Michael Lewis spends time with Obama

Michael Lewis at Vanity Fair gets really close up to President Obama in this piece.

One of the most interesting revelations is the fact that the US bombing of Gaddafi’s forces in Libya was an almost exclusively Obama decision, with almost all of his senior staff telling him not to do it. Quite impressive thing for Obama to do, I think.

Otherwise, the piece is a bit long-winded – I skimmed through parts – and a lot of the quotes from Obama sound like they could have been plucked out of one of his supposed-to-be-inspirational-sounding speeches – and could probably be cut from the article. But on the whole it’s a cleverly-crafted piece, paralleling Obama and his staff in a boardroom and an F-15 navigator forced to parachute out of his crashing plane over Libya. You also learn that Obama plays basketball with men 20 years his junior and several times better at basketball than he is. And if any of them should dare go easy on him, they’re not invited back to play the next time.

The piece really made me warm to Obama. At the same time, it seems like Lewis is not going too hard on Obama himself. This is a flattering profile. And I’m sure if Lewis were the kind of writer to destroy someone who he’s profiling, the White House would never have permitted the interviews. But it’s a good piece nonetheless. So interesting to learn little details about the president’s life. One of the most lovely moments is when Lewis asks Obama what he would do if he had a day completely to himself, out of the blue. Obama describes surfing by himself in Hawaii in a really poetic way.

I last saw a physical copy of Vanity Fair when I was in the waiting room at a medical clinic last week. I picked it up, having read Michael Lewis’s work online before, and I was surprised how little substance there seemed to be in the magazine. It was all glossy pictures of beautiful women, with paragraph-long “stories” – granted there were a few longer pieces, but not much. The most interesting thing I saw offhand was a piece on how it’s now becoming more acceptable to show male full frontal nudity on the big screen.

This article, on the other hand, was even more captivating than talk of penises. As usual, when Michael Lewis is writing, it’s hard to look away.

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Pulling out of Jasper Station

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Well, Jasper Station closed tonight. My eyes became a little moist, I smiled a lot, and I just felt this wonderful gratitude for being able to have been in this production. It’s definitely the most exciting show I’ve been in yet. I loved the music, the character, the dancing. I loved working with everyone on the team. Everyone was so friendly, easy to get along with, and straightforward. I can’t think of a conflict during the entire three-month process. Continue reading

Fever

I am an Olympic addict.

It happened to me during the Vancouver games in 2010. I was working part-time at the aviation museum in Ottawa and I had a lot of time to sit in front of the television and watch the games. Those games actually changed the way that I conduct my life. I was motivated to start working out more regularly. Initially, I tried to do something every day, and I actually succeeded for a month or two. Since then, I’ve slowed to maybe three workouts a week, but I’ve kept myself at that level for the 2 1/2 years since Vancouver. I was moved by the focus of these athletes, by watching them put all of themselves into a physical pursuit. I think there is something so worthwhile in it. It’s a kind of spiritual perfection. Continue reading

Going Fishing

Craigslist’s free classified-style personal ads are to-the-point. They begin with height, weight, and hair colour. 5’11, 175 lb, red, is how mine looked.

Many of the ads go straight into intimate details with the delicacy of a bulldozer – role in bed (top or bottom), penis length, and whether or not the guy is circumcised. Then he describes what he’s looking for – most often something quick and dirty.

That’s not what I was looking for, but when I first went online to look for a boyfriend, I didn’t know of any free dating sites. Five years ago, when I was 20, it seemed you couldn’t build a profile, upload images, and message prospective dates unless you were prepared to pay.

Craigslist assembled more gay men on one screen than I encountered during months at a time. After coming out at 18, I assumed the rest – courtship, love, relationship — would come easily. Instead, it felt like I had broken through a huge wall, only to find an empty landscape on the other side. Continue reading

Preserving language, producing journalists: Radio-Canada in the West

Wrote this for a journalism class this year. Quite happy with it and would like it to get seen.

Radio-Canada’s mandate requires that it provide French content to every corner of the country, but francophone populations in the western provinces are small.

For journalists, this has meant Radio-Canada stations in western cities have become training grounds, where mistakes are forgiven and journalistic teeth are cut.

For audiences in these places, it means a rotating door of new faces, Quebec reporters who come to gain experience, then leave to apply it back home. Continue reading

Sex and Deceit in the Community Theatre

My grandfather and I go to the Ottawa Little Theatre every month. When I saw that it was putting on Dangerous Liaisons, I thought back to Cruel Intentions, that movie with Ryan Philippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar full of sexual power games and deceit. I knew that Dangerous Liaisons was the 18th century French play that the movie was based on – but I didn’t think that the OLT would put on something so risqué. I figured it it must be a much tamer version.

Well, I was wrong. The play, just like the movie, is all about sexual conquests and manipulation. And it all came spewing forth from the mouths of actors on a stage used to much tamer stuff. Continue reading

The Favoutite Game by Leonard Cohen

The whole thing is a bit like a poem. I can understand why Cohen gave up on novels after his second one and focused on poems and songs for the rest of his life. I don’t find The Favourite Game that successful as a novel. I find the storytelling is lacking. As I stared at it on my bedside table, I dreaded having to pick it up and longed to read one of the other books that I’ve been looking forward to, simply because I didn’t find that he hooked me with the story. But maybe I just didn’t get it. Continue reading

The Listserve was really great today.

If you haven’t heard of the Listserve, check it out. This is today’s message:

 

I’m generally not big on quoting other people, and maybe this is totally cheesy, but this poem contains what I find to be useful pointers on how to go about life. It’s not clever, it doesn’t rhyme, it’s not grandiose. It’s eloquent and on point:

Desiderata
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

–Max Ehrmann, 1927

Sunaina
lanainer@gmail.com
San Francisco, CA

Relax, it’s just a vacation

When I see myself on the cruise ship, I’m walking on the 10th deck, going by the two swimming pools and six hot tubs and the buffet area that took up just as much space as the swimming pools. I’m looking for one of my family members with whom I’ve come on the cruise in the buffet area. It’s like looking for someone in IKEA. There are Americans everywhere. Most of them from New York. Most of them with New York accents. And most of them overweight. They’re sitting in the sun, in the pools, at the buffet. The few of them that I get a chance to speak to over the course of my trip – encounters in the hot tub or on shore excursions – are very nice. But my main exposure to them is in line at the buffet, where they’re usually discussing what the best food is and then asking the servers behind the counter to give them this cut of meat or that strawberry sundae or that spoonful of potatoes – usually politely, but also usually with far more assertiveness than any self-respecting Canadian would put into her voice (so it’s hard for me to judge if they are being polite enough to the poor crew) and always with a certain hunger that makes me very aware of how the cruise experience is really all about satisfying appetites. For all my being aware of these overweight folks demanding more and more food, I’m having the exact same thoughts as they are around the buffet. When I discover the all-you-can-eat sushi bar my heart surges.

Continue reading