Thursday, December 2, 2010

Initial thoughts on Qatar’s World Cup from a repatriated expatriate


 First, I’d like to extend congratulations to Qatar for being awarded the honour of hosting the World Cup.
The bid team ran a well-executed and organized campaign. It was clear from day one that unlike Qatar’s usual impotency at executing anything, the World Cup bid was different.

Today people actually care about the desert country that came seemingly out of nowhere to win.

Qatar won the World Cup. The tiny country with a population of just over 1 million people, a shameful FIFA ranking, and owners of the largest supply of liquefied natural gas in the world, won the freaking FIFA World Cup. 

Qatar has been flying under the international radar for years, despite the fact that they have the richest economy in the world. Personally, I’m not shocked, but the result is shocking. They have a TON of money; of course they’re going to win. What will be most interesting is watching how Qatar reacts to international scrutiny.  Qatar wanted the spotlight thrust and them and here it is. I hope they’re prepared to deal with the attention. 

Right now, there is no way Qatar could host the World Cup. The infrastructure simply isn’t there. For starters, their public transportation is a joke. You think the TTC is bad? (It is terrible.) Doha has a small fleet of buses that run on seemingly random schedules. That is all. 

Luckily for FIFA, Doha is developing at an alarming rate, thanks to the thousands and thousands of Sri Lankans and Nepalese who are building the country from the ground up. 

Let’s talk about the laboring class for a minute. 

These fellers are drawn to Qatar by promises of better wages and the opportunity to support their families from abroad. In many cases, once they arrive their passports are taken away. They find out they might be making more than they were back home, but it’s nowhere near enough to ever pay for the cost of living AND buy a return ticket home.

Once they've worked all day in the oppressive desert sun, they crowd on buses to drive to sleep in tiny living spaces with 25 other men who also might never again see their families. 

And it’s not like these poor little dudes can take comfort in each other. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. It’s an offense punishable by 90 lashes. 

I can’t help but wonder where they’ll hide these modern slaves when the international press rolls into town.
And how about the culture of sport? I gained like ten pounds living there. It’s the least pedestrian-friendly city I’ve ever seen; if you’re lucky enough to find a sidewalk, don’t stay long. It will probably turn into a road in a few meters and leave you stranded in the middle of a roundabout. In Qatar, everyone drives everywhere. There’s no choice.  

The number of Qataris with diabetes is staggering and sadly, the means to make a lifestyle switch towards healthy eating and exercise doesn’t yet exist. Here, let the NY Times fill you in.

Qatar committed over $4 billion towards new stadiums and promised that once the WC is over, they’ll dismantle two of them and donate the buildings to poorer countries. I guess that’s noble. Admittedly, the designs are stunning: 

Now, we come to the biggest and most obvious issue with having the World Cup in the desert. – Weather. The summer is hot. Intolerably hot. The dusty summer wind rushes in your face and stings your eyes. It feels like one thousand blow dryers aimed right at your face. I spent two summers there and barely went outside. All you want to do is get from one air conditioned space to another, as fast as possible. 

It’s just too damn hot. 

To remedy this, the bid team plans to air condition the stadiums to accommodate players and fans. FIFA raised concerns last week, saying that while Qatar can air condition a stadium, they can’t air condition an entire country.  

I wouldn’t put it past the Qataris to air condition an entire country. It’s 2022! No one will care about the environment in the future! What carbon footprint? 

At least hot and sweaty football fans will be able to hydrate in the beer tents. Qatar’s World Cup will definitely have beer tents! The country’s royal family has proven they’ll shirk their value system to accommodate the Westerners.  Anything for FIFA.
The next eleven years are going to be insane.  

How the hell did this happen?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Grown up activites: An evening with John Stackhouse

Last night, I went to an event hosted by the Canadian Journalism Project: Newspapers – the Strategic Generation. John Stackhouse, editor in chief, the Globe and Mail/General McDreamboat, was interviewed by Ira Basen, journalist, CBC Radio.


Stackhouse was there to talk about the much ballyhooed Globe and Mail redesign and the future of print media in Canada.

It was an interesting evening. The crowd was mostly made up of bright-eyed J-school students and curmudgeonly journalists (I gathered this from the Q&A session and the number of wool scarves in the room). Stackhouse and Basen talked for about 45 minutes, and the remaining 40 minutes or so was filled with questions from the peanut gallery.

Full disclosure – I love the Globe and all things beautiful, so I’m a fan of the redesign. Have you seen the Weekend Style section? It’s smooth and silky and colourful and expensive looking. Made from the world’s finest pulp! Plus, the G&M employs Stephen Brunt and Jeff Blair, what’s not to love?
So yes, I was there to fan girl a little bit. Stackhouse, though he came off as a slightly robotic and completely humourless, remains a captivating Canadian figure. He’s so young to be in his position, and while I’ve heard he can be standoffish to employees and generally difficult to work for, you have to respect his big, pulsating brain and career trajectory.


Basen and Stackhouse touched on a lot of the things I’d been wondering about – The Globe and Mail’s business model, the difference between American and Canadian newspaper markets, the revamped website, moderating online comments, and the globe’s target audience to name a few. If you elaboration any of these, just ask. I have copious notes! Nerd nerd NERD.


Random thoughts


- Stackhouse has had lots of time to shape and massage the language about the redesign and I noticed that the messaging always came back to quality. The Globe is quality. Its ultimate strategy is to pursue quality in print, journalism, advertising and readership.


- Quality in readership . Ohhhh the Globe. With the air of a man who breathes elitism, Stackhouse said that the Globe is interested in reaching affluent, educated and influential Canadians. Unapologetic snobbery.


- Later, Stackhouse was asked whether he believes that the media plays a role in shaping Canadian public policy. He answered that the media guides important public conversations, which in turn shape public policy. It left me wondering how much of Stackhouse’s own beliefs directly shape policy in Canada. I may have just been drunk on his power fumes, but whatever.


What else happened? There was a long questions and answer period. I was impressed that most of the questions were actually questions. People made their point and made it quickly. Of course, there were one or two ambling nerd alerts who used their turn at the mic to air personal grievances with the Globe. The moderator asked a few people to get to their point, and cut one man off entirely. This fellow evidently filed a human rights complaint against the Globe years ago and was there to give Stackhouse a piece of his mind. That moment of tension was diffused quickly – the gentleman (whose name escaped me, and if anyone knows, I’d love to hear it – he’s just the sort of guy I’d Google on a Friday afternoon) knew he was defeated, and left the auditorium, though not before passing out pamphlets telling his story. I didn’t get one.**Sidebar – buddy was drinking afterwards at the reception. I locked eyes with him for a second and not to sound like a total try hard, but I could see a lifetime of indignation written all over his face. I’ve been through my share of nonsense; I wonder what people see that when they look at me. That fuct me up for a few minutes.


My other favourite Q&A moment came when a reporter (maybe a digital strategist/who cares) for EYE Weekly asked about the Globe’s mobile app. He wanted to know what percentage of content from the website is included in the application. Really? You can ask the editor of “Canada’s national newspaper” anything you want, and you ask about statistics? GTFO. Stackhouse coughed up something about how the most popular stories are chosen, and we moved on.


Oh and because I know Toronto people care, one of the audience members asked Stackhouse about his decision to pull the controversial “Rob Ford is fat” article and the ethical dilemma (word used incorrectly, j-school student) of censoring news.**The article in question, written by Stephen Marche (who claims to have since been fired from the Globe) said that mayoral candidate Rob Ford isn’t popular despite his weight; he’s popular because of it. People were outraged, I guess, and the article vanished from the globeandmail.com (You can read the full piece here: http://www.openfile.ca/blog/topics/toronto-votes/2010/globe-calls-ford-fat-then-disappears-evidence)


Stackhouse responded by saying the article fell short of a number of Globe standards. He personally made the decision to pull the piece, knowing that it would generate even more controversy. Stackhouse said that the ethical conundrum lay in how to best communicate internal decisions to readers – he admitted they don’t have a good way of doing so. He didn’t seem too concerned with Marche’s future. Not his problem, I suppose.


So that’s about it. I’m on one of those personal and professional betterment war paths, so I’m trying to attend a lot of events like this. Let me know if you hear of any and I’ll geek out with you for the night.


Someone told me to start taking myself more seriously, and uh…. I’m doing that. Now please to enjoy a Christmas cat GIF.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The most fun I’ve had reading in ages

It all started with a tweet.

Isn’t that always the case these days?

My two-time drink partner and forever girl crush Deborah Campbell (recently nominated for a Canadian magazine award for this article) linked to an article: A veteran journalist offers advice to a young journalist.

It’s a wicked read. Don’t have time to peruse? Here’s the gist of her advice:

Don’t go to journalism school. Don’t try to join the ranks. It will ruin you.

BUT

If you insist….do it the right way. Don’t be a sissy. Live. Read the best journalism pieces you can get your hands on.

This is the piece she linked to, and the article I urge you to read.

I finished minutes ago and peeled my ass off the balcony to link it…hard. Sure, the article is a few years old. Don’t matter. It’s timeless.


Competely worth the  56 pages of company paper you may need to bring it home. 

Went to my usual reading spot this evening and couldn’t move. 
Holla reading spot, you'll be missed too. 

It’s about 40 degrees at nighttime in Doha these days, but once I started sweating, wrapped a block of ice in a paper towel and poured it over my head, neck and face, ridding myself of the desperate need to move indoors.

But this isn’t about me

Read it. Have fun. It might not make you a better person, but I promise you’ll love it. 

The cool down

Just a few days remain in my Arabian adventure. I’m in a whirlwind of sorts, there’s much to do and very little time. So obviously, as I master my ostrich impression, I’ll write a fragmented blog post.

And so begins my Toronto-centric relocation. To my Doha readers, I apologize for the shift Hack the Bone is about to take. It can’t be helped, I’m moving back to the CoTU (centre of the universe).

G20 relocates Jays-Phillies Series to Philadelphia

They really did it. Halladay won’t be coming to Toronto this summer.

Upon hearing the news, I was all “road trip! Let’s party in Philly,” but then I remembered how the world’s most influential people are going to be in Toronto. It’s going to be madness! Am I the only one excited to see the kind of stealth operations that go down?

So the Jays won’t be here, but who’s to say we can’t have baseball? Wouldn’t it be awesome to organize a day of baseball at Christie Pits? We can get Toronto’s best amateur clubs to play in a tourney or something, dress them in Jays and Phillies gear and let the disappointed fans enjoy a mass picnic/tailgate in the sunshine. If I had the energy and connections to organize this, I’d be all over it.
It’s a nice thought, at least.

Canadian Weather

Canadian Summer = desert winter. I’m a little frightened.

Remember that episode of the Simpsons when Homer drinks Grandpa’s love elixir for the first time? He and Marge are in bed, all post-coital like and Homie says:

“Where are my pants?”

“You threw them out the window in a fit of passion. You said you were never going to need them again.”
That’s exactly what I did with my winter clothes before moving here.

Doha Goodbyes…

….are HORRIBLE. The worst. With Doha friends, it’s like “we’ll get together the next time I’m in London or Melbourne or Brittany or San Francisco or Edinburgh….see you never!!!” I’m emotionally drained and there's still four more days of this.

I’m really going to miss everybody.

Banksy in Toronto

Every white person’s favourite artist made an appearance in Toronto this week. Torontoist was the first to publish photos of Banksy’s work and soon the papers followed suit. The Globe and Mail, never to miss out on hipness (hey look, we’re hanging with Bono and Bob Geldolf hahaha) published an article on the “art versus vandalism” argument that Banksy's work ignites.

Honestly, I thought his art was already in Toronto. Remember those grey and white people with vespa heads that were plastered around Toronto? Not Banksy? They’re actually an ad campaign? All right then.

I think lots of what Banksy does is cool, but there was one thing about his Toronto visit that irked me.

This:
Torontoist didn’t confirm it was him, but whatever. Let’s go with it, so I have something at which to shake my fist.

Banksy wrote ‘TAKE THAT,’ on a branch that fell and landed on a parked car.

I guess Banksy was trying to say that the idea was the owner of the car deserved what was coming to him/her. Anyone who can afford to buy a Mercedes (is it a Mercedes, right?) must be deserving of public scorn and ridicule.

Look, if I worked hard enough and bought myself a Mercedes and some judgmental millionaire artist laughed at my misfortune when a tree crashed on it, I think my head would explode.

Seriously, maybe the owner of that car donates more money to charity than Banksy every year. Maybe she just left her dying mom in the hospital and had to walk to her car to discover that not only was it damaged, some anonymous punk thought it necessary to rub it in. Maybe she’s actually a good person who didn't deserve that kind of treatment.

Someone needs to stand up for the rich lady. To me, this tree job is a classic dick move.

Stick to wall drawings, Banksy. You’re actually kind of mean.

The Regent Park facades were better anyway.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things I read on the Internet

As the title suggests, this is a post about things I read on the Internet.

New York magazine cover story on Sarah Palin

New York Magazine’s latest cover story is available in its entirety online. NY Mag is cool like that.
Hey, how mad is everyone going to be when the NY Times actually starts charging for online stories? Have they announced a timeline for this? I can’t imagine it going over well with the Internet generation aka the gimmegimmes aka the we ain’t payin for shit Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jrs. (That’s the name of the Times Chairman. I had to Google him. Wouldn’t you?)

Would you look at that? It took me all of one sentence to veer off on a tangent. This post isn’t going to go well.

ANYWAY. Sarah Palin. Nope, still not sick of her.
It’s not that Palin the person interests me anymore. What’s continually fascinating is the media’s ongoing and obsessive coverage of her. It can’t stop, won’t stop, party until dawn.

The 24/7 Palin watch is getting ridiculous, but I think there’s an explanation. To bump up fledgling magazine sales, it’s become mandatory for every publication ever to write a Palin-centric cover story. I’m pretty sure she was featured recently on the cover of Truck & Driver magazine.
It’s real!

This month, it’s New York’s turn. Ever avant-garde, the writers at New York approached their story from a new angle – the successful Palin brand.

In case you couldn’t tell, that thing I said about the new angle? That thing right there? Tongue firmly in cheek.

Maybe it’s because I’ve read so much about Palin, that the stories are meshing into one big expose, but there’s a lot of repetition between pieces. A common element I find is the journalist’s insistence on reminding us of her astronomic popularity and how she generates revenue for the media.

From New York: “Though Palin may not like it, she makes money for Democrats and Republicans alike. Across the political spectrum, Palin is a ratings magnet. Whenever she appears on Fox News, ratings tick up by 10 to 15 percent. At MSNBC, she’s also a ratings phenomenon, albeit with opposite adjectives. Tina Fey’s reprisal of her Palin character in early April juiced Saturday Night Live’s ratings, beating prime-time programming, a rare feat. Online, right-wing sites like the Drudge Report frequently plug Palin headlines, while Palin’s presence at liberal outlets like the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo routinely sparks hundreds of reader comments.”

The next sentence should read, “…and my editor here at New York Magazine is really hoping the web hits generated by this story will buy him his summer home.”

Come on, big money!

Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr’s trial finally FINALLY starts soon (if you count July as soon.) I’ve said it before, but this shit show is a national embarrassment. The Khadr trial will be  the biggest and most interesting international news stories to come out of Canada in my lifetime. I hope Canadians pay attention. The CBC has an excellent recap of Khadr’s situation you should check out. The Globe and Mail (and other papers, I'm sure) has a journo stationed in Guantamo for the trial. Coverage should be top notch, so follow along. Form an opinion. Fight with me about it and I’ll buy you a beer.

The Rumpus

Man, The Rumpus is good. Here’s a one-two punch of excellent essays for you to print out and enjoy:

1. All We Read Is Freaks – essential for book nerds

2. The Eyes of Texas Are upon You – immigration. Interesting to everyone. Especially you, Meg.

The Doha Debates

Now I’m going to talk about something I did in real life. Sometimes I do things that don’t involve a computer. I know.

Last night, I was invited to a taping of the Doha Debates. This is a huge score; these tickets are not an easy get.
What’s the Doha Debates? Why it’s only the most popular weekend programme on the BBC network! It’s like, a super big fancy pants deal. The Doha Debates is a traditional debate show where the intellectual elite meet to square off in a battle of verbiage. Sometimes they yell. Rhetoric really is a lost art.

Last night’s motion was a good one: the house believes Barack Obama is too weak to make peace in the Middle East.
The motion carried.

As a former debate nerd, I had to vote against the motion, no matter my beliefs. The opposition had a harder position to argue and did a better job of staying on message and verbally bitch slapping their opponent. Ninety per cent of audience questions were asked by Arabs, so the result was biased, in my opinion. Don’t hate me.

On a more vapid note, as I sat there watching the eggheads work; I was struck with an excellent summertime idea. It’s actually a drinking game idea. I’m going to call it the first annual debate-beer-wrassle off. *
*Calling it the first annual means it’s sure to happen again and again. Every event organizer person knows that trick. Also, the name is negotiable because that one kind of sucks.

The debate-beer-wrassle off* is a four-person game, with a fifth player acting as mediator. Teams of two are selected randomly.

First, you have a neutral party decide on a debate topic.
Note – considering players will likely be drunk at the beginning of this game; there will be no debating the Israel-Palestine conflict or some such sort. Fluff or bust. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

The house believes the Olympic Games are a waste of money

The house believes Toronto Sports teams are cursed

The house believes Demi Moore hasn’t had any work done; she’s just a total bitch

The house believes there will be an Arrested Development movie produced within the decade

The House believes Meredith can deliver her closing arguments while walking around the house carrying her partner fireman style

Hipsters don't actually exist. They're an idea made up by yuppies

Those could probably use some tinkering.

The teams have 20 minutes to prepare their argument. Debate ensues. After the arguments and subsequent rebuttals are delivered, the neutral party decides on a winner. The losing team then has an opportunity to redeem themselves by chugging beer and winning the feats of strength that follow.

Feats of strength include wrestling (Greco-roman, Sumo or Jake the Snake Roberts, whatever your pleasure), barefoot races, and push up contests.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

It’s a mental and physical fight to the death!! Who’s with me? I’m thinking Canada Day long weekend for the first tournament.

Aaaaaand that’s how you turn a quasi-respectable blog post into a drinking game.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I have news

I’m moving back to Toronto.

Bah!!

I wrote an explanation yesterday, but my computer ate it. Here’s the ADD version of why I’m leaving Qatar.

  1. It’s Shanghai’s fault. I travelled and remembered how I need to live in a proper city to feel normal.
  2. It was time to leave my job. The universe gave me an exit and I took it. I’ll work for another month, and then it’s go time.
  3. DKM may have some news too. Inquiring minds should ask him about that directly.
  4. Why write it when it’s already been sung?  

I’ve had a wonderful time in Doha. This nutty little country has been my home for 16 months. It will be hard to leave the incredible people here. I will just have to throw one hell of a goodbye party.

Thanks Qatar. It’s been real, it’s been fun. Toronto – you’re mine.

Now let’s get back to the biziness at hand – writing silly things about silly things. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

All your book are belong to me -- updated!

Twitter triumph! There's a shit ton of books coming my way. Living in the desert and having no life is kind of awesome sometimes. 

The best part of this exercise? I know who recommended each book. If it sucks you better believe they’ll hear about it. If you sent me something and it's not on the list, it's because I've read it. Catch-22 is excellent. 

The books that'll mess me up in the coming months are...

Liars’ Club – Mary Karr 

A Spot of Bother  - Mark Haddon

 Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett

      The Bullpen Gospels – Dirk Hayhurst

 On Boxing – Joyce Carol Oates


7.     Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
     
          Straight Man - Richard Russo

          Microserfs - Douglas Coupland

          Love is a Dog From Hell - Charles Bukowski

         Bastards and Boneheads - Will Ferguson

          Open: An Autobiography - Andre Agassi

          The Game - Ken Dryden

         My Life in and out of the Rough:  -  John Daly

         Unaccustomed Earth: Stories - Jhumpa Lahiri

         Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis

         Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri

         Batman: Year One - Frank Miller

          Monkey Beach: A Novel - Eden Robinson

          Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl

          The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n
  
         Sorry about the piss poor formatting. I don't know anything about anything. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Return to Greatness


**post by DKM**

I’m sorry it had to be Butler. I’m sorry it had to be the hometown school with a student population of less than 4000. I’m sorry it had to be a team full of hard-working, yet baby-faced players. I’m sorry it had to be the team for whom I have cheered for in every other round of this year’s tournament. I'm sorry for Blue II.

But it had to be someone, and I’m not sad Butler lost. As a result, the one sports team I follow who is actually perennially successful, surpassed being just among the elite. Second to none. Champs! Despite all the haters.


It’s no secret Duke has a whole lot of haters out there. Most of them wear that faggy baby blue colour though, and they should be discounted from all consideration. Any team that wins a national championship one year and fails to qualify for the tournament the next is a joke. A really funny joke.

I have no doubt all the haters will eternally criticize Duke’s flawless run in this year’s tourney.Sure, they may have had the easiest bracket. But what the hell does seeding mean anyhow? IfButler can come within 3 inches of hitting a game winning basket for the championship then it’s clear, seeding means squat. Just ask Northern Iowa. The team who plays the best, most consistent basketball over 6 games wins. And that is no small feat.

I can’t really remember when or why I started liking Duke. I know that in 5th grade I went to National Sports and bought a Blue Devils hat. You know the kind, circa 1995, snap-back, pinstripes, cursive writing.
Yup. Just like that.

I know that despite never wanting to be a doctor, never having had ivy-league like grades, nor never playing competitive basketball, as I entered high school I believed I was going to go to Duke. I know that in 10th grade, on a family trip to Florida we visited Duke’s campus. We did the whole thing with a dorky tour guide: the mess hall, the chapel, the university hospital. It turns out not everyone on the tour just wanted to go to Cameron Indoor. Like a museum, a zoo or even a theme park, the tour conveniently ended at the university store, where I proceeded to buy as much swag as I could get my hands on, some of which I still own to this day.

I also remember that when considering a move to an unnamed country in the Gulf prior to grade 12, I was given a tour of a school by a princess of said country. During a bit of small talk she told me she was going to Duke in the fall. Meeting a royal in an abundantly rich nation didn’t impress me. Going to Duke in the fall?!? I was in awe. I definitely asked her more questions about Duke than about the school we were touring.

Then came University. Surprise! I didn’t end up at Duke. In first year at UWO, I came to the realization that March Madness would be spent planted on the couch, moving only to get beer. I would not be painting my face blue and white and hopping up and down in Cameron Indoor.Duke. Tobias Funke's favorite school.

As a consolation for my choice of Uni,
I met Mere...And so began her lifelong support of Duke-by-association. She still thinks they’re just a bunch of nameless white boys.

My nutty roommate managed to get free cable in our dorm in March 2004. It was some sort of promotion where if you signed up, you got the first month free. I don’t know what EVER gave the cable company the impression that a bunch of broke-ass students living in a dorm weren’t going to cancel it the day they moved out of the dorms, but that’s not for here nor there. We had TV. And it was March. My essay on Jane Austen’s “Emma” (not my choice) might have been handed in two weeks late, but at least I took pride in introducing many people from residence to March Madness. I showed them how to fill out a bracket, and told them it looked ugly if they didn’t have Duke going all the way.

U
nfortunately that year, like most, my will alone couldn’t crown Duke champs. Duke lost in the final seconds of a close game in the Final Four. Meredith was of great support after Duke blew their game-long lead and were booted from a return to the finals. She was genuinely awesome, suggesting things like “oh honey, I know you’re upset. Wanna make out?” and “How about I get you some keg beer?” What a doll.

Over the 6 years since, Mere and I always looked forward to filling out a bracket together. Despite winning a couple pools over that time, I was never fulfilled, as Duke got knocked out either during or before the Sweet 16. Five years in a row. And somehow winning the annual ACC tournament (which is practically a slamdunk deal – no pun intended) just doesn’t cut it if you can’t get more than three games deep in the tourney.

Chalk one up for the haters.

It didn’t help that North Carolina went out and won a couple championships in that span. Life could not get much worse for a Dukie.


The massive amount of Blue Devils clothing I accumulated over the last 10 years was growing tatty, and was worn with diminishing pride.
But this year, something felt different. Certain things couldn’t be ignored. All of a sudden this year, Zoubek was able to stay off crutches. Role players played their role. Smith more than doubled his average point total from last year. Scheyer was now the senior guard and no longer under the shadow of others. Singler turned out to be everything the Duke faithful hoped he would when recruited. And Coach K coached the fuck out of them.

Of course, all the haters still said they’d choke. Journalists encouraged fans to support the underdogs and spit on the contenders. The Butler bandwagon got really crowded.

Haters 2, Dukies 0.

Thankfully for me, Duke saved their best basketball for the end of the tournament, and truly deserved their first title since 2001. And it feels amazing. I’m now inspired to pass on my middle name, Keay, to one of my future children. But I’m just gonna spell it K.
(Meredith Ed Note. WHAT?)

Hate if you’re gonna hate, haters, but to all the Duke fans out there, kick back and enjoy this.

The Dukies executed down the stretch and overcame the Haters two-point lead for the win.

All your book are belong to me

I’m about to file an Amazon book order that’ll keep me occupied until summer. Before I do, I’d like to ask a little help from my friends.

A plea!

Send me your favourite book recommendations. What’s that horrible Kevin Spacey movie…? Pay it forward.  Send me the good stuff that moved you. Tip me off to something you loved and if I love it I’ll worship you forever.

I should probably tell you how much I enjoy a good humorist, that the writers of the 1920s absolutely slay me (in the good way), I love a suicidal female (Julia Stiles optioned the Bell Jar for a film – does that mean she’s playing Esther? Oh my god someone stop the madness) and am actively looking for the best sports books ever written.

I should tell you these things, but I won’t. If you’re mad for something and take the effort to post about it here, I’ll read it. However, please try to keep me out of the Qatar censor’s office.

Warp my brain. Pleaaase  Here's what's in the Amazon cart so far....   

 Liars’ Club – Mary Karr 

 A Spot of Bother  - Mark Haddon

Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett

         The Bullpen Gospels – Dirk Hayhurst

 On Boxing – Joyce Carol Oates


7.      Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

Blog post for IRL friends

…because anyone who’s never met me won’t care.

Hi friends! Remember when I used to blog about my life? Do you miss that? What? No, there aren’t any Canseco updates. Shut up and listen to me talk about myself.

What’s new? I was in China. I’d love to tell you lots about it, but there are things hindering me…

1.     1.)   How do you catch a moonbeam and hold it in your hand?

2.     2.)   This is not a travel blog. Travel blogs are booooo-ring. We met a few eternal travellers in Beijing and is it just me, or does anyone who’s ever travelled think their experiences are more profound and important than everyone else’s.  They aren’t. And then they make you feel small when you haven't been to the same places as them. It's like "oh, I'm sorry noooo. I haven't been to the secret waterfall in Kuala Lumpur where the fish sing Aretha Franklin songs that is only accessible via three overnight trips on a llama and seven days spent earning the village elder Big Donny's trust by sleeping with his goat herd". Snobs. 
Anyway, our trip wasn’t so much about the travel experience as it was acting the fool.

Our Chinese priorities:

1.       Forget your name and where you came from
2.       See the Great Wall

A personal highlight of the trip was when we convinced the staff at the JW Marriott to let us suntan, drink and smoke on the private roof of the hotel. We wore bathrobes. The deck, which could only be reached by passage through a secret bookcase (the lit nerd in me exploded) was on the 60th floor and had the most incredible view of the city.
While my sleep-deprived companions were basking in the sun’s warm glow, I went back through the bookcase and stood in the middle of the world’s highest library. It was awesome. Think Beauty & the Beast, but smaller and with Chinese literature.
This was the best photo I could find. Fack.

I stood on the book ladder and wheeled it across the walls, then stood in the centre of the room and spun around and around just like Belle.  A moment later, a hotel staff member entered the room. He spoke no English, but I could tell he was down so I mimed to him to show me the best book in the room. He immediately went to the top shelf and pulled down an massive, ancient looking, jewel-adorned book fastened with eye-hooks. He gingerly opened the latches and passed it to me. It was all in Chinese and though I had no idea what was written (it was probably the Twilight saga); I knew that whatever was inside was life changing.  I looked at the Chinese man and said, “wooooowwwww.” He looked back at me, eyes shining, smiling. It was a moment.

Then I went back to the patio and chugged a vodka soda. Moment over.

Shanghai is the most amazing city I’ve ever seen. It looks like the future. Coming back to Doha (a city not without its merits) after ten days of gogogopartypartyparty sucks.

Shanghai < Doha

It’s okay though, DKM is here.

Speaking of DKM...
DUKE.

How happy is DKM? Kiiiiiiind of happy. I asked him to write a blog post on his feelings (haha) about Duke, but you know how that usually works out. Radio silence.  

Sometimes when I use the Internet to call him out, he does what I want. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Canseco replied

I love it sounds exciting let's do it call me 818 *** ****

A man of few words. Respect.

This is so much better than a Rory McIlroy photobomb.

I want to change into my pyjamas, paint my nails and call him. Is that weird? We have so much in common, there’s heaps of stuff we could gab about - testosterone levels, fight training, competing subpoenas - normal people things.

If you were me, would you actually call? With the right script and liquid courage, I might be able to do this. For you. I'd do anything for my faceless friends on the Internet. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

E-mails to Jose Canseco

Jose Canseco is on twitter.  This is not hyperbole - his account is the best of all time.

I am obsessed. 

Jose's account is verified, which means it’s actually him (no repeating the Levi Johnston fiasco; that was embarrassing).

Canseco, after a lifetime of squandering monies and burning bridges, is reduced to soliciting job offers, appearance requests, and pretty much anything from an army of 400,000 twitter followers just waiting to fuck with him. It’s funny, it's sad, but it's funnier than it is sad, in my opinion.

Oh, and just so you know, Canseco replied to my messages three times. THREE. Try and visualize Canseco using his fat fingers to punch out THREE replies to one @meredithwrogers. I’m internet famous.
In case you aren’t following the action, here’s a taste of the gold Jose lays down:

Email me jc7264@yahoo.com I want to have my own radio or tv sports talk show. If u can finance it or want to hire me I can sky rocket rating

I love golf and everything tiger does can't wait to read his book I would call it the studdddd

Tiger woods I love him he's the man. He's also human well maybe superhuman even I couldn't handle so many girls. Pimp daddy s

I am on the toilet thinking about writing a third book

B e careful with the irs they r coming down hard on people

@meredithwrogers. Sounds good **Ed note this was in response to my offer to be his new agent

Who is interested in spending the day with me and seeing what my life is about.

1000 per day we can do anything if interested in spend a daY with jose email me at jc7264@yahoo.com

Like I said, gold.

Since Jose posted his email online, I wrote him a quick note. My objective? A selfless offer to help him start a lifecast. I’ve never seen a lifecast, but I hung out on google for 15 seconds and now consider myself an expert. 

Writing Canseco? Am I delusional? Possibly, but I read somewhere that people who are self-amused live long and happy lives.

Anyway, here’s the e-mail. Will let you know when he responds (haha). Hope he doesn’t file a restraining order. As Canseco would say, stay tooned.... 


March 25, 2010 

To the desk of:
Mr. Jose Canseco

Sports Superstar
Los Angeles, California


Dear Mr. Canseco, 


On Thursday April 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm, one Jose Canseco will make history….again.

You sir, will testify in front of a grand jury to speak on the alleged steroid use of some of major league baseball’s biggest superstars, in particular, Roger Clemens. While this isn’t your first time at the okay corral, the ramifications of your testimony are monumental. All sports fans, nay, the world will be watching that day.

But you already knew that. Let’s talk about what you may not know.

Let’s talk about your twitter feed. I’ve followed your tweets for some time now and must say, your candid and insightful tweets are among the most entertaining on the Internet. I can’t say they are the most entertaining, as who could try and compete with the profundity of one Justin Bieber?

I digress (Justin Bieber always gives me pause, apologies).
 Your upfront approach to the twitterverse is infectious. I imagine your tweeting style is a grand metaphor for the way you attack your opponent in a mixed martial arts fight.

You simultaneously respond to the haters (as you so eloquently call your dissuaders) and give fans a glimpse at the softer side of Jose Canseco.  I draw your attention to the tweet sent on March 21st:

RT@JoseCanseco:  I need ideas on how to make my girlfriend not mad at me!

Chivalrous. Heartwarming. There are no other words.

Knowing your predilection for social media, I write with an opportunity. An opportunity with the potential to shower dolla dolla bills upon your home.

Who am I? About time you asked.

My name is Meredith Rogers and I am an ambassador of the lifecast.

What’s a lifecast, you ask? Lifecasting is a continual broadcast
 of events in a person's life through digital media. In other words, you video tape yourself 24 hours a day and people can pay a membership fee to access to your stream.

Lifecasting is a very lucrative business and a public figure like you could, I believe, attract hundreds of thousands of viewers per day. I saw you on the Surreal Life, Jose. You’re a laugh a minute.  I mean, if a girl like JenniCam can attract millions of hits, just IMAGINE the kind of numbers a man like Jose Canseco could bolster. You know what we call traffic like that on the Internet, Jose? We call it making it rain.
The best part about a lifecast is that you wouldn’t even have to do anything! You can live life as usual, accompanied by an audience of curious onlookers. You played baseball! You're used to a bunch of losers scrutinizing your every move. You got this. 

Mr Canseco, I have your best interests at heart. As a fan and an important person on the Internet, I am willing to connect you with lifecasting executives who would jump at the chance to work with you. I will conduct all of our business together pro bono. I’m merely a fan of entertainment and want to watch while you sleep.  

I’m available to discuss this exciting possibility at any time.  Look forward to speaking with you and starting this fruitful relationship.


Sincerely,

Meredith Rogers
Future Lifecaster. Friend.