“Everybody has that game that they fell in love with because they make an impact. Those games were somebody’s legacy.”
– Rob McElhenney (Ian) in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet
For those who have read my blog post about my weekly movie chats with my brother Jeff, this post will be similar, yet different. As the pandemic has forced us all to rethink our everyday interactions and for over two months, from April to June, we were in lockdown, finding things to break feelings of anxiety took on new meaning. While discussing movies with my brother was one outlet, playing video games with my brother-in-law Kyle was another.
In March, with a lockdown looming, I contacted Kyle and posited the idea of meeting up virtually through PlayStation Plus and playing video games online. Kyle is a gamer. He has played more games than I can even think of and is very knowledgeable about what types of games are perfect for a joint online adventure effort and the kind game I would enjoy. After all, Kyle introduced me to one of my favorite games of all time, one that inspired an awesome Halloween costume and a Funko Pop purchase. This game; Uncharted. Ah yes, the adventures of Nathan Drake. It has adventure, danger, and, may I say, comedy. Love that game, and it was Kyle who suggested it. So, his track record is 1 for 1, hey he’s batting a thousand! Therefore, when he suggested Borderlands 3, even though I had not played 1 or 2, I didn’t even think twice. I was all in, and I would not be disappointed.
When you grow up, there are those movies you watch once and forgot about, leaving very little of a mark on your pop culture makeup. Other times there are those films that stand the test of time, maybe not in graphics, or dialogue, but in substance. These films, still to this day, are a nostalgic reminder of one of your great cinematic experiences and a sentimental part of your past.
We all have our internal or external list of “favorite movies.” Often the list is personal, ranging from a film you can’t stop thinking about, or one that proved a cinematic masterpiece, or others purely for their stupidity. The list is yours, no one else, so the films you loved are allowed to stand in place as “your” greats. My list is similar to that idea. I have my masterpiece like Shawshank Redemption, my favorites Memento, Back to the Future, Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, Platoon, movies by Christopher Nolan, Stephan Spielberg, Quintin Tarantino, and so on. My list is my list, films that had an effect on me, one way or another.
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
– Robert Frost
It was over a year ago that my wife and I sold our home. I am sure anyone can tell you, selling a home is stressful, annoying, and probably the worst thing in the world. Ok, that might be overdoing it, but it sucks! While our realtor organized an Open House for one weekend in late June last year, my wife and I needed to escape the process and reboot. As the weekend drew near, the thought of getting away seemed more and more necessary. As I am from Massachusetts and my wife is not, she asked where I would like to go. I answered…home.
I had not been back to the town I grew up in for several years. The closest I had come to going back was when I visited my aunt and uncle when I got married in 2011 and ran the New Bedford Half Marathon in 2015. Now was June of 2019. So…it…had…been…awhile. But this seemed the perfect time to go back and reset after a terrible home selling experience. So, with the dog staying with family, my wife and I set out for the South Coast of Massachusetts. We were heading to New Bedford!
“Time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.”
– Patrick Stewart (Captain Juan-Luc Picard) in Star Trek: Generations
During the summer of 2018, I had the opportunity to travel to Shanghai, China teaching US History for the Massachusetts Educational Institute. I immediately considered this a once in a lifetime experience and eagerly accepted. As someone who had never been to that part of the world or even considered the possibility of ever setting foot in Asia, this seemed a daunting journey. My anxiety grew higher because I would be traveling without my wife, who was still working in Boston and did not know anyone else who had signed up to teach.
Travel is fantastic, but being with someone makes it stand out, at least for me. Now I am not criticizing those that travel alone, actually the opposite. I am envious of the lone traveler. Their spirit, confidence, and resolve must be admired and applauded. But I had never traveled by myself like this, and the length of my stay in China would be 38 days. That’s a long time to be away from my wife, our dog Mr. Tuttles, and journeying to a place whose language I do not speak and whose culture I did not want to offend.
Even so, the excitement of this type of travel was enough for me to leap. In the months before my departure, I prepared, planned out excursions, researched places to eat, sites to see, and how to get around the city of Shanghai. I am not the first person to do this, so it was not hard to get information, but that did not remove my anxiety about leaving home for a month and doing all this alone. Luckily, when the time came to go, I boarded my flight in Boston. After an emotional goodbye with my wife, the excitement of what was to come took over. I was on my way to China.
“I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can’t remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world’s still there…We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I’m no different.”
– Guy Pearce (Leonard Shelby) in Memento
When one cannot travel, but one loves to travel and must remain at home socially distancing, what are they to do? When Massachusetts went into lockdown in early April, I decided to find some creative ways to see family without being able to be with them. It would require ZOOM, borrowing the format of one of my favorite podcasts, and rewatching one movie a week.
My brother Jeff told me to listen to Bill Simmons’ The Ringer’s The Rewatchables. It is a brilliant idea of a podcast for someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s watching television shows and movies, some not so appropriate. But the podcast, which is incredibly popular and probably does not need an overview, has several individuals talking about “rewatchable” movies and creating categories and awarding winners of some of these groupings. Simple but fantastic.
“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”
– Anthony Bourdain
Welcome to The Wicked Traveled Historian! My name is Zachary. I am wicked traveled and a historian, so it fits. Here I will discuss a few different things. First, and foremost I will talk about my travels and adventures in history. The places I have gone to, monuments and museums I have seen, and food and beer I have consumed.
Yet being wicked traveled does not solely refer to my travel, rather it also comprises my memories of special experiences, whether it be building LEGO sets, going to see live music or baseball games, my half marathon travel, or stories about my dog Mr. Tuttles, or my favorite television shows. Hopefully, these lived moments, and more, become the core of my discussions. Check out my blog for a little more information on what my posts will comprise, whether it be historical travel, half marathon travel, or my POP! Culture musings. Stay tuned for regular posts on these topics!