Tabletop Sailboarding

As inventor of the Junkyard Sports TableTop Olympics and in my capacity as Bernie DeKoven, Junkmaster, I hereby award the creators of Tabletop Sailboarding permanent position in the Junkyard Sports Hall of Games .

California Parks and Recreation SocietyIt was at the CPRS 2008, Long Beach conference . And I was facilitating a bit of Tabletop Olympics amongst 5 tables of people who run parks and games all throughout California.

Many most remarkable Tabletop Olympics moments were shared. Many, many events of noteworthy notability and truly silly competitiveness. But there was this one table (I really like to learn your names if you were a tablemate) that happened to have, amongst its various shared personal treasures, some significant conference swag. Namely: a couple battery-operated hand-held fans, and some Lego pieces, and a fingerboard. And they put their stuff together to create a well, Tabletop Sailboard, I guess is what you'd call something made out of the fingerboard, a couple Lego pieces, a toothpick and a scrap of paper. And their Olympic Event was a hand-held-fan-powered Tabletop Sailboard event that proved to be at least as funny as it was demanding of Olympic-like concentration and skill.

Fingerboard SailingBehold, therefore you beholder, the Tabletop Sailboard, as fuzzily photographed on the right. Whilst beholding below the slightly less fuzzy image of a Tabletop Sailor in action.
man blowing fingerboard sailboard with handheld fan
Now and forevermore embedded in the virtual bedrock of Tabletop Olympics History.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Of play, talking to yourself, and self-regulation

Play and self-regulation? Play, the apotheosis of abandonment, spontaneity and general mucking about...and self-regulation?

Well, maybe not play, so much. But games. Games, for sure. Like, for example, Simon Says. Here's what Alix Speigel says in her article Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills
"Simon Says is a game that requires children to inhibit themselves. You have to think and not do something, which helps to build self-regulation."
And this about reading stories with preschoolers from researcher Laura Berk:
"Reading storybooks with preschoolers promotes self-regulation, not just because it fosters language development, but because children's stories are filled with characters who model effective self-regulatory strategies."
And the there's even talking to yourself. "Permitting and encouraging children to be verbally active," writes Speigel, "to speak to themselves while engaged in challenging tasks — fosters concentration, effort, problem-solving, and task success."

"In fact," says "executive function researcher" Laura Berk, "if we compare preschoolers' activities and the amount of private speech that occurs across them, we find that this self-regulating language is highest during make-believe play. And this type of self-regulating language… has been shown in many studies to be predictive of executive functions."

Speigel continues: "It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline...We know that children's capacity for self-regulation has diminished...Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child's IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn."

If we'd only let them play.... If we only believed in fun....

via Steve Cooperman

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Funny Fun

Probably one of my favorite flavors of fun is the taste of what happens when we get funny together. It tastes just like laughter. Spicy. Embracing the full geography of your bio-conceptual landscape.

I quote myself. You can, too:
"Sometimes, we are funny together. All of us. At more or less the same time. Singing a silly song, maybe, playing a funny game. Walking a funny walk, talking in funny voices, in foreign accents, in slow motion.

For me, being funny together with my wife, my kids, my grandkids, is almost always the funniest, the deepest, the most deeply funny.

We’re not being silly. No way. We’re being funny together. Magically funny. Even when we are doing silly things, it’s not at all about being silly, it’s all about the funniness that we’re creating together. The magic of it. All about the laughter we are sharing.

I think those times when we are funny together, those amateurish, funny together times, we are funnier than comedians and clowns. Funny beyond clever. So funny, we are taken by surprise by how funny.

That’s funniest fun, it seems to me, the fun of being funny together."

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Mystic Ball - the movie

When I first wrote about the Myanmar game of Chinlone, I really only had minor intimations of how important that game was to become to me. It wasn't until I watched Greg Hamilton's movie, Mystic Ball, that I understood not only his profound passion for Chinlone, but my passion for The Well-Played Game.

When I wrote The Well-Played Game, I described a pivotal experience I had, during a game of Ping Pong. Later, I found a wonderful story by Bill Russell, in which he describes an experience of genuine transcendence, similar to mine, but in the highly competitive game of professional basketball. But in all these years of teaching, Mystic Ball, the movie, was the first time I've found the Well-Played game expressed so purely, understood so deeply, documented so thoroughly - in a game totally devoted to sharing that particular experience.

The film opens with the following Myanmar proverb: "The spirit of give and take that breeds happiness is the foundation on which the game of Chinlone rests." We are then transported into an astonishingly ornate building, festooned with bare electric bulbs and intricate carvings covered in gold paint. On the inside, we see a kind of theater-in-the-round. On stage, 6 people playing with a rattan ball. Hamilton comments: "Getting to play with this team that I just played with is like playing with Michael Jordan and Baryshnikov and Fred Astaire and Bruce Lee and Muhammed Ali and all the most beautiful movement people and sports people I could ever imagine...It's surely the most fun, beautiful, mystical feeling...This is like my religion and my love and my heart. Chinlone is just all about love and happiness."

The film progresses from scene to scene of beauty, passion, grace and skill. We observe the art of making a Chinlone ball. We see the game played everywhere throughout Myanmar, by men and women, children and elders, on the street, in practice courts, in dedicated arenas. We follow the highest practitioners of the art. Director and author Greg Hamilton explains what he has discovered in the game of Chinlone with a clarity and intensity that characterizes every scene of this remarkable film.

"The most amazing thing about Chinlone, Hamilton comments, "is that it's not competitive. There's no opposing team, no scoring, and no winners or losers. The team tries to keep the ball up as long as possible. But that's not enough. The real goal is to do the most difficult and beautiful moves they can."

"Watching them play was a revelation. What really stuck out was just how playful they were. They weren't arguing or fighting, like always happens in competitive sports. These guys were just having...a good time. It really made me think about how most sports are not playful."

His background is in martial arts. He says: "I used to think of myself as a warrior. But deep down, I never really liked hurting people." In Chinlone, however, he discovered that he could "do something as if my life depended on it, but without having to defeat anyone."

Near the end of the film, he takes us to his favorite Chinlone practice court. He comments: "There's so much beauty inside this circle - the flow of the ball between us, and the 'tic toc' sound the ball makes as we support each other."

I was fortunate enough to get to talk to Greg about this beautiful film, and to get a personal experience of his deep passion for the game. Basically, I just wanted to convey my excitement and gratitude for what he has brought to us - and to me, especially, in his being able to capture and convey what I have devoted my life to teaching. Greg commented: "I didn't really want to be in the film in the first place." He just wanted to show us the game itself. But he was as much a part of the story as the game was, and he couldn't avoid it. What he wanted most to share with us was that: "Something as serious as Chinlone could be so playful." What he most wanted us to perceive was that "above all, Chinlone is a way of loving."

Later, I sent Greg a draft of this post, asking for further comment. Here's part of his reply:
The interaction between the ball and the players and the players with each other is sensuous, I can't think of a better way to put it. In my opinion, and I've asked some of men players about this and they agree - Chinlone it is strangely similar to making love. Because of a certain modesty with the the women in Myanmar, I've not been able to ask women players some of these kind of questions. It's like the essence of what making love is - not the rubbing together of body parts, but the intense, immediate connection and playing together of spirits. It really is play isn't it? This is one of the unique and breathtaking things I've found in Chinlone. And you can do it for hours at time with 1,2,3,4,5, or even more other people! When I see dogs playing and frolicking together - it's making love through play, and that is the feeling I've always wanted my life to be full of. There is always love and the sensual inside real play.

So many things that I didn't say or bring up in the film, for various reasons. One being that I didn't want to come across preachy, and of course there is only so much you can fit into 83 minutes. There are lots and lots of other things to share about Chinlone.

I think Chinlone is a feminine sport. One is nurtured and embraced in this game. It's not about power or dominance. There is a gentleness, an inclusiveness and a loving feeling that is always there – even between the audience and the players. Men and women play together, old folks and young ones play together. At the first Chinlone festival I saw, there was a team that had a 72 year old (in fact it was Wei Za Than, the one with the beautiful wife!) and a 9 year old on the same team - I was blown away!

All of the play in Chinlone is an end in itself. There are no arbitrary rules, just a certain etiquette and a lot of intuition inside the circle. I love that. There is a struggle with gravity, that as skill develops, becomes an elemental dance of pure flow.

So many things that I love about Chinlone - it is so hard that everyone, even the greatest players end up looking foolish fairly often - nothing to do but laugh about it, and 5 or 10 minutes into a game everyone is laughing for sure. You didn't see a lot of this in the film because I focused on the festival plays and because there is an audience, the players are a little more serious than usual. It's a very, very funny game.

Here we are on this giant spinning ball - in orbit. I feel a connection between the way Chinlone is played and the orbiting of planets. I'm still working on this one and trying to find clear ways of talking about it.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra exemplifies at least 5 flavors of fun: cooperative, sensual, serious, silly, and transforming. Allow them to explain:
"The Vegetable Orchestra performs music solely on instruments made of vegetables. Using carrot flutes, pumpkin basses, leek violins, leek-zucchini-vibrators, cucumberophones and celery bongos, the orchestra creates its own extraordinary and vegetabile sound universe. The ensemble overcomes preserved and marinated sound conceptions or tirelessly re-stewed listening habits, putting its focus on expanding the variety of vegetable instruments, developing novel musical ideas and exploring fresh vegetable sound gardens."
Transforming fun, because they are playing on vegetables, for godsake. Silly fun, for pretty much the same reason. Serious fun, because these are serious musicians, and the music they are making is actually musical. Sensual fun because they clearly are enjoying the vegetables as much as the music - the color, texture, smell, feel.... Cooperative, because they are an orchestra, and it's about what they are creating together.



via Robin and Michael

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Hard Fun, Easy Fun, Visceral Fun, Social Fun

In his wonderful presentation on the Core of Fun, Ralph Koster identifies four more kinds of fun:

"Games," Koster conjectures, "mostly focus on hard fun."

I, of course, think of "hard fun" in terms of "flow, complexity and the 'slanty line'," and social fun in terms of "coliberation." Nevertheless, these are in deed 4 more flavors of fun to behold, enjoy, and plant into our many-flavored garden of conceptual joy.

See also Koster's "Theory of Fun." And perhaps this, from one game company that claims to put the theory into practice.

via Craig Conley

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Extreme and Ordinary Fun

A while ago, I published a FunCast about Extreme and Ordinary Fun, which adds at least two more kinds of fun to our collective attention.

I describe it here, should you feel the need for something to read.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


The Well-Played Game applied: The Player as Author

In 2003, Cindy Poremba, "a digital media theorist, producer and curator researching documentary and videogames through Concordia University's Doctoral Humanities program," published a paper which she titled: "Remaking Each Other's Dreams: Player Authors in Digital Games." The abstract begins: "One of the more interesting and distinct aspects of the digital game genre is the proliferation of player-produced content and artifacts."

One of the references she cites is a book, originally published in 1978. The book is about social games - you know, like hide and seek and tag - about the social dynamics, the balance, the rules, like quitting and cheating and stuff. And, oh, yes, it's a book I happened to write - The Well-Played Game - which partially explains my excitement about discovering Poremba's paper. The other thing that excites me, maybe even more, is what she has to say about what I wrote - how well easily she sees the relevance of the book (remember, it was written 30 years ago) to an understanding of the dynamics of the online play community.

In fact, I'd like to go further - to explore its relevance to the virtual world at large. But that's another story.

Cindy's website, shinySpinning, is a treasure for anyone wanting to explore our ever-evolving understanding of fun, games, community and media.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Taking Play Seriously

Taking Play Seriously. So far, no fewer than seven of my friends wrote me about this article in yesterday's New York Times (I have some very good friends). It concludes: "Animal findings about how play influences brain growth suggest that playing, though it might look silly and purposeless, warrants a place in every child’s day. Not too overblown a place, not too sanctimonious a place, but a place that embraces all styles of play and that recognizes play as every bit as essential to healthful neurological development as test-taking drills, Spanish lessons or Suzuki violin."

This conclusion was my favorite part of a lengthy (12 page) article that explores many theories of play - the majority based on studies of animal play, some on brain studies, and the rest on play scholarship. But it was the conclusion I liked best. Maybe because, over the many years of my own personal explorations of play, I've become familiar with most of these studies; maybe also because I've come to believe that we can be of greater service, not by trying to understand play, but by having more faith in our children's love for it, more appreciation for our own moments of pointeless exuberance, more respect for the fundamental glee that comes from being alive.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


New Games revisited

Yehuda Berlinger has gone to admiral lengths to report on The History of The New Games Foundation. He was good enough to interview me and John O'Connell, to send me a draft, and to respond compassionately to my endless requests for corrections. What he came up with is probably more comprehensive than most tellings, and definitely told with more integrity and compassion.

Significant kudos, Mr. Berlinger.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Deep Fun

Today's Fun Flavor is what one might call Deep Fun.

I think it best if I begin with an exploration of what I call it, insofar as it's what I call my website.

Of course, that really doesn't explain what I mean by Deep Fun. Or what I mean to mean. What explains it a little better is the idea of the Playful Path. Because Deep Fun is the kind of fun that we experience when we look at the experience of fun as having something to do with the pursuit of a spiritual path. "Whoever chooses to respond playfully most often and," I explain, "can be said to be a 'traveler on the Playful Path.' Someone making, having and being fun." I elaborate: "Why would you not want to follow the Playful Path? What other path is better designed to take you to happiness? What more reliable guide to happiness than fun and creativity, spontaneity and responsiveness, laughter and silliness?"

So Deep Fun, at least according to me, is what happens when you think of fun as a guide to happiness.

Which in itself, is a fun thought. And deep, even.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Intimate Fun

Intimate Fun is a private kind of fun, a kind of fun that takes place between people who are having fun together, very deeply together. We experience it as kids playing together in some secret playground. We experience it as young lovers. We experience it as people who have been married for 40 years.

Here's part of what I wrote about it:

"I am increasingly amazed at how other each of us is. How other you are. And how other I seem to be when I’m with you. I’ve been focusing especially on how other we both are when we are having fun, and even more especially how other we are when we are having fun together.

Like how, when we’re laughing together, it's as if there's another being laughing with us. Another will. A will not totally in our control.

There’s something very personal about this being we create, something intimate about this kind of fun.

Intimate Fun: the joyous being that we create by our being joyous together: the WE that we become when we are having fun together. The Tickled WE."

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Transforming Fun

This image is made of 3200 Barbie dolls, part of an exhibit called "Running the Numbers" by artist Chris Jordan. He comments:
"This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming."
Part of the power of this work, aside from the sheer massiveness of effort and vision, is its playfulness. There is something fun here, despite the sobriety of the message. Transforming fun, one might call it.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Thoughtful Fun

Here's a 55th, from Josh G:

I'd have to say ... "thoughtful fun".

Fun that thinks. Fun that thinks about how to make things even funner!
And maybe fun that thinks about others and how to make sure they're
having fun too.

Thinking is fun.

- josh g.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Minor and Major Fun, and 52 more

There's more than one kind of fun.

According to the Oaqui, there are 613 kinds, amongst which Deep Fun is only one.

And though I am still in the process of exploring Deep Fun, after more almost 10 years of writing about it, and still have not as yet been able to arrive at anything approaching a comprehensive or even satisfactory definition of the term, I find myself apparently irresistibly drawn to making some attempt at cataloging at least some of the other varieties, or, shall we say "flavors" of fun.

Hubris, you say? Perhaps. A waste of time? Perhaps that too. But even more perhaps, might it not possibly happen that in the process of enumeration and contradistinction, we might come to a better understanding of fun itself?

Realizing that I could in no way sustain an effort as monumental as the Oaqui 613, it was my plan to explore a mere handful of other kinds of fun, or, at most, perhaps two handsful.

Both alas and alack, before I could even launch such a modest effort I once again found myself almost luridly lured by my love for alliteration into contemplating an effort that far exceeds any need for clarity, and most certainly crosses the boundaries of good sense.

Hence, this proposal towards a collaborative and clearly half-vast undertaking - a cataloging and enumerating of not one, nor even 10, but of potentially 54 Flavors of Fun.

I exemplify with two: "Minor Fun" and its complement, Major.

52 more to go.

Admittedly, it is a task too ambitious for even one such as I. And yes, by I, I mean the very same I who has devoted some 40 years of actual thought to this selfsame pursuit.

I therefore implicitly with this post, invite, solicit, encourage, anticipate, and otherwise welcome your participation in the creation of at least 52 more future fun-flavored posts. Connect with me. Leave comments. E-me. Tell me about Tell me your favorite Fun Flavor and why. Elaborate on a previously noted Flavors and how. Let us together formulate the 54. If it prove a fool-hearty venture well, all the more heartening. Whether we will succeed or not, what it will be will be fun.

Here's an exemplary list to help us commence contemplating the rolling of the proverbial stone.
1. absolute fun
2. aggressive fun
3. angry fun
4. beautiful fun
5. charming fun
6. competitive fun
7. cooperative fun
8. dangerous fun
9. daring fun
10. deep fun
11. dizzy fun
12. dramatic fun
13. eternal fun
14. exciting fun
15. faux fun
16. funny fun
17. gentle fun
18. good fun
19. graceful fun
20. healthy fun
21. illegal fun
22. imaginary fun
23. innocent fun
24. intimate fun
25. lazy fun
26. loving fun
27. major fun
28. mature fun
29. mean fun
30. minor fun
31. naked fun
32. nasty fun
33. natural fun
34. naughty fun
35. organized fun
36. peaceful fun
37. profitable fun
38. restful fun
39. risky fun
40. scary fun
41. sensual fun
42. serious fun
43. sexy fun
44. significant fun
45. silly fun
46. spiritual fun
47. spontaneous fun
48. stoned fun
49. surprising fun
50. teasing fun
51. tickling fun
52. transforming fun
53. visionary fun
54. whole fun

The stone rolls on. May the bryophytes gather.

I await your mossy word.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Powder - falling sand and dancing dots

It is one of those quite lovely, webidipitious events, the continued evolution of the Falling Sand Game, the community of programmers and players that urges it forward. There's a version called the "Powder Game" that seems to have a plethora of both bells and whistles. To get a sense of the marvels awaiting, look on the bottom of the page for some of user creations at the bottom of the page (the one in the illustration is called "volcano" - it's a blast!).

If you haven't experienced the Falling Sand Game or explored its more recent variants, I suggest you begin with the Falling Sand Forum. And then continue here.

via Metafilter
from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Chateau Roquefort

Caution, perspective owners of Chateau Roquefort, some assembly is required. Do not attempt to do this by yourself. Why, you ask? Because no one, not even those who buy games just so they can poke things out, can believe how unusually pleasurable it is to everso gently punch the many pieces out of their frame - lovely, thick, two-sided, brightly printed, silk-textured cardboard pieces so well pre-cut that seem to fall out on command. It is an indelible experience of something well-made. Something made for kids and parents and especially people who like to collect things.

And even more especially for parents who like to collect things who also like to play with their kids who also like to collect things.

Chateau Roquefort is another beautifully made, European game from Rio Grand Games. It's a game of strategy and memory. The board remains mostly covered during play. On your turn, you can uncover part of the board, and you just might reveal images of different kinds of cheeses. Also on your turn (you have 4 moves per turn), you can move one of your mice (you have 4 mice) onto the board, or from the entrance to one of the horizontally or vertically adjacent squares, or from a square to yet another similarly horizontal or vertically adjacent square. You can also slide a row or column of squares, perhaps to reveal new kinds of cheeses, perhaps to reveal an empty hole, perhaps to cause one of your opponent's mice (as many as 4 players) to fall into said revealed pit.

It is probably true that children as young as six can play the game. However, they would have to be exceptional - given that there are many, many pieces, the loss of which would pretty much significantly impair the replayability of a unique and expensively beautiful game.

The object of the game is to win cheeses. You win a cheese when two of your mice are on squares revealing the same kind of cheese. There are many different kinds of cheeses. And you can only win one of each.

This is an unusually intriguing play principle - trying to position two of your pieces so that they are both rest on the same kind of cheese. On a unique kind of board (sliding tiles, always only partially revealed). Conceptually, it's probably elegant enough for a six-year-old to understand. But we believe that it is best suited to kids who are old enough to appreciate the beauty of the game, the necessity for taking good care of it, and the complexity of the relationships between all the different kinds of moves you take on one turn. It's probably a little too cute (wonderfully designed little wooden mice) for most boys of that age. But, given all those caveats, for the right players, kids, adults, and especially families, the game is the kind you may very well treasure, for ever.

There are some concerns about storage - given that there are so many pieces, and that the board is actually integrated into the box. You'll find a thorough discussion of the ramifications of all this in this review. Our conclusion: despite all the caveats, the game is Major FUN.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Moon, Fish, Ocean

This is not an image of the Moon, Fish, Ocean game, but rather of a variant of the aforementioned - Pearl, Lotus, Bowl. I'll explain in a moment.

Developed by Craig Conley, the same Craig Conley, author of, amongst other significant scholarly works, the Magical Dictionary, about whom I've waxed so enthusiastically; Moon, Fish, Ocean is actually Rock, Scissors, Paper, only with different gestures. It's also, as described above, as Pearl, Lotus, Bowl, as well as Bridge, Stream, Boulder, and equally Candle, Incense, Fan, and even more equally Brush, Circle, Paper.

But is it, you might ask, actually, as Conley implies, a Zen game, as played by Zen masters to help acolytes to Zennish wisdom? Claims Conley, perhaps tongue-in-cheekily:
"Zen disciples play Moon * Fish * Ocean as a form of mindful meditation, or to determine who will chop wood and who will carry water. Disciples typically sit in either the full or half lotus position, upon round cushions atop square mats.

Zen Masters use the game as a test of a disciple’s reflexes and non-attachment to outcomes. The Master holds a pebble in his palm. The pebble remains hidden when the Master plays 'Moon' or 'Fish.' It is revealed only when the Master plays 'Ocean.' If the disciple can snatch the pebble quickly enough, he automatically wins the round."
It is, upon further retrospection, probably not an authentic Zen activity. But, on the other hand, as it were, what is authenticity other than illusion?

Point is, it's almost worth believing, and it's definitely worth playing. Learning the different hand motions is a good enough challenge to add interest to introspection. Appreciating the art, and the humor of it all, is a path to enlightenment, at least.

Craig comments: "First, I must confirm that you were correct that my tone is tongue-in-cheek. It is a whimsy that Rock Paper Scissors is a Zen game, and I set out to 'prove' my imaginative quirk with 'evidence' from Zen poetry. (This rather exhaustive research is more evident in the book version of the game than on the website.) HOWEVER, a distant relative of mine wrote that he has a friend in Taipei who confirms the legitimacy of 'Moon Fish Ocean,' though a better translation would seem to be 'Moon, Water, Fishes.' His friend also confirmed that the game is of Japanese origin and is studied mainly among Buddhist priests. His friend assumed that I am a Zen teacher or scholar. This is all beautiful confirmation that 'You can't make it up.' I suppose it's a lesson that if humor goes too far toward the deadpan end of the scale, it becomes cast iron! Perhaps it's also evidence that sincere playfulness, freed from ulterior motives, can lead one directly to the honest truth."

Should you still require further instructions from the cosmos, take a spin on Craig's Follow Your Bliss Compass.

via Neatorama
from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Chinlone and nine other Ways to Play Soccer

The ever-resourceful Neatorama points us to this article describing "10 Strange Football Mods." So I clicked. And I read. OK, so it's not about what I, American that I am, think of as football. It's about what the world thinks of as soccer. But that's neither here nor there. Or both. And, speaking of soccer, it does in fact point us to 10 different, highly soccer-like, but arguably non-soccer games, which is something in which I, as your local Junkmaster, seeker of the sport-variant, have significant and public interest.

What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the very first soccer-like game I read about - a game called "Chinlone" or "Mystic Ball" - a soccer variant that is so beautiful and so beyond soccer that it is the subject of a most lovely-looking movie.

"Chinlone," the movie site explains, "is a combination of sport and dance, a team sport with no opposing team. In essence chinlone is non-competitive, yet it’s as demanding as the most competitive ball games. The focus is not on winning or losing, but how beautifully one plays the game. A team of six players pass the ball back and forth with their feet and knees as they walk around a circle. One player goes into the center to solo, creating a dance of various moves strung together. The soloist is supported by the other players who try to pass the ball back with one kick. When the ball drops to the ground it’s dead, and the play starts again."

"...a team sport with no opposing team." "...the focus is not on winning or losing, but how beautifully one playes the game"! How inspiring, how Well-Played Game-like is that?!

There are nine other soccerish games described, including the afore-described Bossaball, the yet-to-be-sufficiently-delved-into Jorkyball and several many clearly playworthy, probably innovative soccer-like sports. But this chinlone game touched my veritable spirit, engaged my actual faith in what play can lead us into.

via Neatorama
from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


A Competitor's Perspective on New Games and Ultimate Frisbee

Joey Grey, my Ultimate Frisbee friend of many years now, sent me this link to an article titled: "The Origins of Ultimate Frisbee's 'Spirit' - Is THIS What You Signed Up For?"

I've not encountered such a deeply researched and passionately negative perspective on New Games and Ultimate Frisbee before. The main argument: that the "Spirit of the Game has nothing to do with good sportsmanship and everything to do with survival of the weakest" is, on the one hand, oddly distorted, and on the other, remarkably perceptive.

Ultimately, if you excuse the expression, this article is a real contribution to the evolution of everything that we tried to do with New Games. He has included some valuable links to scholarly and historic documents about the New Games "movement," and provides us with some major insights about why our ideas are still as revolutionary today as they were 40 years ago.

Perhaps, before you read his article, it might help to understand who the author is, and why:
"Frank Huguenard began playing Frisbee in the late 1960’s and being from a large chaotic family in Indiana, grew up fiercely competitive. By the late seventies, Frank had become fairly proficient with a disc and being athletically inclined, when he heard that there was a Frisbee-centric team sport on the Purdue campus, he immediately took to it and became involved with the sport called Ultimate. Being a square peg stuffed into a round hole (a competitive jock amongst a culture designed specifically to accommodate neither), Frank has spent decades ostensibly miserable in a environment (ironically created to emphasize fun and inclusion) that he consistently experienced as hostile and unaccepting towards him, his out of the box thinking and his unconventional throws & moves."
He correctly concludes: "you can't have a competitive sport based on the kind of ideology that creates a level playing field for the weakest player to have a fair shot at winning." Creating a level playing field for the weakest player to have a fair shot at winning - that's exactly what we did with our New Games, over and over again. We did it by not taking competition seriously. By demonstrating alternatives, by creating opportunities for people to experience "loving competition." Were we, as the author charges, "excluding ultra-competitive personalities from competition?" Why should we? Our culture has produced endless opportunities for ultra-competitive personalities to compete, like, for example, war. What we were creating were alternatives to "win at all costs" competition at a time when there were very, very few, not even skateboarding or bungee jumping.

The author has gone on to create what he considers to be a solution - a truly competitive version of Ultimate Frisbee that he calls Disc Hoops. It's not the kind of game I'd be able to play, or even want to. Me, I'm still creating alternatives of the "anybody can win" type. Not to compete with him, heaven forfend, but because, as he so clearly points out, the need for more and newer games doesn't seem to have diminished at all, at all.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Laughing Party

"In the Navajo tradition we have what we call Chi Dlo Dil, or a Laughing Party, for a newborn.

"The Laughing Party is the first laugh you hear from a child. It's usually around six weeks. It's the baby's first expression to the world, saying 'I'm ready to interact.'

"Before that, the baby is still in the soft world and you aren't supposed to put anything hard and fixed on the body, or they may take on those qualities. But after the laughing party, you can give the baby jewelry or bracelets or other decorations.

"At the party everybody sits around the baby and has a big meal and plays with the baby. The person who makes the baby laugh first plays an important role in the child's life." - Nancy Evans, Shiprock, NM (Navajo Nation)

From What is Laughing found on the increasingly remarkable site of the Balloon Hat Experience

For more about the Navaho Laughing Party, see this.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Graphic Junkolage

"Deep Fun" by DeKoven, Google, and the NAG

"The generator automatically produces on demand.

"This version of the generator creates images. The resulting image emerges as a collage of a number of images which have been collected on the WWW in relation to the 'title' you have chosen. The original material is processed in 12-14 randomly chosen and combined steps.

"The generator was programmed by Panos Galanis from IAP GmbH, Hamburg, and was a commission by the Volksfürsorge art collection."
NAG found 4 images for me:
  • :: view
  • :: view
  • :: view
  • :: view

I am DeKoven. And I call my composition "Deep Fun."

See also Montage-a-Google

via Metafilter and The Presurfer

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith