The Multilympics

Just yesterday, almost simultaneously, the Athens 2004 Paralympics were indeed ended, and I, also, reached a conclusion.

You have all those Olympic athletes and you have all those Paralympic athletes. But you don't have any games where both kinds of athletes can compete together. The wheelchair athletes do their wheelchair athlete things. The running and jumping athletes do theirs. Couldn't they be doing their things together? Couldn't there be some kind of Olympically-proportioned sport where teams of differently-abled athletes compete with each other?

Well, I respond rhetorically, of course they should. And could. If they played in the Junkyard Sports Multilympics.

In a way, you could legitimately say that there's no such thing as the Junkyard Sports Multilympics, or any other kind of Multilympics at all. But you'd have to admit that there could be. So, ah, so easily.

Like, for example, a junkyardly kind of basketball where each team has two wheelchair athletes, or three, or one even. And only the wheel-chaired athlete can score. You could probably play football that way. Soccer even. That'd be fun. That'd be challenging for each according to her ability. Meaningfully challenging. For the whole team. For the entire family. Of man.

Playing with the grandkids

Here's another good source for grandparents who take their grandparenting seriously - or is it playfully? Divided into five different age groups, the source offers advice that is practical and sensible, and, for the most part, a reliable path to real fun for everyone involved. Compiled by Joy Stevens and Jan Wilson, with contributions from readers, each section is filled with simple, time-tested, age-appropriate ideas for finding fun.

This is only one of the resources offered through the Grandparents Web. As soon as you discover that there's link to a section on discipline, you know that you're looking at a resource based on a very solid appraisal of the art of grandparenting.

Though the resources I have to add to this very deep collection of grandparental wisdom are comparatively very slight, they just might prove inspirational enough to lead you to yet another conceptual slew of cross-generational joy. See, therefore, this.

Giant Fuzzy Dice

"Bob and Carole Phillips, who sew and stuff dice by the cartload in their rural Burlington home, find them not only lovable but lucrative. To their surprise, the Phillips' have become the nation's largest...and possibly only...manufacturer of giant fuzzy dice. But few people are aware Walworth County is the Giant Fuzzy Dice Capital of the World because Bob and Carole like to keep a low profile. And it isn't hard to keep things quiet when your house is stuffed with foam rubber."

Giant Fuzzy Dice. I am not sure how sturdy they are, so I don't know if you could exactly play soccer with them. Yet the simple act of kicking a giant pair of fuzzy dice around a playing field can lead a sufficiently playful group of soccer players to new heights of junkyardly accomplishment. Like, for example, when you make a goal, your score is what's on the face of the die. Or do you play with two dice at the same time?

Even if you can't kick them, you could certainly bat them around, volleyball-like. Even if you only had the living room to play in. There's something transforming about giant fuzzy dice, something that begs the creation of games, that invites the imagination, ignites the senses of humor and play, becomes the very stuff of a junkyard sport.

Junk, illustrated

This is a picture of someone's desk. Someone who calls her- or himself "Comatose." Click on the picture and you will not only see a large image. But you will see it annotated (run your cursor over the rectangles). If you click on this, you will be treated to a slide show of images that have been "tagged" as "junk." Ever since I used the term "junk" (well, actually "junkyard" - but it's really not about the yard), I've been looking for a more accurate way to capture the true spirit of junk. So you can understand why I'm so excited, and grateful to the brilliantly playful Ianus Keller for showing this site to me.

There's even another reason. It's called "Flickr. It's where I found my new pictorial definition of junk, and a gateway to what you might call an online photo storage/management/sharing community. With Flickr (currently in Beta, and free), you can keep your photos completely to yourself. You can share them with a select few. Or you can share them with everyone. You can add comments. You can add tags. You can upload photos from your camera phone. Up to 10 Megs-per-month's-worth of throughput. You can join and publish to groups. You can publish your photos via newsfeed.

It takes a while to understand what all this is and does and means. And even if you play with Flickr for months, you won't get the whole picture, as it were, until you take a look at Flickr's developers, a group called, oddly enough, "Ludicorp" whose stated mission is the creation of "Groupware for Play." Ah ha!

There's more. There's too much more. I must myself go, therefore and join the virtual frolic.

What you need to learn in order to play....

Wanna know why there's a LEGO Learning Company?
At LEGO Company we feel we have a special responsibility to respect and nurture the way children play, learn and thrive. As a part of the LEGO Company we have unparalleled access to a wealth of experience and expertise in play and learning. Our opportunity is to bring this collective knowledge and insight to new audiences, while at the same time generate helpful feedback to the people who design and build the company's play experiences.

This is a good thing. Another good thing is their collection of Papers within which I found a report called " What do Children need to Learn to become Powerful Players in the World and Work life of Tomorrow?". Written by Anne Flemmert Jensen, Senior Researcher of LEGO Learning Institute.
Parents, educators, politicians - and not least companies producing tools for children - need to acknowledge that we live in a world characterized by increasing diversity, fragmentation and complexity. In such a world knowing the drills of reading, writing, and arithmetic is of course necessary, but by far not enough. We have to empower children to become active players in such a world; to become creative and innovative thinkers rather than reproducers. To become skilled at using different media to communicate and create new messages rather than just becoming passive receivers of entertainment. As Dean Kamen, Founder, F.I.R.S.T. has said: "We need to show kids that it's more fun to design and create a video game than to play one." Thereby we enable children to become powerful players in tomorrow’s society.

Hence, if I do say so myself, Junkyard Sports.

Junkyard Sports Intergenerational

According to AARP, I've been a Senior Citizen long enough to believe it. Which might explain my increasing fascination with the connection between being as old as I am, and my going around teaching the world how to play Junkyard Sports.

I wrote the following message explaining that connection for those of my age group who might be still curious:
As seniors, one of the most valued gifts that we have to offer the world is our laughter and playfulness. It is the gift upon which most human growth and happiness is founded and grandparenthood is built.

Sadly, too few know how deep our playfulness can be, and how lingering our laughter.

Junkyard Sports brings playfulness back into play – no matter with what or whom we’re playing. It is based on a way we played when we were children, in cities, on streets and sandlots, unsupervised, left to our own devices. We invented stickball and stoopball and hundreds of games we never even named. We played with what and whomever we could find, wherever we were. We didn't need official equipment. We didn't need $150 shoes or $300 T-shirts. We didn't have bats, so we played with broomsticks. We didn't have gloves so we played with a rubber ball. And the sewer lid was home plate.

This is a way of playing that most children of this generation have not experienced. For most of them, play has been co-opted by supervised sport, and sport co-opted by media and commercialization. For most of them, games and sports are less about fun than about proving their self-worth. And in sports, only one-in-a-million succeeds.

Of our many gifts to them, this gift, this increasingly rare spirit of playfulness, of play and invention and making do, of sports for the fun of it, can prove as empowering as it is healing.

So let's see what we can do to help make sports fun again - for all ages and abilities, wherever there are people who want to play; let's foster innovative sports-based programs and events that emphasize fun, creativity, adaptability and inclusiveness.

Playing Junkyard Sports with people of different ages and different skills invariably leads to a sport that can also be played by cross-age and cross-ability groups. What this means for us seniors is that we get to play, too.

Roman Ball

According to this source, an ancient Roman ball game one could apparently call "Rome Ball" was very similar to the street game Boxball. OK, Roman Ball is played in circles and not boxes. But the similarity is self-evident. I quote:

1. Draw 2 concentric circles on the ground, 5 feet and 20 feet in diameter.
2. Players ( 3 or more) may stand or run anywhere outside the large circle.
3. The ball must bounce in the inner circle, the 'strike zone', and pass beyond the outer circle.
4. If the ball is not caught and hits the ground, the thrower gets a point.
5. The player who catches or retrieves the ball throws it next.
6. The first player to reach 21 points wins the game.

On the other hand, this is at best a modern intepretation of how the game was actually played, so similarities to modern games are inevitable. On yet another hand, it does illustrate how ancient and profound is our fascination with ball games. So, on either hand, it makes you wonder how old our games really are.

The amazing Dr. Wladyslaw Jan Kowalski has provided us with genuinely illustrated resources on both Roman Ball Games (with a smattering of Egypto-Greekly fun) and even Roman Board Games. He freely admits that he's guessing on a lot of the rules. And that's what makes his work such a valuable resource to those of us who like to play, and those of us who like to make up new ways to play, and those of us who just like to wonder.

Panna revisited

Though I wrote about the soccer variant called "Panna" a few months ago, it wasn't until I came across this site that I understood not only Nike's interest in the game, but also their influence over it.

Allow me to quote:

"Panna is Surinamese/Amsterdam slang for playing the ball through the legs of your opponent. If you make one, you're a hero. If you get one, you're a zero. Pannas reign supreme in the streets of Holland where the only thing better than winning is making your opponent look foolish. In Amsterdam respect comes from reputation. Haven't got one? Better not show up. Reps are made by humbling the big names and showing off the big moves. Reps take time to build, but just one Panna can make it all disappear."

The site itself is pure virtual cool. Cool music. Cool Flash animations. Cool navigation. There are biographies of ruling street players and film clips and games and even a downloadable Panna screensaver. But nowhere is there a reference to the fun of the game, to the creativity and joy, to the player's appreciation for each other's skills. I was there. In Holland. I watched. What I saw, in addition to sometimes astonishing displays of skill, was laughter and recognition and genuine respect for excellence, no matter where it came from. I guess that aspect of the Panna experience isn't macho enough to justify buying $200 sneakers.

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Golfing Across Mongolia

"On July 10, 2004 Andre Tolme became the first person to golf across Mongolia." And it's documented! Online. With Progress Reports, and photos, and, most excrutiating of all, scorecard. (Hole #1 had a par of 711. It required 833 shots, 8 days and 40 lost balls.)

Here's a particularly revealing report of Andre's progress:
In the Rough

After nearly 1000 km of golfing across Mongolia's steppe, I've encountered an unconquerable challenge - a sea of knee-high vegetation determined to halt my golfing progress. The unusually high amount of precipitation that brought about these conditions was unforeseeable but the current reality is that with every swing, I have had to embark on a search for the golf ball akin to searching for the Holy Grail. My recent reconnaissance mission to the west revealed a unified resistance of shoulder to shoulder weeds stretching as far as I could see. Small guerrilla forces have stymied superpower militaries many times in history and though the Golf Mongolia expedition possesses an unending supply of determination and will, lessons of the past need to be heeded. Thus, this mission to become the first person ever to golf across Mongolia will be restructured."

Sound like fun to you?

A Wider Worldwide Day of More Playful Play

The Worldwide Day of Play is October 2nd. It's a project of Nickelodeon - yes, the kids' network itself. According to the Parents Guide to Let's Just Play, Nick is so much putting some of its money where part of its mouth is that there are even grants available for non-profit fun.

"Why play?" you ask. "The state of play for kids in America has reached a stumbling block. Today, they live in a world with reduced resources for recreation in schools and communities, trash talking in sports and a general stress in their lives, which are all threatening to take the fun out of play. Over the past several years America has seen a double-digit decrease in the amount of time kids spend being physically active. It’s no wonder that the national obesity rate is reaching epidemic proportions. It goes without saying that if kids are to have the best quality of life in the present and the future, they need to PLAY now! Nickelodeon is committed to putting PLAY back into the forefront of kids’ minds by elevating the VALUE of play for everyone."

This is all very wonderful. But it makes me wonder. Do we really need to be putting play BACK into the forefront of kids' minds? I mean, isn't it there already? Isn't that the one clear privelege of childhood for play to be pretty much always forefrontal? What else makes me wonder are, of course, the games that Nick suggests: relay races, red rover, freeze tag. Kid-appropriate, for sure. More playful than sports.

I know I'm being overly critical here. It's a wonderful thing that Nick is doing, and I applaud it with significant enthusiasm. But, well, if I were part of this initiative, I'd want it to be so much more delightfully junkly, if you know what I mean. Kids could be making up their own games, even. Games that the whole family, junior, mom, dad (whose in a wheelchair now), and even grandpa can play. I mean, it could have been so much more worldly, as it were, involving so much more of the world, of the people and their planet if Nick had exchanged the wacky (their forté) instead of the o so traditionally competitive.

Useless World Records

The Rekord-Klub SAXONIA "was founded in 1988. There is a strict rule that every member must be a world record breaker. At the moment, our club members have established more than 100 world records like largest bicycle, longest noodle or computer game marathon."

A few of my favorites:

Domino Stacking as illustrated, and the similarly inspired World Record for Number of Matches Stacked on a Bottleneck - hint: as of 2002 it was ten thousand.

Longest Gumwrapper Chain - yup, you guessed it - 44,378 feet, composed of 1,036,574 gum wrappers.

Coin Snatching - the art of putting many coins on your elbow and then catching them all with the same hand. As of 1993, the record was 328. On one elbow. Into one hand.

Not to mention the world record for card holding - being, as of 1994, 326 cards held "in a fan in such way that the value and colour of each card is clearly visible on one side of the card."

There's something quintessentially junkly about these record-worthy achievements. It makes one think of the world as the stuff upon which records are made of. Talk, for example, to Ron Jones who works with handicapped kids and created a book called "Unusual World Records" with illustrations of achievements such as: the world's highest inner tube tower, the longest walk using inner tube stilts, the longest belly balance on an inner tube, and the longest roll of an individual inside a bunch of inner tubes.

Consumable Chess

"A chess set made of apples?" you exclaim with bemused credulity? "What a testimony," you continue, "to the consummate art of the playful mind." "And yet," I cannot help but comment, "an achievement of clearly bemusing significance."

Speaking of which, how about these chesspiece cookie cutters (only one of many contemplation-worthy things of silliness found at the Odd Objects Gallery)? As I am often heard to say, if you're going to be eating your way to victory, you might as well be eating cookies.

On the other hand, when it comes to gameful employment of this clearly comestible concept, it is with the invention of Shotglass Chess that the entire notion of piece-ingestibility achieves both perceptual and conceptual validation. I quote heavily:
Whenever you capture an opponent's piece you have to drink it. The most valuable pieces have greater capacity so the advantage of being ahead in the game is offset by increased inebriation and a rapid deterioration in performance!...What drinks are suitable? The options are almost limitless as long as both colors are easily distinguishable. Red wine against white wine ensures a relatively calm game. Orange juice and apple juice are more suitable for morning matches and any clash involving Absinthe should really be left to the Grandmasters.

RULES of Shot Glass Chess

1. Select your favorite alcoholic beverage and pour it into your opponent's 16 glasses. The following quantities are our recommendations, discovered after extensive research and development: Pawn: 0.5 parts Bishop: 1 part Knight: 1 part Rook: 2 parts Queen: 3 parts King: 2 parts
2. Begin the game of chess as normal. Whenever a player makes a capture he must drink the contents of that piece.
3. Illegal moves are permissible as long as neither player notices.
4. The losing player must drink his own king as the final ignominy of defeat.

Thanks for the inspiration, Caterina.

Be the Fly

The humble fly connects us all, rich to poor, human to cat. Especially to this guy.

Put your cursor on his nose. Leave it there.

Speaking of "being the fly,"there's Flyguy, one of my favorite flying human more or less interactive fantasies. You want more evidence of the fly-human connection? How about the daredevil who called himself The Human Fly? Or this story about the fly in the human genome project, or this song by the Cramps, called "Human Fly," or an even more sobering story from the Darwin Awards - a site that "honor(s) those who improve our gene pool... by removing themselves from it" - about a New Zealand girl who died from fly spray? The story notes: "It (is) prevalent for New Zealand young people to sniff fly spray for a quick buzz."

Fly nose guy found on Reality Carnival.

Exquisite Corpse, Fantasy Junkyard Sports, and The After Hours Shopping Mall

It's an idea I've been playing with long enough. I was hoping maybe I could play it with you.

The idea: Fantasy Junkyard Sports.

My interpretation: you know those fantasy sports and leagues and deals where you pick your ideal team based out of all the players in all the teams currently playing the sport you're fantasizing about...? So, I figure, maybe Fantasy Junkyard Sports doesn't have to be anything like that at all. Maybe they should be more like games of Exquisite Corpse where an image (graphic or verbal or both) is built, one part at a time - the idea being that when part B is added, you don't necessarily know what part A actually looks like. I wrote about a related game called "Redondo." The web abounds with links to exquisitely corpse-like games - all being somehow wonderfully junkyardly in their essence.

So how about this for the start of a Fantasy Junkyard Sports fantasy:

Let's call it: The After Hours Shopping Mall Golf Club.

OK. So. I'll start.

"It was 3 a.m. at the Lasthope Mall. Eighty people, ranging in age from 17-62, carrying PVC pipe and tennis balls, have assembled inside the mall, mingling meanderingly in front of the shuttered GAP store."

Your turn.


Defining fun

Similar to what one is often wont to do when one finds oneself blogging, I was looking up definitions for the word "fun." I came across The Rosetta Edition of Websters Online Dictionary. And fun is what I found. Fun indeed. Fun defined. Fun as a noun, fun as an adjective, fun as a computer term, fun as slang. Abbreviations and acronyms for fun. Fun synonyms. Definitions of fun one might find in the crosswords. Fun in screenplays, lyrics, movie and TV titles. The commercial usage of fun in books, periodicals, movies and music, technology and consumer goods. Fun pictures and illustrations and clipart. More pictures. And still more. Quotations about fun. Fun in the Devil's Dictionary. Fun according to the famous. The frequency of fun use. Fun in different languages. Derivations. Misspellilngs. Rhymes. Anagrams. Poems. Stories. Art. Posters. Slogans. Buttons Patches. Fun for sale. Fun books and periodicals, music and videos. Toys and software. Clothes. Fun in the news. Fun in product names, internationally.

So the point is? Somebody at Websters is redefining what online dictionaries can be. Somebody is having fun and somebody else is letting them have it. This is a good thing. And I like it.

Art Cars

They're called "Art Cars," and they're right. Junkly transformations of the mass-produced into genuinely moving testimonials to the idiosyncratic.

I was immediately drawn to the gothic power of the Carthedral, looking something like what would happen if a hearse driven by Darth Vader smashed into the Watts Towers, to be worthy of the significant note given by Rebecca Caldwell, its artist/fabricator. The Cathedral, she explains: " a gothic cathedral built on a 1971 Cadillac hearse and modified with '59 Cadillac tailfins, a VW bug and sculpted with fiberglass over metal armatures."

Anyhow, if you're in the area, you'll be glad to know that "The West Coast's Largest Gathering of Art Cars!" will be held from September 16-19, 2004. If you see an Art Car named Big Boy, please pet it for me.

Streetplay Rulesheets

One of the many reasons for the growing connection between Junkyard Sports and Streetplay is their collection of Streetplay Rulesheets - one-page, clearly written, attractively formatted, ready-to-print, complete descriptions of how to play the games kids played on the streets, with anyone and everyone who wanted to play, as long as they could get away with it. Games exactly like:

Box Baseball
Hit the Stick
Kick the Can
Off the Wall

These games are the very stuff of junkyard sports. Like the "demonstration games" described in the book, each of these games is close enough to the spirit of reinvention that, in the hands of even an amateur junkmaster, they become the foundation for thousands of new sports.

Hopscotch, for example. Hopscotch baseball, to be more precise. Or hopscotch volleyball, if you'd prefer. Ad Hoc hopscotch, played on whatever can be construed as a hopscotchable environment: hallway carpets, tile floors, restaurant tables. Mini-hopscotch, of course, when you get to playing on restaurant tables, where you have to keep both fingers on both sugar packs at the same time.

Reviving the Spirit of the Game

My friend in fun Dan (Stork) Roddick was instrumental in framing the "Spirit of the Game" concept that helped make Ultimate Frisbee into the unique sport that it still struggles to be:

"Ultimate has traditionally relied upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the player himself. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed-upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play."

Junkyard Sports is very much about the same thing - reviving the spirit of the game - but it's even more about reviving the spirit of fun, creativity, and celebration that was experienced by the people who invented the game. here's an article I recently wrote. It starts like this:
Sports, at their best, are healing experiences. I have a friend, Ron Jones, who plays basketball with handicapped children and adults. I have another friend who plays ice hockey with a group of teenagers from the hood. They can tell you all about the healing power of one really good game.

Now, we compare and contrast:

The World Series. Where really good games are what it's all about. What do you think is the ratio of players to spectators?

No, I'm really asking. What do you think? You have two teams, and umpires and coaches and that's about it. Thirty players. And maybe thirty million spectators.

There it is, right in front of your commercial-weary eyes - baseball, at its best, in all its glory - and your shot at being a player is about a million to one.

Cup Stacking and Stacking Cups

There are, of course, official stacking cups, which have an anatomy specifically designed for Speed Stacking: holes in the bottom or top (depending on what part of the cup you think of as the bottom), special shoulder ribs, reinforced lips, textured high-grip surface...that sort of thing.

When it comes right down to it, the sport of cup stacking can be Olympic in its competitiveness and demand for performance. I "quote:" "Cup stacking is an exciting individual and team sport where participants stack and unstack 12 specially designed plastic cups (Speed Stacks) in pre-determined sequences. Individually, stackers race against the clock for fastest or best times. Stackers also compete on a relay team racing against another team in head-to-head competition. With practice, a person can stack at lightning speed that has to be seen to be believed!"

To me, the exciting thing about the sport of cup stacking is that it is so easy to junkify. Yes, there are Speed Stacks and special non-slip Stack Mats for practice or performance, an official clock and even mini-Speed Stacks. But you could, if you had to, use any cups, really. Paper. Styrofoam. Plastic. Ceramic even. And you could try to do it with four hands (two ambidextrous people simultaneously), for example, or seven, and try to beat your record rather than try to beat each other. You could probably even learn to do it with your eyes closed.


It's a giant BOGGLE game, and it was played like this: "The teams are up on the 10th, 11th, 12th and 14th floor...The (floor team) shuffles the letters...Then the (other) teams have a set period of time to call in their words via cell phone...Score was kept by the team (floor) on the stairs." Played last July at the Boston Marriott Cambridge Hotel, Human BOGGLE was one of many puzzling events arranged and celebrated by the National Puzzlers' League as part of their annual conference. In case you are wondering about appropriateness of the oddly semi-cooperative play spirit that was apparently manifest by conference organizers and participants, see their article on Sharing the fun for a different, and more inviting approach to puzzle-solving.

I found Human BOGGLE on a weblog written by Nancy White. It was one of those moments of web-induced serendipity. Nancy and I have been correspondents, and friends, since the early days of Technography. She, like I, has been fascinated by any attempts to facilitate actual cooperation in the real and/or virtual worlds. And, in actual, but curiously unrelated fact, she had just recently blogged the publication of Junkyard Sports.

I had been searching for more evidence of the virtual evolution of BOGGLE and found some cause for hope. For example, here's a collection of three "BOGGLER" games (note how the clever addition of the letter "R" completely disguises the actual, Hasbro-owned, trademark-protected name). There's "Classic" (4x4), a 3x3 "Wild Card" version in which one of the letters is wild enough to be anything you want it to be. Which makes for a fascinating, play-inviting experience. And then "Quick" Boggler, 3x3, with a one-minute time limit. WEBoggle, the game that in4mador recommended, and got me started on all this, is an online BOGGLE competition, played on a 4x4 or 5x5 grid. It is elegant, without bell or whistle, and challenging enough to attract any serious BOGGLE player. Playing against anonymous opponents adds a delicious dash of excitement and focus. Another online or solitaire BOGGLEish collection is Jumbalaya. You have to register to play against other players, but you can play the solitaire versions without any ado or adon't, select a grid size from 4x4 to 6x6 - or a novel and implication-full tree-shaped board. This version seems to have the greatest number of geeklike thrills - you can select the time allotted, the minimal wordlength, the intelligence of the computer opponent, and even the method of scoring.

So, ye lords and ladies of puzzledom, you may rest assured. Your world virtually and analogically abounds with a wealth of wordly merriment. Boggle on, dudes!


Making up words

Ever since I started my Lexifunnicon project, my respect for the art and joys of whatever you call word-making-up has both leapt and bounded.

It's a kind of word play that exercises wit and wisdom, vocabulary and linguistic skills, creativity and sheer zaniness, and it's fun enough to attract quite a crowd. See, for example, the collaboratively authored Pseudodictionary - where people create, discuss, and collect made-up words. The Pseudodictionary has become a deep resource of constructive silliness. Last time I checked, there were "18881 live words, and 6 awaiting approval."

The fun of word upmaking in no way precludes the profitability thereof. Naming and branding is a practice of strangely vast significance and benefit to business and industry. Wordlab, which offers "Free Naming and Branding Consultants and Resources," is a testimony both to the value as well as the fun of new-word-making. Wordlab, as a matter of fact, at the time of this posting, has "23893 entries in 42 categories," and offers a "rich lingoplasm" of verbalating resources. But who's counting?

Apparently, we've known about the instructive joys of making up new words since we were kids (for an instant reminder, see some of the contributions kids made in this ZOOMsurvey for ZOOMkids, from one of my favorite TV shows for kids, called, if I recall correctly, "Zoom").

Wordnewingup. Does it not veritably reverbalate with mentally lip-smacking fun?

Super Mario in the Playground

For me, one of the biggest rewards of belonging to The Association for the Study of Play is the discovery of stories like the following, from John Darwin Dorst, author of The Written Suburb: "In this game, he says, "the participants devoted much recess time to moving around the playground and acting out the sort of encounters and events that characterize the video game Super Mario Brothers, then the most popular electronic game among these boys. In their roving play they encountered and surmounted obstacles and barriers, fought a variety of dangerous creatures, acquired 'artifacts' that gave them enhanced powers, entered 'Warp Zones' that allowed them special movement and traversed boundaries from one imagined world to another. Though the ultimate object of the actual Nintendo game is to rescue a princess, the playground game was not particularly goal oriented. The point seems to have been the imaginative, improvisatory elaboration of the videogame structure itself. And that means in their play the boys included such things as putting themselves 'On Pause,' freezing the action as one can do with a button on the electronic control. This allowed for trips to the bathroom and other diversions. Also, they would devise theme melodies for the various 'worlds' they created, humming the appropriate tune as they moved about the imagined space of 'Ice World,' for instance."

Brian Sutton-Smith alerted me to this story. He is a founding member of TASP, long-time friend and mentor, and author of the oft-quoted: "The opposite of play is not work. It is depression."

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