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

September 23, 2011|By Patrick Caneday

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.

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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.

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