On April 7, 2014, Milwaukee Record launched with a story entitled—appropriately enough—“Welcome to the Milwaukee Record.” Since that time, we’ve published over 600 stories, reached over one million readers (yes, million), and dropped the “the” from our name. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve made some videos. We’ve wrung every last drop out of Bar Rescue as humanly possible. We’ve had an absolute blast.

With 2014 winding down, we thought it was a good time to revisit some of our favorite stories from the past eight months, both as a way of recapping the year that was and as a way of hipping you to something you may have missed. From pooping on Hank The Dog (remember him?) and that “Bring PBR Home” campaign (remember that?) to reviewing Summerfest mainstay Pre-Recorded Music and Burger King’s new online delivery service, we’ve done it all. We’ve also done some serious stuff.

Oh, before we get to it: thank you so, so much for loyal readership this year. Your feedback and support has been incredible, and your comments have been invaluable (and hilarious). And of course, a huge thanks to all our ad partners and sponsors. Your willingness to take a chance on an upstart website has been humbling and deeply, deeply awesome. This year ruled. We can’t wait for the next.

Off Base: Putting down Hank The Dog (April 11)
Akin to Family Matters bringing on cool kid “3J” when ratings dipped and Richie was trucked by puberty, the Brewers’ opportunist and incessant incorporation of Hank into all facets of the team is a move of desperation. It all smells of a team that’s more fixated on hitting its annual goal of three million people through the Miller Park turnstiles than a team concerned with winning more than 81 games. [Tyler Maas]

The cheap buzz of “Bring PBR Home” (April 24)
To call last night’s “Bring PBR Home” town hall meeting at Best Place a stunning waste of time would be an insult not only to legitimate wastes of time—staring at a wall, checking your phone while taking a dump—but to the concept of time itself. In the hour or so I was able to stomach the world’s most glorified college-activist-“Let’s take down the system, maaaan!”-coffee-shop meeting, time slipped away. Minutes passed like hours. The Earth stood still. I walked out. I wasn’t alone. [Matt Wild]

Brewers translator Jay Hsu speaks for himself (May 22)
Whether or not Wang takes the mound, his translator Jen-Chieh “Jay” Hsu is always working, serving as the linguistic intermediary between the foreign pitcher and his new team. Like the player for whom he communicates, Hsu also made the rapid jump from rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League to the big league over the winter. [TM]

Brett Newski is at home on the road (May 23)
“I ended up getting work doing commercial work,” Newski says. “That was my best job, my highest paying job—making music for tampon ads. There was other stuff too, but it was a lot of tampon ads.” [TM]

VISIT Milwaukee’s “You Gotta Be Here” video is hilariously awful (June 6)
There’s something so fundamentally shitty about this video, something so cosmically dreadful, that it’s impervious to criticism. It’s the tourism-video equivalent of not screening a movie for critics: Why bother when you know that the popcorn-swilling masses will lap it up no matter what? [MW]

I failed Red Rock Saloon’s “Unforgiven Challenge” (June 11)
As I was wiping grease off my hands and forearm, Maria resurfaced to check my progress. “Wow! You’re pretty far,” she said, obviously dulled to the gluttony by this point. With a look and tone I hope conveyed, “Please believe this isn’t the person I actually am!” I said, “Uh…thanks.” [TM]

Review: Pre-Recorded Music at JoJo’s Martini Lounge (Summerfest) (June 26)
As this was all happening, Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?” was halfway over. Between being the only person in the dim and drafty tent-lounge (who wasn’t working, at least) and the lovelorn soft rock classic, I took a couple sizable chugs of my dark brew and thought, “So this is my life.” [TM]

Sylvan Esso’s Nick Sanborn talks breakout year, coming full circle (June 26)
Nick Sanborn and Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso have just landed at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport. “A preemptive apology: We might have to stop and restart this interview,” Sanborn says. “We’re waiting in the airport to be picked up by my mom.” Sure enough, Sanborn’s mother arrives moments later. “Give me 10 minutes to get on the highway, and I’ll call you right back.” [MW]

Cash grab or unfinished business? Examining Outkast’s (temporary?) return (July 1)
“If you don’t know us by now,” Andre 3000 yells, from underneath his alien sunglasses and silver wig as his horn section vamps behind him, “You probably never will.” [Andrew Winistorfer]

Postmodern dance, heavy metal, and venturing outside one’s comfort zones (July 29)
Like many people, I often experience a crippling fear when approaching an unfamiliar type of art. There’s a worry that I won’t “get” it. How could I possibly appreciate something as niche and daunting as postmodern dance (and/or fine art, classical music, poetry, etc.) without being previously steeped in it? What business would I have blindly dropping in on this art without first knowing its history and complexities? Better to ignore it and stick to the stuff I already know, like guitar rock, B-movies, and “Weird Al” polka medleys. [MW]

On living in Milwaukee for half your life and never wanting to leave (Sept. 2)
Beginning this fall, I will have lived in Milwaukee for half my life. I moved here in 1996, an incoming UWM film student with a part-time job and a questionable haircut. I played in an equally questionable rock and roll band with my friends who had moved here the year before, and dated a girl who had done the same. I was 18 years old. Now, at 36, I’m a business owner and a publisher, a full-time writer, a husband and a father. My band played its final show in 2005. I still have my original hair. I still live in Milwaukee. I’ve lived here for 18 years and, barring the unforeseen, I will never leave. [MW]

Milwaukee River, four ways: Making the most of the city’s urban waterway (Sept. 3)
To show some love to this forgotten stepchild of natural water sources, we recently traveled along the Milwaukee River four different ways: by pontoon, group boat tour, kayak, and foot. If nothing else, exploring the river from whichever vessel you choose helps fill a weekend day in Milwaukee after festival season as closed, but before the city retreats indoors, never to see the light until the following May. [Rachel Seis]

Mike Brenner vs. Milwaukee (Sept. 8)
“Nobody is coming in and saying, ‘Oh, you’re starting a business? How can we help you?’ There are all these groups, and they’re like, ‘Oh, join our group! And pay a bunch of fucking membership fees!’ And they don’t really do anything. You go to a meeting and there are 10 people trying to sell you ad space, and 10 people trying to sell you credit card processing equipment. And you’re like, ‘What am I doing here?’” [MW]

Faith in progress: Marriage equality, religion, and random rooming assignments (Sept. 10)
As the fate of so many was (and still remains) suspended in uncertainty, I solicited an impromptu college reunion with the minister. After our discussion, I’m now realizing that, despite sharing a cramped concrete bunker with him for a year, I didn’t really know my first roommate at all. I came to learn the small town Wisconsin kid whose lofted bed was not two feet from mine in that dorm room was dealing with some heavy, unfair, faith-testing shit, and I had no idea. [TM]

Gotham’s green and gold: Where NYC backs the Pack (Sept. 12)
It’s a green and gold beacon shining for New York’s weary cheeseheads. Every good Wisconsin expat finds his or herself there at one time or another—maybe for the beer, the summer sausage, cheddar cheese and crackers. Especially for the blazing ’Sconnie accents. Or if you’re like me, you go because descending into the subterranean Manhattan tavern of Christmas lights is like a Packerland time warp. The effect can be so severe the ladies restroom bears a warning: “Watch your belongings. This IS New York.” [Kate Briquelet]

We ordered Burger King delivery because that’s a thing you can do now in Milwaukee (Sept. 17)
We settle in. We eat. It tastes like Burger King, but better. We feel like we’re living in the future. We feel strangely young again. Maybe a world in which fast food delivery exists isn’t so bad. Maybe a world in which fast food delivery exists is a world of convenience, a world of happiness, a world of peace. Maybe. We continue eating. We savor it. We devour it. We have it our way. [MW]

James Randi tells the truth about An Honest Liar (Oct. 2)
“I have a hard time reading that, really. But I must say, when you get a handwritten letter like that from Johnny Carson…it gets to you. You know that you’ve got a really valuable friend there. By the way, when I read, “I hope the enclosed will help to educate them both,” that was a very, very large check from Johnny Carson. He helped our foundation get off the ground, and he kept it going for quite some time.” [MW]

Bar Rescue turned Y-Not III into a ’70s-themed bar called Nick’s House (Oct. 3)
From there, time passed slowly. The Packers kept kicking the shit out of the Vikings, and the School Yard kept blaring “Bang The Drum All Day.” Touchdown shots began to feel like work. Then, around 9:30 p.m., the announcement was made: everyone with pink wristbands needed to report to the sidewalk across the street from Nick’s House III. We were thrilled. Taffer was so close we could almost feel his spittle lightly spotting our face like so much morning dew. [MW]

Field Report goes all in on Marigolden (Oct. 21)
“When we did this record, I didn’t intend for it to be a sobriety record. I didn’t, but that was where my head was at,” Porterfield says. “I think about drinking every day. I think a big theme on this record is that you’re never on the other side, and you just have to keep wrestling with it.” [TM]

A Monday in Cudahy: My third-shift bar crawl (Oct. 23)
After shaking off the now-expected “Who the fuck are these assholes?” glare of the five grizzled-looking guys on the end of the bar, Adam and I ordered a whiskey sour and a gin and tonic respectively. Two minutes and a combined total of $5 later, we were watching a local morning show on mute. It showed a guy reporting from what appeared to be a fish hatchery. He and I were two men both submerged in unfamiliar waters. The absurdity of this endeavor was starting to set in. [TM]

Ramie Makhlouf: From sports talk to stand-up (Oct. 29)
The majority of Makhlouf’s material is far from FCC sanctioned. From pointed bits about being of Palestinian descent (complete with hilarious impersonations of his father), self-effacing items about his struggle to meet women, and jokes about drugs and pornography, his brazen and intense on-stage style wouldn’t play on terrestrial radio waves. [TM]

Jayke Orvis returns to Milwaukee on his own (Oct. 30)
“We had punks living downstairs, punks living upstairs, punks in the back,” Orvis says. “We had two killer basements. We put shows on constantly. There were always like 30 people at the compound for years. Pretty much every night, if we weren’t having a show, we were hanging down at Quarters or Mad Planet. It was a really good time. Also, I don’t remember a lot of it.” [Jared Blohm]

Johnny Beehner brings his homegrown humor out on the road (Dec. 3)
“Whether he realizes it or not, he’s inspiring another generation of comics. They look at somebody like Johnny who’s had really amazing opportunities opening for people and featuring. I think a lot of people are aspiring for that and can see that it is attainable if you work hard and you keep at it.” [TM]

Everything you need to know about the two-woman Home Alone remake, Abode Solo (Dec. 3)
“I played Macaulay, mostly because throughout my whole life people have told me I look like him, which I always take as high praise, regardless of intent.” [MW]

Tracklist: 12 Bar Rescue takeaways (Dec. 8)
This was a bad episode, even by Bar Rescue standards. Sure, the half-assed ’70s concept and misrepresentation of Milwaukee each played small parts in the unsavory episode falling flat, but Y-Not III owner Nick DePalma is the person primarily to blame for this letdown. You see, this show thrives on detestable and stubborn know-it-all bar owners butting heads with the equally detestable and stubborn know-it-all host. It’s what makes the viewer feel morally and intellectually superior despite watching a formulaic fake reality show play out on Spike-fucking-TV. Nick DePalma didn’t play his part. [TM]