Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English and of course learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
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So we’re gonna talk about different sagas and universes today. And, well, the logical question that I have to you is what universes or sagas do you know, like, and think are more popular?
Oh my god there are so many. Like, again, there is Harry Potter, there are Star Wars.
And lots of maybe science fiction universes that are not necessarily so popular among, like, they are not so mainstream but I tend to love them even more.
Ooh can you give us just the names now? Because we’re gonna talk about them in more details I guess.
Yeah, sure. Isaak Asimov’s ‘The Foundation’ series. Or I guess it’s maybe more well-known, like, Frank Herbert ‘Dune’.
Yeah I’ve heard about this.
The name of the saga rings the bell, but I’m not sure I know that.
Well I guess that this year a film is going to be released so, maybe…
Oh okay, after that it’s gonna be more known, definitely. Thanks to the movies – that’s how you know things get popular. So why don’t we start then with the first one that you have mentioned, I think the most loved one, the most known among people of all ages – Harry Potter. So what’s your opinion? What’s your experience?
It’s cool. I mean, it is.
That was the podcast, thank you very much.
Thanks very much for listening, we are done. By saying that it is cool I mean that almost everyone can relate whatever your age is, whatever your like age or any age. For example my son who is 12 loves Harry Potter, and me, who is, well, a bit older, who is a bit older, still loves Harry Potter.
Since we’re talking not only about opinion, but experiences with that – how old is your son again?
So which means that last year he was 11 and what happens to children when they turn 11?
Well he wasn’t invited, yeah.
But you know what? I’m still waiting for my invitation, but…
But the Russian Post office has long lost it. Let it go!
But maybe not as a student, but as a teacher. Why not? I’m a good teacher.
I could teach at Hogwarts.
I have a question to you about it, about your son. Cause I remember that last year, as far as I remember, you wanted to organize something for your son, some kind of a gift related to Harry Potter? Or am I wrong?
Actually I bought him lots of Harry Potter stuff not maybe last year, but yeah, a couple of years ago. Yeah he got… well, not real, but a fake invitation from Hogwarts. By the way it’s in English. So you can order it, you can order basically everything related to any universe, any fiction universe.
And we have a letter from Hogwarts in English, we have several magic wands, we have an owl which my friend bought for him in London. Yeah.
Oh my goodness! that’s adorable! So and Natasha, what about you? What’s your…?
So for me, I think, our generation was growing up, you know, when all these books were released. And every year a new book was released. And that means that we were like growing up with books. And I think you experienced the same probably. Katya? Probably not.
So I assume that them you have read all the books?
Have you watched all the movies?
Well the first one and the second and the third ones I think I watched many times, unlike the fourth, the fifth and so on.
Have you read the book in English?
No. I was a child then, a really small child.
Maybe now it’s time to re-read.
Actually, it’s probably time, yeah.
I’ve read two books, two first books and I’ve watched all films and recently I have watched all the films again when I was sick, laying in bed, yeah, I watched all 7 parts. There are 8 parts, right.
Are there 7? I think the seventh was divided into two.
I think, you know, people who are really into this, if we say anything wrong, they will make sure to, you know, leave a comment.
Yes. Feel free to, by the way. Cause we are not… I do not think we say that we are experts or anything.
Of course not. We’re just interested in this.
Yeah, yeah. So it’s just, you know, your average fan and nerd.
I’m just keen on reading and keen on watching films, but I don’t consider myself a fan of anything in particular.
I have only read two first books and I Have also watched all the movies. Just like Natalie actually I have watched the first three so many times I think. And then the rest maybe once, no, twice. Cause last year in November I made sure to watch the rest from fourth to the eighth one, because I realized that I don’t remember any, any…
They’re so dark, and a little bit negative, yeah. They’re not so bright like the first ones.
Because directors were different.
Yeah, they were, for example, two first parts, two first films were directed by Chris Columbus I guess he is.
…. Sorry. I don’t know actually.
They are, you know, like children, designed for children mostly. They are bright.
That’s why I like them so much actually.
Yeah, but, yeah. And again, characters are younger, they are children, and then they grow up and so they face these difficulties.
Go through different stages of getting…
Yeah, yeah. And you know, what was I gonna… Ah! In December when we usually have those new year and Christmas related lessons, I usually ask the students – so is there a film that you watch every year or you know any Christmas movie that you like? And I was surprised to see that so many of them said – yes, every year I rewatch Harry Potter. And to me, that was so surprising. How? It’s not really a Christmas movie!
Like why do you… But it’s a tradition for so many people. I would understand the first part, cause the action takes place at some moment in the movie during Christmas, but all 8 of them?
So not Home Alone anymore? Just…
Yeah! And there is like a tendency to that.
Because of magic, and maybe we all believe that. During the Christmas time some magic should appear in our life.
What house are you? If you went to Hogwarts, what house do you think you would be?
I would say for Ravenclaw as well, but I was tested once because there is a site…
Judging by your look you would say Slytherin right now.
Hufflepuff! You are Hufflepuff! I am Hufflepuff! I am such a Hufflepuff!
But I don’t feel like them.
But I don’t feel like a Hufflepuff. But I was tested, yeah. And there is a site, I don’t remember its name right now, but you can test what..
Yeah, what patronus you have, what magic wand you would have. It’s fun.
Aw it’s so cool to have another Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw in here. Because have you noticed that if you ask people what house do you think you would be in, okay, I think 90% of people would say Slytherin or, of course… What’s the name of the fourth?
We’re just looking at each other like what is wrong with us right now?
That’s the problem with fiction universes – they have so many different names, you have to, like, sort out.
Yeah, to know them, yeah.
Absolutely. Oh, team Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw! Cause they are so close, they’re so close.
Yeah, so they work hard, they are not, you know, into power and dominance.
They’re into intelligence and hard work.
And they appreciate friendship and like all moral values.
Cause Gryffindor is more about…
Well basically yeah. So you know like courage, adventure, and Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, they are more hardworking, you know, humble.
They’re into magic thing more, because they’re more interested into magic.
I think these two houses weren’t given enough attention in the films. I believe so. I even, speaking of my experience with Harry Potter for the last 2.5 years I’ve been teaching on and off at Wellesley College, and I seriously advice our listeners to look it up and google – Wellesley college.
Why? Cause it looks, well, it really looks like Hogwarts. When I first went into the common room, in the living room in my dorm – I was so shocked, I was like am I in Hogwarts?
And it’s all, you know, red bricks, it’s all 100 and more year-old buildings, it’s stone, red colors, you know, those arches, pointed arches.
And is it difficult to find the room you need as it was?
Always! Jesus Christ! It’s so difficult to get from… There are, you know, three buildings that are connected by you know, pathways and ways and corridors and tunnels. And it’s so difficult, you know, to find a room you need. At some point you get used to it, but for the first half a year maybe I was so lost when I needed a room where I didn’t know where it was.
Maybe I missed the thing, but is it a real castle?
What do you mean? Hogwarts?
Yeah, it’s a real college, it’s a college.
It used to be a castle or….?
It’s… Well, in 5 years it’s going to be 125 years old I think.
So, not so old, but still looks old-ish because of the stone and I got so excited when I saw that. And the moment I saw that I said I need to have a Harry Potter themed photoshoot there. And my best friend and I – we did. So we got the robes.
Yes, I’ve seen that. It looks amazing!
Oh thank you! So yeah we got the robes, the costumes, the uniform, the wands, everything. And we had that. And we were lucky that the weather was not very sunny and it was a little bit, you know, gloomy, magic like atmosphere. God I loved it so much!
Like the last parts of the Harry Potter series, not the first ones.
And I was… she was… We took a look of what… What’s her name?
Nymphadora Tonks and what’s the character, the crazy one that is played by Helena Bonham Carter? Lest…
Bellatrix, yes! So we took a look of what Bellatrix and Nymphadora would look like in their college years, in their student years. Even thought technically that was wrong because Bellatrix is Nymphadora’s Aunt, for those who didn’t know. So but yeah.
So and that time I had pink hair, so, you know, it fitted perfectly well. So my friend was a Slytherin and I was a Hufflepuff and we even recreated the scene where Bellatrix kills Nymphadora. Oh it was fun! God, I enjoyed it so much!
Is it okay that I’m so talkative? Cause I have another story connected with Harry Potter.
No no, yeah, me too, actually.
I’ve lived in Scotland and I lived in Edinburgh and actually it’s a city where it was created, Harry Potter was written there actually. And there are a lot of shops with, you know, all those different things connected with…
Yeah yeah yeah, like different merchandise. And actually there is the castle, it’s not actually a castle, it’s a school also, and it’s not really big. But it looks, you know, yeah, like, this gothic style kind of, so it was like a prototype of Hogwarts school.
It might have been actually in some of the scenes maybe, cause I know that they were shooting in Warner Brother studio and in Scotland and in Oxford I think.
It might be. And I first passed, like, I was just going like round this school and I was told like do you know, this is actually Hogwarts. I was like whaaat.
Oh my goodness, that must’ve felt so amazing. That is why I’m a little bit jealous, you know, of those who can see not just something that looks like, but something that might have appeared in the movie itself.
My story is that well there is a… not a tendency maybe, but it’s getting popular to show films on a big screen, old films on a big screen. And I was watching Harry Potter, the second film on the big screen, but instead of music there was a live orchestra.
And that was so cool! You know, you watched the movie, and then all the music is right there. And the orchestra, what, is like 36-40 people. I had goosebumps at some point. And we had to drive to the neighboring state for that.
And we really were looking forward to the next one, but apparently it didn’t pay off in terms of, you know, prices and the amount of people that came, so. Yeah. Yes.
And what do you think about the spin offs? Cause there’s also a movie and a book about the fantastic beasts.
Yeah, I’ve seen them, they’re pretty good if you’re into this universe, you can watch these as well.
Yeah, I’ve seen fantastic beasts as well.
If you think of it as a separate film, it’s okay, it’s fine.
So if you don’t relate it to….
Well I like this character, this actor, Eddie Redmaine.
He’s really good like an actor.
Yeah that’s why we like him, you’re right.
I think I like British actors for the most part. And well, it was fun, but I’m not sure about this, The Cursed Child thing. Cause I read about it, I didn’t read it, but I read about it.
There have been so much controversy about it.
To me it looked weird, so I decided not to.
So the Cursed Child tells the story, if I’m not mistaken, about Harry Potter, being old, having children and the children who go to Hogwarts or something like that.
Yeah. His son and Draco’s son go to like Hogwarts.
Yeah I heard about it, but…
New adventures of new characters and the same location.
Well it has become, you know, quite a big Broadway show. So not… There isn’t a movie, but it’s quite a hit on Broadway. Actually there has been a rumor that has not yet been confirmed, but there is a rumor that HBO has started working on a tv show based on Harry Potter story.
And it’s still not known whether it’s true or not, whether they are going to show the Harry Potter’s life itself or whether there’s going to be a spin off about somebody or, you know, some kind of a look at it. So, yeah. What do you think about it? If there was a tv show, would you watch it?
Maybe, but I mean, I don’t know, there are already so many films and…
I think they are already complete.
They have everything that you need.
They continue developing this universe maybe, you know, like with different characters. But again, it might be only for earning some money. I think that.
I think I would watch it, but I would watch and judge. Maybe.
That’s inevitable, yeah that we would compare. And actually I want to rewatch Harry Potter for one reason – I’ve recently, well, not recently, but some time ago I subscribed to a girl on Instagram who is an art expert, so she gives lectures about art, she writes about art.
And the thing is that she had never, until some point, watched Harry Potter. And everyone was telling her like you should, you should, you should. So she decided to combine these two things – being an art expert and watching Harry Potter.
So she shows now, you know, parts of the movie, and explains the architecture behind them, so the time, and the paintings. Cause you remember that at Hogwarts there are so many paintings hanging and she says what this is an allusion to, what kind of a painting that is, and, you know, what has been changed.
And I would never, actually, I had never thought that there was so much effort put into this part of Harry Potter, but apparently it’s a huge, you know… It’s a separate layer that has been worked on.
Do you think that it has been worked on or maybe it’s just fans who want to find these connections?
But I mean, the paintings are not just random paintings of random people, the thing is that it’s a painting that exists in real life, only with the face changed a little bit. Or sometimes there are paintings that actually, you know, exist.
It sounds like something that, you know, the makers of Harry Potter would definitely do, because they have put so much into it in terms of everything, but now I start to look at it from a different perspective maybe. So, yeah. Very very fascinating.
Sounds really interesting.
Okay. So we all seme to be, you know, not maybe, not huge fans, but you know, this is our love.
Yeah, loving is like part of us, you know.
It is like part of my childhood I think, you know, all this coziness, you know, when you just watch these films with your parents, your relatives, with your friends, and it’s like…
And what if we take a little trip from Hogwarts and magic and basically I don’t know, middle ages, well not middle ages, sorry. But from magic into the stars. Into space and the world of Star Wars.
Jump. What do they call it, a hyper jump or something like that?
Yeah, something like that.
So what’s your experience and what’s your opinion on Star Wars?
For me, like, when I watched the first parts, and they were actually like the first parts, the first, the second and the third. I think the first film was, actually, first movie I’ve watched in a cinema. I don’t know why I didn’t watch any other films before, but I remember this moment I went to the cinema with my aunt and my brother and it was like really really impressive, you know.
I think you made the right choice which movie to watch, cause it must’ve felt… It would’ve felt differently if that was some kind of a cartoon for example.
Cause Star Wars has so many special effects, and to see that on a big screen, it’s different.
Compared to when you watch it on the tv on a small screen.
And I think I like this universe, but again, it was all about these aliens and like spaceships and all these things, you know. And I don’t know, I think I like it better, but it’s not my favorite probably.
But you’ve watched all the films, haven’t you?
I’ve watched the six movies, yeah, so the three first were in the cinema, and the three older ones were much later.
But I watched them much later. I’ve forced myself.
Not that you’ve missed anything.
Yeah because they actually, like, have you seen them?
They look… They have these, you know, special effects that are really outdated.
Well I think it’s always like that…
It gives maybe the atmosphere.
Yeah, yeah, probably. I mean, it was a bit boring to me.
I think it’s always like that when you watch you know, old movies. Cause I sometimes watch well, I force myself to watch some of the old school Doctor Who and it came out in 1963. So it was like oh my goodness, that’s adorable, no special effects at all, like people in costumes made of aluminum foil.
Right? But wait, before I go onto this, you know, long speech I’m about to give. Maria, what did you just say about not watching?
How come that I didn’t watch? Guilty!
Not a single one. Does it sound strange?
Maybe because I just didn’t want to force myself to do it. But then, of course, of course, I know about the universe, and I know some details, I know some names, because you just can’t avoid. You can’t help but know, because it’s a really well designed and thoroughly made and thoroughly created universe.
And of course like George Lucas is a great guy and like talented, and he created a brand name. Not maybe he, but… Big brand name, so I know about it, and maybe that’s the reason why I never watch – if I know about it, why should I watch it?
Just admit it – you don’t wanna be too mainstream.
Or maybe because I am more into, you know…
More into, yeah, well, I just don’t know which word to choose. To me Star Wars it’s like western but located in space, and I’m more into serious science fiction.
You know, you’re not wrong. You are not wrong in this.
I don’t want to offend anyone by saying this, but it’s just something too light maybe.
I feel like people who like Star Wars are used to, you know, judgment about Star Wars, cause, I mean, tastes differ. There are people who hate it, there are people who love it, there are people who just eh, okay, I watched that. Okay. So and why do you think it is popular then?
It has been popular for more than 40 years. And there are millions of fans – why? What’s the secret? What’s the key to success?
Well usually if we speak about universes or sagas, I guess the key is that they are quite simple in the story, the story line is quite simple. And everyone can relate to it, for example if we speak about Star Wars it’s just basically a myth that was modernized and put into a different location, like it was set in space. That’s why.
I love this perspective, I love this outlook on that.
And again, all this merchandise and like this brand name thing, because you can have everything, you can have a t-shirt with Star Wars, like a keyring, everything.
Yeah and you can have a lot of that customized as well, which, you know, makes it a little special for as little as extra 20-30 something dollars for example.
Yeah, and they look cute, I mean the characters look cute, because they are so different.
Okay. I have watched all of the films and I have done so twice and I’m now on my way to rewatching this again for the story.
I really wish you could see the look on Masha’s face.
Like, you have said you are not a big fan, but then…
Oh trust me, because I’ve seen big fans and if I ever say I’m a fan, they’re gonna cut my throat, well, metaphorically, they’re gonna just eat me alive. Like oh you’re saying you’re a fan? What happened…
But you don’t remember this and that.
Yeah. I don’t remember the names so well, I mean, the names of the movies. But yeah, but I like the saga, I like the story, it’s really fun to watch even the old ones. I like watching the old ones too. And it’s interesting to see how, you know, of course the special effects are not as advanced as they are now, but thinking that they made that in the 1970s is astonishing.
Cause the first movie came out in the 70s, not even in the 80s, but the 70s, and it’s fantastic.
Maybe that’s why it was so popular actually cause it was the first thing like that.
Maybe, maybe. Cause yeah, it was really the first of a kind. And there are also, you know, some theories how to watch it properly, cause some people watch it based on a story, in which… Well, in this way they go 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9. Some people watch it based by the time they came out which means 4-5-6-1-2-3-7-8-9.
Some people go with the machete order, which means you watch 4-5-6, skip the first one, then 2-3-7-8-9. Correct me if I’m wrong if anyone who’s nerdy enough is listening. Cause in this case you cut all the boring stuff and you mostly watch, you know, the development, well, not the development, but the story of Luke Skywalker.
So without the politics that is involved in the, you know, in the Empire. So, yeah. And then now there is one thing that is Star Wars universe connected, well, the part of the Star Wars universe, but that has gained a wider popularity maybe among those who have never watched it, which is the spin off, the Mandalorian. Now have you watched the Mandalorian?
I love it how you say not yet, as if you are going to. Are you going to?
You’re just being polite?
No, you could tell us more about it, maybe we would.
Yeah maybe we will get into this.
Okay, to listeners – I’m in advance sorry if my speech will seem long enough, but you asked for it, so it’s… if anything…
Yeah, Maria asked for it. So yeah. Well, the Mandalorian is a spin off that first came out in 2019, yeah, 2019 and it tells the story about one, well I don’t wanna say race, but type of warriors, so it’s not about basically anything in particular from the Star Wars that we know of, but it’s about a certain class, a certain race of warriors who call themselves the Mandalorian, and it’s about one of them.
The action takes place, as it’s said, between the 4th and the 5th movies, well, not that it came out, but the action in the movie. And the things is that there’s a lot of, well, not jokes, but stories about that now, cause a lot of people say that since Disney took over and bought Lucasfilm the Star Wars universe started to suck basically.
The quality went down the hill, they got too vanilla basically. So and now we have the Mandalorian which is also Disney’s creation. The main actor there is Pedro Pascal, who also played in the Game of Thrones, he played the role of Martell. Okay, doesn’t matter.
Anyway, and they’re joking now that Pedro Pascal is carrying the whole of the universe on his back right now, because the Mandalorian now is what gives the popularity, cause after the 7th and 8th and the 9th movies, you know, were not as popular as the previous one had been, so they needed something else.
And actually George Lucas in the, whatever, 80s, 90s, when he was making the 4th and the 5th movies, he said that he’s waiting for the technology to become more advanced, so he can actually, you know, put his idea into life.
And this idea was a tv show about the Mandalorian or, you know, some kind of a spin off. But it was never, you know, enough. So only in 2019 they decided to put this idea into life and made the spin off.
And there are you know, different reasons why it has become such a ray of light and why it has become so popular. First of all, it’s not connected to the story, to the Star Wars story itself, it’s not connected to Luke Skywalker directly for example.
So even people who have never watched the Star Wars, they watched the Mandalorian and after that decided to get into the universe and watch the movies. So you can watch it even if you have no idea about the universe itself.
You know, that’s one more interesting point about universes. You can expand them in any way you want to.
Like, unlimited, yeah. Unlimited, yeah, ideas, unlimited field.
It doesn’t work with any universe though. Cause I don’t think it would work well with Harry Potter, cause we know the basic story. And if we have a spin off for example about Dumbledore, about somebody else, I don’t think it might, you know, make…
Well, Fantastic Beasts, again, is a spin off.
Yeah but how many people were really like, oh, this is so closely connected with The Harry Potter story. Not…
But it’s the same universe.
It is the same universe, but… So the idea that the Mandalorian got or made the universe more popular and gained more admirers into it. So and it’s also the first tv show based on, you know, based on this universe. The first of a kind.
There have been some, you know, fan made things, there have been some cartoons, but never before that a tv show. And one more thing why it has suddenly become so popular – it has a killer feature.
And a killer feature, for those who do not know, it’s from marketing terminology, it’s like an attribute of a product that proves so useful that it becomes the main attraction of the product.
And in the Mandalorian it’s baby Yoda.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen it.
You must’ve seen the pictures, everyone’s like oh baby Yoda, where is it… It’s so cute! It doesn’t do much.
Yeah, because we are not used to seeing him as a baby.
Exactly! And that was the first thing why people started watching it. Oh my god, it’s so cute, it’s adorable.
Actually, I considered watching it because of a Yoda. Cause he looks so cute oh my god.
And this is a killer feature, this is what made it popular. And then we got the merchandise, the toys, so and that leads to even more popularity. So yeah. And that’s, yeah. So I really advise people to watch it.
It’s so light, but at the same time it’s so interesting. There are, you know, allusions to what has happened in the universe, so you might have some Easter eggs as well, so yeah. Good cast. Just 10/10.
We will consider it, yeah. We are considering it now. Probably.
I’m gonna look at you until you say yes yes I’ll watch it!
Yes, yes, I’ll watch it! Okay!
Alright. But yeah. This is a great universe and I… No, I’m not gonna say more about that, otherwise it’ll be a long lecture. Alright, so this is the world of stars and space. What if get from here, tired of the stars, into a quiet green space somewhere in New Zealand? Or something that…
Or somewhere like the Middle Earth?
I’m sorry, forgive me. The Middle Earth. So you can guess what I am gonna talk about, what we are gonna talk about.
What can you tell me about the Lord of the Rings?
I love it so much. Oh my god, it’s like one of my favorite universes I think.
Well, you know, I feel so much respect for the author, because he created something so huge, so big. Not only the universe, but also he invented several languages. It’s like wow, it’s huge. I am amazed. I really am. And he was a linguist I guess.
And a teacher, a professor. And he knew what he was doing. So yeah.
And actually it’s interesting that he first created the language, you know, just as… for fun, interesting things people did for fun back then, right. So then for the language he created the world and the races. And only after that he created the story itself. How fascinating that is, right?
So and, so have you read the books, have you watched the movies? What is the situation like for you?
I guess I have, I guess I’ve read the book when I was a child or a teenager. I thought that it was quite a difficult type of reading for me back in those days. And I watched films, yeah, I did.
And have you read and watched both the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit?
Well, I think I watched all films, but I read only the Lord of the Rings.
So I watched the movies, I read the book, only not the Hobbit, not the second part because I don’t know, it was a little bit kinda boring for me I think. There were too many characters, I don’t know, I don’t really like it. But the Lord of the Rings it’s like oh my god, I just love it so much seriously.
I have a question to you as someone who has both rea the books and watched the movies. Do you think that the books are better or do you think that the films are just..
They’re really close actually. It’s an amazing example when a book and a film they’re actually close, you know.
So you didn’t feel angry like oh no, they forgot to…
Well, they did forget some things, but they were not like really as important, you know. And you know, the atmosphere, and the character they’re like amazing. Just like in the book.
I guess that sometimes you just need to omit several things in order to make your film, like, good. Because you can’t just stuff it with everything that was, all the detail that were in the book.
I mean there are already like three really long movies.
Yeah, it’s already 11 hours. How much more do you need, yeah. I love it how… I admire Tolkien. I have never read all of the books, but I have started to read the first one, I’ve watched all the movies once. But I just admire him as a person. So he was a little bit of a… I don’t know, literature hooligan maybe. So when he was asked about the genre, people asked him, like is it fantasy? Is it… What kind of a fantasy? And he said no no no, this is an essay on linguistic aesthetics.
How cool is that? How cool is that? So and I think that it’s pleasant to read, even though I’ve read just a little bit. Not only from the story point of view, from the line, from anything like that, but from the linguistic point of view. It’s so satisfying and beautiful. And I know that he…
So why in the first place did he decide to write it? So he thought of a language, thought of the world, thought of the story. But he thought of the story because he was a little bit jealous maybe or disappointed that England did not have its own mythology.
Scandinavian countries did, Wales did, Scotland did have its own mythology, but not England. So he wanted to create something that would, you know, be closely connected with that.
As far as I know he was a religious man.
He was a catholic, yeah, he was a believer, very religious.
It’s like he put this bible story into another setting again, and so he re-wrote it kinda.
By the way, I think you’ve heard about…
Sorry, yeah, he like popularized the bible for people kinda. Not, like, literally, but…
Speaking of bible, I think you’ve heard of chronicles of Narnia.
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.
Yeah this is also connected with the bible.
Clive Staples Lewis, I think, yeah.
You just opened the doors to a separate dimension to me, cause I have never heard or thought about it, as the… another, not the version, but that being connected with the bible. I knew he was a religious man, but wow! Now I definitely need not only to read the books, but to read them carefully and thinking about a different perspective. Thank you!
I’m actually curious – dear listeners, did you know about this? Or am I the only one? Because out of three people I’m now the only one who didn’t know about that, please tell me I’m not alone in that.
It’s okay to discover new things.
Of course, of course. Alright, and I like it how we jump from… We travel from the magical world to the space and stars, back to, you know, nature and magic.
Are there any other places we haven’t been to?
Why don’t we move, why don’t we go and take this mental trip to modern life New York city. So… Intrigued?
So, according to some… Not according, but if we look at different movies, New York city is the place where so many catastrophes and things happen and that kinda let to the whole universe of superheroes. Of course when talking about sagas and universes, I think we would be told off, you know, if we didn’t mention Marvel and DC. So, what’s your opinion on that?
It’s fine I guess. Again, it’s not my favorite, but I love Spiderman actually. It’s one of the, like, you know, movies that I’ve watched when I was a child and I have like really nice memories about it, but others…
If I was nerdy enough, I would ask you which Spiderman are you talking about? I’m not, so I’m not.
The first one of course. I don’t remember the actor actually.
And what about you, very often blinking Maria?
It’s like what I do know is that Marvel is Spiderman and DC is Superman. Okay. Am I good enough?
I’ve watched a couple of Batman films, yeah, and that’s it, that’s about it.
I, again, I would not say that I am a fan, not even close to being a fan, cause I know people who are. And… But I have watched 10 or something movies, cause I watched the ones about Thor and Loki… The one about Ragnarok.
Again because first of all, I love the actor, cause who doesn’t like Tom Hiddleston, let’s be fair. Then I like the Scandinavian mythology and at some point I got interested in that and I thought – is there anything, you know, in there at all connected with it? So I kinda watched it. And then there were Caption Marvel, who’s gorgeous, Wonder woman.
Wonder woman is pretty good, I liked it actually.
Yeah, I liked that as a separate story that I don’t need to connect to any other story, so if you ask me – what happened between this and this movie and how it is connected to that and that? I would say meow? That’s probably all I can say.
I like watching, I like watching it in cinema, cause this is one of the few times that I go to the cinema, you know, to have some action, sound, popcorn, but that’s it.
And do you guys like reading comic books?
I would say that depends. So I would like to discover this world. So far I’m only reading Sandman, which is different, which is dark story, it’s not as bright and, you know, thin. But I would really like to read more about… You know, to discover this world. But I’m just afraid to even step into that, because it’s too big. There are so many universes well, not the universes, stories, substories, characters time, so when I see…
So you are going to become a nerd or don’t start it.
Yeah I think if you don’t wanna actually be committed, you better not even go into that. So what about you?
I’ve never read comic books, but I consider them maybe a good source of studying a language, so I could recommend comic books for those who are studying English, who are learning English, because it’s like nice pictures, not much text. Interesting.
Simple stories. Well, sorry for this word simple, I don’t know, maybe it’s not what I’m supposed to say, but I consider them simple.
I love teaching the topic of sounds with comics, cause you know, they have all these boom, tsh, yes yes yes yes yes. And you see this combination of letter, you’re like how am I supposed to read that? I’m like oh, let’s talk about that. So, yeah.
Of course there are, you know, some useful sides, and there are some bad sides of comic books, like that being you have to actually commit to that. And if anyone doesn’t want to have, you know, a huge amount of stories, I would always advise reading Sandman, which is eleven books, well, it’s like comic books, and not you know those thin 5-page comics.
So dark, but fantastic. Well and what… Of course we have talked about the most famous and loved and known. But what about universes and sagas and worlds that are not even, you know, they are great or even greater that we personally enjoy and know? I can see that Masha wants to say something, please, go on.
Well, as I have already mentioned, I’m more into… Well, I’m into science fiction books, but when it comes to more serious science fiction. I mean, more like not space operas, not western based in space, but so called hard science fiction or soft science fiction. Yeah.
And if we speak about soft science fiction, it’s more into social studies and like which describes the life of society in the future, like the future of the human race. And in this relation I can speak about, like, ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert, which is considered like one of the greatest works in this science fiction field.
Can you… Cause I’ve never… I have to be honest, I have never heard about this, forgive me, I have never read this. Can you briefly tell the story of it? I mean, what is it about?
It’s about.. Basically, it’s about like a family, and like how they live on a planet which is not a great place to live and how they get by. In a nutshell.
I guess it has several volumes as far as I remember.
I mean, no matter how huge it is, it is A book, and that is more promising than oh yeah, it’s a series of 33 books.
I’m not sure if it is one novel of several volumes, or several novels, like, separate, here I am not sure. But I know that there are two films and a tv series and several games and so on.
Cause this, this soft science fiction as you say, this is something that I am quite interested in, so I’m always looking for new things to read or watch, so when you described that, I didn’t know it was called soft science fiction. To me it was just science fiction. What came to my mind is some of the short stories by Ray Bradbury, for example, about Mars colonization.
Yeah, like the Chronicles of Mars.
The Chronicles of Mars, the Marsian Chronicles.
So yeah, soft science fiction basically deals with complex themes like human evolution, religion, science, and maybe economics, politics.
Ecology, moral values. Not just, you know, blasters and shooting.
It’s much more, yeah. Fascinating I think.
Another thing that comes to mind is Ender’s Game by Scott… Something Scott, I’m sorry. So Ender’s Game.
I heard about this, but I haven’t read it.
There’s a movie also I think.
I should look into that! Cause the thing is that Ender’s Game is a series of books which tells the story. The first book is about children who are taken into space and taught to be some kind of warriors and defenders of the Earth but in space. And the thing is that since it’s children, it raises the topics of upbringing, moral values. Cause the children are killing. To them at some point it is presented as a game.
Yeah there is a movie, definitely. You should watch it.
And you know, in addition to just showing, showing in quotation marks, describing the space, it also covers all the social aspects that you’ve mentioned. But that is soft science fiction. And what is… Hard science fiction?
Hard science fiction. Well, actually, I can’t just, I can’t help but mention that I’m against labelling. It’s very vague, but mostly hard science fiction, well, it’s closer to real science. It’s like more truly scientific than social. That’s the difference. Hard science fiction is about how science might be developing in the future. But soft science fiction is how the human race and the society might develop in the future.
It’s a distinction, but of course lots of authors who just combine.
So which authors or books would you advise?
On hard science fiction? Maybe Isaak Asimov’s like The Foundation series. Like The Foundation and Earth and so on. Maybe you could start with his short stories or short novels about robots.
Yeah, I, Robot. Cause he was the one who introduced these rules of the robotic science and actually scientists, they use it, they use these rules, these laws of robotic science.
Cause he was also a scientist.
He was, yeah. As far as I remember, a professor of biology or something.
So Natalie you know what Maria is talking about.
Yeah. I also read a lot of science fiction, like a lot, especially in my teens I read, like, hundreds of the books.
I don’t know, I was just surrounded by science fiction books in my home and in my granddad’s home.
I think that is amazing, amazing. Natalie, is there any universe or saga that you personally like that hasn’t been mentioned yet?
Yeah now that you ask about it, nothing comes to my mind. As it always happens.
What about the Chronicles of Narnia that you have mentioned before?
Yeah, but it’s not science fiction, it’s like fantasy.
But about the general sagas, maybe fantasy. Is there anything in the world of fantasy that you…
Yeah I should think about it.
Alright. Cause I have two worlds.
Oh go. Oh I thought you remembered something, I was like oh please!
We now that you are going to talk, we can see it in your face.
So I guess one of the reasons… There are several reasons I think to why you’re like ah, yes, cause for some time we, first of all, studied together, and then I also post some things on Instagram, you know, about being nerdy in this way. But yeah, there are two worlds that I love with all my heart, with the whole of me basically. The first world is the world of Doctor Who.
And to those who have been, you know, listening to the podcast for quite a while they might know about that because we talked about it with Sam in the podcast about British tv shows. I have mentioned it numerous amount of times in different episodes, but yeah, I love Doctor Who universe and it’s one of the most fascinating ones for me because the first episode of Doctor Who came out in 1963.
So it’s been on for more… It’s been on for more than… for nearly 60 years and it’s still just as popular as it was. Several generations of British people grew up watching this. And the thing is that it’s so conveniently made so you can actually keep making it for as long as you want.
Is it in the Guinness book of records for being like the long lasting tv show or I don’t know?
Because it sounds amazing, like, 60 years.
But we have so many shows that have like way more episodes, but they are soap operas or dramas or something like that. So I don’t know… It might be, but I’m not sure about that. So and I love it how first of all, I love the effects, I love the story, I love the actors.
I love basically everything about it. And I love that the main character, the Doctor, he is never, never pro-violence, he is always anti-violence. So and he always tries, well, they always try I should say, cause there has been a female Doctor as well.
They always try to find an alternative way that would not involve violence. And that’s what I like. So it teaches, you know, certain lessons as well. And yeah. So.
What else I like about it, you know, he’s basically almost a regular human. He doesn’t have any extra powers or something like that. He’s just a human, he just has two hearts, you know.
Yeah the main character is a time lord who looks exactly like a human, only that two hearts and he can’t really die cause regeneration happens.
And he’s immortal. That’s it, basically.
And he’s always solving the problems using his I mean, charisma or his… just his ability to…
And the universe… This universe is not only the tv show, but there has been two movies, numerous books, comic books, podcasts, several spin offs, at least three that we know of. And yeah, and I love this universe so much that, like, 1…
Is it like science fiction?
Kind of. It is a science fiction.
Science fiction is a little bit… Science fiction. I would say fantasy, but it’s not really fantasy, but yeah. More of science fiction.
Is he like Sherlock Holmes but immortal?
A combination of that dealing with liens most of the time.
And saving Earth from techno-catastrophes for example. And I love this universe so much that 1) in 2013 I actually went to London to Doctor Who 50th anniversary convention and that was one of the happiest moments of my life.
I loved it, I loved being among thousands of people who, you know, are fans, I loved seeing them, the panels, the talks, everything. And again, I love this show and it has been such a huge part of my life for more than 10 years now that I got the TARDIS, which is a thing from Doctor Who, tattooed on my shoulder blade.
And the second world that I absolutely adore is the world… The Discworld which is the world in the shape of a disc that is placed on a giant… Placed on the backs of four elephants who stand on the back of a giant turtle and this is the world created in the books by Terry Pratchett.
Sir Terry Pratchett, may he rest in peace, who is an author who I admire, again, with all my heart. Because, well, I consider him a genius because not only are the books interesting and gripping and captivating, it’s also so much deeper than that.
And you will see different layers of meanings, you know, with age maybe. Because there are so many allusions to the real world and events. References to historical events. For example now I’m reading a book which is called Feet of Clay and it’s about golems and you think okay, just some creatures.
But this is such a clear allusion to communism, you know, and the desires of communism in opposition to corporate world for example. So as well… Well he also shows deep knowledge of the language, of Latin, there is so much linguistic humor, cause it’s a humorous fantasy. Not a science fiction, but pure fantasy, humorous fantasy. And there is so much into this.
Even the names are created in such a way that it’s a separate layer of humor. And I have written my thesis about it at university. I have devoted at least a year of studying and again, I have decided to commemorate the work done by Sir Terry Pratchett by tattooing the Discworld on my forearm. So it’s always with me, always in my heart and on my skin now too.
I like his works too, I read so many. And yeah. Actually, I recently read a book, I don’t remember the name, but it’s about, like, so it’s not said like that there, but it’s about China. And there are also a lot of linguistic puns.
Interesting times the book is.
Actually, I read it in 2020 and I made a lot of jokes about it, because in there it says there is an ancient proverb… Or an ancient curse which is my you live in the interesting times and I’m like well if that ain’t what we’re having now.
That’s the proverb I heard, but in a tv series. Maybe you watched it, The White Collar.
And one of the characters used this proverb.
And I don’t know where it was from.
Yeah, but it was not Neil Carefree, it was his friend who used this proverb.
So there are so many allusions and references, and, you know, and I think when I was reading it first at the age of 15-16 I only followed the story. When I re-read some of the stories when I was 20 I saw different things.
Now at 27 I see totally different things about that and that raises different thoughts in my head. And that’s what I love, it’s timeless. Absolutely timeless. Natalie, have you remembered any universe that you…
I’m gonna check on you, you know, after the podcast. What about now? What about now? What about now?
Alright, I have mentioned going to Doctor Who 50th anniversary convention and I kinda wanna ask you – so what do you think about all these conventions, cosplay, all these things? Have you ever been to or would you like to?
Well I have never been to but I can totally understand why people do it, because, well, we all need the sense of belonging and sharing. That’s why people go into sports maybe, because they want to share their, like, interests.
And the sense of belonging is very important. Like, to find the place where we feel home. And well, I would maybe go to some convention or like I would do cosplay, but I know that costumes cost a lot.
Like, they cost a fortune. And the tickets, and again, all festivals like music festivals and these conventions they are really very interesting and exciting, but you need to save up.
And it’s amazing because you know, you can actually touch these universes, like all of them at once.
From the inside, like, so close.
And a lot of people who think the same, share your interests, and it’s woah, it’s amazing.
And it’s like you meet someone I guess, well, I’ve never been to these events.
But it’s like you know that you will find something in common with this person, because he’s here or she’s here and you know why and you at least have something to talk about. It’s easier to make friends I guess.
Even if they’re just people you’re gonna spend a day or two with, but it’s fun, so fun. And I’m still so grateful that I had an opportunity to go, because at that time the ticket was, let’s say, 49 pounds. Last year there was a comic con in New York city, and I really wanted to go to, wait, yeah, it was, sorry, it was supposed to happen last year in September of 2020, and I was supposed to go there.
The tickets were about $250, but it covered several universes and it had some guest stars. Well, the Doctor Who convention also had guest stars obviously, but yeah. And the bigger it is, the more expensive that is.
Cause one of the biggest comic con in San Diego is about $500 per ticket, which is quite expensive given that you also have to fly to San Diego. But the atmosphere is unbelievable.
It’s just… It gives you so much energy. Oh my goodness, I love this so much, so much. The nerdy side of me is incredibly happy.
I remember actually, if you want to know about some other tv shows, or books to read and to watch in English, you can always check out our old videos on Youtube actually where your nerdy teacher Katerina shared some things.
Yeah, but now that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and we had quite a nerdy talk about the universes and sagas. So we talked about Harry Potter, Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings. What makes them popular, why we love them, and we really do.
That’s so pleasant to hear. Time… You know when you have a conversation like that time really flies, just like it did now. Well we have also sheared our thoughts on Marvel and DC that we, you know, don’t know much about that. And we shared our own loves and universes that, you know, have a certain place in our hearts.
Thank you for listening and remember, if you struggle to understand our conversation, you’re always welcome to our website which is BigAppleSchool.com/podcast . You can find full scripts of each episode there, so you can listen, click on the script button and read it.
So and it’s actually so fun, because the words just pop up when you listen, so it’s very easy to follow. And if you want t get more content which will help you learn English, you can follow us on social media – Vk, Instagram, Youtube, Telegram.
Just search our name, which is again BigAppleSchool. And leave in the comments which universes do you like and why. Again, we always like talking to the listeners, it’s one of the joys. So that was Katya, and my guests for today were..
Stay tuned and we’ll see you around.