ARGENTINE CLEANER’S DOUBLE LIFE AS PRIZE-WINNING NOVELIST

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

ARGENTINE CLEANER’S DOUBLE LIFE AS PRIZE-WINNING NOVELIST

Kike Ferrari

(P1) When the Buenos Aires subway closes at night, Enrique Ferrari goes underground to mop the platforms — and to polish his next THRILLER.

(P2) The Argentine station cleaner, 44, is also a prize-winning crime novelist.

(P3) He has been published in several countries, but it is the nighttime cleaning job which puts food on the table for his three children.

(P4) “Live off writing? The money isn’t good enough,” he says.

(P5) A representative for cleaning and other unskilled staff in the subway workers’ UNION, he is seen as a CURIOSITY: a writer who has never been to university.

(P6) The author and his GRITTY prose have captured the media’s attention. He has appeared on television and radio, and is called the “subway writer” in news reports.

(P7) “I understand that people find it surprising, but I am not a strange creature. There are lots of laborers who write, paint, or play music,” says Ferrari.

(P8) “It is wrong to think that we workers have no culture,” adds the novelist, whose many TATTOOS include one of KARL MARX on his left arm.

(P9) Ferrari, known as Kike, has published five novels and two collections of short stories.

(P10) His murder mystery  “Que de lejos parecen moscas” (“They Look Like Flies From A Distance”) won a prize at the PRESTIGIOUS Gijon CRIME FICTION FESTIVAL in Spain in 2012. That got him published in France, Mexico and Italy.

(P11) Previously he won a prize in Cuba for “Lo Que No Fue” (“What Was Not”), a political thriller set in Barcelona during the SPANISH CIVIL WAR.

(P12) In the subway, he cleans up garbage in an ATMOSPHERE that reflects the dark settings of his crime fiction.

(P13) In the brief breaks during his cleaning shift, he switches on an old laptop and polishes his MANUSCRIPTS.

(P14) “I write whenever I can, wherever I can,” he says. “Although during the day I’m most interested in finding time to sleep.”

(P15) His other work space is a little table piled with books in a corner of his apartment.

(P16) He has worked as a baker, driver, and street VENDOR.

(P17) He spent three years living illegally in the United States before being DEPORTED, but came back home with his first novel UNDER HIS BELT: “Operation Bukowski”, published in Buenos Aires in 2004.

(P18) A fan of soccer and rock ‘n’ roll music, Kike grew up in a MODEST home.

(P19) When he was eight, his father gave him a book titled “Sandokan”, from a series of classic pirate adventure novels by the early 20th-century Italian writer Emilio Salgari.

(P20) “Instead of dreaming of being a pirate, I dreamed of writing without stopping, like Salgari.”

(P21) But he doesn’t want to END UP the same way as his literary hero.

(P22) “Salgari committed SUICIDE. He was tired of the publishers sucking his blood,” he says.

(P23) “He wrote them a letter saying: ‘I bid you farewell as I break my pen.’ I’m going to tattoo that on myself,” he says with a laugh.

(P24) Despite the prizes he has won, Kike is ON THE MARGINS OF the literary scene, SHUNNED by major publishers.

(P25) “I do not think of literature as a career,” he says.

(P26) “But at quarter to eleven, 15 minutes before I go to mop the floors, I dream of winning an international prize or of Steven Spielberg wanting to film one of my books.”

WORDS: 554

SOURCE: http://artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=86055#.VvX5rOIrLIU

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you enjoy reading thrillers and crime fiction?
  3. Why do many writers make very little money?
  4. Do you know any writers, artists, or musicians who work at other jobs to make enough money to live?
  5. Is there respect for workers’ culture in your country, or not really?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Crime fiction
  • Under his belt
  • End up
  • On the margins of

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FRANCIS BACON PAINTINGS STOLEN FROM MADRID HOME

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

FRANCIS BACON PAINTINGS STOLEN FROM MADRID HOME

Francis Bacon

(P1) Five paintings by British artist Francis Bacon worth an ESTIMATED €30m (£23.2m) have been stolen from the Madrid home of their owner.

(P2) The theft appeared to have been a highly professional operation which took place while the owner was away, with the PERPETRATORS DISABLING the alarm system.

(P3) The thieves had tracked the owner’s movements to ensure he did not return to his home to CATCH THEM RED-HANDED.

(P4) The works were stolen last June. It was not immediately clear why news of the theft was not made public until now.

(P5) It was also unclear exactly which paintings were involved but one contemporary art specialist told the paper they would be extremely difficult to sell.

(P6) “It is not easy to sell a Francis Bacon painting without experts becoming aware of it,” said the art specialist.

(P7) Police from a specialist arts and antiques theft unit have opened an investigation into the HEIST.

(P8) The owner of the paintings was a close friend of Bacon.

(P9) Irish-born Bacon died in Madrid in 1992, aged 82, and his EXPRESSIONISTSURREALIST works are among the most SOUGHT AFTER and VALUABLE of modern paintings.

WORDS: 191

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/mar/13/francis-bacon-paintings-worth-23m-stolen-from-madrid-house

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Art theft is a huge branch of international crime. Does this surprise you?
  3. Have you ever purchased an original work of art?
  4. Do you have a favorite painting?
  5. Do you prefer modern art or classic art?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Catch red-handed
  • Sought after

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“HOUSE OF CARDS” IS GREAT FOR OLDER ACTRESSES

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

“HOUSE OF CARDS” IS GREAT FOR OLDER ACTRESSES

House of Cards

(P1) In an industry where women over 40 are often invisible, there is a TREASURE TROVE of female characters over 40 in the TWISTED political world of the ACCLAIMED television series “House of Cards.”

(P2) Seasoned actresses including Meryl Streep have spoken out about the DEARTH of good parts for older women. In the words of Streep, “once women have passed CHILDBEARING AGE, they are seen as GROTESQUE on some level.”

(P3) Yet on “House of Cards,” strong older women are STAPLES. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is matched by his wife, Claire (Robin Wright, above left), and he finds other FORMIDABLE foes in former Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez (Sakina Jaffrey), congresswoman Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) and even politics reporter Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer).

(P4) To Neve Campbell (above right), who appears in a new role as political strategist Leann Harvey in Season 4, it’s “wonderful” to see women playing those characters.

(P5) “They’re UNAPOLOGETICALLY powerful,” Campbell said.

(P6) According to Campbell, those powerful characters are a reflection of SHOWRUNNER Beau Willimon’s respect for successful women. Willimon spoke to the actress about the role before she accepted it. It takes “someone fearless” and “committed” to survive in Washington, D.C., Campbell explained, drawing a parallel to the qualities required of women in Hollywood — particularly women directors.

(P7) “When I’ve worked with female directors, they have to come across stronger male directors I’ve ever worked with because they’re up against a negative attitude,” she said.

(P8) “There are still people out there who would rather be working with a man than with a woman.”

(P9) Lead actress Robin Wright has directed four episodes of “House of Cards” and hopes to direct many more. Speaking to The New York Times in 2014, the actor-director recalled the UPHILL BATTLE she fought to convince her colleagues that she was serious about her intention to direct. A very small percentage of film and television directors are women.

WORDS: 321

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/neve-campbell-house-of-cards_us_56d8aa61e4b03a405677e2af?ir=Entertainment&section=us_entertainment&utm_hp_ref=entertainment

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you watch many television dramas?
  3. Who are the most famous older actresses in your country?
  4. Who are the most powerful women you have known in your life?
  5. Why is it so hard for women to get work directing film and television?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Treasure trove
  • Childbearing age
  • Uphill battle

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JUSTIN BIEBER URGED NOT TO GET ANOTHER MONKEY

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★]

JUSTIN BIEBER URGED NOT TO GET ANOTHER MONKEY

Justin-Bieber-and-a-monkey-640x631

(P1) Grammy Award-winning singer Justin Bieber has been told by the North American Primate SANCTUARY ALLIANCE (NAPSA) that he would be “IRRESPONSIBLE” to get another monkey as a pet.

(P2) The singer previously had a CAPUCHIN MONKEY, OG Mally, as his pet, but the animal was taken from him by officials when he travelled to Germany in March 2013, and put into QUARANTINE because Bieber did not have the proper DOCUMENTS to own a monkey in that country.

(P3) Now, NAPSA has issued a statement urging Bieber, 21, to turn his attention to a different pet as he cannot provide the correct care a monkey needs to live.

(P4) “Please do not repeat this foolish ENDEAVOR. It is simply not possible to fulfil the unique needs of your monkey within a private home… It will prove dangerous to both you and your monkey, as well as irresponsible,” read the statement.

(P5) Recalling what happened when OG Mally was SEIZED from him, Bieber said: “Everyone told me not to bring the monkey. Everybody told me not to bring the monkey. I was like, ‘It’s going to be fine, guys!’ It was the farthest thing from fine.”

(P6) Bieber was given until May 7, 2013 to produce the proper papers for his monkey, but after he failed to respond, German officials demanded $8,000 to cover the cost of RELOCATING OG Mally to a zoo, and the animal now lives at the Serengeti Park in Copenhagen.

(P7) Responding to the question of whether he’d ever get another monkey, Bieber had this to say:

(P8) “Yes, one day. I just have to make sure I keep it in my house. I’m certainly not going to travel with the monkey anymore. People are always saying, ‘Why did you get a monkey?’ If you could get a monkey, well, you would get a monkey, too! Monkeys are awesome.”

WORDS: 312

SOURCE: http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/justin-bieber-urged-not-to-get-another-monkey-116022000081_1.html

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Michael Jackson used to appear in public with a CHIMPANZEE, and George Clooney owned a pig. Why do stars like EXOTIC PETS?
  3. If you could own an unusual pet, what kind would you choose?
  4. If it is legal for Justin Bieber to own a monkey in the U.S., is there any problem with it?
  5. Monkeys are very smart, but hard to TRAIN compared to dogs. Why are dogs easier to train and to own?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Capuchin monkey
  • Exotic pet

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JENNIFER GARNER TALKS ABOUT HER SPLIT WITH BEN AFFLECK

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★]

JENNIFER GARNER TALKS ABOUT HER SPLIT WITH BEN AFFLECK

Jennifer Garner; Ben Affleck

(P1) If you care about Hollywood and CELEBRITIES at all, then you probably felt a little HEARTACHE over the news that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck split after 10 years of marriage.

(P2) There were BREAK-UP rumors about the couple for months before they actually announced their SEPARATION in June of last year, and were hit with even more gossip with rumors about Affleck’s involvement with their children’s NANNY.

(P3) Now, Garner is breaking her silence on their split for the first time in an UNFLINCHING personal INTERVIEW with Vanity Fair, and there are a few things she wants to make clear.

(P4) Their love was the REAL DEAL

(P5) “It was a real marriage,” Garner told the magazine. “It wasn’t for the cameras. And it was a huge PRIORITY for me to stay in it. And that did not work.”

(P6) Affleck was the love of her life

(P7) “I didn’t marry the movie star; I married him,” the 43-year-old said. “And I would go back and remake that decision. He’s the love of my life. What am I going to do about that?”

(P8) But love is difficult

(P9) “He’s the most BRILLIANT person in any room, the most CHARISMATIC, the most generous. He’s just a COMPLICATED guy. I always say, ‘When his sun shines on you, you feel it.’ But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow.”

(P10) You can’t BLAME the nanny for their split

(P11) “Let me just tell you something. We had been separated for months before I ever heard about the nanny. She had nothing to do with our decision to divorce. She was not a part of the situation for me.”

(P12) She knows you want them to get back together

(P13) “When Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt broke up, I was dying for them to get back together.”

(P14) Even she laughed at Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais’ joke that Matt Damon was the only person Affleck hasn’t been UNFAITHFUL to.

(P15) “I laughed. People have pain. No one needs to hate him for me. I don’t hate him. Certainly we don’t have to beat the guy up. Don’t worry — my eyes were wide open during the marriage. I’m taking good care of myself.”

WORDS: 373

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jennifer-garner-breaks-silence-split-ben-affleck_us_56d0a291e4b0bf0dab31fcd2?ir=Celebrity&section=us_celebrity&utm_hp_ref=celebrity

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you follow Hollywood celebrities, or do you not care very much about them?
  3. Why is it so difficult for Hollywood couples to make their marriages work?
  4. Would you like to be famous, or would the lack of privacy bother you?
  5. Who is the most charismatic person you have ever known?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Break-up
  • Real deal

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HOLLYWOOD’S FIRST NUDE STAR

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

HOLLYWOOD’S FIRST NUDE STAR

Kellermann 2

(P1) It’s 100 years since Annette Kellerman became the first person to appear NUDE in a Hollywood film. But this was just one of many REMARKABLE events in her life.

(P2) She sat naked on a tree branch, her arms stretched upwards, but her hair largely covered her breasts.

(P3) It might not seem very RISQUE today, but this scene, from a film released in 1916, was an important event in the history of film. Annette Kellerman is regarded as the first star – male or female – to appear nude in a MAINSTREAM Hollywood production.

(P4) The fantasy drama A Daughter of the Gods featured her as a character called Alicia who falls in love with a prince. No copies of the film are thought to exist today, but at the time it caused a SENSATION.

(P5) The film was a first for Hollywood but just one of a remarkable series of events in the life of Kellerman – a CHAMPION swimmer, swimwear designer, stuntwoman, businesswoman, and health-and-FITNESS promoter.

(P6) “She represented the fit, active, and spectacular female body, and urged other women to become fit and healthy,” says Angela Woollacott, professor of history at Australian National University.

(P7) Born in Marrickville in Sydney, Australia, on 6 July 1887, the daughter of two musicians, Kellerman started swimming to OVERCOME weakness in her legs. By 15 she had won her first swimming race.

(P8) By the early 1900s, Kellermann became the holder of all of the women’s world records for swimming. She starred in shows in which she swam with fish in an AQUARIUM and performed high dives at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal.

(P9) In 1905, Kellerman moved to the UK. She attempted, but failed, to become the first woman to swim the ENGLISH CHANNEL.

(P10) She became a VAUDEVILLE star in London and the US, developing a form of underwater BALLET combined with high diving. By 1914, she was earning $2,500 a week for her shows, the equivalent of around $60,000 (£41,000) today.

(P11) Kellerman was an INNOVATOR in swimwear. She felt a skirt would prevent her from swimming effectively, so she created a one-piece swimsuit. This is considered the beginning of 20th Century women’s swimwear.

(P12) Kellerman designed her own line of swimsuits which became popular.

(P13) Kellerman began starring in short films. In Neptune’s Daughter of 1914, she wore a flesh-coloured body suit for underwater scenes.

(P14) Two years later came A Daughter of the Gods, described as Hollywood’s first million-dollar-BUDGET film.

(P15) Kellerman’s fame by now was enormous.

(P16) Her final film, Venus of the South Seas, shot in New Zealand, came out in 1924. It was one of the first films to be shot in colour.

(P17) Kellerman continued to promote herself, LECTURING on health and fitness, offering “physical instruction by mail”, as well as producing fitness books and films and running a HEALTH FOOD store in California. But she remains best known for taking her clothes off.

(P18) She later returned to her native Australia, living by the beach near the Great Barrier Reef. In 1952, MGM released a film of Kellerman’s life, Million Dollar Mermaid, starring Esther Williams.

(P19) Kellerman died in 1975, at the age of 88. In later life she described A Daughter of the Gods as the “best thing” she’d ever done.

WORDS: 536

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35472490

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Does nudity in films make you uncomfortable?
  3. Are you a good swimmer?
  4. Have you ever seen a silent film (from before 1930)?
  5. What do you do to improve your health and fitness?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • English Channel
  • Health food

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YEMEN’S CULTURAL HERITAGE IS IN DANGER

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

YEMEN’S CULTURAL HERITAGE IS IN DANGER

Yemeni Manuscript

(P1) Since a Saudi-led COALITION last March began its bombing against the anti-government forces now controlling much of Yemen, more than 5,800 people have been killed. Experts say the bombs have also done IRREPARABLE damage to historical sites and precious ANTIQUITIES, including ancient MANUSCRIPTS dating back to the 10th century.

(P2) Unless action is taken soon, SCHOLARS warn, Yemen’s rare collection of manuscripts may be permanently lost.

(P3) “Within these manuscripts are the collective memory of a people, a CONTINUOUS cultural tradition from the 10th century to the present. Once this memory is ERASED, an important chapter of the story of what it is to be human will no longer exist,” said David Hollenberg, director of Arabic at the University of Oregon.

(P4) The estimated 50,000 ancient handwritten books, called codices, represent the largest and most important set of unexplored Arabic-language manuscripts in the world, according to the website of Princeton University’s Yemeni Manuscript Digitization INITIATIVE (YMDI).

(P5) With the help of a grant, Hollenberg set up YMDI in the 1990s in an effort to preserve Yemen’s manuscripts using digital technology.

(P6) “The manuscripts are the CORE of the classical Islamic tradition,” said Hollenberg.

(P7) In response to the immediate threat to the manuscripts by the recent air strikes, Hollenberg launched the organization Save Yemen’s Heritage last November. The project is working with a local organization in Yemen to send badly needed digital workstations and funds to staff in the country’s capital, Sanaa.

(P8) “The machines will allow staff in Sanaa to continue their digitization work,” Hollenberg said.

(P9) But before he can send any equipment, he needs permission from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is responsible for enforcing ECONOMIC SANCTIONS against certain countries and groups. The OFAC last year IMPOSED sanctions against anti-government forces in Yemen. Americans who send funds to Yemen without OFAC permission are SUBJECT TO criminal and civil penalties.

(P10) The Yemeni manuscripts cover topics ranging from poetry, theology, and Islamic law to history, grammar, and ETIQUETTE, Hollenberg said.

(P11) Access to manuscripts in Yemen has historically been limited to the families in possession of the codices.

(P12) “They tell the story of the Yemeni people and the greater Islamic world,” he said.

(P13) Hollenberg said his team is in A RACE AGAINST TIME to preserve the texts — many of which have already been destroyed in military action, including bombings. Both the Saudi coalition and anti-government forces have faced heavy criticism for striking HERITAGE sites, the most recent being the National Museum in Taiz. The museum housed a collection of manuscripts among other antiquities.

(P14) In response to the WIDESPREAD destruction of historical sites and antiquities, UNESCO in July 2015 launched an emergency action plan to SAFEGUARD Yemen’s cultural heritage.

(P15) When the plan was announced, Yemen’s AMBASSADOR to UNESCO, Ahmed Sayyad, urged the international community to RALLY BEHIND the effort.

(P16) “Sanaa, Aden, Taiz … are all my cities and they are all your cities,” Sayyad says.

(P17) “They are the past and present for every man and woman, whatever their religion or their identity. For this reason, the work to stop the destruction and to preserve is the duty of every Yemeni, every Arab, every Muslim, and every man and woman.”

WORDS: 532

SOURCE: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/2/5/american-professor-in-race-to-save-yemens-cultural-heritage.html

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What ancient sites and antiquities are important to your country’s identity?
  3. Why has digital technology become so important in universities and scholarship?
  4. Why is this effort to save Yemeni manuscripts a “race against time”?
  5. Why would one nation impose economic sanctions on another?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Economic sanctions
  • Subject to
  • Rally behind
  • A race against time

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