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A Playoff Season to Remember!

Friday, Oct 22 2021 by

After an unusual playoffs in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, baseball is back and the post-season is a crazy one!

The Yankees and the Red Sox, the 2020 World Champions Dodgers, and more were all in contention for the title of World Champions for 2021! Let’s take a look at some of the teams who made it to this season’s playoffs.

Dodger Stadium Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles Dodgers, 2020 World Series Champions, play at Dodger Stadium, and have been there since 1952, making it one of the oldest stadiums in use in major league baseball. The Dodgers started out in Brooklyn, but a disagreement about a new stadium led to the franchise moving across country to LA, where they have been ever since.

Nicknamed “Blue Heaven on Earth”, the stadium has a reputation as a “pitcher’s park” meaning it’s great for no-hitters and perfect games. It is the largest-capacity stadium in the MLB, and is a fun stadium to attend because of LA’s good weather.

So far, it’s been a great place for the Dodgers, as they’re playing against the Atlanta Braves for the National League Championship.

Dodger Stadium (Birds Eye)
Dodger Stadium

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL

The Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020, and just like the Dodgers, the Rays made it back to the playoffs, but they lost in the first round against Boston. Tampa was awarded an expansion team in 1995, and the Rays started playing in 1998. They have made it to the playoff several times, and gotten to the World Series twice!

Tropicana Field is unique in that it’s the only stadium with a roof that doesn’t retract, and it’s the smallest stadium in the league, holding about 43,000 fans. The stadium is older than the team. It was built to help attract a baseball team. Things worked out for Tampa, and with one of the best records in the league, this could be their year!

Tropicana Field (Google Maps)
Tropicana Field

Fenway Park, Boston, MA

Possibly the most storied venue in all of sports, Fenway Park in Boston has been home to Boston’s Red Sox since 1912. Despite being one of the smallest stadiums, Fenway Park has one of the best atmospheres in all of baseball. The fans are dedicated, the game is up close and personal, and with features like the Green Monster in left field, it feels familiar even to first-time attendees.

The Red Sox have been playing ball since 1901, have played in 13 World Series, and won nine. The 86-year “Curse of the Bambino” was broken in 2004, and they’ve won three more championships since then.

Fenway Park (Birds Eye)
Fenway Park

Oracle Park, San Francisco, CA

The San Francisco Giants started out as the New York Gothams, but moved to the west coast in 1958. They have some of the best records in the league, playing 20 times in World Series, winning more games than any other team (due to having been around since 1893), and winning the Championship eight times.

This year, they played against the defending World Champions the Dodgers, and lost in what was likely one of the most evenly matched series in years.

The Giants have played in several stadiums, and currently play in Oracle Park, right on the Bay, giving it a gorgeous, view. It may be chilly like Candlestick Park, but it’s not as windy. Engineers worked hard to reduce the wind exposure in the stadium, making it about half as windy as “The Stick”.

Oracle Park (Google Maps)
Oracle Park

Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, IL

While the name isn’t that impressive, Guaranteed Rate Field on the South Side of Chicago is home to the White Sox, who have a great record this year. The White Sox, one of the oldest teams in the entire MLB, and one of the original teams in the American League, went 87 years between World Series wins, second only to the Chicago Cubs, who went more than 100 years before championships!

While we know they won’t be contending for the World Series this year after losing their against the Astros, they have a lot of potential and will be sure to come back swinging next year.

The White Sox played in Comiskey Park from 1910-1991, when they upgraded to their current location, built across the street from the old field. The new ballpark pays tribute to the old one in many ways, including arched windows in the front facade, an “exploding scoreboard” fitted with fireworks to celebrate home runs and wins.

Guaranteed Rate Field (Birds Eye)
Guaranteed Rate Field

As the postseason heats up, fans are paying closer attention to the games, and now even if you can’t talk balls, strikes, and pitching averages, you can throw out some useful commentary on where the teams are playing and how they’ve done in the past.

Play ball!


October's Deep Dive into History: the Beheading of Marie Antoinette

Saturday, Oct 16 2021 by

Marie Antoinette, one of the most famous queens in history, was the wife of the ill-fated Louis XVI of France. During her husband’s reign, the country devolved into the French Revolution, which led to the beheading of the King, and then the Queen, on October 16, 1793.

Birthplace, Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Born Maria Antonia at Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria on November 2, 1755, Marie Antoinette was the last girl and second to last child born to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

The Hofburg Palace was the imperial palace for the Hapsburg Empire, which ruled Austria, Hungary, parts of Germany, and eastern Europe. It is now the official residence and office for the President of Austria. Construction of the palace began in the 1200s and has continued to this day, with additions, enhancements, and upgrades taking place on a regular basis.

Portions of the building are open to the public for tours.

Hofburg Palace (StreetView)
Hofburg Palace

Childhood Retreat, Hetzendorf Castle, Vienna, Austria

Maria Antonia and her siblings spent much of their time at the Hetzendorf Castle, which was a hunting “lodge” in the 1700s outside the capital city. As Vienna grew, it engulfed the former rural land, and the castle is now part of a neighborhood in Vienna.

The castle was enlarged by Maria Theresa, and her children spent time there both in their youth and as adults, when they sometimes were without homes or royal residences.

Hetzendorf Castle (Birds Eye)
Hetzendorf Castle

Versailles, Paris, France

When she was 14, Maria Antonia was betrothed to Louis XVI, the future King of France. Upon her marriage on May 16, 1770, at Versailles, her name changed to Marie Antoinette, and she became known as the future Queen of France.

The couple, along with the entire royal court, lived at or spent much of their time at Versailles, the ornate, elaborate, even excessive palace located just outside Paris, the capital city.

Versailles is one of the most famous palaces in the world, with good reason. It has the famous Hall of Mirrors, with more than 350 mirrors, and was so luxurious that even the chamber pots were made of silver and gold.

Palace of Versailles (Birds Eye)
Palace of Versailles

Bedchamber at Versailles

Among the 2,300 rooms at Versailles is the queen’s bedchamber, an ornate and beautiful room covered with tapestries and gold leaf. However, the room is also full of history, and sadness.

During the time of royalty, it was required that the queen, and any woman of the royal blood, give birth in public. This was to ensure that the child was indeed of royal blood and fit to rule. After eight years of marriage, when Marie Antoinette finally went into labor, being present at the birth was the most important event of the year.

Marie-Antoinette's Bedchamber, Versailles (StreetView)
Marie-Antoinette's Bedchamber, Versailles

Hamlet at Versailles

Marie created a small retreat on the grounds of Versailles called the Queen’s Hamlet, a small but complete working farm. Here, she often retreated from the formalities of palace life, held small gatherings, and spent time with her children.

Hameau de la reine - Marie Antoinette's playhouse (StreetView)
Hameau de la reine - Marie Antoinette's playhouse

Many accused the queen of playing at farm life. Along with the supposed remark to starving people “Let them eat cake,” rumors about the Hamlet fueled her reputation as being out of touch with the people of France.

The Hamlet fell into disrepair after the Revolution, but Napoleon restored portions of the estate, and others helped restore it to its original design in the 20th century.

Queen's hamlet in Versailles (Google Maps)
Queen's hamlet in Versailles

Tuileries Palace, Paris, France

The Tuileries Palace was built in the 1500s as the imperial palace and was the official home of French royalty for three hundred years. Even when the Court was moved to Versailles, the palace in Paris was still an official residence.

Louis VXI and Marie Antoinette, in the heat of the Revolution, were forced to move to the Tuileries, to be watched by Revolutionary leaders. From there, the family tried to escape, but were caught and brought back, facing further punishment.

In 1871, the Tuileries were burned down, and only the Louvre was saved. The gardens and gathering areas still exist, and are some of the most-visited places in Paris.

Jardin des Tuileries (Google Maps)
Jardin des Tuileries

Prison in La Conciergerie, Paris, France

In 1793, the royal family was moved to the La Conciergerie, which was originally a palace, but turned into a prison. Many prisoners of the Revolution were held here before being taken to their execution by guillotine.

Marie was held here for months, with absolutely no privacy or any of the amenities she was used to as a royal. She was tried for various crimes and found guilty.

It was from here that she was escorted to her execution at what is now the Place de la Concorde. On October 16, 1793, the 37 year old former queen of France was forced to ride in an open wagon to her execution. Along the way she was jeered and mocked, but she remained composed until the very end. She was beheaded just after noon.

After her execution, she was placed in an unmarked grave.

La Conciergerie (Google Maps)
La Conciergerie

Tombs at Basilica of San Denis, France

After years of revolution, dictatorship, and chaos, the monarchy was restored. The bodies of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were exhumed and buried alongside other kings and queens of France in the Basilica of San Denis.

This cathedral has long been important to royal France, being where queens are crowned, and royalty have been buried for a thousand years.

King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France (StreetView)
King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France

While she lived only 37 years, the beautiful, shy, and fun-loving Marie has become one of the most famous, and imitated, queens of all time. Her royal status  belied the struggles of her life: leaving her family as a ten to marry a stranger, giving public birth to an heir, and falling from grace and fortune to nothing.



October 8 Bond. James Bond.

Friday, Oct 8 2021 by

The latest installment of the James Bond series, No Time to Die, comes to US theaters on October 8 after three Covid-related delays, and it’s certain to be worth the wait. Daniel Craig leading up the cast for the fifth, and final, time. In honor of the film, let’s take a look at where some of the most exciting and memorable scenes have taken place.

MI6 Headquarters

MI6 is the nickname of the super spy agency, Secret Intelligence Service. Its headquarters in Vauxhall, in London, is a mainstay in the James Bond series plots. It is where Bond works with his supervisor, M, and the super cool research agent Q, who constantly creates amazing spy tools, fast cars, and other gadgets to help Bond always gain the upper hand.

MI6/SIS headquarters (StreetView)
MI6/SIS headquarters

Dr. No’s Lair, Crab Key, Jamaica, Featured in Dr. No

The first James Bond film, Dr. No, was filmed largely onsite in Jamaica. The evil villain Dr. No has a secret lair in Crab Key island, where he tries to use radiation and other tools to try to start a war between the Americans and Russians. Fortunately, Bond is able to overpower the evil scientist and avert a third world war. And at the end of the day, he has a new love interest, of course.

007 Dr. No's Crab Key Island (Google Maps)
007 Dr. No's Crab Key Island

Fort Knox, Kentucky, Featured in Goldfinger

In the third installment of the series, James Bond discovers an evil man running a global gold smuggling ring. Bond tracks Goldfinger, for whom  the film is named, to Fort Knox in Kentucky. Here, Bond fights the evil villain who is trying to rob the gold depository. Bond, along with the troops stationed at Fort Knox, were able to save the day. Later, Bond and Goldfinger fight on an airplane and Goldfinger is tragically sucked out the window to his death before Bond ends the film stranded in the water with the beautiful Pussy Galore.

Fort Knox, U.S. Bullion Depository (Birds Eye)
Fort Knox, U.S. Bullion Depository

Himeji Castle in Japan, Featured in You Only Live Twice

In the fifth Bond film, James Bond is investigating the mystery of a hijacked American spacecraft. Clues lead Bond to Japan, where he crosses the islands on the tail of another SPECTRE villain. On the way, Bond encounters ninjas training at Himeji Castle, which is the largest and most popular castle in the country. Eventually, Bond discovers a secret SPECTRE lair inside a volcano and prevents the US from launching nuclear weapons at the USSR.

Himeji Castle (StreetView)
Himeji Castle

Pyramids of Giza, Featured in The Spy Who Loved Me

In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond is paired with a Russian spy to track down a missing submarine stolen by an evil businessman and scientist Karl Stromberg. The team travels across Egypt, including to the Pyramids of Giza, as they track down the scientist and search for answers about the submarine. Stromberg wants to start World War III and create an underwater world, but Bond and his Russian spy partner work together and are able to avert nuclear war and kill Stromberg.

Pyramids of Giza (Google Maps)
Pyramids of Giza

The Demilitarized Zone, Featured in Die Another Day

Die Another Day starts with Bond infiltrating a North Korean military base to uncover information about conflict diamonds. He is captured and held as a prisoner by the North Koreans until was to be traded in a prisoner exchange at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. Eventually, Bond tracks the evil villain back to the DMZ. There, it’s revealed the villain, Graves is secretly a North Korean Colonel who is planning to cut a path through the DMZ to allow North Korean troops to invade South Korea. After a high-stakes fight on an airplane, Bond kills the villain and once again saves the day and the world.

Guard Post (OP) Ouellette (Google Maps)
Guard Post (OP) Ouellette

Lake Como, Italy, Featured in Casino Royale

Daniel Craig made his Bond debut in Casino Royale in 2006, and has been the lead in the series ever since. In Casino Royale, Bond travels across Europe playing high-stakes poker and other risky games to track down a man intent on using a planned terrorist attack to make a fortune. After averting disaster but losing his lover, Vesper Lynd, in the process, Bond tracks the evil villain Mr. White to a house in lovely Lake Como, Italy. There, he shoots the villain in the leg and introduces himself as “Bond. James Bond”.

James Bond's House (Casino Royale) (Bing Maps)
James Bond's House (Casino Royale)

Westminster Bridge, London, Featured in Spectre

In the 2015 Bond film Spectre, Bond goes rogue to avenge the death of M, and find a reason for all the suffering he has endured. From Mexico to Austria, to Morocco, Bond is on the trail of SPECTRE once again, only to end up back in London. There, it is revealed SPECTRE is attempting to infiltrate MI6 itself, and only Bond and his trusted team can stop it. After preventing a major catastrophe and murder of his newfound female companion, Bond must fight one more battle against Blofeld, the founder of SPECTRE. Bond bravely shoots down Blofeld’s helicopter, which crashes into London’s Westminster Bridge. Bond ensures Blofeld is arrested, and then leaves with the lovely Swann. He has saved the day once again.

Westminster Bridge (Birds Eye)
Westminster Bridge

Bond has traveled the world countless times as he’s saved the world from nuclear attack, avoided World War III, and prevented terrorists from seizing control of national intelligence, gold supplies, and more. It’s going to be a wild ride from the start in Bond’s newest film No Time to Die, premiering in the US on November 20, 2020.







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