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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I’m June Simms.
On our show this week, we play music from “Red” by Taylor Swift and “R.E.D.” from Ne-Yo.
We also look at two new movies…
But first, we tell you about a man who looks for evidence of ancient creatures in the national capital area.
Most people who live and work near Washington, DC, would have trouble imagining dinosaurs walking around the area. But fossil-hunter Ray Stanford can. He believes dinosaurs were in the area as recently as a hundred million years ago. His proof is dinosaur foot prints. He found them in fossils that he collected from around the nation’s capital. Christopher Cruise tells us about Mr. Stanford’s explorations and finds.
“Wait, we got one here."
Ray Stanford is walking along a small stream in College Park, Maryland, near Washington, DC.
“This is from a flesh-eating dinosaur. This is from a theropod dinosaur. You can see where the toenails were.”
He says he knows these are dinosaur fossils based on his knowledge and experience -- he began hunting for fossil footprints in nineteen ninety-three.
“Really my children did. They took interest in dinosaurs and we got a book about dinosaur tracks. And once we looked at it -- we were in a streambed -- we began to discover dinosaur tracks. At first I couldn’t believe it.”
Since then, Ray Stanford has collected more than a thousand footprints from many different kinds of dinosaurs. He says he has made part of his home into a place he calls the “Stanford Museum.” He has given some of the fossils he found to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington. They are shown in the “Dinosaurs in Our Backyard” show. Matthew Carrano is the museum’s curator.
“Most importantly, he’s found footprints of dinosaurs that we haven’t found bones of yet. So because he’s found the footprints, we know these dinosaurs lived here, and we didn’t have the information before Ray discovered them.”
David Weishampel studies prehistoric life as a paleontologist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. He was an advisor on the ninety ninety-three film “Jurassic Park,” about modern-day dinosaurs. He says Ray Stanford has helped professionals like him.
“He has given us a lot, more full picture of dinosaurs of the East Coast. He seems to have this gift to be able to find these things and recognize their significance.”
Ray Stanford calls himself an amateur paleontologist, but he has co-written scientific papers with Professor Weishampel and other scientists.
Mister Stanford says finding dinosaur fossils is a great pleasure. He loves the sense of discovery. He says he will keep searching for dinosaur fossils until there is nothing left to find.
Two New Movies
Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks. Families gather for a big meal centered on turkey. They also might play board games or watch a parade on television.
But many families also enjoy Thanksgiving at the movies. The holiday is usually extremely profitable for Hollywood. Today, we tell about a couple of films that are perfect for family movie viewing come November twenty-second.
The computer animated movie “Wreck-It Ralph” is already making big money at the box office. Disney released the movie on November second, and more than sixty-million dollars worth of tickets have been sold worldwide.
“Wreck-It Ralph” is about a video game character of the same name. He is the traditional “bad guy” in a game called “Fix-It Felix.” But Ralph longs to be a good guy.
He gets his chance at heroism when a dangerous “bug” threatens to destroy all the video games at his arcade. Ralph goes into battle to try to defeat the enemy bug.
The Academy Award - nominated actor John C. Reilly is the voice of Ralph. Comedian Sarah Silverman also stars as Vanellope, a driver in a racing game. Jane Lynch plays the strong and demanding soldier Sergeant Calhoun, who starts Ralph on his hero path.
Oscar winning director Ang Lee also presents a Thanksgiving movie choice with “Life of Pi.” Lee spent four years and about one hundred million dollars to make the film.
“Life of Pi” is based on a book of the same name. Pi Patel is the son of a zookeeper in India. His family decides to move to Canada for a better life. They set off by ship with a few of the zoo animals.
But there is a disaster at sea. Pi ends up on a small boat with a Bengal tiger. The movie tells of their struggle to survive.
Ang Lee says the movie also explores deep philosophical questions. Lee filmed most of the movie in Taiwan, where he lives. The different movie sets included a very large water tank.
This is a first film for nineteen year old Suraj Sharma, the human star of “Life of Pi.” He called the year shooting the film the “hardest and most beautiful of my life.” Suraj Sharma told the Hindustan Times newspaper that he was not sure if he wanted to act again. But he said he knows he wants to be a part of movie-making in some way.
“Red” and “R.E.D.”
Taylor Swift is on top again. “Red,” her latest album, came out October twenty-second. More than one million two hundred thousand copies were sold in the first week of its release. “Red” is already the third biggest selling album of the year, after Adele’s “21” and “Up All Night” from the boy band One Direction.
This week, the recording artist Ne-Yo also released a red album. Well, the record is actually called “R.E.D.” for “realizing every dream.” Faith Lapidus has songs from both new releases.
Ne-Yo and Taylor Swift both deal with change in their latest albums. Ne-Yo works with many artists as a vice-president at Motown Records. He is known for his skill at discovering and producing new artists.
On “R.E.D.” he also shows his ability to take on a different sound. He shares the song “She Is” with country music star Tim McGraw.
“R.E.D.” is Ne-Yo’s fifth studio album. Critics are mostly praising the effort.
“Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” has a dance beat that is hard to resist. But it is also romantic.
Taylor Swift’s “Red” shares the love theme of her earlier albums. But that is where the similarity ends.
That song is called “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” It was the first single from “Red.” It signaled Taylor Swift’s move to pop music.
Taylor Swift worked with British musician Ed Sheeran on “Red.” He has agreed to take part in her concert tour for the new album. The first of their shows is set to take place in March.
Here the two singer-songwriters perform “Everything Has Changed.” The name could refer to Taylor Swift’s style, sound and substance on “Red.”