Last month, I had to have two chest x-rays as part of my annual physical. As I waited for the technician to see if what he had was all right, I noticed on the door a sign stating that anyone who is pregnant should notify the technician. Below it, in Spanish, was the word for "pregnant": embarazado. What an unusual choice of words. The Spanish word means literally "embarrassed." How does that relate to being pregnant? Strange.
As long as I’m talking about words, here’s another: the modern penchant for using "impact" as a verb. Nearly every newscaster now uses it to mean "to effect," as in to bring about or cause changes. But "impact" is most often used as a noun equivalent of "effect." So, when they say, "The vote in the Senate will impact medical costs for years," they really mean it will "have an effect on medical costs for years." Just another example of the way our language continues to grow and change. But is it always for the better?
The Barbra Streisand tv special last spring was very special indeed. I guess I expected her at 67 not to be as good as she was twenty years ago. Wrong. Same pipes, same absolute pitch, same ability to sustain a note forever. She's sixty-seven. Where does she get off singing just as well now as then? And she absolutely captivated the audience. Yes, I know, the audience was made up of show biz people who were paying her homage because they feared her or hated her or loved her, and the rest of the low-lives who sprang for the price of a ticket were her army of adorees. From what I've heard of her in the business, she's a bitch to work for or with. Doesn't seem to matter. She's still the best at what she does: sing a song so perfectly no one else wants to try it, sell the lyrics so dramatically we all tend to weep at the meaning or the beauty, hit every note right on the button. Now, to demonstrate what I said about her sustaining a note, find this one from Yentl, "A Piece of Sky." Take out a stop watch and time the last note. Twenty seconds. Unbelievable. You should try it for yourself, hum a note softly and see how long you can hold it. If you get to fifteen I'll be surprised, and that's just a soft hum. Now try one full blast and hope you get to ten.