The Walrus Blog

Monthly Archive: June 2008

Me getting clean with The Hollywood Madame's help.

To all those who doubted it was possible: I did it! I was offline for one whole week!

My Offline Activities:

I read the print version of The Wall Street Journal (I found it discarded in the street).

I stood under the 118 degree Fahrenheit daytime sun in Death Valley for two whole minutes before diving back into my idling Prius.

I cleansed my clothes of filth in the machines of the Hollywood Madam, Heidi Fleiss, at Dirty Laundry in Pahrump, Nevada.

I must confess that near the beginning of the week I fell off the wagon and went online in a Westwood Cafe. After a guilty couple minutes I looked up and sitting across from me eating panini and sipping Orangina was Laurence Fishburne. (more…)

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Posted in Web 2.0 Museum  •  1 Comment

Daily Toast: June 30th 2008

Daily toastBack in the saddle again…

A fairly direct opinion piece from Friedman at the NYT. Link.

E-ink newspapers and flying pigs. From Portfolio. Link.

The showdown: iPhone vs Kindle. From CNET. Link.

Search trend for two scary words: SUV and GAS. Link.

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Posted in How to Read  •  No Comments

The Spanish team holds the Euro 2008 championships trophy. MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

BARCELONA—As I awoke this morning from uneasy dreams, it took me a couple of minutes to figure out exactly where I was, and how I’d gotten here. Turns out I was on the couch of my man in Barca, Lizou.

“David, I’ve just had the strangest dream. I dreamed that Spain beat the Germans, and we partied in the streets of Barcelona till dawn.”?

For only the second time, Spain are champions of Europe. But judging from the wild celebrations that followed Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the Germans in Vienna, the victory songs somehow haven’t gathered too much dust in the intervening 44 years. They sang them all, and then sang a few more, and are probably still singing them out there somewhere, though I’ll be damned if I’m going to leave the apartment to find them with this pounding headache I’m nursing. (more…)

Posted in Sportstrotter  •  6 Comments

¡Olé Cow!: Euro Semifinal 2

PARIS—And then there were dos. Or zwei.

Spain beat Russia 3-0 last night to reach their first major final since 1984. They’ll play Germany on Sunday in Vienna, at the Ernst Happel Stadium, for the title of Champions of Europe 2008.

A pretty sexy match-up, no? And beyond that, there’s the fact that, quite improbably, the two betting favourites heading into the tournament are the two last teams standing.

Seriously, the punters knew it all along? Why, exactly, were we wasting our time these last three weeks, playing all these meaningless games, if some lout in Brixton with twenty quid to burn already knew what was going to happen? (more…)

Posted in Sportstrotter  •  1 Comment

The Little Literary Press That Could

Surely Biblioasis, the small independent press run out of Emeryville, Ontario, is among the bravest entities in Canadian literature. This spring, after all, their list contained not one but two books of critical essays. One would be risk enough. Two is sort of admirably crazy. Fortunately for them, though, both books are very good, and I say that not just because both authors are contributors to The Walrus. Charles Foran’s Join the Revolution, Comrade and Stephen Henighan’s A Report on the Afterlife of Culture are excellent in part because their publisher has encouraged their scope to extend beyond the traditional confines of Canadian essay collections. Foran and Henighan are decidedly internationalist in their orientation, and what results are wide-ranging surveys of everything from, in Henighan’s book, Roberto Bolano to Haruki Murakami to Wole Soyinka, and, in Foran’s, from finding memories of Vietnam movies in Hue to searching for quality in Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons. (I’ll put a preemptive plug here for Biblioasis’s new edition of Ryszard Kapuscinski’s collected poems, which I’ve not yet bought, but sort of has to be good, no?) (more…)

Posted in The Shelf  •  No Comments

Das Stromausfall: Euro Semifinal 1

PARIS—What a finish in Basel last night, a wild ending to one of the most exciting Euro semifinals ever played! Or so we’ve been told.

Didn’t see Miroslav Klose’s go-ahead goal in the 79th minute? Missed Turkey’s last-gasp injury-time charge, and the final whistle? Yeah, you and me both.

Apparently I was wrong to diss the copyright zealots over at UEFA. They so desperately need us to wire them money to watch those oh-so-precious match highlights on my tiny laptop screen, because they’re clearly too broke to disseminate live images directly from Basel. The entire world (save Swiss viewers in Zurich and anyone watching on al-Jazeera – wha?) missed two or three significant chunks of the second half due to what UEFA’s calling electrical storm interruptions in Vienna, some 800km away from the stadium itself. My suspicion is that UEFA conked its signal out purposely, so that we’d all have to go online and pay to see the Klose goal. Nice try, UEFA, but TF1 showed me the replay during the third blackout! (more…)

Posted in Sportstrotter  •  1 Comment

All in your head

Making Omelettes

I just finished reading David Giffels’s All the Way Home, which I’ll soon be reviewing for a different publication. It’s a memoir of a man who, with his pregnant wife and infant child, buys a falling-down mansion and begins trying to make it a home, with minimal help from contractors and maximal stress on his relationship with his wife and son. The house is his white whale, as he notes — to the extent that at one point it actually tries to swallow his leg — and the book is very consciously about Giffels process of trying to sort out his place in the world as a man, among other things (other things: crazy old ladies and how they may have gotten that way, the sadness and anger and confusion of miscarriages, how to fail at getting squirrels out of the attic with a Stratocaster, ghosts). He becomes obsessed with the restoration — an inherited condition for him, apparently — partly out of a desire to fulfill his obligations to his family, partly out of a need to sometimes avoid being an active participant in his family, and figures out how the former somehow leads to the latter while the latter prevents the former from happening. And it’s funny, did I mention that? (more…)

Posted in Act Like A Man  •  1 Comment

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Weekend Update: Euro Day 17

A Turkish fan rides through Vienna this afternoon Photograph: A Schalit/AP

PARIS—So what the hell am I supposed to do with myself tonight?

For the first time in 17 days, this evening’s slate of high-drama international football matches is empty. I’ve really enjoyed the last two-and-a-half weeks for not having to decide what to do to entertain myself on a given evening. The answer was automatic: I’ll watch the Euro.

Now? I don’t know, maybe I’ll go for a bike ride, or plant a tree, or hug a homeless man. What is it that people do to fill the hours of the day when they’re not watching football? Sometimes I feel like I just wasn’t made for these times. (more…)

Posted in Sportstrotter  •  1 Comment

Molly Ringwald, Eat Your Heart Out

I glanced over as he sat down and a hot thrill of pleasure shot through my stomach, the same sensation I get on a rollercoaster when it careens downhill. He’s just three tables down from me, shiny white hair, age spots dotting his tanned face, a navy blue polo, khakis, and Teva sandals. He catches me staring and I quickly look away , but I can’t stop glancing over to see what page he’s reading first. It looks like Letters. Here he was — the elusive Walrus reader — taking a coffee in Dooney’s Cafe to leaf through the last issue I’d fact-checked as an intern.

After four months of slaving away, checking fact after endless f’ing fact and phoning everyone, everywhere — a retired pilot in B.C., an expert on the Khmer Rouge trials in Cambodia, a mother who lost her son to Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Kurdish TV broadcaster in Diyarbakir, Pico Iyer on a book tour, a famous librettist and artist in London, my old history professor — who would have thought this lone reader would bring me such a straight shot of unadulterated joy?


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Posted in The Haulout  •  1 Comment

The SMS Lusitania: Euro Day 14

CHAMBOURCY, FRANCE—The Germans sunk Portuguese hopes of Euro glory last night in Basel with a 3-2 victory high on fireworks and drama. Or so I hear.

I didn’t actually watch the match, which by all accounts was a classic, and another triumph for attacking soccer in this gloriously offensive edition of the Euro. I was out in “rural Paris,” in a suburb a half hour from the city, playing the witty, charming writer boyfriend at Mlle. Trotter’s summer office party. Hey, it’s what I do.

Luckily for me, my friend Lizou was watching from Barcelona, and he was only too glad to keep me apprised of the goings on in Basel by SMS. Here’s what transpired: (more…)

Posted in Sportstrotter  •  No Comments

The Son Almost Rises

From Jamie Allen at McSweeney’s, a campaign speech on the occasion of the narrator’s 40th birthday:

And from those words, I have sensed what you might be thinking: Should we keep this person as our son … or should we legally disown him?

I want you to know, Mom and Dad: I … Hear … You.


For that reason, I believe it’s time we talked about change. This campaign is all about change. We all want change for the better. We all want me to change into an independent, responsible adult who lives outside this house. You want it, Dad. You want it, Mom. And I am here to tell you that I want change, too.

As they say: it’s funny because it’s true.

Posted in Act Like A Man  •  No Comments
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