Hi Everyone! Welcome to this Chats with Shana episode. This is an episode type where you’ll hear a free-flowing conversation with myself about life in the States. This is casual, so you’ll hear pausing and thinking, you’ll hear natural transitions from one idea to the next in hopes that you can do the same in English! I hope you enjoy this topic – today we’ll be discussing 5 Surprising Things About Los Angeles.
If you’ve been following this podcast, you might know that in episode 113, I spoke about our big move from a small town in Northern California (aka NorCal) called Woodland to a metropolis to LA, which is located in Southern California (SoCal).
Back in that episode, I explained my concerns about moving here, which were founded on previous experiences in the city, some stereotypes and some impressions made from films and movies.
The most notable concerns were the cost of living, traffic, the fact you need a car, and the pollution. These are still concerns and I’ll address these at some point.
This is the end of the free content. To access the full transcript and other bonus material for this episode and for all episodes from 001 – 150, be sure to check out All Premium Content below.
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060 - Out of This World.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix
All who come to this happy place, welcome.
Disneyland is your land. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
Hi, everybody. My name is Shana and this is the American English Podcast. My goal here is to teach you the English spoken in the United States. Through common expressions, pronunciation tips and interesting cultural snippets or stories, I hope to keep this fun, useful and interesting. Let's do it!
Hello and welcome back to episode number 60. Today, we have a lot in store. I'll begin by telling you a joke, then we'll work through an expression, which is "out of this world" and we'll do some pronunciation exercises. In the last 10 to 15 minutes or so, for the fun fact, I'll share the life story of Walt Disney with you.
Walt Disney was not one to sit still. During his lifetime, he had a number of achievements that were accomplished, not just because he was a visionary, but because he was a go-getter. He chased after his dreams. At the same time, he wasn't immune to failure. His story is very relatable and very interesting. So stay tuned for that.
The intro to this episode was of Walt Disney welcoming guests to Disneyland on its opening day in July of 1955, and it was taken from an interview with his daughter, Diane Disney. I'll be sure to provide the link to that within the transcript. For today, though, let's go ahead and start with a joke. Ready?
Why was Rapunzel so creative in her escape?
She felt very inspired.
Do you get it?
Rapunzel, as you probably know, is a fairy tale character that has very long hair and she lived in the top of a tower or in a spire, we might say. A spire is part of a building, usually shaped like a cone. Many churches have spires, castles have spires and if you think of Rapunzel, you probably imagine her locked away at the top of a tower or in the spire part of the tower.
Why this joke is funny is that it is a simple play on words. If she is in a spire, we could jokingly say she was inspired. Right?
So let's hear the joke one more time:
Why was Rapunzel so creative in her escape?
She felt very inspired.
So she was creative because she felt inspired, as in motivated or stimulated. But she also probably felt pretty trapped, she felt stuck in the spire. She was inspired.
All right, so that's it for the joke. Let's go ahead and move on to the expression. Today, we'll be talking about the expression "out of this world." Let's go through the definitions of the individual words first.
Out, we often hear as a preposition. For example, the man walked out of the house. However, in this expression, it's used as an adjective. Out meaning away from or absent from.
Of is a preposition that helps us associate one thing with another.
This is a determiner or pronoun. It refers to the specific person, place or thing that was just mentioned. This can also be used to describe something that's close. Is this your sweater? The one that I'm holding in my hand? Is this yours?
And world: world refers to the planet Earth and all of the environment and people on it. Our world is wonderful.
According to Oxford English Dictionary, the expression out of this world means "superlatively good. Find beyond description. Beautiful, delightful, wonderful."
If something is out of this world, it feels like it's absent from this world. It doesn't exist here. It's so unbelievably magnificent, it's hard to imagine existing on Earth, it blows our mind, it perplexes us, it's amazing.
It's also a hyperbole. In other words, it's an exaggeration, but people from the United States use this expression all the time.
If you personally feel like you overuse the word amazing, which is common, don't worry about it. You can try and slip this expression into conversation every now and then as a replacement. I'll also use a lot of synonyms for wonderful and amazing in the examples I'll share now, so take notes if you want to expand your vocabulary.
Example #1: Imagine going to a new restaurant and everything on the menu sounds sensational. You're a little overzealous, a little extra eager, and order multiple meals and multiple desserts. When the food comes, your mouth starts to water, everything looks phenomenal.
And when you take the first bite, you're in heaven. You might tell your friends afterwards, "you have to go to the new restaurant in town. The food is out of this world!" In other words, it's superb, it's spectacular, it's beyond delicious. It's out of this world.
Example #2: Two years ago, a friend of mine went on a trip to Bolivia and came back raving about the largest salt flat in the world there, called Salar de Uyuni - excuse my pronunciation. Apparently, a prehistoric lake dried up and left a thin, bright white crust that reflects whatever is above it.
While walking, the ground is a mirror image of the sky, you can see the clouds, yourself and whoever or whatever is on top of that thin white crust. According to her, the places is out of this world. It is breathtakingly stunning, awe-inspiring and mind-blowing at the same time. It's beautiful. It's out of this world.
Example #3: I briefly talked about lunar rainbows and the giant sequoias when talking about Yosemite in episode number four. But there's something about my favorite national park that will blow your mind. Every year during the first two weeks in February, it's possible to see a fire fall, which is essentially a waterfall that reflects light in a certain way and looks like fire falling from above.
So if you're interested in seeing the bright orangey red flow of water fall 2,000 feet down the surface of El Capitan, which is one of the giant granite rocks there, you should definitely go. The site is truly out of this world. In other words, it's surreal. It's perplexing. It's mesmerizing and photo-worthy. It is out of this world.
So, yeah, great adjectives in there, hope you were listening. If you need to rewind, go ahead.
And let's move on to the pronunciation exercise. Today, we'll use the question, is it out of this world? In other words, is it amazing? Is it incredible? Is it mesmerizing and perplexing and photo-worthy and all of the above? So repeat after me:
Is it out of.
Is it out of this world? (2x)
And the conjugation.
I thought it was out of this world.
You thought it was out of this world.
She thought it was out of this world.
He thought it was out of this world.
We thought it was out of this world.
They thought it was out of this world.
It thought it was out of this world.
That's it for the first part of the episode. We'll now move on to the fun fact about the life story of Walt Disney.
And once again, if you are interested in the bonus material for this episode, you can access that at americanenglishpodcast.com inside of the classroom. Right. So that would include the transcript and all of the bonus exercises, including quizzes, vocab exercises and definitions, for this episode. So let's begin.
Walt Elias Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 5th, 1901.
The Disneys, which consisted of Walt, his parents and four other siblings, lived in a neighborhood called Hermosa, which at the time was less than desirable and going downhill.
His parents decided as early as 1906 that it wasn't the best place to raise a family and uprooted their lives to move to a farm in Marceline, Missouri. Walt's uncle Robert had bought land there, and everything about Marceline was magical in young Walt's eyes.
The green pastures surrounding the farmhouse were spotted in fruit trees, and there were plenty of animals to take care of and play with.
The downtown was as cute as a button. Apart from the colorful storefronts and sweet shops, the streets were lined with gas street lights. The roads were unpaved and traffic was made up of horses and buggies. It seemed quaint, so quaint, he later modeled Main Street in Disneyland after it. Just walking distance from Walt's house, multiple train lines met and he soon fell in love with them, the trains, that is.
He would watch them come and go and imagine the adventures and new places its passengers would encounter.
For one reason or another, Walt's parents first sent him to school at age seven instead of age five, like most kids. To say that the transition was rough is kind of an understatement.
For one, he had priorities during class and paying attention to the teacher was not one of them. He would spend his days drawing pictures in the corner of his notebook, then flip the pages quickly to make the images appear to be moving. He loved drawing, and even at an early age, he called himself an artist.
Walt also loved to entertain. Outside of class, he was cast in school plays. One of the most memorable roles he landed was as Peter Pan. And as lead character, he got to fly. He'd never forget it, especially because once, while in flight, the chords broke and he landed into the audience.
At age nine, Walts father came down with a case of typhoid and the family was forced to sell their farm and move to Kansas City. Leaving Marceline, just two years after arriving, was heartbreaking for Walt. After all, his fondest childhood memories were there.
Once in Kansas City, Walt started his first job working as a newspaper delivery boy. At just nine years old, he and his brother Roy would wake up before sunrise to do their paper route. Afterwards, he'd head to class with his eyelids half shut, and he had a hard time applying himself, as his teachers wanted. One teacher actually said he was the "second dumbest" kid in class.
Just like at his old school, he was the entertainer in class, he was a class clown. The academic side, though, was really not his cup of tea. And at age 16, he dropped out, two years before graduation.
No longer a student, he was left with a decision: What would he do with his life?
He could go work on a train, just as he had done shortly before dropping out. It was fun work which involved chatting with passengers from near and far and selling them candy, soda and newspapers. But no, he wanted to be involved in something bigger, like the entertainment industry.
So he and a friend bought a camera and started filming, thinking they could sell their films for profit. Reality did not meet their expectations, though. Pretty soon they were broke and looking for side jobs.
Wall often got what he wanted through persistence, even at a young age. When trying to get a job at the post office, they told him, sorry, son, you're too young. Feeling just as competent as any older man, he would not accept the defeat. Instead, he went home, drew on a mustache, put on a gentlemen's hat, went back and asked the boss to reconsider. Liking Walt's clever tactic and sense of humor, he was hired on the spot.
While Walt was working at the post office, World War I was raging in Europe. The US stayed neutral in World War I until 1917 and at that point, many who were enlisted were drafted. The draft was welcome at that time, though, unlike later in American history. Walt wanted to be there, too. But once again, he was too young. He eventually was able to join the Red Cross by forging his birth date on his birth certificate, but was sent off to France right about the time the war ended.
After his short hiatus, Walt returned jobless to the US. But that's when he met a talented young artist named Ub Iwerks. Ub, just like Walt loved animation. Together, Ub and Walt created animations, they also created art for ads and characters for the Kansas City Slide Company.
The competitive environment among artists at the company forced Walt to develop his talents. He would spend nights trying to depict small movements in invented characters. He even created silent films that lasted no more than a few minutes and called them Laugh-O-grams. They were funny, all right too. Audiences giggled during them and applauded at the end. To Walt, that was great. They had a huge selling potential.
So he started a company with a team of artists to sell more Laugh-O-grams and other animated works. But when it went bankrupt, he decided Kansas City was not where he was meant to be.
Hollywood, however, in the 1920s was where you had to be if you wanted a shot in the entertainment industry. Universal, Paramount and all of the major studios were already set up there. It just so happened that his older brother, Roy, also lived in California.
So what did Walt do? He packed up his bags and headed out.
Now, to say that Walt was always successful would be inaccurate. His career was full of ups and downs. For one, when he moved out to California, he expected to get a job as an actor simply by showing up to movie sets and appealing to directors. It was very unsuccessful, but shortly afterwards, he did catch a break. A woman named Margaret Winkler had seen the work he'd done at the Kansas City Slide Company and wanted him to create a cartoon series about Alice from Alice in Wonderland. She even offered to sell the series to local theaters.
Although excited, Walt knew he couldn't do it on his own. Fortunately, his business-minded brother Roy was near and he seemed like the perfect partner to organize an official business. That's when Disney Brothers studio was created. For the first time in Walt's life, business was going really well. They had even created a character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit that was bringing their studio some fame.
There was a lot of pressure, though, and under pressure, creativity was not as fun for Walt. Animators who worked with him, claimed he was stressed, overly critical about their work and sometimes downright mean. Perhaps it was just a side effect of working with a self-proclaimed perfectionist, but some were unhappy.
One day, a film producer named Charlie Mintz did something unforgiving: He hired almost all of Walt's artists behind his back. Not only was Walt cut out of the picture, the artists took Walt's beloved Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, away from him. It was not just a blow to his confidence, but also to his workflow. What was he going to do without Oswald?
But he wasn't one to give up, even when the going got tough. So infuriated and unable to sue, he found himself some distractions: A special lady and a new character.
At the office was a short, beautiful, 26-year old named Lillian Bounds, and Walt fell in love with her easily. She was a light-hearted person and a good conversationalist. They hit it off and eventually got married.
At night, Walt would tell her about the characters he was designing with Ub Iwerks. One character was a replacement for Oswald the Rabbit. He was a mouse and his name was Mortimer. As the story goes, Lillian told him she didn't like the name Mortimer and suggested Mickey. Mickey, of course, as we all know, stuck.
Back then, Mickey was not an admirable character. He was actually mean, cruel, in fact, he'd play tricks on people. Although Mickey looked cute - thanks to the artwork done by Ub Iwerks - the artists eventually agreed that he needed to be more likable, charming, even. Maybe they could even give him a girlfriend, they'd call her Minnie.
As for Mickey's trickster personality, it was placed in a new character that we all know as Donald Duck.
One of Mickey's first debuts was in a film called Plane Crazy, P-L-A-N-E, and he played Charles Lindbergh, the first man (in real life) to make a solo transatlantic flight. That was in 1927, the same year that the first film with sound was released.
And while not being one to fall behind on the times, jumped on the bandwagon and his very next film, Steamboat Willie, brought Mickey to life with sound effects and music. The crowds went wild when it debuted at a theater in New York City in 1928. It was the first ever cartoon with synchronized sound, and Walt Disney actually did the voices for both Mickey and Minnie.
Newspapers all around printed Disney's success, and from the surface, everyone seemed happy. Theaters were filling up across the country with eager audiences trying to get a piece of the action.
Ub Iwerks, on the other hand, was not happy. After all, he had helped come up with Mickey and did most of Mickey's early animations. Ub thought much of his well-deserved recognition was going straight to Walt, who was taking all the credit. Later on, he claimed Walt didn't even know how to draw a proper Mickey.
Before the two cut ties though, they basked in their success and that success was spreading.
Firstly, a theater manager in California, trying to draw in more crowds created the Mickey Mouse Club, which was a group of so-called "Mouseketeers" - in other words, Mickey fans - that would dress up, sing and play games before binge watching Mickey Mouse.
The hype was real and Walt loved it. He spread Mickey Mouse clubs to other cities, got Mickey Mouse published in newspaper cartoons, and even started selling Mickey merchandise, like Mickey Ears.
At home in 1931, Walt and his wife Lillian were trying to have children, with difficulty. Walt was distraught by the thought of not becoming a father and eventually had to be seen by a medical professional who told him he needed to relax. He was too stressed out.
So he took up sports, took a cross-country train trip and even took a boat trip to the Panama Canal.
Two years later, Lilian got pregnant and she gave birth to a baby girl, Diane Marie Disney. Shortly afterwards, they adopted one more child named Sharon Mae.
Although early Hollywood seems magical, Walt was not as interested as in being a family man and a dedicated father who loved games and playing pretend with his daughters.
Walt's brother Roy lives nearby with his wife and daughter, and on weekends the families would gather for barbecues. The only thing missing, of course, was their parents. But to the Disney boys, who'd recently made some big bucks, that was a fixable problem.
As a surprise, Roy and Walt bought their parents a house, and they (the parents) eventually moved from Oregon down to California.
There was a horrible turn in events, though. The house that Walt and Roy had bought had a problem. Carbon monoxide was leaking from a heater inside and going into the air.
Both parents became sick, and although their father, Elias, was able to survive, the poison killed their mother, Flora. Walt was deeply affected by this tragedy for the rest of his life.
In the early 1930s, the US was going through the Great Depression, a time of severe economic hardship when about a quarter of Americans lost their jobs. Not as many people were going to the movies, but Walt continued to see some success.
First, in 1933, with the Three Little Pigs, then Flowers and Trees, the first commercially produced animated movie in full color.
Most importantly, though, for Disney Studios was creating the first full-length animated movie, which was released in 1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was an adaptation of the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.
To Walt Snow White, was the perfect story for the full-length animated film. It was a classic tale, and it touched on all natural human emotions, making it perfect for an audience to connect. The hatred of the evil stepmother, the queen, the sweet charm of Snow White and, of course, the understanding hunter and the likable seven dwarves with their own quirky personality traits.Happy, Grumpy, Dark, Bashful, Dopey, Sneezy and Sleepy.
Snow White took years to finish and over a million dollars to make. Walt worked late directing the artists and helping develop each character and their movements. A total of a quarter of a million drawings were made for that movie, and the movie lasts just 83 minutes.
However, the work paid off. It was the highest grossing film with sound at the time, earning a total of eight million dollars just after its release. The profit on Snow-White made it possible to hire more artists and complete projects quicker. Soon afterwards, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi came out and their studio was moved to a bigger location.
Walt was on a roll, he saw one success after another. But the extent of his success would soon slow down. At the bigger studio, the Disney brothers disappeared from the spotlight, and their lack of involvement led to a strike with workers demanding higher pay.
To add to his stress, World War II was in full force. People were not paying as much money as they previously had on movies. In 1941, Dumbo was released without much buzz. So Walt tried live action movies, in other words, movies with real people. So then came Treasure Island, the Swiss Family Robinson and 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. All of the films were not the big box office successes Walt had expected.
That was just the tip of the iceberg. Song of the South was released and it enraged the NAACP who claimed Walt made slaves look happy.
People and the press were saying Walt had lost his magic and Walt felt the pressure. He definitely was no longer as excited doing film as previously, possibly because he was already brainstorming the next big project, Disneyland.
In his daughters' early years, Walt had built a train in his backyard and they would ride around on it on weekends. His daughters would play in the cottage that looked like Snow White's cottage and then as a family, they'd top off the day with some scrumptious banana splits, covered in whipped cream and maraschino cherries.
Sometimes he'd take them to Griffith Park merry-go-round in Los Angeles and watch them as they went around. He'd also watch other families having fun with their kids, and it got him thinking: What if a place existed, where families could experience magical, wholesome fun together?
It could have trains for sure. And there'd also be other rides. It'd be like an amusement park, but cleaner, nicer and safer than any other that existed.
What if it had a downtown like the one in Marceline, Missouri, with gas street lights and carriages? It could be filled with little shops selling banana splits and sweets. What if there were places where you could sell Disney memorabilia? He became obsessed with the idea, after all, it could incorporate everything he loved. The only barrier to entry was money, but he had a solution.
In the early 1950s, television was taking over movie theaters and radio programs. People were happy sitting at home and watching broadcasted shows from their couches, and Walt saw this as an opportunity. He reached out to the network ABC to make a deal and it worked.
Disney would produce content for the network if ABC financed the creation of Disneyland. It was a very clever scheme, too. ABC provided air time for Walt so that he could broadcast himself talking to audiences across the United States, where he would share some of the park's developments. Then he'd be able to play Mickey Mouse, Disney movies and show the Mickey Mouse Club. ABC popularized Disney's stories and got Disneyland, the place, plenty of exposure well before opening day.
On July 17th 1955, the day before Disneyland officially opened, 20 thousand excited guests showed up. Counterfeit tickets had circulated.
Although the first few days were a bit of a disaster due to malfunctioning water fountains and rides, everything improved immediately.
Even in the early days, walking into Disneyland felt like a fantasy. There was a parade with a marching band, life-sized characters walked down Walt's picturesque Main Street and at the very end of it was Sleeping Beauty's castle, modeled after the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany.
Having become popular on TV, Walt would need to disguise himself while in public. He put on a big hat and sunglasses, walked around watching kids have fun, and then would hide away in his office above the firehouse on Main Street.
His daughters and eventually their families would visit Disneyland, be part of the parades and all of the fun as well. According to his daughter, Diane, family was everything to him, and that's what Disneyland encompassed.
In 1966, when Walt was just 65 years old, he found out he had lung cancer. The timing was not so great. In 1964, the world found out that cigarettes caused lung cancer and he had been chain smoking since his years in France, so more than half of his life. Walt passed away on December 15th, 1966, and was unable to see Walt Disney World in Florida open in 1971.
So let's wrap this up.
Walt was a man of a lot of firsts. He had the first successful animated movie with sound, the first commercial animated film in color. He had the first full-length animated film. He was also the first man to be nominated 38 times for an Oscar. By the end of his life, Walt won a total of 26 Academy Awards, including honorary mentions, 3 Golden Globe Awards and 1 Emmy. Walt Disney revitalized amusement parks in the U.S.. He was a visionary, but more importantly, a go-getter, who never let failure stop him in his tracks.
That's it for today's episode. I truly enjoyed learning about Walt Disney. And in order to create the audio and the text for this episode, I watched the few available interviews with him on YouTube, the interviews with his daughter, Diane Disney and I read the book Who was Walt Disney by Whitney Stewart. Additional information was added from other sources that I found on the Internet and I will provide those sources to you in the transcript.
Once again, if you want to dive deeper into your learning experience by actively using key vocabulary words in exercises, quizzes and more, be sure to sign up to premium content at americanenglishpodcast.com. Hope you're having a nice day and until next time. Bye!
Thank you for listening to this episode of the American English Podcast. Remember, it's my goal here to not only help you improve your listening comprehension, but to show you how to speak like someone from the States. If you want to receive the full transcript for this episode or you just want to support this podcast, make sure to sign up to premium content on americanenglishpodcast.com. Thanks and hope to see you soon!
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