“This is Baseball, You Gotta Stop Thinking!”: Baseball in Life & Cinema

“This is Baseball, You Gotta Stop Thinking!”: Baseball in Life & Cinema

Jimmy Dugan: Sneaking out like this, quitting, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Baseball is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up, you can’t deny that. / Dottie Hinson: It just got too hard. / Jimmy Dugan: It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”

– Tom Hanks (Dugan) & Geena Davis (Hinson) in A League of Their Own

April 1, tomorrow, marks the beginning of the MLB season in America. As an individual ready for a slight return to normalcy, baseball is the great American pastime. I am deeply nostalgic about baseball, more so than any other sport. It’s as if, once spring is sprung, the smell in the air and feel of the environment demand that players take the field to participate in the American pastime. Days like today, the eve of the start of a new MLB season, remind me of my love of baseball and my enjoyment of movies with baseball as an underlining theme. I grew up watching baseball films, and they are plausibly the first type of sports-themed films I fell in love with, thus molding my cinematic experience for the rest of my life. There are films with powerful, uplifting moments that allow them to transcend their above-average status and become legendary. So, let’s talk baseball, both on the field and the cinematic screen.

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Video Game Nostalgia & Returning to “Borderlands 3”

Video Game Nostalgia & Returning to “Borderlands 3”

“The obvious objective of video games is to entertain people by surprising them with new experiences.”

– Shigeru Miyamoto

Nostalgia has often served as a vehicle to allow me to peel back the curtain and explore topics like music, food, movies, and toys. Today, I do it again, but this time with a nod towards video games, which I briefly explored before. I discussed my fascination with Borderlands 3 on PlayStation in July. In A Newcomer Joins Borderlands 3, I elaborated on how my brother-in-law Kyle bought me the game, and we constantly played online throughout the pandemic and still today. Yes, we have bested the competition, crushed the newly released DLC, and go back to Sanctuary III with every expansion. Borderlands 3 has come to define what I look for in a video game.

I am not a gamer and do not pretend to be an expert. Seriously though, I am terrible at Borderlands 3, but it doesn’t matter. If I destroy ten cars and fall off every cliff, I will continue to enjoy the experience. As Kyle and I continue to explore Borderlands 3, it had me thinking; what are my favorite video games, and how do they compare to my newfound favorite? So, I chose to go back, briefly, to Borderlands 3 and explore those video games that left an impression on my gameplay as a child, a teenager, and a nearly forty-year-old adult who refuses to put down the controller. Maybe it’s the nonstop laughing, or perhaps it’s who the games connect me to, but no matter, let’s hit play.

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“Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three”: Recalling Sentimental 1980s Toys

“Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three”: Recalling Sentimental 1980s Toys

Woody: All right, that’s enough! Look, we’re all very impressed with Andy’s new toy. / Buzz: Toy?/ Woody: T-O-Y, Toy! / Buzz: Excuse me, I think the word you’re searching for is ‘Space Ranger’. / Woody: The word I’m searching for – I can’t say, because there’s preschool toys present.

– Tom Hanks (Woody) & Tim Allen (Buzz) from Toy Story (1995)

The other day, I watched a YouTube channel, and the two hosts visited the Funko shop on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA. Now, that might not sound like anything special, but it is for two reasons. One, I love those small Funko POP! figurines, and I wish I had more than the two I currently own. Two, the hosts made custom Funko POP! figures as part of the “POP! Yourself!” experience at the Hollywood location. That seemed incredible. Not only does Funko have an actual store, but people can make a toy/figure that looks like them. As a child of the 80s, I would have loved these custom creations, both then and, yes, now. At least I know one place I will be going when it’s safe to travel! Get ready, LA; I am coming.

The most cherished item in those early years of growing up was my toys. Sure, that might be odd to think of as an adult nearing forty, but as I have defined myself as a reflective person, someone who regularly ponders nostalgic thoughts, this adds up. For the last couple of months, I have found, one could say, somewhat of a groove with my weekly posts. One week I post about travel, one week movies/POP! Culture, one week half marathons, and another week nostalgia/memories. While it does not always turn out this way, nor are weeks confined to such a rigid structure, January and February proved the rule. To close out this cold and snowy New England month, I thought, why not dive into one of my oldest and purest enjoyments; toys. I no longer seek them out, except of course, for the occasional adult LEGO build of a Haunted Mansion or the Statue of Liberty, or the Nathan Drake Uncharted and John F. Kennedy Presidential Funko POP!. Still, I have the fondest memories of those days, nights, and Saturday afternoons when toys were the center of an imaginary world, of my invention.

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“Good Food, Good Times”: Nourishment in Nostalgia and Vice Versa

“Good Food, Good Times”: Nourishment in Nostalgia and Vice Versa

“Anyone who’s a chef, who loves food, ultimately knows that all that matters is: ‘Is it good? Does it give pleasure?’”

– Anthony Bourdain

Do you ever think about the things you think about? Sure, that has nothing to do with this week’s post, but it does make you ponder. Well, the other day I was thinking about food. Ok, I get it, doesn’t everyone think about food. Yes, of course, but recently I started to think about those foods that defined my past. Honestly, this topic came to me after watching a recent vlog on a YouTube channel called Dani.702. The host, Dani, was at Disney Springs and purchased a substantial glazed donut from Everglazed Donuts and a giant chocolate chip cookie from Gideon’s cookie shop. After sampling both, she selected the one she thought was best. Her decision ultimately rested on which one made her feel most nostalgic. She then mentioned a favorite memory of getting a similar donut when she was younger. Dani.702’s reaction made me ponder about the types, and flavors, of foods I enjoyed when I was younger and produced a similar response. Stuffed quahogs, linguica pizza, sour cream and onion dip, and malasadas are a few foods that always transport me back in time.

In an old post, Traveling to Familiar Surroundings, I discussed my journey back, after many years, to where I grew up, going to a few eateries, and finding comfort in familiar surroundings. My parents no longer reside in the area, and my siblings and extended family have since moved away and on for the most part. My ability to connect to the past is, well, not as easy as I wish. That was why, as I discussed in that post, my wife and I went to my home town. I was able to deal with my anxiety and depression with a nostalgic trip that included hometown food. I have since moved closer, even if slightly, to the area, but the pandemic has, of course, made revisiting eateries challenging. Today, join me as I travel to coastal Massachusetts, the area of my childhood, and explore those foods and meals, either home-cooked or takeout, that stand out to me today, and if given an opportunity, I would order right now.

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What a Difference a Year Makes: New Year’s Eve 2019 & a “Musical Reckoning” about Moby Dick

What a Difference a Year Makes: New Year’s Eve 2019 & a “Musical Reckoning” about Moby Dick

“There’s only now, there’s only here
Give in to love or live in fear
No other path, No other way
No day but today”

– “No Day But Today” – Vocals by Idina Menzel and Lyrics by Jonathan D. Larson

One year ago, for New Year’s Eve, my wife and I drove into Cambridge, MA, for a live performance of Moby-Dick, A Musical Reckoning at the American Repertory Theater. We had bought these tickets a couple of months before, mainly because on the one hand we wanted to see more live performances in the new year and, on the other hand, I love everything related to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. It was a fantastic night, and the play was brilliant, unique, and the songs were memorable. What we didn’t expect was that this performance would be our last live event of the year. With the pandemic shuttering the doors of Broadway theaters and theaters around the country, we had that previous event as a powerful reminder of the things we lost out on in 2020.

Today’s post is my 30th since mid-July, which was when I started this blog. Next week, my post will explore a travel adventure in Central America, so this week, and since tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, I decided to reflect on that Moby-Dick musical and think back to those times I took in a play either on Broadway or closer to home. Each live theater experience provided a wonderful experience that I deeply miss. I know these theaters will open their doors again. Still, in the meantime, l am going to get my memory ticket punched and head back in time to reflect on those amazing musical performances.

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A Brief Hawaii Moment: “A’a i ka hula, waiho i ka maka’u i ka hale”

A Brief Hawaii Moment: “A’a i ka hula, waiho i ka maka’u i ka hale”

“You like spaghetti, George? I like spaghetti. I like board games. I like grabbing a trifecta with that long shot on top… that ozone smell you get from air purifiers… and I like knowing the space between my ears is immeasurable… Mahler’s first, Bernstein conducting. You’ve got to think about all the things you like and decide whether they’re worth sticking around for. And if they are, you’ll find a way to do this.”

– Mandy Patinkin in Dead Like Me

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America. When I think of Thanksgiving, I often recall day trips to Plymouth historical sites, visits on the Mayflower II, high school football in Massachusetts, and, of course, the family get-together. The thing is, a couple of the best November’s I have had were spent, with my wife, on the island of Oahu, where we lived for a short time. That first year in Hawaii, Thanksgiving was with my mother and brother, who visited us. Together, we celebrated in a way we didn’t in Massachusetts, on a lanai with views of the Pacific Ocean. The second was with our friends Colleen and Don at their Mililani home. Our last was on a cruise ship voyaging around the Hawaiian Islands, with the actual day celebrated with amazing views of the Napali Coast. Three unique Thanksgivings in a place I genuinely consider home.

I often think of those three years living in Hawaii with my wife and dog, Mr. Tuttles. Thanksgiving always makes me reflect on the past, so it makes sense that, after several years away, I use this holiday as an opportunity to look towards Hawaii with a reflective gaze. Those may be, when all is said and done, three of the most rewarding years of my life. Born and raised near the ocean on the South Coast of Massachusetts, I never dreamed my journey would bring me to the Hawaiian Islands. This disbelief is valid for travel, let alone relocating, meeting new friends, and becoming filled with feelings of Aloha. The title of this post is a Hawaiian saying that translates as, “Dare to dance, leave shame at home,” loosely meaning, “Just be you.” I am thankful to Hawaii for teaching me to, well, just be me.

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Good Morning America: Election Day 2020

Good Morning America: Election Day 2020

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

– Pericles

Well, it’s November 3, 2020… Election Day in America! I usually submit my weekly blog post on Wednesday of each week, but I thought I would move it up one day to coincide with Election Day since this post is all about the importance of voting. So, let’s get started!

The other day, I read an opinion piece written by Mandy Patinkin, whose acting credits include Dead Like MeHomeland, and my favorite, The Princess Bride. In this article, he talked about his path to greater political consciousness, and it made me think of my journey to greater political understanding. No, this blog post will not discuss politics today; that’s not the point of my blog or this post. Instead, this is an opportunity to reflect on my lived past and feelings around current moments, as I often do. Join me as I remember my path to greater civic awareness. It’s Election Day in America; let’s remember what that means. 

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🎃 Halloween Delights 🎃: Costumes, October in Salem, MA & Halloween’s Past, Present, and Yet to Come

🎃 Halloween Delights 🎃: Costumes, October in Salem, MA & Halloween’s Past, Present, and Yet to Come

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”

– Edgar Allen Poe

Remember the smell, and feel of those old-school rubber Halloween masks you wore back in the late 1980s and early 1990s? My favorite one was of a werewolf, and I must have worn that costume every single year until it started falling apart. As a child, I remember going up into the attic to retrieve the decorations and seeing the box marked “Halloween” and getting excited to break out that mask. I may have gone eight years in a row with it, but each year changed the outfit, football player werewolf, baseball player werewolf, or werewolf in a plaid shirt. Halloween has always been an entertaining holiday. I mean, you get to dress up as something scary, from POP! Culture, or anything! You get free candy, and you have a valid reason to watch several scary movies, both good ones and terrible ones. Halloween is amusing, and while it was exciting as a child, it can be and has been enjoyable as an adult.

Recently, my wife and I moved away from our home after a lengthy selling process. We wanted to move closer to work, as well as family, so we sold our house in Salem, MA, and with it our time in “Halloween-town.” With September ending and tomorrow we welcome October, I got to thinking about the holiday and what I remember about it and what it has always meant to me. It does not hurt that things are wicked weird with the pandemic, and who knows what October will look like this year. So, as I usually do and as any good historian does, I look to the past, my wicked travels, and find solace, comfort, and possibly a new narrative.

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Discovering Calm in LEGO: Building the Ghostbusters Firehouse, Two Volkswagen Automobiles & a Haunted House

Discovering Calm in LEGO: Building the Ghostbusters Firehouse, Two Volkswagen Automobiles & a Haunted House

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

– The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

As far back as I can remember, I have always loved LEGO bricks and sets of various sorts. I used to enjoy getting them as gifts on my birthday or at Christmas or as an unexpected treat when I was able to pester my mother long enough to get them from Kmart or KB Toys. Whether it was the pirate ship Black Seas Barracuda or Skulls Eye Schooner, the medieval King’s Castle, or any of the space sets, I had them all and enjoyed constructing and displaying them. It was the gift I received frequently and the one I looked most forward to getting.

Therefore, it is not surprising that when the pandemic hit, and we went into lockdown, I needed a daily outlet, besides my weekly movie chats with my brother, which I detailed in POP! Culture on Repeat, or video game adventures with my brother-in-law Kyle, discussed in A Newcomer Joins Borderlands 3. I sought out fun and unique LEGO sets to use my hands, shut off my mind, and follow instructions and build something. Again, I sought comfort in my past to help cope with current turmoil. So, I went online and bought the LEGO Volkswagen T1 Camper Van and Beetle. It didn’t take long before I felt like a kid again and was hooked on those classic LEGO bricks!

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When Time Stops: Pat McGee, Alanis Morissette, Aslyn & Perfect Moments in Live Music

When Time Stops: Pat McGee, Alanis Morissette, Aslyn & Perfect Moments in Live Music

“It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
And who would’ve thought? It figures”

– Alanis Morissette “Ironic” from Jagged Little Pill

On December 7, 2019, my wife and I went to see Alanis Morissette live at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. My wife Corinne is a huge fan, so I bought tickets and excitedly surprised her with really good seats. I had seen Alanis years earlier on August 8, 2004, at the Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts in Mansfield, MA. That was The Au Naturale Tour, and she performed with The Bare Naked Ladies. It was a terrific show, but what I remembered most was Alanis Morissette’s fantastic performance. She rocked, and even though I had always appreciated her music, style, and emotional power, I was musically transformed by her show.

Since my wife had talked of her wish to see Alanis live and the fact that we have connected almost from our very first date through our similar taste in music and musicians, I was excited when the opportunity presented itself. But Alanis Morissette’s show acted as a culmination of years of musical connections between my wife and I. Now, with the COVID pandemic canceling concerts and live events, it seemed a perfect opportunity to think back to that shared appreciation of music. So, break out the record player, dust off the vinyl, and hit play.

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