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Wild Notions Of Fun!!! (on the subject of...)

Posted by tardboy on 07.11.2006 at 00:44
Current Mood: Coming Down Off A Sugar High
Current Music: that buzzing in my head

Hey-o! I had about 95% of a post on a paintball drinking game done, but it all got deleted, Tard as I am : (   I'll have to make another try at that most noble of subjects, but this post will be switching gears to a little scientific/philosophical theory.  (BTW, I've decided without precedence or permission that smileys may be treated as punctuation.)

Today's subject is 'Fun' (street vernacular may include: Vitamin 'F', A Blast, and Your Ya-Yaz). I mean, what is this 'Fun' thing, anyway? How come little kids and mentally retarded people seem to have such a screechingly great time simply twirling in circles or jumping up and down, whereas adults feel they need to buy trucks with giant tires and drive around in them drunk in attempt to achieve it. What about people who collect action figures just to put them behind glass or even not remove them from their original packaging? Are they actually having fun? There's a mean part of me that wants to point at those people and call them out on it just because, statistically speaking, such people are usually too feeble to be able to punch through cardboard. But, then again, I'm not really that mean, and some of them probably own those Klingon meele weapons. *daydreams of taking on a small, unorganized squad of wheezing dorks wielding Batleths and a plastic phaser.* Whoa! Where'd THAT come from? For that matter, why is it somehow instinctively fun to be mean? Let's take a look:

My theory is that fun is nature's way of rewarding us for exercising our brains in new ways. When we challenge ourselves mentally, it can often trigger the fun reflex in our brains. Sometimes it can trigger off frustration or impatience, but that's usually when we're preoccupied with a different mental challenge already. Picture having to do homework when you know you could be playing the new Battlezone Enhanced public beta from battlezoneclub.org or jumping on a trampoline. If it’s, say, Algebra II homework, even daydreaming about playing Pong might be a preferred use of our squishy RAM. (And yes, I am aware that some FREAKS actually like Algebra.)  Even when we think that our challenge is physical, it's also mental. Our brains coordinate our movements when we throw a Frisbee, and we have to adjust all our calculations for each throw. Pretty much anything you can think of that you consider fun is a form of brain exercise. Also, imagine doing that same thing so often that your brain doesn't get so stimulated by the activity anymore. It just gets boring, right? Loses its fun.

When you're a little kid, or if you have the mentality of one, just about anything can be fun. Kids tend to frolic a lot. I use the term 'frolic' here to mean having a form of fun that is just a pure enjoyment of each new moment in-the-now. The first time a little kid experiences snowfall, there's just a ton of new input to process. It can catch snowflakes without feeling the impact on its gloves, yet they tickle across its cheeks and eyelashes. Unfortunately, two things may eventually happen to spoil the fun: it could get old if the child is left alone in the snow without new input, or it could get associated with a traumatic experience, such as slipping on ice and hurting itself or getting uncomfortably cold. Both boredom and negative experiences can deter one from exploring an otherwise potentially fun situation. As an adult, do you find jumping up and down fun anymore? Have you 'given up' on ice skating or unicycle riding because frustration, injury, or embarrassment spoiled the fun for you? Maybe you just KNOW that trying wouldn't be worth your effort. After a while, we tend to cross off a whole lot of activities from the potential fun list for one reason or another and instead focus on a small few pursuits. Frolicking becomes very rare because things become ho-hum.

At some point in our lives, the frolicking also becomes embarrassing. Our peers might make fun of us for frolicking, such as enjoying blowing bubbles or galloping like a pony. Past a certain age, we are expected to 'grow up' : (  Socially, we are learning how we fit in amongst each other, sorting out a pecking order. A different type of mental challenge comes into play that some of us find to be more fun than others do: 'competition'. Whether we enjoy climbing that social ladder or are traumatized by the process can determine whether we become introverts or extroverts. Fortunately, we get many chances. There are many ways of climbing, and many ladders to climb. Those of us who can't impress the fellow kids with our throwing arm may best others with knowledge... such as of Pokemon characters and their attributes. The scope of our competitive fun can in many ways shape who we are, who we identify with, and how we approach all the challenges in life. Competition becomes unavoidable, and frolicking, unfortunately, becomes embarrassing. Often we reach a state where our status in the competition becomes more important than the fun of the activities.

Hopefully, we all eventually come to realize that competition isn't everything. We learn to dance around together in ways that are socially comfortable, such as at a concert while drinking $5 plastic cups of cheap beer. We learn to hoot obnoxiously while revving our engines. We even have kids or kittens and frolic with and through them. Hopefully we find friends with which we feel comfortable enough to frolic without feeling that we are being judged negatively by them. Yaaay! : )  There is the dark side to consider, though.

For some reason, being a jerk can be fun. It’s instinctually funny to watch a talented jerk at play, at least until the jerk goes too far. Each of us has that line drawn somewhere, guided by our sense of morals, and ever shifting in position as we grow or regress. Still, why is being or watching a jerk so fun? On the one hand, it’s connected with competition. It’s a way of besting someone by getting the better of him or her. When someone is pushed down, and it’s not us, we come out above them. This can’t possibly explain it all, though. I think another big factor is the sheer unexpectedness of jerk-related situations. When the unexpected happens, our brains have to step back and readjust to a new set of possibilities. This is why watching certain types of accidents is funny. When we are the ones who create the unexpected events, though, we can ‘play’ with other people’s minds. Giving somebody a wedgie when they least expect it can cause everybody around to readjust their concepts of what their peers are actually capable of doing to them. This can be fun or funny. If wedgies become the norm, though, it can just be plain mean. Not all jerks are funny.

So, from this we come to the realization that fun is generally a good thing. It's feedback and encouragement for excersizing our minds. It's in need of tempermant from our consciences, though. We really shouldn't be mean to people even if it might seem like fun. There's other fun to have and share. For instance, there's frolicking! I'm all for encouraging friends to frolick by creating a friendship that accepts and even enjoys each other when we are being silly. That, and there's beer.

Uh… Any questions?

Wow! That was a pretty long lecture. I’ll try to be funnier next time.

Oh, and sorry about the attack on the Klingon home world. It’s coo, brutha geeks… You a’ight ; )


Posted by tardboy on 06.30.2006 at 13:01
Current Mood: pleasently buzzed
Current Music: A Van Halen chanel on Pandora.com

Well, Mr. and/or Mrs. ______, It would appear that your son/daughter is what we in the education field would call an 'Under-Achiever'. *pained gritting of teeth while averting eyes laterally* You see, It's very apparent to us that he/she is a very, uh, BRIGHT boy/girl, but... he/she, for some reason, has trouble staying focused. He/She just refuses to perform in class for some reason or another.... Now, we're not necessarily blaming YOU!.., but we do have to respond to the fact that his/her grades have been slipping. 

Meanwhile, these were the years that we were in training to be superheroes, super spies, scientific geniuses, artistic geniuses, space explorers, wizards, ninjai, and other manifestations of heroic protagonists. Maybe we were shyer than James Bond and a bit short of as buff as
Arnold. The world of our immediate surroundings, of course, seldom lived up to the standards set by action/sci-fi/fantasy media. Still, adventures were certainly had and amazing skills were developed, and the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" felt like it could actually validly be answered, "A man/woman of mystery and excitement. A hero. Someone with a story worth telling!" Such people are out there. Even the ordinary, boring people of the world can have appreciation for them: Jaques Custeau, Burt Rutan, and even some of the people we meet. As a youngster, greatness is in book after book that we're assigned to read. Aspiration to greatness, at least to you and I, came naturally.

Now ______, have you even heard what I’ve been saying for the last five minutes? I can see by your class notes that you haven’t written any of it down. So when is the next project due? Do you even know what chapters it’s on? How about Cindy, do YOU know when the assignment is due? Very good, Cindy. That’s two weeks from tomorrow, ______, and it counts for 33% of your grade for this class. It’s very important so you SHOULD be paying attention. I just don’t know what this school is going to do with you if you fail Early American History.

At some point or other, you realized that it really IS going to be a rat race out there beyond school. At some point before you graduated, your ‘peers’ started warming up for that race, doing stretches and listening to the coach, even getting scouted for race teams. If a starting pistol were fired, you probably mistook it for something else. While you felt you were making the most of your free time after school, others had places to go and things to do. It all started sometime when you weren’t paying attention. Fellow students were helped onto tracks and given track schedules which listed out the stops along the way to their destinations. Which track were you on? You may not even remember. You got off it fairly early, couldn’t figure out the ticketing system, got busted writing something funny on the wall. You probably noticed that British Secret Service Agent, Jedi, Paladin, and Superhero were not destinations listed. Of course not. But Inventor? Intrepid Explorer? Aren’t there tracks for those? Well, as long as you can hold off that destination by going to college. Maybe take a Rat Behavior class or two. Hey, look! Other non-rats!

Dear Mr./Ms. _______: Thank you for your interest in employment opportunities with our company and for taking the time to interview for the position. While we were impressed with your background and qualifications, we are continuing our search for a candidate who more closely fits our needs for the position. Your resume will be maintained in our active file and, should an opening become available for which you are qualified, it will be subject to review again at that time. In the meantime, thank you for your interest in our company. We wish you success in all your future endeavors. Sincerely, Senior Recruiter, Human Resources Department.

But eventually, you did get some jobs. Maybe you even found a career you could ‘do’. Or not. Hopefully, though, (and I sincerely hope so) you kept true to yourself. You kept that spark alive. You know what spark: the one that flicks when lightning leaps around the sky. It flicks when you pass a really, really awesome tree. The spark that inspires you to hike up less popular trails. It flicks when you see or hear about someone doing something you think is really cool for the sake of doing it, despite many others not appreciating it from their tracks and rat cages. Hopefully you notice sparks in others, too, the non-rats: the wolves, otters, cats, cheetahs, birds, foxes, and dragonflies. Say hello to them, is all I ask. Nod in encouragement. Hang on to those of them you make friends with. That, and when you flicker, flicker brightly, and wear a hero’s costume from time to time. You can be an adventurer/protagonist no matter what your job is. When people ask you what you do, try the answer, “Swashbuckling!”

Sipping on metaphors, Tard_Boy -)---- 

The Tard Cave is now tentatively open!

Posted by tardboy on 06.19.2006 at 17:41
Current Location: Bellingham
Current Mood: Mildly Buzzed
Current Music: somafm.com The Secret Agent Channel

So, welcome to the Tard_Cave, such as it is. I'm Tard_Boy, and that guy over there *points toward Berlin, Germany* is Omega_Tard.

Us Tards are people who like to work toward fun in odd ways. We like making stuff. It's usually pretty weird stuff, though. Take the Tardboard armor for instance. There's a decent chance that someone visiting this site has seen the animation above. It's a sequence shot that O-Tard took of me using my Urban Camo Pack. This particular animation made its rounds on the net years ago and is even featured in ebaum's world, set to music I didn't choose, and is an avatar option on a few community boards. 

So what the heck are we? I'll take a stab at defining us: 

- We're inventors. We like to create new things that others may have never seen anything like before. Our creations are most often toys, such as surgical tubing water rocket cars, skewer dart guns, or my soon-to-be-patented Bingshot. We also invent games and activities such as Croquet For Beer, Flambe' Ball, and the Downhill Light Cycles Game. Some of what we make may sound dangerous, but it's basically about creating stuff we think is fun. 

- We're also, admittedly, Geeks of a sort. Let's face it, O-Tard and I really did enjoy the cartoons and movies we grew up with. They're a part of us as our Lore, such as Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Schwarzenegger movies, Aliens, Star Trek, and more. They guided us and misguided us, just as they entertained us and embarrassed us. We also dig gadgets, computer and videogames, role-playing games, old comic books, and toys. We tend to steer our Geek natures in our own unique ways, though, so we aren't just about nostalgia. You'll see what I mean. 

- We're also artists/humorists. We definitely have a need to create, and to have fun while doing so. We've been known to fuss with a comic strip, improvised music and comedy, animation (both film and digital), photoshopped art, and now this blog. We're hoping to share a wide variety of content if we can find the motivation. We've had hurdles to our motivation and productivity, such as moving to different countries, but we're both determined to Tard out. 

- We're adventurers. We really did train to be superheroes when we were kids :) Ahh, the memories! We've done a lot of hiking, climbing, bush-whacking, padded swordfighting, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, cliff-jumping, swinging on ropes, playing with fire, and other weird, dangerous, adventurous activities. We also tend to combine objectives and imagination into our adventuring. We place beacons at waypoints, bury treasures, and launch rockets at Imelda Marcos. There's role-playing involved, but to a degree where we are being us... not just still keeping our identities, but letting our true characters experience freedom. 

- We're philosophers, futurists, and social commentators. 

- We are scientists. 

- We're crafters of tasty brews and treats. 

- We're humble and realistic about what we can achieve, yet are also confident and optimistic. 

- We are also... freaks.... There, I said it! We know this. How could we possibly achieve the things we aim to do and still be normal people? Fitting into the mould of the way people expect people to act would just be too limiting for someone who would want to make art out of toys, edited media images, and Tardboard armor; who would aspire to make people laugh at us and not just with us.

So, why exactly are we "Tards"? Hmmm... Perhaps that'll get explained some other time. Anyway, welcome to The Tard_Cave. Grab a beer, check out whatever we have to share, and freak freely!