Friday, March 6, 2009

Jokes of the Day - "A man walked into a bar..."

It is common to hear jokes in English that start with the phrase "A man walked into a bar..." Here are a few!

A man walked into a bar with his dog and ordered a drink. Then he and the dog started playing darts.
"Hey, that's amazing!" said the bartender. "Your dog can play darts!"
"It's not that amazing," answered the man. "In the last ten games he's only beaten me twice!"

A man walked into a bar and sat down next to a large man with a dog at his feet. "Does your dog bite?" he asked the man.
"No," the man answered.
A few moments later the dog got up and bit the first man in the leg!
"You said your dog doesn't bite!" the man replied.
"That's not my dog," the second man answered.

A duck walked into a bar. He went up to the bartender and asked, "Do you have any grapes?"
The bartender, annoyed, said, "We don't have grapes, we serve drinks here. Get out!"
The next day the duck walked into the same bar and asked the bartender, "Do you have any grapes?"
The bartender, irritated, shouted, "I told you yesterday that we don't have any grapes. We have drinks! Now get out!"
The next day the duck walked into the bar again. He sat at the bar and asked the bartender, "Do you have any grapes?"
Now the bartender was furious. "I told you two times that we don't have grapes here. We serve drinks! Now, if you come back ONE MORE TIME and ask me the same question, I will NAIL YOUR BILL TO THE BAR! GET OUT!"
The next day the duck walked into the bar. He asked the bartender, "Do you have any nails?"
The bartender, confused, answered, "No."
The duck looked the bartender directly in the eyes and asked, "Do you have any grapes?"

A Daily Dose of English

Get your daily dose of English at English Daily. Here you can find great activities and resources for students. Below are a few of the sections you can access on this web site:

Train your ear - Listen to authentic news clips and fill in the blanks with the words that have been removed.
Learn slang - Get a start on understanding many of the slang terms you will hear people in the U.S. use. Complete with examples.
Movie lines - Great for those students who are Hollywood film aficionados. Read dialogs from real-life films.
English proverbs - Practice some of those English proverbs.
Common English mistakes - Although geared toward mistakes Chinese students of English often make, any student can learn from looking at these mistakes that are common across languages.
TOEFL vocabulary - For students who need more formal, academic vocabulary, there is a section where you can study words commonly found on the TOEFL exam.

Have fun exploring the site, and be sure to comment on any web sites you may have found that are helpful!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Carnival Celebrations Around the World

During January and February, festive Carnival celebrations take place in many countries around the world. The most famous Carnival traditions that include masquerading and holding extravagant parades can be traced back to medieval Italy and are rooted in Roman Catholicism. Historically, Carnival has been held in the days leading up to Lent, which is the forty-day period of fasting and prayer before Easter. Although the true origin of the word Carnival is disputed, it is thought that the word comes from the Italian phrase, carne leavre, or “remove meat,” which refers to the abstention from eating meat during Lent.

Today, many carnival celebrations are fusions of new and old traditions. All across the globe the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia come alive with dynamic festivities of self-expression. Let’s take a look at a few specific celebrations.

Carnival of Venice, Italy

The Carnival of Venice, Italy is a spectacle of bright costumes and masks that dates back to the 1268. Nowadays during Carnival, crowds gather in the central Piazza San Marco and weave around the bridges and footpaths along the canals. There are street-performers, singers and entertainers throughout the city. There is no actual parade for Carnival, so anyone can join in the masquerading. The 2009 Carnival will take place from February 13 until February 24.

In the past, this celebration took place between Christmas and Strove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. It was also much larger and boisterous with bull-fights, bear fights and even secret assassinations in the gondolas. This holiday was a chance for people from all classes and walks of life to wear flamboyant costumes and masks.

Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro has been called “the biggest show on Earth” and is perhaps the world’s most widely recognized Carnival. It draws crowds of millions every year. This celebration in Brazil originated in Rio de Janeiro back in 1641 and the festivities vary depending upon the region.

The Carnival in Rio is a fusion of European, African and Native elements and consists of organized parades full of dancing and singing. There are Samba Schools that compete in shows in the Sambadrome and also groups of people often from the same neighborhood, called blocos, who dress in elaborate costumes and sing and dance in almost every corner of the city.

Winter Carnival, Qu├ębec, Canada

Winter Carnival is world’s largest winter celebration and the third largest Carnival after Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. With over one million participants, it begins at the end of January or the beginning of February and lasts for 17 days of festivities.

In 2009, the theme of the winter carnival was, “The Carnival Leads You into the Masquerade.” Carnival brings many exciting traditions that include a life-size Ice Palace, a Canoe Race along the St. Lawrence River, outdoor museums displaying snow sculptures, two night parades and the Queens and Duchesses of Carnival. Since 1954, the Winter Carnival has had a mascot, Bonhomme, a jovial snowman, who has helped the Quebec Winter Carnival earn international fame and recognition.

Carnival of Trinidad and Tobago

This Carnival traces its roots back to West Africa and is infused with a blend of Calypso and Soca music, drumming, dancing and exotic costumes. This vibrant holiday takes place on the Monday and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday. Highly prestigious music competitions are a large part of the celebration.

Many participants in the Carnival celebrations wear intricate costumes that often require extensions and wheels to help the masquerader carry it through the streets. They are decorated with bright colors, sequins and feathers. Locals and tourists participate in the street parades and dance to the beats of steel-drum bands.

This article is based on the following websites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival

http://venicexplorer.net/carnevale-di-venezia/index.php

http://italy-travel.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_carnival_of_venice

http://www.carnaval.qc.ca/history.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinidad_and_Tobago_Carnival

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_de_Janeiro