Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"

Otis Redding was a beloved member of the Stax-Volt family of musicians, already well-known for his electrifying performances at live concerts, and for his amazing voice.

In December 1967 he recorded this song just a few days before he died in an airplane crash. The song became his best seller and continues to be a popular favorite to this day.

The guitarist and co-writer on this song was Steve Cropper, who is active today. Bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, however, died in 2012.

Here is the version of the song we heard today:

The words at the bottom of this post.

To buy this track, click here.

Sadly, Otis Redding's song was so new that it had not become part of his concert repertoire before his untimely death, so we don't have a video of him performing this song. Instead, here's a recent international mashup, with musicians from the USA, Brazil, Japan, Italy, and Cuba.

Words for "(Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper:

Sittin' in the mornin' sun
I'll be sittin' when the evenin' come
Watchin' the ships roll in
And then I watch 'em roll away again, yeah

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay, wastin' time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the 'Frisco bay
'Cause I've had nothing to live for
And look like nothin's gonna come my way

So I'm just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay, wastin' time

Look like nothing's gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can't do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I'll remain the same, yes

Sittin' here resting my bones
And this loneliness won't leave me alone
It's two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

Now, I'm just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Sittin' on the dock of the bay,
Wastin' time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Margo Jefferson interview: "I was anxious about using the word 'Negro' in a book title"

(Click here for the full article.)

Groups 401, 501V: We will discuss this article in class next week.

In Russia, sometimes the English word "Negro" is used in translations from Russian to English, referring to black people. When we talk with students, we explain why this word, which has a deep and important history, is no longer preferred in current usage. The book Negroland, whose author is the subject of this interview, provides a far more adequate and interesting treatment of this and similar questions than we could give -- and I recommend it highly. In the meantime, enjoy this fascinating interview, and be ready to tell the class your thoughts on these points:
  1. In a few sentences, what is this article about?
  2. What are the interviewer's most important or most interesting questions? Summarize Margo Jefferson's answers.
  3. Who is this article's intended audience?
  4. How persuasive is the article in encouraging the audience to read Negroland?
Note these words and phrases. Which of them are unfamiliar?

lurk, lurking
show off
charged ("The word Negro is still very charged.")
call me a/an ("Call me a coward, ...")
thrall, in thrall to
prime time

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Newspapers: U.S. presidential race goes off the rails (BBC Russian)

The full article (class handout) is here in PDF format.

This is one of the best overviews of the U.S. presidential election that I have seen in the international press. Some questions for you to consider as you prepare your summaries and comments:
  1. What does the author intend to provide you in this article?
  2. What are the emphases and arguments under each of the article's subheads?
  3. In the author's view, what are some of the main features that differentiate this specific presidential race from others that have gone before?
  4. Is the author objective? (How did you decide?)
  5. Is the author fair? (Is "fairness" different from "objectivity"?)
Please be prepared to discuss this article in one week after you receive it in class.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Newspapers: Useful phrases for commentary, analysis, and advocacy


(Homework assignment is at the bottom of this page.)

PART ONE: Useful words and phrases for presenting your summaries: (based on a list developed by Marina Evstifeeva)

1. Today I’m presenting a (an)
● newspaper article
● magazine article
● article from an academic journal
● video
● book
● (other material)
2. This item is taken from ... [periodical, series, or other source]

3. The headline [OR title] of the item is ...

4. The reporter / author is ...

5. The item is dated ... [OR the dateline of the article is ... ]

6. Phrases for summarizing the article or item:
● The central/main idea of the article is ...
● The article is devoted to ... The article deals with ...
● The purpose of the article is to provide the reader with information concerning ...
● As the article makes clear, ...
● The article comes with
○ photos of ...
○ charts showing ...
○ a sidebar on ...
○ links to ...
7. Phrases for providing additional content:
● The reporter / writer goes into details about ...
● The reporter / writer mentions in passing that ...
8. Concluding phrases:
● In conclusion I’d like to say that ...
● My overall impression is that ...
● The writer makes [OR doesn’t make] a convincing case that ...

PART TWO: Useful phrases for commentary, analysis, and advocacy


● Many people prefer _____, but a growing number believe that ______.

● The increasing number of [OR: amount of OR: danger of] ______ has become an urgent

● Some people believe that ______, while others argue strongly that ______.

● Ever since the ______ incident, journalists and politicians have argued for more ______.

Let’s look at what each side has to say.

Outlining one side of the argument:

● This writer / researcher / expert has extensive experience in the field of ______.

● Many people argue that _______.

● In his / her / my experience, _______. [See note below concerning third-person vs

● In other words, ________.

● On the one hand, __________.

● This approach has many advantages ....

● First, .... Second, .... Third, .... In addition, .... Finally, ....

● As evidence, he / she / they point(s) to ________.

● If we fail to take their advice, the number of ________ will start to go up, and the _______
will start to go down.

● As the writer says, is it fair that ______ will enjoy ______ while millions of others will

● Throughout history, people have _________________.

● Let’s look at the credentials of those opposing this viewpoint ...

Outlining the other side of the argument:

● On the other hand, _________.

● To be fair, _________.

● They argue that _________, but fail to notice that _________.

● To a certain extent, they are right. For example, __________.

● Theoretically, this may be true. But in real life, ....

● However, there are no reports of [OR: there is no evidence of] __________.

● At the same time, ______________.

● Is it worth the risk?


● To sum up, ________.

● We [OR They] can’t have it both ways; either _________ is true or _________ is true.

● In the final analysis, _________.

● Both sides have some good points, _______________.

● While the results are not conclusive, most of the evidence points to __________.

● It is obvious that ______________.

● Why must we choose? Both approaches have value.

● If our only concern is immediate results, we can choose _________, but if we take future
generations into account, we will clearly want to ________.

NOTE ON VOICE/PERSON: In general, presentations made in the first-person “I” or “we” voice
are less formal. Often personal experience is more persuasive than abstract discussions, but be
sure to take into account your intended audience. An academic audience may prefer or even
require a more objective-sounding third-person approach.

BE CONSISTENT. If you decide to write or speak in the first person singular, “I”, don't switch to
“we” or a passive voice halfway through the presentation. If you speak as “we” or as a neutral
observer, don't switch to “I” unless you make an explicit switch, for example at the end: “I would
like to conclude with a personal experience.”

HOMEWORK: Practice using the phrases for commentary, analysis, and advocacy.

For each of the four sections (introduction, outlining one side of the argument, outlining the other side, and conclusion), choose two phrases that have blanks in them and use those phrases in complete sentences. (Don't choose the phrases that are already complete in themselves, such as "Is it worth the risk?" -- unless you add a logical addition. For example: "Is it worth the risk? Many satisfied customers would give an enthusiastic 'yes'!"

If you wish, you can write your practice sentences using the articles we have read together so far this year, or you can find other articles, or you can simply make up your own logical content. We simply want to see that you know how to use the phrases.

More examples:

Some people believe that school uniforms are unnecessary, while others argue strongly that uniforms reduce the pressure on students to dress fashionably.

If we fail to take their advice, the number of unemployed people will start to go up, and the gross national product will start to go down.

Please bring your homework to our next class. (401: October 26.)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fountains of Wayne, "Action Hero"


Purchase song: Action Hero

Purchase album: Sky Full of Holes (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Bonus Version)

(written by Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger)

Sometime after sunset
He is on his hands and knees
He is searching for his keys
At a small Vietnamese place
On East 11th Street
His daughters both at once say
Can we just get going please?
As his wife begins to sneeze
And his son is throwing peas
And eating with his feet

He's an action hero
And he should be fighting crime
Leaping between the buildings
And racing against time
He's an action hero, he's an action hero
In his mind

He drops by Mount Sinai*
Where they're running through some tests
And they've taped things to his chest
And they're all doing their best
To make him feel at ease
The doctor says it's really just
An educated guess
I suggest you get some rest
Try to cut back on the stress
Cause I don't like what I see

But the action hero
Swears he feels just fine
He's got to finish saving
The world for all mankind
He's an action hero, he's an action hero
And he's racing against time
He's racing against time
There goes the action hero
He's racing against time

* Mount Sinai Medical Center

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Newspaper class: Germany reunified 26 years ago


Group 401V: Be ready to discuss this article on the week of October 10.
Group 401 (day) and 501V: Be ready by the week of October 17.

Our thanks to Ekaterina Oreshnikova -- this article is from her reading diary.

In addition to the usual tasks (below), be prepared to evaluate how the author used graphics and maps. The printed version of the article included several comments; you might want to consider other comments that we didn't include in the printed version. 

Your tasks:
  • Summarize the whole article in two or three sentences.
  • Identify and summarize the major subdivisions of the article. (The subdivisions can be one paragraph or a cluster of paragraphs devoted to one aspect of the article.)
  • Prepare to discuss: What is the main goal of the article? Is the article successful in meeting that goal?
  • Prepare to discuss: What did you learn from this article, and what questions did the article provoke without answering? Were the comparisons between east and west fair? Were the differences explained in a clear way? ... in a fair way? Are you tempted to post a comment?
  • Bring to class: words and phrases from the article that are unfamiliar or unclear to you.
Useful words and phrases:

not everyone was convinced
a handful
a public spotlight (a spotlight)
to embrace change
reliant on
to be evenly spread
entry-level position
political climate
quick to fill the void
small arms
to posit
melting pot (and melting pot dynamic)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tea and conversation

All Institute students are welcome to our tea and conversation meetings on Tuesdays starting at 2:35 p.m. (Room 2 -- or check bulletin board.)

Judy and I will bring snacks and something to drink. You can come when you are free and stay as long as you can. We'll start during the 4th period, but if you have a class during that period, you can come when your class is over.

This time is just for conversation -- no homework, no grades. Among the topics we've discussed in the past:

favorite songs and videos
films -- Russian, Soviet, American, British
how American and British students spend their free time
slang -- old and new
holidays and special occasions
jobs and how to get them
experts, and what to do when they disagree
favorite foods and meals
social networks -- how to use them, how to stay safe
celebrities and their lessons for us
city life vs country life

You are welcome to propose new topics.