Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Lenny Kravitz: His favorites and The Hunger Games

 Grammy Award winner for "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" four years in a row from 1999 to 2002 LENNY KRAVITZ has been cast in the blockbuster movie ‘THE HUNGER GAMES’! Check out this interview... 
Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz
Question 1: Do you have a favorite movie, director, and actor?  Or do you have some favorites?

Lenny Kravitz Answer 1: I have favorites.  My favorite movie, if I had to pick one: Manhattan.  I’m a Woody Allen fanatic. My favorite director: Fellini, I’d have to say.  And my favorite actor… That’s a hard one, but I have to say De Niro.
Lenny Kravitz's favorite actor!
Robert Di Nero
Question 2: You don’t do a lot of movies.  What was it about the material and this character that you’re like, “I want to be a part of this.” (this = The Hunger Games)

Lenny Kravitz 2: I didn’t know what it was.  So I read the book and fell in love with the book.  I thought it was great storytelling. 
Lenny Kravitz and The Hunger Games!

Language Style
This interview has lots of great casual spoken English from the interviewer and Lenny Kravitz: Let’s break it up for practice purposes.  I have also edited some portions from the original interview.

Part One
Question 1: Do you have a favorite movie, director, and actor?  Or do you have some favorites?

Lenny Kravitz:  Answer 1: I have favorites.  My favorite movie, if I had to pick one: Manhattan.  I’m a Woody Allen fanatic. My favorite director: Fellini, I’d have to say.  And my favorite actor… That’s a hard one, but I have to say De Niro.

‘Question 1’ is a common question with a twist.  What is the ‘twist’?  The first part is in the singular form and the second part of the question takes on the plural form.  The second portion also drops some words for a conversational style.  This is possible because the ideas have already been mentioned in the first part of the question.

Here is what I mean:

1st Part singular form
Question 1: Do you have a favorite movie, director, and actor? 

2nd Part plural form and drops 3 words
Or do you have some favorites?
Long style: Or do you have some favorite movies, directors, and actors?
Movies, directors, and actors is canceled and an ‘s’ is added to ‘favorites’ to signal to the listener that the speaker is using a short conversation style.  Pretty Cool!  This isn’t something you will find in a textbook!

Lenny’s answer style also reflects the plural question form dropping 4 words:
I have favorites
Long style I have some favorite movies, directors, and actors.

Once again, the missing words are dropped because the speaker has already introduced the idea and style.  Most language teachers would correct the student if they said ‘I have favorites.’  But to the outside world, and me it is natural and chill (chill = cool, relaxed).
And if any one gives you grief (= frustrates your language usage or tries to correct you) ,just remember, award winning singer and writer  ‘Lenny Kravitz’ said it!

Lenny also has a great style for when you feel you have to pick only one answer.
Lenny uses 3 great phrases that you can use too!

…if I had to pick one:
… I’d have to say.  
… That’s a hard one, but I have to say…

These 3 phrases emphasize and signal the speaker’s difficulty in selecting only one movie, director, and actor.  Most likely Lenny has many movies, directors, and actors he likes.  Moreover his style reveals that he is very impressed with: Woody Allen, Fellini, De Niro.  And of course Lenny’s use of the word ‘fanatic’ shows his affinity toward Woody Allen. 

fanatic = enthusiast

Hockey fanatics!

Italian football (soccer) fanatic!
Using these 3 phrases is a great way to expand your English Language repertoire (repertoire = range of skills).  Native speakers in any language are able to express the same ideas in various ways.  That is what keeps language communication interesting! Or people smiling!

Part Two
Question 2: You don’t do a lot of movies.  What was it about the material and this character that you’re like, “I want to be a part of this.” (this = The Hunger Games)

Lenny Kravitz 2: I didn’t know what it was.  So I read the book and fell in love with the book.  I thought it was great storytelling. 

Lenny uses a great line to describe his feelings for the book/movie “The Hunger Games”:
…I fell in love with the book.
Fall in love with a book!
to fall in love with a book
 to fall in love with something = to really really like/love something
Exs. To fall in love with a movie, to fall in love with a screenplay, etc.

This expression is nice to add to your list of phrases to express ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’.

Speaking Practice Style-Adapted for Daily Conversation

You probably got it but here a few practice examples to get you started in your conversation styles.  I adapted the second idea to fit everyday life since we are not rock stars yet.  But if you are you don’t have to change anything!

Question 1: Do you have a favorite movie, director, and actor?  Or do you have some favorites?

Lenny Kravitz Answer 1: I have favorites.  My favorite movie, if I had to pick one: Manhattan.  I’m a Woody Allen fanatic. My favorite director: Fellini, I’d have to say.  And my favorite actor… That’s a hard one, but I have to say De Niro.

Ex. Idea 1
Answer 1: I have favorites.  My favorite movie, if I had to pick one: Titanic.  I’m a Leonardo Di Caprio fanatic. My favorite director: James Cameron, I’d have to say.  And my favorite actor… That’s a hard one, but I have to say Denzel Washington.

Ex. Idea 2
Question 2: What was it about the material and this character that you liked?

Lenny Kravitz 2: I didn’t know what it was.  So I read the book and fell in love with the book.  I thought it was great storytelling

Question 2: What was it about the video that you liked?

I didn’t know what it was.  So I listened to and watched the video and fell in love with the video.  I thought it was great music

Celebrity Language and Culture!

Celebrity English

 Lenny Kravitz- Movie Video

 Lenny Kravitz-Music Videos

Monday, 26 March 2012

7 Things You Can Do To Cut Your Car Insurance Rates

Image source : Flickr

Everyone wants to save money on auto insurance. Like just about everything else, car insurance prices for many drivers have increased significantly over the past decade, even coverage for safe drivers and for those owning very safe vehicles. And even one at fault accident can results in substantial auto insurance rate increases.

Here are 7 things you can do to cut your car insurance rates:

#1. Insure Multiple Vehicles

Almost every insurance provider offers a substantial discount on an auto policy if more than one vehicle is being protected. Depending on the value of the cars and the make and model of each, liability and collision insurance premiums for each vehicle may be lowered by as much as 10 percent when the owner insures them together.

#2. Insure Multiple Drivers

Most insurance policies are written to cover a specific vehicle rather than an individual. So-called blanket policies cover a driver regardless of the vehicle he or she is operating, but these policies generally cost as much as a traditional liability insurance plan. Instead, it is wise to combine all vehicles and drivers in the household when purchasing auto insurance because each separate policy will cost a bit less.

#3. Complete A Defensive Driving Course

These are invaluable where younger drivers are concerned and can save a bundle on premiums. The course can be taken online and the certificate of completion sent directly to the insurance provider. For those who have had several moving violations in the past few years, completing a driver education course will help to maintain favorable insurance rates.

#4. List All Safety Features On The Vehicle

All too often an insurance shopper will neglect to complete the vehicle information section on the insurance request form. If the car has a full complement of airbags, 3-point seatbelts with pretensioners, a rearview backup camera, anti-theft protection system or advanced crumple zone engineering these should be checked off in the appropriate boxes. Most of the larger insurance providers will have this field clearly marked on the information page and drivers should not overlook this money-saving feature.

#5. Choose Full Coverage When Initializing The Policy

Adding collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist and personal injury protection insurance can be much less expensive when starting a new policy. These optional coverage types (depending on where you live) may cost quite a bit more if you add them on later. It is also wise to check the provider's payment options when purchasing a full protection policy because a higher initial payment often means a lower monetary outlay over six or twelve months.

#6. Choose A Lender Offering Safe Driver Discounts

One way to combat rising auto insurance premiums is to purchase a policy from a provider offering discounts for those with safe driving records. The rewards are lower premiums, better rates when extending the policy after the initial 6- or 12-month period, reduced deductible amounts for each year the driver has no accidents and more flexible payment options. You can compare quotes from several providers online by using a comparison site.

#7. Shop Multiple Insurance Providers

This the most important of the 7 things you can do to cut your car insurance rates. Comparison shopping allows you to work with different deductible amounts, look over several different payment plans and check the premium amounts when extra coverage types are added. The insurance companies are vying for your business and this strategy increases competition and may allow you to get the best combination of low price and coverage.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What is your job like at Glee?


Glee is currently a Top Hit TV show in North America.  It is a musical comedy-drama that celebrates human diversity in a high school setting.  Glee has become an award winning TV series in a very short time.  The music from the show has sold over 36 million copies of single releases and more that 11 million albums worldwide.  Glee is also quite popular with big celebrities.  Guest appearances on the Glee show include Ricky Martin and Britney Spears; Tom Hanks is known to enjoy watching the show with his family.  Let’s check out how some of the cast members feel about their work!

What is your job/work like?

Amber Riley (Mercedes):
What is your job like at Glee? Amber Riley (Mercedes)

I love my work.  It is exciting.  I get to dance, I get to act and I get to sing.

Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina):
 What is your job like at Glee? Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina)
During a typical day, we are juggling shooting scenes, learning dances and recording songs.

Mark Salling (Puck):
What is your job like at Glee?  Mark Salling (Puck)

The busy days are long like 14 to 16 hour days.  But my work keeps me on my toes.

Natural Speaking Styles
A common style in North American culture is to ask people about their job.  This week I wanted to take a look at the answers from some of the cast of the hit TV show ‘Glee’.  The question ‘What is your job/work like?’ is great for finding out more information about a person’s employment. It is casual and usually asked if you already know what the person’s job is.  If you don’t know then this would be the second question.  For example

Question: What do you do?
Answer: I am an actor.

Question: Really, how interesting.  What is your job like?

Answer: Well… I love my work.  It is exciting.  I get to dance, I get to act and I get to sing.

Celebrity Answer styles:
 With Amber Riley’s case, she tells us she ‘loves’ her job and it is ‘exciting’.   Amber tells us 3 activities that she can do at her job.  Amber uses the informal verb ‘get to’ to emphasize why she loves her job and why it is exciting.  She loves her job because she can dance at her job.  She is allowed to sing and act.  Amber uses repetition of  ‘get to’ to really emphasize the great things her job entails.

Jenna Ushkowitz gives the listener an idea of her ‘typical’ workday.   Jenna also tells us 3 activities to explain her job:  shooting scenes, learning dances and recording songs.  She uses the verb ‘juggling’ (to juggle) to help provide more imagery for the listener and emphasize the idea that her typical day is quite busy.

Mark Salling explains to the listener what his job is like on a busy workday.  Mark says that his long workdays are ‘like’ (=for example) 14 to 16 hours in one day.  Mark also explains that his job ‘Keeps him on his toes’. 
To keep someone on one’s toes = to keep someone active/alert/busy/focused/no time to be relaxed. This is a common expression and conveys a positive idea. 

Practice Styles
So please try out these styles the next time someone asks you “What is your job like?”

Here are some practice ideas.

Question:  What is your job like?

Amber ’s style
I love my work.  It is exciting.  I get to dance, I get to act and I get to sing.

Ex1. I love my work.  It is exciting.  I get to take pictures, I get to travel and I get to meet new people from different backgrounds.

Jenna’s style
During a typical day, we are juggling shooting scenes, learning dances and recording songs.

Ex2. During a typical day, we are juggling customer calls, sales and marketing.

Mark’s style
The busy days are long like 14 to 16 hour days.  But my work keeps me on my toes.

Ex3. The busy days are long like 12 to 14 hour days.  But my work keeps me on my toes.

Have a good week! See you next week!
Celebrity Language and Culture!

Celebrity English


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

"The New American Heartthrob" Zac Efron

zac efron

American actor and singer Zac Efron starred in the hit movies High school Musical, 17 Again, Hairspray, New Year’s Eve, and many more. Zac is quite famous and extremely loved as a celebrity.  Rolling Stone Magazine, called him, "The New American Heartthrob".
Let’s find out a bit more about America's newest heartthrob Zac Efron!

Question 1: Are you a gamer? Do you play a lot of video games?

Zac Efron Answer: I play a lot of video games.

Question 2: Are you tech savvy?

Zac: Sorry?

Question: Are you tech savvy?

Zac: Not really. I mean I have an iphone.

Natural English
These common questions tend to come up in conversation.  For ‘small talk’, these questions are good and can be asked to anyone.  They are helpful for getting to know someone. 

Question 1: Are you a gamer?

Question 1: Do you play a lot of video games? 

The interviewer asks both of these questions at once because she has a short time.  The interviewer doesn’t wait to hear the answer to the first question.  Instead she asks 2 questions quickly in order to get more information from Zac Efron.  In a casual conversation you can wait for the first answer or try this double question style yourself.  It is a simple technique but an effective one.  The second question is a good follow up question to find out more general information about Zac.  The previous topic was video games so the interviewer asks:

Question 2: Are you tech savvy?

Her question links the ideas or builds on the theme of games and technology from the first question and answer.  The ‘question flow’ is quite smooth. 

Zac Efron’s answers are also quite common:

Answer 1: I play a lot of video games.

Answer 2: Not really. I mean I have an iphone. 

The first answer tells the listener about his leisure time habits.  The second answer is quite smooth or subtle. 

Not really. I mean I have an iphone.  =
(Subtle idea)
I am not really tech savvy.  But I do/can use iphone technology.  I am not great but I am not incompetent with technology.

I like this style because the answer is a bit humble but still tells the listener his skill level.  I think this is a good example of why Zac Efron is a well-liked actor personality wise. 

Vocabulary Building for Natural Conversations

1. a gamer = a person who plays games; especially: a person who regularly plays computer or video games.

2. to be Savvy = good at something/has practical knowledge of something / has practical ability at something

3. tech = technologically

4. iphone = a line of Internet- and multimedia-enabled smartphones marketed by Apple Inc.

Listening Building for Natural Conversations

Watch and Listen for the Questions and Answers from the Original Zac Efron interview:

Question 1 (0:20), Question 2 (0:39)

Zac Efron Movie Coming Soon April 2012
The Lucky One- Trailer 1

Celebrity Language and Culture!

Celebrity English

Monday, 12 March 2012

Make sure your Staff are protected

image source: Flickr

If you expect your staff to work hard for the company you should give them the reassurance to work in safety.

Your staff are your biggest asset – employ the best staff and your business will thrive. After all, good customer service, operational staff and management will help to drive the business  forwards and to bring in new work. If you put your faith in your staff and expect them to deliver then it’s only fair that they should be able to work in a safe and secure environment. They should be confident with any equipment that they are using and feel safe in the offices and buildings where they carry out their duties.

Your choice of construction insurance will have a large part to play in their safety and security. A good policy will ensure that everyone is covered for every work-related eventuality and you can work safe in the knowledge that your team is protected. However, if you haven’t checked out your construction or warehouse insurance policy for a while, you can’t guarantee that it covers all your current requirements. You might have taken on a lot of new staff recently, or you might have upgraded or expanded equipment or premises without upgrading your insurance policy.

If that’s the case then you should make your insurance a priority. It’s no good putting it aside while other urgent administrative jobs land on your desk. Nothing is more of a priority than making sure your staff are safe and you owe it to them to check your current policy with your insurance provider. This should only be a matter of making a quick phone call, outlining the details of your current policy and checking that it still meets all the requirements of your business. It might be that you have a robust policy that can cover a certain amount of growth when it comes to premises and staff. However, if your business has grown rapidly, you may discover that you need extra cover on your policy, or that you need to take out additional cover for certain aspects of your business.

If you have time, you should also think about getting quotes from other competitive insurance providers. If you haven’t changed your insurance company for a number of years, it makes sense to get quotes from other companies to make sure you’re paying over the odds for your policy. There are a number of companies that specialise in construction insurance and you might want to consider using a provider with the inside knowledge of your industry. They can offer specific expertise and advise with regards to your cover and the policies that they provide to businesses.

If you ignore your admin or push it to one side you could come to regret it later on. No one likes to consider the possibility of accidents or thefts taking place in the business but these things happen. At least, with a comprehensive insurance policy, you will have the reassurance that the issues will be dealt with – without one, you could end up losing your business and everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Dream Aria: Music for the Soul

Dream Aria Fallen Angel

Rich, Intense, Dramatic! Music that fulfills! Dream Aria is on top of the music charts!  
A unique dream-scape of musical genres, compelling lyrics, and deep harmony passages.  Dream Aria is a unique visionary musical quest to tantalize listeners.  

‘No rules, No boundaries” Let’s enjoy the experience of an 'inside interview' with a Legendary group known as Dream Aria...

Dream Aria musical group
Dream Aria Interview

Alex Question 1:  Can you describe your genre of music and what it means to you?

Our music is an eclectic blend of progressive rock, world music, ambient and Goth. Personally, the music we create together means everything to me. The creative process is magical for me and probably for the rest of the band as well. We write from the heart with no rules/boundaries or "cut and paste" processes. We don't even use computers! It's not about the power of the gear for us, it's about the music and the true heart and soul that goes with it.

2.Often musicians and writers have a theme(s) running through their  creations, Are there any themes or ideas running through your music?

When Don writes the music, he is usually coming from a 'spiritual' place. In this sense, he and I write well together because I'm on that 'same page' so to speak. So when I hear his moving music, I feel and hear spiritual themes. I tend to write lyrics that are positive and about hope and the human condition. In some instances, the lyrics have been a bit 'darker' to reflect all sides of man. Other times, the music conjures up more 'fantasy' style themes within me. I normally write all the lyrics so these are some of the themes the listener may experience from listening to our songs. For instance, the entire "Fallen Angel" cd conceptualizes the idea of an angel being sent down to earth to do good will and guide mankind to higher vibrations of existence. Each song represents a part of her journey while on the earthly plane.

3. What did you find the most challenging about getting into the music scene?

Personally, I never thought so much about the idea of "getting into the music scene". All I know is that I wanted to sing and was in fact obsessed with doing so since I was four years old. I simply 'knew' I was a singer (or at least that I wanted to be one!) and took it very seriously and had/have a great soulful love for it. I enjoy most music in general and instruments and such too. I even used to play cello and piano. I just thought of all of my musical experiences to be more of a magical thrill than about doing them for monetary success and fame. That being said, I do appreciate any recognition and support from our fans and friends! We love them all! We do enjoy 'spreading the word' for our band and are very thankful for any successes we've had thus far. But we do it for the love of it, bottom line. As a side note, for anyone out there trying to 'make it in the music biz', my advice would be to use all of today's resources: internet networking (Facebook, Myspace etc), word of mouth, Youtube and the like. Believe in yourself, persevere and do it for the love of it! I wish them all good fortune!

4. As a band, what are your goals for the future?

As a band, we would love to continue making music. We also have a few videos in the works and some possible gigs/tours coming up. We will keep our fans posted via our Myspace page, and on our Facebook page under Dream Aria.

5.How do you see the music industry in Canada and the United States?

I see the music industry in Canada and the US as very commercially (many times very "packaged and without true soul") inclined and less open-minded than music lovers in Europe for instance. I also notice a lot of unseen talent in Canada and feel it's a real shame not many people get the chance to hear their music. Overall, I haven't really heard anything completely fresh and inspiring lately, in the mainstream. I still have hope!

6.Many of the readers of Celebrity English are international, are  there any international groups or singers that you enjoy listening to?

Within the band, we have many influences and enjoy listening to many different bands and genres, from all over the world. I used to listen to ABBA, the Scorpions, Deep Purple, Beethoven, Andreas Vollenweider, Pat Benetar, Chris Botti, Toto and the list goes on. I know some of my band mates enjoy The Beatles, Old Genesis/Peter Gabriel, Debussy, Giant, ELP and more. More current international bands my bandmates and I have heard and have enjoyed are Lacuna Coil, Radiohead, YES, Sigur Ros and Lisa Gerrard.

7. Where can we look forward to hearing or seeing Dream Aria? I mean  new releases, venues, and anything else music related?

Our fans and friends can find us anytime on our Myspace and Facebook pages as mentioned before. They can also check our official website, for further information. Our latest musical 'adventures' will always be posted on those sites. We will be finishing up a few videos, which will be posted on Youtube etc soon. Also, hopefully we'll be working on our 4th cd in the near future. We also hope to tour Europe and anywhere else we can!
Alex: Well that wraps it up for this week. A Big Thank you to our new friends from Dream Aria!  

Ann Aria: Thank you very much for the interview and a big thanks to all our fans and friends out there!

Ann Aria :) xox
Ann Aria

Alex: Cheers to you too! And as Dream Aria truly wishes for all ‘LOVE and LIGHT’!
Dream Aria 'Love and Light'

Must Read: A Smart Takedown of Economist's Cheerleading on Financial Innovation

Recently the Economist had a terrible report on the benefits of financial innovation. I read only part of it, but the jejune, spirited prose suggested an earnest college student who has discovered all he thinks he needs to know about the free market and economics via a couple of high-level courses.

I was pleased afterwards to read this smart, extremely thorough takedown by frequent guest poster at Naked Capitalism, Satyajit Das. It's a great piece (though has Das's singular failing -- he can't write a shopping list in less than 500 words ;)). Everyone should read Das on financial "innovation" to learn how the Economist comes up woefully, naively short in its analysis.

A few highlights I plucked out are below.

First, Das has a terrific section on risk transference (my bold):
Securitisation for the last 15-20 years entailed shifting assets from banks to structure[s] which reduced the amount of capital required, arbitraging regulatory capital requirements.

If a bank already held a loan funded with deposits, then in aggregate by selling the loan to the same depositors does not increase the supply of credit. The increase in credit is a function of the several things: (1) shifting risk into the shadow banking system; (2) alchemy (tranching) to create highly rated securities (AAA or AA) which acts as collateral to allow further re-leveraging; and (3) the ability to re-hypothecate the collateral over and over again, such as in re-securitisation.

The process increased leverage (crudely the capital against risk in reduced), model risk, liquidity risk, complexity and linkages via counterparty risk. It also moves risk from somewhere where it is highly visible to where it is less visible. In cutting and dicing risk, it encourages mis-pricing.
Das also includes quotes from Fabrice Tourre of Goldman Sachs, whose candid e-mails captured the arrogance and reckless complexity of the industry:
“More and more leverage in the system. The whole building is about to collapse anytime now?.?.?.? Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab[rice Tourre] standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstrosities!!!”

“Anyway, not feeling too guilty about this, the real purpose of my job is to make capital markets more efficient and ultimately provide the U.S. consumer with more efficient ways to leverage and finance himself, so there is a humble, noble, and ethical reason for my job :) amazing how good I am in convincing myself!!!"
Finally, Das concludes with this withering paragraph:
Information on the issues is all in the public domain. There are a plethora of reports, such as Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report, the Turner Report etc, which explore financial innovation and the financial crisis. There is also, I understand, a relatively new innovative Internet-based tool – the “search engine” – with could have been used by The Economist to check and research such facts.

Friday, 2 March 2012

katy perry without make up.

lady gaga without make up.

lady gaga. no make up.

i hate it. what's wrong with me?

everytime i come home from school, especially from duty, i get real dang sleepy, then i fall on my bed and fall fast asleep. then i wake up 4am, realizing i havent washed my face nor brushed my teeth nor changed my clothes nor ate dinner! what the!!!