Prince died on April 21, 2016 of undisclosed causes at the age of 57. Prince was a unique and immensely talented artist, often playing all the instruments on his albums. Lyrically, he was caught between searching for salvation and his very human desires, but lyrics only tell half the story. Prince's sound, from his emergence in the late 70s until his most recent record, was unlike anything else audiences had heard before. Then Prince would completely change his sound, and that would be unlike anything anyone had heard before. Here are 20 vocabulary words from Prince's lyrics.
The Ninth Democratic Debate took place on April 14th, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY. The two candidates were determined to get their points across in this debate, whether they were criticizing each other or talking about policy, and they often ignored the moderators' signals that their time was up. The debate featured loud crowd noise, an extended discussion about the situation in Israel, a segment on climate change and heated exchanges on gun control and the banking industry. Here are twenty vocabulary words from the ninth Democratic Debate.
Country music legend Merle Haggard died on April 6, 2016 at the age of 79. Many country songs are about drinking too much liquor and getting in trouble with the law, but for most artists, those are just songs. Merle Haggard, for better and worse, lived those songs. He was in prison as a very young man. While in prison he saw Johnny Cash perform and realized that music could give him a way to start over. Haggard went on to a hugely respected and successful career, even one year hitting the charts with 8 different number one singles. Here are twelve vocabulary words from the lyrics Merle Haggard wrote or recorded and made his own.
Author Jim Harrison died on March 26, 2016 at the age of 78. A novelist and poet, Harrison was as comfortable covering rugged external terrain as he was the interior emotional landscape of his characters. Harrison's writing overflows with the pleasures of the senses: how things smell, feel and taste. He lived his life that way as well, as he was an avid sportsman and champion eater and drinker. He wrote extensively about both sports and food, addressing the latter in the volume The Raw and The Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand. Here are thirteen vocabulary words from the work of Jim Harrison.
Comedian Garry Shandling died on March 24, 2016 at the age of 66. Shandling rose to fame as a stand-up and was soon the guest host for the Johnny Carson "Tonight Show." He created two sitcoms, "It's Garry Shandling's Show," which was famous for being a sitcom which was aware it was a sitcom, and "The Larry Sanders Show," which was a satire drawn from his experiences in late night television. Shandling was, above all, hysterically funny and he will be missed. Here are eleven vocabulary words drawn from Shandling's stand-up material, interviews and even a tribute from Iron Man 2 co-star Robert Downey, Jr.
Rapper Phife Dawg died on March 23, 2016 from complications from Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 45. Phife, whose real name was Malik Taylor, was an essential part of the influential group A Tribe Called Quest, along with Q-Tip. As these vocabulary words and the quotes that contain them show, Phife Dawg's verses embraced all kinds of cultural references and inventive wordplay and weren't the usual MC boasting. Here are twelve vocabulary words from the lyrics of Phife Dawg.
The twelfth Republican Debate took place on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. This debate was much calmer and more focused on issues than the last few Republican debates have been. Without name calling and interrupting. candidates engaged in a substantive discussion of issues like trade, the threat of ISIS, climate change and saving the Social Security system. Here are 25 words they used, starting with those our list builder found "most relevant."
The Eighth Democratic Debate was held on March 9, 2016 in Miami and it focused on issues of concern to Latino voters. Immigration and education were topics of focus, but the moderators were forceful on all issues, including when they brought up scandals and candidates' previous statements, complete with videotape evidence. These tools were used to guard against what moderator Maria Elena Salinas called "Hispandering" ("Hispanic" + "pandering") - "telling Hispanics what they want to hear just so they will vote for you." Here are twenty vocabulary words from the Eighth Democratic Debate.
Raymond Tomlinson died on March 7, 2016 at the age of 74. Raymond Tomlinson was a computer programmer and one of the early pioneers of e-mail. Specifically, he was the man responsible for choosing the "@" sign to go in email addresses. Of course the sign soon became so widely used that it is now known as the "at-sign" and for some it is fast replacing that sequence of letters, "a-t", and may soon appear everywhere the letters appear together, regardless of pronounciation. It is an open question as to whether or not @ will replace "a-t" altogether, but to remember Mr. Tomlinson, here is a list of words with the "a-t" sequence in them, and how these words would look with "@" signs replacing the letters. It is no doubt an encouraging sign to those who dislike abbreviations and shortcuts in texting and email that many of these words still look quite strange with the @ in place.
As 13-year-olds, LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman were interviewed by National Public Radio. Learn this list to better understand their award-winning and heartbreaking stories about "Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago." Here are links to our lists for the nonfiction text: Part I, Part II, Part III
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan died on March 6, 2016 at the age of 94. As First Lady from 1980-1988, Nancy Reagan was famous for her anti-drug campaign slogan "Just Say No." In recent years, after Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Nancy became an advocate for stem cell research as a way of making progress to combat Alzheimer's and other diseases. Here are ten vocabulary words from quotes from Nancy Reagan.
Author Pat Conroy died on March 4, 2016 of pancreatic cancer. He specialized in tales of the American South, drawn from his own difficult childhood. He once said: "My mother's voice and my father's fists are two bookends of my childhood, and they form the basis of my art." It is no exaggeration to say that learning to become a storyteller and literature helped save Conroy from the horrors of his early life. Here are 13 vocabulary words from quotes from the mind and work of Pat Conroy.
The Eleventh Republican debate took place in Detroit, Michigan on March 3, 2016. As in the last debate, there was a great deal of yelling and name calling between the candidates, with one calling another "little guy" and one instructing another to "count to ten and breathe" when he was angry and interrupting the man who was answering a question. To add to the freewheeling excitement, moderators used visual aides, like graphics and video clips, to help the audience decide whether something a candidate said on one occasion contradicted what they said on another, or whether the candidate's proposed budget cuts would really do what a candidate is claiming they will.
Former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a speech about current Republican front-runner Donald Trump at the University of Utah on March 3, 2016. Romney attacks Trump over his behavior and his policies and also has some unkind words for Hillary Clinton, in order to stress that in his view Clinton must never be president. Romney regards Trump as a a con man, one whose lack of conviction makes him not only a bad candidate but one who is beatable, which makes the fact that Trump is the leading candidate to face Clinton in the general election in November all the more troubling to Romney. Here are 25 words from Romney's speech. Read the entire address here.
Famed author Harper Lee died on February 19, 2016, at the age of 89. For most of her life Lee was famous for having written one extraordinary novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, never having written another book. In recent years, however, Lee emerged from her well-guarded privacy, with the release of an earlier prequel to Mockingbird, Go Set A Watchman. Released among accusations that Lee's agent was trying to steal her royalties Watchman complicated the portrayal of one of the heroes of Mockingbird, Atticus Finch. Here are 15 vocabulary words from To Kill A Mockingbird and from two of the rare interviews Lee granted over the course of her life. Here are links to our lists for Lee's works: To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died of natural causes on February 13, 2016 at the age of 79. Scalia had served on the court since 1986, and was its conservative voice, ready with a brilliant question in oral arguments or a fierce dissenting opinion. Scalia's legal mind and his wit have long been praised even by those people who disagreed with his philosophy and although the Supreme Court is shrouded in mystery, it is said that his best friend on the court was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the Court's leading liberal voices. Here are ten vocabulary words from the opinions of Justice Antonin Scalia.
David Bowie died on January 10, 2016 from liver cancer at the age of 69. A rock star and cultural force in the 1970s and 80s, Bowie was known for his ability to completely change character from album to album, theatrics that sometimes overshadowed the high quality of his songwriting and musicianship. As these selections from the lyrics of his entire career show, Bowie could turn a phrase and evoke an image like no one else. Here are 15 vocabulary words from the lyrics of David Bowie.
The Golden Globe Awards were handed out on January 10, 2016. The Golden Globes is one of the few award shows that honors both film and television on the same night, so stars from different sections of the entertainment industry socialize with and applaud one another. Here are ten words from television shows, films and performances that took home awards at this year's Golden Globes.
President Obama held a press conference on January 5, 2016 where he announced that he will take Executive Action to extend and enforce gun control laws in an effort to curb gun violence. Whatever one thinks of the measure, the fact that the President is engaging in such action brings up interesting issues of the extent of presidential power and the state of governmental action or inaction. Here are 17 words from the president's speech.
Actress and style icon Diane Keaton turns 70 today. Keaton is known for her starring role in some of the greatest films of the 1970s, including The Godfather series and, with Woody Allen, in Annie Hall and Manhattan. In the 1980s, she continued her career in Baby Boom and The Father of the Bride. Here are eleven vocabulary words from quotes from Diane Keaton, from both her movies and memoirs.
Natalie Cole passed away on December 31, 2015 at the age of 65 from congestive heart failure. Natalie Cole was famous as a little girl because she was the daughter of celebrated crooner Nat "King" Cole. Her success in the early nineties involved an album of standards associated with her father, including the title track "Unforgettable," where through the wonder of technology she was able to duet with her father even though at the time of the duet's release he had been dead for 26 years. Here are 15 vocabulary words from songs Natalie Cole sang throughout her career.
Ellsworth Kelly, the renowned painter and sculptor, died on December 27, 2015 at the age of 92. At first glance, what Kelly produced for much of his career was the kind of thing that people are always mocking modern art for -- squares of colors on a canvas, yellow ovals painted on a white background and called "Yellow-White." But Kelly's work really benefits from a second look. His use of shape and color often accomplish what all great art is supposed to: it has the ability to change the way the viewer sees things, both in the museum and outside its walls. Here are ten vocabulary words from quotes by Ellsworth Kelly.
The Democratic debate on December 19 featured extended discussions on issues of national security, race relations and drug policy. Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton also briefly addressed the recent data breach that affected their campaigns and resulted in Sanders firing a staffer. Here are the most relevant words from the debate.
An overview of the new agreement in 10 vocab words drawn from example sentences that cover the basics of the agreement. Source: "Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris," The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2015.