Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a VOA Special English program about music and American life. And we answer your questions.
This is Doug Johnson. This week -- a question about something called a Segway, and music in memory of Warren Zevon. But first – let’s go to a wedding!
Each year, thousands of people get married at Disney theme parks around the world. The Disney Company says this is the place where dreams come true. Shep O'Neal tells us more.
The most popular Disney theme park for a wedding is Disney World in Florida, in the southeastern United States. People from across the United States, Europe and Japan go there to get married. The lowest price someone can expect to pay for a simple Disney wedding is three-thousand dollars. This includes a short ceremony, followed by cake for as many as eight guests. The married couple also can stay several nights and visit the Disney World theme park for free during the day.
For more money, Disney offers other wedding services. These include flowers, music, pictures, special transportation, event planning and entertainment. Mickey and Minnie Mouse can even visit a wedding party at a cost of several hundred dollars. Newly married husbands and wives often have their pictures taken with them. Such visits are popular among wedding crowds. Of course, Mickey and Minnie wear their own special wedding clothes.
Disney weddings are often planned around an idea or theme from a Disney movie. The most popular theme wedding is the story of Cinderella. A young woman falls in love with a prince during a romantic dance. Sadly, she is forced to leave the dance before the prince learns her name. But, in the end, the two are reunited.
During a Cinderella wedding, the bride and groom might ride to their marriage ceremony in a glass vehicle pulled by horses. Their wedding cake may be served on dishes shaped like castles. Special Disney love songs might be played when the newlyweds dance for the first time. And, fireworks might go off when they kiss.
Not all Disney weddings are based on a theme. Company officials say more and more people are planning traditional weddings at Disney parks. Instead of a magical theme wedding, they say, people just want to gather their family and friends at a place where they can have fun together.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Ahwaz, Iran. Saeed Ghasemzadeh wants to know what is a Segway.
The full name is the Segway Human Transporter. Its inventor describes it as the world’s first self-balancing individual transport vehicle for short distance travel.
The Segway looks like a long stick with two wheels. The stick has handles for a person to hold. The wheels are connected to a platform. The person stands on the platform and holds the handles. The transporter moves forward or backward when the person moves his or her body in that direction. The driver turns the handles to go left or right.
The Segway has computers and gyroscope devices to make it move and balance. It is powered by batteries that are recharged with electricity. It can travel at a speed of nineteen kilometers an hour.
Segway inventor Dean Kamen is president of the Deka (pronounced decca) Research and Development Company near Manchester, New Hampshire. He says the Segway was developed to replace cars in crowded city centers. He says it was designed to reduce pollution and solve other environmental problems in cities. However, it was not designed to travel on roads.
Each Segway costs about five-thousand dollars. Dean Kamen announced the invention two years ago. But it was not for sale until this year.
The Deka company says owners have been using the Segway to go to work and to replace short car trips. It also says police departments and other organizations have bought the transporter to use in their work.
Most of the states have approved the use of Segways on sidewalks and bicycle paths. Some cities, though, have banned or restricted their use where people walk.
American singer and songwriter Warren Zevon died earlier this month of lung cancer. He was fifty-six years old. Warren Zevon lived for more than a year with the knowledge that he was dying. It became his goal to finish a new record album before that day came. Phoebe Zimmermann tells the story.
Warren Zevon did many different jobs in the music business before he became famous. He wrote songs to sell products. He was a bandleader and piano player. He sang in clubs in the United States and Europe.
Warren Zevon’s biggest hit was released in nineteen-seventy-eight: ”Werewolves of London.”
His final album is called "The Wind." It was released about one month before his death. The songs are about politics, lost love and sickness. Many of his friends in the music business appear with him on "The Wind." They include Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris and Jackson Browne.
Warren Zevon wanted the album to be his way of saying goodbye. This song is called “Keep Me In Your Heart.”
Warren Zevon did not write the one song that talks most directly about dying. It was written by Bob Dylan. We leave you now with Warren Zevon singing “Knockin' on Heaven’s Door.”
Last week, America also lost one of its best-known country singers of all time, Johnny Cash. He was seventy-one. He rose to the top with songs that often told of his own struggles. Johnny Cash remained an important influence, years after his greatest fame. In fact, he appears in a current music video with a song by the rock group Nine Inch Nails. Listen next week for a full report about Johnny Cash.
This is Doug Johnson. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our program was written by Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach, and produced by Caty Weaver.
Join us again for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English. We leave you with one of Johnny Cash's most famous songs, "Cry, Cry, Cry."