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"Playing games takes the 'work' out of working out."

Larry Magid has been writing about fitness for several years now. Like many of us, his long career as a computer-using journalist left him with a body that sorely needed to be taken a lot more seriously. This is what led him to starting his NoBellyPrize.com website. Which, in turn, led him to being the first reviewer with enough sensitivity to understand one of the key contributions of Junkyard Sports.

In his review he writes:
Participating in competitive sports such as soccer, football, basketball, baseball, hockey and volleyball can be a great way to get and stay in shape whether you're 7 or 70. Playing games takes the 'work' out of working out. You don't 'work' basketball, you 'play' it.
What a wonderful way to describe what Junkyard Sports is all about: "You don't 'work' basketball, you 'play' it." Gotta love it.

And then, even better, Larry shares a personal experience that underscores why Junkyard Sports is such a welcome invitation to fitness:
I played many games with my kids when they were growing up including 'formal' ones like tennis, softball, basketball and the like. But the game that I most remember happened one day in a park, just after we finished a picnic lunch. We had some aluminum foil left over from our sandwiches so we rolled it up into a ball and started playing junkyard baseball. Part of the game didn't even involve a bat - we just threw the 'ball' and ran the basis as if we had hit it with a bat. Later one of the kids found a broken off tree limb that served as a perfectly good bat. The kids and I had a great time running around the make shift bases and, by the way, we got a great workout in the process.

More Whimsy, More Junk, More Art

Liz Mamorsky's "Functional and Dysfunctional Art" is a glorious testimony to the connections between junk, art, and fun. A brief tour of her online gallery makes the case for play as an aesthetic experience, over and over and over.

In her own commentary, she reveals precisely the kind of openness and spontaneity and inspired madness that is required for anyone who wants to play art:
"With sculpture, form determines function. A new object arrives and sparks an idea of what it will become, joined with materials that may have been lying around the studio for years. I love dismantling machines and finding the treasures within - the interior landscape. I don't sketch, but instead lay out the objects on the floor, adding and deleting until the piece evolves. Often the outcome is markedly different from what I had roughly envisioned. Since my sculpture is entirely self-taught, I still have the thrill of new challenges in construction. I do not weld, as I work largely with wooden foundry patterns and circuit boards. Instead, I use a variety of screws, hinges and other joining devices. Glue is used only when absolutely necessary - I hate the stuff! I enjoy the mechanical challenge of building the piece and doing electrical wiring. I am present and grounded..."
Embracing the realization that, as she so openly states, "often the outcome is markedly different from what I had roughly envisioned," she captures the essence of the spirit that guides her along the playful path, towards delight, surprise, and the realization of her unique vision. Kinda makes you think that even you could be an artist.

Can You Flick It?

At one time, for only £2.99, you, too, could have your very own set of finger boots, a finger-kickable soccer ball and even a finger-kickable, soccer-ball-sized soccer goal (sorry, out of stock).

On the other, uh, hand, should you prefer a slightly more accessible, and clearly sillier take on this whole finger-sports concept, you could draw endless inspiration from Canon's Can You Flick-It finger football campaign. There you can find a small slew of Finger Football videos (Canon's version of Finger Football involves images of soccer players that you print - using of course your Canon printer - cut out and put your fingers through) complete with paper trophies, audience and camera. You can find further inspiration in some artfully contrived videos.

And yes, it's all quite silly, and yet, from a Junkyard Sports perspective, positively inspiring.


Instrumental Transformations

"Ken Butler's is an artist and musician whose hybrid musical instruments, collage drawings, performances, and installations explore the interaction and transformation of common objects, altered images, sounds and silence."

He more or less explains: "My hybrid musical instrument sculptures, collage/drawings, performances, and audio-visual installations explore the interaction and transformation of objects, sounds, and altered images as function and form collide in the intersection of art and music. A spirit of re-invention and hyper-utility attempts to reveal hidden meanings and associations, momentarily creating a striking and re-animated cultural identity for common objects."

Talking about his "Lost and Sound" sculptures, he says: "Found object/instrument forms combine with arrangements of hardware and machine parts to create a reliquary of silent sound shapes that reflect this transition and pay homage to Cubist still life. The iconic, symbolic, and ergonomic guitar/violin/cello/bass body, a mainstay of musical/visual form and function for hundreds of years, is now being replaced with the inevitable playback device/black box as sound samples replicate the physical vibrating object. A spirit of re-invention and hyper-utility attempts to reveal the hidden meanings and associations of common objects, momentarily creating a striking and re-animated cultural identity."

Don't you kinda wish you could talk like that? For me, his work says it better. It says that the things other people throw away are the very stuff of inspiration; that people with an eye for "good junk" are artists in their own right, seeing beyond labels and limits, renewing the world, having fun creating fun.

Thrifty Fun

Yes, yes, it was "fun" what made lured me in. And "thrift" what roused my junkly sensibilities. And when I found myself clicking through the various articles in Thrifty Fun, I knew that once again my ceaseless seeking had lead me only slightly astray.

It's an online community, is what it is, of people who exchange tips on how to save money on this and that, and talk about things like Alternative uses for dryer sheets and Uses for old toothbrushes. And, well, it is fun. Like Junkyard Sports are fun. Inherently fun. Just to figure out ways to reuse stuff you'd normally throw away. Because it frees you a little from that whole getting and spending commercial consuming thing. And it challenges you to think outside of the, well, box. And it's play-like, because you don't have to do it. And, with online communities like this, it connects you with people of like mind. And it's kind of a game. And it pays off, even.

Did you, for example, know you can use used dryer sheets to:

1. Get rid of ants: It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them.

2. Musty book smells: It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that don't get opened too often.

3. Repels mosquitoes: Tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.

4. Eliminates static electricity from your television screen. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling.

5. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a sheet of Bounce.

6. Freshen the air in your home. Place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer or hang in the closet.

7. Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce before beginning to sew.

8. Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.

9. Freshen the air in your car. Place a sheet of Bounce under the front seat.

10. Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti static agent apparently weakens the bond between the food and the pan while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food.

11. Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket.

12. Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.

13. Eliminate static electricity from venetian blinds. Wipe the blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.

14. Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used sheet of Bounce will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.

15. Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet of Bounce at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.

16. Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight so they will smell better in the AM

Popcorn - Junk Food for Body and Soul

The other night, my wife, Rocky, found a poem she had written many years ago, after our friend Ken Feit had died in a traffic accident. Ken, who called himself an "itinerant Fool," graced our lives with his many wonderful stories, and his incredibly gentle being. We attended one of his performances in which he used a spoon, a candle, and a kernel of popcorn to demonstrate the art of joyful surprise. It was one of the simplest, most elegant experiences of absolute wonder I have ever witnessed. He just sat there, holding the spoon over the candle, watching the kernel. And somehow, we all were utterly absorbed, waiting, with him, for the magic to happen. And when it did, his face exploded into such sheer delight that we were all transformed into the children we've always been.

OK, I realize this may be a kind of heavy-handed introduction to a story about the world's best junk food. But, well, popcorn is kind of like that. Here's some popcornly kernels of wisdom: "Carelessly, we think of it as 'junk food,' however, popcorn is a thorough-going vegetable which supplies your body with more iron than eggs, peanuts, spinach or roast beef. It contains more phosphorous and fiber than potato chips, ice cream cones or pretzels!"

And this: "Few foods are as old as corn. As far back as 80,000 years, fossil corn pollen was discovered 200 feet below Mexico City, and scholars believe the first use for corn was popped corn. Besides eating it, they used the white "beads" to adorn their bodies. Native Americans held ears of corn over a fire until kernels popped, then they ate it off the cob. Later, they removed kernels, threw them into the fire, then scramble for them as they popped free. This led to heating kernels and sand in clay pots and separating the two. Shallow clay vessels, as broad as eight-feet, have been found in Mexico and South America from as far back as 500 A.D. People from the Pre-Incan society used similar pots as early as 300 A.D. Popping corn has tremendous keeping qualities. Archaeologists tell of a donkey which came upon some thousand-year-old kernels and ate at them. Also, scientists discovered corn this old will still pop."

All of which explains why popcorn is the official recommended Junkyard Sports junk food.

If you want to know more about Ken Feit, Joseph F. Martin has collected some of his stories in his book Foolish Wisdom.

Spontaneous Junkyard Sports

Sacred son Elyon have been at play. He's developed an interest in a different approach to junkyard sports. I'll let him speak for himself:

At the heart of Junkyard Sports is the desire to give people the power to play together better. By using junk, scrap, trash and treasures that lie at hand, friends, family and colleagues can play in a way that gives them power over the game, towards inclusive fun.

The genius in Junkyard Sports lies not only in its reuse of the world, but also in its application: sports. Everybody, more or less, knows how to play whatever popular sports people know. Most people I know know something about how to play golf, hockey and football. The play in Junkyard Sports lies in the reframing of the sport, to be inclusive, collaborative, together fun.

But any Junkyard Sports event requires a certain amount of planning, foresight, agreement, concerning the people in play, the place, the clean junk to bring, etc.

Spontaneous Junkyard Sports is a foray into spontaneous fun. Towards anyone-anywhere-anything fun. Where with whomever you are, wherever you are, with whatever you can find at hand, you can instantly launch into play.


Bernie and Elyon went to Albertson's market the other day. There they found a very quiet part of the parking lot.

Then they found that the double lines demarking the parking spaces made narrow rings - a hole!

Then they found an old bottle cap - a puck!

The cap was a bit dirty. They looked for a club - something long so they wouldn't have to touch the cap. Then they found the side of their feet! But still, only one puck.

Someone said: over to that parking space.

Someone said: okay, let's do it in 3!

Someone said: you're on.

Someone: -kick-


Someone: -kick-

Someone: -kick-

Someone: were we supposed to get it in the hole in 3 total, or do we each get three?


Recycled Plastic Bag Art

Artist John Dahlsen has created a small collection of Recycled Plastic Bag Art that, in a truly junkmasterly fashion, wrests beauty from, well, trash. He explains: "I have been developing new works in 2003 using recycled plastic bags as the primary medium. This new work is a slight departure from my more recognizable assemblage works in which I used plastics and other detritus collected from the Eastern Australian seaboard. I am with this work, apart from wishing to express obvious environmental messages, particularly interested in the brilliance of the colours and textures available to me in working with this medium. I am constantly surprised to see the variations in these plastics, in fact much like how I am intrigued by the beach found objects I have collected over the years."

Dahlsen also likes to make things like totems, kinda like totem poles, more like towers of junk. And again, he manages to make genuine, unmistakable art out of them. They are what you might call "towering testimonies" to the power of an artistic vision, and the allure of someone who allows himself the fun of playing with junk. His stuff looks like art. His stuff is priced like art. His stuff even won him an opportunity to create a giant junk statue of an Absulut Vodka bottle.

Here's a guy whose success is impressive enough, and materials rubbishy enough, to make you think that even you could make art out of junk. Which, of course, is the whole point.

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