Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chapter 2: SHABOOZLE!

Chapter 2: Shaboozle

A game born out of a careful mixture of brooms, patio furniture, and imagination.

  • 2-4 players
  • 2 chairs of equal size
  • 2 aluminum cans of equal size
  • 2 brooms of equal size
  • 1 frisbee
A regulation setup looks a lot like this:

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Here's how it all got started.

"Shouldn't we be doing something?" said Rich to nobody in particular. Rich is a 22 year old Brit who has taken a year off of school to travel. I met him in a hostel in a town called Pai (pronounced pie) in Northern Thailand. At the time of the quote he was lounging in the next hammock over.

"Its raining, what can we do" replied Dave, an English teacher at my school, who also was in a nearby hammock.

Outside of the $3-a night bungalows we all stayed in, was a grassy field with a gazebo adjacent to it where one could find a shady spot to lounge about and read on a sunny day. Or in our case, to seek shelter from a torrential downpour.

Dave and I were the first ones to venture out of our sheltered hammocks and initiate the frisbee tossing. Frisbee tossing soon turned into target practice and petty challenges.

At first it was,
"Let's both aim at that bush and see who can be the first to hit it."

And then I introduced patio furniture,
"Who can hit this chair first."

Dave turned a chair upside down, and propped it up with a small broom.
"Lets see who can knock this over first."

All the while rain coming down steady and strong. At that stage in our frisbee session we were both soaked, but neither of us cared in the slightest.

We were situated about 40 feet apart on opposite ends of the grassy field. Rich was still in the hammock, but started to express interest at this point. Rich the Brit would soon introduce the idea of 2-on-2 team shaboozle. But I'm getting way ahead of myself. As I was saying, 40 feet apart, each with an upside-down chair held upright by a broom in our immediate vicinity. The object: to knock the other guy's chair/broom over.

At first, the thrill of knocking the other guy's station down and watching him set it back up was satisfaction enough. As our aim got better, and scoring became more regular, we felt the need to keep take the game to the next level. Rules and regulations were needed to transform this game to a sport. Like any big idea, dialogue was opened candidly...

Something along the lines of,
Well sure a chair is bigger than a broom and therefore way easier to hit. You don't need to be an English teacher to figure that out. From now on,
  • Chair: 1 point
  • Broom: 3 points

I Agree, but how do you win.............
..............first one to score 21 points.
Then its settled.

Like any sport in its infancy, new rules were needed to enhance gameplay and to add clarity.
  • One of first rules was the introduction of an empty beer can that sits on the top one of the back chair legs. A handful of pebbles thrown in the can to protect it from head winds. The beer can is worth 2 points if hit directly.
  • Another rule is that if the broom sticks is struck hard enough to cause a chain reaction of beer can, broom, and chair to come falling down, the thrower is awarded 3 points and must then yell out SHABOOZLE! Yelling Shaboozle at your opponent is not unlike yelling Jenga or Yahtzee after a critical moment. However, where the sport departs from those children's games is that Shaboozle should be yelled with the intention of making your opponent FEEL great personal shame when you go hoarse yelling, dancing, and taunting.
  • A standard Thai broom has bristles that fan out in a V-shape. This is good for stability to keep the chair upright from heavy winds, but DOES NOT count for a shaboozle if hit with the frisbee. A shaboozle can ONLY be awarded if the broomstick is hit directly. There is an argument to be made about whether a 3rd party "ump" or "ref" would be needed to settle disagreements if the sport went mainstream. Kind of like the strike zone.
  • Oh, and if chickens happen to walk by the shaboozle court, its a 5-point bonus if you can hit one with a frisbee. This hasn't happened yet. I'm still waiting. With 40 or so chickens constantly roaming the premises, its basically an inevitability.
  • The last major addition to the climate of the game has been the barrage of constant shit talking, wagers, bets and psych outs aimed at distracting your opponent during or before a throw. "You suck at teaching!" "Shank it!" "Buckner!"

Shaboozle borrows from several sports. In it can be found aspects of curling, horseshoes, jenga, beer pong, and BASE'ketball. Pretty much all the great ones. A well-rounded Shaboozle should have an arsenal of different throws to cater to wind directions and speed as well as having a good defensive game. Psych outs and distractions can make all the difference in a close game.

Replacing group soccer juggling, Shaboozle has quickly become the primary sport played at the apartment building after school and on weekends.
Here's Matt in the foreground about to hand a Shaboozle to Team Lefty. Jesse is on the far left and can be identified as wearing slacks in the 90 degree heat, whereas Beluga, oh I mean Dave is blindingly white and sporting blue swim trunks he bought at Baby Gap.


  1. This game sounds like a blast! After getting friends and foe to drink an SI, you can then humiliate them some more by beating them in Shaboozle! We HAVE to play at the next get together when you get home! I can hear your dad now! I will be in charge of getting a new quote board ready for the occasion. I will also make sure we have the little fridge stocked with Ice, Ice Baby! Can't wait! Thanks for sharing. Love you mucho :)

  2. I am getting so freaking excited to see you in the semi-near future. I like "Mother" am looking forward to learning a new game. I hope you are ready for some Mario and/or Guitar Hero. Love you and miss you!