Junkyard Golf with the Indianapolis Rainmakers

Here , yet another small victory for Junkyard Golf and team building. Facilitator and Junkyard Golf Pro Kevin Eikenberry reports:
In the final round, the small teams debriefed their experience, using questions I provided them. The questions I created specifically for this group and situation include:

* What did you observe about how your team formed?
* Did leaders emerge?
* How would you characterize your teamwork?
* What was the experience like from an interpersonal perspective?
* Think about your team's and your personal creative process. What made you feel successful? What was easy? What was the hardest part?
* What was the most fun about this exercise? Why?
* While you'd never play Junkyard Golf in "real" life, what about this experience reminds you of real life and real work?
* What will you do differently now that you have had this experience?

Makes you think.

More photos

Funcast: On Being Silly

Storyteller Joe Paris notified me that he had mentioned me in a blog post titled "Sillymorphing." And in deed, he had. He wrote:
"...my Uncle Mose (short for Mozart)...claimed there was something in the crisp air and chaotic scramble of activity at a fall festival that inspired some folks to become 'sillymorphs,' and he was all for that, inasmuch as he was one of that ilk.

"He believed evolving into a 'sillymorph' - the word is from the Latin silliomorphus, 'to undergo a change from the overly-serious nincompoop you usually are to the lighthearted, child-like, fun-loving nincompoop you should aspire to be' - greatly increases the chances that you will laugh more, love more, and live a more interesting, if not happier or longer, life."
Though my photo and my fun logo are writ large in his post, I, myself, as well me, personally, are not actually the topic of the post, but rather as a valdating reference, as that of another authority on the nature of silliness.

Which is, in its own way, peculiarly delicious. Fulfilling, as it were, my purpose in retrospect. Insofar as I curently find myself and almost everything I do in near total agreement with Mr. Paris and Uncle Mose.

For more silliness, listen to today's FunCast: "The Secrets of Silly and Serious."


"...making your mind a place you want to spend more time with."

Note the expression on this gentleman's entire body. This man is clearly transported. Literally. Spiritually. Totally at ease with all those hands not only touching him, but supporting him, moving him.

He is my icon for the experience I am now apparently calling "Relaxed Playfulness." Or "being in the Playful Calm." I mean, this guy is being like profoundly playful. And the only thing he's doing to demonstrate his playfulness is, well, relaxing into the ride.

Sounds kind of spiritual, huh, Zen-like? Relaxed playfulness. That state of open, joyous acceptance, requiring no action other than giving in. Looks kind of fun. Deep Fun. Exactly like the kind of fun I seem to be devoting my life to teaching, actually. The kind of fun that listening to Recess for the Soul seems to be giving people as they give themselves over to the play of words and spirit.

Apparently, listening to Recess for the Soul is, for a lot of people, exactly that - an experience of relaxed playfulness.

This is starting to sound like a marketing piece for my CD. Though, yes, of course, and please, buy a copy of the CD. But it's the idea of "Relaxed Playfulness" that I'm inviting you to consider, not the CD. Kevin Eikenberry writes: "Listening to this 40 minute CD will help you think about how you can use your beautiful brain to be more reflective and playful. It includes thought provoking commentary and real-life fun exercises that you can do to make your mind a place you want to spend more time with." I didn't know it when I made the CD that that certain, very specific kind of playfulness Kevin calls "reflective and playful" was essentially a deeply Relaxed Playfulness. The kind, as Kevin so beautifully pointed out, that makes "your mind a place you want to spend more time with."

"Relaxed playfulness." Don't you just love it?

A Floating, Rolling Beach Chair

My fascination with the whole idea of a wheel chair that actually works on sand began with my discovery of the Beach Cruzzr® Beach Wheelchair. Today's discovery, the Tiralo Floating Beach Chair takes this delightfully empowering idea further, into something you can use to roll, float and relax in.

It's less of a wheel chair than a rolling, floating lounge chair. For someone needing a wheel chair, and is considering getting something like the Tiralo® the main selling points are:
  • the seating position is reclined and perfect for sunbathing
  • it is nice to be able to drop your feet onto the sand or into the water
  • you do not sit higher than everyone else on the beach, which is the case with a beach wheelchair
  • the Tiralo® looks like a beach chair, not like a beach wheelchair
  • the low seat makes it easy to get down on the sand and later get back onto the Tiralo®

Yeah, it's expensive (close to $3K), but if you're in the business of bringing more fun to more people, it's the kind of investment that could enrich your work and your life, in every sense of the word. And, if you could afford several, ah, the games you could play, and oh, the people you could play them with....

FunCast: A Conversation with Streetplay.com

Today's FunCast is from a phone conversation I had with Mickey Greene, founder of Streetplay.com and Hugh McNally, programming wizard behind the website. These guys are registered "Heroes of Playfulness." Our discussion about "professional stick ball bats" led to some deep insights, and much laughter. Enjoy.


Guest Wisdom from Garry Shirts

Star Power inventor Garry Shirts and I have been been friends and colleagues for at least 30 years. We generally pick up the thread of our mutually enlightening and delighting dialogue every year or so. This one was about games and replayability. Garry:

I've been thinking about your replayability comment and StarPower. I think that is one of the differences between simulations and games. I think of myself as designing simulations rather than games. For me, the essence of designing a simulation is to try to capture the essence of some process, or reality that exists in the real world. Simlations may be designed for many different purposes. A Physical simulation is often used to make predictions about how a system will work. For instance, a simulation of a harbor might be designed to determine how sand will be deposited in the harbor. I think of many films as simulations of reality. Their purpose is to entertain. many books in my opinion are designed as simulations of a reality. I design simulations to help people learn about some aspect of real life. StarPower is designed to help people understand how power changes the way people behave and are perceived. In my mind it's closer to a film or a book with regard to the issue of replayability (not purpose).

Most people do not see a film more than once or read a book more than once. Replayability I think is very important for games, but for me it is not something I strive for in designing a simulation. I want the simulation to serve as a springboard to learning about the real world. There are simulations that are so rich and complicated that they might be replayed many times, but that's not something I strive for. I want them to move on to thinking about, learning about the real world. In other words, I see the simulation as a tool to look at the world differently.

I think that is a fundamental difference between games and simulations or simulation games. Most people don't play games to learn something, they play games to have fun, to enjoy the challenge of winning, of competing . I would feel that I had failed as a designer if my games were played just for fun. If they have fun that's fine, but that's not the primary outcome that I hope to create. If they didn't have fun, but learned something, I would consider the experience a success. Whereas, I think most people who design games would not.

I think where you and I resonate is in the area of creativity and problem solving. For me, if participating in a simulation or playing a game increases a person's ability to create or enjoy the process of creation or it gives them experience in solving problems, or it provides a more honest and rich interaction among the participants. , I would consider that a learning expereience and a great success. .

So when I look at most of your games, I view them with that criteria rather than the criteria of having fun. I assume when you call it deep fun you're making the point that the activity serves a richer purpose than having fun at a surface level. I think that is what is so valuable about your work is that you are changing the way people think about games.

Team Leader's Tetrahedron of Trust

Click on this tetrahedron-like thing and play conceptually for a bit. Go ahead.

Keep clicking merrily away, perhaps clicking on a central word, for conceptual enrichment, or on any other word on any other face, click, click, and all-of-a-sudden it will be there, 3-dimensionally-speaking, an image of leadership, the kind of leadership I would be more than tempted to call "CoLiberated".

Click. Click. Click until all of a sudden the whole 3-dimensional solidness of Newham's Vision for CoLiberated Leadership appears.

OK. Now click on what author/artist/philsopher/consultant Chris Newham calls "A Vision for Leadership." Click. Click. Click. And suddenly, it all fits together.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Gianter Pick-Up Sticks at Burning Man

Giant Pick-Up Sticks as played at Burning Man - photo, courtesy of Steve Goodman.

Though Steven's proposal wasn't accepted, he, true defender of the playful that he is, did it any way - fabricating his own, accurately-colored set of significantly wooden giant pick-up sticks for the amusement of a desert full of Man Burners.

Yes, of course, you can make them out of lighter things, like PVC pipe or those tubes that come inside of a carpet roll. And you can have lots more or lots fewer if you want. And you can put flags on them and paint them or just keep them plain. And no, people don't actually have to pick them up - it's the standing them up and letting them drop that's the big fun of it all. No matter what you do, you can do it almost anywhere. Since people can see the sticks from far away, it's probably one of the best ways to draw a crowd into a moment of fun and freeing play.

Does it make you think maybe about giant marbles? Giant blocks? Giant jacks? Bowling? Golf?

FunCast: A Little Mind/Body Game

Today's FunCast originated at a Recess for the Soul performance - a Little Mind/Body Game we played in preparation for a game of Tag or Hide and Seek with Serious and Silly.


A Playground Curriculum

It was 1971. After three years of studying children's playground games, I was finally able to publish a facilitator's guide to children's play. I called it "The Interplay Games Curriculum." It was five volumes. Because so many kids' games are related to each other, I was forced to catalogue the games according to a multi-dimensional, and, unfortunately, highly arcane system, breaking them into abstract categories like: Locating, Expressing, Relating and Adjusting; Individual-Self, Individual-Group, Individual-Team, Team-Teamself, Team-Group, Team-Team; Locus of Control....well, you get the picture. It was big. It was kind of useful, but it was burdened by the linear technologies of the printing press. I even had the first edition hole-punched so teachers could organize games anyway they felt was useful, but, well, despite the vast pioneeringness of it all, it was too cumbersome to be used the way I had hoped. Paper just couldn't convey the interrelatedness and fluidity of playground play.

Which brings me to "Playground Fun," an online compendium of playground games that is everything I hoped my curriculum would be - capturing and conveying the spirt of games, functioning as a resource and guide, and, above all, an inivitation and inspiration to play. There are eight kinds of games represented. When you mouse over each category, like "Chasing Games," it gives you an example, "Like It." When you select a game, you are taken to a page of rules, often illustrated with actual photographs. There's a link on the upper right of each game description that reads "Other Ways to Play." This takes you to related games, like "Statues Tig," Zombie Madness," "Question It" - each game selected at random from the collection of games in that category. Then there's a link to "Other Chasing Games," which takes you to a hyperlinked list of more games to play. Then there's a link to Facts about the game, leading you to a page of game history and, often, a video of it being played.

For me, the Playground Fun site is a completion of a work I began more than 35 years ago. Though I had nothing to do with its creation, it feels like a personal accomplishment - fulfilling a need I saw more than 35 years ago, with a depth and integrity I couldn't have imagined possible.


A Magical Dictionary

Craig Conley, the brilliant lexicographer who has given the game playing world a veritable library of quintessential dictionaries, including one-letter words, all-vowel words and all-consonant words has recently published a truly, well, magical piece of scholarship called "The Magician's Hidden Library." Currently composed of two volumes, both available in on-line and print versions, the Magician's Hidden Library is a fascinating piece of scholarship, and an invitation to wonder.

Here, courtesy of Mr. Conley, as found on the on-line version of Magic Words: A Dictionary, a sampler of some of the etymological delights of half-belief:

Even the youngest of children are deeply moved by magic words: writing teacher Deena Metzger describes a three-year-old pupil who "knew the magic of words; she knew that words could create magic, that they were magic. She knew that they could create worlds, could describe worlds, explore worlds, and also be the bridge between one world and another" (quoted in Awakening at Midlife by Kathleen A. Brehony [1997]).

Childhood words are interesting to contemplate. "The first words of a baby are not words at all," suggests professor Selma H. Fraiberg, "but magic incantations, sounds uttered for pleasure and employed indiscriminately to bring about a desired event." A one-year-old baby will discover that "the syllable 'mama,' repeated several times if necessary, will magically cause the appearance of the invaluable woman who ministers to all needs and guards him against all evil. He doesn't know just how this happens, but he attributes this to his own magic powers." This is why Fraiberg contends that "language originates in magic." A baby's earliest incantations are characterized by surprise and excitement, two crucial qualities for magic words.

"Gotcha" is "the magic word that only works for older brothers on their young siblings, as when playing cops and robbers." --William J. Webbe, "My Brother and Me," Making Our Own Fun (2004)

"Once upon a time" are the magic words that open the floodgates of a child's imagination." --Dale Carnegie, The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking (1990)

There is a musical quality to fee-fie-foe-fum that echoes oral ballads and rhymes associated with childhood, such as "Old MacDonald's" chorus of "e-i-e-i-o" (the final "e-i-o" matching the vowel sounds of "fee-fie-foe") and "Eenie Meenie Miney Mo" (the final words "Meenie Miney Mo" again matching the vowel sounds of "fee-fie-foe"). "The sonorous part of spells and incantations can be taken just as rows of syllables that the intellect refuses to understand. In fact, [it] is a sacred language, sometimes spoken only by the performer. Nevertheless, an enormous psychological power is attributed to these incomprehensible and magic words. . . . [T]heir musicality can capture everyone" (Mirela Vlaica, "Forms of Magic in Traditional Mentality" [2003]).

"Wiggle Your Fingers, Wiggle Your Thumbs, That's the Way the Magic Comes" is a traditional magic phrase used by magican and storyteller Uncle Michael.

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Litter Art

This billboard is right around the corner from my house. It is depressingly beautiful. Depressing, because it is composed totally of litter found on the beach (can you find the shopping cart). But beautiful. By day. By night. A glorious piece of art. A testimony to the human capacity for both sensitivity and insensitivity.

After much mucking, I finaly discovered that the creation of this billboard was sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation. They explain:
"The Redondo Beach board went up on September 19, 2005, on Pacific Coast Highway and Ave. G in Redondo Beach. This beach clean up took place on August 21, 2005, as a joint effort on behalf of Surfrider Foundation's local chapter and Saatchi & Saatchi LA volunteers who helped clean the beach since it's the agency's local beach.

"Amongst the waste found were refrigerator doors, fast-food trays, ladders, 50-gallon drums, buoys, broken beach chairs and umbrellas, bike racks plus such common trash as cans, plastic bottles and bags. The billboard was designed and built by outdoor specialists Scenario Design who mounted the trash on the board that will have a month shelf life. The understated yet impactful copy reads: Found on (Redondo Beach), August 20, 2005."

According to a story in the local paper,
"The project was the brainchild of two surfers who work at Saatchi & Saatchi: LA, Art Director Michael Reginelli and Associate Creative Director/Copywriter Felipe Bascope. Reginelli comes from the relatively clean waters and beaches of Hawaii, and during the course of their workdays together he would often complain to Bascope, an Orange County native, about the quality of the beaches in Southern California."

And the thing is, all that trash, it's, well, like I said, along with the message, and the mess, it's art, it really is. And it's fun, even.

FunCast: The Origin of Laughter according to the Oaqui

In today's FunCast, the Oaqui explain/s the true and actual origins of laughter, according to the Oaqui, much like the Oaqui did here.


Wildwords cont'd

As I'm sure you remember, the word tile game Wildwords received a Major FUN award back in March, 2004.

The designer/manufacturer emailed me recently, in the hopes that we could figure out some mutually rewarding connection that would result in getting this wonderfully brain-tickling game to more people. Given my financial acumen and keen marketing sense, I had no idea at all how we could mutualize anything, reward-wise. The only thing that came to mind was writing a semi-altruistic story about the game. That way, he'd have a few more sales, and, well, I'd get the gratification of knowing that I had contributed to the success of something I believed in. And so it goes. And so do I.

So I went back to his website and found a blow-by-blow description of a game of Wildwords as played between Bush and Kerry. OK, so maybe it wasn't really played by Bush and Kerry. But it gives you a great feel for the game, and the wonderfulness therefrom awaiting you.

Another welcome surprise was this free online version for PC-users, and, for those who seek immediate gratification, this "very tough Java WildWords puzzle."

There's a lot more on the website. And a whole lot more if you buy the game. There's even a Special Offer - free shipping and a dollar off (until Oct. 16) just for you and yours.

Art, Skirts, and Vending Machines

Evidence of playfulness is always welcome. Art, fashion and the Japanese have often proven to be reliable sources for the aforementioned. And this Vending Machine Skirt is perhaps a paragon of exemplariness.

It's a statement, all right, being able to transform yourself into a vending machine at will; blending in with the, so to speak, "pop" culture," or taking your stand, as it were, as an actual human being. The ultimate urban camaflouge skirt.

via Tokyo Times

P.S. urged by my inexplicable and ongoing connection to my ethnic subgrouping, I won't be posting again until Thursday so that I may spend the interim communing with the Big We.