Peace Prize for Play. To experience, in my moments of gleeful Sacky Sack making, that we are of the same spirit and in the same world, playing together, the children of Burundi and I.


Homemade Sports

When I wrote Junkyard Sports I had to make up maybe 100 games. I mean, actually invent them. All myself. I did it alone, but never without precedent. A site called "Homemade Sports," it and all seven of the sports they've so far documented, is one more validation of the nature, purpose and spirit of junkly sport-invention and all that is therein implied.

Witness, for example, KA Paddleball as submitted by Andrew "The Gaspumper" Wert on Dec 06, 2003:

Players: 2-6
Ages: All Ages
Equipment: 1 volleyball
2 pvc pipes (3/4" thick, 1' long)
2 plastic crates

The object is to put the volleyball in your opponent's plastic crate.

Created by Andrew "The Gaspumper" Wert in 2000. Claimed to be played by over 300 people in southern Oregon.

Place the plastic crates about 15' apart from each other. Choose two teams of people of there are more than two players. Each team stand behind one of the two crates.

Each player takes a turn hitting the volleyball with a PVC pipe, trying to get the volleyball to land into the opponent's crate.

┬Ľ If the ball lands in the crate it's worth one point.

┬Ľ If the ball hits a wall or an opponent and then goes in it's worth two points.

The current player can only hit the ball with the pipe - no hands or feet.

Driven to learn more about the who and why of this site, I wrote the author. Here was the response:

I'm a web designer, and I just get bored sometimes. That's about it. ;)




Once more boredom paves the way to play!

Jamie has created a home for a collaboratively authored collection of invitations to play and reasons for people to go out and make their own games - out of junk, for fun.

Your Homemade Sports are invited.

Don't wait.

Virtual Puppetry

You can make a face smile, you can make it squint, you can make it sneer, you can make it wink, blink and nod. Animatedly. 3-Dishly. And you can even learn how it's all done: the history, the technology, the whole facial thing.

You can also make a entire skeleton wiggle and weave and bob and bounce. You can even throw stuff at it.

Maybe not the kind of control you'd really want, if virtual puppetry were what you were hoping to do. But the kind of control you can play with, and dream about the future of all of us puppets on the evermore interactive virtual stage with.


"Goalball is a highly competitive sport played three-against-three, indoors on a gym floor--primarily by blind and visually impaired athletes."

Before we go any further, let me add that Goalball could just as easily be a pick-up-gamishly fun thing to play with just about anybody.

"Games are usually quite competitive and exciting to watch. Two teams play on either end of the 60x40 foot court. Players are blindfolded to make the game fair."

If you don't have a blindfold, I note, try a grocery bag, or a sock tied over your eyes.

"The object is to throw a three-pound Goalball, which is sort of like a heavy basketball, past the opposing team."

Allow me to note that you could just as easily use a coffee can with some pennies or marbles or jingle bells in it.

"Now you may be asking yourself, "how do the players keep track of the ball if they're blind?" The ball has bells in it... sounding a lot like Christmas "jingle bells..." that allow the players to listen for it. When they hear the ball coming towards their end of the court, they dive, usually head-first, towards it hoping to block it with their body and stop it. If all three players miss the ball and it goes past the back line, it is considered a goal. The team with the most goals wins the game."

Found here.

Cubicle Culture

I was interviewed last week by a fellow from the Wall Street Journal - the topic: business meetings. Having been out of the meeting biz for quite some time, I felt I could be as brutally honest as I needed to be - insofar as I put an end to my attempts to change how people meet several many years ago.

Here's the piece along with my small contribution.

It's a little depressing. But also borders so clearly on the truth that I'm thinking of putting up a tollbooth.

A virtual treasury of Sliding Block Puzzles

It's The Sliding Block Puzzle Page. You know: that puzzle with tiles numbering 1-15. The kind with the one empty square and the tiles that you slide around. Did you know that there are maybe hundreds of different puzzles that use a similar principle? And that many of them are actually online and waiting for your very own personal mouse?

The Sliding Block Puzzle Page is your personal portal to plethora of interactive sliding block puzzles - a plethora that is as inspiring in its artistic range as it is confounding in its elegant complexity.

Because the puzzles are untimed, there is nothing standing in the way of their becoming exercises in pure logic. Except perhaps your patience (some of the puzzles require more than 100 moves). Since you can take as long as you need, you can also get your friends and kids to help, which makes these puzzles valuable opportunities for collaboration and learning.

Thanks Grow-a-Brain


"150" align="left">Roofball

"The best roofball ball is one of those cheap, light-weight jobs, about 10 inches in diameter, with all the swirly colors. You find them at the drugstore, dollar store, toy store, and even the supermarket when they're "in season". Of course, you may use any sort of ball that works for you...The basic game is played by 2 opposing players. They are both positioned on the same side of the building with the roof in question. Let me spell that out clearly in the negative mode: the players do NOT play on opposite sides of the roof. One player hits the ball up on the roof. Gravity (whatever that is) causes the ball to slow down, stop, change directions, and then start back down the roof, picking up speed as it does so. After it comes flying over the edge of the roof, the other player is obliged to smack it back up on the roof. As in tennis, a player has the option of hitting the ball "on the fly" - that is, before it hits the ground - or else letting it bounce once on the ground before hitting it back to the roof."

There's more. There's lot's more. There's also this.


Water Cooler Games

Water Cooler Games " a site about video games with an agenda. It is about games that go beyond entertainment. Water Cooler Games explores the emerging field of games want to do more than simply being fun: they want to make a point, share knowledge, change opinions. This includes new genres such as advergaming, newsgaming, political games, simulations and edutainment."

Advergaming and edutainment. Kinda scary. Wanting to do more than simply being fun. Even scarier. I tried a "newsgame" by one of the two main contributors. The non-game, called "September 12" gives you an opportunity to launch rockets at terrorists. There's no score. You can't win. More often than not, by the time the rocket hits, the terrorists have left, and all you get are a few civilians and a building or two. After playing (I guess it's all right to call it "playing") a few minutes, I got bored trying to get the terrorists and discovered it was really more fun to see how many civilians I could hit. I guess you could call it a learning experience.

Methinks that those who are able to make a game that's really fun and truly informative are doing something worth watching, carefully.


It's called "boredom.transform." Could this be the ultimate utility for transforming boredom into something other? Or vice versa?

You think stretching an image into bizarre and unlikely shapes is fun? You think being able to paste in an image of your own and do the same is the same? Wait 'til you hit "release" and the whole thing comes wobbling back!

OK. It's not deep. It's not complex. There are no pallettes or tools or musical selections. You probably won't spend more than 10 minutes playing with it. Which is precisely what makes it such a welcome invitation to a play break.

Thanks for the link Shikencho

Playing for a Living, Playing for Life

An anonymous comment on yesterday's Rejuveniles story pointed us to the World Series of Poker. The comment: "I have a suspicion that the increasing interest in poker is also partly because people who can make a living through play are so revered by our generation, and the poker stars are a living, breathing, high-profile example."

I would add: as are almost all of our "true champions" - the professional athletes in any major sport you can name, the heroes of the worlds of chess and billiards and backgammon and Scrabble, the superstars of ice skating and bowling, the fortunate few of bingo.

Anthropologist Clifford Geertz wrote what has become a classic study of this phenomenon: "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight" (When you go to this site, you may think you're hearing something like the Macerana playing in the background. I welcome all and any hypotheses.) He concludes: "What the cockfight says it says in a vocabulary of sentiment-the thrill of risk, the despair of loss, the pleasure of triumph. Yet what it says is not merely that risk is exciting, loss depressing, or triumph gratifying, banal tautologies of affect, but that it is of these emotions, thus exampled, that society is built and individuals put together."

And they call this fun.

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Christopher Noxon, in describing what is apparently a widespread trend, has come up with a new term: "rejuveniles." In his article for the New York Times, he explains:

"From childless fans of kiddie music to the grown-up readers of 'Harry Potter,' inner children are having fun all over. Whether they are buying cars marketed to consumers half their age, dressing in baby-doll fashions or bonding over games like Twister and kickball, a new breed of quasi adult is co-opting the culture of children as never before. Most have busy lives with adult responsibilities, respectable jobs and children of their own. They are not stunted adolescents. They are something else: grown-ups who cultivate juvenile tastes in products and entertainment. Call them rejuveniles."

He illustrates:

"According to Nielsen Media research, more adults 18 to 49 watch the Cartoon Network than watch CNN. More than 35 million people have caught up with long-lost school pals on the Web site ("There's something about signing on to that makes you feel 16 again," the "60 Minutes II" correspondent Vicki Mabrey reported.) Fuzzy pajamas with attached feet come in adult sizes at Target, along with Scoobie Doo underpants. The average age of video game players is now 29, up from 18 in 1990, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Hello Kitty's cartoon face graces toasters. Sea Monkeys come in an executive set."

Though Noxon has managed to identify a phenomenon that may inspire hope for the fun-seeking adults amongst us, the term "juvenile" has too many unfortunately pejorative associations to capture the spirt of our maturely joyseeking ilk. And yet...

The Sock Rope

Should you have a bunch of socks and a collection of zip ties, as we had at last weekend's Redondo Beach Fun Fest, and should you be wondering what invitation to play could be crafted from said same, wonder no longer. The young recreators of Redondo discovered that the Sock Rope turns out to be an admirably sturdy and moderately stretchy device which serves most brilliantly as a volleyball/badminton/tennis net, should anyone wish to play volleyball/badminton/tennis. In the absence of ball or bird, one might consider the use of a sacky sack, as in the game of Footbag Tennis.

And yes, it is most rope-like, and can consequently can be used in many rope-using games, like, for example, jumprope and that game where everyone stands in a circle and jumps over the rope while the center player holds it by an end whilst centrifugilating it.

When it comes time to dismantle the Sock Rope, a game of Make-a-Wish Tug-of-War can generate significant amusement, the winner being the team with the longer Sock Rope. A similar game, known as Toilet Paper Tug-of-War, can be played with, um, toilet paper.

Ultimate Hoseball

We really only got to play two junkly sports at the Redondo Beach Fun Fest last Sunday: Ultimate Hoseball and the Fling-off.

Ultimate Hoseball took a good hour to play. Not that it couldn't have taken a good half-hour, or probably good half-day. Each of the two goals (there could have been more, you know) was made out of a water bottle (half-filled with sand so that it wouldn't blow over). The game was based on Ultimate Frisbee, of course. Basically, you couldn't run with the hoseball. So you had to throw it to a team mate, who, in turn, had to throw it to another team mate, who was hopefully close enough to the appropriate goal-bottle to knock it over. Yes, I know, there were some very important rules left out. But no one seemed to care. The game worked. People came and went, as is the tradition in most good and funly fests, joining this team or that. Or just watching. Or maybe blowing bubbles, as was their wont.

The Fling-off started when some younger kids joined, and the older amongst us had had enough. The goal - to see how many hoseballs we could get in the air at the same time. This was a perfect finish to our fest-part. The high-flying hoseballs were just the thing to attract people from all over the field. It was self-explanatory. And seeing all those hoseballs in flight was kind of, well, spectacular.

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The Limp Stick

Having discovered the near-infinite possibilities of the Sacky Sack, I found myself chafing at the conceptual bit, pondering the potential of the further development of Junkyard Sports equipment.

Sorely lacking, until this very moment, has been a fun, safe, junkly equivalent of the bat or club or mallet, even. Initial experimentation led me to a deep contemplation of "pantyhose-stuffed-with-bublewrap as bat," pictured here with its coffe cup friend.

Actual investigations of the swatting power of p-s-w-b bat led to the selection of its official name: "Limp Stick." The Limp Stick doesn't really have that bat- or club- or mallet-like rigidity. On the other hand, with some experimentation, it: 1) is relatively possible to quite satisfyingly hit a 3-sack Sacky Sack or even a Bag Bag a most reasonable distance, 2) with a quite pleasant whap, and 3) most significantly, is soft enough to sustain engagingly pain-free-for-all jousting and sword play.


Pac Manhattan

Pac Manhattan - the actual website for a real-life, virtually-assisted, play-where-you're-not-supposed-to, junkly fun event.

Pac-Manhattan is a large-scale urban game that utilizes the New York City grid to recreate the 1980's video game sensation Pac-Man. This analog version of Pac-man is being developed in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications graduate program, in order to explore what happens when games are removed from their "little world" of tabletops, televisions and computers and placed in the larger "real world" of street corners, and cities.

A player dressed as Pac-man will run around the Washington square park area of Manhattan while attempting to collect all of the virtual "dots" that run the length of the streets. Four players dressed as the ghosts Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde will attempt to catch Pac-man before all of the dots are collected.

Using cell-phone contact, Wi-Fi internet connections, and custom software designed by the Pac-Manhattan team, Pac-man and the ghosts will be tracked from a central location and their progress will be broadcast over the internet for viewers from around the world.

The real story for me is the sheer, unorthodox fun that was apparently had by the Wi-Fi-ant few. I have no idea how they managed to get so much publicity. I've seen stuff about last weekend's event on just about every blog I travel. I'm not sure if it's the silliness or the technology that was so attractive. It may be a small step for play, but it's clearly one big leap for bloggingkind.


Urban Golf

Urban Golf. Some call it an "extreme sport," I call it "junkyardly." Very, very junkyardly. An embodiment of junkyardliness. Absolute junkyardification.

I quote from the site of the Urban Golf Association:

Who needs Pebble Beach? What's a master, anyway? Where's my Bullhorn?

From the people who brought you the Urban Iditarod, the Urban Golf Association brings you the 4th Bi-Annual Emperor Norton North Beach Open.

That's right folks, golfing in North Beach. Nine Holes, Nine Bars, and not a Nine Iron in sight. Bring any club you can find (a 3 iron is handy, but a putter is great) as we golf through the streets of San Francisco. Each hole offers fun urban challenges, hazards, and yes - even danger!

Why wait in annoying lines at Mini-putt course? Why suck up to 6AM tee times? The UGA (Urban Golf Association) offers you non-stop fun all day long, with plenty of watering holes for every putting hole."

Yes, yes, I know, it's an adult-only kind of thing, combining a plethora of potentially precarious putting with the increasingly debilitating joys of bar-hopping. So, it's not what you might consider a paragon of junkyardhood. But in every other aspect, in the creativity and spontaneity and sheer foolery of it all, it is an apotheosis of extreme junkyardliness.

Also known as Crossgolf, according to the BBC Sport Academy, traditional Urban Golfers (yes, it's been around that long - since 1992, at least) use a leather ball filled with goose feathers." I of course, would recommend the three-sack Sacky Sack.

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Softball-sized Super Sacky

Made of approximately 14 plastic store bags, three of which were of the thin, translucent variety. It might have been 12 plastic store bags. I smushed and twisted as in the making of the regulation-size Sacky Sack. Actually, it was more of a smush, stuff, twist, turn inside out, twist kind of thing. All I know is that it god so big that I could get each of the handles of the outside sack to just----barely--------fit around the whole Sacky. A couple of the inner sacks seemed to have had some air trapped in them, which gave the Super Sacky a nice extra bounce to complement its round, firm, and smoothly packed softball-sized self. It is very cool, and fun, too.


The Sacky Sack

Herein depicted while posing with a coffee mug, from left to right:
  • the one-sack Sacky Sack
  • the two-sack Sacky Sack
  • the three-sack Sacky Sack, with belt loop
Further explorations of the Junkyard Sport-ready properties of the food store plastic bag, especially investigations of the significant scrunchability of the bag, and the equally notable, slightly stretchy twist-and-loop-around-to-hold-it-all-together properties of the food store plastic bag handle, have led to the creation of what can truly can only be called the Sacky Sack.

Combining scrunching, twisting and looping, it becomes possible to create an extensive variety of little, tightly-wrapped ball-like things that are as fun to kick and hit as any of them fancy leather-covered, pellet-filled foot bags you read about, fun even as the highly branded and beloved Hacky Sack of Wham-o fame., and perhaps even more:
  • They're completely customizable.
  • They're softer.
  • And they're just as great in a game of miniature golf, table-top soccer, or lawn billiards.


Apparently, the game of Shoeshoes is like Horseshoes or perhaps even Quoits, which is very like horseshoes except that it is played with things that look like oversized washers and are sometimes made of rope. Shoeshoes, on the other hand, involves a pair of human shoes whose laces have been tied together, and a chair.

Shoeshoes should also not be confused with Shoreshoes, as described in the the much vaunted Junkyard Sports« Hall of Fame (though it fails to point out how cleverly the letters of horseshoes can be used to spell shoreshoes).

As for Shoeshoes, one evidentally throws one's tied-together shoes in such a way as to get them to hang on a leg, or perhaps even straddle the seat. Different points are awarded for different configurations as they occur.

The required distance one is to stand from the chair, the preferred chair, as well as lace-length and shoe size, have not yet been established.

Bag Bag

Here you see the Official Junkyard Sports« Bag Bag. If it appears to you that the Bag Bag is little more than a bunch of those plastic store bags stuffed into another plastic store bag, you are both shrewd and cunning in your observational powers.

It turns out that the common household Bag Bag has properties, which, when properly put to play, lead inevitably to the creation of many funly volleyball-, basketball-, and soccer-like experiences.

Significantly funly.

Not only is is light enough for pain-free-hitting while being heavy enough to manifest comparatively impressive athletic prowess, it also makes a cool noise when you hit it.

Also, because removing a bag or two from the Bag Bag usually does little to impede the resultant Bag Bag's playworthiness, the Bag Bag becomes a resource for yet more bag-based sports, from Bag Bag Bagball (basketball played with a Bag Bag with bags for baskets) to Hoseball Bag Tag, where everyone has a bag tied to a belt loop on the back of their pants, and a Hoseball or Sockball, and, while trying to keep others from throwing their Hose- or Sockball into their bags, attempt to get their sock-thing into someone else's bag. For no particular reason.


The true origin of the Hoseball is shrouded in mystery and buried in the coffin of time. I first learned of it when it was called a Schmerltz, during days of the New Games Foundation and all that was implied thereby.

At last Friday's first official Junior Junkmaster Training, where the chosen ones, leaders of recreation throughout the vast holdings of Redondo Beach, participated in something similar to an hour of madcap Junkyard Sports making. Our junk collection included a large repository of panty hose and socks, a couple plastic bags full of plastic bags, a few paper grocery bags, and some plastic tie-downs.

For demonstration purposes, I had prepared several Schmerltz-like objects that I had made by stuffing a good-size ball of socks into a leg cut from a pair of pantyhose (as illustrated). For some reason, when I introduced these to the group, I didn't call them Schmerltzes, as I once had, but referred to them as, yes, Hoseballs.

There are other definitions and uses for the word, I must admit. There's not-so-vaguely sexual game and a baseball-like game that uses a piece of rubber hose for a ball. And there are other words for Schmerltz, including a commercial thing called a Fling Sock, and the more traditional "Socks-in-Pantyhose" or "Socks in Sock" or "Socker Thing."

But as of Friday, regardless of precedent or what, it became, officially and forever, a Junkyard Sports« Hoseball.

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