Friday, December 30

What Are Your New Year’s Resolutions?

HAPPY 2012, EVERYBODY!!!!! ;-D

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions for this coming New Year?

New Year’s Resolutions are promises that we make to ourselves. And it’s tradition that we make them near the start  of a fresh year.

New Year’s Resolutions are usually about changing bad habits. For example, “I will stop smoking” for men. Or, “I will go on a diet” for women.  “I will spend more time with my family” for fathers. And “I will study harder” or “I will start to save up” for the young.

And usually, people make a list of New Year’s Resolutions –more than one.

Why? Because it’s the start of a completely new year  and everybody is excited to make a brand new start in life.

But there are a couple of things you should remember when you make New Year’s Resolutions.

First, of course I don’t need to tell you that when you make New Year’s Resolutions, the rule is: The fewer, the better. 

This rule is simple enough to understand. The fewer promises you make to yourself, the harder you can concentrate on them to make them come true.

Second, make sure that each New Year’s Resolution that you make has a good chance of happening. In short, make sure they are possible or realistic.   

Don’t write down plans that are sure to fail. Because when they fail, you’ll feel disappointed and you’ll think you were the reason your plans failed.

This isn't completely true. Because right at the beginning, you didn’t think of the practicality of your ideas. You didn’t set the time frame. You didn’t think of the exact way you’re gonna do it.

You were just feeling so excited because of the hopeful mood of the coming New Year’s Day. Just like everybody else in the world. You felt like you could do anything and change your life exactly as you wanted.

But after the feeling dies down, after the "power" mood goes away, what do you have?

Nothing. Just a hang-over and cold, harsh reality: Your plans are difficult and maybe impossible to come true.

Then you spend the whole year just moving from one failure to another, from one disappointment to another. Until, before you realize it, the whole year is already finished.

So, if you’re going to make New Year’s Resolutions, make sure they’re practical. Not impossible.

Third and last, don’t connect New Year’s Resolutions with just New Year’s Day. I know it’s very dramatic and the perfect timing to make big decisions, but think about it, Who said that people can make Resolutions only during New Year’s Day?

If Resolutions are only for New Year, imagine that I were a smoker and I wanted to quit my bad habit in April. 

What should I do then? Should I wait until next January to try it?

In short, if you really want to make Resolutions on New Year’s Day, then go ahead and do it. But don’t let the New Year high spirits control your brain. Always remember that that feeling can’t stay forever and soon it'll leave you alone. 

In fact, what you should concentrate on is the time after New Year’s Day. The great feeling will go, but never let your determination and will power go together with it.

The New Year spirit will be there with you at the start, but it’s not gonna take you for the rest of the marathon. 

You're still the one who has to cross the finish line. 


Wednesday, December 28

Rock in Space

image courtesy of stock.xchng 

Do you remember the hit movie “ARMAGEDDON” back in 1998? It starred Bruce Willis and was directed by Michael Bay (creator of the “Transformers” series).

Today we are going to study the OST (Official Sound Track) of this movie.

The title of the OST is “I DON’T WANNA MISS A THING” by Aerosmith.

Steven Tyler is the vocalist of the band Aerosmith. He is known as the “Demon of Screamin.” (And if you watch music videos of him, you can see his prominently wide mouth.)  

Incidentally, he’s the father of the beautiful Liv Tyler, who also stars in “ARMAGEDDON” plus other good movies such as “Lord of the Rings” and “Jersey Girl.”  

Here’s the chorus of the song “I DON’T WANNA MISS A THING” :

I don't wanna close my eyes

I don't wanna fall asleep

'Cause I'd miss you, babe

And I don't wanna miss a thing

First of all, this is the scene in the story of the lyrics:

The main character in the song is lying in bed with his girlfriend. He can’t fall asleep and he just lies there watching her while she’s sleeping. You can know this from the beginning of the song:

I could lie awake just to hear you breathing

Watch you smile while you are sleeping

While you're far away and dreaming

I could spend my life in this sweet surrender

And just stay here lost in this moment forever

Well, every moment spent with you

Is a moment I treasure

He does this because he loves her so much.

The singer keeps on saying: “I don’t wanna miss a thing.

This means:

I don’t wanna miss anything.  = I don’t wanna miss a thing. (the same meaning/ stronger)

He doesn’t remember anything. = He doesn’t remember a thing. (the same meaning/ stronger)

You won’t feel anything. (It’s not painful) = You won’t feel a thing. (the same meaning/ stronger)

In the song, the word “miss” has two meanings:

1.       Feel sad because separated from somebody

Ex. I miss you. / I missed you. / I’m missing my family. / I’ll miss you. / I’ll be missing you when I go back.

-- And –

2.       Not see/ not experience something/ not talk etc. to someone

Ex. Where were you? You missed history class! / I fell asleep on the couch, so I missed the game. / The party will be fantastic! You mustn't miss it! / Are you looking for the boss? You just missed him (= He left just a while ago)

In short, the main character doesn’t wanna fall asleep because he doesn’t wanna miss his girlfriend (1st meaning). He just lies beside her and watches her.

Also, the character doesn’t wanna miss anything (2nd meaning).

It’s like every moment she spends with his girlfriend is a really great movie or show.

So he says:

I don't wanna close my eyes

'Cause I don't wanna miss a thing

He mixes the two meanings of the word “miss” in the song. 

Finally, he says that he can go to sleep and maybe have a dream about his girlfriend. But because she is really sweet and perfect, no dream can match reality. No dream will be enough:

'Cause even when I dream of you

The sweetest dream will never do *

I'd still miss you, babe

And I don't wanna miss a thing

* will never do = will never be enough

Here's the music video of the song from Youtube. Enjoy: 

Keep on learning !

Monday, December 26

A Reindeer Story

Welcome back from the holidays !!!

This is your good pal Cool Elf and I’m back with an after-Christmas story just for you.

Did you all get your Christmas presents this year?

Well, whether you wanna thank Santa or complain to him, there’s only one group you should find: Santa’s team of nine magical reindeer. These flying reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh across the night sky on Christmas Eve. They help deliver the presents all over the world.

Talk about express delivery !!

Santa has 9 trusty reindeer in all. And did you know? Each of them has a name.

According to an 1823 poem by Clement Moore, the names of Santa’s reindeer are:

  1. Dasher
  2. Dancer
  3. Prancer
  4. Vixen
  5. Comet
  6. Cupid
  7. Donner (= this originally means "thunder")
  8. Blitzen (= this originally means "lightning")

Cool names, huh? Perhaps cool enough to use for our pet puppies?

But wait! We said only 8 names! How about the 9th reindeer?

Well, the 9th reindeer is Rudoph. And he joined the group a bit late.

(Actually, he was introduced more than 100 years late through a children’s book by Robert May, and then through the popular Christmas song that's familiar to most of us.)

Interestingly, even in the lyrics of the popular Christmas song, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,  Rudolph wasn’t easily allowed to join the group.

In fact, he was bullied by the rest of the reindeer. (Very much like the “Mean Girls.”)

This happened because of one physical deformity that Rudolph had: His nose that’s as shiny as a light bulb.

You can read the whole story in a part of the song:

All of the other reindeer 

used to laugh and call him names. 

They never let poor Rudolph 

join in any reindeer games. 

But because of an emergency, Rudolph was able to prove that his unique characteristic was useful:

Then one foggy Christmas Eve 

Santa came to say: 

"Rudolph with your nose so bright, 

won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" 

In fact, after this, Rudolph became the natural leader of all the reindeer !

Then all the reindeer loved him 

as they shouted out with glee*,

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer,

you'll go down in history**!

*glee = happiness

** go down in history = be famous 

Now, the moral lesson of our story can be either:

  •   Uniqueness and originality is a gift and not a curse. You should be proud of your individuality because it makes you special (not weird).  Most of the great people in the history of the world, the born leaders, were also different from the crowd.

(Of course also including some bad apples)


  •    Unkindness can be naturally expected. It can come in many forms and all places – even among Santa’s elite team of reindeer. (Actually even among the angels of God.)

But I’d like to prove neither the first nor the second point. What I wanna say here is that there’s a lot of story behind every book, a lot of story behind every scene or movie.

For each main story, there are a hundred side stories, so to speak.  

Man’s knowledge/ consciousness is like an old tree with so many roots and so many branches – sometimes it’s just impossible to trace.

And especially in the field of history, it gets pretty hard when you wanna tell which one is factual and which one is just a myth.

In the field of fairytales and entertainment, everybody knows it’s all just imagination. But still man’s boundless creativity doesn’t stop creating: the stories of man are like one endless river - story after story after story. 

He passes them on by mouth, in books, in poems, in movies, on the Net… then other people add their own ideas, and still other people add more and more till, finally, it flows into the ocean of humanity’s wealth of ideas.

Your final goal as a non-native speaker of English is to dip into this river of stories, and perhaps add your own original thoughts. Someday.

I look forward to hearing your own voices and ideas in the future.


P.S. I’ve realized the value of our Christmas song series. So, very soon I’m planning to start a new part of this Blog: “SING AND LEARN.”

In this part, I’ll try to explain the meaning of the lyrics of popular and recent songs. 

And you can make your own special request to the lyrics dee-jay Cool Elf ANYTIME!

I’ll probably start it this week. So stay tuned!!

Keep on learning !

Any Questions?

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