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Tuesday - March 31, 2015

Headline English: A Video Experiment

I’m trying a little video experiment today. I decided today that instead of writing my blog post, I’d just shoot a little video. I did this first thing this morning, as I was drinking my morning coffee (and before I shaved, as you’ll see!). I love reading the newspapers when I drink my coffee, so I combined all of that with a little lesson about the English that appears in some of today’s headlines.

I recorded it on my iPad, edited in a video editing app right on my tablet (iMovie), then published it to YouTube. The whole thing took less time than it normally takes me to write a post, although I did have a little trouble getting the YouTube connection to work.

So, there you go! Tell me what you think.

~Jeff

UPDATE: I just realized that I misspelled the name of the U.K. Labor Party leader in the video. It should be “Miliband.”

 


Sunday - March 29, 2015

Podcasts This Week (March 30, 2015)

icon_51812Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, you’ll get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1090 – Speaking About the Future

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “forward-thinking” and “to go back in time.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Back-to-the-Land Movement.”
“The back-to-the-land ‘movement’ (interest by a growing number of people in doing something or changing society in some way)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 496

Topics: Ask an American – Digital music technology; It’s called being nice versus It’s called been nice; to stutter versus to stumble; mean

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Recording Artists Discovered on YouTube.”
“In the past, ‘aspiring singers or bands’ (people who want to become professional musicians) had to send ‘tapes’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1091 – Punishment Children

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to beat up” and “to ground.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Corporal Punishment in Schools.”
“In the past, schoolteachers commonly used corporal punishment to punish students for bad behavior…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - March 24, 2015

Behind The Secret Door

9679917702_ee7f516e28_bWhen you walk into the Blind Barber, you’ll find what you expect in a barbershop (a place for cutting men’s hair). You’ll see a barber and his customers. You’ll hear “the buzzing (sound) of the shavers (electrical tools for cutting hair) and the snips (sound) of the scissors.” But if you walk through the barbershop and through the door in the back you’ll find something completely different – a bar (a place where drinks are served) where you can order drinks and sandwiches. That is the real Blind Barber.

To get into Dirty Laundry, you have to walk down a dark alley (a narrow street behind buildings) until you see a black-dressed man sitting at the top of a dark stairway and say to him, “I’m looking for Dirty Laundry.” He’ll tell you, “You’ve come to the right place.” Behind the door at the bottom of the stairs, you’ll find a bar, a small room with tables, and another room where musicians perform.

When you arrive at Lock and Key, you’ll find a wall covered with old door knobs (handles you turn to open a door). If you choose the right one, a door will open and you can walk in. If you choose the wrong one, nothing happens unless the doorman helps you find the right one.

The Blind Barber, Dirty Laundry, and Lock and Key are popular modern speakeasies here in Los Angeles. They are a throw-back (similar to something in the past) to the 1920s. Let me tell you the story.

From 1920 to 1933, there was a ban (official order against something) – called Prohibition – against making, selling, and transporting (moving from one location to another) alcoholic drinks in the U.S.

The goal of Prohibition was to reduce social problems, such as crime and corruption (dishonest and illegal (against the law) behavior by powerful people in government and business) and to help increase production (the amount of work done) in factories by making sure that workers stayed sober (not drunk). Unfortunately, it didn’t work so well.

During Prohibition, one of the few places you could find alcoholic drinks was in speakeasies, underground (secret and illegal) businesses where people ate, drank, gambled, and enjoyed music, especially jazz.

Many speakeasies were started during Prohibition. Police tried to shut them down (stop or close them), but as fast as they found and closed one, another would take its place. To try to keep police from finding them, bartenders (people who fix drinks) and waiters (people who serve food) would tell their customers to “speak easy,” to be quiet while inside a speakeasy and to not say anything about them outside.

Today’s speakeasies are legal. And they may be more fad (popular for a short time) than trend (something that will continue). But they are one way to relive (experience again) a small piece of American history.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English web site.

 Credit: Eight modern speak-easy bars in L.A., for that insider feeling by Jenn Harris (with photos).

Photo of Club 21, a former speakeasy in New York, is used under Creative Commons License.


Sunday - March 22, 2015

Podcasts This Week (March 23, 2015)

icon_51812Get the full benefits of ESL Podcast by getting the Learning Guide. We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1088 – Selling a Business

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to sell up” and “to try (one’s) hand at.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Business Valuation.”
“Business valuation ‘comes into play’ (becomes relevant; is needed or necessary) whenever someone needs to know the ‘market value’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 495

Topics: Famous Americans – Jim Henson and The Muppets; The Doors; peculiar versus weird; ambiance versus environment; to wet (one’s) whistle

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Gumby.”
“‘Animation’ is a technique involving filming drawings or physical objects to show movement and action…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1089 – Unconventional Marriages

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “convention” and “to live apart.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Types of Weddings.”
“There are many types of ‘weddings’ (ceremonies that mark when two people get married to each other)….” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - March 17, 2015

The Invention of Tighty Whities

JockeyUnderwear635If you mention the term “tighty whities” to any American, they’ll know you’re talking about close-fitting underwear that men wear (see photo) that is most often found in the color white. The term “tighty whities” is an informal term for these briefs. While today men’s underwear is available in many shapes, lengths, and fits, tighty whities are considered classics and continue to be very popular.  (Note that we always use this term in the plural — “one pair of tighty whities,” just like we would say “one pair of pants.”)

In the U.S., tighty whities or briefs are a fairly recent invention (new creation). Before they came along (were created), men wore tight-fitting underwear that reached down to their knees in a soft warm material called “flannel,” and they were often called “flannels” or “drawers.” (There were also other types of men’s underwear, usually worn for warmth called union suits or long johns. While we still use the term “long johns” for warm underwear for men and women that reach down to the wrists and ankles, we don’t use the term “union suit” anymore.)

In 1935, a clothing designer and company executive (person with a high-level position in a company) named Arthur Kneibler received a postcard from a friend. Kneibler’s company made socks and underwear. The postcard he received was sent from a friend vacationing on the French Riviera, a popular place to visit with beautiful beaches. The postcard showed a man in a bathing suit popular in France at the time (see photo here). The tight-fitting lower section of the bathing suit inspired (caused someone to have an idea) Kneibler to invent the underwear you see above. The new underwear did not have legs — as drawers, long johns, and union suits had — but instead had a “Y”-shaped front for the fly, or the opening in the front of a man’s pants or underwear. This new brief gave men support, but was also comfortable.

The company called these new briefs “Jockeys” because of their resemblance to (appearance similar to) a jock strap. The new Jockeys went on sale on January 19, 1935 in a Chicago department store called Marshall Fields. The new underwear was displayed on a mannequin (life-size figure used to display clothes). It was a very cold and windy day and the store didn’t expect many customers. However, all 600 pairs of this new underwear were sold in just one day! Within three months, more than 30,000 pairs of briefs were being sold all over the country. And, as they say (as is popularly said), the rest is history (everyone knows what happened next).

It’s not clear when people started using “tighty whities” as a nickname for white briefs, but it’s almost always used jokingly. For this reason, you wouldn’t, for example, ask the salesperson at the store where you can find the tighty whities, but rather you would ask for “men’s briefs” or “men’s jockeys.” (You’ll want to specify men’s because we also describe women’s underwear with the terms “briefs” and “jockeys.”)

Now why am I talking about men’s underwear? Well, why not? Maybe Jeff or Warren will write a post about pantyhose one of these days.

– Lucy

From  gq.com


Sunday - March 15, 2015

Podcasts This Week (March 16, 2015)

icon_51812We are grateful to our members and donors, because we are only able to produce this podcast with the generous help of our listeners.

If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member today!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1086 – Giving Bribes to Children for Good Behavior

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “reward” and “dare.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Sharenting.”
“Parents are ‘proud’ (with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction related to something one has worked hard to do or create) …” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 494

Topics: American Authors – Jack London; Our Gang and The Little Rascals; gruesome versus horrible versus disgusting; son of a gun; to lash out

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Jack London Square and Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon.”
“Jack London Square is an entertainment and business area located along the water in Oakland, California…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1087 – Selecting Window Treatments

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to filter in” and “to call it a day.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Door-to-Door Sales.”
“In the past, especially before radio and television ads, “door-to-door sales” (the practice of having a sales person…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - March 10, 2015

The Return of Los Angeles’ Murals

1984_HerrónThe traffic on the 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles is so heavy (a large amount), that it’s difficult and dangerous to look around while you drive. But if you had been driving on the 101 recently, you might have seen artist Willie Herron up on a metal platform (something to stand on) pointing a high-pressure stream (continuous flow) of hot water at a gray-colored concrete freeway wall.

And if you had stopped to watch, you would have seen the gray paint on the freeway wall slowly disappear. In place of the paint, you would have seen Herron’s mural (a painting on a wall) Luchas del Mundo (Struggles of the World) slowly re-emerge (appear again) – by the way, that’s the mural in the photo.

Los Angeles is home to more than 1,500 murals. Each one tells you something about the history, experiences, values, and dreams of the people who live nearby. Mural-painting was probably introduced to the U.S. by artists of the Mexican Revolution, like Diego Rivera. In Los Angeles, the first mural was painted by Mexican artist David Siqueiros in 1932.

As part of the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, ten murals were painted along LA’s freeways, where they would be seen by people driving to and from the Olympic venues (places where an activities takes place). The murals are as different as the artists who painted them. John Wehrle created an outer-space fantasy. Glenna Avila’s Freeway Kids shows a group of happy children running and jumping at the side of the freeway. Herron’s mural includes Olympic symbols (pictures or shapes with particular meaning), competing (participating in a sport) wrestlers, and a helicopter hovering (staying in one place up in the air) over La Placita, a historic Los Angeles church.

Murals are difficult to maintain (take care of; protect), especially along busy freeways. As a result, the Olympic murals slowly deteriorated (became worse) and some were painted over. To make things worse, the city of Los Angeles passed a ban (an official order that prevents something from being done) on public murals. So, for a number of years, nothing was done to protect most of LA’s murals.

In 2013, however, the public mural ban was lifted (removed) and the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy (a organization to protect murals) began to try to restore (return something to its original condition) many Los Angeles murals, beginning with the Olympic murals. Herron’s Luchas del Mundo is the last of the Olympic murals to be restored. “It’s been a long time coming (it’s taken a long time for this to happen),” he told the Los Angeles Times recently. “I don’t know how I’ll feel when it’s all uncovered, but it’s emotional.”

If you’d like to see a few of Los Angeles’ murals and watch as some re-emerge after being hidden under coats (covering or layers) of paint for many years, watch this short video. If you have time, you can explore all of LA’s murals in this database from the Public Art in Los Angeles web site.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English website.

Photo of Luchas del Mundo from the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy.


Sunday - March 8, 2015

Podcasts This Week (March 9, 2015)

icon_51812Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, you’ll get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1084 – Learning a New Operating System

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to install” and “search me.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Types of Tech Support.”
“Many companies offer ‘tech support’ (technical support; assistance in using products or services correctly)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 493

Topics: Americans Abroad – The Founding of Liberia; The Gateway Arch; to struggle versus to fight versus to carry on; to churn and burn; hipster doofus

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Fair Saint Louis.”
“Fair Saint Louis is an ‘annual’ (occurring each year) celebration held during the July 4th Independence Day celebration…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1085 – Having Good and Bad Luck

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “streak” and “ladder.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Good Luck Rituals.”
“Many people ‘engage in’ (participate in; do) certain actions to ‘ensure’ (make sure that they have or get) good luck…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - March 3, 2015

So Go Ahead and Sue Me, Taylor Swift

Swift_performs_in_St._Louis,_Missouri_in_2013I can’t say that I have never, never, never listened to a song by Taylor Swift, but I can say that I’m not exactly (I’m not really) a fan of her music. Ms. Swift is, however, extremely popular in the United States and internationally, known for her catchy (easy to remember) tunes (music) and lyrics (words to a song).

But if you’re not careful, Swift may just decide to sue you (take you to court and demand money from you for something you did wrong). Here’s why: Swift has trademarked (legally protected) some of the most popular phrases from her songs, claiming (saying) that these phrases are her intellectual property (things you create that belong to you). And if you use them without her permission, she will take you to court (sue you).

What phrases are we talking about here? None that you or I will probably ever use, to be honest. But just to be safe, here’s a list of some of the phrases that you should avoid using without young Taylor’s permission (and if you do, you should put the official trademark symbol –  – on them):

  • This Sick Beat™ – The adjective sick is now used as a slang term meaning excellent or great. The beat refers to the rhythm of a song.
  • Party Like It’s 1989™ – To party means to have a good time, often by dancing and drinking. This expression is actually a rip-off (something stolen from) another song lyric by Prince, “Party like it’s 1999.” Perhaps Prince should sue Swift for stealing his lyrics? By the way, I have no idea what the difference is between partying like it’s 1989 and 1999, except I personally probably did more in ’89 (before marriage) than in ’99 (after marriage).
  • Cause We Never Go Out of Style™ – Cause is a short form of “because.” To go out of style means to no longer be popular or fashionable. For example, you could say, “Black dresses never go out of style,” meaning they will always be popular.
  • Could Show You Incredible Things™ - To show someone something is to give them the experience of it, or to let them look at it. Incredible here means amazing, wonderful, or – dare I say it? (should I actually say it?) – sick.
  • Nice to Meet You, Where Have You Been?™ – Nice to meet you is a popular expression to say when you are introduced (meet) someone for the first time. Where have you been? would be something you would ask of someone you already know but haven’t seen for a long time or have been waiting for. I guess the idea of the phrase (having not listened to the original song) is that you are meeting someone for the first time that you wish you had met earlier, perhaps because you find the person attractive.

The reason behind Swift’s trademarking of these phrases is not just meglomania (the desire to dominate everyone around you, to have great power). Some say she has a legitimate (logical, legal, and/or defensible) reason to be concerned about other people taking her phrases and using them to make money, by putting them on things such as T-shirts or handbags (purses).

You might be wondering about whether we here at ESL Podcast have trademarked anything. The answer is yes: ESLPod™ is a registered trademark. But if Swift wants to use it in one of her songs, she has my permission, cuz (because) we hope never to go out of style.

~Jeff

Image credit: “Swift performs in St. Louis, Missouri in 2013” by Jana Zills.


Sunday - March 1, 2015

Podcasts This Week (March 2, 2015)

icon_51812Get the full benefits of ESL Podcast by getting the Learning Guide. We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1082 – Traveling to a Remote Island

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “remote” and “to make.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Remote U.S. Possessions.”
“A U.S. ‘possession’ or ‘territory’ is an area that is ‘governed’ (ruled) by the United States…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 492

Topics: Movies – Twelve Angry Men; Washington National Cathedral; cool versus awesome; closure and mental loafer; no biggie

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Jury Nullification.”
“In the United States, legal cases that need a ‘verdict’ (court decision) of ‘guilty’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1083 – Types of Pants

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “slacks” and “broken in.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Women in Pants.”
“In the past, women almost always wore dresses or skirts, not pants…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide