Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's and CARPE DIEM in 2011!

New Year's is usually a time of resolutions. A time to think about all
those things you wanted to do, but didn't get around
to doing.
A time to SEIZE THE DAY! In other, words... don't hold back,
make the most of the day, of the year... of Life!

So on this occasion, we are posting one of the most memorable scenes in
movie history
from the film DEAD POETS' SOCIETY with Robin Williams
that deals
precisely with resolutions and seizing the day.

Below, we transcribed this part of the original movie
script written by Tom Shulman and directed by
Peter Weir. Enjoy!


The junior students--Todd, Neil, Knox, Charlie, Cameron,
Meeks and some of the others we've seen--enter. They are
loaded down with books and look weary. Sitting in the front
of the room, staring out the window is JOHN KEATING, the
teacher we glimpsed earlier. He wears a collared shirt, tie,
no jacket.

The boys take seats and settle in. Keating stares out the
window a long time. The students start to shuffle
uncomfortably. Finally Keating stands, picks up a yardstick,
and begins slowly strolling the aisles. He stops and stares
into the face of one of the boys.

(to the blushing boy)
Don't be embarrassed.

He moves off, then stops in front of Charlie Dalton.

(as if discovering
something known only to
(he moves to Todd Anderson)
(he moves to Neil Perry)

Keating slaps his free hand with the yardstick, then strides
to the front of the room.

Nimble young minds!

He steps up onto the desk, turns and faces the class.

Oh Captain, My Captain. Who knows where
that's from?

No one raises a hand.

It was written by a poet named Walt
Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. In
this class you may refer to me as either
Mr. Keating, or Oh Captain, My Captain.

Keating steps down and starts. strolling the aisles.

So that I become the source of as few
rumors as possible, let me tell you that
yes, I was a student at this institution
many moons ago, and no, at that time I
did not possess this charismatic
personality. However, should you choose
to emulate my manner, it can only help
your grade. Pick up a textbook from the
back, gentlemen, and let's retire to the
honor room.

He steps off the desk and walks out. The students sit, not
sure what to do, then realize they are to follow him. They
quickly gather their books, pick up texts, and follow.


This is the room where the boys waited earlier. The walls
are lined with class pictures: dating back into the 1800s.
School trophies of every description fill trophy cases and
shelves. Keating leads the students in, then faces the class.

(Keating looks at his roll)
Pitts. An unfortunate name. Stand up,
Mister Pitts.

Pitts stands.

Open your text, Pitts, to page forty and read for us the
first stanza of the poem.

Pitts looks through his book. He finds the poem.

To The Virgins to Make Much Of Time?

That's the one.

Giggles in the class. Pitts reads.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

Old time is still a flying

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. The
Latin term for that sentiment is "Carpe
Diem." Anyone know what that means?

Carpe Diem... seize the day.

Very good, Mr._?


Seize the day while you're young, see
that you make use of your time. Why does
the poet write these lines?

Because he's in a hurry?

Because we're food for worms, lads!
Because we're only going to experience a
limited number of springs, summers, and
falls. One day, hard as it is to
believe, each and every one of us is
going to stop breathing, turn cold, and
die! Stand up and peruse the faces of
the boys who attended this school sixty
or seventy years ago. Don't be timid, go
look at them.

The boys get up. Todd, Neil, Knox, Meeks, etc. go over to
the class pictures that line the honor room walls.

stare at us from out of the past.

They're not that different than any of
you, are they? There's hope in their
eyes, just like in yours. They believe
themselves destined for wonderful things,
just like many of you. Well, where are
those smiles now, boys? What of that

THE BOYS are staring at the pictures, sobered by what Keating
is saying.

Did most of them not wait until it was
too late before making their lives into
even one iota of what they were capable?
In chasing the almighty deity of success
did they not squander their boyhood
dreams? Most of those gentlemen are
fertilizing daffodils! However, if you
get very close, boys, you can hear them
whisper. Go ahead, lean in. near it?
(loud whisper)
'Carpe Diem, lads. Seize the day. Make
your lives extraordinary. -

Todd, Neil, Knox, Charlie, Cameron,
Meeks, Pitts all stare into the pictures
on the wall. All are lost in thought.


The class files out of the honor room. Todd, Neil, Knox,
Charlie, Cameron, Necks, and Pitts walk together, books in
hand. All thinking about what just happened in class.


But different.

Spooky if you ask me.

You think he'll test us on that stuff?

Oh come on, Cameron, don't you get


A Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year's from the PLS English Users Team!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Story of the REAL Santa Claus

Every year at Christmas time, there are many who ask about the origin of Santa Claus and how it connects with the central theme of Christmas. Normally, very few know the real story, yet the American version seems to be the one we are visually most familiar with.

This holiday season, PLS English Users invites you to view and read about the real story.

The American version of the Santa Claus figure received its inspiration and its name from the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas (a Dutch variant of the name Saint Nicholas).

Dutch colonists took this tradition with them to New Amsterdam (now New York City) in the American colonies in the 17th century.

As early as 1773 the name appeared in the American press as "St. A Claus," but it was the popular author Washington Irving who gave Americans their first detailed information about the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas. In his History of New York, published in 1809 under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, Irving described the arrival of the saint on horseback each Eve of Saint Nicholas.

This Dutch-American Saint Nick achieved his fully Americanized form in 1823 in the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas more commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas" by writer Clement Clarke Moore. Moore included such details as the names of the reindeer; Santa Claus's laughs, winks, and nods; and the method by which Saint Nicholas, referred to as an elf, returns up the chimney. (Moore's phrase "lays his finger aside of his nose" was drawn directly from Irving's 1809 description.)

The American image of Santa Claus was further elaborated by illustrator Thomas Nast, who depicted a rotund Santa for Christmas issues of Harper's magazine from the 1860s to the 1880s. Nast added such details as Santa's workshop at the North Pole and Santa's list of the good and bad children of the world. In the first Nast illustration, Santa was delivering Christmas gifts to soldiers fighting in the Civil War. The cartoon, entitled "Santa Claus in Camp" appeared in Harper's Weekly on January 3, 1863.

How did the idea for Santa Claus originate?

A human-sized version of Santa Claus, rather than the elf of Moore's poem, was depicted in a series of illustrations created by Haddom Sundblom for Coca-Cola advertisements introduced in 1931. In modern versions of the Santa Claus legend, only his toyshop workers are elves.

An advertising writer named Robert May, invented Rudolph, the ninth reindeer, with a red and shiny nose, while working on a catalog for the Montgomery Ward Company in 1939.

In looking for the historical roots, one discovers that Santa Claus, as we know him, is a combination of many different legends and mythical creatures.

The basis for the Christian-era Santa Claus is Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna (Izmir), in what is now Turkey. Nicholas lived in the 4th century A.D. He was very rich, generous, and loving toward children. Often he gave joy to poor children by throwing gifts in through their windows.

The Orthodox Church later raised St. Nicholas, miracle worker, to a position of great esteem. It was in his honor that Russia's oldest church, for example, was built. For its part, the Roman Catholic Church honored Nicholas as one who helped children and the poor. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of children and seafarers. His name day is December 6th.

In the Protestant areas of central and northern Germany, St. Nicholas later became known as der Weinachtsmann. In England he came to be called Father Christmas. St. Nicholas made his way to the United States with Dutch immigrants, and began to be referred to as Santa Claus.

In North American poetry and illustrations, Santa Claus, in his white beard, red jacket and pompom-topped cap, would sally forth on the night before Christmas in his sleigh, pulled by eight reindeer, and climb down chimneys to leave his gifts in stockings children set out on the fireplace's mantelpiece.

Children naturally wanted to know where Santa Claus actually came from. Where did he live when he wasn't delivering presents? Those questions gave rise to the legend that Santa Claus lived at the North Pole, where his Christmas-gift workshop was also located.

From all of us at PLS English Users, we wish everyone Happy and Safe Holidays!