The Super Duper End of the Year ‘Best Of’ Lists!

Written by on December 23, 2020

It’s that time of year, when everybody cracks out their ‘Best Of’ lists. And in this particular case, we’re choosing to follow the crowd… Sort of.

We’ve polled our staff, and have come up with a few good lists. Enjoy.

Rob Smittix – Top Bizarre List of 2020

2020 has been a year we’ll always remember and wish we’d forget. So much has happened this year from the “Covid Monster” to murder hornets, we barely could brace ourselves for whatever was next. Outside of the virus and politics, here is my list for strange, bizarre and weird news that occurred in 2020.

1). January: President Donald Trump unveils the logo to his space force, which looks remarkably similar to the logo worn on the chest of the Star Trek Enterprise crew.

2). April: The Pentagon “officially” released not one, not two but three UFO videos that were filmed by US Navy Pilots.

3). July: Kanye West announces on the 4th of July that he is running for president under the “Birthday Party.” (Not political news just funny as hell to me.)

4). July: The New York Times reports a quote from astrophysicist and former consultant for the Pentagon’s UFO program Eric W. Davis stating in a defense briefing that we have in our possession “off-world vehicles not made on this earth.”

5). July: Hey, I never got my mystery seeds from China. Did you?

6). October: McDonald’s announces the return of the McRib. Why did this make the list? Because, why is this news?

7). November-December: A monolithic metal structure was located in the Utah desert, then disappeared. Then two other similar structures made world news after popping up in both Romania and California. Much of the mystery has been solved and the news for the most part let the story die. These structures very much resembled the monoliths from Arthur C Clarke’s Space Odyssey. What most people who where following this story missed was more of these monoliths have emerged all over the world. Besides the 3 aforementioned, findings also took place in Morocco, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K., Ukraine, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Panama, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Columbia, Paraguay and Iran, all within the last month.

8). December: Former Israeli space security chief reveals that both the US and Israel have made contact with aliens. In fact our governments have members that belong to what is called the Galactic Federation. Sound familiar? Well Galactic Federation has been used in Star Wars (New Republic), Rick and Morty, Metroid and several other fictional movies and shows.

9). December: Vice President Michael Pence announces that Space Force members are to be called Guardians. Like you know, the Guardians of the Galaxy. So the trend seems to be that there very well may be aliens among us and they watch a lot of TV.

10). December: “Christmas Star” not seen for over 800 years has reappeared for winter solstice. Okay just for the record Jupiter and Saturn looking like a double planet isn’t a star.


Stephanie J Bartik – Top 5 Local Book Stores

I have to admit it- I am a Gadget Geek.
I love exploring new techie things. Whether I am checking out the newest camera, and wondering just how far I can push the settings, or I am flipping through the many apps on my phone in amazement with how this one device, can help me know where I am supposed to be, help me communicate with others and get me to where I have to be (this is huge for someone as directionally-challenged as I) It can keep me occupied while waiting for an appointment, either playing games, catching up on current events. But there is just one simple pleasure I cannot give up, even though there is a digital version.  The digital world, or at least my access to it, cannot replicate or improve upon the smell, or the history I can feel through my hands as I touch an old book.

I can spend hours in a bookstore, and, yes, I have…many times.
To this point, I offer you the top five local book stores.
These are listed in no particular order, because, seriously, BOOKS! How can I choose? So, I have categorized my favorites, per locality.  I hope you take the time to visit these treasures.  To connect with history, to share how I feel.

Saratoga Springs, NY
Lyrical Ballad.
7 Phila Street

You will get lost in this place!  It is so much larger than the store front will  make you believe.  Many rooms and corners stacked high with every type of book you can imagine!  Towers of books as far as you can see- and as you leave one room, you turn, and there is a hallway, another room, then another- There is a locked area with first edition books.  I am most amazed, that the associates can find the books.

Albany, NY
537 Central Avenue

Not so much a ‘bookstore’ as it is a comic book store.
Definitely worth a mention as it has one of the largest comic book inventories.
Earthworld has been a local must visit place since 1983  From classics to ‘soon to be’ classics, they have it all, Good for many ages.
There is also a discount bin, where you can find some fantastic deals! And, shout out to the extremely friendly and knowledgeable staff!

Schenectady, NY
Open Door Bookstore
128 Jay Street

I am partial to this store, because I am a local.  Here, you will find not only fantastic old books, but unique gifts made by local artisans.  You need a gift? Something you will not find at a big box store. Here you go!
Located on the pedestrian walkway of downtown Schenectady, not far from Proctors, I have found gifts and special books for those hard to shop for people in my life.

Albany, NY
Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
1475 Western Avenue

HUGE collection of kids’ books.  Kids from 2 through 102
Be sure to check their events, often you will find local authors having a book signing event.  Friendly atmosphere and associates, easy to navigate through the shelves, and if they don’t have what you are looking for, they can order it for you.

Troy, NY
Market Block Books
292 River Street

Here, in the convenient downtown Troy area, close to the riverfront and local cafes (Perfect places to enjoy your newly purchased treasure) you will find more ‘big name’ authors.
It is more about the quality than the quantity here. You will find a little about everything. Many titles on local topics,  There are no used, or discounted books, but if you are looking for a mainstream, clean book store, with big, comfy chairs, this is your Troy place to be.

So, yes, even this gadget girl knows at times, I must just turn everything off, and get my hands, and heart into that special place where I can connect to the past, and find some quiet time-not something that happens often in my life.
Go out! Support local business.. Find yourself a nook, and grab a book!


Liam Sweeny – Top Ten Ways to Deal with Holiday Stress

  1. Talk about Politics or Religion on Facebook – If they block and/or unfriend you, you’re no longer obligated to get them anything for Christmas.
  2. Eggnog – Make sure the eggnog is just right. This is done through trial, error, and many trips to the liquor store.
  3. Don’t Just Celebrate the December Holidays – Why not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in December? And why is it always Christmas in July; why not Independence Day in December? If you have to celebrate days, pack the month!
  4. Get a Reindeer – Or a regular deer. Maybe liberate a petting zoo, or put corn in your yard. Don’t try to put bells on it; just let it chill, and put Christmas music on when y’all are hanging out.
  5. Santa Suit – Get yourself a Santa Suit. Use a pillow for the belly if you have to. Walk around with a notepad. When people around you behave poorly, pretend to write something down. Extra points if you then pull a small piece of coal out of your pocket and gaze at it.
  6. Christmas Tree – If you have an evergreen in your yard, you can use that for your Christmas tree. You could throw solar path lights into it to light it up. Wrap up your hard-to-dispose-of trash in boxes to put under it, knowing someone will steal them from you.
  7. Christmas Music – If you’re not into Christmas music, bummer. The musical antidote to Christmas music is surf-rock. Blending them is more an art than a science, but you’ll get it.
  8. Fruitcake – In modern times, fruit cake is pretty well forgotten. So it’s cheap. Get as much as you can. It’s dense; it’s moldable – it’s holiday C4, without the consequences.
  9. Gift-giving – Cash is king. Or in the safer case, gift cards. You may be tempted to go “specialty,” but if they can’t use your cash to buy a blanket that makes them look like a burrito, the card’s not exactly “all purpose.”
  10. Family Get-Togethers – Keep the house cozy; invite everyone to Bethlehem this year, to “see where it all went down.” Nobody will go, of course. Bonus points if you can Photoshop yourself there for the Christmas card.


Kathy Conway – Best Music of 2020

Throughout the year 2020 so many musicians were busy making new music and sharing it with us.

The following music choices are those that I enjoy and continue to enjoy at
On the Local Music Scene:
1.  “I Can’t Believe Your Gone” by Mark Emanation and Joe Mele
2.  “Candy Store” by the Dust Bowl Faeries
3.  “Blame It On Love” by Jeff Brisbin
4.  “Ain’t Going Anywhere : The 2020 Diaries” by Buggy Jive
5.  “I Wish I Was Young Again” by Larry Quinn
6.  “Pedlar’s Parish” by Mike Hotter at Vintage Heads
7.  “Discovery” by The Insolent Willies
Also need to credit our Canada friends who are an active part of RadioRadioX Music Scene:
After all RadioRadioX streams worldwide 24/7.
1.  “Drop Your Guns” by the Bedrokk band
Lastly, hearing some of my all time favorite bands on always makes my day(s).
Raul Malo / The Mavericks
Dire Straits

Art Fredette – Top 5 Albums of 2020

Laveda –  . Amazing dream pop/ post modern rock that stands up against anything on the charts and surpasses .
Vava Voodoos- Apocalypse Wow – Garage, garage  and more garage!! Yes! If this is the apocalypse,  I’m in.
1313 Mockingbird  Lane – Unfinished Business  – A rollicking  ride through the career of the 518’s most legendary  garage band.
French Letter -1981- 1992 –   A chance to experience and understand why French Letter were so loved.  Oh, and BUCK!
Marcus Ruggiero and Side show Gypsy – American rock and storytelling with stellar musicianship and lyrics to match.

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