Saturday, December 31, 2016

Blog in Review: Top 10 Posts of 2016

Longtime readers may already have realized this, but the blog was different this year than it has been in the past.  I made a conscious effort to write less D&D and less fantasy in general and to spend less time promoting my fiction, and I spent more time talking about the news and Army Football.  As a result, average readership per post went up by 25% to 50%.  Total readership, however, has been substantially lower.  To put that another way, I had quite a few more regular readers in 2016, but the blog is now much less appealing to strangers.  Readership on this blog has always been governed by the 80/20 Rule, i.e. 80% of our readers come for just 20% of our posts, but since the most widely read posts have uniformly been Dungeons & Dragons posts, doing less D&D has hit my bottom line.  
That’s okay.
It's a picture from 2 years ago, but still one of our favorites.
The changes in the blog reflect changes in our lives.  I wrote several short D&D adventure modules last year, mostly for our kids, and those continue to be among the most-read posts in the blog’s history.  By comparison, the most popular post this year was about QB Ahmad Bradshaw’s decision NOT to leave West Point.  It did decent numbers, but it still pulled in at most 20% of the interest that something like The Fall of Cahokiantep generated in 2015.  However, we really like Army Football, and we plan to continue as an Army Football Season Ticket Holders, and that makes watching the team an integral part of what we do as a family.  At the same time, it’s been about a year since the kids and I last sat down to play D&D.  Considering the numbers, though, I really should make time to do more Cahokiantep.
2016 top ten posts are listed below.  These are not necessarily the ten most widely read posts of the year.  Instead, they are my favorites, and in many cases the most successful examples of various ideas I tried in 2016.  The numbers in parentheses indicate how many readers each post earned.

Friday, December 30, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Still Celebrating

I don’t know about you, but I’m still celebrating Army’s season.  Or maybe waiting for next season.
As of this writing, there are 241 days until kickoff at Michie Stadium, and yeah, I think college football withdrawal is gonna be a bitch this year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Quick Thoughts: The Heart of Dallas Bowl

Army just pulled out a squeaker at the Heart of Dallas Bowl in a rematch against the North Texas Mean Green.  An exciting win caps an exciting season.  To say the least, I was certainly not expecting a 38-31 shoot-out that went to overtime.  But despite a few mistakes, I'll certainly take this result.

Some thoughts are below:

Monday, December 26, 2016

Freedom '90

My favorite George Michael song is Freedom '90 off the album Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1.  Michael's not even in the video, and the idea that he's burning his own success and former image could come off as hackneyed as Hell.  Instead, it's a brilliant piece of art about declaring independence from the expectations of others.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Quick Thoughts: The Armed Forces Bowl

First off, that was one Hell of an entertaining game.  It featured Navy's triple-option against the pass-happy spread-offense of Louisiana Tech, not much defense, lots of scoring, and Navy lost.  What's not to love?

Navy is probably getting tired of seeing scenes like this at the end of games:

Some thoughts on the game itself:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Army Football Preview: The Heart of Dallas Bowl

When last we left the Army Black Knights, they were celebrating on the field at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, victorious over Navy for the first time since 2001.  Army played an excellent first half, lost focus with multiple turnovers in the third quarter, allowed the Middies back into the game, and then closed the door with authority using a strong performance in the final quarter.  Since then, Army fandom has run wild while the cadets themselves have suffered through Term End Exams and—presumably—begun refocusing for their last game of the season, the Heart of Dallas Bowl against mid-season foe North Texas.
December 27, 2016, at noon on ESPN. 

The Heart of Dallas Bowl is a fitting final game for Army for two reasons.  First, it’s a bowl game to honor first responders, a natural extension of the patriotism and selfless service at the heart of the Academy’s professional ethos.  Second, Dallas is in Texas, and as anyone who’s served already knows, half the Army is from Texas.  Between Ft. Hood, Ft. Bliss, Ft. Sam Houston, and a few others, quite a bit of the Army is currently stationed in Texas as well.  North Texas is technically the home team for this game--their campus is about a forty-five minute drive from the stadium--and I expect that they will have plenty of fans in attendance.  However, I expect Army will put some people into the stands as well, especially after that big win over Navy.  
The Bowl Committee itself is looking to put some 7,500 first responders into the stands as honorary fans as well, a group I expect will split at least 50/50 in Army’s favor.  The game is being played in the Cotton Bowl—cue the irony alert for Navy fans—and all things considered, this game might very well become a raucous affair.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

College Football Preview: Bowl Week 2

You guys will have to excuse the shortened preview today.  My interest in a lot of this week’s bowl games is limited, and I have a full Heart of Dallas Bowl preview coming out tomorrow.  There are other bowls worth watching, of course, but most of the really good ones aren’t until after Christmas.  
Graphic goes here.

If you absolutely must read about everything, I recommend the Football Outsiders link below.  Speaking personally, I want to talk about two—the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, featuring Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion (-4), and the Armed Forces Bowl, featuring Louisiana Tech and Navy (+3.5).

Friday, December 16, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: InfoWar Becomes a Thing

Strange news week.  I feel like there’s a lot going on, but I still had trouble finding this week’s articles.  Here’s what I’ve got.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

College Football Preview: Bowl Week 1

Army’s not playing this week, and with the Army-Navy game in the rearview, I can’t help feeling a little lost.  The Streak is over, Army’s got a winning program again, and we’re headed to a bowl game in which I expect the Black Knight to play pretty well.  There’s not a lot of tension in the air.  True, we’ve got Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to look forward to, and I suppose that’s something, but man, I really enjoyed this season of college football.  
It’s been the best in years.
I needed a graphic here.
Well.  We’ve still got some forty bowl games ahead of us, enough so that there’s gotta be something on the docket for pretty much everybody.  This week’s preview is a look at the weekend’s bowl games and their potential implications for Army fans.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Support This Blog!

I hope it's not too crass to casually remind you fine folks that I don't just write about West Point and the Army Football Team.  I also write fiction.

Start with Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki.  It's a novel in three parts, each a short story that I wrote for my kids for successive Christmases a few years ago.  For what it's worth, everyone who's read the book has liked it, despite the handful of typos that my humble editing skills left in the manuscript.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Quick Thoughts: Army-Navy

Wow!  What an exciting night!  A great, great game.

You could sense something different about this team from the very start of the season.  The 2016 edition of Army Football has never been the most precise football team in the history of college sports, but man, they do play with a lot of heart.  In the end, this was what mattered.

Some thoughts, in no particular order.

Friday, December 9, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Army-Navy is Back!

It’s a lot of military-related stuff this week, not so much because of the Army-Navy game but because that’s what’s going on in America.  Or maybe I’m just more tuned into the military stuff because of the game.  Regardless, these are the things to which I want people to pay attention.

Happy Friday, folks.  Let’s get after it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Army Football Preview: Navy

Army first played Navy in football in 1890.  With rare exceptions, the nation’s leading service academies have met annually on the fields of friendly strife ever since.  The Army-Navy Game not only tests the mettle of the teams on the field, it also celebrates the service of America’s soldiers, sailors, and Marines.  

Saturday’s match-up is the 117th meeting between Army and Navy, and if the midshipmen have enjoyed the advantage over the last decade plus, it must also be said that this season has seen a return to form for the Army team that has been in the works since 1999.  Though we don’t know who’s going to win this weekend, the contest pits two (relatively) evenly matched teams against one another for the pride of America’s military.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Army Football Preview: How Did We Get Here?

It’s Army-Navy week!

Army comes into this weekend’s Army-Navy game as an eight-point road underdog.  That sounds about right based on performance, but in many ways, this year’s game marks the first creditable Army Football team since 1999.  Though the Black Knights have just sixteen firsties (seniors) on their roster, that small leadership group came into their final year at the Academy with a singular mission.  They would make Army Football great again.  
This has been a monumental undertaking.

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's Navy Week!

Go Army!  Beat Navy!!! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Catering to Your Personal Dystopia

Happy Friday, folks.

Not much witty banter this week, but if you’re wondering, I’m almost through with the first re-write of my memoir, tentatively titled Swim, Bike, Run, Live, Love, Repeat: A Story about Swimming, Family, & Belonging.
So yeah, that’s a mouthful.  Probably not a great sign for the rest of the book.
My buddy Chris, the poor bastard, has had to read every chapter of this fantastic literary masterpiece over the course of the past few months--and often discuss what he just read over the phone immediately afterwards.  I like to check his reading comprehension!  Heh.  No seriously, he's been a HUGE help.  He was my roommate Yearling (sophomore) year at the Academy, but I'll bet if he knew then what he was getting himself into way back when...
Eh.  What can you do?
My daughter Hannah's been enjoying the project more than anyone, and she's been a pretty good test-reader, too.  In that respect, I feel at least partially vindicated.  My kids are often my best target audience.  The whole thing still feels like a vanity project, but if it's a vanity project that my kids are enjoying, then it's gotta be worth something.  Right?