11.20.07 Tilt-o-Wheel (formerly Paydates)
Safely stow all personal belongings. Be advised that management is not responsible for injuries resulting from following rambunctious recitation of rejuvenile-flavored news nuggets…
Capture that Flag. An epic five-family game of Capture the Flag over the weekend has reawakened my love for this ridiculously involving kidgame. Players aged 5-50 got completely immersed in strategizing, sprinting and stealthy sneaking for two-plus hours. Only bummer was waking up next morning to find myself sore in all sorts of unmentionable nooks and crannies. Recuperating at home, play guru Bernie DeKoven tipped me off to this newfangled urban street version. The organizers are New Mind Space, a wildly commendable art-play gang that hosts rejuvenile street event/games/happenings like last week’s light saber battle, street pillow fights and “bubble battles.” Check their website for upcoming events in Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Montreal and Vancouver.
Baffling toys. Bored by Barbie? Unmoved by Legos? Maybe it’s time to graduate to a new, weirder class of plaything. How about a she-male baby doll? Or a Playmobile Hazmat crew? The online edition of that long-lost juvenile humor mag Cracked has an amazing compendium of “25 of the weirdest, most ill-conceived toys from around the globe.” I myself am now determined to get my own “toilet training tiger,” complete with sound chip that blurts “Crap! Crap like a champion!” (Thanks to “Count” Conte for the tip).
Bad-ass toys. I like to think of myself as a conscientious parent. I generally avoid battery-operated, crash-bang toys in favor of puzzles and blocks and other playthings that encourage open-ended imaginative play and so on and we’re all free, free to be you and me whatever. The point is, I avoid toys that will turn my offspring into spastic, ultraviolent little maniacs. But sometimes a dad can’t help it. Two new recent arrivals in our household have inspired mad fits of fun in both the 8-year-old boy and his 30-something dad. The first is the V-Bot, a Transformer-like robot that, with the touch of a remote, twists and folds and turns into a respectable red sports car that can zoom and careen around the house and utterly terrify the family dog (Check out YouTube clip of astonishing transformation here). From the same manufacturer comes Battle Wheels, a line of remote controlled, anime-inspired wheeled robots that bash into each other, Rock Em Sock Em Robot-style. Both toys have inspired hours of unimaginative, closed-ended and entirely awesome fun.
Wiggleheads? Really? We all know kids go bananas for Australian kiddie pop TV stars The Wiggles. But somehow I thought that even the most golly-gee rejuveniles would be immune from their super-cheery, crazy-creepy shtick (is it just me, or does the guy in purple look like the kind of fellow who circles playgrounds in tinted-window vans?). But proving yet again that literally anything kids enjoy will be inevitably taken up by rejuveniles, the group has attracted a loyal adult fanbase that calls itself (wait for it) the Wiggleheads. Amusing/horrifying Q&As with die-hard Wiggles groupies here.
05.05.07 Playdates (Formerly Confetti Egg)
Strap on your sneakers, pack up some snacks and get going, whippersnappers – fun awaits in London, LA and New York…
Tally-ho, U.K. Rejuveniles! Shadowy benefactor Gideon Reeling (either the name of an esteemed 71-year-old British mogul or the moniker of a production company run by a cheeky group of London theater geeks) is footing the bill for a fantastic weekend of creative fun on the banks of the Thames. The Hide & Seek Festival is the first U.K. event to showcase “pervasive games,” those gussied-up scavenger hunts and elaborate make-believe scenarios that have begun to trickle down to us plebes from the gaming elite (witness the Come Out & Play Festival in New York, which recently announced dates for its second annual event). The esteemed Mr. Reeling has assembled a roster of activities described as “all the best games you played as a kid with a grown up twist.” The games will “transform the city into a playground, make your heart race, change the way you see the world and get you playing nicely with others.” Game titles include Sheer Lunacy, Drunkpunch and Mr. Reeling’s Assistants (in which players will experience the thrill of running pointless errands for a 71-year-old mogul! Bonus round: sponge bath!)
Mighty Mamas Skate! Mother’s Day approacheth, a day of beautiful bouquets, breakfasts in bed and insane ollies on the half pipe (cue comical record scratch). For the fourth year running, Barb Odanaka (the Orange County housewife-turned-skate rat profiled in chapter two of Rejuvenile) is organizing the Mighty Mama Skate-O-Rama, a day of wicked tricks, awesome raffles and party-hearty celebration for skateboarding moms. Festivities begin at 10 am, Sunday May 13 at the Laguna Niguel Skatepark in south Orange County. More information here (click on “Barb’s Blog").
Books + babysitters + booze = awesome playdate. Parent Play, the Manhattan party planners that specialize in family-friendly weekend parties, have another great event coming up: Get Up & Giggle, a pre-Memorial Day bash that will feature a discussion with Christie Mellor, author of the seminal momoir The Three Martini Playdate, along with the usual assortment of spa treatments and gift bags for adults and supervised fun for the kiddies. You’ll have to dig deep into your allowance for this one, however: tickets are $70 a family ($80 at the door).
The shell is dyed, the hole poked, the yolk drained… now go ahead, smash this fragile ovoid and release its bounty of smallish items of interest!
Alternadads unite. The Sunday LA Times included my review of Neal Pollack’s book about struggling to stay cool in the cultural dead zone of fatherhood. Pollack is a fellow Angeleno with a distaste for Barney and an obsessive desire for his kids to appreciate good rock and roll. It’s a very funny and thoughtful book, and Pollack is keeping a great Blog about the ongoing hilarity of raising his son Elijah. Elsewhere in blogland, here’s a review of my review.
RPS goes corporate. You’ve been in meetings since dawn, you’ve just wolfed down a wilted cobb salad and you’re now facing a long afternoon holed up in a conference room with a crowd of dispirited office monkeys… only one thing will save you now: rock paper scissors. Really. The World RPS Society (the original Toronto-based league of twee intellectuals, not to be confused with the balls-out, Bud-endorsed US Rock Paper Scissors League) has just launched a service that will organize and referee RPS tournaments at conferences, office parties and other business events. A frivolous exercise in forced cheer? No way – this is an ingenious way to quickly break professional artifice and generate creativity, communication and fun. (Here’s a hint, minions: bosses throw rock.)
Harrumphing Codgers rejoice! Here’s a manifesto for cranky old men! British author and broadcaster Michael Bywater has published what sounds like a clever tho reactionary survey of the Rejuvenile phenomenon, or to quote his title, Big Babies: Why Can’t We Just Grow Up? Reviews say it’s about how government and advertising treat adults as “mewling infants who have to be told, essentially, look look shiny shiny coin coin every forlorn second of every babyish day.” There’s good reason to worry about business and government encouraging adults to drop critical defenses, but I refuse to believe the answer to that problem is a return to the rigid and overserious traditional mold of maturity. The rejuveniles I met while working on the book were mature in many ways and immature in many others – as I say in the book, it’s possible to lead a happy healthy life that “includes charity and skateboarding, G-8 summit position papers and midnight cupcakes, long stretches of concentrated seriousness and mad fits of impulsiveness.”
12.12.06 Strobe Lights (Formerly Snackage)
You there, against the wall – drop the Dixie cup and get out on the dance floor. Under the flickering lights, behold!
• I took this photo a few weeks ago on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood and find myself thinking about this poor guy way too often. Beyond wondering about what goes through his mind all day long (Isn’t this how Brad Pitt started?), my question is this: isn’t $14.99 a little steep for a fart machine?
• I just relaunched my author site to include a deeper archive of clips and a Flickr site of photos, doodles and found art. Fun stuff.
• The unstoppable force for good known as Kim and Jason Kotecki have done a sweet redesign of their website devoted to Adultitis, the Jason-named condition marked by over-seriousness, chronic dullness and all the other assorted qualities rejuveniles seek to avoid. Take the online intake questionaire and begin your treatment today!
• If ever there was a worthwhile political campaign for rejuveniles, this is it: preservationists are rallying to stop demolition of an amazing little playground in San Gabriel. I discovered Monster Park a few years ago while hunting for a soup dumpling joint: there, tucked beside a storm drain amidst drab suburban sprawl was a cluster of odd concrete figures – a dinosaur, an octopus, a whale – all of which you could slide and climb and scramble all over. It’s the sort of weird, wonderful, probably-unsafe-but-delightfully-so place for kids that you never see anymore. Even if you’ll never make it to San Gabriel to see it yourself, trust me: sign the petition and join the effort to stop the Man from slaying these lovable monsters to make room for another bland, padded plastic-composite play structure. (Link via Spike Brower, who used Monster Park as a principal location in his terrific short film The Fish Burglars)
• Bond goes rejuvenile: In a clever co-opting of moves that mix Kung Fu grace with Spiderman daring-do, the new Bond movie Casino Royale gets an thrilling kick from the age-norm-busting urban gymnastic known as parkour. Producers cast Sebastien Foucan, the parkour pioneer featured in chapter 3 of Rejuvenile, as Mollaka the Bomb-Maker, who leads Bond on an intense opening foot chase. Not shabby for a 36-year-old dad.
• Here’s a culinary event for rejuveniles – the Grilled Cheese Invitational, an annual meeting of gooey sandwich connoisseurs described as “part competition, part fashion disaster and part rave potluck.” (thanks to best teevee critic ever Heather Havrilesky for tip)
• Trendspotters Buzzfeed did a nice roundup on adult enthusiasm for Legos, which I write about in chapter 2 of Rejuvenile. The Buzzfeed piece links to a bunch of sites by AFOL’s (Adult Fans of Lego), including one by former JPL engineer and entrepreneur Phillip Alvelda who says Legos were a “transformative toy for me that unleashed my imagination around the realization that I could build ANYTHING.” (Thanks to reader Brian Vartabedian for the link)
10.04.06 Party Favors (Formerly Niblets)
Thanks so much for stopping by! Grab a goodie bag, stuffed today with an assortment of low-cost, high-fun educational trinkets….
• Bernie De Koven, that reclusive Jedi knight of the rejuvenile world, has a great Podcast in which he monologues about the meaning of fun and games. Most recently, he posted a terrific audio essay on “deeply played games,” which he defines as high-profile, popular games that function as theatrical events and sources for life lessons as much as competitive events. My favorite line comes from a bit about American football: “It’s the brash, energetic, puppy-like play of a young culture, a game of total engagement, barely kept within the bounds of play. It’s highly organized, thinly disguised play fighting.”
• Another day, another viral kickball video. “Alive and Kicking” is a funny short about one man’s induction to the world of high-stakes adult kickball. In a sort of amateur kickball answer to “Dodgeball: A Ture Underdog Story,” the movie includes a championship match against a team of cut-throat rivals and a grizzled old kickball vet. Thanks, Scorekeeper, for the link!
09.06.06 Grab Bag (Formerly Ball Pit)
Go ahead: sink your grubby little fist in the grab bag and pull out a quick rejuvenile goodie:
• The NPR program “Marketplace” ran a commentary from yours truly yesterday about toyification – the transformation of everyday adult stuff from utilitarian to positively toy-like (Requires Real Player).
• Another example of everyday rejuvenalia that had never occurred to me: the chocolate-flavored frozen coffee drink (grown-up coffee in guise of tasty sweet treat!). That’s one of several good observations in a feature on the book by Marilyn Bailey that’s been turning up all over the McClachy Newspaper chain.
• Sure he’s a slacker and a potty-mouth sex fiend, but is the slacker brother-in-law on Showtime’s Weeds a rejuvenile? I weighed in on how the book applies to the fictional characters on My Favorite Teevee Show last week in the Baltimore Sun.
• Will someone please respond to this Amazon reviewer talking trash about the book? I know I should do the mature thing and not spent another instant wondering why “gcon from Arizona” was so disapointed by the book, but what can I say? I’m a rejuvenile. And so I want to somehow both earn his/her praise and give her/him an expert wedgie.
08.29.06 Ball Pit (Formerly Sweet Spots)
Herewith, your semi-regular helping of shorts and briefs and assorted rejuvenile tidbits:
• Crazy-smart, super-articulate blogger Michelle Klein-Hass wrote a terrific response to my rumination on rejuveniles and lifespans, and expands on the why’s and wherefores of the rejuvenile impulse on her blog. She also contributes to a podcast called Cartoon Geeks and a site called Toonmag. Count me deeply impressed.
• Did you know the average man burns 582 calories in a single game of kickball? Or that women shed 357 calories? That’s almost enough to cover a single chocolate peanut butter cucake from Joan’s on Third… Statistics culled from story today on Illinois kickball scene in Rockford Register Star.
• New York rejuveniles, especially those with kids of their own, will find plenty of tips for good times in this weekend service story in New York Post. Get the 411 on local dodgeball games, roller rinks, spelling bees and kiddie food emporiums (Only in Gotham could you find eateries specializing in mac-and-cheese, flavored peanut butter and cereal).
• More news-you-can-use for New York rejuveniles in Time Out New York, which just did a package on “avant-nerds,” their name for hipsters with a taste for the bizarrely childish. Among the upcoming avant-nerdy attractions: concert series devoted to video game music, the Williamsburg Spelling Bee and a group of sci-fi geeks who wage versions of capture the flag using plastic lightsabers. Cool.
• The normally quite conservative Washington Times (are they still owned by the Moonies?) did an uncharacteristically hip story titled “Playfully Adult” about the book and within-the-beltway rejuveniles. Proof that the rejuvenile impulse is not exclusive to progressively-minded “avant nerds”: profile of 49-year-old skate rat who also happens work for Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.
08.17.06 Sweet spots
The first step, they say, is acceptance. I admit it: I simply can’t keep up with all the developments on the rejuvenile frontier.
I’ve come to dread opening up my ongoing file of potential blog topics – it’s overflowing with media updates, stray anecdotes left out of the book, and cool little odds & ends that variously capture the rejuvenile spirit. It’s simply outrageous I haven’t written about cupcakes until now. And how could I have remained mum on neoteny, or treehouses, or video games? Criminal, I tell you.
I might give all these topics their due if I didn’t have other stuff to attend to (high on my to-do list: #1) take care of three kids, #2) reconnect with shell-shocked TV producer wife and, oh yeah, 3) write next book). But in the meantime, it seems clear I need a more expedient way of distributing these goodies.
Thus, welcome to sweet spots, a recurring section of short little descriptions and links. (Is that name too cutesy? Maybe I’ll take a cue from the Weeds theme song this year and change the title every week. Trinkets? Free Prize Inside? Snack Time? Clean Your Room? Anyone?)
Anyhow, here’s a few spots that are sweet:
• The Lovely Mrs. Davis is a kindred spirit, work-at-home mom, and grade-A rejuvenile with a fine ear for quality kid music, classic kids TV and other assorted media pleasures. I’m thrilled she got in touch, and further grateful for her tips about kid music blogs Spare the Rock and Zooglobble.
• The Contra Costa Times published a terrific piece today on the book and Bay Area rejuveniles, including the incomparable Richard Tuck.
• Chicago writer Rod O’Connor wrote a wonderful feature for the front page of the Sunday Style section of the Chicago Tribune last week on the book, including some nuanced analysis and great profiles of local rejuveniles, including a guy obsessed with electronic football (remember that?).