Monday, June 12, 2006


Polygon counts, processor speeds, motion-sensing, hard discs, custom chipsets, online capabilities, media formats… you know what’s missing from the ongoing/upcoming videogame wars? Buffalo testicles. Portable, cordless buffalo testicles – or at least a rawhide facsimile thereof. Electric society has left us screen-staring, thumb-twiddling, deathmatching and PictoChatting, dumping our disposable dollars into an unending series of gizmos and gizmotic paraphernalia with boredom always minutes away… and all along, all we needed was to reach back to the wisdom of our fur-trapping past for the entertainment miracle that is a tanned, sand-stuffed scrotum and a couple of sticks…

A blindingly brilliant, hotter-than-hell summer day with money in pocket and nowhere to be – even the hardest-dying of videogame addicts can’t argue against all that good gravity pulling them out of unventilated basements and into the bright world of our city’s many cheap-as-free summertime activities. The history and mystery of this place has been much on our minds lately, and so it was that we packed a bowl, a water-bottle and a Honda Civic and rolled on down to that timbered treasure of the river valley, Fort Edmonton park.

We didn’t expect our history-park adventure to turn into a gaming day, but there it was, right off: a two-lobed leather beanbag and a couple of trimmed birch branches, leaning against a wall in the corner of the courtyard of the Fort proper. I don’t even know how we knew those items comprised a playset; Fort Edmonton doesn’t have all kinds of ugly illusion-breaking explanatory signs everywhere, and the costumed interpreter I think was on testicle-stick duty was busy demoing Native beadwork for a workshopful of cooing women. It just seemed right, somehow; we picked up the sticks, and nothing will ever be the same.

Friends, this game with the nutsack and the twigs – it no doubt has an official, historical name but we just call it Scrotoss – is the new frisbee. It’s even easier to learn than Frisbee, if you can believe it, and the minute you start flipping that two-lobed sack back and forth its potential for slick moves and trickshooting – the pick-n-flip, the backhander, the blueball, the teabag tornado -- is wonderfully apparent. I think we must have spent at least half an hour in the courtyard, hogging the scrot. We all got excited when one of our companions found the mother of all scrot-sticks, a beautifully finished hardwood pole with a gently tapering point and an attractive carved handle… and were crushed when an elderly gentleman shouted “That’s mine!” Guy wouldn’t even let us borrow it for a while, but we could imagine how that cane would have handled.

Scrotoss isn’t the only attraction Fort Edmonton holds for game fans. There is, of course, the Tom Thumb mini-golf across the street from the Selkirk Hotel, a non-motorized, non-fibreglass eight-hole layout rife with frustrating fuck-you features... keep your cool on the hole known as “Crazy Dogleg", and watch out for wild-swinging spoiled brats! Further back there’s the old penny arcade which features two rooms, one with a shooting gallery and the other with old dime peep-show film-reel machines. The arcade wasn’t in operation while we were there, but I’ll certainly be back to sample this precursor to modern mainstream videogaming: gun violence and soft-core titillation under one roof! And then there’s the old-timey midway, currently under construction and set to open on Canada Day, with its selection of period carnival games…

But that’s a story for another day, another paycheque. Today, I’m here to spread the gospel of Scrotoss. As I write, I’m looking at this ratty old buckskin coat I have, wondering if I ought to cannibalize it for its leather, make myself my own set of bull hangers. The jacket cost me sixty bucks, but my need to get back to flipping the scrot is almost too great to wait until I can pick up another piece of hide. North Country Fair is this weekend, and if there was ever a game (other than sweet bocce) designed for stoners, hosers and grubby hippies, it’s Scrotoss – yesterday’s game, tomorrow!

Image: D. Martineau's lens captures the animal grace of Bob the Angry Flower creator Steve Notley's Scrotoss style


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I love the name! The historical word for the game is 'double ball', but it was a game played by Metis women, no doubt because it does in fact resemble testicles.