(CC BY: The Strong)
(CC BY: The Strong)

6 Vintage Games We Should Bring Back

(CC BY: The Strong)
(CC BY: The Strong)

If you haven't visited before, I highly recommend whiling away an hour at the website of the Museum of Play. It's simply packed with all the toys and games that thrilled you as a child. They also have an extensive collection of games you've probably never heard of. Many of these rather obscure games still have a few copies circulating that can be bought through secondhand sites like eBay, etsy, and even Amazon. Here are six that we'd love to see find a second act.


Games where players spin, roll, or draw random numbers to advance their pieces on a game board are called "race games," and this 1790 gem was one of the earliest. The object was to live a moral life, progressing 84 years and becoming The Immortal Man. But there were sinful pitfalls along the way. The Negligent Boy lost his turn for two rounds. Land on The Drunkard and be sent all the way back to two years of age. The rules are actually written in and around the game board, and are quite complicated by modern standards. The game itself was made of paper adhered to foldable linen, and it cautioned that a numbered totem (spinning top) be used to avoid bringing dice into your home. In fact, the focus on right and wrong in this game was one of its selling points; that made it a tool of moral instruction, not a method of "gaming." Although The Game of Life still exists today (and has in some form for hundreds of years), none broach the beauty and moral intensity of this historical treasure.


This 1982 game of despair gives its players permission to lean into the pain. Which, considering the rate at which Boomer marriages were declining in the 1980s, could be quite cathartic.

You can play this game two ways: Try to traverse the maze-like playing board and finish with the least amount of stress, divorce, and financial woes among the players, or declare yourself a midlife crisis and plunge headlong in the other direction, destroying your life in a brilliant blaze of terrible choices, bad luck, and idiotic indulgences. The charm of the game is the dark humor on the card spaces, called ZAP! and Crisis, much like Monopoly's Community Chest and Chance cards. Instead of winning $10 in a beauty contest, however, you find your daughter has eloped with a drifter poet, or that your spouse is irritated you don't have a sense of humor about her affair. It's black humor and dark fun at its finest, sure to connect with many a struggling mid-lifer.


Sassy was a teen girls magazine that folded in 1994, never quite able to summon the advertising strength of other teen mags. Maybe that's because it was different. Sassy assumed that the girls reading it were smart and worldly; articles about alternative music trends and edgy fashion were set among pieces about alcoholic parents and dealing with STDs. Sassy, according to Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer, the authors of How Sassy Changed My Life, had a smart, strong feminist message, giving them more than advice on how to land the boy of your dreams or how to starve yourself until you are loveable. How that great magazine translated to this hard-to-find boardgame (in which there is no board) is a little more complicated. The rules are hard to discern (though the drunken, foul-mouthed team from Beer and Board Games make an effort at it), but the goal seems to have been to be the first player to collect awards in the categories of Awareness, Brains, Confidence, Love, Sensitivity, and Talent. The other players vote on whether or not each girl's answer to questions on those topics is deserving of a Sassy or Non-Sassy point. There is no telling the amount of women, many who've grown from Sassy girls to women with the brains, power, and ferocity to shape culture and society, would delight in the re-issue of this game.


Crissy was a popular doll issued in the late '60s by the Ideal Toy Company, and beloved for her hair, which could be extended to any length her owner desired. Unlike Barbie, Crissy was a true "dolly" size (18 inches), and had the less-voluptuous body dimensions of a true adolescent, which appealed to conservative pre-Boomer mothers and their pocketbooks. In this game, Velvet (Crissy's younger, shorter cousin) and Crissy hit the shops to use the money they've earned ("Good Report Card! $5!") to wisely purchase their greatest desires ("Mod shoes! $10! Bell-Bottoms! $10!"). It's not exactly enlightening—but it's fun.


If you're a Ken Burns junkie you might already be familiar with the curiously catchy tune "Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)" by the Treniers, featured in the documentary soundtrack to Baseball. There are conflicting theories as to how Hall of Famer Willie Mays became the "Say Hey" kid, but it probably had to do with his use of slang that would become common decades down the line. (Mays had a tendency to respond with "Say what? Say who?" and when meeting someone whose name he couldn't remember, "Say Hey, guy!") At any rate, the name stuck, and Mays entered the boardgame market in 1954. The rules were probably too involved for a non-baseball fan to understand, involving three spinners to represent the pitcher, batter, and fielder, respectively. But since people still love baseball, Mays, and spinners, only good things could come from reintroducing this game.


This 19th-century game is a sort of "gin rummy," but with stately bird illustrations replacing sinful playing cards. Children would learn to match the 64 cards of eight birds groups (wading birds, pigeon tribe, honey eaters, web-footed, birds of prey, running birds, and singing birds). I, for one, would like to see if beautiful illustrations and focused trivia might sit well with modern kids. Maybe we've been underestimating them.


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Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

Beyond Wanderlust: 30 Words Every Traveler Should Know

For those who travel, wanderlust is a familiar feeling. It’s that nagging voice in your head that says, “Yes, you do need to book that flight,” even if your bank account says otherwise. Regardless of how many passport covers this word may adorn, it doesn’t begin to cover the spectrum of emotions and experiences that can be revealed through the act of travel. Here are 30 travel words from around the world to keep in your back pocket as you're exploring this summer.


From the Latin vagari, meaning “to wander,” this 16th-century word originally meant a wandering journey. Nowadays, "vagaries" refer to unpredictable or erratic situations, but that doesn’t mean the old sense of the word can’t be invoked from time to time.


An Old English word that refers to something that’s both strange and marvelous. It's a great way to sum up those seemingly indescribable moments spent in an unfamiliar land.


Who hasn’t felt a strong desire to be somewhere—anywhere—other than where you currently are? That’s fernweh, or “farsickness," and this German word has been described as a cousin of wanderlust, another German loan word.


A busy street in Hong Kong

Anyone who has traveled abroad will recognize this feeling. The French word refers to the sense of disorientation that often sets in when you step outside your comfort zone, such as when you leave your home country.


Another gift from the French, this word literally translates to “drift,” but thanks to some mid-20th century French philosophers, it can also refer to a spontaneous trip, completely free of plans, in which you let your surroundings guide you.


To peregrinate is to travel from place to place, especially on foot. Its Latin root, peregrinus (meaning “foreign”), is also where the peregrine falcon (literally “pilgrim falcon”) gets its name.


Similar to peregrinate, this word essentially means to travel over or through an area by foot. So instead of saying that you’ll be walking around London, you can say you’ll be perambulating the city’s streets—much more sophisticated.


The Grand Canyon

This English word could appropriately be used to describe the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. Something numinous is awe-inspiring and mysterious. It's difficult to understand from a rational perspective, which gives it a spiritual or unearthly quality.


The young and the restless will want to incorporate this word into their lexicon. The adjective refers to those who are constantly moving from place to place—in other words, a nomadic existence. It stems from the Greek word peripatein (“to walk up and down”), which was originally associated with Aristotle and the shaded walkways near his school (or, according to legend, his habit of pacing back and forth during lectures).


You’re alone in a forest. It’s peaceful. The sun is filtering through the trees and there’s a light breeze. That’s waldeinsamkeit. (Literally "forest solitude." And yes, Germans have all the best travel words.)


In a similar vein, this Japanese word means “forest bathing,” and it's considered a form of natural medicine and stress reliever. There are now forest bathing clubs around the world, but you can try it out for yourself on your next camping trip. Take deep breaths, close your eyes, and take in the smells and sounds of the forest. Simple.


In those moments when you just want to run away from your responsibilities, you may consider becoming a solivagant: a solo wanderer.


This Japanese phrase literally translates to “a meal eaten sideways,” which is an apt way to describe the awkwardness of speaking in a foreign language that you haven’t quite mastered, especially over dinner.


A woman at the airport

You just booked your flight. Your heart starts racing. You’re a little nervous about your journey, but mostly you just can’t wait to get going. The anticipation, anxiety, and excitement you get before a big trip is all rolled into one word—resfeber—and you can thank the Swedes for it.


Taken from the French flâner, meaning to stroll or saunter, this word describes someone who has no particular plans or place they need to be. They merely stroll around the city at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights and enjoying the day as it unfolds.


This could be construed as the traditional English equivalent of flâneur. Likely stemming from the Middle English verb gadden, meaning “to wander without a specific aim or purpose,” a gadabout is one who frequently travels from place to place for the sheer fun of it. In other words: a modern-day backpacker.


Sometimes, no matter how amazing your vacation may be, you just want to come home to your bed and cats. This Welsh word sums up the deep yearning for home that can strike without warning. As Gillian Thomas put it in an interview with the BBC, “Home sickness is too weak. You feel hiraeth, which is a longing of the soul to come home to be safe.”


The karst peaks of Guilin, China

This Japanese word can be taken to mean “graceful elegance” or “subtle mystery,” but it’s much more than that. It's when the beauty of the universe is felt most profoundly, awakening an emotional response that goes beyond words.


Translating to “threshold anxiety,” this German word sums up the fears that are present before you enter somewhere new—like a theater or an intimidating cafe—and by extension going anywhere unfamiliar. The fear of crossing a threshold is normal, even among the most adventurous of travelers—but it often leads to the most unforgettable experiences.


Have you ever seen something so beautiful it made you cry? That’s commuovere in action. The Italian word describes the feeling of being moved, touched, or stirred by something you witness or experience.


This Danish word refers to a warm feeling of contentedness and coziness, as well as the acknowledgement of that feeling. Although not explicitly related to this term, author Kurt Vonnegut summed up the idea behind this concept quite nicely when he said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"


Here's one for those who have a beach trip coming up. Taken from Kwangali, a language spoken in Namibia, hanyauku is the act of tiptoeing across hot sand.


A patch of wild strawberries

This Swedish word translates to something along the lines of “place of wild strawberries,” but its metaphorical meaning is something along the lines of a "happy place." Whether it’s a hidden overlook of the city or your favorite vacation spot that hasn’t been “discovered” yet, smultronställe refers to those semi-secret places you return to time and time again because they’re special and personal to you.


This Old English word describes what might happen when you visit a place like Pompeii or a ghost town. While reflecting on past civilizations, you realize that everything will eventually turn to dust. A cheery thought.


In some Spanish dialects, the word vacilando describes someone who travels with a vague destination in mind but has no real incentive to get there. In other words, the journey is more important than the destination. As John Steinbeck described it in his travelogue Travels With Charley: “It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction. My friend Jack Wagner has often, in Mexico, assumed this state of being. Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico city but not at random. We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it.”


Backpackers and budget travelers, this one is for you: The Hebrew word lehitkalev translates to “dog it” and means to deal with uncomfortable living or travel arrangements.


Sun shining in the woods

This beautiful Japanese word is a good one to save for a sunny day spent in the woods. Komorebi translates to “sunshine filtering through the leaves.” Does it get any lovelier than that?

28. RAMÉ

This Balinese word refers to something that is simultaneously chaotic and joyful. It isn’t specifically a travel word, but it does seem to fit the feelings that are often awakened by travel.


Translating to a “lucky find,” this French word can be applied to that cool cafe, flower-lined street, or quirky craft store that you stumbled upon by chance. Indeed, these are the moments that make travel worthwhile.


Just in case you needed another reason to plan that trip to Yosemite, here's one last word for nature lovers. The Sanskrit word ullassa refers to the feelings of pleasantness that come from observing natural beauty in all its glory.


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