The Dog, the Flame, and the Magic Circle

Unbidden ideas will lead you if you’re prepared to follow them.

Democratizing Play

“Social leisure” that once enriched American life has declined as Americans have forsaken group play (bowling leagues and bridge nights, for instance) for more solitary amusement.

Jaak Panksepp: Archaeologist of the Mind

Panksepp believed that PLAY was the most complex of the positive emotions.

Better Learning Through Recess

The nation will pay for devaluing play.

Funny Philosophers

Can philosophers afford to be funny when asking the ultimate questions about life, the universe, and everything?

Playing With Politics vs. Playing Politics

Is the game of politics play?

Solving the Mystery of the Angel of the Asphalt

Most of us can look back, and with good reason, wonder how we ever survived our childhoods.
The Strong 2016

Lessons from the Trump Campaign

The bully’s sneer provides the age-old cue: Glee tinged with cruelty is not play.

Creepy Clowns Prowl the Uncanny Valley

When future historians look back, they will likely label our time an “Age of Anxiety.”

Playing Games With Memory

New technology makes it less urgent that we commit facts to memory.

Storming on Bastille Day

Sometimes, we learn most when things go haywire.

Aliens and Monsters

Science fiction authors always mean to open readers’ eyes wider, intending to broaden their perspective.

Play Foul and Fair

Rule breakers come in three varieties: the cheater, the spoilsport, and the game changer. We despise the first, we puzzle over the second, and usually, we admire the third.

Trump Tag

Playing politics on the playground

Alone Together and Going Downhill

Skiers who tune in tune out of the social side of skiing; insulated and cocooned this way, they miss attunement itself—a vital communal component of play.

Risk, Reality, and Croquet in the Age of Alarm

...we do, in fact, now live in a healthier, wealthier, more tolerant, less violent, and more secure world than ever.
Library of Congress/Wikipedia Commons

Jokes Endangered

Many years ago, with a minivan load of restive kids aboard who needed distracting, I asked them all to tell a joke. In the midst of the silence, my young daughter piped up with a knock-knock riddle I’d made up: “Knock, knock!” she said. “Who’s there?” the rest of them replied, “Margaret Thatcher!” she said. “Margaret Thatcher who?” they wanted to know.

How Charlie Got His Groove Back

Charlie the Dog or The Dood—our undersized, but athletic Goldendoodle—spent his first four-and-a-half years enthralled by squirrels and hooked on the game of chasing them.

Want to Know What Constitutes Play?

Play is a moving target. We may know it when we see it, but pinning play down is quite another thing.

Enough Already!

This winter is one for the books. The usually jovial Al Roker has become a regular on the nightly news, frowning with grave tidings of clippers bearing down from Alberta and screamers screaming south from Saskatchewan. Here at home the snowpack is the deepest in 15 years. We built a snowman (really a snow moose) in the back yard during Winter Storm Neptune.

The Intelligence of the Feet

We play instinctively but not without instruction: nurture informs nature.

In Praise of the Wandering Mind

Daydreaming as play

Zombies for Halloween

Play at the edge of the uncanny valley.

Dreams Amaze and Bemuse Us

Playing games with dreams

Selling Robin Williams Short

The World is Open for Play

Begging An Answer But Not The Question

What’s up with funny words?

Cheaters, Spoil-Sports, Magic, and the Fallen Hero

Fan Psychology and the Tour de France

My Least Favorite Things

Parody as Release

Competition Without Competition

Can games grant us peace?