Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. Today, we answer a listener question
from China about American lawmakers …
And we play music from singer Regina
Spektor's latest album ...
But first, we visit the
national air guitar championship competition in Washington, D.C.
Anyone can try to play the guitar. But it takes a
special talent to play an invisible guitar. To play "air guitar" you move to
the music as if you are playing an imaginary guitar, maybe like a famous rock
musician. Believe it or not, air guitar
has become a competitive sport. We attended this year's United States Air
Guitar Championships in Washington, D.C., to learn more about this unusual
activity. Mario Ritter has more.
JUDGE: "Like the song, like your attitude, spirit,
costume, crowd response, five point seven!"
week, twenty-five of the top winners from cities across the country gathered for
this year's United States Air Guitar Championships.
Each performer had sixty
seconds to perform his or her song. Many of the performers wore funny clothing
and wore their hair in unusual styles. They
made up names to go with their air guitar characters.
judges rated each performance based on technical skill, stage presence, and
"airness." Event organizers define "airness" as the ability of a performer to
go beyond playing an imaginary guitar to create a new art form. The whole event
was very loud and very funny. Everyone pretended to take the event very
seriously, which made it even funnier.
States Air Guitar Association organizes the event. It says the aim is to bring
air guitarists out of the house where they secretly perform and onto the
We asked competitor Chuck Mung
from Portland, Oregon why he thinks air guitar is so popular.
MUNG: "Air Guitar is the embodiment of the music that you hear, and so when you
hear a rock song that really grabs you, just those steel hooks in your rib
cage, you start miming it out. Basically, it's like lip synching with a
Lance "The Shred" Kasten from Washington, D.C., made it
to the final round of competition.
SHRED: "It's a passion for the sport, it's like, you can be that rock god for a
minute, without playing anything. And you know, it's exhilarating."
year's national champion is Andrew "William Ocean" Litz from New York City. He
will now travel to Oulu, Finland for the Air Guitar World Championships
starting August nineteenth.
question this week comes from China. Zhao Ya wants to know the difference
between the United States House of Representatives and the Senate.
United States Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the
Senate. Congress is the legislative branch
of government. It is responsible for creating,
debating and changing laws in the United States. Both the House and the Senate must approve a
bill in order for it to become law.
House of Representatives has four hundred thirty-five members elected by voters
in congressional districts. The representatives are divided among the fifty
states based on population size. States
with more people have more representatives than states with smaller
California has the largest
number of representatives – fifty-three. Six states have only one representative. The House of Representatives
also has six non-voting members. They represent the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and five United States territories.
of the House are elected every two years. They must be at least twenty-five years old, an American citizen for at
least seven years and live in the state they represent.
representation in the House is based on population size, all states are equally
represented in the Senate. There are
one hundred members of the Senate, two for each state. Senators are elected every six years by voters
in the states. They must be at least
thirty years old, be American citizens for at least nine years, and live in the
state they represent.
Each house of Congress
has several special powers. Only the House
of Representatives can introduce bills that deal with taxes or spending. The House can also remove federal officials
from office. And it can elect the president in the case of an equal number of
votes in the electoral college.
The Senate approves or
disapproves treaties. It also confirms or rejects presidential nominations
for positions like Supreme Court justices and ambassadors.
Thousands of bills are introduced in
Congress every year. Only a small number of them are signed into law. After
a bill is introduced in Congress, it is then sent to a committee for review. If the committee votes to approve the bill it
is sent to the House and Senate for further debate and votes. Only after both the House and Senate have
reached an agreement on a bill can it be presented to the president for his
Regina Spektor is known for her playful voice, fine
piano playing and unusual songs. The twenty-nine-year-old performer became very
popular after her album "Begin to Hope" was released in two thousand six. Her latest album, "Far," is filled with creative
songs that talk about love, God, and the environment. Critics say it is her
most musically expansive album yet. Shirley Griffith has more.
That was the song "Folding Chair." Like many of Regina Spektor's songs, it tells
a story filled with unusual details and sounds. Spektor worked with four
different top producers to make this album. She has said that she will not be
making a record every six months, so she might as well work with as many
experts as she can.
is the song "Laughing With." It tells about different reasons people turn to
God. Regina Spektor says she has always been interested in faith and religion
and she is always thinking about them in different ways.
Regina Spektor was born in Russia and moved to the
United States with her family when she was nine years old. She studied
classical piano and later became interested in singing and songwriting.
She borrowed sound recordings from a musical project by
the singer David Byrne to make one song on her new album. She says the drum beats sound like robots
walking in the snow. We leave you with "Machine" from the album "Far."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.
It was written by June Simms and Dana Demange, who was
also our producer. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs, go to
voaspecialenglish.com. You can also comment on our programs and send us
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio
magazine in Special English.