2019 in Review

Another year of blogging under the belt. That makes six. I honestly had no idea I’d be able to keep it going this long, I figured I’d get bored with it sometime in Year 4…..

Anyway, I managed 58 posts – down two from 2018. Still more than one a week (vacations help!). There were 2,729 visitors and 3,859 page views (both of which are HUGE increases over 2018). Over two-thirds of those views came from the US. The United Kingdom, Canada, and France were next. People from a total of 69 countries (as defined by WordPress) stopped by (Hello Kazakhstan!). There were 136 “likes” – also a huge increase over 2018. Well, there are a lot more posts overall – their number isn’t going down. “Indiana Jones and the Top Men” is still my most popular post by a long shot – and I haven’t even been promoting it. It must show up on a lot of search engines.

Instead of the “most viewed” posts for 2019, I thought I’d plug the ones I personally liked the most (well, at least at this time of writing).

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Christmas at WFMU

If you’re like me (and I know I am), you get tired of the same old holiday songs being played on the radio by the second week of December – if not sooner. Fortunately, there is a radio station that doesn’t play by the rules. WFMU (91.1 FM) broadcasts from northern New Jersey, and is what is known as a “freeform” station. The DJs play whatever they want, subject only to FCC regulations. All but the tiniest fraction of their income is from listener donations, so they are beholden to no one. Think of it as a college radio station – but without the basketball games.

Around ten years ago, they started archiving their shows on their website – so you can listen in regardless of the constraints of time or space.

Most of their DJs have holiday specials of some sort – tune in over the next week to hear what they’ve come up with. Here are last year’s (mostly) holiday shows from my favorite programs for your “streaming” pleasure. You are definitely going to hear things you’ve never heard before. The descriptions are the DJ’s own….

Enjoy! And don’t say you weren’t warned…..

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A Christmas Mix For You – VI

Let me be honest. I’m getting tired of digging through and dredging up all the Christmas music out there. I’ve already shared the holiday tunes I thought were worthwhile, and had to dig around near the bottom of the proverbial barrel to fill up the last holiday mix (or two).

So the heck with it. This year, I’m just going to go through my collection, and without curating or even ordering the choices, just toss out every single version of “Jingle Bells” I have.

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MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year

Once the World Series was over (congratulations to the Nationals, by the way), baseball fans immediately turned their attention to specualting on the awards. There’s plenty of prizes and trophies to be handed out, but most fans only worry about the “Big Three”: Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player.

The general consensus this year was that Pete Alonso of the Mets and Yordan Alvarez of the Astros would take home the Rookie of the Year awards, and their teammates Jacob deGrom and either Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole would be honored with the Cy Young Award. The MVP “racesare a lot closer, with the Angel’s Mike Trout and the Astro’s Alex Bregman “battling” in the American League, and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers and Christian Yelich of the Brewers as the leading candidates in the National League.

Well, we already know the Rookies of the Year and Cy Young winners – the general consensus was correct for both, with Verlander getting the Cy Young nod in the AL. The MVP award will be announced next week.

You’ll note that in each league, the same team collected the two prizes given so far. I wondered how often does it happen where the same team has more than one of the three major award winners. I went and looked – and naturally, you’re going to read about it (if you click on the “More” thing below).

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Halloween on Fremont Street – 2

Fremont Street is the “heart” of downtown Las Vegas. It’s actually in the city of Las Vegas; almost all of The Strip is south of the city line in the unincorporated community of Paradise. It’s where you’ll find a lot of the older, classic casinos like the Golden Nugget and El Cortez.

Some years ago, the city fathers saw that everyone was hanging out on The Strip, making the downtown area pretty much a ghost town. Something was needed to revive the area.

They closed off several blocks of Fremont Street in front of the casinos, turning it into a pedestrian mall. They covered it with a HUGE light display for hourly light and music shows, and set up three quasi-permanent performance stages (they look like they could be easily disassembled if the need arose). Street performers were allowed, within reasonable limits.

In effect, they turned it into the world’s largest open air nightclub.

So it’s the perfect place for public parties and festivities. Like Halloween.

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Halloween on Fremont Street – 1

So I found myself with some vacation time that I couldn’t carry over to next year. “Self,” I say. “You don’t want to be a schmuck and use it up in November when we’ve got lots of days off anyway, or in December when everyone else will be using up theirs. You need to pick some time in October.” Then I notice that Halloween would be on a Thursday this year. “You can take that week off! Travel out on Monday, do tourist things on Tuesday and Wednesday, party with the spooks on Thursday, recover on Friday, and return home on Saturday! That’s a cunning plan!”

But where to go? The last time I traveled for Halloween, it didn’t work out too well. And there wasn’t anything there that I particularly wanted to see….again. What about Las Vegas? I’d been there before – several times, actually. And it would be rocking for Halloween, right?

I booked a hotel right on Fremont Street, so the party would be outside my front door. Can’t go wrong there! And a day trip to the Grand Canyon – why not?

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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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