Another Halloween Miscellany

It’s that time of year again! Way back when I first started this blog, I became one of the “Cryptkeepers” at the Countdown to Halloween in an effort to bring traffic here. Haven’t figured out if it worked.

Be that as it may, I’ve been posting a few Halloween things in the Octobers since. You can check them out with the “Halloween” tag over in the “Tag Cloud” on the right. You might also find a few scary movies under “Movie Reviews”.

For this post, I’ve just got a few odds and ends for the season that don’t justify their own post.

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Overrated – Underrated: Fictional Universe

Writers these days are finding fertile ground (i.e. they’re making lots of money) by penning lots of stories in the same background, or “universe”. You’ll almost always encounter them in science fiction and fantasy. There’s the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, Middle Earth, Star Trek’s Federation, and many more. Of course, this means that some are overrated, and others are underrated.

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As the Season Winds Down

With less than three weeks left to play, we can pretty much see how everything is going to shake out in the baseball season. The Dodgers, Braves, Astros, and Yankees are all (barring epic collapses) going to make the playoffs. Only the AL Central still has something resembling a pennant race, with the Indians just a few games back of the Twins. In the NL Central, the Cubs are four games behind the Cardinals, with the Brewers another game behind them. Technically, there’s still a race there, but it’s pretty much a given at this point that neither team really has a chance to knock of the Cardinals.

There are still the Wild Card races, with three teams in the AL and five (or six) in the NL fighting for the chance to appear in the “play-in” game. But those are as exciting as they seem – which is not much.

So, what’s a fan to do? I’ve read an article recently bemoaning the lack of pennant races. I went and did some research, and you know what? This year is an anomaly.

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Expanding Major League Baseball – 3

A while back I mused on what major league baseball might look if two teams were added. One in each league, to make it four divisions with four teams in each league. I picked Portland for the AL team, and Montreal for the NL. The playoffs would be between the division winners – no “wild cards”.

As we are heading into the thick of the pennant races, I asked myself, “What would the standings and pennant races look like in my four team – four division system?”

Obviously, there’s no way to know what the actual won-lost records would be for the teams. I decided to take the records for the real teams as of the start of play today (August 27, 2019), and assume that Portland and Montreal would have .500 records. That makes it easy to minimize their effect on the other team’s records.

Here’s what the hypothetical standings would be:

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A Montreal Quickie – 2

The other place for strolling and shopping and people watching is the “Old Port” area. It’s the oldest part of the city – short and narrow streets, architecture in the Second Empire style… The place is loaded with souvenir shops and boutiques and assorted food shops. With all the French signage, you can almost imagine yourself to strolling around some arrondissement during “La Belle Epoque”.

Except, naturally, when you get to the actual shoreline with its repurposed docks and the one single train track (which may or may not still be active) separating the “main drag” from the riverside park.

There are a few items of interest to check out in this part of town; I visited two of them this time.

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A Montreal Quickie – 1

It’s been a pretty stressful summer at work for me so far. It came to pass that I needed to get away from everything for a few days – and staying at home for a long weekend wasn’t going to cut it. I was going stir crazy, and just had to get out and go somewhere.

But where? Where was far enough to make traveling there a worthwhile break, but close enough so I could do it in a few days?

Why not drive up to Montreal? I’d been there before (a couple of years ago), so I knew what it took. A seven hour drive (with rest stops and the border crossing), so it could be done in one day, and you don’t need much in the way of special preparations….

Since I was just there for two days and three nights, I’m not going to have that much to say about the place. But I did hit a few museums, and get in a pair of walking tours.

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The Apollo Missions

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of many important milestones. The Mets won the World Series. There was a music festival on a farm in New York.

Oh, and human beings walked on the moon.

Ask the average person about the Apollo Program, and they will know that it was Apollo 11 that landed the first people on the moon. Apollo 13 was the one that they made that movie about. More educated people might know that Apollo 8 was the one with that “Earthrise” photo, and Apollo 1 was the one with the fire that killed the astronauts.

Even more educated people will know that Apollo 7 through 10 were various manned flights, and that 12 and 14 through 17 actually took people to the moon.

But what about the other numbers? What about 2 through 6, and anything over 17?

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50 States, 50 Movies – Part 3

Let’s be honest, here. I’m not really that much of a movie buff. I’ll see a movie in a theater maybe once a year, watch one on TV at about the same rate, and watch one online maybe twice a month. But I still appreciate the art form and its history. So maybe that qualifies me sufficiently to make a list like this. Heck, it’s not that hard. Just enter “Best movie set in {state}” in your favorite search engine, and you’re off and running.

And if, unlike me, you are a true film buff, maybe by poking around in the “runners up” you’ll find a hidden gem that deserves more attention.

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Celebrating America

It seems that on the Left these days, America is taking quite a pounding. Our collective Sins of the Past are being dragged out into the open, and held up as examples of what is (still) wrong with the country – and we can never seem to atone for them to their satisfaction. Institutionalized oppression of (insert minority group here). Economic inequality resulting in an entrenched, oligarchic government. Interference with the governments of other nations and peoples. Unchecked militarism. Environmental degradation. There are even serious essays being published that claim we’d be better off if we had never won our independence.

Given the barely concealed contempt for this country, one has to wonder why they aren’t leaving for greener (to them) pastures.

I am led to wonder – is there anything about the United States of America and its system of government that is worth celebrating?

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50 States, 50 Movies – Part 2

What, you actually thought I’d do all of this list in one post when I could break it up and get three posts out of it? Come on! I’ve got to pad my post count somehow!

When doing a list like this, one could probably come up with an algorithm combining the proportion of the movie set in the state, the proportion of the movie actually filmed there, critical response (both immediate reviews and long-term reputation), and perhaps even adding in what the state’s tourism office might think of the movie.

But reducing things to a number isn’t as much fun as going through individual movies and making the decision on your own.

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