(originally posted August 24, 2019)
The Armchair Squid turns ten years old today - a full decade! It's time to hand out some hardware. And the Squiddy goes to...
Biggest Surprise: Jake Shimabukuro
will readily admit that I had no idea jazz ukulele was a thing. I
found several astonishingly amazing covers of Chick Corea's "Spain" for my post
but none more surprising than Jake Shimabukuro's. Ukuleles are
definitely the it instrument these days but I haven't seen anyone else
play like this guy. Here he is performing "While My Guitar Gently
And still, my all-time favorite song:
Biggest Disappointment: The Playwright Passes
have not written about it on the blog until now but we lost a dear
friend this past year, one I have mentioned many times nicknamed here as
The Playwright. He and English Prof are the closest thing our daughter
has to godparents and his passing was a major blow for our family.
Since they moved to New England, we have spent more Thanksgivings
together than not. The holiday will never be quite the same for us.
Best Read, First Time Category: The Boys of Dunbar by Alejandro Danois
tale of the Dunbar Poets of 1981-82 was already one of my favorite
sports stories. Generally hailed as the greatest high school basketball
team ever, the squad featured four future NBA players, three of them
lottery picks, one an All-Star. Their All-American was Reggie Williams
whom I got to know later as one of Georgetown's all-time legends. But
their real star was a 5-3 point guard named Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, the
shortest man ever to play in the NBA and one of the most extraordinary
athletes of all time. I was always going to love this book. Am I
biased because of the subject matter? Undoubtedly. I would happily
read more just like it.
Best Read, Re-Read Category: Hamlet by William Shakespeare
is eternal. Is it truly the greatest work of literature in the
English language? Debatable. But it's on a short list. This was my
first reading since high school and, as is the true mark of any great
work of art, I view it completely differently with greater life
experience. Perhaps I should try again in another quarter-century or
Best Comics Find: The Graphic Canon
The Graphic Canon is a wonderful concept beautifully executed.
Russ Kick collected and solicited graphic novel renditions of dozens of
world literature classics, ranging from antiquity to the late 20th
century. Volume 1 is the first of three in the original compilation. Shakespeare, Dante and Cervantes are all in Volume 1,
among many others. Kick wrote thoughtful and informative blurbs to
introduce each chapter. While I am certainly interested in the second
and third volumes in the series, I am just as inspired to explore the
Athlete of the Year: Muggsy Bogues
Since reading The Boys of Dunbar, I have also watched Baltimore Boys,
an ESPN documentary about the same team. It was great to be able to
see video footage of the team. For Muggsy, especially, seeing is
Best Family Adventure: Finishing My Master's Degree
school was, without a doubt, a full family effort. Yes, it was a lot
of work for me but I couldn't have done it without the patience,
understanding and support of my wife and daughter. The benefits, both
personal and professional, were tremendous, including two deeply
meaningful trips to England I haven't blogged about until now. The
family will see the benefit, too. With a master's degree, I get a raise
As an added bonus this year, Decade Squiddies to celebrate the best from the humble beginnings to the humble present:
Biggest Surprise: Roberto Alomar Tweeting Me
The third year I did the A-to-Z Challenge, I featured second basemen. My A submission was Roberto Alomar.
At the time (zheesh, seven years ago!), it was my practice to post a
link on Twitter for each of my posts. Who should tweet me later on to
thank me for the post but Mr. Alomar himself? @Robbiealomar: a
confirmed account! A Hall of Fame baseball player tweeted me!!!
Biggest Disappointment: The Playwright's Passing
Best Read: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
still recommend this book to any and all who will listen. Because if
we're lucky, we grow old. Regardless of luck, we're all going to die.
This is true for you and everyone you know and love. Dr. Gawande's book
is the most frank, informative and ultimately hopeful discussion I have
encountered about aging and death. No joke, you need to read it.
Athlete of the Decade: Roberto Alomar
other athletes have been more successful in the teens: Novak Djokovic,
Serena Williams, Mike Trout, Steph Curry, Lebron James, Tom Brady,
Michael Phelps. But Alomar probably didn't even have to get up from the
couch to make my day. (see above)
Best Family Adventure: The UK
was a strong contender here. We love our northern neighbor. The city
of Montreal alone has been my choice in this category twice. I am
certain our Canadian explorations will continue to be an important part
of our family life for years to come. But when I think back on this
ten-year stretch in the future, I know that it will be the trips to
Britain that stand out.
Some of my favorite people in
the world live in England. I don't mean that in the sense that one
might say "some of my best friends are Republicans." Rather, I don't
see some of the people I love most in the world often enough because
they live in London. Through three separate trips within a year's time -
courtesy of one family trip and the two as part of my grad program - I
was able to be a part of their lives again for an all too short time.
Sharing that part of my life with my wife and daughter was also deeply
During our family trip, we also went to
Scotland: the highlight of the European trip for both my daughter in
me. Indeed, spending three days in Edinburgh, we all felt we'd just
scratched the surface and we're eager to go again.
Oh, and did I mention this lifelong Beatles fan got to visit Liverpool? Twice!