Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.16.07
Stanstead, Quebec


Mister Positive

It's come to my attention that I've seemed overly crusty in my writing lately. I guess that column on corporal punishment for wayward kittens was going too far.

So this week, in keeping with the new ultra-mature headshot accompanying this column, I've decided to strive for a more positive attitude.

Our local Caisse Populaire recently held a contest to name its newsletter. The winning entry was "EchoCaisse," which is a swell name. It works in French and English, and "echo" implies "return," and isn't that what you want from a financial institution, returns?

I'm not at all bitter that they didn't pick the name I entered: "Caisse Sera Sera." I'm sure they had their reasons. Better luck next time, eh?

Clichés get a bad rap. I like to think of them as the pennies of our language currency - handy in small amounts but unwelcome when you throw a pocketful on the counter. Moderation is key.

So when I see a newspaper use the phrase "white stuff" to mean "snow" (as in "The Townships was blanketed with half a centimetre of the white stuff yesterday, causing widespread panic as new crews raced to milk stories out of a natural phenomenon"), I don't think they're lazy. I just think they're showing all aspects of our versatile language.

So go ahead, start that story with "Mother Nature unleashed her wrath yesterday" - although when you think about it that's not a very motherly thing to do.

I like my new glasses. I think they make me look younger. And smarter. And taller. I've had one person say they make me look more epistemological but the jury's still out on that.

And the friend who used the term "weasel-y," well, he's not much of a friend, is he?

Many people call George W. Bush stupid. These are usually the same people who have bumper stickers that read, "Damn right I'm bitter about Kerry."

This perception has a lot to do with some of the unfortunate slips of the tongue the two-term (yes, two-term!) U.S. president has had, such as his comment last October that "One has a stronger hand when there's more people playing your same cards."

But just you try speaking in public. It's tough. It reminds me of poor Dan Quayle, Bush Senior's vice-president, who was mocked mercilessly for misspelling "potato" at an elementary school spelling bee. But Quayle was under a lot of pressure; school children are vicious. They'll pounce on any weakness or exposed ankle.

Quayle was also lambasted for criticizing television character Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock. I'm not sure he actually said "wedlock" but that was the Salem-esque sentiment.

In hindsight, Quayle may have been onto something in criticizing Murphy Brown. Have you seen the reruns? Candace Bergen's acting was really quite offensive.

My point is that we hold our elected officials up to such scrutiny that it is a rare leader who can come away unscathed. I'm sure we'll all be happier with Mr. Bush once he's out of office.

It's not very well known but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has exceptionally creamy skin.

Despite an earlier unfortunate experience with Cracked Pepper and Lime potato chips, the other day I picked up a bag of Lay's Spicy Curry. The back of the bag said "Canada is proud of its multicultural diversity and embraces food and culture from around the world," so I felt I had to buy it. It was my duty as a Canadian.

I'm looking forward to other multicultural condiment-based entries in this chip series - perhaps Freaky Tzatziki or Positively Hoisin-ful.

I'm glad that, like Canada, the chip industry accommodates all tastes, including people who crave sock-flavoured snacks.

I love kittens!