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370 Topics: Movies - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Mount Rushmore; threat versus menace versus peril; using “should” with “have to”; role reversal

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 370.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 370. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at eslpod.com. Become a member, support this podcast, and download a Learning Guide.

On this Café, we’re going to continue our series on movies – famous American movies – focusing one from a few years ago, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” We're also going to talk about, one of the more famous places in the United States, Mount Rushmore – famous at least to most Americans. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

This Café begins with a continuation of our series on American films. Today we’re going to talk about “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” This movie was made in 1969 and it’s what we would call a Western, a film about the Old West or the Wild West. The Wild West is the western part of the United States during the 19th and perhaps, early 20th century, but mostly in the 19th century, when, basically, white people came from the eastern part of the United States and began to live in the West, including here in California.

The Wild West was “wild” because there weren’t a lot of laws or a lot of policemen to handle criminals, to take care of crime. The movie, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” is loosely based on history. When we say something is “loosely (loosely) based on something” we mean that it is from that particular story. It is using some of the real things – the real events that happened. There’ some fact to it. But it’s not a completely accurate telling of something that happened. You could have a movie that is loosely based on the life of a famous person, even though the exact story isn’t there. It isn’t completely accurate. One of the great American movies, “Citizen Kane,” is loosely based on the life of a famous publisher, William Randolph Hearst. But it’s not a biography, it’s not a history. It’s just something based on history.

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is based on something that actually happened, but they changed the story in many ways. The movie focuses on two people, two people we would call “outlaws” (outlaws). An “outlaw” is someone who has broken the law, who has become a criminal and run away. The police officers, the law enforcement officials, we might call them, have not caught them. So, they’re still, we might use the expression “on the run.” They haven’t been caught yet.

One of the outlaws is known as Butch Cassidy. He’s the leader of a group of criminals, a group of outlaws. The other outlaw is known as the Sundance Kid. These two are bank and train robbers – people who steal money from banks and trains. Remember, in the old days, that’s how money was moved from one place to another. So you could make a lot of money by robbing or stealing from a train. What happens in the movie is that Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Sundance Kid’s girlfriend “flee” (flee). “To flee” means to run away, to escape – in this case, to escape the police. They flee to the country of Bolivia, in South America, and when they get there, they continue to rob banks. They continue to be thieves.

The movie has a very violent ending. I won’t tell you what happens. You’ll have to watch it yourself. But it’s a wonderful and, in some ways, funny movie about these two outlaws and their adventures. One reason to see the movie, if you have not yet seen it, is to watch the performances of two of the greatest actors of the ‘60s and ‘70s in the U.S., Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Paul Newman played or was the character of Butch Cassidy, and Robert Redford played the Sundance Kid.

The movie made more than a hundred million dollars in 1969. It made more than any other movie that year. It won four academy awards or Oscars, the awards given to the best movies in the U.S. It is also been listed as one of the most important movies of the 20th century. So I would suggest, if you’re interested at all in the Wild West and you like good acting and a good story (and who doesn’t?), try to find this movie on video or online. I think you’ll enjoy watching it.

Now let’s turn to our next topic, which is one of the most famous places in the United States that you’ve probably seen photographs of, Mount Rushmore National Monument. “Mount Rushmore” is a huge or very large sculpture on the side of a mountain, Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota, which is in the northern central part of the United States, just next to Minnesota, between Minnesota and Montana. A “sculpture” is a piece of artwork that is made by, typically, carving or cutting away pieces of stone or wood, in order to, usually, represent a person or an animal or a thing.

The most famous sculptures certainly are those by the ancient Greeks that you’ve seen photographs of, or Roman copies of them. This is a sculpture, however, not for a museum or inside of a house, but on the side of a mountain. This particular sculpture was carved into the granite of the mountain. “Granite” (granite) is a very hard, white, or grey colored rock. The sculpture is of four American presidents: George Washington, our first president; Thomas Jefferson, our third president; Theodore Roosevelt, who was president in the early 20th century: and Abraham Lincoln, who was president during the American Civil War in the 19th century.

Each of these presidents has a sculpture of their head. The head is 60 feet high, so you can see this sculpture from very far away. I first saw the sculpture – well, the only time I’ve seen the sculpture – was when I was 9 years old, back in the early 1970’s, and it is an amazing thing to see. It’s one of those things like the Grand Canyon where you will always remember seeing it.

The idea behind the sculpture was originally to “draw” (draw) – which here means to attract or bring people – to this area. Basically, it was a way of getting tourists to come and spend money. It is certainly been successful. Almost three million go to see Mount Rushmore every year, even though it’s not close to any of the big American cities. It’s several hours from Minneapolis, St. Paul – probably, I don’t know, seven, eight, nine hours driving. So, it’s not easy to get there and yet, three million people go every year.

The sculpture was begun by a Danish American –someone originally from Denmark – named Gutzon Borglum. He began the sculpture in 1927 with more than 400 workers – 400 people helping him. But poor Mr. Borglum died, or passed away in 1941, before Mount Rushmore had been completed. It had already been worked on for – what, 14 years? – but it still wasn’t done. So his son, Lincoln Borglum, then continued the project.

The original plan was to depict or show the former presidents from the waist up. Your “waist” (waist) is the middle part of your body where you might put a belt if you were wearing pants. So, from the waist up would be the, basically, the top half of your body – not your legs. That was the original plan. There was also a plan to make the entire monument in the shape of the Louisiana Purchase, the large section of land that the United States bought from France in 1803. South Dakota was part of that purchase. There were also plans to commemorate or remember and celebrate some famous American events, including the Declaration of Independence (the document), the U.S Constitution, and other parts of American history. In other words, the plan was to make the sculpture even bigger than it is today. But there just wasn’t enough money to do all of that. So they decided, “Well, we can’t possibly do everything we wanted to. So, we will just do the heads of these four former presidents.” And that part of the sculpture was finished by late 1941.

Interestingly, there was a proposal, a few years earlier. There was a plan in 1937 to add one more head to the sculpture. That would’ve been the head of the most famous woman in the United States in the 19th century, Susan B. Anthony. Susan B. Anthony fought for civil rights, especially women’s rights. We talked about Susan B. Anthony back on English Café number 233. But in the end, Congress, our national legislature, our federal government, decided that the federal funding or the money from the federal government can only be used to finish the heads that had already been started – the four former presidents.

The national or federal government took ownership of Mount Rushmore, even before it was finished, in 1933. Mount Rushmore is located in an area called the “Black Hills” in western South Dakota. They now have a large visitor center, as well as a museum. They were not there when I visited Mount Rushmore back in 1972, I think.

You may be wondering why they chose these four presidents. The original idea was that each president represented a certain important idea. George Washington was our first president. He represented the founding of the country, the beginning of the country. Jefferson, our third president, represented expansion. Remember I discussed the Louisiana Purchase, which is the part of the United States the U.S bought from France back in 1803. Lincoln, of course, is the one who saved the United States, who “preserved,” we might say, the U.S. by winning the Civil War. And Roosevelt represented the U.S becoming a world power, the development of the U.S. economically and militarily.

It took about six and a half years of actual carving in order to finish Mount Rushmore, although they were working on it for about 14 years total. More than 450,000 tons of rock was removed from Mount Rushmore in order to create the sculpture. Most of that rock was, I think, left at the bottom of the mountain. They didn’t like take it away somewhere. You perhaps can still see it now. I’m not sure. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.

The order of the presidents from left to right are Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and then Lincoln. So they’re not in what we would call “chronological order.” They’re not in the order in which they were president. Roosevelt comes in between Jefferson and Lincoln on the memorial, even though he was the last of the four presidents to serve in office.

Mount Rushmore is not just one of the most famous monuments in the United States. It also has appeared in popular culture. It’s been in movies, in television shows, in video games. Mouth Rushmore appears on the back of the 25-cent coin, representing South Dakota. A few years ago, the U.S government started making quarters with different states on the back of them. Of course, that would be 50 different designs. Each state could pick something that would represent it on the back of this coin and South Dakota, of course, has Mount Rushmore.

When you have something as famous as Mount Rushmore, people will, of course, find a way to make fun of it, to make a joke out of it, and there are a lot of different spoofs of the monument. A “spoof” (spoof) is a funny imitation of something. There was a movie called “Space Balls” which was a spoof of the “Star Wars” movies. Most of the spoofs of Mount Rushmore involve putting somebody else’s head up on Mount Rushmore, representing someone else, not one of the four presidents. The rock band “Deep Purple,” many years ago, had an album cover – a record cover – showing the band members, the five members of the rock group, as the heads on Mount Rushmore. The movie, “Star Trek V,” showed Mount Rushmore with one additional head for a fifth future president. You can probably find images on the Internet of Barrack Obama being put on Mount Rushmore. And there have been proposals over the year to add additional famous Americans to Mount Rushmore. The cost of that – the expense of that – would be huge, it would be very large. And right now, my guess is that it’s not going to happen. But if you have a chance to see Mount Rushmore in person, live, if you will, I think you’ll really find it worth your effort to see.

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

Our first question comes from Keating (Keating) in China. Keating wants to know the definitions of three related words – “threat,” “menace,” and “peril.” Let’s start with “threat” (threat). As a noun, “threat” is a statement or a sentence about your plan or intention to hurt someone, to cause injury, we might say to someone. It’s also a possible warning of trouble in the future. The statement “If you don’t give me that money, I will kill you” is a threat. I’m saying something bad is going to happen to you if you do not do something for me right now – something bad will happen in the future. We might also use an expression such as “the threat of war.” “The threat of nuclear war” would be the danger that that could happen in the future. A “threat” can also be a person: “He’s a threat to our security.” He’s someone who could hurt us, could damage us. There’s a verb “to threaten” where you add an –en at the end, and that again has the same meaning. “To threaten someone” is to give them a threat. It’s to say something to them.

“Menace” (menace) is a noun meaning a person or a thing that is dangerous. It’s similar to the definition of threat when threat means a person or a thing. “Menace” would be someone who is harmful, someone who is perhaps quite dangerous.

“Peril” (peril) as a noun describes the situation of danger, the risk of great harm, of great injury. It’s not a person. It’s not usually a specific thing. We’re talking about the general situation. In fact, we often use the preposition “in.” We could say, “She is in peril,” or “She is in great peril” – that means she is in a very dangerous situation.

Let’s talk about some differences and how you use these words. “Threat” is usually used to describe something that you say to another person about some damage or harm that you will do to that person. “Menace” is much more likely to describe the actual person or the thing that will cause the damage. “Threat” is also, I think, a little more general. You could say, “The rain is going to be a threat today.” Something bad could happen today if it rains. But “menace” is almost always something a little bit more evil, something a little bit more serious. And again, refers typically to a person or a thing that could kill you or that could really damage the situation severely or seriously.

“Peril” is the least common of these three words. It’s also a word that probably describes the greatest danger – a very dangerous situation. It’s used more now in formal or poetic settings. You won’t find it in typical conversation. There’s an adjective form of peril which is “perilous” (perilous) which is a little more common but still, something you would more likely see in writing than in conversation.

Mohsen (Mohsen) from Iran has our next question. It’s a common question. It has to do with the differences between “should” and “have to.” These are two very common verbs or auxiliary verbs that we use in English. Let’s start with “should.” The most common use of should is when something is a very good idea that you should act on, that you should do. It’s not required but it would be a very good idea if you did it. “You should exercise every day.” That means that the best thing for your body, for your health, is to do some physical movement, some physical exercise every day. You should do that. “You should study before a big test.” That’s the best way to pass the test, to get a good score or grade on the test.

“Have to” (have to) means you must do it. There’s an obligation. You don’t have any other choice. “You have to pay taxes in the United States if you work here.” There’s no choice – well, there is, actually. You can go to prison if you don’t want to pay your taxes but “have to” means obligation – must, no option. It’s not just a good idea. It’s something that you must do. That’s “should,” and “have to.”

There’s another expression you might hear that uses both of these terms together. “You shouldn’t have to.” “You shouldn’t” – you should not – “have to.” If “should” is something that’s a very good idea and “have to” is something you are required to do, then “you shouldn’t have to” means it’s not the best idea that you are required to do this. The person saying this is trying to give you the idea that it should not be necessary for you to do this thing. For example, your father says that you have to go to the store. You must – it’s an obligation – and your friend says, “Well, you shouldn’t have to. He should go.” “You shouldn’t have to” – it should not be required that you go. “Your father should go” – that is, the best idea would be your father to go. That usually doesn’t work with most fathers, however, if you say that to them.

Finally Hani (Hani) in Jordan – we don’t get a lot of questions from Jordan, so, thank you, Hani, for writing. The question has to do with the term “role reversal.” “Role” (role) is your function or your responsibility in life – what you are expected to do in a certain situation. My role in the family is to take out the garbage, the trash, and to wash the dishes at night – that’s my role. My wife does everything else – no! “Reversal” (reversal) is when you change something. You make it the opposite of what it is now. “The stock market had a reversal.” Instead of going down, it went up. It did the opposite of what it was doing before.

So, a “role reversal” is when you have two people who switch roles. One person starts doing what the other person normally does and that person does what the first person normally does. For example, a man and a woman get married. They have a child. The woman stays home to take care of the child and the man goes and works everyday to bring money into the house. Then, maybe ten years later, the woman decides she wants to go back to work again and so, the husband stays home and takes care of the child and the woman goes and works – that would be a “role reversal.” The two people are changing their responsibilities, their functions in that situation.“Role reversal” is a phrase you will often hear when talking about men and women and the traditional roles that men and women have in a family or in a society. So, traditionally, the woman stayed home and the man went to work. Now, we have a lot of role reversal. At least, the woman is now going out to work. The most common pattern, of course, is that both the man and the woman work in order to have enough money to take care of little Johnny and Suzy in the house.

There’s another common expression, “reversal of fortune,” which is when your economic or financial situation changes completely. You’re poor and then suddenly you’re rich – maybe you won the lottery or your business was very successful and now you’re rich, or you’re very rich, and you become very poor – that would be a “reversal of fortune” (fortune). There was actually a book written about a true story. The book was called “Reversal of Fortune” back in 19 – I think – 85, by one of the most famous lawyers in the United States, Alan Dershowitz. That book became a famous movie with the British actor, Jeremy Irons. It was the story of a man who marries a rich woman and then basically, puts her into a coma – into a state where she is unconscious for the rest of her life - interesting book, interesting movie, unfortunate situation.

If you have a question about a fortunate or unfortunate phrase that you’ve heard, email us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com.

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

ESL Podcast: English Café is written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and
Dr. Lucy Tse. This podcast is copyright 2012, by the Center for Educational

loosely based on – having some ties to something, but also having some room for creativity and imagination

* This novel about World War II is loosely based on my grandfather’s experience.

outlaw – someone who has broken the law and is running away from law enforcement officials

* In the film, the outlaws forced the people in the village to fight with them against the police.

to flee – to run away from; to try to get away from

* Joanna were frightened by the bees and tried to flee from them, but the bees chased her.

sculpture – a piece of artwork that is in the form of a something, such as a person, animal, or other shape, often made of stone or wood

* Do you see that sculpture over there in the shape of a horse? It’s more than 2,000 years old!

to carve – to cut away pieces of stone or wood, often to create a piece of furniture or artwork

* For her birthday, Luis made a music box for his girlfriend, carving her name into the cover.

granite – a very hard, white, or gray-colored rock

* Many people like to use granite as countertop material in the kitchen.

to draw – to attract; to get the attention of people, causing them to want to see, hear, or experience something

* The store put up large orange signs on its building to draw people to the big sale.

to depict – to show or represent someone or something in a drawing, painting, or other form

* Some historians do not believe in the popular depiction of George Washington in history books.

from the waist up – from above the waist (the narrow part of one’s body above the hips and below the ribs)

* From the waist up, John appears thin, but he has very strong legs from riding his bicycle all the time.

to commemorate – to remember and celebrate; to honor someone or something from the past

* There will be a huge celebration to commemorate the founding of this town back in 1884.

quarter – a 25-cent coin

* Do you have a quarter? This costs a $1 and I only have three quarters of my own.

spoof – a funny imitation; a funny version of the original

* Cartoons are often spoofs of real-life current or historical events.

threat – a statement that one makes about one’s intention to cause injury to someone; warning of trouble in the future

* Drew wants burglars to view his two big dogs as serious threats.

menace – a person or thing that is dangerous, harmful, or annoying

* The dirty smoke produced by the new factory is a menace to this area.

peril – great danger; risking danger or harm

* The hero in the film faced great peril to save the woman he loved.

role reversal – for two people or organizations to take on each other’s behaviors or responsibilities; a complete change from a job, situation, or circumstance to one exactly opposite in nature or responsibility

* Parents take care of children when they’re young, but when the children become adults, a role reversal occurs, with adult children taking care of their parents.

What Insiders Know
Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is one of the most well known film festivals in the United States. It is held every January in Utah, and “showcases” (gives attention to) movies made by “independent filmmakers” (film companies that do not work directly with major or large film companies) from the United States, as well as other countries.

Sundance began in 1978 under the name “Utah/U.S. Film Festival.” “Founded” (created) by Sterling Van Wagenan, John Earl, and Cirina Hampton Catania, the film festival was an effort to bring more moviemakers to the state of Utah. Some of the films shown at the first festival were “fan favorites” (popular with many people) from earlier years, such as Deliverance and A Streetcar Named Desire. But later, the festival began to showcase mainly new films made by “up-and-coming” (new, but rising in popularity) film companies.

In 1991, the film festival officially changed its name to Sundance Film Festival, referring to Robert Redford’s character “The Sundance Kid” from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Many moviemakers and audiences give Robert Redford credit for making the Sundance Film Festival one of the most popular film festivals. Born in Utah, Redford was made the first “chairman” (leader of a group or organization) of the festival when it began, and was responsible for speaking to the public about the festival. Since Redford was already one of the most well known actors in Hollywood, his “star power” (likeability and fame known to a large number of people) drew a huge audience to the Festival.

Over just a few decades, the festival has grown so much that it is a “household name” (with its name known to most people), as well as a popular event for many “celebrities” (famous people, such as actors) to attend. The movies that are showcased range from “low-budget” to “extremely high-budget” (made using very little money to using a lot of money) films, and almost all of them have the chance of winning awards. Even though Sundance began as a festival to promote filmmaking in Utah, it now promotes filmmaking all over the world.