Ryan’s Favorite Movie

It was spring break of 2001. I was 22 years old and on the cusp of graduating from Auburn University. For my last taste of adolescent insanity, my friends and I packed up and took the 4 hour journey to Panama City Beach. Two days prior, a girl that I’d been dating for about 1/2 a year decided it wasn’t me, rather her, and kicked me to the curb.

One would think the aftermath of being dumped that I’d be a little reckless in my decision making, especially down in Panama City Beach, where 13 year old boys with peach fuzzed mustaches could don fake IDs and get into Club LaVela. Fortunately for me, I was behaved and my friends and I stayed in a forgettable place and had a forgettable time. 3 days into the affair, we packed up and were heading home.

At this time, I did not own a cell phone. However, a friend of mine was the fortunate one and owned the classic Nokia and received a phone call from my cousin who asked to speak with me. After much debating and teeth gnashing, he convinced me to stay 2 more days at the classic PCB dump, The Chateau. Like a Charlie Brown Spring Break Special, I found out later that I was the only one over the age of 21 that could sign for the room and that’s why my cousin wanted me to stick around.

2 hours later, I met the woman that would become my wife. She took the Greyhound down from St. Louis with 5 of her friends and just so happened to be staying next door to my cousin’s crew. We drank, we laughed, we danced to Ludacris, and have stayed connected since that 2001 spring break.

Fast-forward to 2002. I worked in Mobile as a 2nd grade teacher, she went to college at Loyola of New Orleans, and we spent nearly every weekend together in some fashion. At the end of our school years, she asked her parents if I could come live there (St. Louis) for the summer and her mom gritted her teeth, but agreed.

I’ll spare the details, as it was a very hard summer as my future wife and I learned a lot about each other. However, I’ll never forget the day that I came home from my job, cashier at the “Gas House Car Wash”, to a DVD sitting on the table with a note saying, “Ryan, you should watch this”.

I’m ashamed to admit that at that time of my life, I was no movie guru. Sure, I watched them…but if they didn’t star Adam Sandler, I was unimpressed (41 year old Ryan would make fun of 22 year old Ryan). Something about my future father-in-law’s words to connect with me set in, so I went upstairs, popped it in, and immediately was swept away in the beauty.

That day, I watched Fellowship of the Ring twice, and something changed in me. I can’t really describe it, but I became more patient, branched out in my educational field, and have now developed a reputation of connecting literature to human emotion. The gift of teaching that I knew was inside of me became a monster of passion as I fought public school systems for the next 10 years to keep real literature in the classroom, not robotic, mass-produced and poorly written 17 page textbook stories. There was never much hope that I’d win the battle, and that’s why these words from Gandalf has stuck with me:

The day Two Towers came out, I was on the front row with my girlfriend. The day Return of the King came out, I was there again with my girlfriend. The day the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out, I was surrounded by students that I’d taught the past 2 years, and realized that those movies had taken me on my own unexpected journey to inspire kids to read real literature. The battle had taken 11 years, but I finally got what I wanted.

And to this day, when I need to relax, or when I’m grading papers, I pop on Fellowship and once again, get swept away.

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.


Long Live Braves Journal and Real Literature!

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

11 thoughts on “Ryan’s Favorite Movie”

  1. Blazon, I moved your comment to the trash section. There’s too much negativity in this world to continue to complain. If you’d like to openly complain about when threads go up, you can email me.

    The blog has always been a home away from home to discuss baseball, or anything else that’s going on in our society. I left the other piece up 2 days, and there was a great discussion there, but my thoughts were that we were lingering on the subject that everyone is talking about and I thought our group might want to discuss something else on a Saturday. While I’m not as intelligent as many here, I’m highly socially and emotionally aware of energy and will continue to operate in that manner.

  2. Bravo!

    Thank you, Ryan.

    For the story, not taking out the trash, or the other man’s treasure, whichever.

  3. Opening the floor again for any and all Braves Journalers in these topics:

    1. Favorite Movie
    2. Favorite Song
    3. Favorite Book
    4. Favorite Band

    Send me an email if interested:
    cothrjr at gmail dot com

  4. I have a lot of favorite movies, but it’s hard to say any of them changed my life. Maybe “10.”

  5. Ryan, thanks for taking out the trash and your great efforts on this blog. I’m single, and due to both employer and state govt instructions, have been sheltering in place for a week in my place 25 mi sw of Portland OR, just barely in the country outside an exurb. Content on here is a much needed escape. I miss baseball. I had firm plans to travel to Phoenix for opening weekend of the season to cheer the Braves, as I did last May when they played the Dbacks. That is out the window of course, my only personal tragedy so far in all of this. Light by real standards certainly. I agree with others we will be fortunate to have baseball at all this year and any season starting before June is completely out of the question imo. Tomorrow, before even more travel restrictions are put in place, I will probably head to a remote cabin in the high desert of southeastern Oregon that I have access to, surprisingly with decent cell service. On the edge, <1 mile, from a National Forest. I can stay in touch as needed and even get basic work done. It’s going to get worse here before it gets better I believe and if I’m going to be forced to isolate myself, even though completely healthy, I’d rather do it away from the madness and close to nature. God bless you all.

  6. I wouldn’t say any particular movie had a profound impact on my life, but the Pursuit of Happiness is really up there in terms of impact. It inspires the heck out of me. I’d put Casino Royale, The Living Daylights, Shawshank Redemption, Black Hawk Down, and the Dark Knight in a “favorite movie” pile.

    I think we’ll know soon enough with more certainty when baseball is coming back. The US seems to have doubled their tests in the last 24 hours, going from 25K tests to date to 25K in one day. Citizens Bank Park has become another testing site, marking the only good use for the stadium since its inception.

  7. @7: thank you. Enjoy the solitude.

    I read. The list of books I’ve meant to read keeps me occupied. I just re-read Chekov’s “The Bet” and remembered why I loved this short story.

    Favorite movies include High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Cat Ballou, A Few Good Men and Quigley Down Under. None changed my life, but I enjoyed them all.

  8. Unbroken was one of those books I couldn’t put down. I kept of asking how could Zamperini still be alive to give information for the book. I knew the movie(s) could never live up to the book and I wasn’t wrong.

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