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Browsers Book Shop

I know how to read, and therefore I write about bookstores in Olympia under Books.

When the ebook wave hit, it was somewhat of a blessing for me. I like to read, but I hate clutter, and while having a small collection of books on display in your living room might look good, I get vaguely OCD over walls full of them. Having a device with literally hundreds of books on it? Awesome-sauce.

I’m not one of those who care about holding a bound copy; my iPad is just fine. Plus, if you need to look up a word, you can do so with two clicks within the book. (I mean, really, do so even if you get the meaning of the word through the context of what you’re reading. Learning the actual meaning of words is both educational and entertaining. Edutainment!)

Yet… My deep dark secret is that I love bookstores. I love browsing books, more so than browsing physical music-media, all for reasons… Well, we’ll leave that story for another day. Bookstores are awesome, and while I have spent the last few years exclusively reading digital texts, Team OlyCOOL has recently fallen of the wagon, and have gone Luddite when it comes to reading.

And that is the long, round-about version of how we found ourselves at Browsers Bookstore.

This is a shop with a lot going for it, and not much going against it. There is a good selection of books—the space is a lot larger than what the facade would suggest—and the space is very well laid out. Importantly, the categorization is well thought out; you have some general categories, and don’t have to jump between random sub-groups to find the author you’re looking for.

As far as any physical entertainment media store is concerned, one can always expect a bit… lot… of snobbery in those kind of places. At Browsers, you definitely get a whiff of that vibe, but only in the good sense. You know when you feel just a little bit better about yourself for shopping in a certain spot? Yep, this is a good store to get your ego massaged.

The prices are pretty average, and the selection of used titles seemed decent. Like I said: Very little gets in the way of the positives here.

Browsers was a good inaugural spot to start this little bookstore hunt of ours. Who knows where we’ll end up next, but as long as it makes us feel superior for being readers, it’s all good with us.

Caffe Vita

Posted in our über-incorrigible libation guide: Coffee.

Guys, get those beards trimmed to look appropriately unkempt; girls, take a couple of hours to give your hair that disheveled look—it’s time to hit Caffé Vita!

For the rest of us, well… I guess we just have to deal with the baristi’s aloof contempt, safe in the knowledge the coffee is particularly excellent here.

Caffé Vita has been around for a good long time in Seattle, where it has developed a good reputation, and I guess I am somewhat surprised an Olympia location exists. Not that I complain mind you; there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be successful here when the only-slightly-better Olympia Coffee is thriving.

That’s neither here nor there, though. Get past a surly barista who probably judges your taste in socks, and the product you get is of a high quality. Our Americanos were well-pulled, with lightly roasted beans as base. The result was, as pretty much any good contemporary coffee, of Scandinavian sensibilities. The flavors were slightly oaky with the expected currant tones. Seriously. The coffee world is all about currants. I’ve yet to get a good explanation why that is.

But let’s get back to the important stuff: Who cares about the product, when it’s really about how over the top hip the place makes you feel. The interiors are, all snark aside, pretty awesome, with the concrete floor contrasting the wooden back wall and counter. It’s a comfortable space.

The baristi certainly know their stuff, and even managed to scare off a bro who had the nerve trying to walk in. (Who needs business when you can have attitude?!) I mean, you’ll feel pretty dang good about yourself having run the gauntlet for a cup of coffee.

We’d go back, at least. I couldn’t care less about being judged by a barista who I have no plans of buddying up with, anyway. Give me great coffee, and I’m good, and good coffee is what you get at Caffé Vita.

The standings so far…

  1. Olympia Coffee Roasting
  2. Caffé Vita
  3. Obsidian
  4. Indaba
  5. Vif
  6. Bar Francis & Co
  7. Milstead & Co
  8. Batdorf & Bronson

Three Magnets Brewing Co Big Truck Stout

Posted in Beer. Because, why not?

Three Magnets in bottles? Who’s excited? I’m excited! What do you mean you’re not excited? You should be excited!

With that said, while this stout-meets-Olympia Coffee’s Big Truck espresso should have me over the moon, I’m left just a wee bit disappointed. This often ends up being the case with low ABV stouts, and Big Truck Stout is sadly no different.

So what is the issue, and what are the non-issues?

To go with the latter first, the flavor is good. Very good. The flavor base is solid, and you can clearly pick up on the espresso which never feels bitter. There are flavors of a great stout in the making is here.

Where it… I mean, it doesn’t fall apart as such as much as wander into letdown territory, is the mouthfeel. As with most stouts, 5.2% often ends up feeling really thin. Like water-y. And you need something thicker than that if you want your stout to be properly propped up, at least that’s how it works in my not-really-too-humble of an opinion.

In that sense, in my perfect world, Three Magnets would take the next step into imperial coffee stout country. The flavor is already there—kick the ABV up, age it a bit, and get the mouthfeel to the right point, and it could be a winner, as many of Three Magnets’s beers tend to be.

What we’re left with, though, is a very solid stout. Jet black, great flavor, and just a hair shy of being the coffee stout I was hoping it would be.

Time Lapse

Here in One Star Classics you will find analyses of Netflix’s finest movies.

Now this is the type of movie One Star Classics was born to cover: An incredibly flawed, yet surprisingly clever sci-fi-esque movie which plays like a David Lynch directed episode of Twilight Zone. (As it turns out, Time Lapse actually was inspired by an episode of the epic show.)

The premise here is simple: Three friends discover a large camera is pointed at their living room from the neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor is missing, yet the camera keeps taking pictures at 8pm every night. To make it all just a pinch more weird, the photos are actually from 24 hours into the future.

Guess who decide to take advantage of these turns of events? And then guess who will find how one should not mess with the future? Yes, this is a true One Star Classic!

There are gleeful things happening here, and you’ll keep questioning them throughout: Does the camera have a mind of its own, one that sadistically starts torturing its users? Is placing perfect dog-race bets every day, expecting nobody to notice you’re doing so particularly smart? How can the kids stand in front of the camera, waiting for a new picture at 8pm when yesterday’s photo clearly showed them in their apartment? I mean, OK, there are plot-holes, but that’s OK. They don’t get in the way of the more mind-bending aspects of the film. Time Lapse could easily stand a second viewing.

The actors do a good job throughout, and particularly Danielle Panbaker (you know her from The Flash) puts in an excellent performance.

As these Twilight Zone things go, the ending has both twists and turns, and I was actually taken by surprise by it. I’m not 100% convinced it truly was logical, and that’s where the second viewing could come in. I wouldn’t be against watching Time Lapse again, just to prove it wrong. Spite-watching? I’m all for it.

Frankly, the incredibly generic cover art at Netflix made me skip past this movie repeatedly. That was a mistake—Time Lapse might have its issues, but at its heart, it’s an entertaining ride, one that gives your brain just a little bit of a slow powerwalk. Check it out, and then thank me for giving you this gift of ninety minutes not too far from three stops before heaven.

Check out the trailer, right here!


Here in One Star Classics you will find analyses of Netflix’s finest movies.

I was somewhat of a big-esque fan-ish of the Cube trilogy, and I take great pleasure in seeing the world-of-sci-fi embracing shapes as their raison d'être. I mean, where was there to go after cubes? God bless the marketing exec who took a look around the room and decided the ever-perplexing circle was what the kids wanted.

Snark aside; the premise of Circle is pretty sound, and the production value surrounding it (wa-hey!) is stylish and smartly designed for what I would assume would be a bottom-of-the-barrel budget. Here we have fifty people abducted by a UFO, where they wake up in a circle (get it?), standing inside individual circles (hence the name), where a Wheel of Fortune-like arrow goes around in a circle (this is a concept movie), killing whomever it stops on. The abductees quickly figure out they can vote for the next victim, and the question is, of course, who will be the last person standing. The kid? The pregnant lady? One of the thirty-four anonymous characters without any lines?

Yes, it’s pretty clear who will be the center (I swear to god I didn’t intend to write that) of the drama, and it’s actually pretty impressive how the writers and directors manage to juggle a good fifteen or so main characters. The actors might not be of Shakespearian quality, but they do a decent job with what I again would assume to be a limited amount of takes due to the movie’s budget. (Apparently Circle took years to film, so getting all these actors on set over that long of a span was no small feat.)

And the bargaining and factions created throughout the whole ordeal is of soap-opera proportions. You’ll find yourself picking sides, rooting for your favorites, and hating yourself for wanting to vote out the annoying eight-year old. (I mean, seriously… Though in the defense of the young actress, it must’ve been hard standing around sobbing for eighty-seven minutes.)

Who is left standing and how the individual gets there is all pretty clever, and the ending is, humongous flaw of logic aside, darkly funny.

Really, I like this movie. It’s obviously inspired by the original Cube, as more movies should be. Flawed-but-fun sci-fi thrillers is what the world needs more of, and hopefully Circle will have a sequel, one they logically should name and shape after Squircle.

PS! Circle, while not a Netflix exclusive, despite what its placement would indicate, went straight to VOD mid-October. I’m guessing this is what we’ll see a whole lot more of for these kind of movies, which is awesome. Now I never have to leave the house again!