Episode 59: Los Angeles, CA

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 59: Los Angeles, CA

Before we begin, I have a couple of questions:

  1. Have you answered the podcast survey? Your answers help make the podcast better. Visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net and click the link to the survey questions. You can read some of the survey results so far at www.Patreon.com/slowamericanenglish.
  2. Are you learning as much as you can from the podcast? Become a patron to make your experience better. Choose from four levels, each with valuable monthly rewards. I recommend Level 2 as the best level for the money, which is $10 a month. But for only $5.00 per month, you can join Level 1 for English Learners. You get
  • a pdf file with three exercises you can use with the recording or the transcript to improve listening and reading comprehension,

  • a free Slow American English workbook,

  • a chance to win private English lessons with me, including a personal learning plan,

  • and a monthly live discussion of each podcast episode via Skype. Practice your English in a real-world conversation! This month’s discussion date: Thursday, 21 November, 2019, at 09:00am US Mountain Time (GMT-7). Patrons, you MUST notify me via email (info@slowamericanenglish.net) by Wednesday, 20 November, 2019, at 5:00pm US Mountain Time (GMT-7) to let me know you will attend the live discussion. If you cannot attend because of your time zone, I can schedule an additional session if there are enough participants.

So, please visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become a patron today. Remember: all your contributions help me continue to bring this podcast to you.

Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

Los Angeles, CA, is often called LA. It is a very large city on the coast of southern California. It is made up of many smaller towns that have become part of it. Some people think that Los Angeles and Hollywood are the same place. That is only partly true. Hollywood was a smaller town that was added to LA in 1910. Naturally, many people and companies who are part of the film industry live in LA. There is a stereotype that most of the waiters in restaurants in LA are people trying to become famous actors.

Other places you may have heard about that are part of LA include Brentwood, Encino, Watts, Venice Beach, Tarzana, Chinatown, Little Tokyo and Van Nuys. Places you may know that are near LA but not officially part of it are Beverly Hills, Burbank, Santa Monica, Compton, Malibu, Long Beach and Pasadena.

LA is a sprawling city, which means that it takes up a lot of space. It covers 469.1 square miles for about four million people, compared to New York City, which takes up only 302.6 square miles for almost nine million people. Because of this urban sprawl, everyone depends heavily on cars. Because of so many cars, large freeways were built to handle the traffic. Unfortunately, the cars multiplied too fast, and now people say the freeways are parking lots!

Because LA lies on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, it has beaches. But it also has mountains and valleys and very good weather. You may have heard the song that goes, “It never rains in southern California”. Of course that’s not really true, though the weather is usually nice. But long periods of no rain cause droughts, then rain comes and sometimes causes mudslides. In addition, LA lies on the San Andreas Fault, which means there are earthquakes, too. A human-made problem is smog, which is a cloud of air pollution that hangs over the city.

Los Angeles is often called La La Land, partly because of the abbreviation ‘LA’ and partly because the phrase “lala land” means a fantasy place where people who are out of touch with the real world go in their heads. Los Angeles has a reputation for being a place that isn’t quite the same as the real world.

Of course, native tribes such as the Chumash and Tongva lived there before Spanish settlers came in 1769. The Spanish name of the settlement translates as “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula”. “The angels” in Spanish is “los angeles”, which is now pronounced “Los Angeles” in English.

Los Angeles has one of the most diverse populations in the world, which means that there are many different ethnic groups. More than 90 languages besides English are spoken by people who live in LA. One of the biggest groups is the Latino population, and much of this group has Mexican heritage.

Besides the uniqueness of Hollywood, LA has everything you can imagine in a large city. There are cultural places such as museums, theaters and art galleries plus famous universities such as University of Southern California (USC) and University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). Professional sports teams and major medical centers are located there, too. And the LA airport, called LAX, is one of the most important airports in the world.

### End of Transcript ###

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe with any podcast app or feed reader.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.

Episode 52: San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 52: San Francisco, California

Hello Slow American English listeners! Before we begin, here’s some important info:

Now you can follow me on social media. Click the icons for Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on the podcast website at www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. I send information about American English idioms on Mondays and podcast episode information every Friday. Plus there are additional posts with more information.

Don’t forget to buy the fourth Slow American English workbook. It’s available on Amazon, just like the first three workbooks. You can use the workbooks either with the podcast or without it. Teachers can use it for listening, reading, speaking and writing. Students can use it for self-study. For links to buy all my workbooks, visit the podcast website.

A million thanks to my Patreon patrons for pledging a small amount every month to keep the podcast going. Your contributions help pay for web hosting and other expenses. Without you, I could not produce this podcast every month. Thank you! To become a patron, visit www.Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish.

Become a website subscriber at www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. There are free transcripts PLUS links to become a patron and to buy workbooks.

Now for the podcast:

San Francisco, CA, is one of the most important ports in the USA. It is on the West Coast, on the Pacific Ocean, and has a large, safe bay and harbor for ships. The city and bay are famous for the quickly changing weather, especially fog and rain. In fact, the fog hid the harbor from European explorers for over 300 years. Before that, the Yaluma people lived there.

Beginning with the European settlers, San Francisco was a Spanish mission, and later a Mexican mission. Then, in 1848, gold was discovered in the nearby mountains. Many people poured into the area in 1849 hoping to get rich. This movement of people was called the Gold Rush, and the people were called the 49ers. This nickname is so popular that San Francisco’s football team‘s name is the 49ers.

San Francisco sits on very steep hills, and part of it is on filled-in marshland. The city lies on the San Andreas Fault, which means there is a high danger of earthquakes. In fact, the great earthquake of 1906 destroyed much of the city. Fires burned for three days afterward, destroying even more. More recently a large earthquake occurred in 1989. Highways, buildings and bridges fell, and many people died.

However, San Franciscans rebuilt each time, and it continued to grow. It is a very rich, crowded city, with many high-tech companies and a progressive culture. Writers and poets came to the city, including the beat poets of the 1950s. In the 1960s, the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood was famous as a center for the hippie counterculture. San Francisco has always been a place where many activists, including those for environmental, labor and feminist issues, live and work. In the 1980s, the Castro District area was a center for gay rights and a movement to help homeless people and those with AIDS.

Other interesting facts about San Francisco:

Thousands of Chinese immigrants came to San Francisco to work because of the discovery of gold and silver, and also because of the railroad. As a result, the Chinatown area of San Francisco became the largest Chinese settlement outside of Asia.

Visitors to San Francisco should ride the famous cable cars. They were installed in the late 1800s and helped the city grow on the steep hills.

Another popular sight is Fisherman’s Wharf, a historical part of the waterfront. While there, tourists like to see the hundreds of sea lions that visit Pier 39 every year. From this area you can take a boat tour and visit the famous ex-prison, Alcatraz, which is located on an island in San Francisco Bay.

But I have saved the most famous sight of San Francisco for last: the Golden Gate Bridge. That, and the Bay Bridge, were both built in the 1930s. They connect the city to nearby communities like Oakland and Marin County.

### End of Transcript ###

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can get the podcast episodes via Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and any other RSS feed reader.

Theme music is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

As always, you can contact me directly via email at info@slowamericanenglish.net.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.

Episode 45: Hollywood

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 45: Hollywood

Before we begin, I want to thank my Patreon patrons for your important monthly pledges. They all add up to help pay for web hosting and other expenses. Without you, I could not produce this podcast every month. Thank you!

If YOU think this podcast is helpful, please visit www.Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become a patron. It’s very inexpensive, you help everyone around the world who listens to this podcast, and you get the natural-speed recordings and exercise worksheets for each episode.

Also, buy Slow American English workbooks on Amazon.com. Workbooks contain all the transcripts and Exercise Worksheets for each episode for an entire year: 12 episodes in each workbook.

In addition, you can become a website subscriber for free at www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. Find free transcripts there PLUS links to become a patron and to buy workbooks.

Subscribe to the podcast feed via Apple Podcasts, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and any other RSS feed reader.

Contact me directly via email at info@slowamericanenglish.net. Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

Language note: As you may know, Hollywood, California, is considered the film-making capital of the world. But ‘Hollywood’ can refer to the movie business in general, not just the town. Furthermore, films are also called ‘movies’ or ‘motion pictures’.

History

In 1886, H. J. Whitley founded Hollywood. It was about 12 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and very near the city of Los Angeles, often called L.A. Hollywood became part of L.A. in 1910.

Early in the 1900s, Thomas Edison held most of the patents for making motion pictures. His company was in New Jersey, on the East Coast. His company often stopped others from making movies. To escape this, filmmakers began moving west. Eventually, L.A. became the capital of the film industry.

Good weather, low land prices and nearby settings such as mountains and plains were also reasons Hollywood became the place where film companies, called studios, appeared. Nestor Studio, established in 1912, was the first one. Nestor produced the first Hollywood film using H. J. Whitley’s home as the set.

Early movies had no sound and are now called silent movies. They were shown in theaters with a live piano or organ player who provided a musical background to the film. By the 1930s all movies had sound and were called talking pictures, or talkies.

By the 1930s, there were only a few big film studios, such as MGM, Paramount, Universal, Columbia, RKO and 20th Century Fox. They had their own stages, costume departments and all the staff and equipment necessary to produce a movie. They even owned the theaters across the nation where their movies were shown. They employed actors who had contracts to work only for their studios, too.

However, a federal lawsuit in the 1930s forced the studios to break apart. Because of this and the growing popularity of television, many parts of the big film studios became separate companies. Today, most film production involves many independent companies that supply costumes, sets, etc., and actors are independent, too.

In 1927 film industry leaders formed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In addition to providing many benefits to filmmakers, each spring they present the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars. There is a story that one of the Academy staff said the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar, and that’s why the trophies are known as Oscars.

Hollywood Landmarks

The area just north of Hollywood is called the Hollywood Hills. In 1923, a housing developer built large letters in the Hollywood Hills that spelled HOLLYWOODLAND to advertise a housing development. In 1949, the city of Hollywood made an agreement with L.A. to repair the aging sign. Part of the agreement said the sign would then spell HOLLYWOOD and refer to the city, not the housing development. Today, it’s a famous landmark in Hollywood.

Another famous Hollywood landmark is the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Built in 1927, it’s still a working movie theater, and many movie premieres are shown there. The Oscars were held here from 1944 – 1946.

Just outside the front door of the Chinese Theatre is another famous landmark, the Forecourt of the Stars. There you can see over 200 concrete slabs with imprints of movie stars’ hands, feet and signatures. There are also imprints of other things, such as Harry Potter’s wand and Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger’s hoofprint.

Just beyond the concrete slabs is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There, over 2,600 star shapes containing names of important Hollywood people are embedded in the sidewalk. The Walk of Fame spans 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. It’s a big honor to have a star there.

Next to the Chinese Theatre is the Dolby Theater, built in 2001. Live performances are presented here, not movies. It has one of the largest stages in the US and is designed for television shows. The Oscars have been presented here since it was built.

Of course these are just a few of the many famous landmarks in Hollywood and L.A. I personally have never been there. But I hope we all get a chance to visit and see some of them.

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, TuneIn and any other podcast feed reader.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.

Episode 29 (formerly 1705): McDonald’s

Transcript:
I bet you don’t know anyone who hasn’t heard of McDonald’s fast-food restaurant. Today, there are over 36,000 locations in more than 100 countries worldwide. Of course, the giant American fast-food chain didn’t start out that large.

The very first McDonald’s was founded by two brothers from New Hampshire. Richard and Maurice (Dick and Mac) McDonald traveled to California in the 1930s during the Great Depression. They hoped to become successful movie producers, but that plan failed. In 1940 they opened a small restaurant in the town of San Bernardino, California. At first they sold barbecue, but later they realized they could make more money by selling just a few simple items.

Eventually they changed the menu to only hamburgers, French fries and drinks. They also invented a new concept of fast food: a small menu, efficient preparation procedures, self-service and disposable, paper serving items. With this formula, which was inspired by Henry Ford’s assembly-line idea, their restaurant became very successful.

In 1954, a milkshake-machine salesman named Ray Kroc visited the McDonald’s restaurant and was immediately impressed by the efficiency and success of the brothers’ business model. He bought the rights to build the first McDonald’s franchise, which opened in 1955 near Chicago, Illinois.

It is well known that Kroc and the McDonald brothers didn’t get along very well. The Founder, a Hollywood film released in 2016, portrays the difficult relationship between them. It depends on who you ask as to whether there were any underhanded business dealings during their relationship. But, they eventually ended their partnership after many years of disagreements about how the company should be run. Ray Kroc bought the entire company from the brothers in 1961 for $2.7 million. Kroc would continue to devote his entire life to making McDonald’s a success until his death in 1984.

Nowadays, McDonald’s corporate headquarters is in Oak Brook, IL, near Chicago. The company continues to emphasize the trademark “golden arches” architecture of their buildings, the standardized menu and procedures and an assurance that McDonald’s restaurants worldwide will give the customer the same experience no matter where it is located. Although many other fast-food restaurants use the same kind of business model today, McDonald’s was the first chain to become successful doing so.

Some fun facts about McDonald’s:

  • A hamburger at the original McDonald’s in the 1940s cost 15 cents.
  • The original McDonald’s restaurant building was torn down in 1970.
  • The first McDonald’s drive-thru was constructed in 1975.
  • Over 80% of McDonald’s are owned and operated by franchisees, or independent local business people. All franchisees must follow the same rules for serving customers.
  • The Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and Egg McMuffin sandwiches were all created by franchisees.
  • Ronald McDonald, the mascot clown of the company, first appeared in 1963.
  • Well-known radio personality and TV weatherman Willard Scott played Ronald McDonald in the character’s first appearances.
  • The Ronald McDonald House Charities is a non-profit organization related to McDonald’s that gives families a place to stay, free of charge, when they have a child in a nearby hospital.
  • The training center for franchisees is called Hamburger University.

So, the next time you settle down with your McDonald’s burger and fries, remember that there is a colorful history behind your meal.