This is when I usually announce the date of the March of Dimes Walkathon. This year, for some reason, it will not be taking place the last Sunday in April.

Optimistically, mid-May.

Hopefully not in the summer when it’ll probably be 110 degrees every day because, when this Coronavirus thing has gone, Climate Change is still waiting its turn to kill us all.


  1. A real talent. Grover Dale starred in The Young Girls of Rochefort, a wonderful film to watch if you have some time. It can be streamed on http://www.criterionchannel.com . Maybe elsewhere too. In this trailer, Mr. Dale is most often seen wearing a blue shirt and blue necktie. He appears with George Chikaris (orange shirt and tie). Both of them had their dialogue dubbed into French by other actors. However, I understand there is an English version of the film out there, where it is the French actors who are dubbed. I’ve only seen the French one. Anyway, I really liked the film. Yes, that is Gene Kelly in a supporting role.

  2. Olivier, I think there would be less consternation about that in 1967 than there would be now. People like to apply their woke sensibilities to everything. Kids getting into the booze and zonking themselves out is not a new idea from the olden days.

    My friends and I all watched it and had a discussion and some could not get past the portrayal of relationships and gender roles. Well, you know, that’s romantic comedy for you. And it is a musical, obviously a fantasy, so I don’t think it’s fair to hold it to the same standard as a drama. My friends also commented on the 25 year old “young girl” falling for a 55-year-old Gene Kelly. I think that was just a matter of that’s how old Gene Kelly was and he was actually supposed to be younger. Maybe 35. Perhaps 40. But whatever. They also commented on how the mum would send strangers to the school to pick up Booboo to bring him back home. To be fair, though, that was mentioned in the film as a potentially questionable choice.

  3. @SB: thanks, and I agree. Next, you can try “Les parapluies de Cherbourg”(=The umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964) or “Pas sur la bouche”(=Not on the lips, 2004, with Darry Cowl).

  4. @ Olivier – Have you ever seen “Le Bonheur est dans le Pré” ? If so, I’d be interested in your opinion.

  5. Kilby, I have opinions too! 😦

    Olivier, I saw Umbrellas earlier, which is why I was keen that my friends and I watch Young Girls. They’re different, as you now, with Umbrellas having more melancholy and being more an operetta, with everything being sung. Demy’s use of colour in these two films is masterful. I’ve been watching a lot of black and white films and marvelling at the skill that some directors and DPs have with it. Rarely do you see someone so conscious in how they use colour.

    I haven’t seen Not on the lips and it isn’t on The Criterion Channel, though they do have several other films from Resnais on there.

  6. @ SingaporeBill – If you’ve seen the film I mentioned, you are welcome to chime in, but I asked for Olivier’s opinion because he may have seen it in the original French. I saw it in a theater when it was originally released (in German, it was called “Das Glück liegt in der Wiese“). When I finally got the DVD, I was very disappointed to discover that the German translation was only available in dubbed form (I would have preferred to watch it in French with German subtitles). The DVD does offer English, too, of course; in fact, it has two independent translations: one spoken (dubbed), and a slightly different text version for the subtitles, but both are a bit fractured, as if a French translator convinced the studio, “Heck no, you don’t need to hire a Brit to do this, I’ll write you a translation that will be just as good at half the price!
    P.S. The DVD version of “Allegro Non Troppo” has exactly the same kind of English subtitles, except that it was an incompetent Italian instead of a Frenchman who wrote them.

  7. No, Kilby, I have not seen it.

    But speaking of subs: Because Young Girls has an English version, the English subtitles for the songs when they are being sung in French actually scan well as they are the English lyrics created to be sung in the English version.

    I bought a Japanese pressing of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid when I lived in Japan (early-mid 90s, pre-ubiquitous-Internet) and found the lyrics in the liner notes appear to have been transcribed by a Japanese college student who was a solid “B” student in English.

  8. @SB: too bad, “Pas sur la bouche” is very good.
    @Kilby: “Le bonheur est dans le pré” is all right; same premises as “The scapegoat” by Daphne DuMaurier.
    @both: Polish dubbing is the most hilarious (some guy reading the translation in a monocorde over the dialogs).

  9. Olivier, I will keep my eyes open. I may find it elsewhere or it may come onto TCC.

    Monocorde = monotone in English.

  10. @SB: thanks. I wasn’t sure and since Spellcheck didn’t flinch, I didn’t question it further.

  11. That’s odd. “Monocorde” is not an English word at all, in any sense. I would expect your spellcheck to flag it. It was easy to understand what you meant from context and do a quick check on it. Google says “monocorde” is an adjective meaning “monotonous”, but the noun “monotone” works much better in the sentence you wrote.

    That’s the thing about the multilingual I’ve noticed. Unless you’re very rude about it, they are always happy to be corrected on usage. I guess that’s how they get to be so good.

  12. @SB: thanks again. Actually, the acme of my colloquial English-speaking days was in 1996: I could fool the natives of Alfred, NY. Since then, lack of practice and my discovery of English literature (starting with Chaucer in 1997) have led to a constant deterioration. Writing is easier because I can check and edit, when I’m not too lazy and trust Spellcheck.

  13. @Olivier: that’s quite an impressive accomplishment, to be able to fool the natives. Even though my mother’s side of the family is Brasilian, I didn’t learn Portuguese until my 20s when I lived there, and I have an unshakable accent; a while ago I had a text that I was recording in the style of a “coming attractions” announcer, and even though I could hear in my head exactly what it should sound like, repeated takes always disappointed me when I listened to the playback.
    Even with German, my first language, I have to warm it up and put it through its paces for a couple days before I can go back to “fooling the natives”, having lived outside Germany for so long and rarely using it….
    My wife learned English in her teens, and I think it’s pretty damn good, but she tells me she’s never able to fool the natives, even though we live in a very diverse part of the US where practically everyone has an accent of some kind (even the natives!). Then again, I was surprised at how stratified the various groups in this area can be: we attended a pig roast in literally the next town over, but the next town over is a very working class kind of town, and we were immediately pegged as not belonging there, which was a very weird experience and not my typical American experience — that kind of fine social stratification I’m used to in Germany, even Brasil, but not in the US…

  14. A couple of funny stories about sounding like a native:

    My wife, who is ethnic Chinese, born and raised in Singapore, speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently (though English is her first language). She had to spend several weeks in Beijing, China in 2001. She would go shopping in the markets for things. The product of one such shopping trip was 20 designer knock-off neckties for me. I think she got them for either 10 Singapore dollars or maybe 20. Not more than 20. There had been a lot of conversation as she shopped, discussing the product and haggling on the price.

    After the deal was transacted, it came up in the conversation that she was from Singapore and she could see the shopkeepers face drop as they realized they had given her the price for locals and not the price they charge to tourists. Her Singaporean colleagues, ethnic Chinese who speak Mandarin but with an accent, got 3 neckties for $10. She said this happened on many occasions, where the locals assumed she was one of them. At least from the PRC, if not Beijing.

    Even at my best I was never fluent in Japanese. However, I had studied it in university before I moved to Japan and I learned some more about using the language from living there. My professor had been very strict on oral drills and weekly tests where we were graded on pronunciation. It’s actually not a very difficult language to pronounce and I have a very good accent.

    I was working as an assistant English teacher in junior high schools, employed by the city board of education. The teachers all sat in a big room together when not in class. Nobody had their own phone on their desk. There was a communal phone in the staff room and when it rang either the office lady would answer it or whoever was closest to it would grab it. One day, everyone else was off at a meeting that I was not required to attend. The phone rang. It rang several times and it became clear nobody else was going to pick it up. So I did. I knew what to say to identify the school and the basics. It wasn’t much, but I did it so well that the caller then launched into a rapid fire of what they wanted. I explained that I am the English teacher and to please wait. Then I went in search of the office lady.

    Compare that to the time, shortly after my arrival, when I approached a man on a platform in the train station and asked him if the train there went to the city I wanted to go to. Textbook stuff and I nailed it. I had to repeat it because he had convinced himself he wouldn’t understand me when he saw me approaching. He confirmed, on the second attempt, that it was the correct train.

    As for my accent, I’ve lived in three different provinces in Canada, then in Japan, where I needed to speak very clearly and precisely for the benefit of my students, and then many more years in Singapore where their English is…different. I imagine the accent is a bit of a mish-mash now.

  15. SBill: I believe that about Japanese convincing themselves you can’t speak — I’ve had that happen to me in Brasil, so I imagine it must be worse in Japan. The city I lived in, despite being the third biggest city, does not have much if any tourism, so foreigners are not that common, and I didn’t look local (I could if I really tried, but aside from clothing differences (everything ironed, even casual jeans and t-shirts, shoes sparkling white), there is just the bearing and way of walking — I can fake it, maybe, but it’s a lot of effort to consciously keep it up, so I look foreign. And thus, as you say, the locals would convince themselves that what was coming out of my mouth could not possibly be fluent Portuguese.

  16. Two minor datapoints:

    I took three years of French (one in high school, two in college) and have used it only once in real life: at a Francophone book store in Canada, bringing an item up to the counter and asking “Combien?”/ (And I’m pretty sure the clerk spoke English also, anyway.) So: three years study for use of one (optional, dispensible) word.

    In a visit to Australia in 1975, a mixed group was asked by a server “Tea or coffee?” I’d been visiting long enough to believe I could fake the accent, and strangulated something vaguely like “Tay, plaze.” She brought me coffee; obviously realizing that (a) I was American and (b) Americans drink coffee and (c) I wasn’t fooling anybody. (The scariest thing was I actually wanted coffee anyway, but was just trying to Fit In.)

  17. @larK: I was so good that nobody at the hardware store understood why I wanted a soft shoulder sign (no native in their right mind would buy that, apparently). I had to explain I wanted to bring it back to France and then, since puzzlement went on, plainly say I was French. Same for rides offered while I was walking everywhere: I wouldn’t be left alone until I had explained I was French: natives are not supposed to walk anywhere either. Otherwise, it was pretty cool: I could go anyplace and fit in right away; lots of good memories.
    Now, I can still parrot my way for a while, but it’s too much of a strain, so I do it just long enough to get people’s attention, then revert to my – very strong – French accent (it drives my American cousins crazy but made people laugh a lot in England).

  18. That is truly fascinating about the accent Olivier; I would never have thought it works that way, that it’s something you could do but is too much work to keep up. Although interestingly I made more or less the same observation about keeping up the mien and bearing — I never would have connected that to speaking, but now it seems sort of obvious.
    I guess having grown up bilingually, I expect language performance to just be something you fall back into, that there never was a performative strain to it — my German gets better naturally the more I use it, wake up those old neural pathways, and even though I might begin with an accent, it falls away as I use it, naturally. So maybe my whole approach to Portuguese is wrong, in that I keep expecting it to naturally get better all on its own; maybe I need to consciously strive to “perform” it (though, as I said, the one time I really consciously did that for a recording, I was less than impressed with my results…)

  19. @larK: I remember, coming back home to France after several months in the US, that my jaw and tongue felt all wrong speaking French. And if I want my accent to be good immediately, I just have to imitate the voice of the GPS (radio announcers, in the past), but then, I forget the vocabulary: I can’t think about that while thinking about my accent.

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