Tracking Irony Across Lionel Trains History

Tracking Irony Across Lionel Trains History

The historian’s craft always requires probing the past for significance. Making sense of bygone events obliges investigators to guard against irrelevance and superstition. We historians aren’t numerologists or astrologers, and so we sort out ironies and coincidences from meaningful events.

What Are You Going to Be? (For Halloween….)

What Are You Going to Be? (For Halloween….)

This season of make-believe and dressing up is a good time to think about pretending—one of the cornerstones of play. For kids, make-believe is partly aspirational. If you’re little and you dress as a crime fighter or superhero you take in the fantasy, feeling power surge in your imagination. You have nothing to fear, even…

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Can the Dictionary be a Toy?

Can the Dictionary be a Toy?

While on vacation and passing through a park recently, a Scrabble game in progress at a picnic table caught my eye and then my ear.

Wrestling in Lincoln’s White House

Wrestling in Lincoln’s White House

Abraham Lincoln, burdened as only a commander in chief could be in the midst of terrible civil war, beset by feuding or reluctant generals, harried by restive dis-unionists in border states, beleaguered by constituents petitioning for pardons or pleading for favors, under continual threat of assassination, and struggling with bouts of melancholy, found respite in…

The Funny Thing about the Funny Thing

The Funny Thing about the Funny Thing

Parody, a calculated form of play, has been around for a long time. Follow the word to its Greek roots and you dig up the meaning “against song.”

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Finding an Identity on the Comeback Trail: Skiing During the Winter Olympics

Finding an Identity on the Comeback Trail: Skiing During the Winter Olympics

On April 12, 2013, in a game against the rival Golden State Warriors, the L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant scored 47 points. Two nights later, trainers abruptly bundled him off to the ER with a snapped Achilles tendon, an injury that had ended many a career. Professional athletes who play dangerous games depend in part on…

Did Lance Armstrong Betray our Trust?

Did Lance Armstrong Betray our Trust?

Not long ago in this blog I recounted a story about my star-struck meeting with seven time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, a hero whose image has since much tarnished.

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The Strong-est Story Ever Told

The Strong-est Story Ever Told

In his recent interview in the American Journal of Play—“The Why, How, and What of a Museum of Play”—George Rollie Adams, President and CEO, describes the evolution of The Strong as the first collections based institution devoted to the study of play. Trained as teacher and historian and with the skill of an author, Adams…

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Plinking, Performing, and the Paradox of Play

Plinking, Performing, and the Paradox of Play

A vacant piano in an empty room sends me a powerful invitation. It’s like someone has left an Aston Martin DB9 Volante with the keys in the ignition and a sign on the dashboard that says, “take me for a spin.” If I come across an unlocked Baby Grand in a hotel lobby, I find…

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Run for Boston

Run for Boston

In New York, Washington, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Seattle and in many other U.S. cities and cities around the world people have gathered for “Run for Boston” events to offer tribute and support to victims of bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon.

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