Senior Playgrounds

Yes, Virginia, there is a Senior Claus. According to this article in yesterday's Daily Mail, "Britain's first playground for the over-60s" opened yesterday, in Manchester, England. I quote:
"Instead of slides and roundabouts, it is equipped with machines specially designed to provide gentle exercise for different parts of the body such as hips, legs and torso.

"The Massage offers upper body exercise, the Skate trains leg muscles, the Ski works the hips, while the Press tones the stomach and legs.

There are also stations for pull-ups, push-ups and pedalling and, to stretch the mind as well as the body, engravings of quotes from famous philosophers dotted around the park."
Whatever does what, the important thing is that someone who understands our need to play is paying attention to us outgrowns, at last.

via Neatorama
from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Ruffles Flyer

Take a look at the airplane this guy made one day at lunch "from the bag that held my potato chips and the toothpick that was in my sandwitch."

Junkyard Model Airplanes

Airplanes, made out of found office junk. Cool-looking airplanes that really fly.

A whole nother Junkyard Sport, don't you think?

via Make Blog

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Fairy Chess

Fairy chess, explains the Wikipedian, "is a term in a chess problem which expands classical (also called orthodox) chess problems which are not direct mates. The term was introduced before the First World War. While selfmate dates from the Middle Age, helpmate was invented by Max Lange in the late 19th century. Thomas Dawson (1889-1951), pioneer of fairy chess, invented many fairy pieces and new conditions. He was also problem editor of The Fairy Chess Review (1930-1951)."

"On the other hand," comments the Funsmith, "Fairy Chess is an invitation to a cornucopious collection of what can only be called "Variant Chess Games," or, shall we say, more ways to play chess than you could shake a pawn at."

"Fairy Chess," continues the Funsmith, eyes akimbo with conceptual glee, "is, in fact, the chessular embodiment of Junkyard Sports, New Games and every one of those noblly playful efforts to return the power of play to the hands, hearts and minds of the players."

See also, the Piececlopedia

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Monkeys laugh, too

Facebook friend Phil Shapiro wanted us to know about an article he found about monkey laughs. Yup, turns out that monkeys laugh, too. Or at least they do something that sure seems like laughing.

The article cites Dr Marina Davila Ross, from the University of Portsmouth, who "studied the play behaviour of 25 orang-utans aged between two and 12 at four primate centres around the world." She discovered that: "When one of the orang-utans displayed an open, gaping mouth, its playmate would often display the same expression less than half a second later."

"In humans," she explains, "mimicking behaviour can be voluntary and involuntary. Until our discovery there had been no evidence that animals had similar responses.

"What is clear now is the building blocks of positive emotional contagion and empathy that refer to rapid involuntary facial mimicry in humans evolved prior to humankind."

Ah, rapid involuntary facial mimicry. How fun is that?

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Backyard TV

Here's a moment of inspiration as seen on a Backyard TV. I quote:
"Daniel took the TV outside and smashed it in. Then we all got out the paints and started making the TV beautiful. What a great family project. I don't think I need to explain why we did it. Most of you already know how we feel about media and advertising. I believe we waste way too much time with it on. It's so tempting to plop down in front of it when you are tired from life. But why are we so tired? Why don't we have the energy to do the things we really want to do? Maybe if we weren't staying up late watching the tv we wouldn't be tired the next day:)"

via Sacred Daughter
from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Sound and Fury at the Educational Centre for Games in Israel

I learned about The Sound and the Fury more than 30 years ago, when I first joined the New Games Foundation. Since then, I've been teaching it almost every chance I get. I have my reasons, in deed I do. It's a great way to get people involved, engaged, open, willing to play, exploring their own capacities for public silliness, and a perfect introduction to the idea of Coliberation.

I had the chance to teach the game again with some rather remarkable people in a rather remarkable place. The remarkable thing about these people was that they came from all over Israel because they value play and games and toys as tools for restoring health. The remarkable place was called "The Educational Centre for Games in Israel." And the remarkable woman who invited me to speak was its director, Helena Kling.

I first encountered Helena through her work with the International Toy Research Foundation. I found the following description of Helena and her center in an old issue of the ITRA newsletter
"Helena is by profession a psychologist specializing on Children’s Play in Hospita, and has for many years been working on projects about play. At present running the Educational Centre for Games in Israel, a non-profit association which she describes as follows:'We have a small building full of stuff, a veritable 'heritage centre' of play; there is 'hands on play' available; a work room where people can make games and toys; an exhibition room with miniature rooms and two model railways; a library that has become a centre of information on play; a large collection of Israeli board games and collection of collections and dolls and so much more that if I go on writing about it I am afraid of disbelief!'"
Such wonderful energy. Such a deep commitment to play. Such an honor. Such a fun person to play with.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Walking as Art - A Mis-Guide to Anywhere

Phil Smith writes:
"We know you've covered our previous work on your website so we thought we'd send you some info about our new publication and, if you're in London at the time, we'd like to invite you to the launch of 'A Mis-Guide To Anywhere', a playful handbook for exploring cities. The book will be launched at the ICA, The Mall, London, on the 8th April, 6pm till 8pm, following an afternoon of walks, each based on a page from 'A Mis-guide To Anywhere' and each 'led' by one of us.

"Numbers for the launch are strictly limited so let us know if you want to come so we can put you on the guest list.

"If you would like to come on one of the mis-guided walks in the afternoon then let us know or contact the ICA direct (places are limited). The walks will each last about 90 minutes and will set off from the ICA: 12.30pm 'The problem of shopping' (Cathy), 12.45pm 'Out of place' (Stephen), 1pm 'Scales' (Simon), 1.15pm 'Masses' (Phil).
"Walking?" I respond, querulously. Phil elucidates:
We have been three years in making the new book, including walks in Shanghai, rural Zambia, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Manchester, Paris, the island of Herm… 'A Mis-Guide To Anywhere' is our new guide to seeking out places of change in the city, the Anywhere that anyone can find. When we published 'An Exeter Mis-Guide' three years ago we were very surprised that it attracted an international readership - it's now taught in numerous theatre, fine art and geography departments in universities around the world. The fact that a guidebook designed for use in a small provincial English city could be used in cities like Bangalore, Melbourne and Washington, inspired the making of 'A Mis-Guide To Anywhere'.

"If you can't join us in London we will be having a local launch in Exeter as part of the Exeter tEXt Festival on Saturday May 13th, 12.30pm at the Phoenix.

"This is a quick stitched together note to let you have some information about various walk-orientated performances, events and objects.

"First of all the show I have written based on my Easter 2007 walk following the route of acorn-planting Charles Hurst a hundred years before will be performed by New Perspectives from mid-February and the tour schedule is here.

Dee Heddon's new book on 'Autobiography and Performance' is now out from Palgrave and has a section on Place and Self which includes material on 'the art of walking' including Crab Walks.

John Davies has published an instant book on his walk alongside and around the M62 at the end of last year called 'Walking The M62' and you can get that as a hard copy or a download.

Alyson Hallett, who has an ongoing project – the migration habits of stones – in which she carries stones around the world – has a new volume of mostly landscape poetry out ‘The Stone Library’ – I loved it and recommend it. You can get it here, or at all good libraries.

walkwalkwalk, based in London, are building up a network around 'walking as art' and are holding regular meetings.

See also some of the lectures and workshops offered by Propeller including lectures on 'Rain' and 'The Look of Things' and a workshop on 'Performing Landscapes.'

Finally, MPA are holding a four day 'Territories Re-Imagined' festival of psychogeography in Manchester in June, details .

Checking out walkwalkwalk, I learn:
"Walk walk walk: an archaeology of the familiar and the forgotten is a participatory live art event, with a walk at its core. The project begins with an exploration of urban routine. Starting from the routes we take to and from work and home, part time jobs and friends houses, we established a methodology for the systematic exploration of the areas in and around Bethnal Green, Spitalfields and Whitechapel. Stepping outside, or aside from the absorption of the day to day in order to examine the places that we pass through and the narrative of pathways afresh.

"Drawing on precedents and ideas ranging from the never performed Dada walks in the 'terrains vagues' of 1920s Paris, to Iain Sinclair’s investigation of Rodinsky’s London walks in the late 1990s, we began to re-explore our walks through and across the east end. Creating a new routine: meeting at the same time and place each week to walk and work we have exhaustively researched this locale. Walking individually, then walking one anothers’ routes has shown us each new spaces, sights and places that alone we might never have encountered.

"Collecting and collating artefacts and anecdotes from our research walks has been the starting point for the ‘archaeology’ of the subtitle. Objects, images and descriptions from the route speak of the real physicality of the city fringe – the places where it extends out into the edge and vice-versa. The walk we have created will take you to the cut off spaces trapped between railway and road, down alleyways that block the less-than-determined from pursuing a route through, past ‘fine art’ graffiti, a Hawksmoor church, numerous taxi garages and abandoned pubs in a continuously evolving cityscape."
I mean, who knew? Walking as art? I mean like a Dada kind of thing even?

So yeah, and most definitely, check out A Mis-Guide To Anywhere. It'll re-open your world.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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