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While reading Dan Simmons's Emdymion (a fine sf novel, third in the Hyperion series) I had a momentary flashback in Chapter 33 upon spying:

... Men were milling around, most of them making toward the door and windows on this side to see what the commotion was, but they made way for me as I dodged through them like a deep brooder on a fifty-three-man squamish team herding the goat in for the goal.

I had to laugh when I recognized the allusion, since among other detritus of an ill-spent youth my mental lumber-room is full of clippings from Mad Magazine, where the game "43-Man Squamish" was first unveiled by artist George Woodbridge and writer Tom Koch in the June 1965 issue. As a parody of organized team sports Squamish had wonderfully obscure nomenclature, silly equipment, and hypercomplex rules. For example, the (revised) Article XVI, Paragraph 77, Section J reads:

The offensive left Underblat, in all even-numbered ogres, must touch down his Frullip at the edge of the Flutney and signal to either the Head Cockswain, or to any other official to whom the Head Cockswain may have delegated this authority in writing and in the presence of two witnesses, both of whom shall have been approved and found to be of high moral character by the Office of the Commissioner, that he is ready for play to continue.

Squamish reminds me of the Calvin & Hobbes (Bill Watterson) creation Calvinball, which includes near-infinite mutability of the game itself ("Any player may declare a new rule at any point in the game ..."), and which in turn brings to mind the inductive Eleusis and the philosophical Nomic ("A Game of Self-amendment") — none of which have I ever successfully played. But it's the concept that counts ...

(see http://www.collectmad.com/madcoversite/index-quiz_olympics.html, http://bartel.org/calvinball/, http://www.logicmazes.com/games/eleusis.html, and http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/nomic.htm for Squamish, Calvinball, Eleusis, and Nomic discussions; cf. AbsurdJuxtaposition (21 Oct 1999), PlasticMemory (10 Jul 2001), ThreeManBoat (10 Jan 2002), WonderLand (4 Jan 2003), ...)

Peter Suber's page on the game and related links:

TopicLiterature - TopicHumor - TopicRecreation - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicPhilosophy - Datetag20050904

(correlates: FreeTrope, ToThePain, GiveMeTheBrain, ...)