Vive le Canada!

Ed Smith
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I've been watching the Olympics. You, too? Imagine that. We must be the only two people in Canada so engaged. Understand this column is being written on the first Monday of the Olympics, so I don't have a lot to go on yet - just the good, the bad and the ugly.
These games should go down in history as the Red Eye Olympics, or the Sleepless in the East Olympics, or even the Coitus Interruptus Olympics.
There should be a law that prohibits any 2010 Olympic competition from being broadcast to any part of the country later than midnight. I'm betting the crowd in Victoria doesn't have to wait until two o'clock in the morning to watch the "Republic of Doyle." This being up until dawn cracks is brutal.
Furthermore, there's no need for it. There are several options. One is to have all Olympic competition take place between dawn and 4 p.m., Vancouver time. Better they should get up early rather than we go to bed late.
A second option is to have a hold placed on all media coverage after 4 p.m., Vancouver time. The hold would be released 9 a.m. next day.
You're probably wondering what the third option might be. Simple. For the duration of the Olympics, make Canada one time zone. You say that would result in endless confusion? Why, so it would, but ask yourself 7:30 a.m. tomorrow if you'd be willing to try it.
I know you're waiting for my impressions of the Olympics so far.
The opening ceremonies were fantastic, magnificent and really nice. What's more, they were beautifully Canadian. To top it all off, they even pronounced Newfoundland and Labrador correctly. Sarah MacLachlan was wonderful, k.d. lang beyond description. I've heard "Hallelujah" sung many times. Nothing else has ever come close to that rendition. For me, she was the first Canadian gold medal.
Wayne Gretzky, on his way to the harbour to light the flame, should have been accompanied by a loudspeaker blaring out a country song in which the singer - in a country southern accent - complains that his dog is dead, his girl is gone and somebody stole his pickup truck.
A friend whose country of origin is the U.S. told me Arnold Schwarzenegger had carried the Olympic flame partway through Vancouver streets.
I called her a numbnut and told her not to be so foolish. They'd never allow it, I said. No one except a Canadian would be permitted to carry the sacred flame.
I didn't stop to wonder who would prevent Schwarzenegger if he did want to carry it. Having seen him wipe out whole divisions of infantry, tanks, aircraft and destroyers with only a scratch across one mighty bicep, I knew Canada's military just wasn't up to it.
I had to call her back the next day and apologize. I guess Arnie said he wanted to do it and our chief of defence, the minister of defence and the prime minister conferred and decided if he wanted to do it, they weren't going to stop him.
Evidently they called Obama, and Obama said if Schwarzenegger wanted to carry the Olympic flame, it would be in Canada's best interests to let him do it. Obama said he had no intention of trying to stop him and didn't want to pay for picking up the pieces if Canada tried.
We tuned into one American channel after Jenn Heil lost the gold to her American rival. Although Heil skied wonderfully well, the American girl was just that tiny bit better. Fair enough.
One commentator on that channel wasn't exactly magnanimous in victory.
Canadians thought they'd be dancing in the streets tonight, she crowed, but Heil got beaten.
"What a shame! Tooooo baaad!" (Delivered in the most sarcastic tones.)
I know it was only one commentator, but she was on a national network. I could be wrong, but I can't conceive of any Canadian commentator behaving the same way.
Around about the same time that symbol of all things stupid, American Right champion Rush Limbaugh accused Michael J. Fox of faking the symptoms of Parkinson's disease for advertising purposes. We can all understand Mr. Limbaugh's confusion, of course. He wouldn't know Parkinson's from a hangnail.
Just after I wrote these last few lines, I took a break and caught an NBC commentator saying how lovely it was to watch Canada, the host country, get its first gold medal. He sounded really sincere and more than made up for the other commentator for whom I can't find an adjective fit for a family paper.
One of the things that impresses me to no end is the fact that an athlete can train day in and day out for four years, make sacrifices no other young person would dream of making, carry the heavy burden of the hopes and expectations of a nation on their shoulders, and then toss it all up in the air for one 30-second mogul run or two-minute suicidal ski dash down a mountain.
Then, just to put the icing on the cake, that athlete can be one one-hundredth of a second slower than the fastest and wind up in 79th place. What in all creation is faster than 1/100 of a second? The beat of a hummingbird's wing? The Big Bang? The changing of a woman's mind?
I can't wait for men's hockey to begin. There's where we separate the Canadians from the boys. Our big advantage against the U.S. is that their coach is also the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Carry on, Wilson. Don't change a thing.
I'm not saying anything about the 18-0 hockey game. Not much to say. Or the tragic death at the beginning of the week. Nothing needs to be said.
Lots more to happen; much more drama to be written.
We'll be there.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.
His e-mail address is

Organizations: NBC, Toronto Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Canada, Vancouver, Victoria U.S. Newfoundland and Labrador Springdale

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