2019 Major League Baseball Predictions


Time begins on March 28th, when a new Major League Baseball season starts and all the teams are tied for first place (well except in the AL West where Seattle and Oakland have already played two games in Japan).

Here are my predictions for how the 2019 will come to an end.

NL East

The Phillies aggressive offseason will give them the NL East title, although the Nationals will be neck-and-neck with them over the season. The Braves will regress a little after last season’s division championship.  The Mets sadly will continue to lack the offense to support the stellar pitching. And Miami will continue to be mediocre.

Philadelphia
Washington (wild card)
Atlanta
New York
Miami

NL Central

The Cubs will reclaim the NL Central and Milwaukee will capture the wild card.  I’m honestly not sure how the rest of the division will shake out, because the Reds and Pirates have the talent to surprise, but then again the Cardinals could be better than 3rd as well.

Chicago
Milwaukee (wild card)
St. Louis
Cincinnati
Pittsburgh

NL West

The boring old Dodgers will continue to dominate, while improvements in the Padres will help them snag a distant second place.  The Rockies will regress after their 2018 Wild Card season and Arizona and San Francisco will each drop down a notch.

Los Angeles
San Diego
Colorado
Arizona
San Francisco

AL East

The Red Sox won’t win as many games as last season but neither will the Yankees.  The Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles will each be a little bit better than 2018, but the division will still shake out in the same order.  Excepting the Orioles, this is probably the strongest division in baseball & its a shame that only 3 teams can make the postseason.

Boston
New York (wild card)
Tampa Bay (wild card)
Toronto
Baltimore

AL Central

Cleveland will once again win the AL Central, largely for lack of competition within the division.  I expect the Twins will be the only other team to finish over .500, and the remainder of the division could shake out in any order.

Cleveland
Minnesota
Chicago
Detroit
Kansas City

AL West

The Astros, like the Dodgers, will continue to make the regular season a formality.  Oakland may challenge for the Wild Card, but I don’t expect much from the rest of the division.

Houston
Oakland
Los Angeles
Seattle
Texas

WILD CARD PLAYOFFS:

Washington defeats Milwaukee
Tampa Bay defeats New York

DIVISIONAL SERIES:

Houston defeats Tampa Bay
Boston defeats Cleveland
Washington defeat Chicago
Los Angeles defeat Philadelphia

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:

Boston defeats Houston
Washington defeats Los Angeles

WORLD SERIES:

Somehow the Miracle Mets swoop in and win it all on the 50th anniversary of their first championship!

Theater Review: The Haunted Life at Merrimack Repertory Theatre


Play: The Haunted Life
Venue: Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Writer: Sean Daniels
Director: Sean Daniels and christopher oscar peña

Susan and I enjoyed a night out at the theater last night thanks to tickets I won from WERS.  We saw a new play called The Haunted Life at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA which is based on a novel written by Lowell’s own Jack Kerouac.  Kerouac’s wrote the novel in 1944 but it wasn’t published until 2014, and it contains a lot of autobiographical details about Kerouac’s life.

The play focuses on 19-year-old the Holden Caulfield-esque character Peter Martin (Raviv Ullman), and begins in the summer of 1941 when he is home for the summer after his freshman year at Boston College.  One of Peter’s friends tries to encourage him to join the Army in order to find adventure, while another friend, Garabed (both played by Vichet Chum), keeps Peter up all night arguing about poetry.  Peter also enjoys picnics with his girlfriend Eleanor (Caroline Neff). At home, Peter’s father Joe (Joel Colonder) – himself a French Canadian immigrant – rages about the new immigrants destroying America.  Peter’s mother Vivienne (Tina Fabrique) worries about her older son who ran away to join the merchant marine a decade earlier and of whom Peter hardly remembers anything.

After fighting with his father over his racism, Peter also runs away to the merchant marine. When the US enters World War II, Peter leaves the merchant marine and tries to set himself up as poet in Manhattan, but is unable to make himself write anything. In of the most biting lines of dialogue, he tells Eleanor that he’s an “inactive poet,” to which she responds “an inactive poet is not a poet.”  Losing friends and family to the war, Peter shuts out everyone else in his life, and wallows in brooding despair.  Surprisingly, it is reconciling with his father that helps Peter to engage with the world again and decide what is important to do with his life.

The play is performed on a simple stage with few props against a backdrop of many windows fitted together.  The performers frequently deliver monologues that comment on Peter’s feelings and actions, that can be poetic or pretentious depending on your perspective.

Vichet Chum is probably the strongest actor in the show and displays his versatility in playing multiple characters.  Caroline Neff has a relatively small part, but also puts in a great performance, and also was the only actor who didn’t seem to be rushing her lines.  I was delighted to find out that Tina Fabrique provided the vocals for the original Reading Rainbow theme song, although I’m sure does not want to be pigeonholed just for that.  Fabrique may have the smallest part in the play but gives a depth and warmth to what could’ve been a stereotypical “mother” role.  I appreciate the casting of actors that encapsulate the modern-day diversity of Lowell that adds to the sense that the issues debated in a play set almost 80 years ago are still the same issues of today.

The Haunted Life continues performances through April 14, so if you have the opportunity, get yourself to Lowell and see it!

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 23rd


99% Invisible :: Palaces for the People

Thoughts from Eric Klinenberg on social infrastructure, with a special focus on my beloved libraries, and how it improves the lives of people.

WBUR News :: Could ‘Meatless Meat’ Change Cultural Values Around Food?

As a vegetarian, I have concerns about the environmental and ethical issues of raising animals for meat (especially in mass, factory-farming methods currently in use), so I found this conversation about “meatless meat” and its possibilities intriguing.


Running tally of Podcast of the Week appearances:

Album Review: It’s Real by Ex Hex


Album: It’s Real
Artist: Ex Hex
Release Date: March 22, 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • Tough Enough
  • Cosmic Cave
  • No Reflection
  • Talk to Me

Thoughts:

This is the second album (following 2014’s Rips) from the Washington, DC based trio of Mary Timony on guitar, bassist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris.  It’s got a mix of 80s punk and hardrock with touches of power pop and 60s girl groups thrown in.  There’s nothing quite original here, but it is a well-crafted collection of raging guitar solos and sweet harmonies.

Rating: ****

Photopost: St. Patrick’s Weekend in New York


I visited my mother in New York this past weekend and together we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in traditional and unique ways.

The weekend began with a Big Onion Walking Tour of the Lower East Side area once known as Little Ireland.

We met our guide Erin at St. Paul’s Chapel, and although her name was appropos to the day, she told us she was not actually Irish.  The St. Paul’s churchyard has a memorial – but not the actual grave – of Thomas Addis Emmet. He was the elder brother of famed Irish martyr Robert Emmet, and participated in the rebellious United Irishmen in the 1790s.  Exiled to the United States, he did pretty well for himself, and even became New York Attorney General.

The next stop was at St. Peter Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic parish in New York, established in 1785.  The current church building dates to 1840.

The Marble Palace is under scaffolding right now, but it is a historic landmark that once held America’s first department store. Opened in 1846, it was home to Alexander Turney Stewart’s dry goods store.  Stewart was an Irish immigrant made good. The store provided same day tailoring of clothing thanks to dozens of seamstresses working on the top floor, many of them recent immigrants from Ireland.

The Tweed Courthouse is associated with the graft of Tammany Hall, the powerful political machine that was initially nativist but grew to welcome Irish Catholic immigrants in return for votes.  Across the street is the former home of Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, founded in 1850 by the Irish Emigrant Society to protect the savings of newly arrived immigrants.

We took a brief tangent from Irish history to discuss the African Burial Ground, which was pretty cool.  Nearby in Foley Square, in the midst of a rally opposing discrimination against Muslims, we talked about one of New York’s first suburbs, built on the site of the Collect Pond which was drained in 1811 through a canal at what is now Canal Street.  Since it was a natural spring, the water returned, making the houses unstable.  As the wealthy moved out, the poor occupied the abandoned houses and created New York’s first slum.  A short walk away in a Chinatown playground, we talked about Five Points, the notorious neighborhood known for its mid-19th century gang violence.  But it was also a place where Irish immigrants and free blacks got a toehold in the city, and even invented tap dancing!

On Mott Street, the Church of the Transfiguration shows the immigrant heritage of the neighborhood.  Initially a place of worship for the growing Irish community in the 1840s, by World War I it was a largely Italian parish, as the names on the World War I memorial plaque indicate.  Today the church serves a Chinese Catholic community.

Another fascinating diversion from the Irish theme was passing by the Spanish and Portuguese Sephardic Jewish Graveyard, which is associated with Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States, founded in 1654!

Around the corner, we visited another Roman Catholic church, St. James, where the Ancient Order of Hibernians was founded in 1836.

We stopped by Public School 1 to talk about how Irish Americans had their children educated.  Erin also noted the architectural design of the school pays tribute to New York’s Dutch heritage.  In the heart of Chinatown, we talked about the Chinese Exclusion Act and how an Irish American woman could lose her citizenship if she married a Chinese man. At the final stop, we discussed the notorious riot brought on by the conflict between two street gangs, the Irish American Dead Rabbits and the nativist Bowery Boys.

A pegasus flying over Chinatown. Because it’s awesome, that’s why.

Finishing our Irish tour in the heart of Chinatown, we of course had lunch at Thai Jasmine.  It was yummy.  Then we headed uptown to see part of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I hadn’t been to the parade since in 22 years, but had a lot of nostalgia for my childhood when it was an annual event.  We remembered the year when the wind was so strong it blew wooden police barriers down the street like tumbleweeds, and told stories of family friends we met at the parade.  I was impressed that the pipe and drum bands have significantly more women than in my childhood, and that black and latinx people were in the parade as participants as well as spectators, making it a much more diverse celebration than it used to be.



The crowds were light and I didn’t witness any misbehavior, which was also a plus, although it may have been due to the fact that we arrived late in the day and were way uptown.  When the winds got too chilly, we decided to drop in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an hour or so.  We wandered into a gallery of art from New Guinea, which was fascinating, and definitely not anything I’d ever seen before.

If the day wasn’t full enough already, we finished things of with a performance by the New York Philharmonic, who played Mozart’s Requiem, but only the parts that Mozart wrote.  I had a peaceful half-nap to the music in the first half of the perfomance.

On Sunday, we went to the New York Botanical Garden for the Orchid Show.  There were significantly fewer orchids on display than last year, and the greenhouses were very crowded, but it’s always a lovely place to visit regardless.

 

 

 

 

 

I like how these two photos turned out.  One is a picture of the dome of the greenhouse, the other is the reflection of the dome in the water.

To finish out a proper St. Patrick’s Day, we went to An Beal Bocht Cafe in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx.  They had sweet Guinness poured properly and musicians playing a traditional Irish seisiún (although they snuck in a couple of crowd pleasers like “The Wild Rover”).  It was crowded but friendly and definitely a place I’d like to visit again, albeit it’s a steep climb uphill from the subway station!

TV Review: Russian Doll (2019)


Title: Russian Doll
Release Dates: 2019
Season: 1
Number of Episodes: 8
Summary/Review:

This clever tv show features the comedic talents of Natasha Lyonne as Nadia, a woman who dies repeatedly and keeps returning to relive her 36th birthday party.  The time loop concept is similar to Groundhog’s Day, a similarity the show doesn’t try to hide.  I also felt it shared some qualities with Donnie Darko, and Run, Lola, Run, especially in that the show feels like a video game character that dies and always returns to the same starting point.  Not coincidentally, Nadia is a software designer for a game company who created a particularly difficult game.

The twist here – and this is a SPOILER if you haven’t watched the show – comes in the third episode cliffhanger where Nadia meets Alan (Charlie Barnett, who could easily be cast in an Alex Rodriguez biopic), a young man who is also repeatedly dying and coming back to life.  While Nadia is struggling with her troubled childhood with her mentally ill mother (who died at the age of 36), Alan is challenged by being dumped by his long-time girlfriend on the night he planned to propose to her. The great thing about this show’s plot is not only to they have to come to terms with their problems in order to get on with their lives (literally here, but also metaphorically) but they also have to help one another to do so.

Russian Doll is by turns really dark, acerbically funny and very sweet.

 

2019 Blogging AtoZ Challenge Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge


Greetings long time readers of Panorama of the Mountains and anyone who may have just stumbled upon this blog today!  In the month of April, I will once again be participating in the Blogging A to Z Challenge.  The purpose of this challenge is to write a post each day of the month on something starting with each letter of the alphabet from A to Z.   These posts can be something different each day just starting with a different letter, or they can be tied together with a theme across all the posts. Since there are 30 days in April and only 26 letters in the alphabet, we take Sundays off from posting.  But the even bigger part of the challenge is finding other participants blogs and reading their posts and leaving comments, so Sundays are a good day to catch up!

This will be the fourth time I’ve particpated in the A to Z Challenge. In previous years, I blogged on different themes:

I’ve long loved music and wanted to do something musical with my A to Z, so this year my theme will be;

A Song and a Story

Great songs have meaning far beyond what the artists who create them intended. Songs are part of our daily experience and hearing them brings up images of people we love, places we’ve been, and the things we do.  So for my A to Z Challenge, I will be writing about some of my favorite songs and telling a story I associate with those songs.

AND, because I’m feeling ambitious, I’m also going to try to watch and review documentary movies from A to Z again.  That’s right TWO A to Z Challenges for the price of one.

If you have a blog and want to get involved in this fun and transformative experience, check out the official website for more details!

Book Review: Designing Disney by John Hench


Author: John Hench
Title: Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show 
Publication Info: Disney Editions (2009)
Summary/Review:

John Hench joined the Walt Disney Studios animation department in 1939, became an Imagineer in 1954, and continued working up until a few days before his death in 2004.  So there’s no one better to write about how Disney Parks are designed with an emphasis on detail and drawing the viewer in as an active participant.  I particularly like how he talked about a three-dimensional cross-disolve, using a film term to describe the ways in Disney Imagineers design transitions between different lands and attractions.  Hench also goes into great detail about how different colors are used, and how he gave a lot of thought to the color of the sky in Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong.  This is a nice, richly illustrated dive into the world of imagineering, although I admit I’m still looking for the book that will really get into the nitty-gritty.

Recommended books: Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real by The Imagineers and The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey
Rating: ***1/2

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 16th


Twenty Thousand Hertz :: The Booj

In a world where every movie trailer sounds exactly like every other movie trailer, how does one make their trailer stand out?  The story of The Booj and other elements common to the blockbuster movie trailer formula.  Confession:  I love the sound of The Booj, but can live without the cheezy song covers.

Radiolab :: Asking for Another Friend

This episode investigates several mysteries, including people who don’t clean up their dog’s poop, racist dogs, and why the New York City subway plays the opening notes of a song from West Side Story.

Re:Sound :: Lefty Disco

The first story is the oddly fascinating story of how discrimination against Black and gay people, a radio shockjock, and a baseball double-header collided to become a disastrous promotional event and The Night That Killed Disco.

Best of the Left :: Democratizing our presidential elections (National Popular Vote) ​

The Electoral College is anti-democratic and despite what its supporters say does not help smaller states.  This episode discusses alternatives such as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, replacing “winner take all” with proportional allotments, and eliminating the Electoral College entirely.


Running tally of Podcast of the Week appearances:

Album Review: Toothsayer by Tanya Tagaq


AlbumToothsayer
Artist: Tanya Tagaq
Release Date: March 2019
Thoughts: The throat singer Tanya Tagaq combines Inuit traditions with modern electronic, ambient, and industrial music. This 5-song EP was made to  accompany the British National Maritime Museum’s “Polar Worlds” exhibit.  Without words, Tagaq’s compositions paint vivid images of the extreme wildness of the Arctic, while expressing the danger of climate change and the asserting indigenous rights. Tagaq’s voice is a powerful and expressive instrument.
Rating: ****