society + Doctor Sleep [2019]

curtesy of YouTube

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.

credit from Fandom, here

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.

a field like you might see in the Midwest, Photo by Lawrence Hookham on Unsplash

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.

a trailer-home, Photo by John Mark Jennings on Unsplash

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.

classic neon movie theater, Photo by Jeff Pierre on Unsplash

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 tietewaller@gmail.com. Stay well!

A handful (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota on Pexels.com

So I had the idea of recording some of the content here on CultSurf so that you could listen to it. If you’re learning English, you will now be able to listen to the stories and some of the content, and practice your listening skills as well! I will provide a link to the original story here so you can go back and read it in case you get lost. Thanks for listening, and remember to comment below. How did I do?

grip_host_wild

Try a wild monster

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!

(Don’t) Try

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).

.

(Don’t) Test

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: tietewaller@gmail.com. Thanks and take care!

Shooting the buzz bang

Today’s terms: hit / slam / bang / rock / hit me up / give a ring, buzz / shoot a message

No, I’m trying to get you to meet my buddy. He’s a producer.

Jonah was trying enthusiastically to calm Charles down on their way to the music studio.

—Come on, man. You know I don’t like to be around these kinds of people. I get nervous.

Jonah reassured him; —Yeah, Mike is a real scary kind of guy. A real gangster off the streets! Come on, bro. There’s nothing to worry about. I’ll hold your hand.

Charles tapped Jonah’s hand away as he reached for it.

—Nobody likes sarcasm, bro, Charles protested.

—Everybody does!

Eventually, they drove up to the studio parking lot. There were a group of teenagers smoking in the front, maybe add the smell of spilled liquor on the floor. Everyone looked calm but suspicious. Although, when they saw it is Jonah, they all smiled and signaled “hello” to him.

—What’s up everybody! Are y’all rocking today?

Everyone nodded, made mumble sounds, and they turned back to their joints. Charles gave them a shy nod. Then the two friends strolled inside.

Once inside the studio, there were strong musical beats coming from all over the place. Smooth instrumentals blended with fast rhythms. The noise was chaotic but artful, all the same. Jonah saw one of his colleagues coming towards them.

Yo, my brotha! What’s happening with ya? Y’all just got all the beats banging today.

—Well, you know how I rock, Jonah. Who’s your friend?

Charles felt a quick pain in his belly.

—Oh, my name’s Charles. What’s up?

The man reached out his hand and gave Charles a mixed handshake and hug in a friendly manner.

—Classic Mike. Gotta show them love. This is my buddy, Charles. He comes from another country, but he knows a lot of English.

—He seems like he can handle his business, isn’t that right, Charles!

They all laughed for a few seconds. Charles then spoke up.

—Yeah, I get by pretty well out here. I just didn’t understand when you said “banging” and “rock.” I didn’t really get it.

—No prob, man. Banging is what I say when something is really good, especially when it comes to music. I can say, “This song bangs.” It’s the same with Hit or Slam for something that’s really good, like a piece of music, some good food, or even a cute girl, for example. All my music slams and hits.

Charles was reminded.

—Oh, right. You are the producer!

Correct-o! But that’s different from banging, like to be a part of a gang. I don’t bang. But, those kids outside, I don’t know. All of them look like they bang. Now, Rock is basically the same thing. If something rocks, that means it’s really good, amazing. And what’s cool is you can rock something, like a song, a test, or a sport. It all means that you do really good in it.

—Yeah, my buddy Mike here rocks as a producer, by the way, Jonah added in.

As they talked, a young lady appeared from one of the recording booths and made her way towards the exit.

—Sheila?

She turned around. Yep, it was the same Sheila that Charles had been out with.

—Charles! Woah, I didn’t know you were into music.

Charles puffed up his chest.

—Oh, yeah. I’m really into music. Recording, he coughs, Really into recording. What do you do here?

—I’m a singer, remember? I thought I told you when we were texting a few days back.

Charles scratched his head.

—Anyway, I gotta go. Nice seeing you here! Exciting, am I right? Hit me up tonight, okay?

In a hurry, Sheila left from the studio and into her busy life. Charles looked confused.

—Why did she want me to hit her up? Is that, like, sexual?

Jonah and Mike stormed with laughter.

—You wish!

Jonah then explained.

Hit me up, man! It means the same as “send me a message,” or “give me a call.” It’s not sexual at all. Well, I guess not.

Mike added, —Yeah, it’s the same as saying give me a ring, shoot me a message, or give me a buzz. It all means “call me” or “message me.”

—Oh, I guess that makes sense.

—Charlie’s got a girlfriend!

All three of them laughed and pushed each other around playfully. Oh, guys.

—So, are you gonna hit her up tonight? Jonah asked Charles.

—You know I will!

Despite his outward confidence, Charles still felt pretty nervous. Not to mention guilty, having forgotten so quickly that Sheila was a singer. He dug for a little more information.

—So, Mike. Sheila records her songs here?

—Yeah. Just a few samples for SoundCloud. Why?

—Is she any good?

—For sure, bro! Sheila slams in the recording booth!

Saying that something slams, hits, or bangs is saying it’s really good to the senses (That food looks slamming! That rhythm hits hard! This song is banging!) These are more colloquial slang, so not all communities across the country use them. Otherwise, “hit me up,” “give me a buzz/ring,” and “shoot me a message” are all pretty common nationwide to tell someone to send you a message or to call, though these terms are very informal. Using “bang” to talk about being in a gang can be a problematic word, so I underlined it. It’s best not to use it unless you really know what you’re saying, and most people don’t even have to use it. Do you know why the other terms are underlined? Can you use today’s terms in your own sentences? Share with me down below!

*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference. Did you recognize the mistakes in this story?

“Juice” [Lizzo]

Watch the video below–>

Mirror, mirror on the wall

  • This is from the fairy tale, Snow White, when the witch is admiring herself in the mirror.

Don’t say it ’cause I know I’m cute (Ooh, baby)

Louis down to my drawers

  • As in Louis Vuitton designer clothes. “Drawers” is another word for underwear, often pronounced “draws” for short. Basically, all her clothing is expensive, even the underwear.

LV all on my shoes (Ooh, baby)

  • “LV” and “Louis” are both common abbreviations for Louis Vuitton.

I be drippin‘ so much sauce

  • *I am dripping… In slang, “sauce” is confidence, swag, good looks, etc. To “drip” then refers to someone being so full of confidence and swag that it is dripping off of them like water. A similar word is “drip.” (“Do you like my drip?”)

Got a bih lookin’ like RAGÚ (Ooh, baby)

  • “Bih” is another way to say the B-word without sounding too vulgar or just to be funny. RAGÚ is a brand of Italian tomato sauce, referencing her “sauce” from the previous line. A similar line was made popular in the song “Party” by Beyoncé, where Kanye West says, “You got the swag sauce, she dripping Swagu” (swag and RAGÚ). Listen to that song here
Ragu Old World Style Traditional Pasta Sauce ‑ Shop Pasta Sauces at H‑E‑B
Image from here

Lit up like a crystal ball

  • “Lit” is a way to say that something is exciting, or you have lots of energy, are having fun, etc. (“I am lit 24-7.”) (“That was a lit party.”) But she compares this slang meaning of lit to the literal meaning: to show light. Also, the crystal ball is in reference to mystical things and fairy tales, like from the first line.

That’s cool, baby, so is you

  • *So are you

That’s how I roll

  • This phrase is used to explain that this is the way a person is, usually because of some good quality. (“You always wear the best clothes, girl.” “You know, that’s how I roll!”) A similar phrase is “That’s how I do.”

If I’m shinin‘, everybody gonna shine (Yeah, I’m goals)

  • *Everybody is going to shine… To “shine,” besides talking about light, can also describe someone who does really amazing things, shows off a lot, or is really intelligent. (“I suck at physics! But math is where I shine.”) “Goals” comes from social media. It just means that whatever someone is doing is so good that it represents what other people should do. Most popularly with relationships. (“Mark and Susan are such a cute couple! That’s goals.”)

I was born like this, don’t even gotta try (Now you know)

  • *I don’t even have to try…

I’m like chardonnay, get better over time (So you know)

Heard you say I’m not the baddest, b****, you lie (Haha)

  • A “bad b****” is a woman who is really good at what she does, really confident, pretty, and has lots of good qualities. Confidence is the main factor, though. Although it sounds really offensive, it’s actually a compliment in most informal cases.

It ain’t my fault that I’m out here gettin’ loose

  • *It’s not my… To “get loose” is to let go of anxiety or fear, have fun, release your energy, and things like that. Similar verbs are to “let loose” and “cut loose.” People also use it to stretch and warm up muscles before an exercise. (“Let’s start the game!” “Wait, I need to get loose first.”)

Gotta blame it on the Goose

  • *You have to blame… Grey Goose is a brand of vodka. This line refers to a popular song by Jamie Foxx where he says, “Blame it on the Goose … Blame it on the alcohol.” Listen to that song here

Gotta blame it on my juice, baby

  • “Juice” can have lots of meanings in slang. Here, it’s more ambiguous (not concrete). She probably uses it to say her power, confidence, showiness, sexiness, etc.

It ain’t my fault that I’m out here makin’ news

  • Not actually “making” the news. She’s appearing in the news, doing big things.

I’m the pudding in the proof

  • This comes from a saying; “The proof is in the pudding.” It means that something is good because you can try it or prove it, usually as an incentive to convince someone that something is really good. Lizzo changes it, making herself sound like the source of the goodness/tastiness. She is the whole pudding.

Gotta blame it on my juice

Ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee

Blame it on my juice, blame it, blame it on my juice

Ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee

Blame it on my juice, blame it, blame it on my juice (Ooh, baby)

No, I’m not a snack at all

  • A “snack” is a small meal. In slang, it refers to a person, usually a woman, that is attractive.

Look, baby, I’m the whole damn meal (Ooh, baby)

  • So she’s not saying that she is not attractive, but super attractive. A big “snack.”

David, you ain’t bein’ slick

  • To be “slick” is to try to trick or fool someone. (“You’re not slick, I see what you’re trying to do.”)

Don’t dare try to cop a feel (Ooh, baby)

  • To “cop” something is to get it or try to get it. “Cop a feel” means to try to touch someone, usually in a sensual way. This plays on the name of famous magician, David Copperfield. David, cop a feel. They kind of rhyme.

The juice ain’t worth the squeeze

  • Again, playing on the slang meaning of “juice.” Referring to those juice boxes or packets that you have to squeeze to drink from.
OCEAN SPRAY 100% ORANGE JUICE, 4.2 OUNCE JUICE BOX (PACK OF 40) -  GTIN/EAN/UPC 31200238566 - Cadastro de Produto com Tributação e NCM - Cosmos
Image from here

If the juice don’t look like this (Like this, like this, like this)

  • *juice doesn’t look like…

Hold up, n****, please

  • “Hold up” means wait, wait a minute. “Please” when said like this is the same as telling someone to stop or not think about it, like “stop dreaming.” (“I want to take you out to dinner.” “Boy, please! You don’t even have a car.”)

Don’t make me have to take your b****, s*** (How I roll)

If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine (Yeah, I’m goals)

I was born like this, don’t even gotta try (Now you know)

I’m like chardonnay (Okay), get better over time (So you know)

Heard you say I’m not the baddest, b****, you lie (You lie)

It ain’t my fault that I’m out here gettin’ loose

Gotta blame it on the Goose

Gotta blame it on my juice, baby

It ain’t my fault that I’m out here makin’ news

I’m the pudding in the proof

Gotta blame it on my juice

Ya-ya-ee (Ya-ya-ee), ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee

Blame it on my juice, blame it, blame it on my juice

Ya-ya-ee (Ya-ya-ee), ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee

Blame it on my juice, blame it, blame it on my juice (Alright)

Ya-ya-ee

Somebody come get this man

I think he got lost in my DMs, what? My DMs, what?

  • “DM’s” on social media are Direct Messages. To “get lost” in them is like sending someone lots of messages because they really like that person, almost like they’re obsessed.

You better come get your man

  • “You better” is an expression used to tell someone what they need to do. It can either be a piece of advise, or a demand from an authority, like one’s parents. (“You better clean your room, or we’re not leaving.”)

I think he wanna be way more than friends, what?

  • Saying “way” like this means a lot or much. (“I’m sorry, but you were way wrong.”) (“They paid, but I can pay way more.”)

More than friends

What you want me to say?

  • *What do you want…

Lizzo makes a lot of songs about loving oneself, being confident, and appreciating one’s own style and body. This song is no different. The whole concept of the “juice” is this sexiness and swag that she has. She does use more informal English that mostly wouldn’t be acceptable in a professional setting, but is great for using in casual settings or with family and friends. The song is very positive and upbeat. What was your impression of this song? Did you understand it? Do you want to have “juice” like Lizzo? Let me know in the comments!

Video here:

Candy raw go sick

Today’s terms: dope / sick / ill / raw / sweet

Charlie. What’s up! You have a ride?

Charles looked at his friend, Jonah, rolling by in an old car. Not old and ugly, broken, or raggedy. Jonah took good care of his car, a vintage antique from times long passed, an age that has long been forgotten.

—No, dude. You know I ride the bus everywhere.

—Agh, that’s too bad!

Jonah revved up his engine as if he were about to speed away and leave Charles behind. Before he could go five feet, he hit the break, shifted gears, then reversed.

—You know I couldn’t leave you behind like that, poor thing. Get in.

Charles shrugged his shoulders and got into the car.

—Sorry for hesitating. I was waiting for you to open my door for me.

—Ha! Don’t push your luck.

They went along in the car, not rushing or anything, just cruising. After all, they had nowhere to go. A traffic light quickly turned red without showing yellow first. Jonah screeched to a stop, passed the crosswalk, then scooted back again. While they were stopped at the light he looked into his car mirrors.

—Yo, Charles … You see them?

He nodded in the direction of the corner where there were a couple of young ladies waiting to cross. Charles looked quickly at them, then away, hoping they didn’t notice him. Jonah smoothly turned the dial on his car radio and found a station he liked. Suddenly a loud song with deep bass and a quick rhythm started to burst out of his speakers. The ladies got kind of nervous and secured their purses. The light turned green and Jonah pressed on the gas again.

—What was that all about? Charles asked his friend.

—I was trying to impress those girls, man. Didn’t you see them?

—Yeah. But I don’t think it worked.

Jonah laughed.

—Well, you don’t know.

They rode for a little while longer, enjoying the music. Well, Jonah was loving it, but Charles’s ears were starting to hurt, if I’m being honest.

—Oh! This is my song. The beat is so sick! You’ve heard this one, right?

No answer. Charles was quite confused.

—You haven’t heard this? It’s too dope.

—Bro. What in the world are you talking about?

—You know what I mean by “dope?

Charles gave a look like he needed a bit more explanation. Jonah turned the volume down.

Dope, man. It means really cool, like, “That song is dope!” I love that song. And it’s the same with sick. I don’t mean sick with the flu, with corona, you know. I mean it’s really cool.

—Hmm, I guess it makes sense.

—I could say the same with ill. Ill means sick in bed anyway, but I can use it to talk about something that’s really cool, real good, like that song. Raw is the same. Not raw, like uncooked food. But raw like, “Bro, the beat on this song is raw!”

—I don’t know why being sick and raw turned into being cool, but that’s language, huh?

Sure is.

Another car passed them by. It had a red body, spinner rims, and bottom lights; it must have been brand new.

—Woah, that is a sweet car, my dude.

—I don’t know how you can taste a car. Does it have candy in the exhaust pipe?

Jonah smiled and tapped his friend on the back of the neck.

—Not that kind of sweet! Sweet is the same as dope. It means I want about five of those awesome cars for myself.

—I never knew there were so many ways to say something is cool.

There’s probably many more, my friend. Just learn as you go.

Charles nodded and agreed.

—Hey, who’s that girl you met that one time? She tell you her name yet?

—Oh, uh … You mean Sheila. Why? You feel like taking me to her place?

Jonah thought for a minute.

—Eh, why not. But when you get your license you’ll have to drive her around in your dope new ride.

—If you could give me a loan, that would be sweet!

Jonah rolled his eyes and revved his engine again.

—So, funny man, what’s her address?

Charles paused and realized something.

—Oh, crap.

  • Like in many other languages, there are lots of ways to express that something is cool, interesting, or that you really like it. You don’t have to use all of these expressions above to express that idea, but use one that you feel comfortable with. Saying “dope” and “sweet” usually feels more relaxed, while saying “sick,” “ill,” or “raw” feel more excited or enthusiastic. So, it depends on the personality of the speaker. Do you now understand how to use these words? Give me some example sentences in the comments!

*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference. Did you recognize the mistakes in this story?

“It Was a Good Day” [Ice Cube]

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Videos down below–>

Break ’em

  • In slang, to “break someone off” can mean to make them like something. It’s like Cube is saying to his DJ, “Let’s make my audience love this one.” “Break” can also have a violent meaning in another context.

Yeah

Just wakin’ up in the morning, gotta thank God

  • *I have to thank God

I don’t know, but today seems kinda odd

No barking from the dog, no smog

  • “Smog” is the collective pollution from vehicles, fumes, and other waste in the air. Los Angeles is famous for having lots of smog.

And Momma cooked a breakfast with no hog

  • “Hog” is another word for pig. This has to do with Islam for Cube, since Muslims usually don’t eat pork.

I got my grub on, but didn’t pig out

  • To “get your grub on” is to eat well, since “grub” is another word for food. To “pig out” is to eat too much, more than you need to. This is a play on the “hog” line before.

Finally got a call from a girl I wanna dig out

  • “Dig out” can mean find out more about something or someone. Here, his meaning is probably more sexual.

Hooked it up for later as I hit the door

  • To “hook something up” is to plan for it to happen or to make it. “I hooked up some eggs for you this morning.” “We need to hook up a date, you and me this weekend?” Also, he is not literally hitting the door. This just means to leave. A similar phrase is “hit the road.”

Thinkin’, “Will I live another twenty-four?”

  • As in twenty-four hours.

I gotta go ’cause I got me a drop-top

  • *I have to go because I have… “Drop-top” is a convertible car. “I got me” is a way to say you have something. Similar ways of phrasing: “I need me a new bed. They need them a whole new house.” It just adds emphasis to the subject of the sentence. It’s not correct grammar though 😉

And if I hit the switch, I can make the a** drop

  • He’s talking about making the back of his car go down, as in low riders.

Had to stop at a red light

Lookin’ in my mirror and not a jacker in sight

  • A “jacker” is someone who takes things from others, like a thief. To “jack” is to steal.

And everything is alright

I got a beep from Kim, and she can f*** all night

  • A “beep” refers back before cellphones when people used pagers (or beepers) to contact each other. Sometimes, people still say “Give me a beep” when talking about a cellphone.

Called up the homies and I’m askin’ y’all

  • “Homies” are your best friends, basically.

“Which park are y’all playin’ basketball?”

  • *At which park are you all playing basketball?

Get me on the court and I’m trouble

Last week, f***** around and got a triple double

  • A “triple-double” is an achievement in a basketball game when a player makes a double-digit total in three statistical categories. For example, 12 rebounds, 20 assists, 43 points. Basketball terminology. To “F around” or “mess around” here means to do something while not even trying or not expecting it. “I messed around and ate a whole pizza without even trying.”

Freakin’ n***** every way, like MJ

  • This is a reference to Michael Jordan making other players look bad on the basketball court because he’s so good.

I can’t believe today was a good day

Drove to the pad and hit the showers

  • “Pad” is another word for your house. To “hit the showers” just means to take a shower or clean yourself up.

Didn’t even get no static from the cowards

  • *I didn’t even get any static… Double negatives! “Static” normally is that fuzzy electric sound your phone makes when there is a bad signal. Here, static can mean an irritating noise. He’s not hearing any annoying talk from other people.

‘Cause just yesterday them fools tried to blast me

  • *Because just yesterday those fools tried… To “blast” here means to shoot.

Saw the police and they rolled right past me

No flexin’, didn’t even look in a n****’s direction

  • To “flex” is to make yourself look better or show off. “No flexing” means he is not trying to show off, but is telling the truth. A similar phrase is “No lie.”

As I ran the intersection

  • To “run” an intersection is to drive through it when you’re not supposed to, such as on a red light. The same concept is to “run a red light.”

Went to Short Dog‘s house, they was watchin’ Yo! MTV Raps

  • *They were watching… Short Dog is another rapper.

What’s the haps on the craps?

  • “What’s the haps?” is a fun way to ask “What’s happening? What’s going on?” A similar phrase is “What’s the deal?” “Craps” is a popular dice game. Learn more by clicking here

Shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em

  • As in shaking dice before you throw them.

Roll ’em in a circle of n*****

  • And rolling dice, too. People often play dice on the floor where they throw them in the middle of a circle of other players. Also, playing this way is stereotypically associated with black Americans. In casinos, people play at a special table.

And watch me break ’em with the 7, 7-11, 7-11

  • So here, “break” means to do damage to the other players. Rolling a 7 or 11 is really good. He’s winning the game.

7, even back door Little Joe

  • Again, references to the game of craps. He’s doing very well.

I picked up the cash flow

  • He won a lot of money.

Then we played bones, and I’m yellin’: “Domino!

  • “Bones” is a game you play with dominos. It can be another word for the game of dominos. “Domino!” is what you say when you win the game.

Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central LA

Today was a good day

Left my n****’s house paid

  • *I left…

Picked up a girl been tryna f*** since the 12th grade

  • *I picked up a girl I have been trying to…

It’s ironic, I had the brew, she had the chronic

  • The “brew” here means liquor. “Chronic” means marijuana.

The Lakers beat the Supersonics

  • The Supersonic were a basketball team from Seattle, and were rivals of the LA Lakers.

I felt on the big fat fanny

  • “Fanny” in the U.S. means butt, and it’s not particularly offensive. In the UK, it has a much more derogatory meaning, I hear. Americans usually say it to be funny.

Pulled out the jammy and killed the p*****

  • “Jammy” here means condom. Much like “jimmy.” To “kill” means to have a lot of success or perform really well in something. Obviously, he is talking about something pretty intimate. That P-word is a reference to a woman’s private parts. It’s not the usual American English way to say this, but it’s a word that we borrowed from Indian slang by way of Jamaica.

And my d*** runs deep, so deep

So deep put her a** to sleep

  • Usually, the “A-word” means butt. However, people often use it just to refer to a person. “James’s a** was so rude yesterday.” Not his butt, but James himself was rude.

Woke her up around one

She didn’t hesitate to call Ice Cube the top gun

  • A reference to the movie Top Gun. She says Cube was the best.

Drove her to the pad and I’m coastin

  • “Coasting” is driving smoothly and happily. It can be used for any vehicle, really, but especially those with wheels, like cars, skateboards, bikes, etc.

Took another sip of the potion, hit the three-wheel motion

  • The “potion” means his drink. In normal situations, “potion” is a magic liquid that has some special properties. Sometimes people use it to mean liquor. “Three-wheel motion” refers to his low-rider. He can make his car stand on three wheels.

I was glad everything had worked out

  • Here, “work out” means that things went well, everything was good.

Dropped her a** off and then chirped out

  • Here, “chirp out” means to make noise with your car’s tires as you leave. More simply, it means to drive away. Similar to “roll out.” These days, instead of “chirp,” most young people say “skert.”

Today was like one of those fly dreams

  • In slang, “fly” means really cool. You can have fly clothes, or meet a fly person, for example. “Those shoes are fly!”

Didn’t even see a berry flashin’ those high beams

  • “Berry” references the colorful lights on a police car. High beam lights.

No helicopter lookin’ for a murder

Two in the morning, got the Fatburger

  • Fatburger is a popular fast-food burger restaurant. They have some famous locations in Southern California, especially.

Even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp

  • A “blimp” is a big air vehicle that looks like a balloon. In Los Angeles, the Goodyear Blimp is famous for flying around and showing messages or advertisements in the sky.

And it read “Ice Cube’s a Pimp”

Drunk as hell, but no throwin’ up

  • To “throw up” is to vomit.

Halfway home and my pager still blowin’ up

  • *My pager is still… To “blow up” here is to get a lot of attention or action. “My phone is blowing up.”

Today I didn’t even have to use my AK

  • An “Ak-47” is a type of gun. I think you knew that. It’s also the state initials of Alaska, fun fact.

I gotta say, it was a good day

  • Similar to “I must say,” or “I have to say.” It’s like saying “To be honest,” or “To tell the truth.” “I gotta say, you can make a good German chocolate cake!”

Hey, wait, wait a minute!

Pooh, stop this s***!

  • Pooh is the DJ on this song.

What the f*** am I thinkin’ about?

.

  • This is a very dear song to me; it’s old-school West Coast rap and it speaks on a lot of the problems of Los Angeles in a unique way. Instead of complaining about the problems, he raps about how perfect a day would be without those problems. There would be no violence, no police, good food, plenty of sleep and lots of love from a girl he’s always wanted to be with. There wouldn’t even be any smog in the LA skies! The song is kind of dreamy and hopeful for the future in a way, all the while criticizing how hard a normal day in South Central LA really is. Does this sound like a perfect day for you too? Let me know what you think!

Listen to the song:

Also, watch the music video: