Tag Archives: zombies

229. Zombies! (Part 2)

This is the second in a 2-part series all about zombies. In part 1 I talked about the zombie in popular culture, analysis of the zombie as a metaphor and then some rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse. To listen to part 1 – click here. In episode 2 I’m going to take a couple of zombie survival quizzes and then do a language focus on conditionals. [Download]

Small Donate ButtonPart 2: Zombie Survival
The Zombieland 32 Rules of Zombie Survival
Pick a survival quiz and go through it.
The Ultimate Zombie Apocalypse Survival Quiz
The Walking Dead Survival Test

Part 3: Conditionals
I’m going to explain them and give examples. For pronunciation you should repeat the sentences after me. Listen for connected speech and weak forms.

Generally speaking, conditionals refer to sentences with an ‘if’ clause (the conditional clause) and a consequence clause. Sometimes other conjunctions are used, like ‘when’, ‘as soon as’ or ‘unless’.

0 Conditionals
These are used to refer to facts that are always true and the consequences that always happen. It’s a present tense in the ‘if’ clause and a present tense in the consequence clause. For example, “When the sun comes up, the day begins” or “When the sun goes down, the night-time begins and all the evil monsters come out!”
Sometimes we use “when” instead of “if” and this just emphasises that this always happens. Using “if” suggests that it doesn’t always happen, but nevertheless the consequence is always the same. “If I talk about zombies, my girlfriend gets scared”. You could also say, “Every time” or “whenever”.

Also, we can use imperatives in the conditional clause. “If I get bitten, shoot me in the head before I turn into a zombie.”

1st Conditionals
These are used to talk about a future event (which you think is likely) and its logical consequence. It uses a present tense in the ‘if’ clause and a future form in the consequence.
*Don’t put ‘will’ (or any future form) into the ‘if’ clause.
“Shh! Be quiet! If you make too much noise you’ll attract more zombies!”
“If we see another zombie again I’ll lose my mind”
Use ‘when’ to emphasise that you think it’s definitely going to happen.
“When we arrive, we’ll need to check all the rooms for walkers”
Use ‘as soon as’ to emphasise that the consequence will happen immediately.
“As soon as he comes in the room, I’ll smash him in the head with this baseball bat!”

2nd Conditionals
Use these when you’re talking about hypothetical future or present events – not the past. For the future it means things that you don’t expect to happen, but you’re speculating on them anyway. If you think they’re likely, use 1st conditionals. If you think they’re unlikely, use a 2nd conditional. Use a past tense in the ‘if’ clause and then would in the other clause.
*Don’t put ‘would’ in the if clause.
“If I met a zombie in real life, I’d probably be fine”
“You’d be screwed if you met a zombie in real life”
“I reckon I’d survive if a zombie outbreak happened”
It’s also for imagining an alternative present.
“If I was a zombie I’d just stay at home.”
“If I were you I’d get yourself a weapon.”

3rd Conditionals
Here we are imagining an alternative past. It’s not the real past, but a hypothetical one. Use ‘had + past participle’ in the ‘if’ clause and then ‘would + have + past participle’ in the other clause. This one’s tricky because of all the auxiliary verbs.
“If you hadn’t saved me I would have been absolutely fucked” (You saved me and I wasn’t absolutely fucked)
“If he’d been more careful he wouldn’t have got bitten”.
“We wouldn’t have survived very long if we hadn’t stayed together!”

Mixed Conditionals
This could be a hypothetical past action with a present result.
“If he’d been more careful he’d be alive today”

Or a hypothetical present with a past result (yes it’s possible).
“If the government wasn’t so corrupt, this would never have happened.”

That’s it!

228. Zombies! (Part 1)

This is part 1 of a two-part series about zombies! Right-click here to download.

Small Donate ButtonThis episode is all about zombies – the undead, flesh eaters, walkers, biters, the infected – whatever you want to call them, zombies have become an indelible part of our popular culture now. There are zombies in the cinemas, zombies on TV in shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead, zombies in computer games, zombies online, even zombie walks in which people get together in large groups in order to dress up like zombies and walk around going “uhhhhh”. We’re pretty obsessed by zombies, and I am too. I love zombies and zombie films. Maybe that makes me some kind of sick and twisted individual, but I’m not alone. In fact, I think that zombies are perhaps as popular and present in our culture as vampires and ghosts. But, what is some of the history behind the zombie phenomenon? Where do they come from? What do they want? Why are we obsessed by zombies? How can you survive if zombies really attack? And, how do we talk about zombies in English? That’s the focus of this extra-special and extra-creepy episode of Luke’s English Podcast.

This episode is in 3 parts (and 2 episodes). In the first part we’re going to examine the zombie as a popular cultural phenomenon, then in the second part I’m going to test my survival skills by taking a zombie survival quiz. You can join me as I make various decisions that will affect my chances of surviving the zombie apocalypse. In part 3 we’re going to consider some conditional structures. That’s 0, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and mixed conditionals.

Part 1. The Zombie in Popular Culture
Zombies seem to be more popular than ever, but why? (The Walking Dead, zombie films like Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead and computer games like Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil)

The origin of the word “zombie”.
The concept has been popularly associated with the Vodou religion, but it plays no part in that faith’s formal practices.
In Haitian folklore, a zombie is an animated corpse raised by magical means, such as witchcraft. Zombies featured widely in Haitian rural folklore, as dead persons physically revived by the act of necromancy of a bokor sorcerer (the bokor is a witch-like figure). Zombies remain under the control of the bokor as their personal slaves, since they have no will of their own. Some people say that zombie voodoo magic is real, but others claim that it’s just a chemical or hypnotic control of a living person – causing them to act like mindless slaves of the bokor sorcerer. That’s certainly very creepy and fascinating from a social, biological, chemical and psychological point of view.

The history of zombies in movies and games
There were a few books and films made in the 1930s that used the voodoo legend to create creepy stories, but it wasn’t until I Am Legend, a 1954 horror fiction novel by American writer Richard Matheson and then principally the film “Night of the Living Dead” by George A. Romero that zombies properly entered popular culture. Romero’s film created the image of the zombie that we know today: dead people who return from the grave – the undead, who pray on the living and feed on their flesh, a world in chaos, the individual against masses of brainless enemies. One of the most interesting things about Night of the Living Dead is the subtext of the film. The hero is a black man in America, during the era of the civil rights movement. The ending is particularly relevant as we see that not only does the hero have to deal with the zombies, he also has to deal with the living and their prejudice.

George A. Romero went on to make a number of other zombie films, and really defined the genre and the whole zombie subculture, including most of the ‘rules’ for zombies and the general standards by which all other zombie culture is measured. The thing about zombie movies, and zombie culture in general is that there is always some kind of subtext – a criticism of consumer culture, a comment on the horror of the uneducated masses or the brainlessness of the population at large. For example in his 1978 classic “Dawn of the Dead” the main characters find shelter in a large shopping mall. The zombies too choose to go to the mall, but only out of some distant memory of being alive – they brainlessly walk around the mall in death just like they brainlessly walked around the mall in life. I suppose the subtext is that consumer culture is turning us into mindless mall zombies – unable to think for ourselves, acting like sheep, easily manipulated by marketing, branding and the allure of materialism.

Computer games took over from movies in the 1990s with the release of the Japanese computer game series “Resident Evil” which perfectly captured the lingering dread, the sudden horror and enjoyment of the zombie subculture. Resident Evil…

Then around the millennium we got Danny Boyle’s film “24 Days Later” which brought back zombies, but with a twist. They’re now able to run really fast! This re-booted zombie movies and it wasn’t long before we got a remake of Dawn of the Dead complete with running zombies.

The genre began to ‘eat itself’ and got even more postmodern with the brilliant comedy/horror/romcom (zom-rom-com) “Shaun of the Dead” which was directed by Edgar Wright and starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. This is such a brilliant film as it combined the romantic comedy with the zombie movie. In it we follow Shaun, who is not going anywhere in his life. In fact, he is becoming increasingly like a zombie by not challenging himself, being lazy and unabitious, getting stuck in a routine. His girlfriend dumps him and he has to grow up, realise his responsibilities, change his life and try to get her back. While this is all happening to him he doesn’t realise that London has become over-run with zombies. He ends up having to battle them while also saving the girl he loves. It works on lots of levels, it’s quite scary and it’s really funny.

More recently the film Zombieland was a big hit. That was an American made comedy featuring zombies and it’s definitely worth checking out. Now we have the massive hit TV show “The Walking Dead” which is one of the most successful American shows on TV at the moment. At it’s worst it’s just a soap opera with zombies. At it’s best it is a terrifying look at the ways in which people have to survive genuine hardship – how it unites people, how it tests courage and fortitude and how it can test the limits of a person’s morality.

Rules of Zombies
Like vampires, zombies have rules too. Let’s just evaluate those rules.
They’re ‘undead’, meaning they were dead and have come back to life.
You have to die to become a zombie.
Usually you become a zombie by being bitten by one. The bite kills you by infecting you with a virus and then you turn into a zombie.
Usually zombies are caused by some kind of virus, but the outbreak can have more mysterious origins.
Often the cause of the outbreak is somehow connected with the actions of secretive government departments. It’s usually the government’s fault. They’ve been doing medical tests, testing on animals, or have caused some kind of radiation leak that somehow causes the dead to come back to life and start feeding on the living.
Zombies have a taste for human flesh, not dead flesh, although they have been known to feast on recently deceased bodies.
They don’t have super powers, although their powers are a bit ambiguous. Do their muscles retain their full strength? Probably. What actually causes them to move? We’re not always sure. I think it’s an infection of the central nervous system which causes the brain to ‘turn’ and then operate the muscles, usually with one intention – to feed on living flesh, especially brains.
How do you kill a zombie?
You have to remove the head or destroy the brain. That’s it.
Zombies are quite sensitive to sound, and they can see.
If you don’t do that, the zombies will keep on coming, even crawling across the floor without legs.
Some things I’m not sure of: How long can zombies keep going? Can they swim? Is it possible to hide among zombies if you copy them? If you remove their jaws and teeth do they become harmless?

What do zombies represent to us? Some different ‘readings’ of the zombie as a metaphor.
– Disease or viral infection
– The herd mentality of people in society – mindless followers of religion, politicians, or social convention and the way that zombies want to annihilate individuality.
– The drudgery of every day life. Habits turn us into zombies.
– Consumer society and cultural imperialism.
– Fear of overpopulation and the potential for catastrophe, or natural disaster.
– Blaming the establishment (it’s usually due to a failing by the government, or some big thing which is out of the control of ordinary people)
– USA Libertarian fantasy
– Back to basics fantasy
– Post-apocalyptic fantasy

Part 2: Zombie Survival
The Zombieland 32 Rules of Zombie Survival

That’s it! Click here for episode 229. Zombies! (Part 2)
Videos
Nick Frost & Simon Pegg’s Guide to zZombies:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

169. A Cup of Tea with Daniel Burt (Part 1)

[1/2] Daniel Burt is a journalist, comedy writer and performer from Melbourne, Australia. He writes for two big newspapers in Australia, he worked as an intern at Late Night with David Letterman, he has his own page on Wikipedia and in his work he has interviewed Matt Smith, David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, which means he has met 2 Doctor Whos Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson and The Hobbit! Wow.  In this episode you can listen to us talking about diverse topics such as Australia’s relationship to The Queen & The Commonwealth, his work as an entertainment journalist, his time living in New York, the David Letterman show, Will Smith, show business, and zombies…

Download Episode  Small Donate Button
I’m very pleased to have Daniel on the podcast for a number of reasons:
a) He is a bright, witty guy with lots of things to say, and he can talk the hind legs off a donkey (not literally, that’s just an idiom which means he can talk and talk!)
b) He is from Australia, so you can listen to his genuine Aussie accent and hear some authentic Australian English.
c) He has met Sherlock Holmes, Bilbo Baggins, Doctor Who and others.

Daniel is noteworthy enough to have his own page on Wikipedia. Click here to read it.

Daniel is a writer so naturally uses a lot of colourful language, descriptive vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. He also speaks pretty quickly in an accent that you might not be familiar with so listen closely. A transcript should arrive before too long but if you have any questions about words or phrases from this episode, please leave them in the comments section, with a time-code. ;)

This is a two part podcast. In part 1, this one, Daniel and I talk about these things:
The Zombie Apocalype
– Is my apartment safe?
– Would Daniel survive a zombie attack? Is he too complacent?
– Are people who like zombies all loners?
– Is Luke a loner?

Daniel’s Coin-dropping Habits
– Why can’t Daniel hold onto coins when shop assistants give him change?
– Why does he always drop coins onto the floor?
– Is it because Australian notes are so shiny and slippery, that the coins just slide off?

– Or is it just because he is socially awkward or nervous for some reason?
The Queen on Australian money
– How does Daniel feel about it?
– What’s the role of The Queen in Australian life?
– Will Australia leave the commonwealth and become fully independent?
Daniel’s work as an entertainment journalist
– Does he really have a Wikipedia page about him?
– What was it like living in New York?
– What was it like working for David Letterman?

Seeing Will Smith in the audience at a Parisian cabaret show
– Did he enjoy the show?
– What was the audience’s reaction to seeing Will Smith in the crowd?
– Did it affect the performance?
– What are the secrets of show business?
-And what does “getting jiggy with it” actually mean?

I’ve divided this into two episodes. So, stay tuned for details about his meeting with Sherlock Holmes, The Hobbit and Doctor Who in part 2.

Our conversation begins pretty quickly after we’d already been talking for about half an hour before turning on the microphone. Let me give you some context so you can hit the ground running.

Before turning on the microphone, we were talking about some of our favourite TV shows. I mentioned that I watch The Walking Dead, which is a show about zombies. I like zombies and that kind of thing, I’m sick and twisted in that way. Daniel doesn’t watch the show, and he isn’t a big zombie fan. He said he thought you’d need to be a bit of an idiot to get bitten by a zombie, because they’re so slow. Surely you’d see the zombie coming, and you’d just get out of the way, quite casually. I disagreed, and explained that getting bitten by a walker is easier than you might expect. Zombies might seem slow, but if you get complacent – over confident and too relaxed, that’s when you might be caught by surprise. If a zombie is walking towards you, he’s pretty slow so you might think you’re safe, but they’re unpredictable. What might happen is that the zombie gets about 3 metres away, and gets excited because he can smell your brains, and he trips slightly and starts to fall forwards. This means that his falling increases his speed and the momentum carries him to you faster than you expected. The next thing you know, you’ve got a zombie on top of you, and while you’re trying to deal with him, another one might have arrived behind you quietly, without you realising, and then you’re bitten, double bitten by two members of the undead. Then, later on, you’re a zombie too. Uhhh brains! Daniel didn’t realise this could happen. I reassured him, by explaining that up in my flat we would be quite safe from zombies because I’m up on the 6th floor, and my door is very strong. But that you still shouldn’t get complacent, even then. You can never be too safe from zombies, because, well, anything can happen. For example, let’s say, on the other side of the city, some guys have managed to escape from a zombie infested building by flying off the roof in a helicopter. “Ooh, that was close – good thing we had this helicopter!” But one of the guys in the chopper has been bitten, and he didn’t tell the others! He was too ashamed, too embarrassed. He kept it secret. Big mistake! Within minutes, he’s turned into a zombie, and he starts attacking the pilot. Trying to eat his brains. Horrible! The pilot gets bitten and he turns into a zombie too. Now you’ve got a zombie flying a helicopter. In the confusion the helicopter crashes onto the roof of my building – the pilot and passengers are all zombies, and they crawl from the wreckage and climb through a hole in the wall, into my living room, and Daniel gets bitten. Not me of course, I’d be ready with a cricket bat or a hammer or something. Maybe a crossbow. It would be tough, but I’d deal with them. Daniel though – he’d be beyond dead at that point, the poor guy. And why? Because he got complacent. Or zombies could manage to get to the 6th floor in a lift, by accident. Or just thousands and thousands of zombies could surround my building, and eventually break in by smashing all the windows and doors. Don’t worry though, it’s very unlikely to happen… or is it?…
So, that’s some context to the conversation I was having with Daniel before starting the recording. Now you can enjoy some chat with my Aussie mate Daniel. Enjoy!

Daniel’s Video Showreel

In part 2:
Daniel’s move to London
Cliches about Australian people
Typical Australian English phrases
Australian pronunciation
The Australian character and national identity
Australian politicians
The future of Australia & Australia’s image of itself
Sport & competition
Interviewing Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), Matt Smith & David Tennant (Doctor Who)