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Archive for July, 2009

Wednesday - July 29, 2009

Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast

It’s hard for us to believe that it’s been four years since ESL Podcast began. In fact, as of next Monday, we will have released 500 ESL Podcast episodes and 200 ESL Cafe episodes!  It’s amazing to us that we are still going and that you are all still listening!

We want to thank all of those who helped us by sending us their Flat Jeffrey photos for our Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast. We were able to include at least one from each submission and Flat Jeffrey got to see some very interesting places!

Finally, we want to thank all of you listeners, especially those who have become Premium and Basic Members, who have purchased courses through the ESL Podcast Store, and those who have sent us donations.  It is through this generous support that we are able to continue producing ESL Podcast.  If you want to support our efforts, please also consider becoming an ESL Podcast Member.

Below is the Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast.  We hope you enjoy it!

~ Jeff and Lucy

ESL Podcast Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast: The World Tour

ESL Podcast is celebrating our fourth anniversary! It’s an important event…

so we decided to have a big party.

There was drinking –a little too much.

And things, well, they got really crazy.

I got flattened after the roof fell on me.  But don’t worry, this is a good thing…

Now I can visit some of my friends around the world.

The first place we decided to go is Montreal, Canada, to visit my friend, Abdelmajid.

Here I am in Montreal.  My friend told me they speak French, so I can practice my French.  Luckily, they speak English, too!

Here I am in front of the famous church in the old Montreal called Notre Dame.  I’m going to pray that my French gets better!  Canada is great, eh? But now we have to take a trip to England.

We’re going to fly British Airways.  They’re not as advanced in technology as the Americans technology.

Here I am in London with my friend, Suzana.   She’s originally from Argentina, but don’t cry for her – she’s just visiting her sons who live there.  Here we’re in front of  the Parliament building in London.  Suzana is a little embarrassed about being seen with me, so she put me in her purse.  Not very comfortable.  Next I decided to take a train to the famous university in England, or one of them, Cambridge.

Gregorex, my old friend, is showing me some of the great old buildings here in Cambridge.  Here I am in front of King’s College.  I’m hoping to study a little Shakespeare and maybe meet Harry Potter.

Well, I have to get back to London.  Since I don’t have a lot of money, my friend suggested I take a boat called a punt.  I told you the British were a little behind in technology.

Next, we’re on a train to Paris, going through the “chunnel” between England and France.

Here I am eating some very typical French food, cheese, with my friend Frederic’s beautiful daughter, Apolline.  Isn’t she beautiful?

Well, now I’m off to Spain.   I’m going to  to the capital, Madrid, to visit my friends Emiliano and Cuca who are going to show me the city.

The first place we go is the Gran Via of Madrid, a busy street where I have to be careful so I don’t get run over by cars.  I’m already Flat Jeffrey – I don’t want to be Dead Jeffrey!

Next, we visited the Plaza de Callao and we get some Spanish wine.
Then we went to see a statute of Don Quixote.  But I guess we drank too much wine, because it’s a little blurry!

Finally, Emiliano and Cuca invited me back to their apartment for a nice meal. We had a great time.  Notice also what a wonderful artist Emiliano is.

Next, I decided to visit my friend Miguel in Zaragoza, Spain.  Miguel wants me to climb the mountain behind him, but he does not know me very well.  I don’t climb mountains, Miguel!

I have to say good-by to Spain, because my friend Carlo is waiting for me in Cremona, Italy.

Here I’m standing in front of the cathedral of Cremona – I guess my friends think I need a lot of prayers!  Cremona is famous for producing musical instruments.  You can see here I’m playing a Stradavarious.

Well, after visiting Cremona, it’s off to Rome.  My friend Mario invited me to come and visit him, and I thought I’d get to see all the famous sites of the city.  But instead, I’m at his office working.  Some vacation this is! At least I got to see Mario’s fake (not real) Oscar statue. I’m hoping this video will win an Oscar, too.

Now we go to northern Europe, to Germany.

Hermann invited me to Stuttgart.  Here I’m in the first four-wheeled motor vehicle, developed by two German engineers.  We’re next to the first television broadcast tower in the world.  And I’m about to take my first drink of German wine.   Tastes great!

Here I am in the vineyard that Hermann has, where they grow grapes to make wine from.  If I owned a vineyard, I’d probably be drinking all the time like Hermann here.

Next, I rent a car to drive next to Brno, in the Czech Republic.  This Mercedes Benz looked nice.  We were going there…

…to meet my buddy Michal.  Here we are in front of a pub or bar, ready to get a drink.  No wonder I need to pray a lot – I never stop drinking!

Michal takes me on the bus to see the town.  Not as nice as my Mercedes, but that’s okay.  Because we’re going to see..

My girlfriend, Barunka.  Here she’s holding my hand.  Well, actually, she’s Michal’s girlfriend, but don’t tell him – or my wife.

Next, we’re off to Russia, with love, before Michal finds out about me and Barunka.

Here I am in the Red Square of Moscow with my friend Nikolay.  Good thing I have my red tie on.

Here I am again in Red Square.  It’s so beautiful, so red!  Thanks, Nikolay.  My other friend in Moscow, Stanislav, arranged a meeting for me with the president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev.  We talked for a while, and then old Dmitry said he was “busy” and had to go to another meeting with some guy named…Obama.?

I later found out Dmitry didn’t like me too much.  He told Barak about me.  Notice how he’s showing Obama what I look like.  And Barak says, No way! Meaning I don’t believe it.  Jeffrey!  Of course, the president knows all about me.  Well, I decided it was time to visit my female friends up in St. Petersburg.

Here I am with Anna at the Peterhoff, the home of the Russian tsars, built in the 18th century, near St. Petersburg.  I’m thinking of buying of it as my summer home.

Here I am with Nastia, also in St. Petersburg.  She showed me some of the popular sites in St. Petersburg.

Here I am in front of the horses.

Next we decided to visit the Russian Vodka Museum.  More drinking?

And here Nastia is showing me where she lives.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing here– taking a nap, I think.  Don’t tell Barunka.

Well, now I’ve had a good nap, it’s time for me to go to Asia – to Singapore to meet my good friend, Cynthia, from China.

Cynthia takes me to this beautiful hotel.  She tells me is where Michael Jackson used to stay.  Hmm.  Not sure this is a good place for me.

Next we visit the famous symbol of Singapore, the Merlion.  It’s hot today, so I take a little swim.

Next we go for some rest and relaxation on the beautiful beach of Setosa Island.  Ah, this is great!

Well, now I’m off to Vietnam.

I’m going to visit my friends Ngugyen and Tien in Ho Chi Minh City celebrating the Tet holiday flower festival. That’s Tien here in the photograph. I love Vietnam, but I have to go to Taiwan to see my friend Yvonne.
.
We take the Hello Kitty airplane, my favorite.

Once we get to Taipei, we go and have some good Chinese food.  I eat but, once again, I have to get going because I have a long trip to South America to visit my friend Luiz in the beautiful country of Brazil.  Luiz wants to introduce me to some friends of his in Pocos de Caldas.

Here I am in front of the lovely Palace Hotel.  I believe Michael Jackson used to stay here.  Next, we decide to play a little tennis.

Here I am with Jacare and Ronaldo.

Here’s Luiz, in the blue T-shirt, next to Jacare.
And of course, Luiz and I win all of our games.

Finally, we visit Luiz’s  beautiful wife, Deborah, next to this great waterfall.  Now I am off to…

Uruguay, to Montevideo, to visit my friend, Juan Manuel.

He’s preparing a special drink for me called “mate” a very strong tea made from leaves of a plant called Yerba Mate.  Uruguayans get together to drink mate and to talk.  At least it’s not alcohol!

Finally, it’s back to the United States.  But after all that traveling, I think I need a vacation from my vacation, and the best place for that is Hawaii!

Fortunately, my friends Roberto and Loreto invited me on their Hawaiian vacation.  They’re originally from Spain.  Notice that Loreto put a hat on me so I don’t get sunburned.  Well, that’s the end of our trip.  I want to thank everyone who invited me to come and visit them.  You know, next time I should probably invite Lucy.

We want to thank all of those who helped us by sending us their Flat Jeffrey photos. We were able to include at least one from each person.

We also want to thank all of you listeners, especially those who have become Premium and Basic Members, who have purchased courses through our Store, and who have sent us donations.  It is through this generous support that we are able to continue producing ESL Podcast.  If you want to support our efforts, please also consider becoming a member of ESL Podcast.

Tuesday - July 28, 2009

Music from the Movie “Once”

I recently got around to seeing a small-budget (made with little money) 2007 movie called Once, and I haven’t been able to get the music from the film out of my head.

The movie isn’t a musical (movie with a lot of singing and dancing), but music plays a very large part in the film.  The film takes place in Dublin, Ireland, and is about a struggling musician who busks (plays on the street) and who meets a young Czech immigrant (person who moves permanently to another country) who sells flowers on the street. The film was a favorite at the Sundance Film Festival, and won “best foreign film” at the 2007 Independent Film Awards, awards given to smaller independent films (films not made by a major movie studio (company)).  I really enjoyed the movie.

The main song from the soundtrack (collection of songs from a movie) is called “Falling Slowly,” and it received an Academy Award in 2008 for “best original song.”  In fact, all of the original songs in the movie were composed (written) and performed by the two lead actors, who in real life, are not actors, but musicians.  Since seeing the movie, I can’t get this tune (song) out of my head.  I hope to infect (give the disease to) you, too!  If you like this one, here is the other song, “If you want me,” that’s been haunting (won’t leave) me even more!

~ Lucy

“Falling Slowly”
by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

I don’t know you, but I want you
All the more for that (even more because of that0
Words fall through me, and always fool me
And I can’t react (respond)
And games that never amount to (result in) more than they’re meant
Will play themselves out (come to a result on their own)

Take this sinking (falling into the water) boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You’ll make it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can’t go back
Moods (emotions) that take me and erase me
And I’m painted black
You have suffered enough and warred (had a battle) with yourself
It’s time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice
You’ve made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody (main notes in a song)
I’ll sing along

I paid the cost too late
Now you’re gone

Thursday - July 23, 2009

Pinch-Hit Grand Slam

bobbleheadEvery once in a while, circumstances come together (occur, happen at the same time) in a sporting game that provide drama, excitement, and even a bit of poetry.  Last night was such a night here in Los Angeles, when my beloved (an old or poetic way of saying “much loved”) Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team and the city of Los Angeles witnessed a special moment.

In baseball, the object (goal, aim) is for the batter (the person holding a long stick called a bat) to hit a ball thrown by a member of the other team called the pitcher.  After hitting the ball successfully, the batter (now called a runner since he begins to run) must then run 90 feet to a small white area called 1st base.  He can continue running to 2nd and 3rd base and all the way back to where he started, to home plate (home “base”) to score a point (in baseball, a run), as long as he is not stopped by the other team (I’m simplifying the rules here, of course).  If he hits the ball outside of the playing field in front of him – such as to the seats where the fans are sitting, he and all the other runners on base (standing on either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd base) get to score a run by touching home plate.  This is called a home run.  If, however, there are already three men on base, then this home run is given a special name, a grand slam (to slam something is to hit it very hard).

The game last night against the Cincinnati Reds was tied 2-2.  (Cincinnati is a city in Ohio, in the eastern part of the US.) It was in the middle of the game, the Dodgers were batting, and the bases were loaded (there was a man on all three bases).  The best player for the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez, wasn’t playing in the game because he had hurt his hand in Tuesday night’s game.  But since he is the best hitter on the team, the manager (the main coach) asked him to enter the game and try to hit.  Ramirez had had 20 grand slams in his 17 year career (time playing baseball), but was considered a very poor pinch hitter.  (A pinch hitter is a player who enters in the middle of the game to take the place of another hitter.)  He had never hit a pinch-hit home run in his life.

It was a special night for Ramirez another reason.  It was Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night, a special game where all of the fans received a toy doll called a bobblehead of Ramirez (see photo).   Every year, professional baseball teams create these special dolls or figures for the most popular players.

Ramirez walks up to the plate (home plate).  The crowd (the fans, people watching the game) goes wild.  The stadium (where the game is played) is sold out (no seats are remaining or unfilled.)  Everyone is on their feet (standing), cheering and yelling.  The pitcher throws his first pitch (ball) to Ramirez.  Ramirez swings (moves the bat quickly) and hits the ball.  It goes high into the air, deep into the night sky.  Going.  Going.  Gone.  A grand slam.

You could hear the Dodger fans yelling all the way back in Cincinnati, it was so loud.

And where did Ramirez hit his grand slam ball?  Well, there’s a special section out near the place where Ramirez stands when the Dodgers play defense (when they pitch against the other team) in the stands (seats in a stadium) called “Mannywood.”  Manny is so popular that they named a special part of the baseball stadium Mannywood (a play on the word “Hollywood”).  Of course, the ball was hit right into Mannywood.

You can’t write a Hollywood movie with an ending better than that.

Yes, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of man walking on the moon this week.  Yes, the world just experienced the longest solar eclipse (when the moon blocks out the sun) in the 21st century.  But for a brief moment last night, the most important event here in LA was when a man named Manny hit a ball to a placed called Mannywood.

~Jeff

PS  You can learn more about America’s most popular sport in English Cafe #50.

Thursday - July 16, 2009

Don’t Miss Your Airline Flight!

We had a question this week from Jacek in Poland about how to pronounce airline flights numbers. The flight number is the number that each plane trip is given, and is usually two, three, or four digits (numbers) in the United States. For example, if I fly from Los Angeles to Minneapolis, I might take Northwest flight 304. “304” is the number of the flight; “Northwest” is the name of the airline.

While in many cases you could pronounce this number “three hundred and four,” that is not how you would pronounce it in the context of a flight number. In other words, if you’re at the airport and listening for an announcement for your flight number, you will not hear them say “three hundred and four.” Here are the rules for pronouncing numbers at the airport:

If it is a two digit flight number, we pronounce it as a “regular” number. So flight 34 would be pronounced “thirty-four.” It is also possible to use the individual numbers — “three four.”

For three digit flight numbers, we pronounce the individual numbers only. So, flight 304 would be pronounced “three zero four.” You would not say “three hundred and four.”

For four digit flight numbers, there are two possibilities. Let’s take the example of flight 2567. This can be pronounced “twenty-five sixty-seven,” grouping the numbers two by two, or it can be pronounced using the individual numbers “two five six seven.” Again, we would not say “two thousand five hundred and sixty-seven.”

So listen carefully when you’re at the airport.  We don’t want you to miss (not get on in time) your flight!

~Jeff

Friday - July 3, 2009

The Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast & Flat Jeffrey

03_flat_stanley_at_the_beach_march_2ESL Podcast’s fourth anniversary is at the end of July, and we need your help with our video podcast this year.

We have listeners all over the world, and as much as Jeff (and Lucy) would like to visit all of you, that’s not possible.  However, there is someone who can make the trip:  “Flat Jeffrey” (“Jeff” is short for “Jeffrey”).

We got the idea of Flat Jeffrey from Flat Stanley.  Flat Stanley is a character in a children’s book from the 1960s.  Stanley was a normal boy, but while he sleeps in his bed, a large bulletin board (board placed on the wall so notes and papers can be pinned to it) falls on him and he’s now flat!  In fact, he’s so flat, he can fit inside of an envelope.  In recent years, many students in U.S. schools have created their own Flat Stanley, sending him to many places, making friends in different cities and countries.flat-stanley-ural4-helmet

So, we need your help with our own Flat Jeffrey.  We have created a Flat Jeffrey that you can print and take to see some interesting places and/or do some interesting things with.  We ask you to take a picture of Flat Jeffrey at these places and doing these things, and we’ll include some of them in our Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast.  By doing this, those of us here at ESL Podcast and all of the listeners all over the world will get a better idea of who our listeners are and where they come from, and Jeff will get to visit your city!

You can download and print Flat Jeffrey here, and email a photo to video@eslpod.com.  Please remember to include in your email:

– Your first name and the first names of the (other) people in the photo
– Your city and country
– Where Flat Jeffrey is in the photo and what he’s doing

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Please send us your photo no later than JULY 7, 2009, and we hope to see you with Flat Jeffrey on our Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast!