The Dragon Illusion

Our much be-badged fun scout, Noise E. Piranha, earns yet one more merit for his discovery of the Amazing Dragon Illusion

First, download this pdf file. After you've taken a good look at the plan for making your own dragon, download this video to discover why you so desperately want to.

It seems to me that our love of illusions, as so wonderfully represented by the Grand Illusions collection, says something rather delicious about our actual selves. How, on the one hand, we so much love to be fooled. And how, on the other hand, we just absolutely have to figure out what fooled us and why. I think, somehow, it connects us with the fools we are, and aren't.

Art from Sports

One might think of this as a statue of a dog made out of old sneakers. In so doing, one would be remarkably astute. For it is in deed a statue of a dog, and in deed made out of old sneakers.

It is this very fact, the fact that it is made out of old sneakers, that makes this statue, for all its artistic cunning, of such great interest to us, and also to me. It is one of nine such artworks, each made from sports-like accessories and apparel, each demonstrating how one person's junk can become the very stuff of one other person's art.

Many more examples of this clearly enlightened, and light hearted fun-eco-sports-centered art initiative can be found here. I quote:
"RECYCL'art is art created from used sports equipment, including balls, rackets and shoes. Our goal is to promote the 'reuse' of goods in an enjoyable and positive way, and sports, which represents fun and friendship, is the ideal theme to express these ideas.

As we train harder and harder at sports we often grow attached to the balls, rackets or shoes that we use, but then quickly discard them when they become worn, broken or old. RECYCL'art is a great way to give new life to old sports equipment."

Much the same could be said about Junkyard Sports, and probably will.

Experimental Travel

Today, the significantly astute Chris Dickson beckons us back into the world with his discovery of article article he found in the London Times about "experimental travel."

The concept, developed by Joel Henry, and described in his new book, The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel, is a gift to all of us who believe in fun.

Here are five of my favorite examples of Henry's remarkable revisioning of how one could experience the world:

A-Z-travel

Choose a town to visit from A to Z. Find the first road beginning with A and the last beginning with Z, and draw a line between the two. Walk the length of this line and discover the city alphabetically.


CHANCE-TRAVEL

Insert the name of your home town into the index of a world atlas (if it's not there already). Throw a dice then count that number of lines down from your town. The one your finger lands on is the destination of your trip.

So for example if you live in Melbourne, Australia:
One will take you to Melbourne, USA
Two will take you to Mele, Cap, Italy
Three will take you to Melekess, Russian Federation
Four will take you to Melenki, Russian Federation
Five will take you to Mélèzes, Rivière aux, Canada
Six will take you to Melfi, Chad

GASTRONOMY-TRAVEL

This gastronomic adventure consists of devising dishes and menus created exclusively from ingredients whose name contains a destination. For example Brussels(s) sprouts, Frankfurters, Paris mushrooms, Chantilly cream, etc

MONOPOLY-TRAVEL

Method of city exploration which consists of discovering a capital by following the layout of its Monopoly board. Visit the streets, stations, jail, car park, water and electricity companies, etc all by throwing the dice and following the official rules of the game.


THALASSO-TRAVEL

Citing an invented burst water pipe or lack of hot water, invite yourself to take a bath at the house of your friends. Take with you all of the equipment that you would use in a spa: soap, shampoo, towel, bath-robe, relaxing music, seaweed scrub, champagne, etc.


TRIP-POKER

Trip Poker is a travel game for four people. All you need is an ordinary dice. The game is split into three hands. At stake is a journey with the other players. Each player throws the dice in turn. He or she who gets the highest number wins the hand.

The winner of the first hand chooses the destination of their trip. The destination must lie within a specified distance of where the players live. This distance is calculated by multiplying the number on the dice by 100 km.

The winner of the second hand decides the date of the weekend away by adding a number of months onto today's date. That number is on the face of the winning dice.

The winner of the third hand determines the type of accommodation. Each number on the dice corresponds to an abode, see below.

1. Hotel
2. Campsite
3. In the car
4. In someone's house
5. Under the stars
6. No accommodation & no sleep!

New Games and Paintball

The other day when I was shopping at Trader Joe's, I happened to be wearing a New Games T-shirt that I got at the USC Cooperative Play Referee Training." Marybeth, who used to run the "demo station" (where you get those wonderful free tastes of Joe food), and had, consequently, become a most valued friend, asked me about the motto written on the front of the shirt: "Play Fair, Play Hard, Nobody Hurt." After my 2-minute conspectus on the origin of the shirt and the history of New Games, Marybeth said: "well, times sure have changed since then. Now it's all about getting hurt. Like in paintball."

It was like getting a slap in the face and a pat on the back. And it made me think a lot about paint ball and extreme sports and surfing and skateboarding and all that. And all that pain. Sure, there's thrills and moments of deep whee. But there's also the getting hurt part. Everybody gets hurt.

"It's because we've gotten so desensitized," Marybeth added. Yeah, I guess, maybe we need the pain to wake ourselves up to the possibility of fun. Yeah, I wonder, maybe it is a very different time. Maybe that's why New Games are still so darn new.

Octofungi

Octofungi is perhaps not the most endearing term for a work of art.

Octofungi, being "An intelligent sculpture which interacts with people and its
environment and utilizes unusual materials and technologies," is an art that is perhaps as much a technology as it is an aesthetic.

For us, the Fellow Followers of Fun, Octofungi is as much a toy as it is a technology as it is an aesthetic. "Octofungi," you see, "is a reactive piece. It is sensitive to changes in light and reacts upon these changes. To interact with the sculpture, a person only needs to move his hands above the eight light sensors placed around the brain frame. Depending on the 'aggressiveness' or 'gentleness' of the participant, Octofungi will manifest different behaviors."

Yup, sounds like fun, all right.

Baggyball

This is a "Bubblebag." It is called a Bubblebag because it is made of a plastic grocery bag wrapped around a chunk of bubble wrap. Note, if you will, that there is no tape being used to keep everything together. Note again how the cunning use of the bag handles stretched over the bubble-wrap-containing bag makes possible the construction of a tight and durable ball cover. Yes, the ball could be rounder. However, after several many hours of deft experimentation, it became clear that bubblewrap resists being made into a round ball. And as the bubble wrap goes, so goes the Bubblebag.

Enough about the Bubblebag, except, perhaps, to note how wonderfully hit-uppable it is. Different than a balloon or beachball. Light, yet hefty. Clearly not round. Possessing properties. One could imagine oneself hitting the ball up in the air repeatedly, as if one were engaging in a sort of anti-dribble, bouncing up, where one would normally bounce down. This, it turns out, to be almost all the inspiration required to lead one inexorably towards the new, and profoundly playworthy Junkyard Sport of Baggyball.

Here you see an image of a Bubbleball adjacent to a plastic shopping bag (this one donated by the very same Staples that sponsors that homage to the competitive spirit known locally as Staples Center). Note the relative size. It is somewhat central to the playability of the game that the bag is larger than the Bubbleball. Two such bags and one Bubbleball make up all the equipment you need to play Baggyball.

Baggyball, you see, is played very much like basketball, except for the following distinctions:

1. One dribbles up instead of down
2. The baskets are bags, and are held by players, who position themselves anywhere they want throughout the court (because it's too boring to pretend to be an immobile basket, and it makes the game a lot more fun and strategically complex if the baskets can run around). This makes the basket actually a member of your team. And a key member, at that.
3. The game can be played anywhere, on sand or grass, or even a basketball court.

I first played this with a bunch of amazing elementary school kids who volunteered to help me out at a demo session for the AAHPERD (American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) conference held last month in Chicago. Once I demonstrated the basic dribble technique and the mobile bag-basket concept, they figured out everything else. And they didn't want to stop playing. And they laughed a lot.

It is possible that it is also legal to kick the ball.

Penny Bridges and more

Mitch Fincher makes penny sculptures. That is, he made them for a talk he gave while a Civil Engineer at Texas Tech University in 1980. I was led to this page by an article about Coin Towers I found on the venerable Milk and Cookies weblog.

Fincher gives us step-by-step instructions for building a penny bridge. Starting from building a simple penny tower, you learn how to build a single penny-span bridge, which leads, eventually, to as much as a seven-penny-span structure. It is a wonder of dexterity and knowledge, defying common sense logic almost as much as it seems to defy gravity. It is my suspicion that once you know how to build a penny bridge, your loose change will never be quite as loose again.

Then there are the penny domes (hollow, of course) and the penny bridge-dome, the penny spiral and the penny pyramid. Inspiration follows inspiration - each invitations to play and wonder.

Watermelon Sculpture, Playfulness and Ownership

I found out about the art of watermelon sculpture, practiced by Japanese artist Takashi Itoh, from several many bloggers (see this, for example) who had somehow thought it to be the anonymous work of a Chinese artist. It is sadly all too easy for bloggers to consider accuracy less important than enthusiasm. Since the images of Mr. Itoh's work were made so readily available on this site, it is easy to understand how the error was propagated. Easy to understand, but difficult to forgive.

As an "artist of the playful," whose art is in the form of games and silly things to do and think about, I have had to wrestle with this particular angel for many years. Since it became my calling to try to make living in this world a little more fun, I have found this struggle a very tough one, the angel remarkably cunning. I love knowing that I have somehow contributed to making someone's life a little more enjoyable, even for a few minutes. And yet, without acknowledgment, without recognition or support, I find it more and more difficult to sustain my efforts.

Mr. Itoh's work is important to me and to my cause. It is another manifestation of playfulness - an example to us all of the transformative powers of the patently ludicrous, of the inextricable connections between play and art, fun and spirit. Watermelon art! Ridiculously glorious! That his accomplishments can stand on their own, as anonymous testimonials, beyond person and national origin, is, in a way, a great achievement. And yet, I can't help feeling that such a noteworthy success is not at all what he had hoped for. Not at all what he deserves.

Phantasy Photoshop

I call it "Phantasy Photoshop."

I was trying to think of a more current equivalent of the Polaroid camera. Because, see, there's this game I'm calling Polaroid" where an image slowly "develops" as people work together to see it. I came up with "Photoshop." It's definitely more current. But it doesn't really describe the experience of seeing an image fade into greater and greater clarity.

On the other hand, it does describe a different process, one which, it turns out, leads to an image-building game of quite a different, yet equally fun game. Because the object is to build an image out of pieces from other images, to compose a composite, as it were. You know, like Michael Moore, with a rifle on each shoulder, wearing a leather jacket, standing in a field, with ostriches, made out of hamburgers. And when you try it with a bunch of friends or kids, you never really know what you're going to wind up with. And it's fun. And it tweaks the fantasy.

Hence, Phantasy Photoshop.

A "deeper kind of fun"

K8 writes:
"The truth is that since I am now a competitive cyclist, it is rarely fun. Not on the 'let's laugh until our bellies split' kind of fun - the fun that most people are after thinking that that will be fulfilling. It's a deeper kind of fun - a fun that I don't even realize that has taken hold. It is so fun to realize that I am a part of a greater body doing good for everyone to the point that all reality just drops off and I am existing on a very basic and animalistic plane. It's ride and keep riding or risk falling over. It's that simple. I have to do it. It's what drives me. I do all things to that end...to get my fanny in the saddle and get in touch with the divine source of happiness. It's a labor of love. I hate it at times. Most of the time I love it (or at least the thought of it), but I can not not do it. It is what brings me the most joy and freedom and independence and passion. Even more religious than childbirth, because it can be duplicated. More spiritual than sexual union because I can get it on my own anytime. I put myself in the right state of mind and the right moment arrives. Sometimes it lasts. Sometimes I feel it but for a fleeting moment. But when I truly let go of thinking about my goals and act them out, it is infinitely wondrous. Bliss. And then I realize that I'm all stinky and sweaty and very hungry. So I get myself home to eat and shower and cuddle with my girl and kiss my hubby.

Life is great. Even with a wounded knee, I can not be kept off my bike. There must be a biker gene. This is something every cyclist will tell you they can relate to. This is why I am most at home surrounded by cyclists. They all have 'regular' lives that they live off the bike. But we are likeminded in that we all become our own superhero in the saddle. We are powerful beasts that propel ourselves through space at the speed of racing cars on city streets. We crash and burn. But we always come back for more. It's a deeper synergy than an addiction, because we keep ourselves in check by virtue of the human aspect. If we risk too much, we will be injured and will have to take some time off. That is the hardest discipline there is: self-regulation. Time off the bike is time on the mind. Growing in focus, becoming deeper in the connection to why we do the things we do..."

This "deeper kind of fun" is a kind of fun that produces a deeper kind of laughter as well, a laughter that most often has no sound, and some times comes out in a brief, whole body "whee." I like to think of it as "glee." I guess that's because some of my friends have called me that, the "guru of glee." But now I'm thinking I'd rather be called the "Wizard of Whee."

Thank you, K8, for this gift. For reminding us of that sport, at its best, is a spiritual event, "true passion," as you say in a later message to me, "being freely loosed into the atmosphere."

More Lessons in Fun

Today's lessons in fun are excerpted from a sermon by Toni Maddi.

"What do you do to play? Do you play? Animals do. Dolphins play pranks. Did you know that? They have been known to sneak up behind unsuspecting pelicans and goose them, snatching a few tail feathers. They tease fish by pulling them backward and then letting them go and they amuse themselves by bothering slow turtles, rolling them over and over. Bear cubs play, anyone who has a dog knows that dogs play, even cats play. When one of our cats died, we had to get a kitten because our other cat was trying to make me into his play companion. He has come up with organized games with rules that he expected me to play with him every day. Play does not end with childhood in higher species of animals. Why should it for humans?..."

"Listen to the language we use to describe fun: 'the spirit of fun,' a 'spirited game.' There is Spirit in fun. The creative spirit flows through everything. One day last summer, I was walking in the forest preserve and I was awestruck by the limitless creativity in nature in just a two mile path. Robins, blue jays, crows, red-winged blackbirds, black cap chickadees, finches, cardinals, mulberry trees, dogwoods, black walnuts, elms, oaks, maples, pines, and not just oaks, maples and pines, but bur oak, pin oak, black oak, black maple, silver maple, sugar maple and at least as many pines. There is an ever-changing display of flowers and no two flowers are alike. I don't mean that wild roses aren't like daises; I mean on a wild rose bush, each blossom is unique...

"Filmmaker and performance pioneer Jack Smith said, 'If you make perfect art you will be admired, but if you make imperfect art, you will be loved!' Bad Art is a liberation delivery system. It doesn't mean low expectations, it means no expectations. That allows creativity to flow. Jon Spayde, who with his wife Laurie Phillps, started the Bart Art movement says, 'Only boldness counts' and, we say, if you can't be bold, at least be bad.' Bad Art is best done in a small group so that you have support to let yourself go. Make a wild collage. Finger paint. Write a silly poem or fairy tale. Only boldness counts.

"Dr. Lenore Terr,...in Beyond Love and Work, says, 'We know we are playing when we are suddenly removed from all cares and worries. We know because afterward we feel cleansed and refreshed, despite tired bodies, aching muscles, our sleepiness. The interlude has been a healthy one. It takes place entirely outside, or at the very edge of, our drive for personal success or survival...'"

Science, Art and the fun between

Science it definitely is. Art? Of course. Beauty made visible. But for us especially is the fun of it, every where apparent. Delight made visible. It's called "Eye of Science."

The exhibit's creators explain:

"As a two-person team of photographer and biologist, our aim is to combine scientific exactness with aesthetic appearances, and thereby help to bridge the gap between the world of science and the world of art. We are committed to the rigorous standards of scientific investigation, but also to the use of color as a creative and harmonious tool to achieve beauty. By combining science and aesthetics we hope to enthuse our audience. Day after day we explore fascinating forms and structures in a world beyond human vision."

Manakin Moonwalk

I happened to catch Kim Bostwick on TV the other day. She was explaining how her years of exploration of high-speed camera technology and life in the deep jungle culminated in her being able to capture movement of birds that are so fast that they are simply invisible to the naked eye.

As you view this video clip, you will be delighted and amazed by these images of a bird called the "manakin" doing what Dr. Bostwick so aptly describes as a "moonwalk." After your amazement dies down, look at the clip again, and note the good Doctor's semi-rapture and delight as she describes the Manakin Moonwalk. To me, her unselfconscious dance and total involvement is even more amazing than the moonwalking manakin. It is a vivid testimony to the joy that lies at the very heart of science.

Catch Phrase, Refreshed

Hasbro's Electronic Catch Phrase is probably one of the best electronic party games ever. A cross between password and hot potato, this exciting, engaging team word game can engage as many people as you want to play with in a good hour of competition and laughter. And now it's getting a second Major Fun award. The first was presented two-and-a-half years ago. Today, we have an improved Electronic Catch Phrase, just released, with new categories and words, making something like 10,000 in total.

This award goes primarily to Hasbro for having the intelligence and integrity that led to improving an already excellent game. This is all too rare an occurrence in the game industry. A successful game tends to get repackaged, and perhaps even rethemed, but rarely if ever fundamentally improved. The new version is simply easier to use. A back-lit LED screen is much easier to read. The digital score readout (replacing the cumbersome electronic voice), and the button size and placement all make for a friendlier, easier-to-control, more pleasant to play with device.

Most of the people at our Tasting who tried the game weren't familiar with Catch Phrase in any of its earlier incarnations - even the original mechanical and paper version released in the 90s. The main obstacle to their understanding the joys that awaited them was their other experiences of password-like games. See, that part, the guess-what-word-I'm-trying-to-make-you-say part, is so easy to understand that the other part, the hot potato part, completely escaped most people. Until we finally got to play the game. People kept on thinking that they should get a point when their team guessed the word. But that's not it at all. When your team guesses your word, you get to pass the device to a player on the other team. And points are kind of negative - awarded to your team when the timer goes off (hot potato-like) in the other team's hands. Despite the brevity and succinctness of the rules, this was the one real source of confusion that nothing short of a reworking of the rules (perhaps as a comic book) could have avoided.

On the other hand, as it were, once this rather inconsequential hurdle was cleared, delight was immediate and continuous. It really is one of the best electronic party games out there. And Catch Phrase, refreshed, is even better than its predecessor. At less than $25 retail, it's well-worth the purchase, even if you have the older version.

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Jolleystick

We call them "Devilsticks." The Devilstick is a juggling kind of toy, easier, at first, than juggling with balls, and lending itself to complexities of prestidigital cleverness that are nothing short of devilish. It is a thing with many potentially jolly consequences: watching a master perform, playing with these sticks and developing your mastery over them, playing with someone else who is as good or perhaps even better than you.

Which brings us to an actual sport based on these Devilsticks. A sport called "Jolleystick" - an appellation which I find far more intriguing. To think that all one needs do to transform the Devil, stick-wise, into a source of health-giving Jolleyness (also of the stickly kind) is make a game out of it.

The sport of Jolleystick is "...like volley ball or volley club, but played with a devilstick. In jolleystick a devilstick is played backwards and forwards across a net into your opponent's end of the court. It's a one-on-one game. The devilstick is played with one handstick. The name is an amalgamation of juggling, volleyball and devilstick. It's a fascinating game in which both players must at least be able to do propeller throws."

There is a lesson to be learned here about the transforming power of games. I am not sure, however, exactly what it is. But I do find myself oddly reassured to learn that, in the proper hands with the proper skill, even the Devil becomes a plaything.

from "Enjoyment as an Expression of Worship"

The following comes from "Enjoyment as an Expression of Worship" an essay by Sr. Olga Warnke, I.B.V.M. These few excerpts are only a taste. Whether you are religious or not, if you have faith in fun, the essay is very much worth reading in its entirety.

So I began asking..."What do you enjoy doing?" There was hesitation in the replies, even astonishment at the questions. I saw the need to probe deeper and it became only too evident that the work-responsibility-guilt syndrome was a real issue for these who were seeking spiritual help.

...it was the novel Les Nouveaux Pretres that I think first put me on to the train of thought that led to this paper. In this story, two ardent young priests, faced with the misery of the lower classes in Paris, were wearing themselves out going to meetings, organizing groups, missing meals, working long hours after they should have been resting. Into this parish was sent a newly ordained priest whom the other two set out to educate. He listened to their exhortations to him, to their sermons, to the message of their lives. He saw total dedication; but he knew something was wrong. One evening, as he was praying before retiring, he had a sudden insight: there was no joy in these priests, nor in what they said or preached. And since he could not suppress the joy within himself, he was relegated by the other two to the school and the children?s worship service. The children flocked around him; the children's worship service began to draw the parents too to the amazement and consternation of the other two; and they came to hear what was being said...The end of the story is of no consequence here. The key to what was wrong was the discovery: "There is no joy!" And I think it was then that the significance of the role of joy, of fun, of enjoyment and of relaxation began to nibble at my subconscious mind.

...Our preparation for prayer is not so much an intellectual one, as one that will heal body and emotions and nerves and heart and mind..."Sing a song, take a walk, have a bath, converse with a friend" was the classical advice for heaviness of spirit. Perhaps relaxing in an easy chair with your favorite music, or seeking a spot where you can hear the rustle of the leaves, feel the wind in your hair - whatever brings release to your over-taut nerves - this it is imperative to discover about yourself and ever more imperative that you do!

...philosophers have noted that we can deny most abstractions if we like - justice, beauty, truth, goodness, mind, God; we can deny seriousness but we cannot deny play. It is a reality found not only in humans but also in animals. Play is something we do freely - without constraint; it has a quality of a-partness from our usual occupations; it transports us into a dimension other than that of the daily humdrum. Play, therefore, has the power to make us forget ourselves; to take ourselves a little less seriously. It helps us to crawl out from under the world's burdens which we are all too prone to assume. Nietzsche is supposed to have said: "The trick is not to arrange a festival; but to find people who can enjoy it."

...I close with the wise and lovely words from the Talmud: "People shall be called to account for all the permitted pleasures they failed to enjoy."

The Happiest Place on Earth

Just in time for the celebration of Disneyland's 50th Anniversary - this marvelous Flickr Photo Essay from "sThig" - a slideshow of photos of human misery. Black and white photos of anger and frustration, boredom, impatience, grief and downright misery - all too vividly recalling the burst-bubblepack of packaged play.

Yes, I know, there are thrills galore. The fun, however brief, however costly, is real. But in the shadows lurk the costs, the emptying of the pocket and the spirit. Which, in retrospect, seem to drain the health out of it and us and all therein implied.

Thanks for the pointer go to Presurfer, Boing-Boing and Disneyblog

"Our life is occupied with playing, whether we play an instrument or a role."

This from the 1995 Stephan Mösch interview of the famous opera singer Deitrich Fischer-Dieskau around the time of his 70th birthday:

F-D ....In November there will be a concert in honor of the Hindemith anniversary. I have an enormous amount of teaching ahead of me. In addition, I am working on a new book and have been blessed with five exhibitions this year, which in itself means a ton of work.
Q. That sounds as if the amount of work you are doing has scarcely diminished since your retirement from the stage. Do you need the stress ?
F-D Actually, I am doing more than I was before. But I don't regard it as stress, but rather as a game. In fact, the element of play has an important role in my life, and I think that should be the case in the life of every artist. Our life is occupied with playing, whether we play an instrument or a role. And also the construction of a work schedule for each day is a kind of game. A kind of playing with building blocks. Doing this gives me an enormous feeling of enjoyment and pleasure in life.
Q. Can you give an example of this playing with building blocks ?
F-D One has to get through a big pile of mail every day. I don't pass my letters on to a secretary; rather, I try to take care of all of them myself. That takes time. Then there is the studying of scores, then teaching, then work on new books. If you don't bring all of that into an exact plan, and then stick to it in a pretty pedantic way, things get difficult. I don't want to do without any of these activities because they are all important to me. So I have to play this game. How do I get all of that onto a chessboard, so to speak....I have always been interested in all music and have limited myself very little. There is nothing in the entire history of music that is so obscure that it would be of no interest to me whatever. Even in the case of minor composers who imitated others, there are a great many things that are interesting. Whatever I am working on at the moment is my favorite. In any case, that's the way it always was when I sang. Actually, what I have always enjoyed is the challenge that must be met. The harder and more complicated it presents itself, the better.
Q. Does that mean that you are really at your best under severe pressure to perform ?
F-D I don't really know about that. I don't find the execution itself to be so important. And not the end result either. The experience that one gets through the challenges, the personal experience in the face of a musical work that I am not yet familiar with: That is the most important thing for me.

Play, Playfulness, Learning and Life

In her article "Play and Playfulness in Learning and Life," Wendy Ellyatt writes:
"Play can be described as a mode of acting out our experiences of the world. It relies on our ability to make connections and associations. It also relies on the ability of others to understand our own actions and intentions. Play is not only the business of childhood, it is something common to humans throughout all their lifetime. Human playfulness is seen in culture, art, poetry, science, sport and humor. In order to be fully human, therefore, it seems that we need to be able to play. Fun and laughter add great meaning and fulfillment into our lives. Play is an attitude, a spirit, a way of doing things. In play, the act is its own destination. The focus is on process, not product, and the joy of process is its own reward."

She goes on to present a most delightful passel of links, books, articles and websites that can lead us to more and more dialogue about play and playfulness, learning and life. And a wonderful, and much appreciated dialogue it is.

Persistence of Playfulness in Pakistan and Sweden, even

One has only to click randomly through this amazing collection of Peter Grant's photos of Pakistan's Decorated Vehicles to gain all the reassurance one needs of the persistence of playfulness in the human spirit. Outside of the poppy fields, that is.

In case further reassurance is needed, one might consider chilling one's fevered brow in Grant's collection of photos of Sweden's Icehotel.

Grant's photography is certainly not limited to these specific wonders, but it is in these two photographic essays that he most clearly captures the lengths and depths our fellow beings are able to reach in celebration of the unnecessary.

Thanks for this find go to the insatiable playfulness of Pat Kane.