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Bowling for Columbine (Documentary) ( 2002) 2003 by Raymond Weschler Major Characters

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Comparing the US and Canada.

I hit the streets of New York to find out what the average

American thought about our friendly neighbors to the North.

A colloquial way of saying to use, or in this case, walk on.

Hordes of young boys all throughout Canada

eagerly await the next Hollywood bloodbath.

A “horde” is a large group of loud or perhaps aggressive people.

To do something “eagerly” is to it with great passion or enthusiasm.

A lot of girls showing cleavage.

The sexy area of a female body between her two breasts.
There’s no poverty in Canada.

An important word for the state of being poor or indigent.

The best estimate is somewhere in the region of 7,000,000 guns.

A complicated way of saying “about.”

Canada was one gun-loving, gun-toting, gun crazy country.

“To tote” a gun is to carry it, but this verb is rarely used.

They broke in, stole some booze, some cigarettes and they left.

I figured it must have been some teenagers out to have a little fun.

“To break in” to a house is to forcefully enter it, usually with the intention

of stealing something. “Booze” is another word for liquor or alcohol.

In this case, “to figure” is to think or guess.
I’ve had people try and vandalize my home and steal from me.

To “vandalize” is to intentionally damage or even destroy property.

I went unannounced to a neighborhood in

Toronto to see if the unlocked door thing is true.

To go to a place “unannounced” is to go there

without telling anybody ahead of time.

Sorry about the intrusion. :: No problem.

An “intrusion” is the act of entering into a place without permission,

or perhaps the act of bothering a person who would prefer to be alone.
And thank you for not shooting me.

One of the great lines of this film; “To shoot”

a person is to fire at them with a gun.
We’ll certainly listen to them courteously and carefully.

To do something “courteously” is to do it with respect and kindness.

They have assistance for their parents when

they’re elderly and need to be in an old-age home.

“Elderly” is another word for old (over 65?), or for a senior citizen.
You don’t win by beating up on people who can’t defend themselves. That’s

the approach spreading in some right-wing governments across America.

“To beat up on” a person is to attack them or treat them very poorly.

In this case, an “approach” is an attitude or policy, and if it’s “spreading,”

it is expanding or growing over more and more areas. If a government

is “right-wing,” it is very conservative.

They pick on people who can’t defend themselves. They’re giving financial

support and tax benefits and tax breaks to people who don’t need them.

“To pick on” a person is to either physically or psychologically threaten them or make them feel weak or vulnerable. A “tax break” is a rule or law that allows a person or business to pay less taxes than they normally would have to.
I asked him "Can you at least take me to a Canadian

slum?"…This is what a ghetto looks like in Canada.

A “slum” is an area of very poor housing and people, and a “ghetto” is the same thing, though it can also refer to an area where people of the same minority group live, even if not poor.

Is that the same mentality…that says if somebody

gets sick, they should be able to have health care?

“Mentality” is an excellent word that means a way of thinking.
The segregation is definitely much more intensified in the States.

“Segregation” is the act of separating people from one another, especially people of different races (blacks, whites, etc.). “Intense” means marked by extreme energy, determination or degree (Intensified is not really a word, but it may be one day!)

That’s how they resolve everything.

“To resolve” a problem is to solve it.

Canada is more like "Let’s negotiate, let’s work something

out, where the States is like "We’ll just kill you."

Note the use of the filler word “like,” which is meaningless, but much loved by young people. “To negotiate” is to bargain, or argue over prices. “To work something out” is to come to an agreement. Outside of the US, the US is often just called “the States.”

Another School, Another tragedy.

I have a student at Buell school who has been downed.

A horrible colloquial word that means shot, or perhaps even killed.
Please, Lord.

Another word for God that people will use when very emotional.

A six year old, 6th grade boy at Buell Elementary had found a gun at his

uncle’s house , where he was staying because his mother was being evicted.

An “Elementary school” is for students up to about 12 years old.

If a renter is “evicted” from their house, they are physically forced

out by the landlord.
As if the city had not been through enough horror and tragedy

in the last two decades, it was now home to a new record.

“To go through” a lot of tragedy is to experience it. Here, a “record” is

a fact or statistic that has never been equaled anywhere else (In this case, the youngest school shooter in the country, at six years old).

It only took the news helicopters and satellite

trucks half an hour to show up on the scene.

A “satellite truck” is a news truck that broadcasts through satellites, which are communication devices that float in space. “To show up” somewhere is to arrive there, and the “scene” of an event is the actual location where it took place.

Leave your mike on.

A “mike” is short for a microphone, which allows

a person to speak loudly to a large audience.
A public memorial service….we’re expecting hundreds

of people. They will mourn the loss of Little Kayla.

If an event is “public,” it is open to the public or people in general (whereas if it is private, it is open to only those specifically invited).

A “memorial service” is an informal type of funeral to honor the person who has died. “To mourn” a person is to take the time to feel great sadness or loss after they have died.

A tiny little girl who loved pizza, teddy bears.

“Tiny” means very small (and is often used in the expression “tiny little”).

A “teddy bear” is a much loved, soft and cute toy bear for children.
We’re having technical problems.

Any problem related to technology, such as computers and telephones.

Some are too choked up to even speak about it.

If a person is “choked up” about something,

they are too emotional to talk about it.
I have hurricane-proof hair spray.

If something is “hurricane-proof,” it is strong enough to survive a hurricane (which is a huge and very powerful storm). “Hair spray” is a type of cosmetic that is used by spraying tiny drops of perfumed water

on people’s hair.
Today we’re feeding CNN and Fox.

When a local TV station “feeds” a national network, it allows the networks to broadcast their own news coverage (CNN and Fox News

are two well known national cable news networks).
If they had ventured just a block away from the school or funeral home, they

might have seen a different kind of tragedy that would contain some answers…

“To venture” to a place is to go there, often as an adventure to see what it is like. A “city block” is the section of houses or other buildings that are found between two streets.

This impoverished area in the hometown of the world’s largest

corporation had been ignored as completely as it had been destroyed.

If an area is “impoverished,” it is extremely poor. Here, the corporation that Moore is talking about is GM, or General Motors, which is the biggest American car company, and its hometown is Detroit, Michigan.

With 87% of students living below the official poverty lineFlint did not fit

in the accepted and widely circulated story line put forth by the nation’s media.

The “official poverty line” is the amount of money a person or family has to make in order to not be considered poor (In the US, for a family of four, it’s now close to $17,000). Flint is a struggling industrial town about an hour North of Detroit. If a story is “widely circulated,” it is known or heard in many places. A “story line” is a general description of a situation, in this case of the wealth of the average American. If a story is “put forth” by the media, it is created and distributed by them.
That being the one about America and its invincible economy.

It something is “invincible,” it is impossible to defeat.

They had never won a track meet.

A sporting event in which many schools or athletes compete

in such things as short and long-distance running.
Someone named the streets….after all the Ivy League schools.

A group of excellent universities on the East Coast, including Harvard and Yale (Named after the ivy plants that grow on their buildings).

Faculty and staff are doing well, but we don’t forget.

In a school, the “faculty” refers to its teachers and the “staff” refers

to the other employees who work in offices and help run the school.
Freedom has never seen greater peril nor needed

you more urgently to come to her defense, then now.

“Peril” is a powerful word for great risk or danger. If something

is needed “urgently,” it is needed as quickly as possibly.

To me, it’s like they’re rubbing our nose in it.

“To rub a person’s nose” in a situation is to force them to look at something that is extremely uncomfortable for them, or more generally, to show great insensitivity (As in the case here, when the NRA held loud pro-gun rallies in the towns of students who had been murdered).

I was shocked and appalled that they were coming.

To be “appalled” by something is to be shocked and disgusted by it.

And then Moses himself showed up, right here in the city of Flint.

A reference to the fact that the actor Charleston Heston played

the biblical figure Moses in the film The Ten Commandments.
Those people who wanted to try this child…even as an adult.

“To try” a person is to put them on trial for a crime, and if you try a child “as an adult,” they are considered adults in the eyes of the law, and thus could face adult punishment if convicted of the crime.

People I call gun nuts, writing me what a horrible thing that I had admonished homeowners…to be careful about bringing weapons into their home.

A “gun nut” is a person who is crazy about guns. “To admonish” a

person to do something is to give strongly felt, sincere or earnest advice.
They wanted this little boy hung from the highest tree.

There was such an undercurrent of racism and hate and anger.

If a person is “hung” for a crime, they are killed by putting a rope around their neck and letting them hang. An “undercurrent” is a public feeling, belief or tendency that is just below the surface.
I gave him some crayons and stuff to occupy him a little bit.

“Crayons” are colored markers for children. “Stuff” is a widely used word for things in general. In this case, “to occupy” a person is to entertain or distract them so they have something to do while passing the time.

Why did you decide to hang on to it? :: Because of

the gravity of the situation and what had occurred.

“To hang on to” something is to keep it. The “gravity”

of a situation is its seriousness or importance.

Tamalas was forced to work as part of Michigan’s welfare-to-work program.

A government policy designed to force people who receive welfare

or public assistance money to start working for the money they receive.
The program was so successful in tossing poor people off welfare, that its founder was soon hired by the #1 firm in the country that states turn to….

“To toss a person off” of welfare is to force them off. The “founder”

of a program is the person who created it. In this context a “firm” is a company, and “to turn to” a company is to ask for their help.

….to prioritize their welfare systems.

“To prioritize” a project is to make it a top priority or subject of concern, so that you will put the time and effort needed to effectively deal with it.

With the Cold War over and no enemy left to frighten the

public, Lockheed had found the perfect way to diversify.

The “Cold War” was the period of great competition between the US and the Soviet Union (Russia), from about 1945-1990. “To frighten” is to scare, and to “to diversify,” in this case, is to enter into a variety of businesses.

What’s the point in doing that?

“Why would you want to do that?”

Everybody I know personally works out here in the mall.

A giant building that contains a large number of individual stores.

She worked two jobs; She was trying to make ends meet.

If a person is “trying to make ends meet,” they are desperately

trying to make just enough money to be able to survive.
She worked as a fountain person, making drinks, shakes, desserts.

In certain fast food restaurants, the “fountain” is where drink made of ice cream are made. A “shake” is a common way to refer to a milk shake.

Dick Clark is an American icon.

An “icon” is a well known symbol of a culture (Dick Clark is a famous

media personality who helped promote rock music on TV in the 1950s).
As Dick says, it’s the soundtrack of our lives.

A “soundtrack” is the music that is used in a movie.

She was on a state bus to go serve drinks and make fudge for rich people.

A delicious type of soft, creamy candy, often made of chocolate.

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