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VALLEY FOCUS | Sherman Oaks

Local Author Takes Playful View of Life

July 18, 1998|MICHAEL BAKER

Next time you're stuck in Sepulveda Pass and breathing exhaust from the car in front of you, don't get tense. Instead, roll down your window and rattle off two or three short, tasteful jokes to a fellow commuter.

This is just one of the 333 ways offered by Gary Krane to put more playfulness into life.

More than 10 years ago, with an eye toward improving the world around him, Krane, of Sherman Oaks, a former investigative documentary filmmaker with a doctorate in psychology, began inventing and collecting ways for people to play.

"I was a workaholic and I saw a lot of people around me with a need for more fun in their lives," he said.

The result was "Simple Fun for Busy People: 333 Free Ways to Enjoy Your Loved Ones More in the Time You Have." Released last month, the book's after-tax net proceeds will go to organizations working to prevent child abuse, increase democracy and protect the planet, Krane said.

"I think we've forgotten what play is really about."

Krane, who has adopted the nickname "Dr. Fun," said play is a healthy activity. And he has a game for just about any situation, including mealtime, shopping, going to bed, waking up in the morning, dealing with anger, romance and eating out.

"Knock Your Socks Off," a game in which the object is to get another person's socks off first, can be used to put a child to bed or in a more seductive manner by couples.

"Obviously, for a couple, taking off your socks is the first step," Krane said.

Other games, such as "Conflict in Accents" or "Make Up an Excuse," use Krane's background as a psychologist to help resolve arguments in a positive way.

Krane does not believe that playing games will solve all the world's problems, but says it's a way for people to make themselves, and those close to them, happier.

"We will still have to work for social change and to make the world better," he said. "Hopefully, these games will just make people happier as they're doing it."

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