A charismatic, ageing French rock star will compose and record an original song for you, your mom, your lover or your pet in French, English, or Franglais (recommended). US$200.
– A classified ad in the London Review of Books, 2022–
“Is this the London Review of Books?”
“Yes, sir. Yes, it is. How may I help you?”
“I would like to place an ad, please.”
“Certainly, sir. What kind of advertisement are we talking about? We have a quarter-page in the front, half-page next to the letters–“
“In the back, with the holidays and writing retreats. And dating ads.”
“I’m not sure we have dating ads, sir.”
“Oh, please. In the back? The ‘Lonely and desperate man seeks – anyone” types.
“Some of them seem very personal, yes. Too personal.”
It’s one of those houses that’s always been there, except, of course, no house has always been there. Somebody built it. Somebody saw something in nothing, and then with hard work, and with help from friends and family, he built a house there.
Henry Baker hated his name. He wasn’t crazy about the Baker, but it was his last name and he considered it a given. Besides, it was the only thing he had left of his father.
No, Baker was fine. Even Mom thought so. It was Henry he had a real beef with.
He loved his mother very much but he hated his name, and that was a problem because while she loved him very much, too, she may have loved the idea of having a son named Henry just as much.
“At least 15 people are dead after a crash between a tractor-trailer and a bus carrying a Canadian junior hockey league team, a tragedy that struck at the heart of a tightknit city in rural Saskatchewan and immediately echoed through the hockey world and beyond.”
– Washington Post, April 8, 2018
The bus was always my safe place. Well, all cars were and still are. I wasn’t born in a car even though it sometimes feels like it. From the day I was born, I’ve spent so much time in cars, reading, sleeping, talking, eavesdropping, eating, counting other cars, and being bored that cars have become my second home.
Early on, my hockey bus trips were mostly short and infrequent. Maybe we took a bus to a camp four hours away, once a season, maybe not even that.
Last week, I found a secret portal that took me to other worlds. No, it wasn’t books, silly, although that was a good guess (and I do encourage everybody to read).
No, this portal was a garage in downtown Stockholm, a block from Stureplan, which is the center of Stockholm’s nightlife – or so I have been told, it’s been a while I’ve been in the city centre after sunset.
The funny thing about my finding the portal is that I wasn’t on my way anywhere in particular. I was just walking around, waiting for a movie theatre to open so that I could go watch Chaplin’s Gold Rush when I was suddenly, unexpectedly taken to another world.
Sitting in a home office writing stuff can get lonely. No, let me rephrase that. Many people think that sitting in a home office writing stuff can get lonely and by many people I mean the rest of my family. They’ve been dropping a lot of hints about friendship lately, how nice it is to make friends, and how I should get out more.
Well, see, I don’t make friends. I buy them. And I only go for the best.
And who’s man’s best friend? Who? Whoooooo’s man’s best frieeeeend, come here, boy!
That’s right. A dog.
Mother was right, I think it’s fair to say now. After all, I’m 60 years old, still unmarried, and the way things are going, I’ll stay unmarried not matter how long I live. She was right about that, but she wasn’t right about everything. Oh, no, Mother dear, you weren’t right about everything.
“Days after being awarded the literature prize, Bob Dylan has yet to get in touch with the Swedish Academy, or indicate whether he will attend the celebrations.”
– The Guardian, Oct 17, 2016
Swedes! Who do they think they are, thinking that a guy will roll out of bed in the middle of the night just to pick up the phone. Or that he’ll return the call right after he wakes up. Or the next day. It’s not like the world revolves around the Nobel Prize, you know. Here are 25 things that could have kept Bob Dylan from getting back to the Swedish Academy.
King of Sweden
People often ask me how come I’m always so happy. Now, nobody’s always happy and I wouldn’t even dream of saying that I’m always happy, but it is true that I often seem to be smiling, even when I’m not. I can say, though, that there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t been smiling going to work, and then I just keep smiling all day long.
I think that helps. It’s hard to be unhappy when you’re smiling.
And it’s hard not to smile when you’re riding a rollercoaster all day long. Literally.
The world was different in 1964 when Gun opened her little store from what it looked like in 2004 when she decided to retire and sell the tiny store. You may think the city’s always looked the same, especially around her store, because the store is on the ground floor of a big old stone building, and was there even before Gun – but it hasn’t.