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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


Wednesday - February 25, 2015

This Cookie’s On A Roll*

Happy Cookie FridayA glass of milk, and as many Oreo cookies as her mother would let her eat. That’s what my wife had for a snack (a small amount of food eaten between meals) after school almost every day when she was young. Oreos were her favorite.

Oreos, if you’re not familiar with them, are like a sandwich – two round chocolate wafers (a thin, flat, sweet cookie) with a white, sweet, creamy (soft, smooth) filling (something that you put inside of a pie, etc., or in inside a sandwich), called a creme filling. Sometimes Oreos are called “Chocolate Sandwich Cookies.”

Oreos have been around for a long time – more than 100 years. The first Oreos appeared in 1912, the year the Titanic sank, and the year that the first explorers made it to the South Pole in Antarctica. And, as our title suggests, they’ve been on a roll every since.

Oreos have always been popular. Last year, in 2014, people around the world bought more than three billion dollars’ worth of Oreos. That’s three times more than the next most popular kind of cookie. People love Oreos!

Today there are many kinds of Oreos. The Double Stuf Oreo has twice (two times) as much white creme filling as the regular Oreo. Big Stuf Oreos are much larger than normal Oreos. The Mini Oreo is bite-sized, small enough to eat in one bite. And the Mega Stuf Oreo, introduced two years ago, are similar to the Double Stuf Oreos, but with even more white creme filling.

There are many ways to eat Oreos. You can, of course, eat them the way they come out of the package. Or, if you’re like my wife, you can dunk them in milk – put them into the milk until they get soft – and take them out again to eat them. Some people like to “twist and lick” – turn the outer parts of the Oreo in a circle so that it comes apart, then use their tongue to lick off the sweet, creamy filling before eating the chocolate wafers. Still others like to break the Oreos into small pieces and sprinkle (scatter small pieces onto something) them onto ice cream. One of my favorite kinds of ice cream, Cookies and Cream, is a mixture of ice cream and pieces of Oreo cookies.

What kinds of snacks do you enjoy? Have you ever had Oreos? Did you like them?

* The title is a pun, and is supposed to make you smile or laugh. The pun in the title comes from two different ways of using the word “roll.” A roll is a small, often round, piece of bread for one person; sweet rolls are usually filled with or covered by something sweet. To be on a roll could mean to be on top of a roll or, as I’m using it here, to be having success with whatever you are doing.

~Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


Sunday - February 22, 2015

Podcasts This Week (February 23, 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 1080 – Automating Production

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 “tricky” and “on (one’s) hands.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Robotic Competitions for  Students.”
“American ‘policymakers’ (legislators; people who create laws) and educators want to increase students’ interest…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 491

Topics: American Presidents – Rutherford B. Hayes; emission versus propagation; he/she don’t; to do (someone’s) bidding

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Easter Egg Roll at the White House.”
“Easter is a Christian holiday held each year on a Sunday usually in March or April…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1081 – Personal Grooming

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 shave” and “to pluck.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “New Beauty Treatments.”
“‘Beauty salons’ (businesses that provide beauty services and treatments, especially for women) are always ‘innovating’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - February 17, 2015

The Worst Valentine’s Day Song Ever

Last Saturday, February 14th, was Valentine’s Day, the holiday that celebrates love. If you celebrated it, I hope you had a romantic (inspiring love and warm feelings) time with your sweetheart (the person you love romantically). We talked about this popular holiday on one of our regular podcasts (ESL Podcast 659) and in one of our English Cafes (English Cafe 13).

Now that the holiday is over, I can introduce you to the worst Valentine’s Day song ever composed (written (music)). It’s called “My Funny Valentine” and it was most famously recorded by the great Frank Sinatra. The song actually debuted (was performed for the first time) in 1937 in a musical (play with songs) called Babe in Arms. But since then, many famous singers have covered it (sung their own version), and it is considered a standard (classic song known and sung by many people).

You’ve probably heard this song in one form or another, but have you ever listened to the lyrics (words in a song)? I hadn’t until last week. And now I consider (judge) this to be the worst song you could ever sing to your valentine on Valentine’s Day.  I’ll explain the lyrics below and you can tell me if you agree.

“My Funny Valentine”
by Frank Sinatra

My funny (making one laugh or strange) valentine (loved one)
Sweet comic (funny; making one laugh) valentine
You make me smile with my heart.

Your looks (appearance) are laughable (so ridiculous that they makes others laugh)
Unphotographable (cannot be photographed because of its ugliness)
Yet (Despite this; Even so) you’re my favorite work of art (artwork, such as a painting or statue).

Is your figure (curves of a person’s body, usually a woman’s) less than Greek (as in a Greek statue, often showing an ideal human form)?
Is your mouth a little weak (small and not strong looking)?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart? (This is a rhetorical question, one that doesn’t need to be answered because we all know the answer. In this case, it’s no.)

But don’t change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay, little valentine, stay
Each day is Valentine’s Day

Is your figure less than Greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don’t you change one hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is Valentine’s Day

There you have it (That was what I wanted to show you). The singer tells his sweetheart she is ugly, she has a bad figure, and she is stupid. Yes, the larger message is that despite all of your flaws (faults; things that make you not perfect), my valentine, I love you and I don’t want you to change. That’s a lovely sentiment (emotional message) and certainly something I would want to hear from my sweetheart. But after being insulted (treated disrespectfully), do you think your sweetheart would hear the real message of the song? I’m not sure. Maybe it would only work for someone as suave (charming (man)) as Frank Sinatra.

Now that Valentine’s Day is over and the pressure is off (there is no stress to do something good or nice), please try this song on your sweetheart and let me know if you get a slap (hit with an open hand, usually on the face) or a kiss.

- Lucy

Sunday - February 15, 2015

Podcasts This Week (February 16, 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 1078 – Watching Action Movies

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 “in hot pursuit” and “to straddle the line.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Swashbuckler Films.”
“‘Swashbuckler films’ are a ‘genre’ (type of story or art) of action films with strong heroes who ‘engage in’ (participate in) many fights…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 490

Topics: Famous Americans – Muhammad Ali; The Golden Gate Bridge; valuable versus invaluable; north/south versus northern/southern; common ground and universal experience

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Bridge to Nowhere.”
“The term ‘bridge to nowhere’ is used to refer to building projects that are incomplete or has not been finished…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1079 –Receiving Letters and Packages in the Mail

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 “letter” and “to be forwarded.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Suspicious Packages.”
“A ‘suspicious package’ is an envelope or package sent through the mail that ‘raises suspicion’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - February 10, 2015

So, Where Is Downtown Los Angeles?

Downtown_Los_Angeles_SkylineA few weeks ago, I was planning to spend an afternoon and evening with a visiting Russian student. He asked me to suggest what to do, so I gave him two choices: we could stay along the coast (where the land meets the ocean) or we could go to downtown Los Angeles. “What,” he asked, “and where is downtown Los Angeles?”

Good question. Usually, when we talk about downtown, we’re referring to the center or main business part of a city. In contrast, the suburbs are areas away from the center of a city where people live.

When you’re talking about Los Angeles, though, the downtown/suburb contrast doesn’t tell the whole story. For one thing, downtown isn’t in the center of the city.

Many years ago, someone described Los Angeles as “…72 suburbs in search of (looking for) a city.” The reason is that much of the area that we now know as Los Angeles was made up of many smaller towns in the past. Those towns grew until they connected with other towns around them and, eventually (after a time), with Los Angeles to become the large city we have today. Hollywood, for example, was once a small community (an area where people live) that merged with (became part of) Los Angeles in 1910.

Today, most people agree that downtown Los Angeles includes a small area framed (surrounded) by the 101, 10, and 110 freeways (a wide road designed for fast travel). And that’s where my student and I decided to go.

If you’d like to see some of the highlights (most important or interesting parts) of our time downtown, you can do that by going to the Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour web site and click on the maps to move from one place to another. We visited parts of the New Downtown (ND) and the Historic Core (HC). Here are the highlights:

  • Pershing Square (HC)
  • The Biltmore Hotel (ND). This was the largest hotel in LA when it was built in 1923.
  • The Central Library (ND), across Grand Avenue from the Biltmore, a historic building with modern touches (details or additions).
  • The Bunker Hill Steps (ND) take you to the top of the hill and the historic center of the old financial district.
  • The California Plaza (ND)
  • Angel Flight (ND)
  • The Grand Central Market (HC) and Bradbury Building (HC). The Bradbury, built in 1893, is one of the oldest buildings in downtown LA.
  • The Westin Bonaventure (ND) hotel, a good place to go after the sun goes down for lattes (strong coffee drink with steamed milk) in the revolving (turning in a circle) lounge (place to sit and relax) at the top of the hotel.

Hope you enjoyed downtown Los Angeles as much as we did! And I hope you can experience it for yourself sometime soon.

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

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


Sunday - February 8, 2015

Podcasts This Week (February 9, 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 1076 – Celebrity Product Lines

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 lend (one’s) name ” and “upside.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Celebrity Product Lines.”
“Many celebrity product lines are ‘a match made in heaven’ (two things that are very well suited for each other)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 489

Topics: American Authors – Alex Haley; American Bandstand; continuous versus contiguous; let alone and to kick the bucket; the birds and bees talk

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Soul Train.”
“Television shows ‘featuring’ (has as its main topic) music have been popular since nearly the start of television…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1077 – Buying Travel Insurance

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 “loss” and “remains.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Types of Travel Insurance.”
“In addition to the travel insurance and medical insurance discussed in this podcast…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide