The Decemberists' "My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist"

In the commentary track for the Coen Bros.' movie The Man Who Wasn't There, Billy Bob Thornton states (jokingly?) that the Coens wanted him for the role of Ed Crane (main character) and that the brothers pitched the film to him as a story about a barber who wants to become a dry cleaner. There is so much more to it than that, but a reductionist could make the case that that about sums it up.

Similarly, the song "My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist" by The Decemberists is so much more than what I'm about to praise it for being, but it joys me to crown it as my favorite song about a sailor who wants to become a baker.

(I also appreciate its ghostly callback to another song of theirs, "Shanty for the Arethusa.")

Please enjoy both if you never have, or rediscover them if it's been a while since last you've heard them.

My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist
Apple Music

Shanty for the Arethusa (maybe listen to this one first?)
Apple Music


No! You Pick! - An Unremarkable Choose Your Own Adventure

My original plan was to write a story about this memory I have of discovering John Grisham as a teen. This was to lead into a badly written review for his book, The Whistler, which I read purely because it was available as a digital loan from the library. I was going to have that turn into a review for the Kobo Clara HD midway through as a weird hybrid review-inside-a-narative. As I started writing it though, I quickly discovered that this thing was getting a little long in the tooth, so I decided to just split the two from each other.

A strange sense of pride in my ugly hybrid baby brought about this thought: Why don't I let you pick how you want to read the damn thing? Or if, even!

So here are your options:

And if you don't care about any of that nonsense, but are slightly interested to see what I've read over the past two years, here are those lists.

Books Read in 2018
Books Read in 2019


Books 2018 (6)

These are all of the books I read for the first time in 2018.

Check it.

Albums 2018 (66)

This is a list of all the albums I listened to in 2018 for the first time.

Check it

The VVitch: A New-England Folktale (2015)

Possible spoilers ahead

Movies 2018 (64)

This is a list of all the movies I saw in 2018 for the first time.

Check it

Ziggurat (2015)

Ziggurat is the best Heretic-esque, Binding of Isaac-ish, first-person roguelike I have ever played. It is also the only one — that’s what makes it so compelling.

The story is nonsense, sitting backseat to the real reason to play: leveling up while fighting through ridiculous baddies and bosses in randomly-generated catacombs.

With seven floors to complete per playthrough — each more challenging than the last — I usually complete two before dying. The rooms that makeup each floor treat you to upgrades, new weapons, or monster closets. Creatures range from floating skulls to deranged carrots; all present unique challenges.

I kinda love this stupid game.

Blue Star Donuts (Portland, OR)

I’d imagine that, when one visits Portland, they're told to check out Voodoo Doughnuts. While I don’t disagree that Voodoo is worth checking out (once, for kicks), Blue Star Donuts is the better of the two, possibly offering the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. The dough is light and airy, but the doughnuts are still substantial.

And flavorful! Suggesting that the flavors are more complex or adult than Voodoo doesn’t mean that they’re less fun/playful, but rather less gimmicky. Cereal and cookies aren’t necessary here, as the flavors truly speak for themselves.

I’ll have another Meyer Lemon Lime, please.

Voodoo Doughnuts (Portland, OR)

Ever been to Dunkin’ Donuts and thought “I would love if this were topped with stale cereal,” “Crushed Oreos would make this better,” or “This’d look perfect if it was neon blue and pink?” If so, then there’s no reason not to go to Voodoo Doughnuts, a staple in the eyes of Portland tourists.

But that’s just it, the eyes see a lot of awesome looking treats, but the mouth just tastes a Dunkin’ Donut. With a twist, sure, but that twist doesn’t always work.

Regardless, I’d still recommend visiting Voodoo — just know that there’s a better Portland doughnuts destination.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Let the Right One In is set in cold, dark Stockholm — a fitting locale where one can imagine a tale filled with vampiric terror taking place. This story, however, is less a terror than a tragedy.

The immortal Eli (eternally age 12), and the mortal 12-year old Oskar (eternally bullied), befriend each other over a Rubik’s Cube. They end up falling for and supporting each other through the darkest of thick-and-thins.

I love the subtle implication that Eli's been through this before. We needn’t know her past in order to understand it, nor her and Oskar’s future.

A definite must-see.

Journey (2012)

Journey is beautiful to look at, listen to, and play. It’s peaceful, melancholic, joyous, and comforting.

Journey‘s multiplayer is the best. Make the trek with a stranger you might randomly encounter, or go it alone — either is fine. And seamless! And free of negativity since there’s no voice chat, just the sing-songy chirping of a button press, conveying… something… that someone else will, hopefully, interpret.

Journey gives one a sense that there’s something greater, either “out there” or “among us,” but it never aims to make one feel (completely) insignificant.

Journey is perfect, and I just might have cried at the end.