2015 tenbest 1

At the end of the year I like to look back. In each of the last two years, my final three articles of the year have counted down what I think are my ten finest articles of the year. You can see the 2013 version here (Part I, Part II, Part III) and the 2014 version here (Part I, Part II, Part III). It’s now time again for this retrospective. At the risk of seeming self-indulgent, this blog is a big part of my life and my writing, and I spend a great deal of time on it. A total of 482 articles have appeared on SeanMunger.com during 2015, and this year also marked a milestone in which I hit 1 million overall page views and more people read my stuff in 2015 than ever before. I enjoy the opportunity of showing you what I think is my personal best. There are ten entries on the list. Numbers 10, 9, 8 and 7 are in this article; tomorrow will be 6, 5 and 4, and the top three will appear on New Year’s Eve.

Keep in mind, the choices I’ve made here are subjective. They’re not the most popular articles in terms of page views or comments, and while I did ask for some suggestions from a few readers, the opinions of what’s “best” are mine alone. These ten articles represent the closest I came to what I really want this blog to be and what I think is my best work on it. Now, without further ado!


10. My own Holy Grail: Wagner’s great opera “Parsifal.”

This article, published July 26, got very few views and only a handful of comments, but I remember as I was finishing it–it was on a Sunday evening–I thought, “Wow, this is one of my best this year.” Written on the anniversary of the premiere of German composer Richard Wagner’s final opera Parsifal at Bayreuth in 1882, this article is not only a story of how the opera came to be, but also what it means to me personally–which involves memory, history, my identity as an American Jew and a progressive liberal, and even connections to other music that has meant a lot in my life. Just because of the personal nature and the broad range this article covers, I thought it was pretty unique, and offered me an opportunity to combine a number of interests on this blog into one article.

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9. Guns and Provolone: Food, booze and wine in Scorsese’s “GoodFellas” (Part I) (Part II) (Part III).

Movies were big on my blog this year. I did a lot of articles analyzing various films, their histories and cultural implications, and a few more film analyses will pop up later in the top 10 list, but I just had a great time doing this three-part series back in January on one of my favorite movies, Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster epic GoodFellas. But this was a special analysis: instead of reviewing the film as a whole, I went through it piece by piece and discussed the food, alcohol and wine references that are absolutely ubiquitous in this film and which in fact carry an important part of its message. Even if you’ve seen GoodFellas 50 times, you may see something new in it after reading this series…but warning, it might make you hungry!

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8. Throwback Thursday: A night out in Manhattan…in 1916!

The “Throwback Thursday” series was one of the most popular series on my blog this year and I knew I had to pick one for the top 10. But which one? In these articles, 14 in all, I took a “you are there” approach of what a Friday night out in New York City would have been like at specific moments in time, covering the entire 20th century from 1905 to 1997. Everything from the names of the shows and movies playing, to restaurants and their menus, addresses and what was on TV or radio on a specific day was totally accurate (thanks to newspaper archives I consulted before writing each one). Of all the weekends in the past, I chose this one, 1916, that I think most represented the whimsical but informative tone I was going for in this series. It’s also very interesting in its own right: we go to a timeless German restaurant, a silent film epic by D.W. Griffith, and even wind up on the boardwalk in Atlantic City in its heyday. And there’s the matter of “Doraldina and her Hawaiians,” which became a running joke for the rest of the series. It was hard to pick just one of these, but this one is probably the most fun.

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7. The two-headed whale: Bisexuality and Melville’s “Moby-Dick.”

I don’t often bring up sexuality on this blog, much less my own, but I thought I was able to tackle the subject pretty skillfully in talking about the history and literary meaning of perhaps the greatest American novel, Moby-Dick, in this article that ran in October on the anniversary of its first publication. We bisexuals should be proud to claim Herman Melville as one of our own, and the bisexual themes in Moby-Dick are pretty hard to ignore–yet much of the world labors under the bizarre delusion that Melville’s sexual identity is somehow “unproven” or still just “a rumor.” It isn’t, but of course bisexuality was expressed much differently in 1851 than it is in the 21st century, and even in our own day it can be a confusing subject. I like this article because I was able to meld history, literature and current issues in a way that was personally meaningful to me. This article sank like a stone and got no comments when I ran it, but I think it was one of my best of 2015.

Tune in tomorrow for numbers 6, 5 and 4 on my top 10 list. As always, thanks for reading this year!

For photo/image credits, please see the individual articles linked. The header image was made by me and includes mostly public domain images, with the exception of the GoodFellas poster, which I believe is fair use.