By Tim Whyte
You’re gonna take a walk in the rain
And you’re gonna get wet
You’re gonna eat a bowl of chow mein
And be hungry real soon.
— Lyrics, “I Predict”
by Sparks, 1982
As a prognosticator, I always felt a certain kinship with that awful song by the 1980s one-hit wonder, Sparks. The song’s opening lyrics were predictions of the well-duh variety:
Going out in the rain? Yep. Gonna get wet. That much, I can predict with certainty.
Ordering chow mein? Better get some orange chicken with that. And some honey walnut shrimp. Because the chow mein isn’t gonna do the whole job all by itself. Trust me.
But these sorts of predictions don’t exactly make one Carnac the Magnificent.
I was reminded of my prognosticative ineptitude as we come to the end of one year and the beginning of another, and I am of course contemplating this annual exercise in which columnists must do one of these three things:
1) Look back on the past year.
2) Make predictions for the next year.
3) Offer a series of New Year’s resolutions.
It’s in the rules. I have to do one of those things. It’s the end of 2018 and 2019 starts on Tuesday. All other column topics are off limits until I’ve done the obligatory New Year Thing.
Ugh. I’m really bad at this. Looking back on 2018, all that sticks out at me are a bunch of things I never would have predicted.
It ranges from little things, like who would win the Stanley Cup. (I really thought Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals would never get it done, and that made me happy. But then when they won, I was happy for them, and I never would have predicted THAT.)
It also includes major events in my own life — like coming back to The Signal. If you’d asked me on Jan. 1, 2018, if I’d be the editor of The Signal a year later, I would have laughed and asked if you’d been visiting a downtown dispensary lately.
And the election. Sure, I could have seen the Democrats’ takeover of the House coming a mile away. But two legislative seats, right here in the ol’ Republican stronghold that is northern L.A. County, flipping to Democrats? Yes, I thought it was possible, but if I had been betting on it, I’d have predicted the GOP incumbents would hold on by slim margins.
Good thing I don’t gamble.
And then there’s the local political stuff. A couple weeks back, when the Santa Clarita City Council gave us the gift of a highly entertaining argument over which of them would be the next mayor, only to fall back on their generally understood rotation that gave the gavel to Marsha McLean for 2019, I confess. I didn’t see it coming.
But hey. Surprises are fun sometimes.
So, based on my quick review of 2018, I can rightly conclude that it’s relatively pointless for me to try to predict anything in 2019. Who’s winning the Super Bowl? No idea.
Will I predict that Alabama will lose in the college football playoffs? Nope. I’m superstitious. I really really really want them to lose and I’m afraid that if I predict it, it won’t happen.
Who’s the next mayor of Santa Clarita? Cripes, Cameron Smyth is in line — but we’ve already established that those council members are an unpredictable bunch.
It’s clear that I’m not much of a prognosticator. And resolutions? Geez. I’ve got a few, but none that I want to put into print. Let’s just say there a LOT of ways I can try to do better.
So that’s that. I am shirking my New Year’s duties as a columnist. No predictions. No resolutions. Sorry.
But I will wish you, dear reader, a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019. Who knows what it will bring? Let’s embrace unpredictability and enjoy the surprises.
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal. His column appears Sundays.