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here they come...

being from north america, the world of “football” (soccer to me) was always sort of closed. i knew that it was a big deal just about everywhere else, but i was never exposed to it. my first exposure wasn’t especially pleasant, either. i was in england in the summer of 1990 and got to see some charming liverpudlian gentlemen in a pub enjoying the game under the influence of about 750 pints. so to me, soccer was a sort of frightening thing that morphed men into monsters a la ionesco’s rhinoceros.

my next meeting with “the beautiful game” came in 1998, during world cup. at this point, i was living in montreal at that point and, as it turns out, living in a cosmopolitan city changes your perspective on these things a little. instead of being invisible, soccer was everywhere, parading loudly with honking car horns past the window of my plateau-area apartment without regard to my desire for quiet.

during that world cup. i got interested. primarily, i was just irritated, because i wanted all those people with their car horns to shut the f**k up and leave me alone. so i got interested as a method of self-defence. i decided i was going to back croatia, because they were the only team who didn’t seem to have a cadre of honkers backing them. if croatia won, it meant that i would be left alone.

croatia came third, which made me fairly happy on the day of the “consolation match" (sweet silence everywhere). france, popular in quebec for obvious reasons, beat out brazil to win the cup. i have two memories from the afternoon of the final that will stay with me until i am very old. first, walking down st. laurent in the afternoon and finding it startlingly abandoned. it was empty, save for huge crowds of eerily silent people bursting forth from overcrowded pubs heads inclined to catch a glimpse of the television sets inside. i could have been naked and no one would have noticed.

second, at the end of the day, well into the night in fact, i saw the last stragglers from after-parties milling about as i walked up to meet my boyfriend at the mont-royal record store where he was working. there was one fan, wrapped in the brazilian flag, still howling out the soccer chants that had evidently lost their potentcy. i have never seen anyone as sad as that man at that moment.

i didn’t follow much since then, although as a lifelong champion of the underdog, i was quietly thrilled to see greece come out of nowhere to win the 2004 euro cup. now, when i remember the summer of ‘98, i realise that seeing the continuous parade of cultural pride following victories was not only annoying (although there were a few mornings when it was), but exciting. there was more going on than simple sports fandom, which is precisely why soccer is as popular as it is. (if you don’t believe me, go read this article.)

yesterday, i was at a pub on yonge street with a couple of friends when a parade of cars, british flags flying and horns blaring, flowed past on their way to downtown and i felt a little wave of nostalgia.


as long as you're here, why not read more?

mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there …


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…