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Washboards International

The very existence of washboard International, and whoever owns the Washboard.com domain, is music to this Junkmaster's ears. I find my way to this article and discover the source of conceptual resonance that makes me so in tune with the art and joy of washboarding:

"These lucky enlistees have joined Washboards International...They do not pay dues -- 'Nah, no one's ever gonna pay me,' he (Mike Johnson, he whom we must thank for the very existence of Washboards International) says fatalistically -- and get, for their non-existent ante, a couple of bumper stickers. But bonds between washboard players run deeper than that. Or else, Johnson muses, they are more shallow. 'It's not a terribly complex instrument,' Johnson admits. 'You just get one and figure it out."

Yeah. That's the ticket. That's the junky approach to sports and art and music and anything you think you're not good enough to play. You just get the junk, and figure it out - the kind of sound you want to make, the kind of music you want to play, the kind of rhythm that makes you dance.

Junkyard Puppies

A Junkyard Puppy, at last. Ever since the advent of Junkyard Sports in my life, I have been veritably plagued with queries regarding the Junkyard Sports Junkyard Dog-equivalent. Behold. The Junkyard Puppy. One of many Junkyard Puppies, in fact, created by a group of folk artists who call themselves the Yardbirds. The disclaimer: "Every Junkyard Puppy Metal Sculpture is handmade in Kentucky by YardBirds. That means each one varies slightly from the other in its handcrafted appearance and attitude. All of the Junkyard Puppies are made with bare metal and naturally rust with age. That's their beauty!"

Junkyard Puppies. So much like people, you know - varying slightly in appearance and attitude, naturally rusting with age.


It's a lot like hockey with a whiffle ball and without the skates. You have a hockey-like stick. You have a whiffle ball. You're trying to get the ball into a hockey-like goal, passed the hockey-like goalie, who is kneeling. You are not, however, allowed to:
- hold, check, block or trip an opponent,
- hit, block, lift, push down or kick an opponents stick,
- hit the ball with the stick or foot above knee level,
- lift the stick above waist height,
- kick the ball twice.
- touch ball with hand
- jump up to reach ball
- passing stick between players legs
- play if body parts, other than feet, come in contact with floor.
It was, according to Floorball USA, played in Sweden in the early 1970s, and now attracts 1.5 million players world-wide. It was invented as a sport that could be played by both sexes, together. I just hope it stays that way.


The World as a Ball

All About Balls is a website that is basically all about, um, balls. Balls, you say? Balls, in deed. As a random illustration, we take from the first and last listings on their page "All Balls A-Z": abacus balls, aeolipile, Akuballs, animal balls, animal pellets, antenna balls, art balls, Atomium, ball and chain, ball art, ball avalanches, ball baths, ball bombardment, ball cannon, ball chairs, ball clocks, ball games, ball garlands, ball gloves, ball icons, ball jokes, ball kites...udang sapudi, Uncle Joe's Mint Balls, unihockey balls, vomit balls, waterpolo balls, wax balls, wind balls, workout balls, yoga balls, Zip-n-Hit balls, zorb balls, Zwetschkenknödel

What, for example, you might blamelessly ask, is an "aeolipile?" Interestingly enough, it is the first working steam engine, made, obviously, "of a metal ball mounted on a sealed pot (boiler) by an axial shaft, having two curved outlet tubes to produce a rotary motion from the escaping steam."

Stumbling across the James Burke-ian collection of all things ball, was for me almost exacerbatingly fortuitous after having spent an hour with Mick Greene of Streetplay playing most therapeutic game of Fivebox in a Nashville parking lot with his puzzlingly underappreciated Spaldeen of wonderful bounce and pop.

Thanks for the find Presurfer

Wackiness as Sport

One of the best ways to bring a little light-heartedness to the competitve spirit is by creating contests that are too silly to take seriously. Even if you get a trophy for winning the foot-powered scooter race, it's just not the kind of thing you'd put on your resumé.

Apparently, this has reached a level of fine art in Australia. Here, from Wacky Australian Sports are some heart-lightening examples:

The Great Country Music Duck Race, Tamworth, NSW. Numbered plastic ducks float down the Peel River to a finish line during Tamworth Country Music Festival

Queenscliff Scooter Challenge, from Pt Lonsdale lighthouse to Queenscliff Post Office, Vic. Riders on foot-powered scooters race over a 12km course

Compass Cup Cow Races, at Mt Compass, SA: Dairy cows become mounts for "jockeys", assisted by "urgers" who help them stay aboard. Second Sunday in February

Millthorpe Murphy Marathon, Millthorpe NSW. Contestants carry a 50kg bag of potatoes in a 1610-metre race. Lots of other potato contests including the longest-peel.

International Kite Festival, Semaphore Beach, Adelaide. A free event showcasing big kites, small kites, art kites, sport kites, kite buggying and kite surfing.

Bylong Mouse Races,27th March 2004 - Bylong NSW. Eleven-race program ending with the Bylong Cup. BYO mouse or race one of the ones provided. Lots more entertainment. Late April.

World Championship Egg Throwing Competition, Taylors Arm, NSW. A thrower pitches eggs 40-metres over the roof of the original "Pub with No Beer", celebrated in Slim Dusty’s song, and the catcher tries to catch it without breaking it. Sunday after Mothers’ Day.

Pinnacle Guinea Pig Races, at Pinnacle, NSW. Sprints and hurdle races for guinea pigs. June long weekend and Easter

Black Rock Stakes, Pilbara WA. A Pub to Port wheelbarrow race that runs over more than 100km! Wheelbarrows may be modified, but must have headlights and red tail lights. A full weekend of fun

Cane Toad Racing, Maclean Cane Harvest Festival, Maclean, NSW. Snails will compete if toads not available. Lots of other activities and displays. Late June

Lions Camel Cup Carnival, Alice Springs, NT. Program of camel races, followed by pocamelo (polo on camels)

Darwin Beer Can Regatta, Darwin, NT. Boats built from drink cans battle it out for line honors off Mindil Beach near town

Giant Platypus Throwing, Nymboida Heritage Festival, NSW. Competitors take turns to throw a giant plastic platypus as far as they can. Lots of other activities. End of August

World Lizard Racing Championships, Eulo, Qld. Held at a specially-built racetrack. The event starts with a lizard auction and features a five-race program.

Sorbent Australian Dunny Derby, Winton, Qld. Enthroned "dunny jockeys" are pulled along in outhouses on wheels. Every second year in September. The festival includes the Crayfish Derby.

The Great Pram Battle, Yulara, NT. Each team of four runners pushes a "baby", minimum age 18. around the Yulara resort’s ring road

Rydges Henley-on-Todd Regatta, Alice Springs. Human horsepower propels bottomless boats along a dry riverbed.

Back to Bowra Festival, Bowraville, NSW. Billycart races, gumboot throwing, Mullins Mail Ride, whip-cracking, one arm wheelbarrow race, egg throwing. October long weekend.


"Cinemasports is the iron chef of filmmaking. Each cinemasports day starts with the announcement of 'ingredients.' Teams have 9 hours to complete a movie with those ingredients. Screening of finished movies starts on the 10th hour. For Example, can different teams make a 4 minute movie in 9Hrs that includes an onion, an English teacher, and a tattoo parlor? We explore how the same ingredients inspire different creative minds."

Though the name "cinemasports" harkens to things like Theater Sports, it is everso junkyardly in spirit and concept. Here, for example, is an example:

Include the following elements in the days movie:
1. Someone is approached by a stranger claiming to be a lost relative.
2. Someone peels an orange
3. A shot of a bare knee
4. Someone mentions hair transplants in conversation.

Which, in a junkyard sports parallel, might read:

Include the following elements in a game of soccer:
1. The Sunday Times
2. 13 assorted singleton socks
3. An alley
4. 14 players ranging in age from 3-47, one of whom is blind

It is, after all, all one game.

Thanks Noise

Sports vs. Fun

Organized sports are supposed to be fun, no? I think it's the supposed to be part that led me to creating my much less organized alternative that I eventually called "Junkyard Sports." Because, as some very serious people, like Canada's JustPlay, so astutely note:

"...the very existence of organized youth sport is being threatened by the increase in violence, harassment and abuse by sport participant groups - spectators, coaches and players."

I found out about them in this article, that cites the following research:

Of the three participant groups — players, coaches and spectators — players are the least often cited as the source of poor conduct.

Three-quarters of critical incidents reported originate from the adults. Coaches tend to be responsible for roughly 40 per cent and spectators for 33 per cent, while just over 25 per cent are caused by the players.

About 80 per cent of the time, behavior falls within the average range. But 20 per cent of the time it falls within the realm of unacceptable, indicating problems are more widespread than just the "few bad apples" commonly cited.

So it's not the players, and it's not the sports themselves that create this profound imbalance between organized sports and fun. It's the people who aren't playing. The Junkyard Sports solution is to make everyone a player: coaches become Junkmasters; spectators costumers, trophy-makers and half-time performers. The Junkyard Sports solution is to create an alternative. The JustPlay solution is to change the current model. The accomplishments of one can only augment the accomplishment of the other. May we both succeed beyond our wildest dreams.

The Olympics, Heroism and Fun

From the perspective of someone also known as "Major Fun" the Olympics are a perfect example of how easy it is to separate fun from games. Even though they are called games, they are really contests. Even though only amateurs are allowed to play, the stakes are international in their proportion. Yes, yes, the acts of heroism on the peaks of flow are everywhere to be found. One of my favorite stories about Olympic heroism is this one, even though it actually took place before the Olympics.

Perhaps the best thing about the Olympics is how very easy it is to make up you own, just-for-fun events, out of junk and a sense of humor. I found, for example, several versions of "Office Olympics, including this, and of course, the, for example, Office Hurdles," and, in a similar vein, the ever-challenging sport of "Office Rowing." Of course, there's always the executive-like team building experience of Out of Office Olympics, and the always questionable challenges of the Indoor Olympics.

Forgive me if I seem to denigrate the inestimably international contribution of the Olympics to world peace and things of similarly grandiose ilk. For me, the inspirational part of the whole thing is how many junkly ways there are to bring it home.

Streetplay and Junkyard Sports

Finding Streetplay remains one of my happiest Internet discoveries. Even before I started my journeys into Junkyard Sports, Streetplay served as a resource for games and inspiration. Devoted to reporting on and preserving the spirit of the kinds of street games that were at one time found in almost every large American city, the Webby-award nominated Streetplay site has grown into a major resource for anyone wishing to bring more fun to this increasingly somber world of ours.

Well, today, it gives me great, vast, and perhaps unparalleled pleasure to announce that Street Play and Junkyard Sports have formed a partnership, as evidenced by this.

Trash Basket Baseball

Cyrkam Airtos is a simple, and significantly challenging online game - and I mean significantly. Because aside from the significance of the challenge and all that is therein implied, it also signifies the "fun anywhere with anything" premise, which is central to junkyard sports and related junkly efforts. And, perhaps of even greater significance, it is a clear, virtual illustration of a game that you and your friends can play with real trash and real trash baskets.

You need: a chair, at least one trash basket, a pitcher, and a basket repositioner. You don't really need a chair. And, if pressed, you could probably play by yourself. However, the scenario depicted by the virtual game has more strategic depth, and is probably a lot more fun (especially if you're the kind of person who has more fun playing with other people than playing by yourself). You could easily add bases and more people to the game, should you so desire. Suppose you had several trash cans, for example. And each can was a different base. And the opposing team had basket repositioners for each basebasket.

You could even play this game on wheelchairs!

Thanks In4mador!, for noticing....


War, Peace and Rubber Bands

Yes, I know, despite the boyhood manliness of it all, shooting each other with rubber bands is an activity that borders perhaps too painfully close to the eternal war zone. On the other hand, so to speak, the key word is "each other." It's one of those games that maintains itself as a game as long as everyone wants to continue playing it. It is just threatening enough to keep your attention. For those of us who require a virtual reminder of these edgy encounters, there's the online game of Rubber Band It - get it? BandIt?

Googling for yet other rubber banded pleasures, I was reminded of the significantly less overtly aggressive, vastly more skill-requiring (and hence even more profoundly less boyish) games of rubber band jump rope and, of course, the highly recommended and truly junkly art of rubber band ball gathering.

From there, it requires only a slight stretch to recall the endlessly entertaining sounds one can generate when one attempts to play music on a rubber band, as well as the mystifying, yet clearly loopy implications of rubber band magic.

Thanks for the inspiration Grow-a-Brain

Croquet everywhere forever

If you find yourself in the woods, with a couple of croquet balls in your backpack, but neither mallet nor wicket, don't despair. Don't despair at all.

I found this inspirational photo on this site describing how campers can improvise equipment - which proves that you never can tell where your junkliness will come into play, as it were. Note the twig-wicket and flashlight-stake. I really like the whole idea of playing croquet in the woods - so many interesting tree- and rock-like obstacles to play around.

On the other hand, should you find yourself not in forest, and yet not on a sufficiently croquet-worthy lawn, there's Toequet which, apparently, is croquet played with soccer balls. Again, evidence of some significantly junkyard-inspired thinking on someone's part.

Yes, yes, you say, this is all well and good, but what if you already have a croquet set and a croquet-worthy lawn but just don't have the time anymore to spend your days playing? Well, thanks to the Wonder Wicket, you now have something to do with your nights.

Newspaper Sumo

Clearly, Newspaper Sumo is yet another junkyard sport destined for the Junkyard Sports® Hall of Fame. The first newspaper-using sport, I might add.

The game was devised by some educators in Japan. I took a few liberties with the description of the game - modifying it only slightly to take it out of the classroom context.
1. Place a sheet of newspaper on the floor.

2. One stands on the edge of the paper. The other stands on the other side. Their backs are facing each other.

3. The asks a question (e.g. "How old are you?", "What's this?" etc.)

4. The first to answer correctly takes one half step back.

5. Repeat from 3 until....

6. When their feet touch, they stop. The says "Go!" and without turning round they have to push the other player off the newspaper!! Just like the real game of Sumo, the first person to touch any part of the ground outside of the "ring" (or newspaper) loses!

My respect for the playability of this Newspaper Sumo increased significantly when I read the author(s) comment: "The beauty of this game is that the kids love to play it themselves in their free time!"


Percussion recycled

Junkyard sports and junk music share the same spirit. This is once again made manifest by a group called "Recycled Percussion" - apparently one of the hottest music groups to hit the college campus.

This article gives you a good taste of what they're all about:

...The lights are thrown on and we are looking at what seems to be the plastic section of a recycling center. Worn plastic barrels and trash cans covered with graffiti and stains are duck taped together into makeshift drum sets. Clean backdrops displaying the group's icon stand in stark contrast to pots, pans, and other items seemingly rescued from a landfill.

...Employing the use of anything with a hollow inside, the group performed with things like empty propane tanks, rusted 50 gallon barrels, and any kind of plastic bucket lying around. Without having to worry too much about damaging their "drums," the group let lose, pumping adrenaline into the crowd with each drum stick they broke.

...Predominately humorous, Recycled Percussion performs impromptu and constantly interacts with the crowd. Taking requests for songs, the group then imitated them with vocal sound effects using the microphone. Although the four members made what they did seem easy, the crowd started to appreciate the difficulty early on.

Cheering a soloist on, the noisy audience quieted with awe as a drummer's arms disappeared from motion blur. The group even used a chain saw to make music, rubbing it on a 50-gallon plastic barrel. A grinder on a rusted metal barrel sent sparks flying high into the air and cascading down over the performing members.

Any further questions, like, for example, why some of the performers where motorcycle helmets? A quick look at the clips on their site answers all.

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Junkyard Sports. Make your own badge here.

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