Sep 25, 2008

September Reading: Seven Staples of Public Speaking


bullet point [countable]
a thing in a list that consists of a word or short phrase, with a small printed symbol in front of it

know one’s stuff / know one's onions 
be experienced or knowledgeable in one's field or in the matter at hand
-- Patrice knows her stuff when it comes to Mexican history.
-- He’s a good lecturer as he really knows his stuff.
-- We need a handyman who knows his onions.

screw up [phrasal verb][ informal]
to make a bad mistake or do something very stupid [= mess up]
--You'd better not screw up this time.

screw (something) up [ informal]
to spoil something by doing something stupid [= mess something up]
--She realized that she had screwed up her life.

screw up your eyes/face
to move the muscles in your face in a way that makes your eyes seem narrow
--He screwed up his eyes against the bright light.
--Her face was screwed up with pain.

screw (somebody ) up [informal]
to make someone feel very unhappy, confused, or upset so that they have emotional problems for a long time [=mess somebody up]
--It really screwed her up when her mother died.

screw up the/enough courage to do something / screw up your courage 
to be brave enough to do something you are very nervous about
--I finally screwed up enough courage to talk to her.

wing it [spoken]
to do something without planning or preparing it
--We'll just have to wing it.

Chicken Soup for the Soul
is a series of books, usually featuring a collection of short, inspirational stories and motivational essays.

word for word
in exactly the same words
--The newspaper printed his speech more or less word for word.
--he repeated the conversation word for word.

also word by word
if you translate a piece of writing word for word, you translate the meaning of each single word rather than the meaning of a whole phrase or sentence

bore to tears / bore to death / bore stiff / bore the pants off
= make them very bored
-- Sam was bored to tears by the opera but didn't dare to admit it.
-- Carol bores the pants off me with her constant talk of remodeling.
-- His books bore me to death.

Sep 13, 2008

Fly Me to the Moon (Learning by Singing, 2008/9/3)

"Fly Me to the Moon", a pop standard song written by Bart Howard in 1954, originally titled "In Other Words". 

Lyrics: Bart Howard

Poets often use many words
To say a simple thing
It takes thought and time and rhyme
To make a poem sing

With music and words I've been playing[1]
For you I have written a song
To be sure that you know what I'm saying
I'll translate as I go along[2]

Fly me to the moon 
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars

In other words, hold my hand
In other words, darling, kiss me

Fill my heart with song 
And let me sing forevermore
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you

[1] With music and words I’ve been playing.
It’s an inverted sentence. We may rearrange it as:
I’ve been playing with the music and words.
The verb “play” in Present Perfect Continuous Tense indicates that writing music and lyrics have been continuous for a long time and proceed to now.

play with somebody/something
► to keep touching something or moving it
--Stop playing with the light switch!
►to consider an idea or possibility, but not always very seriously
--After university, I played with the idea of teaching English in China.
► to try doing something in different ways to decide what works best
--Play with the design onscreen, moving text and pictures until you get a pleasing arrangement.

play with words/language
►to use words in a clever or amusing way

[2] I’ll translate as I go along.
►I’ll explain impromptu.

go along 
If you do something as you go along, you do it without planning or preparing it.

Let’s listen to the song on Youtube.

Tony Bennett

Sep 10, 2008

Moon (Word of the Day, 2008/9/3)

Alan Lin

moon (noun)

the moon / the Moon

Earth’s only natural satellite that you can see shining in the sky at night, and that moves around the Earth and changes its phase every lunar month.

--Neil Alden Armstrong, a former American astronaut, is the first person to set foot on the Moon.


The natural satellites orbiting other planets are also called "moons", after Earth's Moon.

--Mars has two tiny moons, Earth has one large moon, and Venus and Mercury have no moons at all.

ask for the moon also cry for the moon

to ask for something that is difficult or impossible to obtain

ask for a lot, ask for more than you need or want

--When we negotiate our salary, don’t try this strategy: Ask for the moon and hope for a 10% raise.

--Don’t ask for the moon, but have we any stars?

Promise somebody the moon/the earth

to promise to give someone something that is impossible for you to give

--He had promised her the moon but five years later they were still living in the same small house.

over the moon

very happy

-- David Florence simply laughed as he was asked by one journalist if he was over the moon.

many moons ago

a long time ago

--When I got my first laser printer many moons ago, my bank manager almost had a heart attack.

moon in color

dark moon

the Moon during that time that it is invisible against the backdrop of the Sun in the sky

--The duration of a dark moon is between 1.5 and 3.5 days, depending on the orientation of the Earth and Sun.

blue moon

the second full moon in a calendar month

--A month with a blue moon happens every two years or so.

Once in a blue moon

very rarely

--This opportunity only comes once in a blue moon.

--This wasn't something they did once in a blue moon. They practiced all the time.

<The phases of the moon

new moon

the new moon is the lunar phase that occurs when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun.

[countable usually singular] the moon when it first appears in the sky as a thin crescent

--It was a mild night with clouds drifting across the sky and occasionally obscuring the new moon.

[uncountable] the time of the month at which the moon is first seen

--By the time of the next new moon, the tribe had seen one birth and two deaths.

crescent moon

the shape of the moon when it appears as a curved shape

--A thin crescent moon will appear to the left of Venus the evening of July 6.

quarter moon / half moon

the shape of the moon when only half of it is showing

--A half moon shone through the dark, flying clouds on to the wild and empty moor.

gibbous moon

the shape of the moon's visible surface when the sun is illuminating more than half of the side facing the earth.

--A gibbous moon called to the lake. (from the lyrics of Burning Shadows)

full moon

the moon when you can see all of it as a complete circle

--Already the moon was up, a full moon bathing everything in a pale blue light.

waxing moon

the moon between new and full, when its visible part is increasing.

waning moon

the moon is decreasing in size, moving from the full moon towards the new moon

--These phases of the moon, in sequence of their appearance, are: New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Last or Third Quarter, and Waning Crescent.

moon (verb)

to bend over and show your buttocks as a joke or a way of insulting someone

--One man mooned the President's limousine as it drove past.

moon about/around

to spend your time lazily, moving around with no real purpose

--I wish you'd stop mooning about and do something useful!

--But there was no point in mooning around until then.

moon over somebody/something

to spend your time thinking about someone that you are in love with

--She sits mooning over his photograph for hours.

moon away

to spend (time) idly

--The time to moon the afternoon away has come.

lunar (adjective)

relating to the moon or to travel to the moon

-- Lunar eclipse always occurs during a full moon and solar eclipse always occurs during a new moon.

--About three days later the command, service and lunar module combination arrived at the Moon.

<moon festival

--The Chinese Moon Festival is on the 15th of the 8th lunar month. It's also known as the Mid-autumn Festival. During the moon festival, families get together to watch the almost full moon and enjoy mooncakes.


Mooncakes are Chinese pastry traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

--Most mooncakes are baked and consist of a thin tender crust enveloping a sweet filling. Many types of fillings can be found, such as lotus seed paste, sweet bean paste, jujube paste, and five kernel paste. Some may contain one or more whole salted duck egg yolks.


A kind of citrus fruit with sectioned sweet pulpy flesh and thick spongy rind.


--You don't need a huge telescope to do moonwatching. Binoculars and small telescope do just fine. Even doing it with naked eyes can be very rewarding.

<some features on the moon

mare (plural Maria) or “sea”

any of the large dark areas on the moon

mountain and mountain range

the Moon’s mountains are large, rounded "bumps," which look much like old, eroded mountain ranges on Earth.


any of roughly circular depression in the surface formed when meteoroid struck the Moon at high speeds


rays are bright streaks of debris that radiate from some large craters

Sep 1, 2008

August Reading: Small Steps to Successful Speechwriting


Small Steps to Successful Speechwriting: Helping fledgling Toastmasters face the page


take on
►Undertake or begin to deal with
--I took on new responsibilities.
--She took on too much when she accepted both assignments.

►Hire, engage
--We take on extra workers during the busy season.
►Oppose in competition
--This young wrestler was willing to take on all comers.
►Display strong emotion
--Don't take on so.
►Acquire as, or as if, one's own
--He took on the look of a prosperous banker.

over one's head
►Beyond one's understanding or competence
--The math required to complete these figures is way over my head.
►To a position higher than another's
-- She was furious when her assistant was promoted over her head.

go over someone's head
►Appeal to a higher authority
--Since she couldn't help me, I decided to go over her head and talk to her supervisor.

hold somebody/something back
►To make someone or something stop moving forward
--Police held back the demonstrators.
►To prevent someone or something from making progress
--They felt the British economy was being held back by excessive government controls.
►To be unwilling to do something, especially because you are being careful, or to make someone unwilling to do something
--In the current situation many investors are holding back.
--She wanted to tell him but pride held her back.

hold something back
►To stop yourself from feeling or showing a particular emotion
--She struggled to hold back her tears.
--Anger flooded through her. She couldn't hold it back.
►To keep something secret
--Tell me all about it - don't hold anything back!

come up with
►produce, supply; discover, think of an idea, answer etc.
--Henry always comes up with the wrong answer.
--We're hoping they come up with a cure in time to help Aunt Alice.