Gone Girl + society [2014] – What’s it say about us?

A small-town girl from the American Midwest disappears suddenly … and her husband is the prime suspect. Well, actually she’s a grown woman, but you get my point. This is the main plot of this post’s subject, Gone Girl. It was a book by Gillian Flynn that turned into a popular movie. It’s directed by David Fincher (for the movie nerds out there) and was nominated for a lot of awards too. By the way, this is part of a series where we (lightly) analyze English-language movies. If you like that sort of thing, there are more posts like this here.

The book cover of Gone Girl, novel by Gillian Flynn

We’ll look at what the movie has to say about American society at large, as well as some general themes of the film. If you haven’t seen it yet, there might be some spoilers, I can’t make any promises. You can find it on platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix, though it depends on your country or region. The trailer is up top in case you want to refresh your memory or check it out for the first time.

Movie Setting

What does the movie, Gone Girl, have to say about American culture or society? For starters, let’s look at where it’s set. The movie takes place mostly in a fictional town in northeast Missouri. It’s not far from the Mississippi River which forms the border with Illinois. Why is that important? Well, Missouri is a state smack in the middle of the USA. Southern Missouri is a lot more like the South in terms of culture and other ways, while the north is a bit more like the Midwest. Even being in the same country (in this case the same state), being in the Midwest shows a greater lean towards mainstream, heartland American values and identity. You can kind of see the difference in accents, where some people have stronger “rural” or Southern accents where others have a more typical American accent. I’ll explain a bit later.

A map showing the course of the Mississippi River in North America, the setting of Gone Girl
course of the Mississippi River – By Mulad at English Wikipedia

The Mississippi River is the longest, most iconic river in the country. We see big homes with green lawns, quiet streets with cul-de-sacs, and small brick-stone towns. This is all typical of an American city suburb. There are also some scenes that describe what the weather is like in much of the Midwest during the summer. You have people searching for Amy (the gone “girl”) in green fields full of bugs and sweating under the sticky, humid air. There are some scenes by the river or poolside that show us how hot it is. I don’t remember if there is a winter scene, but I feel like there was. Either way, the Midwest also gets extremely cold in the winter months.

Gone Girl is set in modern times, which is important for this next section.

The Media

Maybe you haven’t noticed lately, but the media, especially social and mass media, have been impacting lots of people’s behaviors. From liking photos to deciding whether or not to wear a mask, these platforms have a bigger impression on most of us than we might think. The news especially has a way of leading us into believing what the studio thinks. If they don’t think anything, they are good at making the situation a lot more dramatic than it is. Even before Covid (I know, feels like forever), lots of people were suspicious of mass media and the news. They have a habit of accentuating the bad stuff and pushing people to be more scared than they need to. I’m sure this happens almost everywhere, but Americans have a long history of being suspicious of the government and any other entity that has too much power.

A large crowd of protestors walking through the city streets, representing the retaliation against Nick in Gone Girl
the town coming after Nick – by Alex Radelich, Unsplash

Still, this precaution doesn’t keep most of the town along with some of the investigators from believing that Nick (Ben Affleck’s character) really killed his wife. The news repeats this accusation and fires up conflict at a time when Nick’s involvement isn’t really suspected. This plays on our society’s recent growth in protecting women’s rights and protecting women in at-risk situations like domestic violence. Although this is a very real problem across the globe, the story shows how some women take advantage of this movement toward equality. There are those who intentionally try to harm the image of a man. There have been lots of scandals in recent years of women doing exactly this, as a matter of fact.

The fact that the community starts to turn against Nick after seeing the news sheds light on their innocence. There is a general perception that people from the city are sinners and those from the country are saints. That’s meant figuratively, but in Gone Girl, you can see how much of the community was influenced by the news. They were manipulated into the version of the story that would get more views, higher ratings. Another example of this is one of Amy’s (Rosamund Pike’s character) friends who jogs regularly and talks with her. Amy recognizes her innocence and tricks the woman into trusting her, steadily turning the woman against Nick. These people live a more relaxed, quiet, and routine suburban life. They don’t come across many bizarre situations like this very often. In the end, they don’t know what to believe or what to do about it.

Community

A rural town in the country with green hills and forests in the background, a yellow school bus running down the main road, a community like in the movie Gone Girl
small Midwestern community – by Louise Tollisen, Unsplash

Besides them turning against Nick, we also see how tight-knit this community is. This is a common feature in small towns across the country. People really look after each other and talk with one another when passing on the street, which isn’t as common in big cities. Other themes about the characters’ behaviors are the unhappy couple trying to fake a perfect marriage by putting up a false face of unity. Amy is robbed by a traveling couple with guns. This sheds light on the somewhat loose gun laws in certain states and the hardships many people in rural America face. This can go to the point of committing serious crimes on one another. This touches on gun culture being stronger in the American interior too. Missouri actually has a fairly high crime rate and lots of underprivileged areas. This reality is shown in a few scenes too.

Crime & Violence

This is essentially a crime-novel-turned-crime-movie. A cocky big-shot lawyer, constant snooping by the police, and investigators being quick to decide what happened before the case is closed; these are all common tropes in the crime genre. If you watch CSI or Law & Order, you know exactly what I mean. One thing that’s very apparent, especially near the end of the movie, is the high level of violence and bloodshed. Gone Girl isn’t really a violent movie, but it has a big bloody moment towards the end.

This touches on how common violence is in American moviemaking. I don’t want to say that we all love blood and guts (some do), but from our movies, you’d think so! There is also the theme of a couple staying together “for the baby,” which Amy sneakily tricks Nick into having. She uses her pregnancy in the end to trap Nick into their marriage. This is another note on the manipulation some women perform over men in their complicated relationships. To be fair, she manipulates pretty much everybody in this movie.

A small light sky blue woodshed with a small garden and trees in the background, a symbol of the woodshed in Gone Girl
a creepy woodshed – by James Frid, Pexels.com

The “Woodshed”

Besides small-town family values, heartland America identity, and rural/suburban naivety, there’s one last theme that’s really interesting. If you want, you can read more about this here. The woodshed is where Amy leaves her secrets, and it’s where Nick eventually finds out what’s happening. The woodshed represents a common part of many American homes where a family might store things they don’t use often. It can also be an unexpected symbol for how a figurative “mess” builds up during a relationship, then gets pushed deeper into the “shed.” There’s a related phrase in English: “come out of the woodwork.” This means that something comes out of hiding and into the light from an unexpected place. Basically, it becomes clearer. This seems like a funny way to show this idea. The truth comes out of the actual woodwork, or rather, the woodshed.

Last Thoughts

That’s all, everybody. I hope you enjoyed this look at Gone Girl and some of its themes, meanings, and cultural insights. It’s a story about relationship issues, lies, manipulation, and a whole lot of media interference. Even though Nick cheated on his wife, Amy did a lot more than expose him for it. She kind of ruined his life, not to mention forcing him to keep a marriage he was all but done with. This movie is reminiscent of a TV crime series, and it shows us why those programs can be addicting. Some of the most outrageous and deviant crimes happen out in the country where it seems like no one is watching. But boy, did we watch this one!

Please comment if you agree or disagree with parts of this post. What other ways does Gone Girl touch on true or stereotypical parts of American society? What about society in another country? Share your thoughts, my wonderful reader! And take care out there.

One day bet ride – “bet” “ride or die” “rider” “day one” meanings & uses

There are more than a few ways to agree with something in English. What about talking about a lifelong friend? We cover these topics and more in today’s post, looking at terms bet, ride or die, rider, and day one, as well as their meanings and how they’re used. Read more if you want to learn more about these words and how to use them properly. We’ll see examples in a short story about Charles, and as always, practice with some questions at the end. Here we go!

Young woman doing a thumbs-up to represent the word Bet, English slang word
Bet! – Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Bet

You may be familiar with a “bet” as a type of wager or strong guess that something will happen, usually involving a loss or gain of money depending on the result. Bet has meant different things over the years, yet in slang, it often has the same meaning as “cool”, “for sure”, or “really?” This is because of the phrase, “You bet ya” or the shorter version, “You bet.” This is a way to say “of course” or to guarantee something. Shortening it to just “bet” usually is a response to something to show gratitude or respect, but can also be used to question something.

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Sweeping up the stage as always, Charles liked to approach his work with a smile. He knew one day he’d save up enough money to move out of his tiny apartment and into a decent condo, maybe even a home. Who knows? His friends Sheila and Jonah could split the rent with him, easy. By then, he could be designing the sets for plays instead of cleaning up dirty props. Until that day, he was content to help where he could.

BUNG BUNG BUNG. Footsteps pounded on the wooden floor before the doors to the theater flung open. It was an actor looking for … something.

Charles — You need help? You look lost.

Actor — Who? Oh, no, I’m just looking for my phone. I always forget it under a seat or behind a box or something. I bet money it’s in the same place I always leave it.

  • I’m sure, I know, I’m almost certain.

Charles — What? Do you mean this phone?

The actor smiled and ran up to Charles.

Actor — Yeah, man! Thanks so much. It was under the seat agian, wasn’t it?

Charles — Well, in the costumes bin, actually.

Actor — Bet. Thanks a lot man. I appreciate it. I was getting frantic.

  • For sure, cool, I get it, of course.

Charles — Really? I didn’t notice. Haha. I know how it is with the cellphones.

Actor — I have an extra special reason to keep my phone on me, though.

Charles — Bet? What is that?

  • Really? For real?

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Two hands making a promise to represent the term Ride or Die, informal English words
A ride-or-die is always there – Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

Ride or Die * Rider

The concept of a ride-or-die means a person, usually a close friend or partner, who will do anything to help you and is extremely trustworthy. It can sometimes be used to call someone your best friend or boy/girlfriend. This comes from the idea of “ride,” or to ride with someone. This means the person sticks with you when you need them and you can count on them. A rider then is someone who is a ride-or-die. A rider can also be a person who is willing to do whatever you want and has few boundaries. They go with the flow and are true companions.

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Actor — “What is it?” What else could it be? I gotta call my girl, man, my ride-or die.

  • My girlfriend, the person I trust, my close partner.

Charles — Oh, I didn’t know you had a girl. She a actress too?

Actor — Yeah, but she prefers the term actor. We met at the theater down the street watching somebody else’s play. Can you imagine? Somebody else’s play. Ha!

Charles continued to sweep the stage floor, focused deeply on his work.

Actor — What’re you doing after this?

Charles — I think I’ll dust the curtains. They’re pretty dirty.

Actor — Man, don’t you have a rider in your life? You need a woman.

  • Don’t you have a girlfriend, a close friend, a trustful partner?

Charles — I’m working on that, too. I have a potential girl. Just have to ask, really.

Actor — That’s what I’m talking about! But don’t wait too long. I’ve made that mistake before. Is she a rider?

  • Is she willing to do anything for you, trustworthy, does she like you a lot?

Charles nodded, halfway not understanding the question.

Actor — Oh, well then she’ll wait for you. Still, don’t take too long. Take my advice.

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Two young girls together representing the meaning of Day One, informal English term
Together since day one – Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

Day one

This term comes from an older one, “Since day one.” This is used to describe someone who has been there for you since the beginning, during hard times, and has stuck by your side the whole time. Calling someone a day-one means they are generally your closest and most trusted friend, and you respect them a lot for being there for you after years and years.

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Charles — I won’t. She’s been a good friend to me since we met. I come from another country and it can be hard to make friends.

Actor — I get that. I couldn’t imagine being so far from home without family or friends close by. I couldn’t live without my day-ones, too. They’re the ones that keep me together.

  • Without my closest, most trusted friends.

Charles — Yeah, well I didn’t have any super close friends like that back home anyway. I had to make some new friends here. But Sheila and Jonah have been there for me in lots of situations. They’re like my new day-ones.

Actor — Well, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Good talking, bro. I never knew your story, so thanks for sharing.

Charles — Don’t mention it. I’ll see you at the next rehearsal. Or the next time you lose your phone.

The actor laughed at this statement and waved at Charles with a sarcastic smile.

Actor — See you next time. And call that girl!

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Final Thoughts

Saying bet is usually more informal, so it’s often used with friends or in casual settings. It’s not that it could be offensive, but it just sounds quite informal. It’s a pretty useful word you can use much the same as “okay, cool, for sure,” and so on. Ride-or-die and rider are mostly compliments and terms of respect, although they can be seen as disrespectful if they aren’t used correctly. “Rider” can have a negative connotation at times, so make sure the meaning is clear if you do ever use it. Otherwise, day-one is a very respecting and caring term, and it’s a great way to refer to a close friend, companion, or anyone that’s been there for you for a long time. We usually use it with friends though, and not family members like parents.

Do you get it? If you want, take some time to practice with these questions below. And make sure to learn some other words with the Adventures of Charles series. Be safe out there!

Questions:

  1. Can you use today’s words in your own sentences? Bet – Ride or die – Rider – Day one
  2. Are there any ride-or-dies or day-ones in your life? Who are they?
  3. What is something you would “bet money on?”
  4. Have you heard the slang word “bet” before in casual conversation? When was that?

society + The Wolf of Wall Street [2013] – What’s it say about us?

Every once in a while there comes a movie that is so big, so outrageous, and so crazy that it truly shocks us, the audience. Today’s movie under the spotlight will be The Wolf of Wall Street. We’ll take a look at some important aspects of the movie and how they shed some light onto this big complex thing called American society. Are you in? Read on, reader.

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The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie from 2013 and based on the true life story of Jordan Belfort. Personally it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Now that may be because I-heart Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, and crazy movies in general, but there is more to this movie than Matthew McConaughey beating his chest and humming “hm-hm-hm-hmm” in musical fashion. It actually has a lot to say about American society itself, and we’ll be taking note of some of those things here.

If you didn’t see this movie, you might want to watch before reading this. Or who knows? Maybe this post will make you want to watch it. Last I checked it was available on Amazon Prime and Netflix with a subscription and Google Play or YouTube for rent. If you know where to find it for free, more power to you. I certainly feel like watching it again tonight. If you did see this movie, you might recall lots of cursing, sexual content, drugs, and everything else a Rated-R movie is sure to have. While that R-Rating is definitely a “green-light” for the movie-makers to go ahead and put basically anything they want in the movie, there’s a bit of truth to some of these things. As a director, Scorsese kind of loves to put cursing and bad words in his movies anyway, especially the 17-and-up ones. However, most of the movie takes place in and around New York, the biggest city in the nation. In the U.S., you are far more likely to have people who curse a lot and don’t follow the traditional moral values in big cities than you would see in smaller cities and especially the countryside. This is a common trait of most countries where big cities are centers of more liberal culture movements. So in the cities they let their words fly.

Remembering that the movie takes place in the late 1980s-1990s, this was a time that traditional American values were being greatly challenged and all kinds of movements were in the process of changing culture ever since the late ’60s. That means sexual liberation, decreased censorship, and the popularization of recreational drugs like cocaine and pills. The U.S. economy was in a boom during part of the ’80s too which saw lots of people on Wall Street getting very rich and scheming to make ridiculous amounts of money. So the whole premise of The Wolf of Wall Street is showing what the motives, lifestyle, and eventual decline of these Wall Street schemers was like during that point in history.

In the early ’80s, America was suffering a terrible economic recession considered the worst since the Great Depression about 60 years earlier. This is about the point we see at the beginning where Jordan (DiCaprio’s character), his wife and some acquaintances are going through hard financial times. This struggle is a big motive for Jordan and his friends to start their fraudulent company and steal so much money. This isn’t so hard to understand, since most crime is induced by difficult circumstances. That is until the culprits get greedy and make a whole enterprise out of their crimes. We also see some of the effects of the recession where you had some stock brokers enter into depression and even kill themselves due to their sudden loss of wealth and hope.

Now, when the economic boom came and these guys figured out how to make tons of money, we saw how loose their morals got. This is where all kinds of crazy things happen, many of them in the office space. Jordan even trades his wife for the stereotypical thin blonde. You have derogatory language and actions used against little people, people with deficiencies, women in general, animals, and people of diverse races. Women are particularly objectified and humiliated throughout the movie, which I interpret as a genuine representation of how men in power have seen women, especially since the ongoing sexual liberation period. All the derogatory ideas and language used represent how often white people in power have seen other communities in America. Our acceptance or attempts of being more politically correct have really gained ground recently where now it is becoming more and more taboo to make fun of people for deficiencies, their appearance, their gender, or sexual orientation. Essentially the movie shows us a time when all of those concepts were a lot looser, at least away from the cameras.

An interesting point of the movie shows Jordan and his associates going to hide money in a Swiss bank. There are certain countries and territories that have pretty loose banking/tax laws called “Tax havens,” and so rich people, including many wealthy Americans, have tended to “hide” their money abroad where they don’t have to claim it or pay taxes on it. As you might know, this is a continuing phenomenon. This whole concept as well as the money shed light on the greedy and capitalistic nature of the American economy and the nation’s elite. We see how these rich guys run around with naked women on their yachts, tricking each other, even leaving their own families behind, just to make more and more money. This is more so a statement about rich or greedy people in general, especially those that made their fortunes by stepping on others.

These talk louder – Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

In an interesting way, it also shows what is possible and acceptable in the U.S. Of course, the vast majority of Americans don’t live like the characters in the movie and would probably disagree with several of its moral decisions (Lord, I hope). There was actually a lot of criticism on this movie for the excessive cursing, sexual content, and drug use. It actually had set a record for number of curse words in a single movie. Something interesting about that is showing how cursing is becoming more acceptable in American public life. I know there are some countries out there where cursing is totally natural and others where it is extremely discouraged. Even in the U.S., cursing has been looked down upon in the public eye for many years, even if lots of people did it at work or at home, for example. Again, you still have many Americans who discourage cursing, calling it a lack of intelligence, blasphemous or unnecessary. Yet there is a growing acceptance for bad words among Americans, and especially among the younger generations. No matter how religious or ant-cursing many of us may be, cursing is likely to become a non-issue in the next couple decades.

Watch that mouth! – Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Something else I want to touch on in this movie is Jordan’s jailing. There is a general conception (at least by minorities) that white people in America often get an easier time at trial than minorities do. And certainly wealthy or famous people tend to catch a lighter sentence (less jail time) than poor individuals, even if they commit the same crimes. This is apparent when we see Jordan getting on house arrest and then going to a “white collar” prison. White collar criminals are those that commit crimes involving fraud, tax evasion, and other kinds of corrupt activities that don’t directly harm people’s safety but their wallets. Because these criminals tend to garner lots of wealth, they are able to pay and bribe for less prison time. Either that or juries don’t see them as being as dangerous as the common thief or murderer. Their prisons also tend to be in better condition than regular prisons, even having tennis courts as we saw in the movie.

Jordan’s arrogance throughout the movie came back to haunt him in the end when the FBI finally took him down. It’s sort of a lesson that the U.S. government always wins. The FBI is the main domestic investigative agency and answers to a federal department, so they sort of represent Big Brother’s check on the seemingly “endless” opportunities provided by capitalism, at least in this movie. Whenever you get too carried away, they will swoop in and take their part. And if they can’t get a part, they’ll at least make sure you can’t have anymore.

The Wolf of Wall Street is a very long and complex movie with lots of events and themes. There was a lot more I could get into and really explain, but this is a good introduction. I encourage you to watch the movie again (or for the first time!) and pay attention to these themes and tropes, maybe find your own representations of American or capitalist society. Write some ideas down in the comments if you feel like it! And tell me what you think of this movie? How much cursing is too much? Think about it! And take care, everybody.

“Savage Remix” [Megan Thee Stallion, feat. Beyoncé] – lyrics for English students

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Have you ever wanted to practice your English while listening to Megan Thee Stallion? Well, you’re in luck! Take a listen to the song and read the lyrics. Learn some new vocabulary, phrases, or cultural pointers here in Lyrics “Explained.” If you have time, answer some follow-up questions below and read some other lyrics here on CultSurf!

Queen B, want no smoke with me (Okay)

  • *You don’t want any smoke… “Smoke” here refers to a conflict. It probably comes from guns, since sometimes people say smoke to refer to guns or shooting.

Been turnt, this motherf***** up eight hundred degree (Yeah)

  • *I’ve been turnt… “Turnt” means having lots of fun, feeling good about yourself, etc. It comes from “turned up” which means about the same thing. “Turning it up” refers to making the temperature hotter, or making things more exciting and fun. *Eight hundred degrees…

My whole team eat, chef’s kiss, she’s a treat (Mwah)

  • *My whole team eats… “Eat” in this slang sense means to get money and to have success. Remember that “bread” and “cheese” are also terms for money. A “treat” is normally something tasty to eat like candy. It can also be used to talk about a situation, event, or person that is really nice and that you like, almost like it is a gift. “Coming to see you during the holidays is always a treat.”

Ooh, she so bougie, bougie, bon appétit

  • *She is so bougie… “Bougie” is another word for fancy or someone who has expensive taste. “Bon appétit” comes from French and is used in many languages to mean “enjoy your food.” This mixes well with the word “bougie” which comes from the French word bourgeoisie. Also because the French language, fashion, and food are considered fancy by many Americans and others.

I’m a savage (Yeah), attitude nasty (Yeah, ah)

  • “Savage” has become a way to compliment someone who is really cool, has lots of style, skill, and other good features. “Nasty” normally means that some food doesn’t taste good. In a sensual way, it can mean that someone is highly sexual and acts inappropriately. Having a “nasty attitude” means to be upset or angry about something. Megan is probably mixing all of these meanings into one.

Talk big s***, but my bank account match it (Ooh)

  • *my bank account matches it… To “talk s**” (also “talk crap,” “talk mess,” “talk stuff”) is to talk badly about someone or to brag about yourself. Basically she brags a lot about herself but she actually has the money to prove it, or to back it up.

Hood, but I’m classy, rich, but I’m ratchet (Oh, ah)

  • The “hood” is a lower-class neighborhood usually for underprivileged communities or ethnic minorities. Often these are places with more poor people, drug trafficking or gang violence, thought not always. To “be hood” is to act like the stereotypical person from these kinds of neighborhoods, which could mean loud, confident, but also enjoying fights and conflict. Again, this is the stereotype. “Ratchet” is a similar term that is used to describe women who act loud, cause conflict, and can get very “in-your-face.” It’s like she’s saying she’s the best and worst all wrapped into one.

Haters kept my name in they mouth, now they gaggin’ (Ah, ah)

  • *my name in their mouth, now they are gagging… She means that her haters talk about her a lot or criticize her. “Gag” is a form of choking, so her haters are now choking on Megan’s success. The origin of this phrase might be to “make someone eat their words.” This means to prove somebody wrong and be successful, especially when others are criticizing you. “John always calls me stupid. I’ll make him eat his words when I go to college.”

Bougie, he say, “The way that thang move, it’s a movie” (Ooh-oh)

  • *he says, “The way that thing moves… “Thang” is just another way to pronounce “thing.” It’s usually used more often by black Americans to add emphasis to that word. Here you might be able to guess what “thang” she’s talking about.

I told that boy, “We gotta keep it low, leave me the room key” (Ooh-oh)

  • This line comes from the term “down low” or “keep it on the down low.” Sometimes people say “on the low” or “low down” but it’s basically the same. The “low” is a secret or something secretive. The “room key” refers to a hotel room. Megan is showing her dominance by kicking her “boy” out of the room.

I done bled the block and now it’s hot, b****, I’m Tunechi (Ooh-oh)

  • *I have bled the block… Saying “done” like this is another way to say that “you have gotten done doing something” or you “finished something.” “Ouch! I done hit my toe!” “Bleed” here is related to the slang word “kill” which means to have a lot of success in something. Megan “bled the block” so she had a lot of success (in music, I’m guessing) on her block, or in her city. “Hot” of course means it is fresh, new, and everyone likes it. “Tunechi” is another name for rapper Lil Wayne. He made a famous song a while ago called “Tha Block is Hot“. Lil Wayne is also a very good and respected rapper, so she is kind of paying respect to him.

A mood and I’m moody, ah

  • A “mood” is a special feeling. Saying something is “mood” has become popular because of social media and hashtags. “Moody” usually is used to call someone emotional or dramatic.
Learning how to be bougie… Photo by David Suarez on Unsplash

I’m a savage, yeah (Okay)

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Okay)

Sassy, moody, nasty, yeah (Hey, hey, nasty)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Woah, woah, woah, what’s happening?)

  • “Acting stupid” doesn’t necessarily mean that she is acting dumb or unintelligently. Sometimes “stupid” can mean funny, silly, or crazy. The way she pronounces “acting” like “ackin” is an informal way that some people might pronounce this word. Again, it’s more common in African American communities. Her “what’s happening?” isn’t a real question really. It’s just a rhetorical question seeing if anyone has something to say now. She’s doing so well that she leaves her haters speechless!

B****, what’s happening? (Woah, woah, okay)

B****, I’m a savage, yeah (Okay)

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Ratchet)

Sassy, moody, nasty, huh (Nasty)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Woah, ooh-oh)

B****, what’s happening? (Ayy, ah, ooh-oh)

Hips TikTok when I dance (Dance)

TikTok logo.svg
  • “TikTok” is the name of a famous social media app, maybe you’ve heard of it? It has a double meaning here though, since “tick-tock” is the sound a clock makes when the hands move. It’s like saying her hips shake and move back and forth like a clock. A lot of people view and like videos on TikTok, so it can also mean that her hips get lots of love.

On that Demon Time, she might start a OnlyFans (OnlyFans)

OnlyFans logo.svg
  • “Demon Time” is a series on the OnlyFans website that has to do with strippers and erotic dancing. OnlyFans is a place where people can post exclusive content directly to their fans and interact with them. It’s kind of known for having provocative content so that’s where the reference comes from.

Big B and that B stand for bands

  • *that B stands for… “Bands” is the same as money; a thousand dollars is one band.

If you wanna see some real a**, baby, here’s your chance

I say, left cheek, right cheek, drop it low, then swang (Swang)

  • “Swang” is the same as “swing.” It’s same idea as “thang” and “thing” from before.

Texas up in this thang (Thang), put you up on this game (Game)

  • To “put someone on the game” is to make someone attracted to you or what you are doing, or to get them “hooked” onto something.

IVY PARK on my frame (Frame), gang, gang, gang, gang (Gang)

  • Ivy Park is a clothing brand founded by Beyoncé. It’s on her “frame” or body, so she’s wearing her own brand clothing. “Gang” is just something that some people say to show excitement or enthusiasm for your “crew” or the people you represent. It comes from a song too, “GANG GANG” by Jackboys.

If you don’t jump to put jeans on, baby, you don’t feel my pain (Hol’ up)

  • “Hold up” is the same as “wait a minute.” This lyric is a reference to her butt, by the way.

Please don’t get me hype (I’m hype), write my name in ice (Ice, ice, ice)

  • To “get hype” is to get excited. It can also mean to get out of control, which is probably how Beyoncé means it. “Ice” in slang can mean diamonds. Writing her name in diamonds would be cool, and it also refers to her being “cold” or really good at what she does, maybe ruthless or someone hard to compete against. This comes from the phrase “write my name in stone” which means you are famous forever and people will always know your name.

Can’t argue with these lazy b******, I just raise my price

I’m a boss, I’m a leader, I pull up in my two-seater

  • “Two-seater” is a sports car with just two seats. It can also mean a person with a really big butt.
Only 2 can fit in this thing… Photo by Karol Smoczynski on Unsplash

And my mama was a savage, n****, got this s*** from Tina

  • Beyoncé’s mom’s name is Tina

I’m a savage, yeah

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Ratchet, yeah)

Sassy, moody, nasty, yeah (Okay)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Ah)

B****, what’s happening? (Ah, what’s up?)

B****, I’m a savage, yeah

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Woah, woah, woah, okay)

Sassy, moody, nasty, huh (Ooh, ooh, okay)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Woah, ah)

B****, what’s happening? (Ayy, ah, ah)

Like Beyoncé, like me (Like me)

He want a b**** like thee Stallion with the knees (With the knees)

  • *He wants a… Megan is referring to the way she dances.

He be like, “Damn, how that thang movin’ in them jeans?” (Yeah, yeah, them jeans)

  • *He’s thinking… or He is like… How is that thing moving in those jeans? Saying “like” can be used to introduce a thought or dialogue in informal speech. “I was like, Come over, and he was like, Okay.” In informal speech some people say “them” when they mean “those.” “Them are some nice shoes! I want to buy them.”

Ayy, even D4L couldn’t do it like me, like me

  • “D4L” (Down For Life) is a rap group based in Atlanta that was popular in the early 2000s, especially for their song “Laffy Taffy.” They made a song called “Betcha Can’t Do it Like Me” which is probably what she’s referring to. D4L was like a one-hit-wonder, so she might be saying that she can make lots of hit songs.

Ooh, ah, ooh

I done got this body ready just for you

Girl, I hope he don’t catch me messin’ ’round with you

  • *I hope he doesn’t catch me messing around… To “catch” someone in this sense means to find them doing something they aren’t supposed to do. To “mess around” can be another way to say cheating on someone or sleeping with someone. It can also be just spending time with someone or having fun. Mess around has other meanings too, but these are some of them.

Talkin’ to myself in the mirror like, “B****, you my boo

  • *you are my boo… “Boo” is a loving term that you call someone you love and appreciate like a partner, spouse, and less commonly a family member. Here she’s calling herself “boo” in the mirror.

I’m the s***, ooh

  • Saying this means that you are really great and awesome. It sounds like a contradiction, but that’s what it means.

I need a mop to clean the floor, it’s too much drip, ooh

  • “Drip” is style, confidence, attractiveness, and all of that good stuff in one. She uses a metaphor, saying she has “drip” but comparing it to a literal liquid dripping on the floor that needs to be mopped.

I keep a knot, I keep a watch, I keep a whip, ooh (Keep it real, ooh)

  • These are all things used to control or dominate someone. A knot (she keeps her men tied, they are stuck with her), a watch (she keeps them on the clock, as if they were working for her), and a whip (like slavery, basically, or maybe like Fifty Shades of Grey?). To “keep it real” means to be open, tell the truth, and show things the way they really are. Not hiding or lying about yourself.

Let’s play a game, Simon says I’m still that b****, ayy

  • “Simon says” is a schoolyard game where one person is in charge (Simon) and everyone else has to do what that person says. “Simon says, touch your toes. Simon says, stomp your feet” etc. When someone says, “I’m that __,” it means that they are the best or the one being talked about. “Wait, so who are you?” “I’m that dude. Ask your friends, they know.” Megan also could be saying that she is the same as before and hasn’t changed her ways, in a good way.

I’m still that b****, yuh (Ah)

I’m a savage, yeah (Okay)

Classy, bougie, ratchet (Okay)

Sassy, moody, nasty, yeah

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Ah, what’s up?)

B****, what’s happening? (Ah, what’s up?)

B****, I’m a savage, yuh (Okay)

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Woah, woah, woah, okay)

Sassy, moody, nasty, huh (Ooh, ooh)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Ooh, ooh, ah)

B****, what’s happening? (Ayy, ah, ah)

I heard they askin‘ for the Queen, they brought some cameras in here

  • *I heard that they were asking for the Queen…

I’m a bad b****, she’s a savage, no comparison here

  • A “bad B-word” is a term of respect and admiration for a woman who takes care of her business, has good looks, makes good money, and so on. Not all women like this term and it could be offensive depending on who says it or hears it. This goes back to the meaning of “bad” as something really good or cool.

I’ma flip my hair and look back while I twerk in the mirror

  • *I’m going to flip… You should know what twerking is. If not, just look up Miley Cyrus or somebody. Better yet, watch a Megan Thee Stallion video.

All this money in the room, think some scammers in here

Making that money— Photo by John Guccione http://www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com
  • A “scammer” is someone who tricks others into making money for themselves or makes money in a number of illegal ways. Megan and B make so much money that it looks as if they were doing it illegally.

I’m comin’ straight up out that Third (ah)

  • To “come straight up out of” something just means to come out of it or come from it. “Straight up out” here just adds rhythm and emphasis to the sentence, but it doesn’t change the meaning in any major way. Think of the slogan “Straight Outta Compton” (NWA came directly from Compton). The “Third” she refers to is the Third Ward of Houston, which I guess is where Beyoncé lived for a while. Interestingly, the way she pronounces “ah” after Third sounds like she could be saying “Third eye”, which is a light reference to the mystic third eye and deep perception. It’s actually referenced quite often in modern music and could just be used to mean a deeper level of awareness and success. It’s kind of associated with the Illuminati too …

I whip the whip like I stirred it (Stirred)

  • “Whip” is a slang term for a car. When talking about cooking, “whip” means to stir something quickly and repeatedly until it forms a foam or cream. That’s why she also says “stir.” Basically, she’s driving her fancy car as if she were whipping some type of food, driving it in circles, doing tricks in her car, and so on.

Woodgrain, we swervin, keepin’ his mind all on these curves (Uh)

Curvy wood design– Photo by DLKR Life on Pexels.com
  • *We are swerving… “Woodgrain” is a finish on wood that makes it look more natural. The design of woodgrain has lots of curves and swirls in it. To “swerve” is to curve quickly, usually in a car around a corner or sharp turn.

Coupe fly like a bird (Bird), cold on ’em like, “Brrr” (Ice)

  • “Coupe” is another word for a nice car or two-seater, too. Also, a coop is a place where chickens and sometimes other birds are kept, so she plays with this pronunciation. “Fly” here has the slang meaning of being stylish and attractive, although she compares it to the literal sense of a flying bird. “Cold” here probably has a mixed meaning of ice (diamonds and jewelry) and looking really good, fresh, stylish, etc. Cold is an adjective but she uses it like a verb, which happens a lot in English. “Brrr” is the sound someone makes when they are cold (temperature). It’s also the sound rapper Gucci Mane makes a lot in his music, much for the same reasons as Beyoncé just now.

Always keep my words, no, I don’t do crosswords

  • To “keep your word” means to be honest and do what you said you were going to do. It’s like not giving up. “Crosswords” are those word puzzles that you see in newspapers or puzzle booklets. She plays with the idea of a crossword puzzle and “crossing” someone, meaning to lie, trick, or cheat them. It’s also like saying “she doesn’t go back on her word” (she doesn’t say one thing and do another).

Stallion when I ride, he like them hot girls with them hips, ah (Skrrt, skrrt)

  • *He likes those hot girls with those hips…

I hopped that s***, the way I hopped out and slid, ah (Skrrt, skrrt)

  • Repeating “skrrt skrrt” makes me think she really is referring to a car. She hopped out and slid (got out of) her car. That sound is very popular in hip-hop music lately, and it almost always is talking about a fancy car, usually when someone is arriving or leaving somewhere. I’ll leave you to figure out the rest of what she means.

I pop my s***, now watch me pop up again, ah (Woah)

  • This line is more inappropriate but an interesting note: to “pop up” can mean to show up or appear unexpectedly.

I mop the floor, now watch me sweep up these Ms, ’cause I— (Ah)

  • Mopping the floor is a reference to the previous line talking about “drip.” Now she’s sweeping up “Ms” (millions of dollars).

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And the lyrics repeat.

Wow, that was a lot. This song is packed full of slang, informal expressions, double meanings, and pop-culture references. The whole song is basically about how cool, stylish, and awesome these two women are. They make lots of money, are sexy, close big business deals, and can walk the talk. There’s nothing much more to explain here.

Questions:

  1. What did you think of this song? Do you prefer the original or the remix?
  2. Why do you think they focus so much on their physical attributes? Does hip-hop as a genre encourage this?
  3. What’s your favorite Beyoncé or Megan Thee Stallion song? What is that song about?
  4. Would you rather be a savage, classy, nasty, bougie, ratchet, or sassy? (What’s happening)

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Cover image: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63308428

Where I go? (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota

Languages learners, English enthusiasts … we have another one. Listen here to the audio version of “Where I go?” from the Adventures of Charles. You can listen to the audio by itself on this page or listen and read along with the original post here. Test your listening skills by answering some follow-up questions or writing a comment after. Follow the blog if you want to be notified directly of new content. Thanks and enjoy!

my bad_there you go_there it is_there you have it

Thanks to my student Bianca V. for helping me with this audio!

Some practice questions:

  1. In what situations might it be better to use “my bad”? What about “sorry”?
  2. Have you ever said or heard these phrases when receiving an object or giving something away?
  3. How do you usually react when someone bumps into you in the street or on public transportation? Would you be as respectful as Charles was?

“Tighten Up” [The Black Keys] – lyrics for English students

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Thanks for coming! Practice your English skills by reading and listening to the song lyrics. You can find more songs here on the website, too.

I wanted love, I needed love

Most of all, most of all

Someone said true love was dead

And I’m bound to fall, bound to fall for you

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Oh, what can I do? Yeah

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Take my badge but my heart remains

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Lovin’ you, baby child

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Tighten up on your reins

You are runnin’ wild, runnin’ wild, it’s true

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Sick for days in so many ways

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I’m achin’ now, I’m achin’ now

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It’s times like these I need relief

Please show me how, oh show me how to get right

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Yeah, it’s out of sight

When I was young and movin’ fast

Nothin’ slowed me down, oh, slowed me down

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Now I let the others pass, I’ve come around

Oh come around, ’cause I’ve found

Livin’ just to keep goin’

Goin’ just to be sane

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All the while not knowin’

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It’s such a shame

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I don’t need to get steady

I know just how I feel

I’m tellin’ you to be ready

My dear

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  • To be “bound to” do something means that it is meant to happen or destined to happen. In other words, it is guaranteed. “If you jump off of bridges, you are bound to get hurt.” In this lyric, “falling” refers to falling in love. Sometimes people don’t say the “in love” part but it means the same thing.
  • “Badge” here can mean respect or honor since people who wear badges are generally respected and honored people. She took his honor but he still loves her (my heart remains).
  • Calling her “baby child” is a way to sound like he is in control or has power in the relationship. It also sounds like he feels pity for her because some people say this when they feel sorry for another person. Still, it’s a loving term.
  • To “tighten up” is to hold onto something tighter or more firmly. “Reins” are the equipment used to steer a horse or other large animal. That’s where we get the word “reindeer”. “Tightening up the reins” can be thought of as getting a strong grip on your life, controlling yourself more, behaving more appropriately.
  • This shows how “sick” can be a state of feeling terribly both physically and emotionally.
  • Of course, to “ache” is pretty much the same as to hurt. That’s why we say headache, back ache, etc.
  • *It is in times like these…
  • To “get right” is to feel better or live life better. When someone wants to have a more fulfilling and successful life, they want to get right.
  • “Out of sight” is more of an old-fashioned slang. It was more popular in the ’70s but obviously, people love the ’70s and so it’s still popular among some groups of people. It means that something is amazing, it’s so good that you can’t see it anymore, out of sight.
  • To “come around” usually means to come over, like to someone’s house. “What time are you coming over?” In this song, though, he uses a figurative meaning. “Come around” also means to come to your senses, or to realize that you were doing something wrong. You think more clearly now. “Finally, you stopped listening to that terrible rock band. I knew you would come around.”
  • “All the while” means the whole time. It’s especially used in situations when someone doesn’t know about something, but they usually find out later. “The kids were crying to buy ice cream after school when, all the while, there was already ice cream at home.”
  • Such a” before a descriptive noun just adds emphasis, meaning it is a lot or in a big way. “He’s such a good guy (a really good guy).”
  • “Steady” normally means to be stable or in control, both physically and emotionally. To “get steady” then means to become stable or to gain control of himself/his emotions.

The song lyrics are quite short but there’s a lot of story in them. We have an old love seemingly from childhood, and a guy who insists on love when everyone else doubts him. It seems like for good reason since the love interest has disrespected him and hurt him. Still, like so many of us, he insists on keeping the relationship going, keeping hope alive, and denying he needs any help at all. I like the idea of these lyrics because he hasn’t yet resolved his relationship issues and he’s very much still trying to figure out what he’s doing, all while being a little bit in denial. Either way he seems to have a strong mindset about it and is warning us to “be ready” for when he is back on top of things. This story is not over yet!

Thanks for reading. Here are some things to think about and some questions to answer in the comments if you want to practice your English writing skills. I will give feedback on any comments or answers guys!

Questions

  1. Do you know someone who should “tighten up” their reins and behave a little better?
  2. Why do you think someone might tell you “love is dead?” Do you agree with this statement?
  3. Do you like The Black Keys? What other songs do you like by them?
  4. Why do you think they’re called “the black keys”, anyway?

Aren’t there a lot of black people in America, like on T.V.? – Black identity in the USA

The story of the U.S. is a complicated and controversial one, and few things add to that controversy than the question of race. Topics related to race, slavery, civil rights, citizenship, and even cultural identity can be traced to one of America’s most important groups of people. Speaking of that cultural identity you, as a foreigner, might have noticed that many famous movies (Coming to America, Training Day, Black Panther), T.V. shows (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Everybody Hates Chris, My Wife and Kids), and social figures (Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey) are African Americans or star lots of black people. When you talk about singers and musical influence, black Americans almost take home the prize for most impactful internationally. With all this influence, you might expect to go to the U.S. and see tons of black folks walking around everywhere. But are there really that many of us?

Fortnite now has a Black Panther skin and a Wakanda Forever emote - Polygon
Even Fortnite uses black culture, Wakanda Forever! from Polygon.com

I previously wrote about the misconception of America being pretty much all white, but this is an interesting turn of thinking. Maybe after seeing and listening to so many things featuring black people, you might conclude:

Hey, there has to be a lot of black people in the U.S., right? Why else would they be so prevalent on T.V. and music and all that?

Well, the answer would be no; black people in America aren’t as prevalent as you might think.

How it can feel to be black in America sometimes… Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

To be fair, even I was surprised by how many African Americans there truly are. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of black Americans. As I said in a previous post, black people are actually a majority or almost half the population in several cities across the country, in places like New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, and many others. Despite all that, there are almost 330 million Americans, and people who identify as only black are 13.4% (about 44 million). So yes, that is a lot of black people, but it’s a small number compared to all the other people in the country.

Of course, you have to remember that many African Americans are not fully “black” but may identify as black because of reasons related to cultural identity, family ties, or simply not thinking that much about the question. You might find a light-skinned person with African ancestry more likely to identify as “black” if he or she grew up around mostly black people, lives around mostly black people, and identifies mostly with black American culture. This goes back to the One Drop Rule in the U.S., to which I’ll leave a link for more information down below. That also leaves us with blacks who might consider themselves “mixed-race” even though they are darker-skinned, but that’s a little less common. By the way, colored and mulatto used to be acceptable terms for mixed people, but they are considered offensive by most people nowadays.

Although black people practically make up a small minority in the U.S., there are reasons why they might seem so prevalent on T.V. and other media. One is that the country is huge! 13 percent of 330 million is still a ton of people, so of course, they seem like a lot. Another point is that many of these people went to urban areas like big cities after slavery and especially after suffering discrimination/violence in the South. Cities are where most of the cultural output comes from, so that’s why we seem to have so many black actors, musicians, musical styles, and social figures. Several of these figures exist purely because of the discrimination blacks have suffered. Black people in politics are on the rise recently too, so that could add to this misconception.

One more point I want to make is that black people have been severely and openly discriminated against in the U.S. for centuries, and people who supported slavery had all kinds of misconceptions about race, ethnicity, and what was good for the nation. Of course black people, and almost any minority in fact, have suffered all over the world, but the U.S. handled it a bit differently. After creating some highly significant social leaders and leading its own power movements, a big push has been made by black Americans to support each other, promote each other, and work with each other. There has been such a big momentum with black people trying to “catch up” with white Americans and have equality that this has allowed black people to be present in almost all facets of American life. Think of “#OscarsSoWhite” and the following year when a ton of black movies and filmmakers won awards. Even though black Americans in general are pretty well represented and better off than black people in almost all other American countries (think of Haiti, Brazil, Cuba, and many African nations for that matter), there is always a push for more equality and representation. I suppose all people deserve this and I’m glad to help represent my country and ancestry, even if it’s in a subtle, blog-writing way.

Black-ish guy making a movie, Photo by KASHILEMBO WABU

Even if there aren’t as much of us as you might have thought, I encourage you to keep listening to our music, keep watching our T.V., and keep supporting our social movements. Black people just want respect like anybody else, and I’m sure that they’d be proud to know how truly influential black U.S. culture has been all over the world. Keep up the support!

Speaking of support, I appreciate you for reading this post! Feel free to check the resources below to learn more and keep an open mind. If you liked this post, read some other ones here on the website. Tell me what you think of black American culture or people in the comments, or send me an email at tietewaller@gmail.com. Cool? Peace and take care!

Resources:

U.S. census info 2019: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219

America’s “One Drop Rule” explained: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jefferson/mixed/onedrop.html

About #OscarsSoWhite: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2016/02/02/oscars-academy-award-nominations-diversity/79645542/

Aren’t all the U.S. states and cities basically the same? – Regional diversity in the USA

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:

  • religion
  • gun control
  • ethnic background
  • political stance
  • language & immigration
  • the weather factor
  • identity

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!

Religion

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.

Peek at map showing the dominant religion in each U.S. county
Credit Robby Berman from here

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.

Gun Control

Credit Kathy Morris from here

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.

Ethnic Background

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.

Read it on Reddit

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.

Political Stance

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.

Weather Factor

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.

Identity

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: tietewaller@gmail.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/

Isn’t America all cold and snowy? – Climate & weather in the USA

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.

28. Being Grounded – Beyond the Pail
from here

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

Alpine Forests:

  • all the Western mountain parts, including the Rockies

Desert:

  • 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.

513 fotos de stock e banco de imagens de Temecula Valley - Getty Images
Mediterranean climate in California (that’s right, Getty Image)

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! tietewaller@gmail.com 😉

U.S. biomes: http://www.glencoe.com/sec/science/glencoescience/unitprojects/climatemap.html

Where in the U.S. has it never snowed?: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/places-where-it-has-never-snowed-30142

Shooting the buzz bang – “hit” “rock” “hit me up” “bang” and more, meanings & uses

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?