“Do Not Pass Go”: Board Games & Leisure Aplenty

“Do Not Pass Go”: Board Games & Leisure Aplenty

“Who cares about winning? Let’s get drunk!”

– Jason Bateman (Max) from Game Night

Whether my wife Corinne and I are having a game night at home with friends, visiting with my brother-in-law Kyle and wife Christine, or spending time with my brother Jeff and wife Lauren, we have played some wicked awesome board games as of late. In most of the games we play, we are both, my wife and I, extreme novices. We didn’t even have a board game in the house, until now. It has been nice starting a fun new pursuit. Yet, as I put a few board games in my shopping cart the other day, it dawned on me; what is my “games” story? I have explored several topics in the context of nostalgia, but I never considered board games or yard games.

I want to explore my love of random games and share some unique stories. In the end, I find that my newfound love of intense, cut-throat board games is nothing new. Board games come and go, incredible yard game memories are in abundance, the only thing that’s changed is that I am older and only need to win “sixty percent of the time… every time.” It is funny, the number of games I played as a kid, whether a random card game of Bullsh*t with friends at a bus station or Guess Who? with my sister Becky, I wanted to win. I assumed winning was important, maybe not every time, but why play if you don’t win? A kind of terrible way of thinking, but luckily, as an adult, I have no time for that line of reasoning. The fun is the time spent with others. So, join me and roll the dice. No get out of jail free card!

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20 Years Older & Slightly Wiser, but an Echo Remains

20 Years Older & Slightly Wiser, but an Echo Remains

“That’s me. I’d say I’m sorry to disappoint you… but I’m not. I excel at not giving a shit. Experience has taught me that interest begets expectation, and expectation begets disappointment, so the key to avoiding disappointment is to avoid interest. A equals B equals C equals A, or… whatever.”

– Ellen Muth (Georgia) from Dead Like Me

I am an emotional person. I admit that without pause. I love watching dramatic movies, live-action or animated, and television shows that render me speechless. My wife Corinne refrains from such emotional rollercoaster viewings, but I, conversely, have difficulty turning away. I am like Rafael, not the master painter and architect of the Italian High Renaissance, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I am not referring to the ultra-violent comic book version. Still, instead, the 1987 television series version depicts him as hip, loyal, and sensitive, but rude, feels slighted, and gets cranky when annoyed. That’s not “exactly” me, but I meander through life protecting my anxious and, inherently, insecure self.

I have always felt this way, whether with making friends as a kid, how I felt about my body image, or how I responded to emotionally stimulating events. This sensitivity, and connection, to major events, especially those in the past, drew me to the world of professional history. History, memory, and emotion often link together to help break down my anxiousness and self-doubt. As an anxious person, which I discussed in a previous blog, emotional connections are vital in exploring the past. Today, I briefly explore change, life and death, and the quest to understand myself and the past, especially in the context of the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

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Visual History: Field Trips & Sentimental New England Museums

Visual History: Field Trips & Sentimental New England Museums

“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it in all at once.”

– Aubrey Hepburn

I continue to reflect on those things that brought me joy, whether toys or food. One thing I have not discussed is museums. There is no need to worry; I will not put on my historian hat today, but instead recall those places filled with artifacts, history, and have inspired, moved, and awoken me to the larger, more complex world. As an adult, I have both different and similar viewpoints about those museums or historical sites I traveled to and observed as a child and adolescent. It is interesting to remember those places I went at a young age with the lived experience and the years of museum visits I have since stockpiled.

Today, I seek to engage in nostalgia once again, but with “field trips” as my focus, as well as those museums that I cannot forget, like Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts. One foot in the past, the other in the present, I hope to respect the educational pursuits that inspired me and the various museum visits that moved me. Sure, I won’t discuss every trip or visit a historical site or museum but rather build a narrative of the moments I think of most often. As the pandemic continues, diving into my nostalgic past has brought great comfort. Like my post on food and toys, and to an extent, music, and movies, here I take on public history.

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“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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