States of confusion

Ed Smith
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if you are not interested in the U.S. presidential elections, good.

Neither am I at the moment. I don't understand the process, I don't understand Americans and I don't understand Brad Cabaña.

Brad Cabaña? What's he got to do with anything? Nothing, really. It's just that I heard him on Open Line last week.

I tend to lump together in one lump (colour brown) people whose brains atrophied some time before the last Ice Age. I know, you're saying they should not be alive today. Right, but I try not to judge my fellow man too harshly.

Actually, the only thought on my mind right now is for Other Half. She had surgery earlier today for a hip replacement for which she's been waiting 11 months. That's another story and I'll get to it before long. Right now the surgeon says that everything went well and she's doing fine.

I talk so much about OH in this column that I'm presumptuous enough to think some of you would be interested in knowing that. To the rest of you, I apologize for getting really personal. My grandchildren, by the way, say she's much funnier and more insightful than I. They suspect, as perhaps some of our closer friends do, that she writes the columns and I simply submit them.

I'm not talking about the elections in the United States, as I said, because they tend to leave me in a state of confusion. That's the state in which I reside normally. I wrote a column a couple of weeks ago in which I confessed to being totally confused about the Muskrat Falls thing.

A certain Internet blogger proceeded to dissect my written offering and came to the conclusion that I was full of that substance to which I referred earlier as coming mostly in brown lumps. He may well be right, of course. No denying that. Better minds than his have reached a similar conclusion.

My regular readers, and I know there are some because they write me (thank you, Pat - that's what sisters are for) and tell me so. They all know that practically everything I write is with tongue firmly planted in cheek. This fellow thinks I write with foot-firmly planted-in-mouth and proceeded to comment accordingly. I do that occasionally, too, but this wasn't one of those times.

When I attempt to wax eloquent and serious, I make it very clear that this is my intent.

My first impression was that this blogger was a mainlander who is a stranger to humour and satirical writing. Imagine my surprise when it turned out he's a Newfoundlander! I don't think he's a regular reader. Anyway, sir, I will admit that you yourself are a very good writer. Please don't use your skills to take apart that which you don't seem to understand, namely me. Have a good day.

I said I wouldn't talk about the U.S. elections, and I won't. Instead, they made me reflect a little (and not for the first time) on the heights of the ridiculous as seen on CNN and their programming.

I refer, of course, to the post-debate analysis wherein CNN experts and commentators attempt to glean viewing material out of the chosen few reactions the way a bulldog attempts to chew a pound of meat off a chicken bone that's already been boiled up for soup.

Thoughtful and insightful commentary by people who are in the know, and have had time to digest what they've seen from the debaters, is one thing. Trying to draw meaningful response from people who sometimes are inarticulate and not sure what they've just seen, is like trying to extract wisdom teeth from a pullet — a pullet is a young chicken.

(I have to say that I believe my similes in this column have reached a new high in clarification and entertainment. You may have a different view. So may our blogger friend.)

The first thing to strike Number One Son and me as we watched in amazement, was their attempt to reach a new low by trying to find the high points in the debaters’ comments. Two lines traced the responses of the chosen few as they watched. Stars highlighted the point at which one or the other of the candidates made a huge score:

"What does all that mean?" son asked. "What does that tell us about the quality of what was said? "

"I don't know," I replied. "I'm confused."

You have to give them an "A" in graphics. Walt Disney and the weather channels could only shake their heads at the"Magic Wall, where the commentator could drag and enlarge any state from a map that could be on the wall behind him or on the floor beneath him and project it to the rest of us, just as though we cared.

The colours of the maps could change with the commentary. One moment they showed Obama to be leading in a "swing state" and then the next chart would have him several points behind in the same state depending on what spin the commentator was emphasizing at that point.

I suddenly realized I had been "mishearing" (a word born out of the need to say something but not knowing what was the right word — something like "backupable" — thank you, Tom) the words "swing states." What the boys are actually saying is "spin states" because every time I see those states mentioned they are considered grossly important for a host of different reasons.

I may be naïve, but I do not ever envisage Peter Mansbridge being involved in foolishness like that during the next national election, which isn't that far away. If they really want to make the whole thing entertaining, and at the same time capable of providing insights into the national picture as it unfolds, they should have Rick Mercer and Rex Murphy, those two intrepid Newfoundlanders, do the show from Signal Hill.

That way they could do the election results and the weather at the same time.

"With the imminent ascension of Stephen Harper to another term as sovereign of Canada," Rex would solemnly intone, "this Eastern Parenthetical demi-Paradise is a microcosm both politically and meteorologically of the nation as a whole which …" and Rick would yell from the top of Cabot Tower:

"… Is in one hell of a bloody fog!"

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  His email address is

Organizations: Walt Disney

Geographic location: United States, Canada, Cabot Tower Springdale

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