Speak English Like an American » LESSON 8 - Ted Forms a Rock Band

Ted Forms a Rock Band

Ted plans to become a successful musician. First, he needs Susan to loan him money for a new guitar Susan suggests that Ted bake cookies to earn the money.

Susan: You're in good spirits today, Ted.

Ted: I've got great news, Mom.

Susan: What is it?

Ted: Amber and I are going to start a rock band!

Susan: Good for you!

Ted: Mom, I'm not going to beat around the bush. I need to borrow $1,000 for a new guitar.

Susan: Ted, your father and I can't shell out that much. We aren't made of money.

Ted: You're not? I thought you were millionaires, like Donald and Ivana Trump!*

Susan: Ha ha. This is no time to be a wise guy!

Ted: I promise I'll pay you back.

Susan: How?

Ted: We're going to take the music world by storm and make lots of money.

Susan: That sounds like a pipe dream. Aren't high school rock bands a dime a dozen?

Ted: Yeah, but we're different. With my guitar playing and Amber's beautiful voice, we're sure to make a splash!

Susan: Well, we're going through hard times. You're going to have to work for that $1,000.

Ted: How?

Susan: You can bake cookies.

Ted: I bet Mrs. Clapton never made Eric** bake cookies, but I guess those are the breaks.

* Donald Trump is a famous American millionaire who made his money in real estate. Ivana is his ex-wife.

** Eric Clapton is a very popular guitarist.

  • (to) beat around the bush
    to talk around the subject; to avoid getting to the point
    EXAMPLE 1: Kara beat around the bush for an hour, then finally told us she needed a ride to Kennedy Airport.
    EXAMPLE 2: If you want something, tell me. Don't beat around the bush!
  • dime a dozen
    so plentiful as to be nothing special; common
    EXAMPLE 1: Reality TV shows are a dime a dozen these days.
    EXAMPLE 2: There are so many Starbucks coffee shops in Manhattan, they're a dime a dozen.

    NOTE: This expression comes from the fact that a "dime" is worth only ten cents (very little value).

  • Good for you!
    Good job! Well done!
    EXAMPLE 1: You won $100,000 on the TV game show Jeopardy? Good for you!
    EXAMPLE 2: You passed your math test? Good for you!
  • hard times
    a time of difficulty
    EXAMPLE 1: Since his wife left him for her dentist, Dan has been going through hard times.
    EXAMPLE 2: Nancy's family is going through hard times. Her father just lost his job.
  • (to be) in good spirits
    happy; in a good mood
    EXAMPLE 1: After she won the tennis tournament, Elizabeth was in good spirits.
    EXAMPLE 2: Sam was in good spirits after receiving his Christmas bonus.
  • made of money
    very rich
    EXAMPLE 1: My neighbor is re-modeling his house to look like Versailles. He doesn't have good taste, but he certainly is made of money.
    EXAMPLE 2: Max should be willing to loan you $10,000 to start your new business. He's made of money.

    SYNONYMS: loaded; rolling in dough; to have money to burn

  • (to) make a splash
    to win popularity quickly
    EXAMPLE 1: Nicole's beautiful cousin Cecilia from Santo Domingo really made a splash at the high school dance.
    EXAMPLE 2: Those new jeans really made a splash. All the kids are wearing them.

    SYNONYM: to be a hit

  • (to) pay (someone) back
    to repay a loan or debt
    EXAMPLE 1: Nicole paid her friend back the $10 she borrowed.
    EXAMPLE 2: You can borrow $50, but don't forget to pay me back!

    NOTE: "Pay back" also means to "get revenge." Example: I know you're the one who stole my car, and one day I'll think of a way to pay you back!

  • pipe dream
    an unrealistic hope
    EXAMPLE 1: Susan would like to move to New Zealand and write romance novels, but she knows that's just a pipe dream.
    EXAMPLE 2: You want to become a famous actor on Broadway? That sounds like a pipe dream.
  • (to) shell out
    to pay (often more than one would like)
    EXAMPLE 1: Bob shelled out $5,000 for Nicole's piano lessons before she decided she'd rather play the flute.
    EXAMPLE 2: How much am I going to have to shell out to get two tickets to the Rolling Stones concert?
  • (to) take (something) by storm
    to win popularity quickly
    EXAMPLE 1: The play "The Producers" really took New York by storm.
    EXAMPLE 2: That new restaurant really took Chicago by storm!
  • (that's or those are) the breaks
    when something bad happens and you can't do anything about it
    EXAMPLE 1: By the time we got to the theater, the new Harry Potter movie was already sold out. Oh well, that's the breaks!
    EXAMPLE 2: Your glasses fell on a rock and broke while you were fishing? Those are the breaks!
  • wise guy
    a smart aleck; one who makes a lot of sarcastic comments
    EXAMPLE 1: When Mrs. Lee asked Joey what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said, "An adult." She told him not to be such a wise guy.
    EXAMPLE 2: That clerk in the video store is a real wise guy. He's always making nasty comments about the customers.

    SYNONYMS: wise ass [rude], smart ass [rude]

Practice The Idioms

Choose the best substitute for the phrase in bold:

  1. I'm in good spirits today because I got a promotion at work.
    • a) happy
    • b) drunk
    • c) tired
  2. Renting an apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan is difficult, unless you're made of money.
    • a) wealthy
    • b) strange
    • c) famous
  3. My friend's daughter paints beautiful pictures. In a few years, she'll take the art world by storm.
    • a) something bad will happen and she'll lose her job
    • b) she'll draw an excellent painting of a storm
    • c) she'll become a very successful artist
  4. Susan thinks that Ted's plan to become a famous rock star is a pipe dream.
    • a) something that is not likely to happen
    • b) Ted's biggest hope
    • c) something very realistic
  5. If you're looking for a new suit, you shouldn't have a problem. Clothing shops in this town are a dime a dozen.
    • a) hard to find
    • b) everywhere
    • c) lousy
  6. Ted performed at his high school dance. He knew he'd made a splash when all the girls started singing along.
    • a) done something wrong
    • b) made a very positive impression
    • c) created waves
  7. Being a wise guy can be fun, but it might not make you popular with your teachers.
    • a) a very intelligent person
    • b) an obnoxious person who makes sarcastic comments
    • c) a person whom everybody admires
  8. Nicole wants to attend Yale, but her parents don't want to shell out $100,000 for the tuition.
    • a) waste
    • b) save
    • c) pay
Answer Key
Practice The Idioms
  1. a
  2. a
  3. c
  4. a
  5. b
  6. b
  7. b
  8. c
Answer Key
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