Old Dogs, New Tricks

a-friend-in-need-cassius-marcellus-coolidgeI know it’s awfully kitsch and lowbrow, but it’s also kind of a classic in a cheesy, tastless way, this painting by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge from the 1900s, very aptly titled A Friend in Need. A Headings exercise for Advanced students.




10.07.07. Advanced, Art Forlorn, Force-Feeding, Headings, Humour. Leave a comment.

Vegan Stuffing

dining_roomLet me see. It’s 1 cup lentils and 4 cups water which you bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 hour. Then it’s 1 cup rice and 1½ cups water in the rice cooker. Goodness gracious! There are so many instructions to remember. Here’s a vegan stuffing which serves 4 from the November issue of Hour Detroit Magazine, which was meant for Thanksgiving, but which could have been done for Christmas, as well, and there’s still Epiphany coming, at least in Spain, right? My favourite holiday ever. Though soon enough no one will be able to afford turkey or have a holiday, for that matter. In Spain or elsewhere.


Olive oil for sautéing

1 cup shitake mushrooms, finely chopped/diced

1 small poblano pepper, finely chopped/diced

1 sweet potato, cut in small cubes (almost diced)

1 onion, finely chopped/diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, finely chopped/diced

6 slices bread with veganically grown grains (no animal-derived fertilizers used)

Water, enough to moisten the bread (about ½ cup)

¼ cup smoked almonds, chopped

Pink Himalayan sea salt

Soy sauce, to taste

Splash of truffle oil

1 handful spicy baby greens mix

Cooking Instructions

Sauté vegetables (except greens) in olive oil. Fold in the bread cubes. Add water. Add nuts, salt, soy, and oil. Fold in greens. Place mixture in a pre-oiled vessel and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for at least 40 minutes. If possible, make stuffing early in the day on the same day as the dinner. Uncover when done and cover again for reheating.

Now, a simple question: is there anything such as ‘vegan turkey,’ a contradiction in itself? I really wonder. A vegan consumes no animal food or dairy products. But then, vegan burgers do exist, which leads me to assume there is such a thing—or should be. The picture, from Clare Barnes, Jr’s Sleeping Under Blankets, and the level is NI1.

10.07.07. Humour, Intermediate, Recipes. Leave a comment.

Day(s) Off Form

cook_leftSometimes we have duties to perform which are absolutely unavoidable. Here’s a composition topic where NI2 students are required to complete a day-off form. You will find attached a file with an example of what you are supposed to do and a day-off form which you must complete. You may want to take this exercise one step further and submit the form to your partner for his/her disapproval. He/She will have to provide as good a reason as you have. Write 100 to 120 words. The photograph belongs to Clare Barnes, Jr.



10.07.07. Composition Topics, Force-Feeding, Humour, Intermediate. Leave a comment.

Missing You Already

Well, not exactly. I’d been so waiting for ages to shake the dust from my feet that when time was nigh to perform the actual deed, I was beguiled into not doing so, which is why I’m publishing this post tonight, lest I forget at eight past three p.m. on 29th June I abandoned  those horrid, horrid, rotten creatures to their fate—and was born anew. Ta-ta! I hope not to see you tomorrow, nor next year, nor in heaven, nor anyfuckingwhere. In a year or so I hope to feel as carefree and blasé as the model on page 68 of Clare Barnes, Jr’s Sleeping Under Blankets below. Just without the black drop.

10.07.07. Diary, Humour. Leave a comment.

The Zero Conditional

In the Zero Conditional, a.k.a. Scientific Conditional, we deal with a real situation: we are talking facts. Both the main clause and the subordinate or “if” clause take the Present Simple.

You die if you drink poison.

The order of the clauses is irrelevant. However, if the subordinate clause goes first, a comma precedes the main clause.

If you drink poison, you die.

We may substitute “when” for “if” with hardly any difference in meaning.

When you drink poison, you die.

The Zero Conditional can also take the Past Simple in both clauses.

If we behaved, our grandmother bought us sweets.

Listen to Goldie Hawn sing Nobody Does it Like Me and fill in the gaps with the missing words you hear. Most of the sentences in this song are Zero Conditionals. It will help you remember this structure.



10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Grammar, Humour, Lyrics, Music. Leave a comment.

A Photographer for Life


You know, it isn’t easy to choose among all the many powerful pictures Margaret Bourke-White took throughout her lifetime. I decided upon this one because of the ironic message she delivers through a myriad of contrasts: black/white, cheerful/glum, well-off/hard up, on foot/by car, sideways/frontward, above/below, and so on. A True or False exercise for Advanced students.



10.07.07. Advanced, Humour, True or False. Leave a comment.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

And a very merry Christmas to you all. Listen to Amy Winehouse sing Tommie Connor’s Christmas song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.

Do the following matching exercise and check your answers.



Now sing along to this video clip.


10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Humour, Music, Vocabulary. Leave a comment.

Alice in Wonderland: Caterpillar Sequence

Common mistakes when Spanish and Latin American students learn English include confusing an A /eɪ/ with an I /ɑɪ /, an I /ɑɪ/ with an E /iː/, a C /siː/ with a Z /ziː/, and pronouncing R /er/ instead of /ɑː/. To help them with these MAJOR problems, for they are major problems whatever people may say, I make them watch the caterpillar sequence from Walt Disney’s adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The transcript of the dialogues at the bottom of this post can be used to practice the vowel s A /eɪ/, E /iː/, I /ɑɪ/, O /əʊ/,  U /ju:/, and the letter R /ɑː/, and Lewis Carroll’s poem How Doth the Little Crocodile, a parody of the moralistic poem Against Idleness And Mischief by Isaac Watts, to practice the diphthongs /ɑɪ/, as in ‘Nile’ and / eɪ /, as in ‘scales’.


10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Humour, Phonetics, Vivas. Leave a comment.

Pardon my French

10.07.07. Humour. Leave a comment.

A Job Interview

You may want to look for a job during your summer sojourn in the United Kingdom. Here are some questions they might ask you at the interview. The funny picture belongs to Clare Barnes, Jr’s 1955 photographic album Sleeping Under Blankets. Post-holiday depression or what? For NB2 students.


10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Humour, Vivas. Leave a comment.

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