Small Wonders: Games we all can play but perhaps shouldn't

First it was planking.

Wikipedia defines planking as “lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location … refers to mimicking a wooden plank. Rigidity of the body must be maintained to constitute good planking.”

As with all great social movements, many people claim to be the originator of planking, or as it is more simply known, the “Lying-down Game.” Though I think credit is due the nameless sot who first exited a pub having guzzled six too many pints.

Then it was owling. Similar to planking, but in this art form, the practitioner squats like an owl. Fine-tuned muscle control and comfortable shoes are required. But only a rare few humans have ever mastered the owling technique of turning one's head 270 degrees.

The Internet is rife with images of people performing these acts of civil inconvenience. But such noteworthy activities (a.k.a. “fads”) that skyrocket to popularity and cultural relevance rarely pay due homage to those that came before; they don't respect the rebellions and renegades that made it possible for today’s artistes to squat or lay still face-down in random places.

Generations of craftsmen have expressed their unique, superfluous talents before the current herd of lemmings and wannabes, enduring hardship, ridicule, or worse, a complete lack of notoriety. None of it would have been possible without the bravery of those that led the way, and it's time we paid proper recognition to the avant-garde guerrilla movements that set the stage.

Parroting: the act of repeating what someone else says without thought or understanding. Most commonly and inconveniently practiced by young children having overheard their parents talking about the neighbors.

Aping: the act of imitating a person’s movements or demeanor, often in an exaggerated manner. Much maligned as a mean-spirited act of mimickery, the term “aper” has, however, enjoyed steady popularity in crossword puzzles over the years.

Peacocking: dressing for the purpose of getting attention. While it is hard to find the line between good and bad peacocking, red carpets and trendy nightclubs are the most common venues to witness this practice. Lady Gaga is considered a master peacocker. Hirsute, middle-aged men wearing Adidas sweatsuits and “bling” at Costco are not.

Working (also called the “Sitting-at-Desk Game”): the act of enslaving oneself to an institution or individual for a set number of hours weekly (most commonly 40 or more) for the purpose of monetary accumulation. Due to the financial aspect inherent in working, as well as its rigid formalities, debates rage whether this is truly an art form or merely a chore. Only time will tell.

Water-boiling: the act of staring at nothing in particular with glassy eyes. Participants often enjoy practicing this simultaneously with working.

Walmarting: A controversial practice in which one takes a warehouse-sized building and fills it with imported clothing, housewares, electronics and groceries, and sells them to a community hungry for the cheapest possible anything. Small business bankruptcies and slave-like working conditions for Third World populations are common and ugly side effects of Walmarting.

Popcorning (a.k.a the “Aging Game”): Characterized by the uncontrolled, loud cracking of limb joints, this one is almost exclusively practiced by those of us age 40 and over. While popcorning can be done anywhere, it is most commonly performed when getting out of bed in the morning.

Slothing: closely tied to water-boiling, slothers are seasonal and more focused, staring only at NFL games on TVs from August to January annually. Master slothers surround themselves with light beer, chips and pizza while emitting unpleasant odors.

Promising (or more accurately, the “Slight-of-Hand Game”): the act of telling a group of people what they want to hear in order to get a desired outcome with no intent to actually follow through on the promise. Practiced extensively by anyone seeking public office, the nature of the promise varies widely, though the desired outcome is always the same: your vote.

Jackassing: The act of stubbornly standing one’s ground despite the needs, rights and desires of others (not to be confused with Heel-Dragging, which is performed primarily by strong-willed five to 10-year-olds, and adult males with full dirty-clothes hampers). Closely tied to the promising movement, jackasses are former promisers who have received enough votes. (Also see: the “Political Game” and “Backpedaling”)

Coultering (a spinoff of promising and jackassing): the act of telling other people what to think in a smug, contemptuous and patronizing manner. This craft is frequently practiced by media analysts, newspaper columnists, bloggers and poker buddies. Fundamental qualities to effective coultering include: a condescending smile, self-righteous opinions and no substantive credibility or authority to espouse them.

And lastly, breathing (a.k.a. the “Existing Game”): this craft speaks for itself and is said to be the most popular fad in history. However, it is frowned upon in gas station restrooms and the food court lavatories at the Glendale Galleria.

PATRICK CANEDAY just wants to be “liked.” Friend him on Facebook. Read more at Contact him at

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World