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Sacky Sack International

Imagine my chagrin - go ahead, take a minute - when I learned that the plastic bags most frequently available to Netherlanders are either too thin or too thick for Sacky Sack-building. The too-thin variety, distributed in most grocery stores for fruit- and veggie-bagging, requires maybe three times as many sacks per Sacky Sack. And the resultant Sacky Sack is dense and hard, almost like a super ball without the bounce. The too-thick variety, available everywhere else except grocery stores (where you have to bring your own), are almost too stiff to stuff, so to speak. By the time you've managed to create something roughly spherical out of one sack, you're left with something too hefty for harmlessness and too bunchy for bounce, as it were.

Does this mean that we, for the sake of world play, need to be exporting our used plastic shopping bags to those countries who suffer different thickness? Is there some message here about the superior Sacky Sackness of our shopping bags? Is this then our mission - to have, to make, and to send to Holland?

Skelly, junk and Junkyard Sports - an endorsement from a clownly healer

Reading Bernie DeKoven's book Junkyard Sports brought back fond memories of childhood games. My two favorites consisted of things which adults would normally discard and my friends and I would get hours, sometimes even days or weeks, of enjoyment out of them. One was the bottle caps from soda pop. The other was old cardboard shoeboxes.

The game we played with the soda pop caps was, as I recall, named "Skelley." I never figured out why, but that was its name. We would draw a chalk diagram on the sidewalk consisting of a series of numbers. Using our thumb and forefinger, we would then proceed to shoot the bottle tops from one number to another. Sometimes we would fill the caps with candle wax to make it heavier and supposedly easier to get into the numbered boxes, but I was never convinced this helped.

In the springtime, the other game became a major event in my neighbor. In fact, you could tell when spring had arrived because half of the kids lined the edge of the sidewalk with their shoeboxes cut with progressively smaller holes. And the other half, were across the street rolling their marbles in the gutter hoping it would enter the smallest hole in the shoe box and get the biggest reward.

Fast forward fifty years, or so -

I now teach humor workshops. One of the components of the longer programs is about how play can help us solve problems, be more creative, and have more fun.

In one exercise, I ask members of the audience to get into small groups and agree upon something that stresses the group out. I then give each group a bag of what might be considered "junkyard" stuff— a clothespin, the front half of a greeting card, a post-office label, an old comb, a piece of a ribbon, etc. Then I instruct them to write a story using the props in the bag.

What they come up with amazes me. It is original, it is playful and it frequently is laugh provoking. In a simple, fun way, using household "junk," they reframe their stress and laugh about it.

So, over the years, I have known the value of play. But it wasn't until I encountered the work and writings of Bernie DeKoven did I realize how simple and how marvelous it can be.

I think DeKoven is a modern day alchemist. In this book, he magically shows readers how to turn a junkyard into gold mine. What a joyful world this would be if we all read this book and followed his advice.

Allen Klein,
author of The Healing Power of Humor
and The Courage to Laugh.

Bicycle Tire Quoits

If you click on this image it'll get large enough to actually see. Upon careful observation, you'll eventually discover that the stuff on the top of the telephone pole is a pile of bicycle tires. This is fairly incontrovertible evidence of the international presence of a bicycle-tire toss sport, similar in structure to a game of Quoits, but clearly of junkly intent.

My son, the almost-doctor, alerted me to the sport of Bicycle Tire Quoits as a typically Dutch junkyard-style pastime. Looking for record of this activity on the web, I came across this photo, which, it turns out, is of the sport as played in Egypt.

Similar in spirit and affect to the international sport of Hang the Shoes on the Wire, Bicycle Tire Quoits represents a class of junkyard sports that are neither ecologically sensitive nor socially sanctioned, and yet are clearly fun. The closest parallel I've been able to draw is to the "extreme" junkyard sports as found in the Junkyard Sports Hall of Fame.

This leaves much to ponder.

Another ponderable: I know I said that I'd not be doing any more daily blogging until I came back from the Netherlands. And yet, here I am, in the Netherlands, in my son's office at the University of Delft, having access to high speed bandwidth, at last, and, well, I just couldn't let this opportunity be taken unadvantage of. Thus, I blog on.

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Sacky Bat

You may or may not recall the all-but-passing mention of the Sacky Sack with Belt Loop. Or perhaps you do recall, and it is I who may or may not. In either event, one can only be remiss at the shortness of the shrift given to this remarkable break through in Sacky Sack envisionment. Sacky Sack with Belt Loop in deed. But why?

Just today I found myself crafting such a Sacky Sack, only not with three sacks, as described in the aforelinked, but with eight. Somehow, I wound up, as it were, with a compactly hefty Sacky Sack bearing a significantly extended loop. And, for one reason as another, as reason goes during such investigations, I found myself with a finger in that loop, twirling the sturdy little sacky with notable force, when suddenly I chose to slam it into another Sacky Sack of the famous Softball-Sized girth. And both behold and lo, said Sacky, when whacked by the aforesaid Sacky Sack with Belt Loop, did launch itself clear out of the door almost to the actual porch.

You may recall my various, but clearly semi-satisfactory soft bat-making attempts, that led to bizarre uses of the Hoseball as well as the seriously questionable Limp Stick. Well, it wasn't until much later and much deeper investigation of the properties of the Sacky Sack with Belt Loop that I discovered the nature of the Length vs Accuracy Phenomenon: the shorter the handle, the easier it is to control.

And suddenly I beheld in my very hand not what I had thought to be the referred-in-passing-to belt-looped Sacky Sack, but what can only be called the veritable inspiration for such soon-to-be-ubiquitous sports as Sacky Sack Croquet, Sack Bat Beach Hockey, and, of course, Ponyless Polo.

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