Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day, French, Al, And Karl

Al Franken

Karl Malden

Happy Canada Day (or Fête du Canada, in French), dear readers, the first of July, 2009! If you're reading this it means you are probably alive. Congratulations on making it to today! Well done!
Our Canadian neighbors celebrate on this day the joining of four provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec, into a Federation on July 1st, 1867, ostensibly separating it from the British Empire, although Great Britain retained rights of political control way up until 1982.
Speaking of French, my lovely case manager, Erin, while walking back from the Hippie Kitchen, mentioned to me that one of her goals was to take a local collage course in order to learn French... the language, not the salad dressing.
"Why French?" I asked her, "as opposed to Chinese, or Gaelic?"
"Because it's a beautiful language," stated my ascetically minded case manager.
"I agree," I told her.
A lot of people currently living on this planet speak French. Over 100 million as a first language, mostly in France of all places, almost twice that many as a second language, and about another 200 million as an acquired language, in over 54 countries, Canada being one of them.
Erin, after learning the language, would be in the acquired category, making the figure 200,001. She already speaks Spanish, which helped her survive her awful cilantro ordeal within the dense jungles of Ecuador (see, The Cooking Club). I speak no foreign languages as I'm still working on English.
"I think I've lost the ability to learn another language," I told her. "Usually, the brains of babies and small children are the most adept at learning languages."
"That's true, I agree," she replied. "But I still think you can learn."
Being the helpful individual that I am, I downloaded a set of 90 French lessons (the language, not the dressing) for her so she could get a head start learning French. I used my very last blank DVD disk to burn said lessons, and I knew something was weird after burning it, as my DVD maker wanted to keep making the DVD over and over again, something it had never done before.
However, the DVD worked on my computer, so I gave it to Erin, and asked her to take it home and see if it loaded onto her computer.
In a witless fit of bravado I sent an Email to Erin in which I told her that if the disk did not load onto her computer, and she was unable to use it, to bring it back as it did work on my computer, thus forcing me to have a French Off with her, to see who would learn to speak French fluently the fastest.
Of course the disk did not load on her home computer (something about it being a Zip file), it didn't even work on the computer in her office. So she gave it back to me.
Now I have to learn French, damn it!
I have to admit I have a head start. From reading the great James Clavell novel, Whirlwind, I know what the word, "Merde," means. I won't go into it.
Interesting news for the Democrats yesterday. One time Saturday Night Live writer and performer, and Air America Radio host, Al Franken, won his bid to become the Junior Senator from Minnesota, in a close, contested race, seven months after the election. This gives the Democrats a 60 to 40, filibuster proof majority in the Senate. I say interesting news, rather than good, or great news for the Democrats, because now they have no excuse not to get things done. In other words, they can't blame the Republicans for being obstructionists (which they are) and blocking their endeavors, and in the process making the Democrats own, and be responsible for the legislation they pass. In an ironic twist, Franken's arrival will prompt the timid Democrats to do things beneficial for the country, while at the same time pressuring them to not take action in order to avoid making any mistakes. Did I mention that this country is insane?
I used to listen to Al's show on Air America everyday (Thom Hartmann has since taken over his 9 to noon time slot). I've read most of his books, which I highly recommend. And we agree on most issues. I even contributed to his campaign (stop asking me for money, Al) I wish he were my Senator, rather than this Feinstein woman. I remember clearly on the last segment of his last show, February 14th of 2007, when he announced his intentions to run for the Senate. Well, it seems to have worked out and you've won! Congratulations!! I know you will do a great job for the people of Minnesota and the country, and drive Bill O'Reilly completely f- -king bug nuts (albeit, it will be difficult to tell. I noticed he wasn't on the air last night. Come on back, Bill, Al won't hurt you. I just want to hear you say the words, "Senator Franken").
And lastly, I've just heard that Hollywood has lost another of its truly great stars, Karl Malden. A former steel worker who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in, A Streetcar Named Desire. He was also nominated for his portrayal of the priest, Father Corrigan, in, On the Waterfront, both performances when working with Marlon Brando as the lead. Interestingly, and not a little bit bizarre, Karl and Marlon both died on July 1st (Brando in 2004).
Karl Malden died of natural causes, surrounded by his family, at his home here in Los Angeles. He was 97 years old.
A warning. If I were a famous celebrity here in LA with as much as a sniffle, I'd get out of town fast. They're dropping like flies around here.

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