5 Items of Potpourri

Emerged_from_hibernation_in_February,_groundhog_takes_leaves_to_line_the_burrow_nest_or_toilet_chamber_DSCN0900Potpourri is originally a French term that, in English, is now used to refer to a variety of things that are not related to each other. Today’s post is a potpourri of items that are unrelated, but still, I hope, interesting:

1. Groundhog Day – Today is February 2nd, which each year is marked (celebrated) most famously in the United States in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog (see photo) sees its shadow on this day, we will have six more weeks of winter. This year, Punxsutawney’s most famous groundhog, named Phil, did not see his shadow, which means we will have an early spring. That’s good news for those like me who hate cold weather, although living in Los Angeles, I define “cold” as anything less than 60 degrees F (15.5 Celsius).  (I talked about Groundhog Day – ten years ago! – on English Cafe #11, now available to Premium subscribers.)

2. Iowa CaucusesYesterday was the official beginning of the long presidential election season (period of time) in the United States, which will end on the first Tuesday of November with the election of a new president. I have attempted to explain our somewhat crazy process of selecting a president in the U.S. a few times (here and here). This promises to be (is likely to be) one of the stranger presidential elections in my lifetime; I’ll write more about that in the future.

3. Super Bowl 50 – This Sunday, February 7th, is one of the popular sporting events of the year in the U.S., the Super Bowl. If you plan on joining the approximately 120 million people who will be watching on Sunday and aren’t sure about how American football works, I tried to explain it here. A lot of Americans who don’t normally like football watch it anyway, in part for the halftime show, entertainment that takes place in the middle of the game, between the first and second half of play (more on this halftime show here).

Up until this year, the number of the Super Bowl has always been written with Roman numerals (the way the ancient Romans wrote numbers). Last year, for example, the 49th Super Bowl was written as “Super Bowl XLIX.” This year, however, the organizers of the Super Bowl decided to change to “regular” digits, so instead of “Super Bowl L” (L is the Roman numeral for 50), it is “Super Bowl 50.” Why?

Well, one reason is that the letter “L” is associated with the word “loser,” and no one wants to be a loser! Nevertheless, there will still be a loser, since only one team can win (personally, I don’t care who wins or loses). Apparently the change will only affect this year; next year, it will be called “Super Bowl LI” (L = 50, I = 1), using Roman numerals again.

4. Mardi Gras & Lunar New Year– The Christian season of Lent (a period of preparation before Easter) begins a week from tomorrow, and this means that in New Orleans this week will be spent celebrating Mardi Gras. New Orleans is famous in the U.S. for its “Carnival” or Mardi Gras celebrations. You can learn more about New Orleans here and Mardi Gras here and here (note: audio for some of our older Cafes are only available to Premium members).

Next week is also the celebration of the Lunar New Year, which is observed in many Asian American communities in the U.S. as well as in several countries around the world. Southern California has many such celebrations, since there is a large population of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans living here; learn more about it here and here. This year is the Year of the Monkey!

5. Learn English Magazine – Forget about celebrating Mardi Gras, Lunar New Year, and the Super Bowl. Don’t worry about who our next president will be or whether we will have six more weeks of winter. Here’s the really important news of the day: the newest issue of our new, free magazine, Learn English Magazine, is now available to download!

Get the app for iOS or Android devices, and check it out. You can see a magazine-only video explaining the phrase “right on the money,” and read other cool and interesting articles from our team of amazing writers. And there’s even a funny cartoon at the back of this issue.

What are you waiting for? Go here to download the app and get reading!


Image Credit: Wikipedia

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19 Responses to 5 Items of Potpourri

  1. Dan says:

    Hello everyone.

    How are you guys? I am good.
    Right now I am watching a lecture by professor Gad Saad on how Political Correctness limits the free exchange of ideas on campuses.
    I like the man he is a Jew. I love Jews.
    One other Jew I like to follow is Ben Shapiro. Smart guy.
    Probably Jeff knows the guy.

    Thanks Jeff.

  2. Tania says:

    Maybe our teachers can tell more about this new trend “politically correct”.

  3. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Hello friends of ESL. One more day, one more lesson. Mor ethings to know about and enrich the knowledgment. Useful and plesant.

  4. Tania says:

    Like a joke, and in my country we can see on TV the result of the Groundhog Day, but not and this year.
    Maybe because “Phil did not respond, other than to blink”.
    “He was held aloft to cheers and applause.”
    He was held aloft… I can understand the phrase thanks to the video lesson from Learn English Magazine,
    “The Drone Fights to Stay Aloft”.

    Thank you, dear Jeff.

  5. Tania says:

    I saw on TV the Iowa Caucuses and the winner.
    We borrowed the word “caucus” , so I can’t forget it.

  6. Tania says:

    Learn English Magazine… Hockey Moms…
    “A hockey mom is someone who supports her children by going to the games, transporting them to practices,
    and being active with other mothers…”
    “She is an average, middle-class, concerned mother of young children and adolescents”.
    “They are considered by some people to be very protective of their children.”

    It sometimes sounds like an offense. I admire hockey moms living in the suburbs or in small towns…
    as they always dream that their dreams can be true at least for their children.
    This is the reason for that they can become overbearing.
    They inspire their children to reach a goal, to fight with life…
    Getting older, many of us recognize that if our mothers were not we would not be where we are.

  7. Tania says:


    “Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high
    There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby

    Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue
    And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

    Someday I’ll wish upon a star
    And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
    Where troubles melt like lemon drops
    Away above the chimney tops
    That’s where you’ll find me

    Somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
    Birds fly over the rainbow
    Why then, oh why can’t I?

    Somewhere, Over the Rainbow, 1939 song, English Cafe 538

  8. Tania says:


    “If happy little bluebirds fly
    Beyond the rainbow
    Why, oh why, can’t I ?”

    Somewhere, Over the Rainbow, 1939 song, English Cafe 538

    If we want we can.

  9. Tania says:

    Dear Lili, I think there is a confusion with the word “profanity”.
    Depending on the context, profanity means blasphemous, and the verb is to profane, profanation,
    that means lack of due respect.
    But profanity means and irreverent, not respectful language.
    And in our ESLPodcast , Using Profanity , it’s about irreverent language.
    I was confused, too, as we use the phrase “profanation of the grave”, in my language “profanare”.
    I had to study this question, I need to share it with you all .

    Best wishes,


  10. Tania says:

    Dear Lucy, talking about the newer way of doing business “The Peer – to – Peer Economy”…
    I can’t translate it in my language. I have to be more carefully listening to the news on TV.
    We borrow many new words and phrases. For instance, we use the same phrase “start-up” business, cluster.
    Thank you.

    Best wishes,


  11. peter says:

    Hi chief,
    I didn’t see who claimed the post, down below yet !!!
    I m almost certain it is you , judging from the sentence structures.
    As I mentioned before your sentences have this tendency to stick with , I think I can speak for everybody here , us.
    I just listened to the latest in the English Cafe world: a community of culture and history talks that is untouchable. Nothing can touch English Cafe episides.

    Thanks ESlpod I really enjoyed it.

    With respect to the trivia ;potpourri if u will which ,by the way, I find it sort of hip; I must say it was just yesterday that they didn’t watch the shadow but in one city , i m guessing they observation were done in three different cities.
    in Canada , shadow was seen. So, no spring for us anytime soon 🙂
    Well , I don’t think the observation has some sort of logical or scientific bases to back up the practice. Still, it sends out a positive outlook.
    Well , in all fairness , Canada experiencing a very mild winter as opposed with US that has gone literally through hell by far and just heard that another terrible snowy condition has hit some new part of the US.

    My man Jeff , I hear u out regarding ur hatred comment about winter.
    We may have our differences and we see eye in eye on this one.
    I love living in LA. Well , you know what they say ,
    “I would if I could but I can’t.”

    So , although there is not factual accuracy to it , still I can conclude that US has been hit by a short yet harsh ,strong , vicious winter.
    Canada , on the other hand , has been enjoying a touch of a long mellowed ,old winter.

    Regarding the second packet of Info ,I must say I again completely with you on that.
    the ongoing race for the presidential office is the most unpredictable ,in a way ,bizaare I ever witness. The Iowa caucus result was totally went to a direction that i ,for the life of me , would never able to predict.
    I was almost certain that Trump would come on top. It was pretty much the perceived understanding of it prior to polling, I guess.

    I m happy that Hillary won ,but it was a neck to neck competition for almost the entire time, I must say. You know there are always some controversies brewing around Hilary.
    but ,All in All , I hope she wins I like her.

    Well , I want to add here that in my opinion , She is not as charismatic as her husband still she has the finesse. I will give her that.

    let’s move to the third fun fact
    I must say it is where you and me part ways boss. I hate baseball. to me ,it is the most boring sport ever.and ,I m guessing you are not exactly gung-ho about super bawl.
    I love super bawl.
    All the prep talk and preparations literally grasp the nation for a week or two prior the match such as the relevant controversial talks (the pomp up ,people really get all pomp up ;super bowl parties with 6 -7 foot sub sandwitch ;the testosterone surge and above all the beer-runs oh man too many beer runs all has a tight grip.
    Man ,u stock up on beer still y have to designate a lady friend for the beer runs.
    Well I left the beast for the last
    Man , nothing beats the associate Tailgate parties right before the start of match right in the parking lot.
    Man ,it is where u get into the spirit of the match. It is when people get all pumped up and reenergized.
    I was invited one time or two to super bowl parties and whatnot. I must say I had the time of my life. It is truly fun at its hight, I m telling you.
    Get the fever !!!!!

    The fourth fun activity Jeff mentions seems girlish to me. I pass
    The thing is ,I had never heard of it

    Learn English Magazine rules.

    “That is All Folks, “: Just so u know ,I m not a pig ,believe u me:)))))))


  12. Dan says:

    Hi there.

    Since Peter gave out his endorsement to Hillary, I would like to give mine to a Republican. I would probably choose between Cruz and Rubio.
    Not that I agree with everything they say or stand for, but…you know.


  13. Mari Carmen says:

    Hey, hello

    Tania, pretty far from being a teacher, since I truly consider myself, let’s call it, an everlasting learner, I come in to give my opinion about political correctness.

    There is a great similarity between political correct language and euphemisms that makes me feel some kind of unease. On one hand, the sense or the content of what it is said may lose value. As a result, important subjects become unsaid and can’t be really discussed. On the other hand, I would say that what really matters is the intention. This way, if the intention of saying is good and manners are also good, the message needn’t be offensive, unless the listener is ready to feel offended! To my view, political correctness and politeness are not the same.

    All those bring to my mind the speeches of politicians. I find their statements so kind of correctly talked that I can only hear euphemisms. When I listen to them, I feel they are doing marketing instead of delivering ideas. To my view, I miss a little more rhetoric, I mean, a more constructive talking to make the most of natural human disagreements.

    Thank you

    P.D. Why Republican Party in USA is represented by an elephant and Democrats by a donkey (or is it a mule?)?

  14. Dan says:

    Hey there

    The only interesting thing about the Super Bowl are the funny commercials.
    I haven’t found anything funny though.
    All uninteresting stuff. I enjoy hilarious ads and the ones with animals.


  15. peter says:


    Are u at all familiar with the game?
    If not
    So how do u know weather or not ,u like it ?
    Man ,
    It is a fast sport
    Way faster that soccer.
    Man ,the entire of the game you are on the edge of your sit.
    It is a group-watch match ,though.
    I never heard of anybody watch super ball all by himself
    Man ,talk a about the andrenalin Rush!!

    Catch the fever bro


  16. peter says:

    Dan ,

    I do agree with u about commercials though

    I like all the super bowl associate elaborate teasers and previews. They are all cheerful!!!

    Well , I wanna fess up sth here

    I just love to watch it while munching on dorridos , chees ball , chips , hard candies and ultimately Super Bowl sub sandwitch. I don’t like to play it.
    U know I don’t mind bruises and scraps but not linked out and chipped teeth. U know , dentistry is highly expensive around here.

    I m wearing jerseys

    Catch the fever


  17. peter says:

    Super bowl tv commercials : up to 5 milion dollars for every 30 seconds tv commercial running in the televised super bowl game

    It is insane. But ,researches show that people remember adds running in the intermissions during the Super bowl better that other commercials.
    How about that


  18. Mari Carmen says:

    Hey, hello

    The joy of February… Lent is coming… I’d better fast. 🙂

    Mari Carmen

  19. Dan says:

    Hi Pete.

    That’s insane, right? I agree.
    Like some players’s earnings and like Hillary’s speeches..hundreds of thousands for a speech?!


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