Last year around this time, I thought about Seinfeld. More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Third Season Of Seinfeld On DVD was enjoying a surge of page views in the final third of 2012, an awfully strange development for a piece written and posted in 2008. Like most of my writing in that period, it was pretty much ignored when first seen on my old Windows Live Spaces site, so to have it belatedly find an audience years later on WordPress was lovely.
And it reminded me that I had some unfinished business.
My good friend, Rob, had repeatedly warned me for months in 2007 that he was planning on loaning me his Seinfeld box sets so I could write about them. As the year drew to a close, he insisted I take the season one & two set home with me, so I did.
Because I’ve seen these shows 800 million times on Television, doing reviews of all the episodes was not going to happen. But as I watched this first box, I learned a lot about the show. And that became the start of a new blog series: Interesting Things I Learned While Watching Seinfeld On DVD. There were also a lot of unanswered questions which led to a second: Unsolved Mysteries Of Seinfeld.
From January to April 2008, I posted two-part trivia pieces and an unsolved mysteries item for all but one of the first three box sets (season three was the exception) that covered the first four seasons. But by the time I got to season five, I was quite depressed and having irregular sleep over an unrelated matter. (Long story.) Although I finished watching everything on the box, I wasn’t up for writing about it. As a result, the project was shelved for the next four and a half years. Eventually, as 2008 progressed, I fully recovered but up to that point, I had moved on to other ideas.
Three days after I posted Remembering 2012, My Seventh Year Of Blogging (Part One), Rob and I got together. In the piece I mention contemplating a return to the series because of the surprise popularity of that aforementioned third season trivia item. He read it and decided to loan me season five again. He even threw in season six, as well.
A week later, I decided to do what I hadn’t done all those years ago. I would take meticulous notes throughout the screenings. (Previously, with the exception of jotting down points during the Notes About Seinfeld features, I relied mostly on my memory, double checking where appropriate.)
It was amazing how much I had forgotten about season five. True, some of it was familiar but a lot of it wasn’t, which, ironically, was a good thing. Feeling so much better than in the summer of 2008, I was finally able to write about what I had learned, albeit the second time around. Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Fifth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Fifth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD followed Unsolved Mysteries Of The Fifth Season Of Seinfeld in mid-January.
Then, after several consecutive days of screenings in late February, there was Unsolved Mysteries Of The Sixth Season Of Seinfeld, Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Sixth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Sixth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD.
Once these two box sets were returned to Rob in March, he loaned me the final three (seven, eight and nine). Rather than take a long break between each set, I went from one right to the other. Unsolved Mysteries Of The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld, Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld On DVD and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld On DVD all surfaced on April Fool’s Day.
Unsolved Mysteries Of The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld, Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD all popped up on April 14 while Unsolved Mysteries Of The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld, Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld were first showcased five days later.
Season seven was returned to Rob that same month. The next time we get together, he’ll get the rest back. My thanks to him for suggesting doing something with all of his box sets in the first place. It was great to finally finish these trivia pieces after all this time. Collectively, all 15 postings generated more than 2100 hits this year. May that total grow significantly in 2014 and beyond.
Speaking of popular pieces, What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed And Gene Simmons? remains the most accessible entry in this website’s entire history for the third straight year. More than 5000 hits in 2013 have brought its overall total to almost 22000. Nothing else comes remotely close and that includes the home page.
The second biggest piece of the year was How CM Punk’s Original “Pipe Bomb” Foreshadowed Several Key WWE Storylines from 2012. It added over 1900 hits to last year’s total of 258. 29 Things I Love About Storage Wars (over 1500 added; over 6500 overall), my 2006 review of the Kurt Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven (over 900 added; it now stands at over 1100), and Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience (over 500 added bringing its overall total to more than 4000) round out the Top 5.
Like any year, 2013 had its share of tragedy. Natural disasters, shocking criminal cases, heartbreaking accidents, and, of course, celebrity deaths. Regarding that last category, I eulogized two of my all-time favourites: alt-rock pioneer Lou Reed and film critic Roger Ebert. May they both rest in peace.
Speaking of shocking criminal cases, there’s the peculiar story of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, two troubled souls from British Columbia who found themselves arrested this summer for allegedly planning a terrorist act. I find the case to be extremely problematic and wonder if I’m not alone in feeling that way. Why The “Foiled” B.C. Plot Sounds Like A Bogus Sting lays out my argument. The trial will be one to watch in the new year.
What will likely not be worth watching in 2014 are the weekly WWE prime time shows. After putting up with overlong broadcasts, distracted announcers who can’t stop bickering long enough to strictly call the action in the ring and lacklustre angles for more than a year, I stopped watching Monday Night Raw in late October. (I’ve haven’t watched much Smackdown in the last several months, either. I’m sticking with the DVDs, though.) Long before that, in March, I asked Why Is WWE Advertising R-Rated Movies During PG-Rated Raw?
Meanwhile, between February and August, I made predictions for every WWE pay-per-view: Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania 29, Extreme Rules, Payback, Money In The Bank and SummerSlam. So, why didn’t I continue on with this? Let’s face it. I’m a lousy prognosticator. Just look at my Oscar picks this year, if you don’t believe me.
My pay-per-view trivia pieces (The Royal Rumble, Money In The Bank, Hell In A Cell), my two-part series on WWE superstars with the longest championship droughts (a bit out of date now), my five-part series on the 2013 Slammy Awards, Why Austin Aries Should Be Fired From TNA and 9 OMG! Moments The WWE Overlooked For Its 2011 DVD Set were less dependent on non-existent foresight and therefore, much better. In total, there were 30 pro wrestling entries on the site this year. Expect that total to come way down, though, in 2014.
Let’s talk about the movies. Besides writing online essays like 4 Controversial Movie Castings That Ultimately Resulted In Triumph and the two-part series, The 5 Worst Film Franchises Of All Time, I continued to offer the occasional review. Zero Dark Thirty, The Three Stooges remake, The Purge, Spice World, Earth, Beetlejuice, Breaking Dawn – Part Two, Texas Chainsaw, Sinister, Dredd, Flashdance, Zombieland, American Wedding and Inglourious Basterds appeared alongside previously published assessments of Paranormal Activity, Assassins, Jennifer’s Body and The Unborn. All but one of those last four originally seen on Monkeybiz.ca.
In the end I screened slightly more than twice as many films as I did last year and eight times as many good ones. Here’s hoping that trend continues well beyond 2014.
Speaking of previously published reviews, I also dipped into my personal archives to share some music critiques. The very first posting of 2013 was this college-era assessment of Brian Eno and Jah Wobble’s Spinner. That was immediately followed by MonkeyBiz reviews of Krash Karma’s Straight To The Blood, Gringo Star’s Count Yer Lucky Stars and Wilson Semiconductors by The Howling Hex. Later on, evaluations of Morrissey’s Years Of Refusal and the When You’re Strange Soundtrack (featuring the music of The Doors) were put up here, as well.
And that brings me to this: my favourite comment of the year. On June 11th, a first-time reader responded most favourably to this 2012 Monkeybiz review I reposted on my site in late April:
“I play in a band called Yukon Blonde. You reviewed our record Tiger Talk, so for the very first time, I’m writing to someone who reviewed our record!
Somehow, I ended up reading some of our reviews online tonight.
I ended up on yours which was the second review I read and I had to email you about your review of our song My Girl. You really nailed it and understood exactly what I wrote about. I’ve been interviewed time and time again and most oftentimes I get the question, ‘So why are you promoting drunk driving?’. It’s honestly really frustrating. I mean, you really nailed all of the songs, but I really started to doubt whether or not the story in the song was clear to anyone but me. Well, you got it so it might be safe to say that maybe some people out there do too.
Anyways, I’m just emailing you to thank you. It’s quite refreshing to see someone take the time and do their research before writing about something…”
Those were the kind words of Jeffrey Innes, Yukon Blonde’s frontman and chief songwriter. Thanks, Jeff, and all the best to you and your bandmates in the new year.
By the way, expect a few more MonkeyBiz repostings of other past CD reviews in early January.
Besides reviving these old pieces, I wrote about Daniel Lanois’ early assessment of the next U2 album (which is now scheduled for a March release) and compiled silly, satirical song lists for failed New York Democratic Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and embarrassingly catfished football star Manti Te’o. Music remains a big passion of mine and I hope to convey it here more often.
Although The Writings Of Dennis Earl didn’t quite top last year’s overall hit count, thankfully it did improve over 2011’s total, albeit slightly (a 500-hit difference, actually). As of now, the site has generated pretty close to 24000 hits for the year, down by more than 2000 from 2012. Followers have increased by more than half (up to 94 from 42 at the end of last December) and since the site moved from Windows Live Spaces to WordPress, it has generated just over 75000 in a little over three years. Not bad but far from where it should be.
So after nearly eight years of doing this, what’s next? Where do I go from here?
That’s a big question I hope to have a great answer for in 2014.
In the meantime, thanks to all who posted comments, sent emails, clicked “Like” and became followers in 2013.
Happy New Year, everybody.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 31, 2013