martes, 21 de febrero de 2017

Emma Stone, dancing among the stars firmly planted on Earth

In less than a decade, Emma Stone has risen from a familiar face in romantic comedies like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Crazy, Stupid, Love and a superhero’s girlfriend in The Amazing Spider-Man, to a two-time Oscar-nominated star, for Birdman and this year’s La La Land. With her tantalizing beauty, the gifted actress burns the screen with emotional intensity and easily commandeers the camera and the audience’s attention away from more experienced co-stars; they are no match.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false.

1. Emma and her friends met at college.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man won Emma an Oscar nomination.
3. Emma and her brother Spencer didn’t get on well when they were children.
4. Emma started training to become an actress at the age of 11.
5. She had appeared in over 20 productions at the age of 15.
6. Emma’s mum was reluctant to grant her permission to move to L. A.
7. She got a degree at about the same time as she was cast in her first movie, Superbad.
8. Emma had to turn down her first leading role to look after her ailing mom.
9. Emma feels intimidated when she is around other movie stars and entertainers.

Emma Stone may be the toast of Hollywood, but she rarely hogs the spotlight. You’ll often see her sharing the red carpet with her younger brother, Spencer.
Guys, you used to have some darkness.
We some stuff.
We’ve all seen some, yeah.
And to our interview, she brought along her two best friends.
We just met last week. I hired them to do this.
She needed friends for an interview so we said like okay
I need friends, because that’s more relatable, right?
Years ago the three were roommates, struggling actors, sometimes auditioning for the very same parts.
How’d that go?
We would fist fight to the death, and then she would get all of them and we’d call it a day.
Even in their mac-and-cheese days, both Macisac and Sugar Lyn Beard had a sense that Emily, as they call her, might just own this town someday.
She’s always known exactly where she wants to go in her career, and who she wants to work with.
But she was that focused?
I think if anything ever did go a little bit south or it didn’t go as well as she wanted it to, I feel like you would come home with more fire for the next one.
If you’ve seen La La Land, you know it could almost be Emma Stone’s own story, put to music.
She plays Mia, a wanna-be actress who comes to Hollywood with stars in her eyes; toils for fame and fortune; and finds love along the way. Arm-in-arm with frequent co-star Ryan Gosling, they are a chemically-proven formula.
Did you watch a lot of Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers kinds of movies as you went through this process just to figure out how…
I mean Top Hat was… Top Hat was huge for us, yeah. The energy between them, emotionally, was something we were inspired by.
The film is a love letter to Hollywood, and Hollywood loves it back. Stone has already sung and danced her way to a Golden Globe and a SAG Award, which has a lot of people guessing she’ll have a good shot at the Oscar, too. But until a few years ago, Emma Stone was happiest with just a simple plastic blimp, the Kids Choice Award she swooped in to snag for her role in The Amazing Spider-Man.
I grew up watching the Kid’s Choice Awards and people getting slimed, and I was just like, can you imagine having a Blimp? And then, I got a Blimp, and I was like, well, that’s it for me. I’m signing off. Back to Arizona I go!
Born in Scottsdale, Stone had a passion for acting that she put before almost everything else. Which is why perhaps she takes her younger brother Spencer to all those red carpets, she owes him, big.
Like when I was little, we did our own little shows, and she was the director and bossed me around, tremendously.
He went through so much, you have no idea.
And she would be the star of the show, and I would be everyone else.
Makes me sounds like a crazy person.
To assure us she isn’t crazy…
This was like… this your home away from home.
…she brought us to the place that she says made her sane…
It looks exactly the same.
…the Valley Youth Theatre in downtown Phoenix.
Bobb Cooper has been the artistic director here for years. He first met her at age 11 and even then saw a sparkle, and not just because of her braces.
She could project very well.
Why are you laughing?
Because I was loud beyond belief. That means that I always talked over Bobb and got in trouble.
She was willing to take any part; it didn’t matter what the character was, how big the character was, she was willing to take the part.
She was an acting machine, appearing in almost 20 productions before she was 15. At that point, she convinced her parents, using an admittedly geeky Power Point presentation, that it was time to move to Los Angeles.
Did it feel like it was a tough sell?
My dad instantly said yes and my mom was like, Whoa whoa whoa whoa, We’re going to go in another room and have a discussion and we’re probably not going to get back to you for a couple of weeks, because why and my dad was like, Sure, yep, yes.
Her mom, Krista, finally relented, and actually moved to L.A. with her, guiding her through the sometimes crushing auditions.
It’s a strange sort of combination of a job interview and a first date and a break-up, on a daily basis, like you walk into a room, and this could be the next seven years of your life, and you can buy a house and you can travel, and you can, you know, you, you just gonna be, then, wait, oh never mind, break-up, it’s over, it’s never happening. Okay, well, I shouldn’t have built that up.  Next day, are you the one? Are you the one? No? God, wow, no, you really weren’t the one … and you yelled at me.
To focus herself entirely on acting, Stone was home-schooled, getting her GED right about the time she was cast in her first movie, Superbad.
Was there a part of you that missed some of those experiences in school?
I didn’t think I did until I turned 22. And then all of a sudden, everybody that I’d grown up with graduated from college, and I was really hard on myself for like I’m not an educated person, I didn’t take that path. And then I realized I took my path. This was my story, this was how my story went.
A story that really took off after landing her first leading role, in Easy A.  Stone’s portrayal of a snarky virgin who invents a bad reputation was met with rave reviews.
And yet, behind the scenes Stone was struggling. Her mom had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. It looked so bad Stone almost bailed on the part altogether.
I wanted to not do it, and she said, she was very dramatic about it, she was like, Well, you know, if you’re not doing your thing, then I’m not doing my thing. And I was like, Oh you know how to get me, wow, what a rascal. So I did.
And she did?
And she did. And…
And you succeeded, and so did she.
Yeah, yeah.
Her mom is now celebrating six years cancer-free and in that time she’s watched her daughter become the darling of Hollywood: From the society girl-turned-journalist in The Help, to the Hollywood brat in Birdman, the role that got Stone her first Oscar nod.
Despite all the success, she still gets star-struck, especially by anyone from Saturday Night Live, a totem of her youth.
I really just show up, and then they tell me where to go and what to do.
When we met up just before she hosted SNL for the third time last December, she was still positively giddy about just being given the chance.
Do you sort of pinch yourself?
Yeah, I don’t think it ever gets normal to be here.
She may have captured that timeless Hollywood dream, and yet Emma Stone hardly lives with her head in the clouds.
I think maybe there is that notion that if you have a dream and then it comes true, everything will just be great now and you’ll just be coasting, but that’s not how it goes. If anything, it just makes we more and more want to get closer and closer to those I love, and get closer and closer to the Earth, you know, like staying as firmly-planted on Earth as possible because that’s really it. That’s it, you know? That’s the real stuff.

1F 2F 3F 4F 5F 6T 7F 8F 9T

lunes, 20 de febrero de 2017

Listening test: Tiny Texts

In this week's listening test we are going to practise the heading-matching kind of task.

Listen to some news from Tiny Texts and choose the best heading A-H for each one. There are two headings you do not need to use.

A - Gender differences
B - Give someone an inch and they'll take a mile
C - Helping save the world
D - Honesty rewarded
E - In danger of going moneyless
F - Less is more
G - Sticks or carrots
H - Travelling back in time

Source: Tiny Texts

Photo: Tiny Texts

If you visit a café and the staff are rude you can choose not to go back, but what happens when it’s the customers who are impolite? A French Café has decided to reward polite customers and punish rude ones by implementing some unusual coffee price variations. According to the menu board, ‘a coffee’ costs €7 while ‘a coffee, please’ costs a more affordable €4.50. Of course, there’s an even cheaper option: ‘hello, can I have a coffee, please?’ will cost you just €1.40. Sometimes it pays to be polite and if you are in a bad mood you can always choose another café.

According to a recent report, British women admit that they are no good at parking. Nearly a third change their driving plans to avoid parking in a tight space. Only one in ten men admit to doing so. Women also took 20 seconds longer than men to park an expensive Audi during an experiment at a German university. While some studies suggest that men are better at spatial tasks because of the way their brains work, it could also be true that women lack confidence rather than ability. There is some promising news, however: the 2012 national parking championship in Germany was won by a woman.

A Canadian family has decided to spend a year living as if it was 1986. Blair McMillan was concerned that his kids spent too much time indoors with technology. He wanted them to experience what it was like when he was growing up. That means no I-pods, mobile phones or Internet. If they need information, they have to go to the library and look up an encyclopaedia. For entertainment, they have a VHS player to watch movies and cassette tapes to listen to. When travelling, they use only paper maps and have to wait to have their photos developed. The family dress in vintage clothes, have 80’s hairdos and the dad has a true Magnum PI moustache. So far, Blair says his family talk more and are much closer.

A recent survey by the National Association of Professional Organizers reveals that 54% of Americans feel overwhelmed by clutter and 78% have no idea what to do with it. According to psychologists, people accumulate things because they are unhappy but having too many possessions brings stress and more unhappiness. Minimalists say you can live better if you focus only on what’s really important and get rid of your excess stuff. You can donate things you don’t need to charity. Minimalism is not new. Some of the ancient Greek philosophers were advocates, as were Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy. There may be more joy in owning less than in constantly accumulating more.

Coldplay are paying the price for their flashing wristbands. The gadgets, which are given out to everyone in the audience on their latest tour are costing them a fortune. The idea was originally suggested by a fan. They are radio controlled and light up in synchronised patterns creating an amazing light show. Chris Martin and his band are trying to figure out a way to keep up this crucial part of their concert without going broke. One idea was to ask their fans to hand them back at the end of the gig. However, the band’s lawyers have advised against this as it could lead to legal problems if someone picks up a contagious condition like Herpes. There were 40,000 people at the London show, so their profits were slashed. Nevertheless, the band say the wristbands are going to stay.

For most people, stealing shampoo or soap from a hotel room is not a serious crime. Some even think it’s OK to help themselves to the towels. A couple of newlyweds from Oregon, U.S.A went a little too far. They tried to steal everything including the sheets, pillows and paintings. However, they didn’t get away with it. Staff grew suspicious when the two guests refused to settle the bill for a pay-per-view movie by saying their room didn’t have a TV. When a member of staff went to check the room, he found that the TV was, in fact, missing. That’s because it was with the rest of the stolen goods in the trunk of their car.

1G 2A 3H 4F 5E 6B

domingo, 19 de febrero de 2017

Extensive listening – How to get better at the things you care about

Working hard but not improving? You're not alone. Eduardo Briceño reveals a simple way to think about getting better at the things you do, whether that's work, parenting or creative hobbies. And he shares some useful techniques so you can keep learning and always feel like you're moving forward.

Eduardo Briceño leads Mindset Works, which helps people develop as motivated and effective learners through training and resources to foster growth mindset beliefs and behaviors. He co-founded Mindset Works in 2007 with the foremost growth mindset researcher, Carol Dweck Ph.D., and education expert Lisa Blackwell Ph.D. Prior to his current role, Briceño was a Principal at the Sprout Group, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, where he was part of the technology investment team.

Briceño grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, before moving to the US when he was in high school. He now lives with his wife in San Jose, California. He holds Bachelor's degrees in economics and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA and an MAin Education from Stanford University. Most important, he continues to enjoy lifelong learning every day.

You can read a full transcript here.

sábado, 18 de febrero de 2017

My That's English! revisited -Experience hotels

Launching a new hotel in tough economic times might seem a tall order - with some travellers inclined to seek out the safe and familiar. But in fact there is a trend for distinctly unusual new hotels which try not to compromise on levels of service.

The recession led to a whole wave of creativity in hotels design and experiences. With the help of a robotic luggage handler, Ramon Goni travelled from Switzerland to New York in search of a night away from the bland, beige box.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false.

0 Example:
Travellers these days are trying to save money. True

1 Null Stern is ideally located.
2 Today's top priority for most customers is service.
3 Experience hotels have no critics.
4 Experience hotels are being opened in both Europe and America.
5 The five abandoned boats can still be rented for the summer.
6 The boatels are in a quiet location.
7 Guests at the botels are looking for luxury.
8 Technology at hotels is detrimental for hospitality.
9 In general, travellers of all ages welcome the high technology in hotels.

Switzerland, synonymous with plush hotels and luxury holidays, but with travellers looking to cut costs in tough times this hotel outside Zurich has hit the underground. Sparse and windowless this nuclear bunker was used in the Second World War and soon Zans Da Gout could be your shelter from the recession. High end is no longer as popular.
All the hotel is focused on service so there is never something missing in your stay, though the location of the setting might not seem ideal at first glance, but they argue that a clean bed and basic facilities will do. The questions is, after the biggest economic recession in decades, what are hotels saying we are really looking for?
Art insulation hotels like New Stern are really fine in luxury and quality in Europe. Stripping the frills to the minimum but focusing on personalized guest services. If you are in lockdown, you might as well have your own butler.
We believe that if the guest has to choose between a flat-screen TV and to choose between a modern butler or somebody who will recognize that you need a certain specific service, either it is to help you with your luggage, either it is to help you organise a tour, I think people today go for the service.
Such experience hotels have doubters in the luxury industry, those who see them as arty projects with little future beyond making a statement, but with internationally-acclaimed architects in touch with New Stern to build the first underground hotel in London, they could be proven wrong.
Mushrooming across Europe from sewage pipes in Austria to dockside cranes in the Netherlands and a silver mine in Sweden, unusual hotels are now also swimming across the Atlantic.
I’m here in Rockaways, an hour from New York, five abandoned boats are fully booked for the whole summer despite the planes, and yet again, this boatel does not focus on the setting or the location, but on providing a unique experience.
From check-in to check-out the staff directs guests to restaurants and lesser known local attractions, A-level of personal service even most of luxury hotels do not provide.
The demographic of the people staying here are individuals that do want that experience. I think it’s because it’s missing in other aspects of their lives in the way that the ATM has replaced the bank teller.
Meanwhile in Manhattan…
‘I am only a machine.’ ‘Next.’
This is your new bellboy. For the hotel, the high tech option could be lower costs and higher productivity.
Our idea is we are not using technology to replace human experience. It’s trying to push the human angle and that technology helps you, you know, to improve human interaction. We’re using technology to enhance the hospitality experience.
And increasingly, it seems, so are traditional hotels. Big market brands like Marriot are using technology to emulate services provided by their luxury counterparts. But it’s not for everyone. There is a generation gap.
The traditional fifty, the sixty-year-old traveler they are the most frequent, likes the personal interaction of speaking to an expert and hearing impressions and asking questions and likes that personal interaction, but that has to happen at a particular place in a particular time.
‘We’d like to see you pick up the suitcase and put it in the drawer behind you.’
‘Your move, creep.’
So can the experience be sustained? Some of these unusual hotels may flop, however, the sometimes impersonal other times diligent workforce will keep fighting for their guests’ attention…
… by all possible means.
It’s safe to say that you are hired!
Congratulations, Yobot.

1F 2T 3F 4T 5F 6F 7F 8F 9F

viernes, 17 de febrero de 2017

French luxury brand inspired by Africa

When it comes to ceramic art in South Africa, the name Ardmore is widely mentioned. Their colourful hand-painted ceramics are collector’s items for many local and foreign tourists that visit their studio in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

Fee Halsted, the founder of Ardmore Ceramic Art, spoke to the BBC about her unique style and how the collaboration with Hermes came about.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below.

1. Where does Fee Halsted get her inspiration from?
2. When were they discovered by Hermes designers? Where?
3. What do they design for Hermes?
4. Who is Betty in the Zulu culture?
5. When are they new artists trained?

It's not about perspective drawing, it's about shapes and patterns, lot of traditional patterning, Zulu patterning that is fresh to the western world and beautiful colours, the most amazing colours. We are also inspired by nature, so obviously the animals of Africa and the fauna, the flora, the beautiful botanic is our inspiration.
I will be going now for 31 years but it was three years ago, it was about 2013 and my young daughter Megan and  I were in Paris at the Journey de Ceramic, it was an art fair of ceramics from all over the world and we were discovered by Hermes designers. They were walking around the fair and they came to me and they said, my goodness, this is the most incredible design, could we have a meeting, would you be interested to design for Hermes scarves, and I said, of course, I mean, what a wonderful collaboration to be discovered by a company of that brand and association.
In 2016 we had the absolute honour of seeing our scarves in reality, and it's really been great fun and exciting to see how the public, the world renown, whether it's Dubai or Hong-Kong or Bangkok and, you know, people buying the scarves and when I was in London in May, they ran out.
So this is where the magic takes place. So Betty is the mother of birds. Today we are working with about 50 people and it's very much like an old English studio pottery. The artists come, they join winter school for two months of the year in winter when we're not too busy, and they’re now taught by a young man who I've trained called a wise man in clove (?) and what they do is they go through the artistry. We teach them sculpting, painting, glaze firing, glazing, all the basic requirements in the studio. Then we see where their talent lies, it’s either in the sculpting studio or in the painting studio, very rarely you get an artist to be as good as those.

1 Zulu culture and nature
2 In 2013 in Paris, in an art fair of ceramics 
3 scarves 
4 the mother of birds
5 In winter time for two months

jueves, 16 de febrero de 2017

Uncovering the secrets of North America's largest diamond

Africa is home to the world’s largest diamonds - but advances in mining technology are enabling other regions of the world to get in on the act. Most recently, Canada unearthed the biggest diamond ever found in North America - the Foxfire. It has spent the last couple of months on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below about it.

1. When did the story of the Foxfire diamond begin?
2. Why do we know the Foxfire diamond was bigger at some stage?
3. When was the Foxfire discovered?
4. How much did Deepak Sheth pay for the diamond?
5. What will happen to the Diavik mine in a few years’ time?

The story of the Foxfire diamond began two billion years ago, when it was forged by fire and forces deep beneath the Earth. Now the largest uncut diamond from North America is being studied by scientists at the National Museum of Natural History.
It looks like a lump of quartz.
I think a lot of people would agree with you and I'm sure a lot of people, if they saw that just laying along the side of the road, would probably not even think about picking it up.
Diamonds are as mysterious as meteorites. Both travel through time and space to offer clues about the origins of the universe. These diamonds perilous journey is even more remarkable as most are destroyed or splintered by the volcanic action that propels them at high speed to the Earth's surface.
We know by looking at these flat surfaces that there was more to this diamond at one time, that during either this violent descent as part of this volcanic eruption, or the explosion at the surface, or the mining operation, something caused this diamond to be broken and these flat faces are the broken cleavage surfaces, so someplace, someplace there are other pieces to this diamond.
Better get hunting.
Better get looking.  We don't know this is the biggest piece or the smallest piece. Somewhere there are other pieces that would fit on to these flat surfaces right here.
The Foxfire was discovered in 2015 in one of the most inaccessible parts of the world, the Diavik mine in the barren lands of Canada's Northwest Territories, about 130 miles from the Arctic Circle.
The mine spends most of the year frozen in snow. Last year the Foxfire was sold at an auction to Deepak Sheth, a businessman and collector.
So can I hold it?
Of course, of course, please. You’re holding a history.
Holding history that's very heavy.
Yes, it is hundred and eighty-seven point sixty-three carat diamond. It's a miracle of nature.
How much did you pay for it?
Many, many millions of dollars.
How many millions?
I'm sorry. [I] cannot divulge that.
But it's worth many, many millions, it’s a multi-million dollar diamond.
Yes, it is.
I'm feeling quite nervous you can take it back.
Sure, sure.
Mr Sheth plans to keep the diamond in its rough condition but anyone hoping to find its missing parts had better hurry. In just a few years the Diavik mine will close, leaving any treasure buried beneath the ice.
Jane O'Brien, BBC News Washington.

1 two billion years ago
2 by looking at its flat surfaces
3 in 2015
4 he won’t say, many millions
5 it will close

miércoles, 15 de febrero de 2017

Talking point: A sense of humour

This week's talking point is a sense of humour. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas come to mind more easily the day you get together with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.

What British/American comedies have you heard of?
Can you describe their type of humour?
Which are the best known Spanish comedians and comedy series?
What makes them funny?
Who’s the funniest person on TV?
Do you agree with the idea that a person’s sense of humour changes with their nationality or region?
Do you find different things funny from your friends or your family?
Do you forward funny emails that you receive? If not, why not? Can you talk about one that you did?
Do you like practical jokes? Can you describe one that you played or a friend played?
Can you tell jokes? Tell one in English.
Are the important people in your life funny?
Is humour an indicator of happiness?
If you see someone fall or bump into something, do you laugh? Do you like slapstick comedy?
Do you think politically incorrect jokes are funny? Why? Why not?
If someone makes you the subject (butt) of a joke or laughs at you, what do you do?
Talk about a person (in your everyday life, not a comedian) who makes you laugh.

To illustrate the topic, watch the scene A room with a view from British Comedy series Fawlty Towers, featuring John Cleese.

Good morning, Madam. Can I help you?
Are you the manager?
I am the owner, Madam.
What? I am the owner.
I want to speak to the manager.
I am the manager, too.
I am the manager as well.
Manaher. He manaher.
Oh, you're Watt.
I'm the manager!
I'm the manager!
Yes, I know. You've just told me. What's the matter with you? Now, listen to me. I booked a room with a bath. When I book a room with a bath, I expect to get a bath.
You've got a bath.
I'm not paying £7.20p per night plus V.A.T., for a room without a bath!
There is your bath.
You call that a bath? It's not big enough to drown a mouse. It's disgraceful!
I wish you were a mouse. I'd show you.
And another thing. I asked for a room with a view.
Deaf, mad, and blind. This is the view as far as I can remember, madam. Yes, yes, this is it.
When I pay for a view, I expect something more interesting than that.
That is Torquay, Madam.
That is not good enough.
Well, may I ask what you were expecting to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House, perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically...
Don't be silly. I expect to be able to see the sea.
You can see the sea. It's over there between the land and the sky.
I need a telescope to see that.
Well, may I suggest that you consider moving to a hotel closer to the sea? Or preferably in it?
Right. Now, listen to me. I'm not satisfied, but I've decided to stay here. However, I shall expect a reduction.
Why, because Krakatoa's not erupting at the moment?
Because the room is cold, the bath is too small, the view is invisible, and the radio doesn't work.
No, the radio works. You don't.
I'll see if I can fix it, you scabby old bat. I think we got something then.
I think we got something then!
What are you doing?
Madam, don't think me rude, but may I ask, do you by any chance have a hearing aid?
A what?
A hearing aid!
Yes, I do have a hearing aid.
Would you like me to get it mended?!
Mended? It's working perfectly all right.
No, it isn't!
I haven't got it turned on at the moment.
Why not?
The battery runs down.
Now, what sort of a reduction are you going to give me on this room?
60% if you turn it on.
My wife handles all such matters. I'm sure she will be delighted to discuss it with you.
I shall speak to her after lunch.
You heard that all right, didn't you?
Thank you so much. Lunch will be served at half past 12:00.