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504 Topics: American Movies – The Fugitive; The United States Capitol Building; knowable versus scrutable versus tangible; to go through versus to get through; to man up

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 504.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 504. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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On this Café, we’re going to talk about an American movie – one of my favorite movies – called The Fugitive. We’re also going to talk about the United States Capitol building. And as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

The movie The Fugitive was released in 1993, more than 20 years ago, but it remains a popular movie on television in the U.S. and was, in fact, popular all around the world. The story of The Fugitive is about a very talented and well-respected doctor who is wrongly accused of murdering his wife. “To be accused” (accused) of a crime is to have someone say that you committed the crime.

During most of the movie, this doctor, whose name is Richard Kimble, is a fugitive. A “fugitive” (fugitive) is a person who is running away or trying to escape the police or other law enforcement. The movie, when it was released in other countries, was translated – that is, the title – as “The Fugitive” in most languages, at least the ones that I could make sense of on the Internet.

The movie begins with our doctor, Dr. Richard Kimble – who is played by the actor Harrison Ford – coming home from an event to find that his wife has been killed. He sees a man with only one arm leaving his house, but the man escapes. Kimble tries to help his wife but it’s too late. She’s already dead. Kimble, however, is arrested for the crime even though he’s innocent, even though there isn’t really a lot of evidence – a lot of proof – that indicates that he murdered his wife.

Nevertheless, he is convicted. “To be convicted” (convicted) means that a court of law – a judge and a group of people who decide guilt and innocence, called a “jury” – decide that someone has committed a crime. If you’re convicted of a crime and it’s a serious one like murder, you of course are sent to jail, to prison. While Kimble was riding on a bus that will take him and other men to prison, at the beginning of the movie, one of the prisoners pretends to get very sick.

When a guard comes back to help this prisoner, the prisoner stabs the guard with a weapon. “To stab” (stab) means to take a sharp object like a knife or a pen and put it into something or someone. The prisoner steals the guard’s gun and shoots the bus driver. Now, this is probably not the best idea since the bus driver is driving the bus, and the bus is moving. So, of course, the bus crashes. It goes off of the road. In fact, it goes onto a train track, a place where the train goes.

Kimble manages to escape and save one of the guards just before a train hits the bus. The train derails but somehow Kimble escapes again. Dr. Richard Kimble is probably the most lucky man ever to be a character in a major American movie. I mention that the train “derails.” “To derail” (derail) is for a train to leave its tracks, to go off of the two metal strips that it’s riding on (at least here in the U.S., that’s what most trains ride on).

In the U.S., if you are a prisoner and you escape, the federal government has a special service, a special group of people who go out and try to find you. These are called the U.S. Marshals. The U.S. Marshals arrive at the scene of the crash. They arrive to where the buses and the prisoners are gone, of course. The leader of the U.S. Marshal team is a man called Samuel Gerard, who is played by another famous actor, Tommy Lee Jones.

The team take control of the case once they realize that one of the prisoners, Dr. Kimble, seems to have escaped. There are actually, I believe, two prisoners who escaped. Kimble is now running from the U.S. Marshals and the police that are looking for him. And if you want a short description of the movie, it’s basically Dr. Kimble running and escaping from the police and the U.S. Marshals time and time again.

Kimble goes to a hospital and shaves so that his appearance looks different, and we realize right away that Kimble is a nice guy. He’s a good guy. He actually wants to help people. And in fact, does help people in the movie in his capacity as a doctor, even though he is running from the law. “To run from the law” means to try to escape getting caught by the police. While at the hospital, Dr. Kimble steals an ambulance, which is a special vehicle that is used to transport people who are sick.

Well, about a third of the way through the movie, Tommy Lee Jones, playing Samuel Gerard, finds Dr. Kimble, and Dr. Kimble tells Gerard, the Tommy Lee Jones character, that he is innocent, that he did not kill his wife. And Gerard responds, “I don’t care.” This is a famous line from the movie. He’s saying that he doesn’t care if the prisoner is guilty or innocent. His job is simply to catch the prisoner.

Well, of course, Kimble escapes again, and this time he goes back to Chicago where he’s from and tries to find who really killed his wife. And this is where the movie gets even more interesting. He tries to talk to some of the people he used to work with in order to find out what happened and who exactly was the person who killed his wife, because he soon discovers that the work that he was doing as a doctor is related to the reason why his wife was killed.

Part of the reason is related to a certain medical scandal. A “scandal” (scandal) is an event that makes people angry, usually because someone has done something wrong. The scandal involved with Dr. Kimble is a drug, a new drug that one of the big drug companies is trying to get approved. The movie continues then with Dr. Kimble playing a detective in a way, trying to solve this mystery of who killed his wife, who really killed his wife.

I won’t tell you the end of the movie, but it is a Hollywood movie, so you can probably guess the ending is going to be a happy one. Now, I’ve seen this movie dozens of times. I’ve seen it so many times on television. I know most of the dialogue or at least a lot of the dialogue in the movie. I know lots of different lines from the movie. In fact, my wife and I have watched it so many times that sometimes we’ll use some of the lines, some of the sentences, from the movie when talking to each other. It’s a little weird. I know.

One of the reasons the movie was so successful is because it has some humor in it. It’s not like a lot of movies you see where there’s crime and violence and basically a lot of ugly things happening. Of course, there was a murder, but the movie generally is a more positive one – one that focuses on the mystery more than on the violence. Well, The Fugitive was actually originally an American television series back in the 1960s. A “television series” (series) is a story that appears on television that is told over many different parts, or episodes.

The Fugitive as a TV show was on American television from 1963 until 1967 and told basically the same story as that told in the movie of Dr. Richard Kimble. The final episode of The Fugitive, the series, was the most-watched episode in television history up to that time. So, that was a very popular series and a lot of people loved it. Although I’ve seen the movie many times, I have never seen any of the old television shows.

The movie The Fugitive was nominated for seven Academy or Oscar Awards, including best picture. Tommy Lee Jones actually won an award for best supporting actor. If you turn on American television, you will probably see this movie at some point or another throughout the week. It is one of those movies that, for whatever reason, people can watch again and again and not get tired of it. At least, I can.

Now let’s turn to our second topic, the United States Capitol building. You probably know that in the United States, each state has a capital city where the state government is located, and that our national government is located in our national capital of Washington, D.C. Well, within Washington, D.C., there is a building called the “Capitol.”

There are actually two spellings of the word “capitol.” When we’re talking about a city, such as Washington D.C., being the “capital” of the United States, the word is spelled with an “a” – (capital). When we’re talking about a building that is the main building of the government in the capital, we spell “capitol” with an “o” – (capitol). The United States has a Capitol building that is the home of the U.S. Congress: the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

The history of our Capitol building in Washington, D.C., is somewhat interesting. If you’ve seen pictures of Washington, D.C., or have visited there, you will know that the building is located on what is called “Capitol Hill,” and in front of the Capitol there is a long strip, a long area, of grass called the “Washington Mall.” On either side of this mall are many other well-known buildings, including the Smithsonian Institution museums and, at the very end of the Washington Mall, the Washington and Lincoln Memorials – buildings that honor two of our greatest presidents.

The Capitol building was originally supposed to be designed by a Frenchman by the name of Pierre L’Enfant. L’Enfant was the architect who was responsible for designing many parts of the city of Paris, and he also basically designed the way that our new nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., was laid out. When I say he was an “architect,” I mean he was a person who made designs or plans for buildings and public areas.

However, L’Enfant refused to show anyone his drawings for the building, which is kind of strange. There must be something else to that story. Well, the president at the time – our first president, George Washington – asked other architects to make designs for this Capitol building. Many of them did. And the one by a man named William Thornton was selected. Thornton was a doctor, not an architect. So, Washington asked other architects to make sure that everything was going to be okay and that no mistakes were made in building the Capitol.

Three different architects were given the job of supervising, or taking care of, the construction of the Capitol building over a period of 10 years. One of those architects, James Hoban, was actually the person who went on to design the White House, the house where the president lives. The north wing of the Capitol was completed in 1800. When I say the “north wing,” I mean the north section of the Capitol building. The first Congress to meet in the building met in 1800.

The purpose of the U.S. Capitol is to hold the U.S. Congress – to have room for the Congress to have its meetings. It is used also, however, by the president. When the president begins his new four-year term of office, he’s usually sworn in at the Capitol building. “To be sworn in” means to officially take over the position – in this case, the position of presidency. The verb you’ll sometimes hear is “to inaugurate.” “To inaugurate” (inaugurate) means to formally admit someone into a public job or position.

Now, after having spent all that time and money building the Capitol, the Capitol building had to be rebuilt a few years later because during the war of 1812 between the U.S. and Great Britain, the British troops came into Washington, burned the city to the ground, and just about completely destroyed the original Capitol building. So, another building was put up and finished in 1827.

In 1850, the U.S. decided to expand the Capitol building. It needed more space. And so a south wing, another section of the building, was added, completed in 1857. The last piece of construction on the building was to put in a new dome at the top. A “dome” is a rounded, raised portion of a roof. The original dome was made of wood. They decided to put a metal dome instead, a very heavy kind of metal called “cast iron.”

The new dome was modeled after one of the most famous domes in the world, the dome on the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It was still under construction, in fact, when the U.S. Civil War began in 1861. Even though the country was at war, President Lincoln insisted that the dome continue to be worked on. He saw it as a symbol of the United States. And in 1863, in the middle of that war, the dome was completed and a statue was put on top.

In 1865, the painting on the inside of the dome was completed. It’s a very interesting painting. It’s called “The Apotheosis of Washington,” and it was done by an Italian painter by the name of Brumidi. “Apotheosis” is a word that comes from the Greek that is basically the process of making a man into a god, and although George Washington was certainly not a god (he wasn’t even a king) the painting sort of makes him into a god in order to give him the respect, I suppose, he deserves as being, as he’s often called, “the father of our country.”

About 20 years ago, the painting was cleaned and restored. “To restore” (restore) means to bring something back to its original condition. Although when it comes to restoring paintings, a lot of people think the restoration is worse than just leaving the painting the way it is. But in any case, the painting can now be seen by anyone standing in the famous area underneath the dome, which is called the “rotunda” (rotunda).

If you visit the Capitol Building, you will definitely go into the rotunda, and you will be able to look up and see the painting. The Capitol building hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years or so. There was what was called the “East Front” that was added to the building in 1959, and in 2008 they put a new visitor center for tourists, underground, below the ground.

The Capitol building is still the place where our U.S. Congress meets to talk about – I don’t know what they talk about, but they do meet there and talk about something and pass laws and raise taxes and do other things to, I guess, make people think that they’re working.

The building’s rotunda – that round room underneath the dome – is also used, in addition to having tourists come in and look at it, as a place where important people, when they die, lie in state. The expression “to lie (lie) in state” means to put a body of an important person, usually, in a public place such as a government building so that people can go and pay their respects. They can honor this person. Presidents, for example, when they die are often placed in the rotunda to lie in state.

Abraham Lincoln was the first person to lie in state, after his assassination soon after the dome of the Capitol was completed. Since then, over 30 people have had the honor of lying in state, including presidents such as Kennedy, Reagan, and Ford, but also people who have been important in American politics, including the civil rights activist Rosa Parks. An “activist” (activist) is a person who tries to bring about some change in politics or in policy.

If you visit the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C., you’ll definitely want to go to the Capitol building. In fact, you might want to actually schedule your tour in advance because it’s a very popular place for tourists and sometimes you can’t get a ticket unless you have made an advance reservation. I remember going to the Capitol Building when I was 10 years old, so it was a long time ago, but I remember being very impressed by its size and, of course, by the importance of the building to American history.

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

Our first question comes from Okada (Okada) in Japan. Okada’s question has to do with three words – “knowable,” “scrutable,” and “tangible.”

Let’s start with the most common of these three words, “knowable” (knowable). If something is “knowable,” it is able to be known. It is something that you can know. There are some things, for example, that perhaps are not knowable. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t understand it. There’s no way for you to know – like what your wife or girlfriend wants for a birthday present. It’s basically unknowable, guys. I’m sorry. And notice I use the opposite of “knowable,” which is “unknowable.” The prefix “un-” usually means “not” when placed before a word.

“Scrutable” (scrutable) is the least common of these three words that Okada is asking about. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even heard anyone use “scrutable.” Usually you will hear people use the opposite of “scrutable,” which is not “unscrutable” but “in (in) scrutable.” Something that is “inscrutable” is something that is impossible to understand, usually because it’s very complicated or very difficult. Well, the opposite of “inscrutable” would be “scrutable,” which means you are able to understand this very complex or complicated thing. However, most people, if they use this word it all, use the negative form with the prefix “in-” – “inscrutable.”

“Tangible” (tangible) means it is an object, a thing, that you can see or touch or grab onto with your hands. Something that is “tangible” is sometimes also called “real.” It’s physically there. You can actually put your hand on it. The opposite of “tangible” uses the prefix “in-” again, so it’s “intangible.” “Intangible” refers to something that is not physically present, that is not real in the sense that you can touch it.

Our next question comes from Angel (Angel) in Mexico. Angel wants to know the difference between two phrasal verbs, “to go through” and “to get through.” “To go through” has a couple of different meanings, as does “to get through.”

Let’s start with “to go through.” One meaning is to examine something very carefully. “I need to go through my receipts to see how much I spent today.” I need to examine very carefully my receipts – my little pieces of paper that I get from the store that tell me how much I spent.

“To go through” can also mean “to experience” (often in a negative way) something. “I don’t want to go through waiting at the doctor’s office for four hours in order to see a doctor again.” I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to experience it again. Another meaning of “go through” is to perform or practice a song. A musician might “go through” the song in order to learn it, in order to practice it.

Finally, “to go through with” something is to decide to actually do something that you were planning to do. We usually use “to go through with” when we’re talking about a difficult situation that you need to handle or deal with, or with something that perhaps people thought you weren’t going to do, but now you decided that you would do.

The second phrasal verb Angel wants to know about is “to get through.” And again, it has multiple meanings. “To get through” can mean to penetrate something. For example, you have a wall and you want to put a wire through the wall. First you have to get through the wall. You have to drill a hole or make a space so that you can put the wire through it.

A related sense of that meaning is used, interestingly enough, when we’re talking about trying to talk to someone on the telephone. If you call someone on the telephone and the line is busy or they don’t answer, you could say, “I couldn’t get through.” I couldn’t get to talk to the person.

Another meaning of “to get through” is to finish something, usually after some period of difficulty – to complete something. “I need to get through my homework so I can go out with my friends and have a drink.” I have this work to do. I need to complete it. I need to get through it so that I can do something else. There, “to get through” implies that the task is either not very pleasant – something you don’t really want to do – or perhaps something that is difficult to do.

We have another expression with “to get through” that adds another preposition at the end: “to get through to” someone. “To get through to” someone means to be able to communicate to someone a message that the person seems to have difficulty understanding. We could talk about a father trying to get through to his teenage son. He’s trying to get his son to understand things that perhaps the teenager has difficulty understanding or simply doesn’t want to understand, since that’s the way teenagers often are.

Our final question comes from Leda (Leda) in India. The question has to do with the phrasal verb “to man (man) up.” This is a fairly recent expression or phrasal verb that has come into use in American English. “To man up” means to be brave enough or tough enough to handle, or deal with, a difficult situation or an unpleasant situation. It’s used with men to tell them to be more of a man – to be stronger, to be more courageous, to be tougher.

It is used, as you can imagine, somewhat insultingly. If you’re telling someone to man up, you’re saying that right now, he is not a man. He’s not being tough. He’s not taking responsibility for the situation. I’ve only ever heard the term, not surprisingly, used with men. The equivalent expression for women, if there is one, is certainly not “woman up.” I don’t think anyone would ever say that. I don’t know if there is an equivalent expression.

If you have a question or comment, you can email us. 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 right here on the English Café.

ESL Podcast’s English Café was written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

fugitive – a person who is running away from or trying to escape the police or other law enforcement

* Bonnie and Clyde were two famous bank robbers and fugitives who ran from police for over two years before being caught.

to be convicted – for a court of law to find someone guilty of a crime

* The man was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to five years in prison.

to derail – for a train to leave its tracks; for something to leave its planned course

* The rain derailed our plans to go to the park and have a picnic.

scandal – an event that is morally or legally wrong that makes many people very angry

* It was a big scandal when Mr. Philips left his wife and children to run away with the nanny.

series – a story that appears on television, radio, or in books that is told over many parts or episodes

* Friends was a television series in the 1990s about a group of six people living in New York City.

architect – a person who designs and plans buildings and other structures so it can be built

* The architect designed the new building with a lot of windows for good indoor light.

to inaugurate – to formally admit someone into public job or position

* When a U.S. President is inaugurated, he takes an oath promising to serve the American people.

dome – the rounded and raised portion or section of a roof

* The dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral is visible from many points in London.

to restore – to bring something back to its original appearance or condition

* Martin spent years restoring his father’s 1976 Corvette to its original condition.

rotunda – a round building or room that is underneath a domed (rounded and raised) ceiling

* The walls of the rotunda are hung with portraits of the family’s ancestors.

to lie in state – when the body of an important person who has recently died is placed in a public space for people to see and honor that person before burial

* In the film, someone tried to steal the body of the president as it laid in state.

activist – a person who works for social change, often to improve people’s lives or to follow a group’s beliefs

* The environmental activists protested throughout the night in front of the new oil refinery.

knowable – able to be known; able to get knowledge or information about something

* Some of the mysteries of the universe will never be knowable.

scrutable – capable of being understood; capable of being deciphered (converted into normal language so that it can be understood)

* These puzzles are easily scrutable by someone experienced with word games.

tangible – capable of being seen, heard, or felt, especially by the sense of touch

* The police suspect that Julia’s doctor killed her, but they don’t have any tangible proof.

to go through – to examine carefully; to experience; to perform or practice

* Who has time to go through all of these pages of the contract before signing it?

to get through – to penetrate something; to pass through (something) to reach someone; to complete something and manage to finish it

* Help me get through the door of this burning building to save the child inside!

to man up – to be brave or tough enough to deal with an unpleasant situation

* Your wife is angry and you don’t want to talk to her right now, but man up and tell her you’re going to the football game or we’re leaving without you!

What Insiders Know
The Television Producer Quinn Martin

Quinn Martin, born Irwin Martin Cohn, was one of the most “prolific” (producing many creative or artistic works) producers in U.S. television history. A “producer” is the person who handles the money needed for a movie, TV show, play, or other type of entertainment, and who manages the production.

Martin was born in 1922 in New York City and his father was a “film editor” (person who puts together and produces a final version of a film) and producer for one of the biggest “film studios” (movie companies) in the U.S., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Martin was raised in Los Angeles and “served” (worked in the military) in the U.S. Army for five years during World War II.

Martin began his career in television as a film editor at MGM. Later, he also worked for another major film studio, Universal Studios, from 1950 to 1954. By the mid 1950s, Martin had become an “executive” (top-level) producer for Desilu Studios, the TV production company owned by famous “comic actress” (actor or performer who makes people laugh) Lucille Ball and her husband and “co-star” (fellow actor; actor in the same show or film) on the I Love Lucy TV show, Desi Arnaz. In fact, Martin’s first wife, Madelyn Pugh Davis, was one of the writers for I Love Lucy.

Martin eventually created his own production company in 1960 called QM Productions, which was very successful. He produced some of the most popular TV shows of the1960s and 1970s including The Fugitive, The Streets of San Francisco, and Barnaby Jones. Martin and his production company was so successful that he had at least one television series in “prime time” (the regularly occurring time when the most number of viewers are expected, typically the hours between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.) every year for 21 years. This is a “record” (officially the most or best) that has not yet been “broken” (having others do better). He died in1987 and was “inducted into” (officially made a part of) the Television “Hall of Fame” (organization honoring people who are outstanding in a field) in 1997.