The 5 Best Things Ever Written in an All-Nighter

Your big, for-all-the-marbles essay is due tomorrow. You haven’t even started it. Cue the woe, the surrender, the Carole King. It’s too late, baby. Even an all-nighter isn’t going to save you now. But here’s the thing: it might. Sometimes that impossible deadline is just what you need. Sometimes you can pull a rabbit out…

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The Day That Changed Baseball*

If the Los Angeles Dodgers win the 2017 World Series — they’re deadlocked 1-1- with the Houston Astros as I write this — you can chalk up the victory, at least in part, to the very strange thing that happened on May 29, 2009. On that day, a comet appeared out of nowhere. Clayton Kershaw,…

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Our Big Flag Day

The government of Canada is giving us a flag. Not just a flag — the flag. The one that flies atop the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The one on the twenty-dollar bill. That flag. Giving it to us. Just for being us. Turns out — we learned yesterday from a tour guide…

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In a world run by Hedgehogs, the case for the Fox

Consider the journalist with a narrowly defined “beat.” He covers baseball, or film, or federal politics. He gets to know that little patch of turf very well. He cultivates a pool of sources and develops a set of firm ideas. Eventually he becomes as expert as the people he’s writing about. That expertise is his…

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Have a Storyworthy Day

One day last year, a man from Bangalore, India — a place of both high-tech riches and grinding poverty — was overtaken by a nagging question: How do the beggars in this city of eight million spend their nights? What must it be like? He decided to find out. The next morning he took a bed…

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Alex Honnold’s Moonshot

Six days ago, the American climber Alex Honnold pulled off the unimaginable. Among physical tests a human could rise to in a single day, this must — in terms of the sheer brute jeopardy of it — be considered the Big Day to beat all Big Days. The 31-year-old “free soloed” the granite face of…

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The Marathon Paradox: Is Too Much of a Good Thing a Bad Thing?

A few years ago the writer and podcaster Tim Ferriss did the New York City Marathon. But not in the usual way. His was a “food marathon.” Instead of knocking off 26.2 road miles, Ferriss undertook to knock off 26.2 dishes, made by some of New York’s best cooks. He’d got the idea from a…

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Chasquis! Take This Message!

For The Stress Fractures, a team of highly amateur runners assembled for a single day’s heroic shenanigans, trouble descended around 40 kilometres outside of Jasper, Alberta. It was 1:30 pm. Clear skies, blazing sun. One hundred and sixty two competitors, strung out along the shoulder of Highway 93, were baking like macaroons. The thing about…

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The One-Day Pilgrimage

I sometimes toss this term around, and it very often raises hackles. A pilgrimage is a commitment, people insist. The goal is distant and your progress dogged and incremental. What possible Mecca can you reach a single day? Actually, you’d be surprised. So long as you think of the journey as a figurative one and…

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The Four Quadrants Theory

Since I’ve started this Big Day experiment, I’ve come to realize the whole thing has a side benefit I hadn’t expected. It’s a kind of therapy. It’s a valuable diagnostic tool even if you never actually do a Big Day. Just thinking about what you might do, if you were magically handed a free 24…

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