Side effects may include: corncob pipe, eyes of coal, and the thumpetty thump thump (I made no cracks about 'snow balls' because I am classy).
I do not have any particular problem with The Toronto Star - I just happen to be a nasty-minded, self-appointed critic of the honest work that other people do and get paid for. And because they're often paid for honest work that happens to be insensitive or ill-advised, my mind stays nasty.

This time, it's Karen von Hahn, a fashion columnist for The Star, who's wowed me with an inspired turn of phrase. Of Canadians in winter-time, she writes:

"...because we are all as overdressed as toddlers going out to play in the snow at recess, we lose the spring in our step, shuffling along like overmedicated mental patients and slouching in our many dull-coloured layers like sulky teenagers."

While I admire her attempt to pack as many similes into one sentence as possible, and I admit that teenagers can indeed be sulky, the mental patients angle seems a bit off. How off? As off as under-medicated mental patients, of course. And what's almost as disquieting as the fact that von Hahn thinks things that might be insensitive (and I'm thinking more of the feelings of the mental patients than of scarf-wearing Canadians) is the fact that she then proceeds to share them. Which brings me to my new acronym: INSTALS. INSTALS stands for "if not sensitive, then at least sensible." 

How often have you watched the news and thought: "if you're dishonest enough that you're going to cheat on your wife, at least don't do it by sending shirtless photos of yourself to a stranger on Craiglist and using your own name, making it easy for her to google you and find out you're a two-term Republican congressman"?

If you're not going to be sensitive enough to refrain from committing adultery, at least be sensible enough to use an alias and hire a professional. If you're not able to be sensitive enough to refrain from thinking that bundled-up Canadians look a lot like sedated mental patients, at least be sensible enough to refrain from saying so. 

Although I admit I'm looking forward to summer, when no doubt van Hahn will write something about spirited, under-dressed, warm-weather Canadians capering about as though they're jumpy, crack-addled whores.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.

2/20/2011 04:46:50 am

"Although I admit I'm looking forward to summer, when no doubt van Hahn will write something about spirited, under-dressed, warm-weather Canadians capering about as though they're jumpy, crack-addled whores."

She's way ahead of you.

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