We’re back again! Here’s an audio recorded version of my original post “Isn’t that a question” where I go over a few English phrases or terms. Please take a listen and test how much you can understand! This page just contains the audio for listening, but you can follow this link to read and listen at the same time if you want. Let me know if this listening practice helped you to understand the words better. Is there something you want me to explain or record next? Tell me in the comments or send me an email! Ready? Happy listening!
Want to practice your English listening to an audio — or just hear a cool short story? Here is a quick listening practice where you can also learn some informal English terms. This is the audio version of my original written post “Fun time shoes” (you can read it here). Take a listen and see what you can comprehend! Also, post a comment below to share your thoughts. Was this helpful? Take care and thanks for listening!
This post is going to be a little different than what you’ve seen before. We’ve looked at music, American society, and even a couple of slang terms. I figured well, I also love movies, so why the heck not do a movie section? Of course, movies tend to be a lot longer than songs and so I’m not going to analyze every line from the screenplay of Doctor Sleep (but you wish!). Instead, I’m going to focus on some elements and imagery from the movie and explain how these things relate to American society, or maybe what they reveal about the culture.
Sound interesting? Sure it does! So let’s keep reading.
I’d also like to point out that this is mainly for English students or foreign people who are curious about American society, just as a warning that some things may sound redundant if you are an English-speaker or American. Though, of course, anyone is welcome!
Doctor Sleep — not to get confused with Doctor Strange — is a supernatural horror movie written and directed by Mike Flanagan. It was made in 2019 and is a sequel to The Shining from 1980. Well, that took long enough! Besides the fact of it being a sequel, I want to mention this because The Shining has been a definitive cultural event since it came out. Not everyone has seen the movie — in fact, lots of people I know haven’t, which is mind … POOSH — but pretty much everyone recognizes at least some of the scenes from this movie.
The sinister opening music from the score … the waves of splashing blood pouring through the halls … the twin girls staring down the hall with their evil eyes … Jack Nicholson screaming “Here’s Johnny!” as he axes down a door. I mean, there are just too many iconic scenes to go on. The popular impact of The Shining makes today’s subject so significant too, even if it’s a mere sequel.
Just like with its predecessor, Doctor Sleep has several iconic scenes and shots, including a girl running her hands through the mental “files” of her witch foe, people flying in and out of each other’s minds, and the iconic “REDRUM” spelling itself so ominously on the cracked walls. But back to the topic: What does this movie say about America? Well, let’s see…
One noticeable aspect of the movie is the different regions of the country we see the characters going to. Stephen King, who is the author of the books, is from Maine, a state in New England. If you notice in the movie they’re mostly in some town in New Hampshire. There are little brick buildings, central church chapels, and cute little parks in the middle of town. This layout is of the classic New England town. Given the fact that Danny, the lead character, goes there to cleanse and heal from alcoholism, you can tell that these places are considered locations where you can live peacefully, get away from the noise of the city, and enjoy the fall leaves. On the other hand, when Danny is in Florida, he gets high on drugs and alcohol all the time and sleeps around with strange women, which lets you know how other Americans might view Florida. That’s also where the creepy True Knots are first seen attacking that little girl. Sorry, Florida. Harsh.
Later on, they go to Colorado which is full of mountains, forest, and pretty lakes, while we go to Iowa and see nothing but cornfields and baseball diamonds. This probably wasn’t on accident, because Iowa and the Midwest, in general, are seen as centers for agriculture and farming, especially corn. They are also seen as the “heartland” of America, which is why you get such an important symbol like baseball there. A poor boy gets abducted in Iowa, and what happens to him also has something to say about our society.
I don’t know if this started in the U.S. or was brought here by Eastern Europeans, but gypsies are a controversial topic from this movie. Sometimes as kids, people are told to watch out for gypsies because they eat children or some nonsense. True to the myth, that’s pretty much what happens in the movie. Gypsies are based on the ethnic Roma or Romani people, but often any group of people that travel around together without any kind of direction or stability are generally considered gypsies. Especially if they’re in a trailer.
Trailers have a lot of importance in America. People use trailers to travel long distances, go camping, and to live in, amongst other things. A popular notion too is that “gypsies” or just people without any stable home roam around the country in a trailer. The scene of the True Knot picking up the boy in Iowa as well as the scene where Danny arrives with Abra, the other main character, at her home, shed light on this. Abra’s dad has a little freak-out session and nearly tries to kill Danny.
These two scenes show how kids in America are taught to deal with strangers (Don’t get into a car with them) and how parents react when they see their children, especially daughters, with strange adults. This seems logical, but I have seen in some other countries that kids interacting with unknown adults is not the most outrageous thing that could happen. No one wants their child to get abducted, but I notice in America, parents seem to be especially cautious in this sense compared to some other countries. Maybe this is because there are tons of cases of child abduction, child molestation, and child abuse that parents become especially protective. Children are a lot less likely to talk to strangers, even if they are genuine and nice people, because of this worry that American parents tend to put into their heads. I blame investigative shows like 20/20 and channels like Investigation Discovery (ID) for this, but I guess they have good reasons.
I don’t have too much else to say. You could see how Abra’s house was really big and nice, a sort of “classic American home” at least nowadays. We also saw some racial diversity in the movie, kind of lending to the push for more diversity in movies and media in recent years. I think that’s cool. Danny works at a convalescent home (commonly an “old folks home” or “retirement home”) helping the seniors go to sleep … forever. This is more of a Western thing, I think, where it’s acceptable and even pretty common to send old people to live in these care facilities instead of taking care of them at home. The movie theater where the girl, Andi I think, gets recruited to the True Knot team of vagabonds is a kind of classic American movie theater. You get the big neon sign out front with the movie titles on it, a ticket booth, and a big theater house full of seats and balconies and whatnot. Other than that, many Americans like a good scare, a good thrill, a mystic tale of spirit-suckers that get defeated by a living mansion burning to the ground. Or was it a hotel? Those hats the True Knot were wearing are kind of in style with certain hipster communities. I’ll talk about them another day.
I left the trailer up top if you’re interested. Also, did you notice anything else about Doctor Sleep that speaks on American society or society at large? And if any of you saw this movie, what did you think of it? Tell me in the comments, or email me at email@example.com. Stay well!
Words like savage and beast have been flying around on the internet and in music for a while now. Today, we’ll “test” our English by looking at those as well as some phrases that use test and try in the slang sense. We’ll also look at some dialogues with Charles to see how they can be used. Starting off!
Try normally means “to attempt” to do something. For example, maybe you tried to learn how to play the piano like Mozart but never quite reached that level. In slang, try pretty much has the same sense as “to attempt,” with a small difference. If I say, “Try me,” it means to attempt to explain something to me. We can also say “try” to mean to attempt to do something bad or is a kind of bad behavior. Mom’s can tell their children, “Don’t try it,” which means the same as “Don’t do it.” “Don’t try me” then is like telling someone not to attempt something bad against you. Here’s an example:
Charles —Hey, look at those two kids. They’ve been staring each other down for a few minutes now.
Sheila —They do look pretty angry. I wonder what their issue is.
The two teens suddenly start to argue with one another.
Teen 1 —What? You’re trying to come at me, huh? I’m not scared of you.
Teen 2 —Oh, you think you’re tough. I bet you won’t try to hit me, though. You’ve been trying me ever since I got here.
- Teen 1 has been attempting to scare Teen 2 or be mean to him ever since he arrived.
Teen 1 —Ha! You’re the one who wanted to fight me. I see your fists are balled up. Don’t try it.
- Don’t attempt anything bad or stupid (against me).
Now, test you may know as an exam you sit and take to prove your knowledge. To “test” as a verb usually means to examine something or try a new experience. You can “test” a new flavor of ice cream, so it’s very similar to the word try. It’s the same way in slang, since “test” or “don’t test” can be used in the same way we saw “try” above. Another common phrase is to “test someone’s nerves.” This means to annoy someone, like you’re testing how much their brain can handle. I’ll save “nerves” for another day.
Teen 2 —Look, don’t test me, bro. Today’s not a good day.
- Don’t try to do anything bad or annoy me anymore.
Charles —Sheila, what are they fighting about, anyway?
Sheila — I don’t know. These kids are weird to me.
Charles —They must be mad for some reason. I mean, I doubt they just started an Old West showdown in the middle of the street for nothing.
Sheila —Well, all I know is that the one guy bumped into the other. He said, “Yo, I’m tired of you. You’ve been testing it all semester. Now I’m gonna beat you down.” Pretty much.
- You’ve been pushing the limits, picking on me, being mean to me, all semester.
Charles —Wow. This is wild.
You tried it
Again, the same concept as before. This phrase applies after some bad, mean or undesirable action has already taken place. It’s usually used to discourage any more of those actions from happening.
Charles —Look! I think they’re really gonna fight.
Teen 2 throws a punch at Teen 1’s head and misses.
Teen 1 —Woah, you tried it, huh? You don’t even know how to throw a punch.
- You attempted something bad or foolish against me.
Teen 2 —I was just warming up. Wait...
Teen 2 throws another surprise punch and lands it. He hits Teen 1 in the face and makes him fall down. Everyone standing around them starts to talk and scream.
Savage – Beast
These are two very common slang terms these days, and for good reason. A savage and a beast normally are creatures that live in the wild. They act like monsters or ferocious animals and have no conscience or remorse. The same goes for the slang meaning. Calling someone a “savage” or “beast” is like saying they are really good at something, like they are the best at something. They dominate, they kill (which is another slang that means doing really well at something), and they do other things that we associate with savages and wild beasts. Of course, we mean it in a positive way, like we’re complimenting the other person.
Lots of people, especially in music and sports, consider themselves savages or beasts, just like Megan Thee Stallion. A similar term used is “monster,” which is also a positive compliment. Think of Kanye West (listen to Monster here). “Savage” can also mean doing things without caring about the consequences. Instead of being negative, it is almost used in admiration, like the other person is cool for being this way.
Sheila —Dang! Did you see that hit? Man, these kids are savage nowadays.
- These kids are reckless, don’t care about consequences, but are kind of cool because of it.
Charles —Yeah, I know.
Teen 2 —That’s right! I’m a savage, you heard?
- I’m the best. I’m reckless. I don’t care. But I’m really cool.
As everyone around yells and laughs, Teen 1 gets up and reaches out his hand.
Teen 1 —Yo. I got respect, bro. That was a good hit you got me with.
Teen 2 —Thanks.
Teen 1 —You know, I do MMA down at the gym. You would be a beast in the octagon if you wanted to fight with us.
- You would be great, one of the best, a fearsome fighter.
Teen 2 —Sounds like a plan. I’ve always wanted to try out MMA fighting. Hey, are we cool?
Teen 1 —We cool.
Sheila —Aww. How cute! They made up.
Like with many slang words, savage and beast can be perceived as positive or negative, compliment or insult, depending on how they are used and depending on the speaker’s tone. Generally, these days they are used as compliments and are a way to show admiration for a person or for yourself, but there are always exceptions. Try and test are used usually in more intimate settings and you might say it with a friend, a family member, or another person that is trying to be mean or act badly in some way. Try/test it are acting badly in general situations, while try/test me is acting against you (or whoever is speaking). These terms can be a little tricky, so try to pay attention to cues from others and see how they use them. Otherwise, even if you don’t want to use them (I don’t use these terms too often) you will at least be able to understand when other English speakers say them. Someone definitely will.
Hey everyone! Could you use these terms in your own sentences? In what other situations could you imagine someone saying these? Have you heard these terms in English-language songs? Let me know in the comments! If you have suggestions for words or phrases that you would like explained, tell me here or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and take care!
Anyone who’s traveled inside the U.S.A. knows the answer to this already. For now though, I want to tackle this from a cultural perspective. I’m thinking of opening a new category later on that focuses on geographical differences. This here is about the American people. I’ll break this post up quickly into the following categories:
- gun control
- ethnic background
- political stance
- language & immigration
- the weather factor
I also won’t talk about every state and city, but I’ll try to break it down enough to give you a good idea. Starting off!
I want to begin with one of the most easily distinguishable differences between different states in general. As you might remember from my post about religion (if not, please check it here), the U.S. is mostly a Protestant nation. However, you’ll remember that some places are less Protestant than others. While about 70% of Americans are Christians, there is a higher concentration of them in this general region called the South. That’s why this region is generally known as the “Bible Belt,” and it’s where you normally find the most religious and traditional communities. Otherwise, the Mormon communities are identified as the “most religious” group in America, which I guess means they’re super devout. Other hardline religious and cultural groups are the Amish and Mennonites around Pennsylvania and Ohio mostly.
This map explains pretty much all I want to say about religion. Among Christians, the Evangelists and Black Protestants are super prevalent in the Bible Belt. Mainline Protestants are more common in the North, while Hispanic Catholics are really prevalent close to the Mexican border and around Miami. Otherwise, Catholics fill up the Northeast, and there are even a few enclaves in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas around where the Spanish and French used to have more influence. Mormons are really popular in the West, especially around Utah, and Native American Catholics have little enclaves throughout the West. Cool.
On the other hand, New England (Northeast) altogether tends to be the least-religious part of the country. But you can see, even within most of the states, religious affiliations change based on the region. Southern Florida, Texas and Louisiana are mostly Catholic while the northern parts are Protestant. The opposite is true in Illinois. And that should be a good enough intro for you.
That’s right! American states differ greatly on whether they support gun control or not. Unlike religion, this concept has less of a pattern. There really doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to which states support more gun control over others when we talk about permits. States that require permits vs those that don’t are pretty scattered all over the place. However, when we look at states that are gun-friendly, or are more accepting of having guns in general, the trends become more clear. These places usually coincide with states that are more rural or where people most like to go hunting.
The South and some parts of the West are pretty evenly supportive of guns. There are some lone anomalies, like Nevada in the West, Iowa in the Midwest, or New Hampshire in New England. Overall, it’s easy to see the trend. Southern states support guns. A couple of random states in the Midwest support guns. Some random western states and most of the Northeast don’t support guns. Apparently, Delaware, New Jersey, and Hawaii really hate guns. I feel like the big game hunting isn’t so good in those states, though.
The U.S. is definitely a diverse nation where nearly all ethnicities and nationalities (not to mention cuisines) can be found. What is Laotian food, anyway?
However, this too depends on the state or city in question. For example, most big cities have more diverse populations than the rural areas. There are several cities with more “minorities” than there are white people (check my other article here for more on this). Looking across the board, cities are usually where you’ll find a large chunk of diversity at.
Still, there are some other factors to look at. As you can see, people of English ancestry are found especially in the South and the West. German ancestry is all over that central-north area of the country, while Scandinavian ancestry sits way in the North. The Irish filled up around New England, while Italians were mostly around the Tri-State area (Metro New York). Native Americans are dotted about the West, while you even see many Inuit at the top of Alaska. French ancestry is strong in the Northeast and around southern Louisiana. Something to remember about the German area is that, even though it takes up the most space, most of that region has a small and scattered population.
Now, I don’t like to get political, trust me. I will say that every state pretty much has either strong support for Democrats or Republicans. Some things to look for are that the West Coast, some western states, and the Northeast tend to swing more left, while most the other states swing right. Still, you’ll find that across the country, most large urban areas will be more liberal-minded than not, and most rural or small urban areas will lean conservative. There are a few small exceptions to this, but it is almost the rule when looking at political stance.
Something else that’s interesting is the so-called “Swing States.” These are states that are caught in the middle and may stand on one side or the other depending on who’s running for office. Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are classic examples of Swing States. In the most recent election (2020) some states like Georgia or Arizona proved to be new examples of Swing States. Even Texas showed to be a little more liberal than usual, despite its long history of being overwhelmingly conservative. No matter what you thought of the election, there’s no denying that some places in America feel a little more blue than red. All we need is a white party to complete the American flag. Maybe it could balance the other two?
Language & Immigration
We already looked at ancestral ties between Americans in different states, but what about the newcomers? You might know that Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the U.S., but who speaks it depends on where you are. The Southwest has the most Spanish speakers, but most of them are from Mexico, with a big group of Central Americans and small groups of others. Meanwhile, Florida and the East Coast have tons more Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and South Americans. Oh, and a lot of Mexicans too. Geography plays a role in this, since the East is closer to the Caribbean, while the West literally touches on Mexico.
You also get lots of Asians with their respective languages in major cities, but especially on the West Coast and New York. Some of the biggest and most authentic Asian communities are in places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and so on. Of course, the West and East coasts are closest to Asia, so that’s where a bunch of the Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Indian, and even Middle Eastern immigrants have gone along with their various languages. For more on languages, check this post.
Something else to look at is historic minorities in the U.S. African Americans are especially prevalent in both the South, since that’s where most the African slaves were taken, and big cities since that’s where they moved to find work and security after being freed. Native Americans are most prevalent in parts of the West because that’s where the most open and inhospitable parts of the country are. Many nations and tribes were driven from their homelands further east and forced to relocate out West, trading lush forests and rivers for, you know, deserts, tornadoes, and rattlesnakes. They were also forced to live with the people that already occupied these regions which was a problem because they spoke completely different languages, had different cultures, and were already there. Well, that’s another post.
Speaking of tornadoes, a big part of the identity of someone from any given state or city is their weather. It might sound trivial at first, but I’ll show you. Think of Southern California and what comes to mind? Sunshine, beaches, and palm trees — I hope. Please, try not to think of anything bad! But this is the association someone from SoCal has, and so it goes for any other state or region. Seattle is famous for being rainy and cloudy, Arizona is known for extreme desert climates, Colorado is known for its mountains and skiing, and Florida is known for being sunny and tropical, with the occasional tropical storm. Chicago is famous for being windy and cold in the winter, while Hawaii is a paradise where it’s always a nice beach day. The weather ends up determining a lot of how we perceive each state and city.
So, you put all these factors together and you get a good idea of what the identity of someone from a certain state or region might be like. There are many other factors, by the way, and no two people are the same, but this can give you an idea. For example, someone from New York City is more likely to be a Catholic with Italian ancestry who doesn’t really approve of guns, probably a Democrat who speaks English but if they speak Spanish they’re family is likely from the Caribbean or maybe they immigrated from China, they definitely like Chinese and Caribbean food but they’re used to hot summers and freezing cold winters. Anyway, they might be none of those things, but you get the point. Every state and major city is a little (or a lot) different.
Alright! Tell me what you think of this post. Does your country have lots of diversity like the U.S.? Can you name some other differences between the states? Do you want to guess my profile based on this list? (hint, hint) I’m from Los Angeles.
Also, contact me or send me a question if you want to know more, talk, or give some suggestions for future posts. Right here: email@example.com
Thanks and be safe!
Here are some more resources:
Religion in the U.S.: https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/
Map of religions by county: https://bigthink.com/robby-berman/dominant-religions-in-the-us-county-by-county
Least religious places in U.S.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_religiosity#:~:text=According to a 2011 Gallup,%)%20were%20near%20the%20median.
Gun-friendly states: https://www.zippia.com/advice/least-gun-friendly-states/
Ethnic Ancestry in the U.S.: https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/bfpbzu/largest_ancestry_groups_in_the_united_states_by/
Good vibes and vacations. Here are the song lyrics along with some explanations for “Colorado” by Kota the Friend, from his Colorado album. Use the lyrics to practice your English and learn more about the culture. Also, the song has a really smooth beat, so listen to it below! Comment with suggestions for songs you want me to “explain” next. Here it is:
Bill collector knockin’ at the door
Baby momma yelling in my ear
Honestly, a lot is going on
- This is another way to say that things are happening. “What’s going on?” “Nothing’s going on.”
Only thing is I don’t really care
- *The only thing…
People wonder how I keep a smile
Tell ’em it’s ’cause I don’t give a f***
- *I tell them it’s because… When you don’t give a “F,” this means that you don’t care (at all).
I’ve been in my slippers for a while
Even all my haters show me love, yeah
- To “show love” can mean to show true romantic love like in a relationship. In other cases, it can mean to show respect, honor, or appreciation for someone. Even his haters (people that normally are against him) are now showing him respect.
I just wish ’em well though
- To “wish someone well” is a common phrase, a good one to remember.
Hope you gettin’ money, hope you doin’ well, bro
Heard your sister love me, I’m in Colorado
- *I heard your sister loves me…
Do not f****** at me, I been on vacation ’cause I need it badly
- *I’ve been on vacation because… When he says “do not at me,” it reminds me of the more common phrase “Don’t come at me.” To come at someone means to criticize them, go after them in a mean way, or attack them somehow, usually with harsh words. Maybe he left out the “come”? If it is normal to say “don’t at me,” I just haven’t heard it before. It also sounds like he might be saying “do not add me” like on social media, but that doesn’t make as much sense in the context. The “F” word here just adds anger or emphasis to his statement. Also, needing something “badly” means that you really need it. “I wanted to get some ice cream so badly, but now I’m over it.”
Hotel California my escape
- “Hotel California” is an old rock song by the Eagles. It is kind of a calm and relaxing song, at least for a rock song. His reference can be to the calm music, to a hotel (on vacation), and for California itself since California is a popular vacation spot and is known for generally good weather. Also, listen to “Hotel California” here.
P-P-Pulling up in Mexico with New York City plates, ayy
- To “pull up” is to arrive at a place, usually in a car. “Plates” here refer to license plates on a car. Also, “ayy” is something you might hear frequently in music, especially in hip hop. It’s an expression that can be used in lots of situations usually to show excitement or that you like something.
Neighbors want a photo when I visit where I stay, ayy
If you talking drama, get the f*** up out my face, ayy
- *If you are talking… “Up” here has no real meaning. It just adds emphasis and feeling to his statement.
Dodging bad vibes like skrrt
- To “dodge” is to avoid. “Vibes,” I’m sure many of you know, are vibrations in the figurative sense. If something gives you good vibes, it makes you feel good, and the same goes for bad vibes. “Skrrt” is a sound you’ve heard a lot if you listen to recent hip hop or trap music (Migos, looking at y’all). It’s basically the sound a car’s wheels make when you drive away or turn fast. The idea in this song is that he is dodging bad vibes with a big turn, like how you might try to avoid an obstacle in the road.
Drama on my line like skrrt
- His “line” is the group of people that message him or interact on social media. But skrrt, he’s avoiding it.
Left it in the past like skrrt
- *I left it…
Getting to the bag like skrrt
- To “get to the bag” means to make money since “bag” in general is a slang term for money. Also, in this sense, skrrt doesn’t mean he is avoiding something. It sounds more like he is driving in a hurry to go and make money.
Skrrt, skrrt, skrrt, skrrt
Skrrt, skrrt-skrrt, skrrt
Skrrt, skrrt, skrrt, skrrt
Skrrt, skrrt, skrrt, skrrt
People really think my life is perfect
Maybe ’cause I’m laughing through the worst s***
Yeah, I know the Devil is alive but
- “The Devil is alive” is a popular phrase in the Christian community here in America. It basically means that the Devil is being active, working, and trying to make bad things happen. In a not-so-literally sense, it just means that something bad is trying to challenge us and get in our way. By acknowledging the Devil is alive, it’s like scaring away the bad thoughts or actions in some way. I feel like a lot of people also say “the Devil is a lie” without noticing any difference.
The way that I been moving got him nervous
- *I’ve been moving has him nervous… To “get/have someone nervous” just means to make them nervous.
Mac, I hope you know you did your thing
- Mac is referring to Mac Miller, a famous American rapper who died a few years ago due to a mixed drug and alcohol overdose. Saying someone “did their thing” is a form of admiration, meaning they did something well while being original and having fun with it. You can also wish someone to “do their thing” with the same meaning. “Man, you look like you’re having fun. Go do your thing.” It’s a type of compliment.
Get your rest ’cause, homie, you deserve it
- “Homie” is a friend or trusted person, usually. Again, he is referencing Mac Miller and his early death. A similar phrase is “rest in peace.” To “rest” is a lighter way to refer to death, or someone being dead.
Ocean always deeper than it seem
- *The ocean is always deeper than it seems…
And people only looking at the surface
- *And people are only looking… The idea is like an iceberg. There’s much more under the surface.
Pa-paparazzi caught me hopping out my bag, ayy
- I’m not sure if paparazzi is a common word in other languages. They are those reporters who go after and take photos of famous people. To “catch” here means to find someone. It usually means finding someone doing something that is not right or something the person is trying to hide. “I caught momma kissing Santa Claus” is a prime example. “Bag” in this lyric is a little confusing to me. In slang, it usually means money, goals, or a style. In this case, I can’t really tell. Is he hopping out of his money? Maybe he’s hopping out of his car, since “hop in/out” is usually used when talking about cars. Maybe there’s another meaning to “bag” that I don’t know about.
Hopping in the Uber on my way to get the bag, ayy
Used to drink a bottle every day ’cause I was sad, ayy
I hit up my dad like I hope that we could patch things
- To “hit someone up” is to send them a message, like on your cell phone. To “patch” or “patch up” mean to fix something, usually a situation or relationship that has gone bad.
Women could not put me in my feelings, n****, f*** that
- To be “put in your feelings” means to feel emotional or sensitive about something. It’s common to talk about this after a breakup or after being put down verbally by someone else. “F that” is a common curse to say that you don’t like something or don’t accept something.
If she do not want the realest n****, then she dumb wack
- *If she does not want the most real n****, then she’s… I’m not sure that “realest” is a real word, but it sure is used a lot. It’s a popular term, especially used in the black community, and often referencing hip hop. To be “the realest” means to be someone who tells things truthfully, is strong, really good at what you do, and just all-around successful and confident. It’s basically a compliment that covers all good qualities. When a person or thing is “wack” it means you don’t like it or you think it’s stupid. “Turn this song off, I don’t like it. It’s wack.” “Dumb” here doesn’t mean stupid or unintelligent, though. It is like saying really or super. “If she doesn’t like me, then she’s super wack.” It can be positive too. “Kevin Hart is dumb funny! You should watch his standup.”
I don’t ever trip, but I bet that you would love that
- To “trip” means to act out of character, act in a weird way, or be upset for no reason. “Why are you tripping, man? Calm down.” It can also mean to have weird experiences like hallucinations while high on drugs, but that’s in other situations.
I don’t ever trip, but I bet that you would love that
Then the lyrics repeat.
Oh, “Colorado.” It’s funny that Colorado isn’t even mentioned but once, I think, in the entire song. He talks about New York, Mexico, and California too. The point of the song isn’t Colorado itself, but he’s talking about getting away from the noise of New York, which is where Kota is from. The lyrics focus on him escaping bad vibes and noise and drama. He also brings up some issues that he’s going through, and how people usually judge what they see on the surface without considering the deeper pain or struggle in a person’s life. Kota is a person like us all, and we all go through things sometimes. He also adds a kind tribute to Mac Miller, which fits in nicely with the theme of going through struggles and trying to find an escape. Ultimately, it’s about getting out, ditching the drama, and making his bag.
Did you listen to the song? What did you think about the beat? Can you relate to some of Kota’s feelings and thoughts in your own life? Let me know down below! As always you can reach me by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I’m going to explain using the words hell (as in hell yes/no), hella, and dumb and mad as modifying adjectives. As before, I’ll give example dialogues using Charles as our main character. Ready? Here it is.
H-E-double hockey sticks. So here, we’re not talking about that terrible place of punishment underground where the world’s most evil folks go to burn for eternity … though, that is the origin. Hell is such a bad place that it turned into a curse word. Examples of this are “go to hell,” or “what the hell?” These uses are still very common in English, though by most they aren’t seen as curses anymore. Over time, and with uses like “hot as hell,” or “big as hell,” that word became a synonym for “very/really.” So, when we start to use “hell” to negate something or assert something, it has the effect of a big YES or a big NO. Check this out:
Charles— Hey, bro. You wanna go to Big Berry with me?
Jonah— Huh? What the hell is a “big berry”?
- A general curse of confusion.
C— You haven’t heard? Big Berry is an amusement park. You want to go with me? I have season tickets.
J— What do you mean, “do I want to go?” Hell yeah! I love roller coasters.
- An excited assertion, a big YES.
C— Sweet! I do too. They have some really big rides there, I think, the biggest in the country.
J— Right? And their elevator drop ride goes high as hell. And you got season passes? Oh, we’re gonna have some fun.
- “As hell” meaning very or really.
Another variation of hell is “hella.” I have no idea where this comes from, but it pretty much has the same meaning as “as hell.” So when you hear it, it’s usually used to say very or really. Some examples from pop culture are “hella good” and “hella cheddar (money).”
J— What day do you wanna go? Maybe next week is better.
C— I mean, we can go this Saturday if you want.
J— Hell nah! I’m not going to an amusement park on a Saturday.
- A strong negation, a big NO. “Nah” is another way to pronounce “no” in some accents.
C— Why? Isn’t it more fun on the weekends? That’s when all the people go.
J— Exactly. Trust me, you do not want to sit in some hella long line all day trying to get on one ride. Forget that. Let’s go on the Monday after next.
- As you can see, “hella” here just means really. “Really long line.”
C— Why then?
J— They’re doing maintenance on the classrooms that day, so we don’t have class.
3. Dumb, Mad (very)
These two words usually have a negative meaning, as you can imagine. But, we can also use these words to mean “very” or “really” in an exaggerated way, almost like saying “super.”
C— Well, that makes sense. It’s just so far away. I was looking forward to going this weekend.
J— It’ll be better on the other Monday anyway since fall is coming. If we went this weekend, it’d be mad hot. You don’t wanna wait in a line when it’s 90 degrees out, do you?
- A strong REALLY. “Really hot.”
C— Nah, you’re right. It’s better to stay inside. Or better yet, we could get a frozen lemonade. You know Chick-fil-A has some good ones.
J— Oh yeah! There’s one right down the street too. Their lemonades are dumb good, and ice cold too. Great idea!
- In the same way, “dumb” here means really. “Really good.”
You’ll notice you can use both “dumb” and “mad” in positive or negative situations. Either way, they add big emphasis to the word really, almost like saying “super.”
*Cultural note: “Hell,” “hella,” and other words like it are pretty common in today’s English, although for some religious people it can still be interpreted as a curse (bad) word. “Mad” and “dumb” are usually not offensive, but the tone of voice and context matter. For example, you don’t want to direct these at a specific person or it could sound like you are calling them “dumb.” Also, all of these words are hella informal, so you don’t want to use them in formal settings or with people you should respect, like someone’s parents. Of course, pay attention to social cues. If other people are using them, it’s a good signal that you can in that situation too.
Can you think of your own sentences using today’s words? Do you think it’s offensive to say “hell” or “dumb”? In what situations have you heard these words being used? Tell me in the comments! I can also give you a personal explanation by email! I’m always open to explaining more and hearing what you want to learn. email@example.com
Oh, my friends from down south. Friends from around the equator, the tropics, the desert, and elsewhere … Chances are the U.S. is bigger than your country. And if it’s not, then you should know the answer. Here we go:
So this one’s less about Americans and more about geography. Still, this is a doubt (as stated in my brilliant intro) that I get from people who live in or around the tropics. The U.S. is up north, right? Just like Europe, Canada and Russia. These are places generally perceived to be cold and covered in snow. One thing that some people forget is that the U.S. is a gigantic country with 50 states. Not only that, but the States also cover just about every biome or ecological zone you can think of. I’d like to mention that even Americans fall into this, many from more southern states seeing the North as always being cold. Anyway, to show you what I’m talking about, here’s a nice map that shows the biomes in color.
Now, that map includes Canada and Mexico, but you can get an idea for how big and ecologically diverse this country really is. The contiguous U.S. are the 48 states all connected to one another on the mainland. They alone have:
Temperate Forests (hot in the summer, cold in the winter):
- think the whole eastern part of the country, from Maine down into Florida and over to Midwest
Plains & Prairies:
- pretty much the whole middle part of the country, from Minnesota down to Texas
- all the Western mountain parts, including the Rockies
- that’s right, think of the Southwest, from Arizona up to Idaho
Mediterranean (dry but not a desert):
- basically the California coast
And the southern tip of Florida is the only part of the Lower 48 states considered tropical.
The U.S. also has two other states. Alaska is huge, almost as tall and as long as the 48 states when you count all its little islands! Alaska is famous for being cold and icy, and it is home to the only tundra and taiga (tundra with some trees) climates of all the States. But even Alaska has lush forests and mountains.
And let’s not forget Hawaii, a place that almost never gets cold (except for at the tops of its many volcanoes) and is the only state truly in the tropics. Hawaii and Alaska, by the way, are full U.S. states just like California, Kentucky, Illinois, or any other. It’s a lot like how French Guiana (Guiane) is fully part of France even though it’s not in Europe. Physically, anyway.
There is one interesting fact to follow all of this; even though there are several states with warmer climates, such as Hawaii, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, etc., pretty much all the states still get snow or really cold temperatures anyway.
As I said before, Hawaii has those tall volcanoes, and all the desert states also have tall mountains that get snow. Even the South gets snow in some areas due to mountains like the Ozarks and Appalachians. So if you measure it by states and now individual regions, then every state does technically get snow, even though it depends on the altitude in those lower states.
It turns out that the places as a whole that don’t get so much as a single snowflake are Guam and the Virgin Islands of the U.S. variety, which are both territories, not states, and are both groups of tropical islands. They are also low-altitude, which explains why Hawaii gets a bit of snow but they don’t.
For the most part, the answer to if the U.S. is cold and snowy is Yes, all of the states do get snow. But in many of the Southern states, snow is a lot more rare than in the North or Mountains. Even within many of the lower states, there are large regions that do not see snow like, say, Houston, San Diego, New Orleans, and so on. Also, don’t forget that large parts of the U.S. are either Semi-Arid (kinda dry) or Humid, so during the summer much of the country is blasted in heat. Much of that cold weather doesn’t come until those winter months.
Unless you’re in Alaska, of course.
For more information, please check the resources here below, as well as linked to the images.
Do you think the U.S. is cold? Have you ever been somewhere tropical or hot in the U.S.? Would you want to visit Alaska?! Please comment below or send me your thoughts directly! firstname.lastname@example.org 😉
Where in the U.S. has it never snowed?: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/places-where-it-has-never-snowed-30142
View video & explanation below–>
- Since the lyrics talk about war, this “You!” feels like a call to go and fight. It’s like the famous Uncle Sam recruiting posters, written “I want You!”
Why do they always send the poor?
- Usually, by majority the poor, lower class, or undereducated are sent to fight wars, at least historically.
Barbarisms by Barbaras with pointed heels
- “Barbarisms” are acts of extreme cruelty, like what barbarians (wild and uncivilized people) would do. Barbaras could be a reference to a specific group of barbarians. It also seems like a plural of the name Barbara, which could be a shot at certain women in power, such as Barbara Bush (George W. Bush’s mom). The “pointed heels” makes me think it’s about these kinds of women, too.
Victorious victories kneel for brand new spanking deals
- “Kneel” usually means to bend down to pick something up off the ground. It can also mean to bow down in front of a leader. “Brand spanking new” means the same as brand new, or very new.
Marching forward, hypocritic and hypnotic computers
- Talking about how governments and their intentions are often hypocritical and turn their citizens into “hypnotized computers” willing to do everything they ask, almost like robots or zombies.
You depend on our protection, yet you feed us lies from the table cloth
- Saying how the government needs us (the public, the common people) to protect the nation. Yet, they “feed us lies from the tablecloth,” or since we are born. To “feed lies” is a common way to say that someone is being lied to or giving lies to another. A “table cloth” is often what parents use to clean a baby’s mouth.
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, ooh-ooh
- This “la-la-la” reminds me of a happy, silly kid’s song. It’s like a lullaby (children’s song) used to make everything look okay and happy.
Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time
- This line shows how governments try to make going to war seem like a big party, a lot of fun, and how “everyone” is doing it. It’s the cool thing to do.
Dancing in the desert, blowing up the sunshine
- Knowing this song is about war, we can guess that “dancing in the desert” is a reference to America’s recent wars in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and parts of Africa, and how the fighting often happens in desert climates. “Blowing up sunshine” references big bombs that look like the sun when they explode.
Kneeling roses disappearing into Moses’ dry mouth
- Kneeling roses can be a reference to dead soldiers, since people usually leave flowers at graves. Moses can be a reference to Israel or the Middle East in general, since that is where Moses and most of the Bible’s characters lived. These soldiers “disappear” into the dry desert, dying during these wars.
Breaking into Fort Knox, stealing our intentions
- Fort Knox is a famous American military gold reserve. To “break into” something is to force your way in with intentions to steal or do something bad. The intentions of most people who go to war is good, to protect the nation, fight for freedom, etc. This line shows how the government just uses wars to make more money and corrupts the good intentions of the common people.
Hangars sitting dripped in oil, crying, “Freedom”
- A “hangar” is a storage building for aircraft. This could mean that war planes are sitting and waiting with their engines full of oil, ready to attack and protect their “Freedom!” at any minute.
Handed to obsoletion, still, you feed us lies from the table cloth
- “Obsoletion” I’m not sure if it’s a real word, which is fine. To be “obsolete” means to lose value or purpose. To “hand in” means to give something up or give it away. So the common citizens are being turned obsolete, or useless, by governments and big corporations. But we’re still lied to from the time we’re babies.
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, ooh-ooh
Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time
Dancing in the desert, blowing up the sunshine
Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time
Dancing in the desert, blowing up the sunshine
Blast off, it’s party time
- “Blast off” is what you might say before traveling in a space ship, or before doing something really extraordinary on Earth. Again, they refer back to the “party in the desert.” Now it’s time to take off in our planes and go have fun in the desert (go to war).
And we don’t live in a fascist nation
- “Fascism” is a kind of extreme right- or left-wing government that oppresses any opposition and practices strict control over the economy, society, and other social functions. The tone here makes it sound sarcastic, and the sentiment is that they do live in a fascist nation.
Blast off, it’s party time
And where the f*** are you?
- Before, “You” was pointed at citizens, calling them to go fight the wars. Now, they turn the question back at leaders, asking “where are they?” When leaders send people to fight, the soldiers are often forgotten when they come back. You can see a lot of veterans in America suffering physical and mental injuries and who don’t receive the help they deserve.
Where the f*** are you?
Where the f*** are you?
Why don’t presidents fight the war?
Why do they always send the poor?
And … the lyrics repeat.
B.Y.O.B. is a very radical and anti-government/establishment song, common for this genre. “BYOB” usually is an acronym for “Be Your Own Boss,” or take care of yourself, start your own business, etc. For this song, it is an acronym for “Bring Your Own Bombs,” referring to the subject of war and destruction. The lyrics are very critical of bureaucratic leaders who make war and corruption seem fun, like a party. In reality, they often leave behind the people who fight and forget about them, making them useless in society. This recalls so many veterans who get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or lose limbs, for example, and can’t function normally in society when they return from battle. Ultimately, it’s a criticism against the U.S.A.’s corrupt nature making people do what they want, telling them it is heroic and for freedom, but ultimately using these people for their own gain. Deep stuff! And best of all, it doesn’t just apply to America!
Did you understand the lyrics of this song? Do you feel this way about the U.S. or your own country? Do you think it’s noble to fight for your country? Please comment below or send me an email directly. I’m always open to topic suggestions, critiques, or positive reinforcements! email@example.com
Watch it here!
Watch video below–>
Oh, my veins are blue and connected
- Having “blue blood” means to be privileged, an aristocrat, or well-off. There also might be a connection to Blues music.
And every single bone in my brain is electric
- This reminds me of the phrase “hard-headed” or “having a hard head.” This means that the person doesn’t listen or follow directions, and they like to do things their own way. Having “bones in my brain” might be a reference to having a hard head.
But I dig ditches like the best of ’em
- Adding “like the best of them” to an action means that you can do it as well as the best. “He’s a great guitarist. He can play it like the best of them.”
Yo trabajo duro
- For those that don’t speak Spanish/Castilian: “I work hard”
Como en madera y yeso
- “Like in wood and plaster.” Like he’s a construction worker, basically.
Como en madera y yeso
And even God Herself has fewer plans than me
- Referring to God as a “Her” in English is not common, but it’s a rebellious way to break the idea that God is a male figure. A biblical reference, but he’s saying he has even more plans than God has. Very busy.
But she never helps me out with my scams for free, though
- A “scam” is some plan that is discreet, undercover, or malicious, usually trying to trick someone or to do something you’re not supposed to. Again, referring to God as a female.
She grabs a stick and then she points it at me
- This is like people who are outcasts or have severe diseases. People are too afraid to touch them with their hands, so they only touch them from far away with a stick. It’s like being disgusted or frightened by those who are different than us. It also reminds me of the story of Moses parting the Red Sea with his staff, for some reason.
When I say nothing, I say everything
Yeah, when I say nothing, I say everything
They threw me down in a lazaretto
- “Lazaretto” was a special kind of quarantine for people with a disease called leprosy. Historically, people with leprosy were secluded from the rest of society. This relates to him feeling like people threw him away into isolation, maybe because of his style or ideas.
Born rottin’, bored rotten
- To “rot” is to go bad, like when a fruit or piece of meat is left out of the fridge for too long. If he was “born rotting,” this means he was born into this state of quarantine, or he’s never fit in with others since he was a kid. To be “bored rotten” is to be extremely bored. Similarly, a kid that is “rotten” is spoiled, or gets whatever they want even if they act bad. There are a lot of mixed meanings in this small lyric.
Makin’ models of people I used to know
Out of coffee and cotton
And all my illegitimate kids have begotten
- An “illegitimate child” is one born out of a relationship that is not approved of or outside of marriage, for example. To be “begotten” is to be forgotten and left alone. It’s not such a common word in English nowadays and has more of an archaic or biblical feel to it.
Thrown down to the wolves, made feral for nothin’
- “Thrown to the wolves” is a popular phrase for when someone is thrown into a situation that they obviously have no chance to win. A similar phrase is “thrown to the lions.” “Feral” means wild or like a wild beast. Also, he pronounces “nothing” like “nuttin,” which is common in certain regions and accents.
Quarantined on the Isle of Man
- The Isle of Man is a small island off the coast of Great Britain.
And I’m trying to escape any way that I can, oh
Any way that I can, oh
Damn, I have no time left, time is lost
No time at all, throw it in a garbage can
And I shake God’s hand
I jump up and let Her know when I can
This is how I’m gonna do it
They wanna burn down the prison
They’re lighting fires with the cash of the masses
- With the public’s money.
And like the dough, I don’t fall down
- “Dough” is a slang term for money. Real dough (used to make bread) rises in an oven. “Bread” is also slang for money.
I’m so Detroit, I make it rise from the ashes
- “I’m so…” is a way to compare yourself to something else. “I’m so Los Angeles, always hot and sunny!” Detroit is known for suffering a huge economic crash but has been steadily rising in importance again. This image of “rising from the ashes” comes from the myth of the Phoenix, a bird that burns and rises again from its ashes. Figuratively, it means to reinvent yourself, grow, learn new things, and come back better after failing.
This song centers around the idea of a societal outcast, like someone with a terrible disease like leprosy. His quarantine, as if on a lonely island, doesn’t come from a physical illness, but from his ambitions and personal style. The fact that he feels isolated turns out to be positive, since all this makes him unique. There are lots of references from the Bible or that could relate to religion, since leprosy is a disease that was prominent in the Bible. There’s this idea that he was born with some privilege, but he acknowledges this, accepts it, and it doesn’t stop him from working hard or getting his hands dirty. Him saying he works hard like a construction worker in Spanish is kind of a reference to many hard laborers in the U.S. having Mexican heritage, or Latin American heritage in general. What are your thoughts on this song? Do you understand why he would compare himself to a lazaretto? Share your thoughts!
Also, watch the video. It’s really cool!