"Al Bundy," Kamensky said with a thick Russian accent. "I learned a lot from him. That was a good show to learn English."
--Denver Post, November 20, 1996
This was one of the more curious statistics surrounding the initial years of the Colorado Avalanche: at least two players, Valeri Kamensky and Sandis Ozolinsh, got their primary initial English instruction from watching "Married With Children." Ozolinsh also got some from "Alf." Maybe Alexei Gusarov did too, but he was famous for not talking to the press too much.
I'm lousy with languages, and as stated a bunch of times, I'd like to learn Czech. But I mean "learn" in the sense of "wake up one day and be magically fluent in." I'm starting to think that isn't working.
It's looking like I'll have a lot of free time this autumn, though, with no local hockey team and possibly no NFL, so it might be an opportunity to put my nose to the grindstone (or as Google Translate says they say in Czech, "položil jsem nos do brus"). But I've tried just about all the major language-learning companies (except Rosetta Stone, who unaccountably don't offer Czech -- seriously, Rosetta Stone, you're telling me Welsh is more useful than Czech? Seriously?) and they've ended up collecting dust.
So tonight I tried the Kamensky route. I have a number of Czech DVDs -- a whole bunch of hockey stuff, and Miloš Forman's "Loves of a Blonde." The latter would obviously be the best choice -- trained actors speaking clearly, subtitles as needed. Instead I went with the HC České Budějovice 2004-05 highlight DVD. It has two undisputed highlights:
An opening commercial featuring a Budvar/Czechvar bottle skating and unleashing a slapshot, which has great spiritual significance for me and at least one reader of this blog...
...and Radek Dvořák (left) looking like the dude at the Quik Trip who's really eager to tell you why "Powerslave" is the best album ever.
Anyway, no suspense, watching hockey highlight videos apparently doesn't teach you Czech.
* * *
A making-me-feel-old aside: Kamensky's son is 22 years old and playing hockey in one of the lower Swiss leagues. What happened to my youth?