Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Objective Proficiency p 152. Major Events and the Most Relevant People. Extra Speaking

Vocabulary

A change for the better/worse: a person, thing, situation, etc. that is better/worse than the previous or present one. E.g. Voters see the new leader as a change for the better.

Be down to somebody/something: to be caused by a particular person or thing. E.g. She claimed her problems were down to the media. 

Knock somebody sideways: (informal) to surprise or shock somebody so much that they are unable to react immediately. E.g. The recession knocked us sideways last year.

Yarn /jɑːn/ a long story, especially one that is exaggerated or invented. E.g. A good yarn. He used to spin yarns (= tell stories) about his time in the Army.

Pitch a story/line/yarn (to somebody): (informal) to tell somebody a story or make an excuse that is not true.

Log something to put information in an official record or write a record of events. Record. E.g. The police log all phone calls. I need to log things down so that I can remember.


personable

trailblazer

to blaze a trail

whimsical

amiable: pleasant; friendly and easy to like

know sth inside out

know something like the back of your hand

was a legend

His greatest legacy may be his impact on...

a dab hand

a flair for

a knack for: He's got a real knack for making money.

have the gift of the gab

able to speak off the cuff

come across/over as

wry

quirky

he is a man/woman after my own heart

he is a maverick: (of a person) independent, with unusual opinions. E.g. a maverick film director. A politician with a maverick streak (Sp. vena, cualidad).

 


 

Objective Proficiency p 152.Hardtalk with Sir Ian McKellen, Actor . Extra Listening


Whether you think of him as Richard III or Gandalf, you will know he has won hearts and accolades around the world - not just for five decades of work on stage and screen, but also for his passionate public advocacy, particular on the issue of gay rights. Sir Ian McKellen was brought up in a Britain in which homosexuality was still a crime. He did not come out publicly until he was 49. Almost three decades on he is still acting and still campaigning. For this special programme recorded in front of an audience to mark 20 years of Hardtalk, Stephen Sackur asks him to what extent has the cultural landscape changed?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04yc2hk

Objective Proficiency p 152. Tearing Up History. Extra Listening

Objective Proficiency p 152. A History Of Britain by Simon Schama. Extra Listening

Objective Proficiency p 152. Seven Ages of Britain. Extra Listening

Objective Proficiency p 152. Blood and Gold. The Making of Spain. Extra Listening

Objective Proficiency p 152. The Time Traveller's Guide To Elizabethan England. Extra Listening

Objective Proficiency p 152. Emmanuel Kelly on X Factor. Extra Listening

  • Lennon's widow Yoko Ono tweeted about Kelly's performance of her late husband's hit song, writing: "Thank you, Emmanuel. You sang beautifully! Thank you. John would have been proud of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Love, Yoko." 
  • Kelly was rescued and adopted by Children First Foundation boss Moira Kelly along with his brother Ahmed after they both suffered from limb deficiencies as a result of chemical warfare in Iraq.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Objective Proficiency p 146. Graham Hill: Less Stuff, More Happiness. Extra Listening



Writer and designer Graham Hill asks: Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness? He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life.

Objective Proficiency p 146. Leisure. Extra Speaking

Vocabulary 
Drag: to pull somebody/something along with effort and difficulty. E.g. I was dragged along to a party. 
Stay in: to not go out or to remain indoors. E.g I feel like staying in tonight.

Rut: a boring way of life that does not change. Sp. Estancarse. E.g. If you don't go out and meet new people, it's easy to get into a rut.

Splash: the sound of something hitting liquid or of liquid hitting something. E.g. We heard the splash when she fell into the pool.

Squad: (in sport) a group of players, runners, etc. from which a team is chosen for a particular game or match. Sp. Equipo. E.g. the Olympic/national squad.  

Settle in/ settle into something: to move into a new home, job, etc. and start to feel comfortable there. Sp. instalarse, adaptarse. E.g.  It's not always easy for a new player to settle in.

Pick sth out: to play a tune on a musical instrument slowly without using written music. E.g. He picked out the tune on the piano with one finger.

 

 

Objective Proficiency p 146. Life is Like Riding a Bicycle. Extra Quotation


Objective Proficiency p 146. Firdaus Dhabhar: The Positive Effects of Stress. Extra Listening

Objective Proficiency p 146. Stephen Fry: The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive



In the mid-1990s, Stephen Fry, the British actor and comedian, had a moment of crisis. He recalled in 2006:

"Eleven years ago, in the early hours of the morning, I came down from my flat in central London. I went into my garage, sealed the door with a duvet I’d brought and got into my car. I sat there for at least, I think, two hours in the car, my hands on the ignition key. It was, you know, a suicide attempt, not a cry for help".

Fry didn’t end up killing himself. We know that. Instead, he left the country, heading first to Europe, then to the US where he sought treatment and, at the age of 37, received a diagnosis explaining “the massive highs and miserable lows” he had experienced his whole life: manic depression.

Once he learned to live with manic depression, Fry decided to talk publicly about his struggle and break the taboos around the condition. So, in partnership with the BBC, Fry helped produce the 2006 documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive. The programme puts Fry’s personal experience center stage. But it also brings Fry to talk with other celebrities (Robbie Williams, Richard Dreyfuss & Carrie Fisher) and everyday people living with bipolar disorder.

Objective Proficiency p 146. Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18. Extra Listening



Above you can listen to British writer and actor Stephen Fry offering life lessons based on his 54 years living in this world. Some of the highlights:
  • Don’t set goals for yourself, particularly material ones. They’re disastrous and will keep you from becoming who you really are.
  • Keep your ego in check. You’ll be better liked, and more opportunities will come your way. 
  • Get outside your comfort zone by traveling to distant lands and reading books in a serendipitous way. 
  • Be a giver, not a taker. It’s more rewarding. 
  • Learn with friends. 
  • Have heroes. 
  • And always think for yourself. 
This talk was recorded in April 2010 and runs 31 thought-filled minutes.

Objective Proficiency p 146. The Gate Open. Extra Quotation


Objective Proficiency p 146. Happiness Depends on Thoughts. Extra Quotation


Objective Proficiency p 146. Rules for Happiness. Extra Quotation


Monday, 20 February 2012

Objective Proficiency p 143. Pride. Vocabulary

Positive:
  • Look up to somebody: to admire or respect somebody. E.g. He looked up to his older sister and cousins as an example and was influenced by their ways and the music they listened to. 
  • Have a good head on your shoulders: to be a sensible person. E.g. John has a good head on his shoulders and can be depended on to give good advice.
  • Sober: /ˈsəʊbə(r)/ serious and sensible. E.g. He is honest, sober and hard-working.
  • Sobriety: /səˈbraɪəti/ the fact of being sensible and serious. E.g.  She was a model of sobriety and honesty.

Negative:

  • To look down on sb/sth: to think that you are better than somebody/something. E.g. She looks down on people who haven't been to college.
  • To look down your nose at sb/sth: (informal, especially British English) to behave in a way that suggests that you think that you are better than somebody or that something is not good enough for you. E.g. He looked down his nose at them. He criticized and screamed at employees. He publicly humiliated any employee who made a mistake.
  • Go to your head: to make you feel too proud of yourself in a way that other people find annoying. E.g. Don't let all this praise go to your head.
  • Pretentious: /prɪˈtenʃəs/ trying to appear important, intelligent, etc. in order to impress other people; trying to be something that you are not, in order to impress. E.g. That's a pretentious name for a dog! It was just an ordinary house—nothing pretentious. He's so pretentious!
  • Haughty: behaving in an unfriendly way towards other people because you think that you are better than them. Arrogant. E.g. a haughty face/look/manner. He replied with haughty disdain.
  • Scornful: showing or feeling scorn. E.g. He was scornful of such ‘female’ activities as cooking.
  • Scorn: a strong feeling that somebody/something is stupid or not good enough, usually shown by the way you speak. E.g. She was unable to hide the scorn in her voice.
  • Pour/heap scorn on somebody/something: to speak about somebody/something in a way that shows that you do not respect them or have a good opinion of them. E.g. He heaped scorn on the government's handling of the economy.
  • Disdainful (of somebody/something): showing disdain. E.g. She's always been disdainful of people who haven't been to college.
  • Contemptuous:  /kənˈtemptʃuəs/ feeling or showing that you have no respect for somebody/something. E.g. The company has shown a contemptuous disregard for Henry's complaints. He was contemptuous of everything I did.
  • Contempt: /kənˈtempt/: the feeling that somebody/something is without value and deserves no respect at all. E.g. She looked at him with contempt.
  • Obsequious: / əbˈsiːkwiəs/ trying too hard to please somebody, especially somebody who is important. Servile . E.g. an obsequious manner. Smiling obsequiously. 
  • Servile: /ˈsɜːvaɪl /wanting too much to please somebody and obey them E.g. Parents have no right to demand servile obedience from their children
  • Crawl (to somebody): (informal, disapproving) to be too friendly or helpful to somebody in authority, in a way that is not sincere, especially in order to get an advantage from them. E.g. She's always crawling to the boss.
  • Creep (to somebody): (British English, informal, disapproving) to be too friendly or helpful to somebody in authority in a way that is not sincere, especially in order to get an advantage from them. E.g. They creep to the boss and claim good work by somebody else as their own and shift any blame to somebody else.
  • Suck up (to somebody): (informal, disapproving) to try to please somebody in authority by praising them too much, helping them, etc, in order to gain some advantage for yourself. E.g. I never sucked up to my teachers, and I'm not going to start now.
  • Butter sb up: to say nice things to somebody so that they will help you or give you something. E.g. Stop trying to butter me up! He's always trying to butter up the boss.
  • Creep: a person who is not sincere but tries to win your approval by being nice to you. E.g. He's the sort of creep who would do that kind of thing!
  • Crawler :a person who tries to get somebody's favour by praising them, doing what will please them, etc. E.g. Don't be such a crawler. 
  • Brown-noser (offensive); arse (Br E) /ass (Am E) kisser/licker (offensive); Butt licker/kisser (less offensive): a person who is too friendly to somebody in authority and is always ready to do what they want. E.g. He is a butt kisser who just wants to be told he's a "good boy." 
  • Teacher's pet a person who is given special attention by somebody, especially in a way that seems unfair to other people. Favourite. E.g. She's the teacher's pet.
  • Brazen: open and without shame, usually about something that people find shocking. Shameless. Sp. Descarado. E.g. She had become brazen about the whole affair. His brazen admission that he was cheating. She had brazenly admitted allowing him back into the house.
  • blatant(of actions that are considered bad) done in an obvious and open way without caring if people are shocked. E.g. a blatant attempt to buy votes. It was a blatant lie.
  • flagrant /ˈfleɪɡrənt/ (of an action) shocking because it is done in a very obvious way and shows no respect for people, laws, etc. E.g. In flagrant disobedience of her father, Ivy stayed out all night.
  • barefaced /ˈbeəfeɪst/ showing that you do not care about offending somebody or about behaving badly. Sp. descarado. E.g. a barefaced lie/ liar. The company's claim that profits had jumped by ten per cent was obviously a barefaced lie. John was at the pub last night bragging about his goal-scoring again – but we all know he's a barefaced liar. Listen to BBC Learning English

     

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Objective Proficiency p 138. Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man. Extra Listening





Dashiell Hammett and "The Thin Man"

Dashiell Hammett's "The Thin Man" represented  a new kind of crime fiction which was about murder but which was also (1) …………..- ………….. and funny.
The Thin Man was extremely popular and (2) ……………… five sequels.
Richard Layman has been involved in the publication of two novellas and the stories have been in his (3) …………. /……….. for over twenty years.
MGM expected The Thin Man to be another of the (3) ……-………../ …………… that they were usually involved in.
MGM had to ask Hammet to get involved in the second series because they didn’t believe they had the talent to do it (4) …………- ………..  .
In the second movie “After The Thin Man”,  Nick Charles and Nora return to San Francisco, find a body and get involved in a murder investigation despite the fact that they have (5) …………. / ………… crime.  
As this murder is somehow linked to Nora’s family, Nick Charles can’t (6) ………… / ……….. from it.

During the reading from the story, one of the reporters suggests that Nick is no longer retired from being a detective and is in fact, working (7) ………………. .
Hammett knew that his special talents would be well received in Hollywood after he heard the first  (8) “…………. “.
What made Hammett’s  scripts different from the screenplay was their (9) ………….. .
Joseph Breen was the (10) …………….. / ………… of the Motion Picture Association.
The character of Nick Charles spent most of his day drinking alcohol but his character seemed to improve with (11) ………… / ……….. .
It would seem that this capacity for alcohol was also a characteristic of Hammett and for this reason he (12) …………….. this quality in Nick Charles.
MGM became disillusioned with Hammett because of his habit of never appearing at the (13) ………………… / ……………  and also because he was a member of the communist party  with a (14) ………….. - ………….. / ……………… .
Hammett himself became sick of the (15) …..…………… of the protagonists of his scripts.
After MGM paid a huge sum pf money for the rights to his characters, Hammett wrote that no other writer had ever produced a more (16) ………………. / ……………. set of characters.

KEY


Dashiell Hammett and "The Thin Man"

Dashiell Hammett's "The Thin Man" represented  a new kind of crime fiction which was about murder but which was also (1) ……light……..- ……hearted…….. and funny.
The Thin Man was extremely popular and (2) ……spawned………… five sequels.
Richard Layman has been involved in the publication of two novellas and the stories have been in his (3) ……file ……. /……cabinet….. for over twenty years.
MGM expected The Thin Man to be another of the (3) …six…-…week……../ ……wonders……… that they were usually involved in.
MGM had to ask Hammet to get involved in the second series because they didn’t believe they had the talent to do it (4) ……in……- ……house…..  .
In the second movie “After The Thin Man”,  Nick Charles and Nora return to San Francisco, find a body and get involved in a murder investigation despite the fact that they have (5) ……sworn ……. / ……off…… crime.  
As this murder is somehow linked to Nora’s family, Nick Charles can’t (6) …back……… / …off…….. from it.

During the reading from the story, one of the reporters suggests that Nick is no longer retired from being a detective and is in fact, working (7) ……undercover…………. .
Hammett knew that his special talents would be well received in Hollywood after he heard the first  (8) “……talkie……. “.
What made Hammett’s  scripts different from the screenplay was their (9) …sexuality……….. .
Joseph Breen was the (10) ……appointed……….. / …censor……… of the Motion Picture Association.
The character of Nick Charles spent most of his day drinking alcohol but his character seemed to improve with (11) ……each…… / ……sip….. .
It would seem that this capacity for alcohol was also a characteristic of Hammett and for this reason he (12) …invested……….. this quality in Nick Charles.
MGM became disillusioned with Hammett because of his habit of never appearing at the (13) ……appointed…………… / ………time……  and also because he was a member of the communist party  with a (14) ……long…….. - …term……….. / ……commitment………… .
Hammett himself became sick of the (15) …exploitation…………… of the protagonists of his scripts.
After MGM paid a huge sum pf money for the rights to his characters, Hammett wrote that no other writer had ever produced a more (16) …insufferably……………. / …smug…………. set of characters.

Transcript




This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Dashiell Hammett's "The Thin Man" invented a new kind of crime fiction. It was hard-boiled, but also light-hearted, funny, with a hint of homicide. Nick and Nora Charles and Asta, their wire-haired terrier were rich, witty and in love, when America was in the middle of the Depression and often depressed.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE THIN MAN")
MYRNA LOY: (as Nora) How they expect a woman to still have any mystery left from that after living in a place like this for three days, I don't know.
WILLIAM POWELL: (as Nick) Darling, you don't need mystery. You got something much better, something more alluring.
LOY: What?
POWELL: Me.
LOY: You?
SIMON: They also drank a lot - Nick and Nora, not Asta, though he got an occasional leftover slurp. "The Thin Man" was made into a popular motion picture, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy and a wire-haired terrier, which spawned five sequels, including "After the Thin Man" and "Another Thin man." And although the screenwriting couple of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich usually completed the screenplays, the MGM studio needed the stories and characters that only Dashiell Hammett could write. Now, for the first time, the stories of "After the Thin Man" and "Another Thin Man" have been published as novellas - "The Return of the Thin Man." They have been edited and published by Richard Layman, who joins us now from the studios of SEETV in Columbia, South Carolina. Richard, thanks so much for being with us.
RICHARD LAYMAN: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
SIMON: Where have these stories been?
LAYMAN: They've been in my file cabinet since 1981 roughly. Before that, they were in the archives at the legal office of MGM in Culver City.
SIMON: Tell us about these writing contracts that Hammett would get from MGM. I don't know if that kind of thing is done any more in Hollywood.
LAYMAN: After "The Thin Man" was first produced in 1934 by MGM but it was a B-movie. It was done on a $250,000 budget, and MGM expected it to be just another of the, you know, six-week wonders that they routinely produced. In fact, the movie was a big success. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and it made the studio a lot of money. So, they decided immediately that they needed a second story in the series. They didn't have the talent to do it in-house, they didn't believe, so they went to Hammett.
SIMON: Let's try and set this up, the story, 'cause once again in this story, Nick Charles and Nora have sworn off crime solving, but they come home to San Francisco, find a body and get dragged back in. What happens?
LAYMAN: Well, Nick Charles is always reluctantly pulled into a murder. This time, the murder has associations with Nora's family, so he can't back away from it.
SIMON: Let's hear a reading from "After the Thin Man."
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Reading) They arrive at the house and they go up the front steps. Nora: Last one in bed is a sissy. They run into the house pulling off clothes. From the living room to meet them come Asta and the reporters they left at the Hall of Justice, the reporters asking questions. The police suspect Mrs. Landis. What connections did Pedro Dominguez have with the Landis killing, etc., etc.? Nick insists he knows nothing about it and has nothing to say as they go back into the living room winding up with: I'm going to give you boys one drink apiece and then put you out. One of the reporters asks, well, answer another question for us and we won't print it if you don't want us to. Is it true that you actually didn't retire as a detective but are working undercover? Nick, starting to pour drinks: No, it's not true, but don't print it, because I don't want my wife's relatives to know that I'm living on her money.
(LAUGHTER)
SIMON: What do you learn by working with Hammett words about Hammett dialogue?
LAYMAN: Oh, Hammett was a master of dialogue and that was why it was so important to MGM. You know, when Hammett was first attracted to Hollywood, he heard the first talkie and he knew that the talents that he had were in demand in Hollywood, and indeed they were. You know, Hollywood had gone from a formula by which action advanced a plot in the days of the silent movies to a formula in which dialogue and character advanced the plot. And the two things that Hammett did superbly was develop character and write dialogue.
SIMON: Were the screenplays, the stories that he wrote, darker than the movies that got made out of them?
LAYMAN: In some respects, they were darker. But the big difference that you see between the Hammett story and the produced movie has to do with the drinking and the sexuality, but especially the sexuality. It was a time in which the Motion Picture Association had developed a code of decency. A character named Joseph Breen was the appointed censor. When he saw Hammett's scripts, he must have had fits of apoplexy.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE THIN MAN")
LOY: (as Nora) Now, how many drinks have you had?
POWELL: (as Nick) This will make six martinis.
LOY: All right. Will you bring me five more martinis?
SIMON: Nick Charles drank from morning to midnight and seemed to grow more charming and clever with each sip. Was that true of Dashiell Hammett?
LAYMAN: It was indeed. You know, there was a famous photo session of all of the former writers for Black Mask magazine. Raymond Chandler was also a Black Mask writer. And this photo that was made in, what, 1935, 1936, one of the only known photos of Hammett and Chandler together. Afterwards, Chandler wrote to someone saying that Hammett had had at least 12 drinks during the time that they worked together and didn't show the least effect from them.
SIMON: And so that's a quality with which he invested Nick Charles.
LAYMAN: Yes, it was. Nick Charles is, in many respects, like Hammett, just as Nora is, in many respects, like Hammett's girlfriend Lillian Hellman, to whom "The Thin Man," the published book, is dedicated.
SIMON: Why did the studio eventually get tired of Dashiell Hammett?
LAYMAN: The studio got tired of him for two reasons, I think. First of all, because of his, quote, "irregular habits."
SIMON: Irregular habits meant regular drinking.
LAYMAN: Regular drinking. He had a reputation for not showing up at the appointed time, often because he was drunk, sometimes because he had been out partying all night and just didn't feel like getting out of bed. But more important than that, Hammett was, at that time, becoming political active and he was involved in the Screenwriters Guild, a unionization effort of the screenwriters, to force the studios to give the writers credit and money for the work that they did.
SIMON: And he'd also been at least briefly a communist.
LAYMAN: No. It wasn't briefly - it was a long-term commitment. He was a member of the Communist Party, card-carrying. He apparently joined the party in about 1935, at about the time he was - just before the time he was writing after "After the Thin Man." And he remained a member of the party, you know, for the next, what, two decades.
SIMON: How did he grow to feel about this franchise that he'd created?
LAYMAN: I think he was fed up with Nick and Nora Charles. Not fed up - he was tired of them pretty early on and he was fed up with the studios for the exploitation of the characters that he saw. Just before he finished the last draft for "Another Thin Man," MGM bought all rights to the characters Nick and Nora Charles and Asta so that they could develop the series without him. They paid $40,000 for those character rights. And Hammett wrote to Lillian Hellman just after that: There may be better writers than I am, but nobody ever created a more insufferably smug set of characters than the Charleses, and they can't take that away from me, even for $40,000.
SIMON: Richard Layman. He's edited two stories by Dashiell Hammett, featuring the beloved characters, Nick and Nora Charles and the little dog Asta...
(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)
SIMON: They're published under the title "The Return of the Thin Man." Richard, thanks so much for being with us.
LAYMAN: Thank you.