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325 Topics: Movie: Bonnie and Clyde; Community Supported Agriculture (CSA); to cut (someone) loose versus to set (someone) free versus unrestrained; adjectives versus “who” phrases; words used to describe computer touch screens

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 325.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 325. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website, won’t you, at eslpod.com. You can download a Learning Guide for this episode, you can buy some additional courses in English, and you can read our ESL Podcast Blog. If you are on Facebook, you can go to facebook.com/eslpod and like us. I like to be liked!

On this Café, we’re going to continue our series on American movies, today focusing on a movie called Bonnie and Clyde. We’re also going to talk about community supported agriculture, which is also known as CSA, and why it’s becoming popular in some parts of the U.S. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

We continue our series on famous movies; today we’re going to focus on Bonnie and Clyde. Bonnie and Clyde is a film – a movie based on a true story, the story of Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow, who became very well known criminals in the U.S. in the early 1930s. The “screenwriters,” the people who wrote the script for the film, definitely took liberties with the true story of Bonnie and Clyde. The phrase “to take liberties” doesn’t mean that you are taking away someone’s freedom, it means that you are changing the facts of the stories. This happens a lot; you’ll see a movie about a historical figure, and the movie will say “based on a true story,” but usually it’s not the real story, usually they take liberties with the facts and they put things in there that never really happened.

Well, Bonnie and Clyde does that; it was, nevertheless, a very popular movie. It was made in 1967 and it was considered a very shocking movie at the time. The movie tended to break a lot of taboos. A “taboo” (taboo) is something that is considered wrong or unacceptable by society. The expression “to break a taboo” means to do this thing even though everyone else thinks it’s wrong. In some societies, for example, it may be taboo for a woman to show her hair or her face or for her to shake someone’s hand. Before this movie, there were taboos against certain kinds of violence and sexual scenes in a movie. Bonnie and Clyde broke those taboos; it had very violent, bloody, we might say, scenes in many parts of the movie.

In the movie and in real live, Bonnie and Clyde meet, fall in love, and then become partners in crime. When we talk about “partners in crime” we literally mean two people who are getting together and breaking the law. However, you’ll sometimes hear that expression, “my partner in crime,” somewhat jokingly to refer to someone who is your working partner or someone who is working with you to do something.

Well at first, Bonnie and Clyde did, or committed, only small-time crimes. “Small-time” refers to crimes that aren’t very serious, some small stealing for example. It’s still wrong, but it isn’t considered as bad as murder, or killing someone. Murder is not a small-time crime, because the crime is more serious. Bonnie and Clyde started out engaging in small-time holdups. A “holdup” (holdup – one word) is another word for a robbery, usually where the criminal uses a gun or a knife and forces another person to give them their money or give them their car or whatever it is they want. It’s called a “holdup” because often you tell the person to put their hands in the air, to hold up their hands so that they can see them and they know they’re not going to be attacked. We often associate holdups with bank robberies; we might say, “the bank was held up,” someone stole money.

I have to add here that there’s another expression “hold up,” where “hold” and “up” are two words, and that means a delay in something. If the train stops, you may say, “What’s the hold up?” Why are we late? What is causing this stoppage? So, “holdup” as one word is a crime, “hold up” as two words is an inconvenience.

Well, Bonnie and Clyde began working with other people in a small gang and when they did that they moved on to more serious crimes, especially when they robbed banks. Those bank robberies become very violent in real life and in the movie. The movie, for example, shows Clyde shooting a bank manager – a boss – in the face, which was very shocking to moviegoers; they had not been used to that sort of violence. This type of violence in movies had been traditionally taboo.

At one point in the movie, the police officers – we might call them the law enforcement officers – set a trap for Bonnie and Clyde. A “trap” is a way to catch something. You might set a trap for a bear, so that the bear tries to eat some food and then gets trapped, and, I don’t know, you kill the bear and then you have a bear rug – something! Well, that’s what happened with Bonnie and Clyde. I won’t tell you the exact ending of the movie. It’s best that you try to go see it. It was a classic movie about two famous people in popular culture in the 20th century, and is still considered to be a very well made movie.

Who starred in the movie? Well, there was a young man by the name of Warren Beatty, who played Clyde, a young actress called Faye Dunaway played Bonnie, and another actor Gene Hackman, who played one of the gang members and Clyde’s brother. All three of these actors went on to make many movies in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and all of them became quite famous and rich for doing so.

When the film was released, Bonnie and Clyde received what we might describe as mixed reviews. A “review” is what people write about or say about the movie: Is it good? Is it bad? You find reviews in newspapers, sometimes on television shows. “Mixed” means some were good and some were bad. Overall, though, the film was well received. It won two Oscars or Academy Awards for some of the best movie making of that year, and was included in a list of the most important or significant movies made in the 20th century. So if you have a chance to see Bonnie and Clyde, you’ll see a violent movie, I have to warn you, but a very well made one, and one about two important figures in American popular culture: Bonnie and Clyde.

Now let’s turn to our next topic, which is not about violence or crime; it’s about food. Community supported agriculture is when you have individuals working together to support a specific farmer or group of farmers in their local area. A “farmer” is someone who grows food or has animals that are used for food. What community supported agriculture – and “agriculture” is just another word for growing food – does is organize people who agree to pay a certain amount of money to the farmer, and in return – in exchange for that money – they get certain vegetables or fruits, what we would call “produce” (produce) from the farmer each week.

Notice that “produce” can also be pronounced “produce,” but when you pronounce it like “produce,” with the accent on the second syllable, then it is a verb meaning to make something. When the accent is on the first syllable – “produce,” same spelling – it means fruits and vegetables. A “produce box,” then, usually contains a variety of what we might call “seasonal” fruits and vegetables. Something that is “seasonal” is something that is grown in a particular time of year and is ready to eat in that time of year. In the U.S., as in many countries, the regular grocery stores will sell many types of produce all year. You can buy bananas every day at a grocery store in the United States, or lettuce, or fruit, or whatever it is you want to buy. What happens is we bring it from other places, sometimes from other countries, so that it’s available at different times of the year. When certain kinds of food are “out of season,” meaning that isn’t the time of year that they’re grown in that area, they’re typically more expensive. I, for example, love to eat corn, what we call “corn on the cob,” that’s seasonal in July, August, September in the United States. It’s cheaper during that time, that’s when it is ready to eat. When fruit or vegetables are ready to eat we say they are “ripe” (ripe).

With community supported agriculture, individuals and families get this box of produce every week, filled with seasonal produce, things that are ripe and ready to eat during that time of the year. So, the kind of food that you will get in December won’t be the same as the food you will get in August.

Why do people do this? Well, the people involved in community supported agriculture – CSA – believe it’s important to support their local farmers, the people who work in the areas around where they live. Some of them think this way for economic reasons; they want to save money or they want the money they spend to stay in the community where they’re living. Other people worry about food safety; they think it’s safer to buy food that is grown locally, and they think that knowing which farm their food comes from, by being directly supporting a specific farm, makes it more likely their food will be of a higher quality and safer to eat. Still other people like CSA because it makes them somehow feel connected to the land and to agriculture. The United States was, at one point, an agricultural nation primarily in at least many states, including my home state of Minnesota. These were places where a large percentage of people were involved in farming and in agriculture. Now, only a very small percentage of the American population is involved in agriculture directly. But for some people, CSA makes them feel perhaps more connected to the traditional ties – the traditional bonds or connections that the average person had with farming 100 or 150 years ago. Produce that comes from these farms is also likely to be fresher; it may often taste better because it hasn’t been frozen or stored in a refrigerator while it was being transported from another part of the country or another part of the world.

Another reason people support CSA is the environment. They want to support local farms because they think farms are better for the environment than the now more popular large industrial farms. An “industrial farm” is a large business that produces food for many people in a wide area of the country. Industrial farms tend to specialize; they only grow corn or they only grow wheat, what we would say one type of “crop” (crop). “Crops” are plants that are grown to eat. Don’t put an “a” in there; you get something significantly different! Crops are, on industrial farms, often raised – that is, grown – using a lot of fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals that some people think are bad for the environment, and so they want to support the smaller locals farms who perhaps don’t use that approach – those things on their farm.

The smaller, local farms are also able to experiment with different methods of producing food that might be more helpful in terms of keeping the environment healthy. Some farms focus on organic produce. “Organic” (organic) are plants that are grown without any man-made chemicals. Other local farms specialize in selling things such as free-range eggs or free-range animals; free-range chickens for example. The expression “free-range” (range) means that the animals – the chicken, not the egg – are allowed to move around in a larger area, eating grass and other plants. This method requires a lot of land and often a lot of labor – that is, a lot of human work. Industrial farms try to reduce their costs – their expenses – by keeping animals in smaller cages, feeding them corn and other grains rather than grass. People who choose to pay more to buy free-range meat and eggs think it is better for their health, for their environment, and for farm animals.

Even if you don’t participate directly in community supported agriculture in the U.S. – and I’m guessing the percentage of the population that does so is very, very small – you can still support local farms by shopping at local farmers markets. Not every part of the country, I should point out, has local farms that can grow all different kinds of produce. But in some parts of the country, here in California for example, every day of the week you can go to some part of the city and buy food from farmers at a farmers market. These are local farmers or companies that work with local farmers that sell food. It’s always done on a specific day of the week; sometimes they’ll even close a street to give space. In my neighborhood, we have a farmers market on Sunday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 in the afternoon. However, I can go to the neighborhood next to me, an area called Culver City, and go to their farmers market on Tuesday afternoons. Or, I can go up to the Hollywood farmer market or the Santa Monica farmer market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. So, almost any day of the week you can go and buy fresh food from these farmer markets; they’re quite popular.

Other people actually drive out to the farm to buy their food. These farms are places sometimes where you can go and you can take the food – the produce that you want. These are usually called “u-pick farms” (the letter u-pick). “U,” of course, is just a different way of saying (you), “you,” as the person. U-pick farms are places where you can go and spend an afternoon going through and taking the produce directly from the places where it is grown – the fields. This is also probably an educational experience for a lot of children, who may not know where food comes from.

That’s community supported agriculture. As I say, it’s not everyone who does this. It’s probably something done by certain areas more than others, where this sort of approach is popular. But it is popular enough for us to talk about it here; it is, I think, a growing phenomenon – a growing trend in many communities.

Now let’s answer some of the questions that you have sent us.

Higor (Higor) in Brazil wants to know the meaning of a couple of similar expressions: “to cut (someone) loose,” “to set (someone) free,” and “unrestrained.”

“To cut (someone) loose” would literally mean to free someone who has been tied up somewhere with rope or something else. If you are prisoners, and the people who captured you – who got you – tied you up to a tree, you could do up to those persons and cut them loose. That’s the literal meaning. However, the more common meaning of that expression is to let someone do what they want, not to try to control someone. Parents sometimes have to cut their children loose, to allow them to do the things that they want to do.

“To set (someone) free” is usually a phrase that we use when someone is actually in a prison. For example, Nelson Mandela was set free from prison in 1990.

“To cut loose” – which is similar to our first expression, “to cut (someone) loose” – but, “to cut loose,” without the someone, means to talk or act without any restraint, without holding yourself back, without resisting certain things. “Sheila cut loose with a series of swear words; she was really mad.” Or, “After they had a lot of drinks, the girls cut loose on the dance floor and danced like crazy people,” which is what most dancing looks like anyway!

“Unrestrained” means free, not controlled, natural. Sometimes we use this as an adjective to describe something that perhaps is a little wild. “I had unrestrained laughter when I heard the joke.” I laughed so hard it was as though I were not even trying to keep my voice down or to keep myself in control, etc.

The phrase “to set (someone) free” and “to cut (someone) loose,” then, are similar if we’re talking about the literal meaning. However, if we are talking in more general terms, “to cut (someone) loose” is more often used in referring to letting someone do what they want to do.

Süleyman (Süleyman) in Turkey wants to know the difference between a couple of sentences: “I met a beautiful girl yesterday.” “I met a girl who was beautiful yesterday.” What’s the difference between these two things? Well, we’re talking about beautiful girls, so that’s a good start I guess! The “who” in the second sentence, “I met a girl who was beautiful yesterday,” refers to which person you are talking about. “I met three girls.” Well, which girl are you talking about? I’m talking about a girl who was beautiful, not a girl who was ugly – not beautiful. When used this way, the “who” is what we call a relative pronoun, for those who care.

It’s possible in English to use “who” in places of simple adjectives, like “the beautiful girl,” “the girl who is beautiful.” Both of those are the same. They both really mean the same thing. In writing, however, it is less common to see an adjective replaced by a “who,” it depends on what you’re reading perhaps. A better use of the relative pronoun “who” would be when you have a lot of things you want to say in describing that person: “The girl who was wearing a blue dress and had black shoes on was standing next to me yesterday.” That gives you a lot of information rather than just “the girl who was beautiful.”

Finally, Patricia (Patricia) in France wants to know how to express herself in a certain situation. She was working at a small store – somewhere in France, we guess – and she liked the computer she was using, but she wasn’t sure what adjectives she should use to talk about the good qualities of a computer.

Well, one adjective you could use is “sensible.” “This computer was a sensible choice,” meaning it made sense; it wasn’t very expensive but it does what I want it to do. The adjective “sensible” in general is a positive one. It usually refers to something that is considered practical, that is a good idea.

Sometimes electronic devices – not so much computers, but computer programs for example, could be described by another adjective: “intuitive” (intuitive). When we say something’s intuitive, it means we don’t need a lot of instructions; we know how to use it right away. A good piece of computer software should always be intuitive; it shouldn’t require someone to take a 10-hour class to figure out how to use it.

Some computers and electronic devices are ones that you can actually touch the screen that you look at, and I think that’s what was happening in Patricia’s case, who asked this question. The screen itself might be described not as “sensible,” but as “sensitive,” with an “ive” at the end, or a “tive.” “Sensitive” means that you touch it very lightly, very gently, and it reacts.

Words that would be negative descriptions of computers might be “unintuitive” or “not sensitive,” “impractical,” that is, it doesn’t use good sense, it’s not something that you can use in the real world. Often sometimes computers will stop working suddenly; we use the verb “to freeze.” “My computer froze on me last night.” That means my computer suddenly stopped working; I pressed the buttons and nothing happened. Seriously, this happened to me about two days ago, and I’m going to bring it in to the place where I bought it and find out what’s going on. But that’s my problem. We could describe a computer that froze as being “unresponsive,” that would be a little more technical way, a little fancier way of describing when a computer or an electronic device freezes. Of course, when your computer freezes you do the classic fix, which is simply to turn it off and turn it on again; we call that “rebooting.” “To boot” (boot) means to turn on a computer; “to reboot” means to turn it on again even though it’s running right now – you turn it off, that is, and you turn it on again.

Don’t confuse these words with “booty” (booty), which is a slang expression for your butt, what you sit on. Don’t confuse it with the noun “boot,” which is something you put on your feet, especially when it is snowing outside or there’s a lot of rain and you have to walk through a bunch of areas with a lot of rain. “Boot” has actually several meanings, but we could go on all day and we would never finish this Café if I tried to explain all of them.

Instead, why don’t you email us questions about “boot” or “my booty.” Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on the English Café.

ESL Podcast’s English Café is written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse, copyright 2011 by the Center for Educational Development.

to take liberties – to change the facts of a story, especially when writing a book or a movie script

* This novel about Abraham Lincoln takes liberties with Lincoln’s childhood, and describes his early years without the support of facts or documentation.

taboo – something that is considered wrong and unacceptable by society; socially unacceptable

* Asking an adult woman her age when you don’t know her very well is considered taboo.

partner in crime – a person with whom one works to break the law or the rules; another person with whom one commits crimes

* The school principal caught one of the students who broke into her office, but she hasn’t yet found the student’s partner in crime.

small-time – involving little money or other resources; crimes that are unimportant or not very serious

* The robber only committed small-time crimes before trying to rob a bank.

holdup – a robbery, usually where the criminal uses a gun or knife to tell the other person to hold up his or her hands so that the criminal can take the money and other valuables

* Jack hid his money in his shoes because he was afraid of a holdup.

trap – something designed to capture a person or an animal; a device used to catch and keep someone or something

* The boys set traps all over the fields to catch rabbits.

mixed reviews – with some people believe that something is good or worthwhile while others believe it to be bad and not worthy of attention

* Yolanda’s paintings got mixed reviews, but nearly all of them sold.

produce – fruits and vegetables

* I wish there were a way to keep produce fresher for longer periods of time.

seasonal – ripe at a certain time period each year; able to be eaten at certain times of the year; available only during a certain period each year

* We like to eat avocados, but they’re seasonal and only available in the summer.

industrial farm – a very large business that grows and produces food for many people across a very large area or even across the entire country

* Our industrial farm grows corn for food and for fuel.

free-range – produced by animals that are able to wander over a large area, eating grasses and other plants

* These free-range eggs taste better than the ones from the grocery store.

farmers market – large, outdoor markets, usually held one day each week, where people can buy produce directly from local farmers

* Kayla found vegetables at the farmers market that she’d never seen before, and she plans to try them by putting them in her vegetable soup.

u-pick farm – a farm where people can buy food from the farmer directly or sometimes even pick it themselves

* We brought the kids to the u-pick farm and they picked their own strawberries.

to cut (someone) loose – to allow someone to be free from something that ties him or her up, such as a rope; to stop trying to restrain someone’s behavior

* The bank robbers tied up all of the bank employees and didn’t cut them loose before leaving with the money.

to set (someone) free – to let someone go free; to allow someone out of a real or mental state of being in prison

* The police did not have enough evidence to keep the man in jail, so they had to set him free.

unrestrained – free; not controlled; natural

* The students behaved quietly in the classroom, but were unrestrained on the playground, laughing and yelling to each other.

sensible – showing good sense; showing good judgment

* After losing his job, the only sensible thing for Jake to do was to move back to his parents’ home until he found another one.

intuitive – based on what one thinks is true, without thinking about it

* This game is easy to play because the controls are very intuitive: the up button moves you forward and the down button moves you backwards.

What Insiders Know
Vertical Farming

People don’t generally think of farming when they think of cities, or “urban” areas. They think of a lot of buildings and a lot of people. But what if you could farm within buildings? What if you could farm inside “skyscrapers” (very tall buildings with many “stories” or levels)?

That’s the idea behind “vertical farming.” Instead of farming “horizontally” across the land, “crops” (plants that produce food and other products) would be farmed inside tall buildings, going up or vertically. Although it’s not clear who “came up with” (started; created) the idea for vertical farming, in 1915, Gilbert Ellis Bailey published a book called Vertical Farmingand that term has been used by many people to talk about this type of farm “ever since” (since that time).

Some of the advantages of vertical farming are that crops can be grown “year-round” (continuing throughout the year). This would allow for higher “production” (things that are made or grown). The crops would also be protected from weather-related problems, such as how much “rainfall” (the amount of rain falling in an area during a certain period of time) the farmland receives. Farming in buildings also protects the crops from “flooding” (when there is too much water in a certain area), “wildfires” (large fires that spread quickly), and “droughts” (when there is not enough rain or water).

Although many scientists and “architects” (people whose job is to design buildings) “believe in” (like and support the idea of) the idea of vertical farming, it is still “not a reality” (does not exist in real life), at least not on a “large scale” (involving a large number or over a large area). However, it continues to be a popular “theory” (idea) since the world’s population continues to grow, and more and more of that population is moving to urban areas.