I've had a couple of experimental things going on here in this blog. Firstly is the Archive page, it now renders the archive list in a similar fashion to a plug-in Al has created for wordpress. As for the whole query problem with the wordpress version, the SUB version of this does exactly 1 query for each month listed or 0 queries if that month has already been cached.
The other experimental webpart I've been running is the "Popular Posts" component (displayed on the left). Everytime a post is hit it increments the daily count, then it selects the top x number of posts over the last 21 days. This is also similar to a wordpress plug-in Al has running on his site. This webpart I'll probably be making more modifications to until I'm happy with the way it's behaving, so if your interested in it, stay tuned.
Archive webpart: DetailedMonthlyPostListing.zip