Greatest Hits

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of some of my best work. More will be added as time permits.


The Blogger Abides

I wrote The Blogger Abides: A Practical Guide to Writing Well and Not Starving starting in late 2011 and running through 2012. It stemmed from a post in which I wrote up some basic lessons I had learned after three years of blogging every day, for pay.

Here’s one version of why this book matters: I have been writing a blog post, for money, on a big fancy website, every day for about seven years. Every day. During this time I’ve written for print, been on big fancy radio shows, sold a story to the movies, contributed to a book of essays for kids, and even written a few novels (that now rest in the great warehouse in the sky). This experience has taught me a lot about how to be a “working writer” — so I wrote a book about it. You should buy it and read it on your Kindle or phone or whatever.

Breakfast on Mars

A few years back, I was asked to contribute a persuasive essay to a collection of essays for kids. The idea being, kids (think middle schoolers) have to write essays for school, but they don’t have an awful lot of good, contemporary essays to read for inspiration. I loved the idea, so I wrote an essay called “Breakfast on Mars” arguing that we should land humans on Mars, and they named the book after it! Rad, right? You can buy the book or read more about it. In short, if you have a student in your life who writes essays, you need this book.

Documentary Films

Classic Tetris World Championship V (In Progress) — 2014-2015

In October 2014, the fifth annual Classic Tetris World Championships were held in Portland, Oregon. For the previous four years, Jonas Neubauer dominated the competition. Could he win for a fifth time? Work in progress; expected completion October 2015. Here’s a teaser trailer:

Coined — 2014

In 2014, Adam Cornelius and I made several short films about Dogecoin, a form of cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin. We only released two rough cuts from our various shoots, after deciding not to make a full feature. Here’s one:

Magazine Profiles & Similar

I’ve Fallen in Love and I Can’t Get Up — 2009

This was my first This American Life story. You can listen to it for free, though you should have a hanky ready. In short, I met a man who is literally paralyzed by happiness. This is the story of how he maintains his marriage and interacts with his stepkids (and grandkids). It ain’t easy.

The Unipiper – 2013

My profile of Portland’s unicycling, bagpiping, cosplaying hero.

Playing to Lose – 2013

My profile of competitive Tetris players Bo Steil and Ben Mullen for The Magazine, Issue 7. You can now read Playing to Lose online for free. This is one wonderful thing about writing for The Magazine: after a month of exclusivity, I’m free to take my work and share it with the world. Anyway, this is my first attempt at what I thought was sports writing. Friends who have read sports writing tell me it’s not like sports writing at all. You decide.

He Took a Polaroid Every Day, Until the Day He Died — 2008

I wrote He Took a Polaroid Every Day, Until the Day He Died in mid-2008, at a time when I was just figuring out what it meant to be a professional blogger (meaning, I was over a year into the job). The post has since been viewed several million times, and spawned all sorts of coverage. I tell the inside story of how it came about, and what happened afterwards, in The Blogger Abides. If you dig hard enough, you can find me on Canadian Public Radio talking about this as well.

Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help? — 2012

I tackled my generation’s biggest question in a lengthy piece for Mental Floss. It got a lot of attention on both sides (pro- and anti-blow). I appeared on the How to Do Everything podcast to talk about the story.

The Wizard, the Power Glove, and Children in Peril — 2011

I wrote a thinky piece about The Wizard, a surprisingly odd movie I only vaguely remembered from my NES-loving childhood. My favorite subheading: The Plot and Other Problems.

A Brief History of Jonestown and “Drinking the Kool-Aid” — 2012

Here’s a good example of an article in which the editor changed the headline without asking. That’s fine — it’s The Atlantic. Read my history of Jonestown, written in one really long sitting on election night in 2012.

Strong Foundation — 2013

My story on the making of Gone Home, 2013’s epic video game, made by a tiny team of people living in Portland and Vancouver, B.C. This one is currently behind a paywall, so you’ll want to subscribe to The Magazine to read all the great stuff I’ve written for them.

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