Monday, August 09, 2004

In praise of a bored dilettante nerd

Unfortunate news from last week - Colby Cosh has announced that his semi-weekly National Post column is being cut back to weekly. I've already stated I'm a fan (scroll to last paragraph of linked post); my considered opinion is that there is no other commentator out there who is as adept at organizing and articulating a point, even if I do have to frequently consult a thesaurus. And for a self-described "bored dilettante nerd amidst a house full of pizza boxes", he's pretty damn observant.

Since he hasn't married rich, nor does he have a profitable side business (nutri-ceuticals, anyone?), he has indicated this situation may force him to change "employers" entirely. It would be a shame if that meant he ended up reviewing books for an American publication; Canadian readers would suffer from the loss of his screeds on our politics and courts.

As such, I hope that those of you who agree with me will take a few minutes out of your day to share your opinion with the National Post's editor. Likewise, a recommendation to the editor of the Globe & Mail might also prove beneficial.

I'm not trying to embarass the guy - I don't recommend ranting like you're trying to save some crappy sci-fi TV program that's already been cancelled three times. Just a simple letter that you enjoy reading Mr. Cosh's work, and the more the better. If you are a newstand grazer like myself, you ought to also identify what impact this business will have on your decision to lay down a loonie from time-to-time.

All that said, if you are unconvinced that Cosh is a unique talent, I present the Top 10 Turns-of-Phrase from Colby Cosh, all within the last several months.

10. On the high floor for Liberal polling numbers: "...even if Paul Martin were caught on camera humping roadkill Tom Green-fashion, it's unlikely the party's poll numbers would drop below 38% or so."

9. On his own importance as a political commentator (paging Mr. Roget!): "The psephological professionals, who to a man earn more than I do for my onanistic belletrism..."

8. On Malcolm Azania's provincial electoral prospects: "Amidst the more concentrated campus idiocy of the smaller provincial riding, Malcolm would probably win."

7. On the Supreme Court upholding the Elections Act: "Five other judges -- our best and brightest -- subscribed to this wad of fiat in apparent contentment." Also, "dusty shred of bumf" is nice.

6. On the Green Party's promise to "create opportunities for more outdoor physical activities": "Am I the only one who suspects this means, 'If we ever win, you'll have to walk to work'?"

5. On returning officers and scrutineers: "...they have not learned, and will not learn, the priggish imperiousness of the cop or the civil servant. And who would say they perform their duties less well?"

4. On his political leanings as a 17-year-old: "I didn't yet have a coalesced political world view, beyond being opposed to blatantly stupid things."

3. On Joe Clark and Paul Martin: "Clark performed some reluctant anilingus on Martin Thursday, which allowed the Star to openly refer to rampant rumours that Joe Who is Senate-bound."

2. On the Supremes' Elections Act ruling, again: "Seems odd to me, but I never went to law school or suffered a major head trauma."

1. On NDP MP Libby Davies (no emphasis required): "That's a New Democrat for you--sexism's all right as long as I perpetrate it, and against males. If somebody called Women's Libby a "girl" (or, say, a "plank-thick twat") on the floor of the House, you know her head would explode."

That last one's a bad example, I suppose: not much chance you'll ever see that expression printed in the Post, even if he's contributing five times a week.

Other examples are welcomed in the Comments.

UPDATE (215PM): I would like to add this honourable mention - it nearly caused me to pull the apocryphal cliche of "spitting coffee all over the keyboard".

On bloggers' roadtrips: "... unlike most webloggers I can't really afford some sort of schmancy wireless-equipped laptop that would allow me to post second-by-second from the road. (Now I'm in a bar! Now I'm on the observation deck of the CN Tower! Now I'm shooting smack down by the Don River!)"


At 8:33 p.m., Blogger Shannon said...

Some of my other favourite Colbyisms (I'm sure there are lots more, but I'll stick to recent ones)...

On Dalton McLiar's lame excuses: "Is it me... or did the Premier of Ontario actually say... that it is better to make stuff up than to 'side with cynics'?"I'll remind you of Cosh's Interpretive Principle, which I intend to repeat until it enters general usage: 'Cynicism' is a politician's term for 'hatred of politicians.' Whenever one of these slug-like beasts does something creepy, dumb or destructive, and is criticized for it, his response is always to denounce 'cynicism.' Where do these office-holding prats go to learn these infantile debating techniques? Is there a secret school somewhere that teaches Tie Selection and Advanced Thermonuclear Gibberish?"On so-called fair-trade: "That's trendy baby talk for economic planning: 'fair trade' equals centrally planned trade."And a bunch of good ones from the unedited version of his July 9 National Post column...

On whether easterners' attitudes toward Stephen Harper's Albertan-ness had anything to do with the election loss: "Diane Francis attempts a judo throw, arguing that it was Albertans--I damn near shot half a Coke out my nose reading this--who really failed to 'deliver the goods' electorally, having given just 26 of 28 seats to the Conservatives."On the standard to which Harper will be held in dealing with the party's so-con elements vs. the standard to which a non-Albertan such as Peter Mackay would be held: "MacKay himself escaped criticism for being joined at the hip to queerbashing granny Elsie Wayne throughout the Conservative leadership race."On just how socially conservative Alberta really is: "There are an awful lot of us pro-weed, pro-sodomy, pro-abortion unbelievers out here (and we have our share--yes!--of abortion clinics, gay hangouts, and feminist bookstores)."On those crazy SCC judges: "And, yeah, we dislike the Supreme Court's habit of reading the Charter to us like the Riot Act, only backwards and upside-down."I'm sure I could find a lot more if I had the time to go back through all his old columns, but you get the point. I was pretty disappointed to read that we'd only be getting one column a week from him in the future.

A couple months ago, I received an e-mail from David Asper (or, at least, from someone at the Post using his name), asking for feedback on the paper. I never got around to deleting it from my inbox, so last week they finally got some feedback from me. Most of my comments were positive, but at the end of my message I let them know I would be very disappointed to see one of Colby's weekly columns disappear.

I know of at least one other person who also wrote in to the Post, so let's hope they listen. I will be very sad if I have to wake up to a Colbyless paper every Friday. :_(

At 9:22 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've already e-mailed to express my displeasure. Further to this, I've purchased my last Post until I hear that they've dropped that bellicose ditch pig, Sheila Copps. I'll be damned if I'll voluntarily contribute to her paycheque.

-- Sean (

At 2:08 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

"bellicose ditch pig"????

Hey Sean, stop beating around the bush and tell us how you really feel. LOL!

At 6:04 p.m., Blogger Shannon said...

Aargh! What the heck happened with the formatting on that comment I posted last night? When I previewed it, I swear it was actually divided into, like, actual logical paragraphs instead of being all smushed together like it is now. Sorry it's so hard to read -- I have no idea why it's like that.

About Sheila: I figured I'd be open-minded and give her a chance when she showed up in the Post, but so far I'm not too impressed (can't say I'm surprised about that, though). Maybe I'll give her one more chance this Friday, but it seems highly unlikely I will be reading her column on a regular basis. Right now she's ranking just above Buzz Hargrove on my list of favourite (and not-so-favourite) Post columnists.

That said, I don't really care if they keep her -- it doesn't mean I have to read her column. While I think she's kind of a waste of space, I don't expect to like every single columnist in the whole bloody paper. Maybe some people will like her. (Maybe.) Maybe her loony left views will at least provoke some interesting debates. Maybe she'll even attract some people who don't normally read the Post, and they'll get sucked into reading some of the other excellent columnists and possibly even learn a thing or two. And if not, well, there's no harm in trying.

So I don't really have a problem with Sheila's mere presence on the Post's comment page. What I do have a problem with is the Post cancelling one of Colby's consistently excellent columns while making room for Sheila's rather (in my opinion) lame one.

At 10:32 p.m., Blogger Matt said...

Take it easy SD - your post was perfectly readable (and excellent). I somehow missed the "upside-down and backwards" Charter line; I would have had that one as #3 or better.

Anyway, about Sheila, I am somewhere between SD and Sean - I don't think I'll boycott the Post just because they're giving the bee-otch a column; however, if it is replacing Cosh's, what a shame. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this another day, once I'm over the shock of Dar's resignation.



Post a Comment

<< Home