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VOA慢速英语2010年-Harry Houdini, 1874-1926: The Great Es

时间:2011-01-03 05:36来源:互联网 提供网友:hp2786   字体: [ ]
    (单词翻译:双击或拖选)

BARBARA KLEIN: I’m Barbara Klein.

STEVE EMBER: And I’m Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program PEOPLE IN AMERICA. Today we tell about Harry1 Houdini, the great escape artist and magician2.

BARBARA KLEIN: It was a hot July day in nineteen twelve. A huge crowd gathered near New York City’s East River. They were there to watch a man whose hands and legs had been locked together. The man was put into a wooden box on a tugboat near the riverbank. The box was nailed shut. Ropes were wrapped around the box. More than ninety kilograms of lead weight were put on top. The box was then lowered into the water.

STEVE EMBER: Time seemed to go by slowly. The crowd was sure the man would soon be dead. But suddenly, there were bubbles in the water. The man swam to the surface, his arms and legs free. When the box was pulled to the surface, it was still nailed shut and the ropes were still wrapped around it. Scientific American magazine later wrote it was “one of the most remarkable3 tricks ever performed.” The man who had just escaped death was named Harry Houdini.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: Harry Houdini’s real name was Ehrich Weisz. He was born in Budapest, Hungary in eighteen seventy-four. His father was a rabbi, a Jewish religious leader. His family moved to the United States two years later. Young Ehrich worked at many different jobs to help earn money for his poor family. But he really wanted to be in show business.

Legendary4 escape artist Harry Houdini is shown in chains in this photo circa 1899.

STEVE EMBER: When he was nine years old, he performed a trapeze act on a swing high above the audience. He was “Ehrich, the Prince of the Air.” Then he read about a famous French magician named Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. It changed his life. Erich took Houdin’s last name, changed the pronunciation and added and “i” at the end. He then began learning magic tricks, and called himself Harry Houdini. He took his act to many places in New York State. For a while, he worked in a traveling circus.

BARBARA KLEIN: At first, Houdini performed regular magic tricks, using cards, coins, and other objects that he would make disappear. But the audience seemed to like it best when Houdini performed an escape. He soon became famous for being able to free himself from danger.

Most of the time, his wrists would be held together by handcuffs. Sometimes chains would be wrapped around his body and locked. At other times, he wore a straightjacket, like the kind used in mental hospitals to restrain patients. He once escaped from a straightjacket while hanging high in the air, upside down, from a crane.

Harry Houdini prepares to be closed in the crate5 and lowered into the New York Harbor.

Houdini escaped from milk cans. He escaped from the strongest jails in the United States. No one ever found a pair of handcuffs that would hold him.

STEVE EMBER: But Houdini’s most famous escape was called “The Chinese Water Torture.” First, his feet were locked together. Then he was lowered, upside down, into a glass box filled with water. A curtain was placed in front of the box so the audience could not see how the trick was done.

Several minutes would go by. Houdini’s helpers on stage acted as if something were wrong. The audience feared that the Great Houdini was drowning. They would yell6: “Pull him out. Lift him up. He is dying!”

BARBARA KLEIN: But, of course, he was not dying. Finally, the curtain would drop. Houdini would be standing7 next to the box, free and unharmed.

Audiences around the world loved this trick so much, Houdini performed it for the rest of his career.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: During Houdini’s lifetime, some people thought it was possible to talk with or somehow communicate with dead people. Houdini hoped this were true. He had loved his mother very much. After she died, he tried to talk with her spirit. But after years of trying, he realized that he was wasting his time. He decided8 that no one could talk with the dead.

Magician Harry Houdini was also well known for his card tricks.

BARBARA KLEIN: But many other people thought Houdini was wrong. They held meetings, or séances, to try to communicate with the “other world.” Usually, people would sit around a table in a darkened room and hold hands. They would close their eyes. The leader of the group, called a medium, would speak out and ask a spirit to come into the room. Sometimes they asked the spirit to speak to them, or to make some kind of sound. Often, the medium would charge money in order to try to contact the spirits.

STEVE EMBER: Harry Houdini knew it was all false. He easily discovered that these mediums were using some kind of trick just to make money. He began to give speeches, telling how the mediums were fooling people. He even spoke9 before the United States Congress. He said:

JIM TEDDER10: “Please understand that I am not attacking a religion. I respect every genuine believer in spiritualism or any other religion. But this thing, wherein a medium communicates with the dead, is a fraud11 from start to finish. In thirty-five years, I have never seen one genuine medium.”

BARBARA KLEIN: Houdini was so sure that he was right, he offered ten thousand dollars to anyone who could prove he was wrong. No one ever collected the money.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: Harry Houdini had a long career as a magician and an escape artist. He became the most famous magician in the world. He wrote books and acted in movies. He made a lot of money and lived well. He bought a small airplane and flew it himself. His name was always in the newspapers. It seemed the entire world knew the name of Harry Houdini. But Houdini would not live to see old age. His life ended suddenly in nineteen twenty-six.

A group of celebrities12 pose13 in front of the star for legendary illusionist Harry Houdini on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

BARBARA KLEIN: Houdini was resting in a private room after giving a speech at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He had not felt well for several days. A young college student asked to meet the great magician. Houdini agreed.

The young man asked if it were true that Houdini would not be harmed even if hit very hard in the stomach. Houdini said that was true. The student drew back his fist and hit Houdini in the stomach three times.

STEVE EMBER: Houdini had not had time to stiffen14 his stomach muscles. He fell backward in great pain. Doctors found that Houdini’s appendix15 had burst. In those days, this almost always caused death. Poisons had been released in Houdini’s body.

He lived for a few more days. Then died on October thirty-first -- Halloween. Thousands of people came to New York City for Houdini’s funeral. He was buried next to his parents on Long Island. Under his head lay a pillow, filled with letters his mother had written to him.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: But the story of Harry Houdini did not end there. He had said that no one could communicate with the dead. Yet he had told his wife, Bess, to try to speak with him after he passed into the spirit world. Harry told her two words that he would say to her so that she would not be fooled by some trick. Those words were, “Rosabelle, believe.” “Rosabelle” was the name of a song that Bess had sung many years before. No one but Houdini and his wife knew these secret words.

STEVE EMBER: Bess tried to talk with Harry’s spirit each year on Halloween night. The years passed. Once, Bess said that she thought that one time she had made contact with Harry. But she then said she was wrong. She had been sick. She had heard nothing. Finally, after ten years of trying, something unexpected did happen. Bess gave up. She said that was long enough to wait for any man.

BARBARA KLEIN: Bess was said to have kept a lighted candle by a picture of Harry in her home. Her last attempt at communicating with him was in nineteen thirty-six at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood, California. She took the candle with her and kept it lit while she called to Harry’s spirit. She tried again and again. When nothing happened, she finally said, almost in a whisper:

FAITH LAPIDUS:“I do not think that Harry will come back to me or anyone. I think the dead don’t speak. I now regretfully turn out the light. This is the end, Harry. Goodnight!”

BARBAR KLEIN: Then she blew out the candle.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: This program was written by Jim Tedder and produced by Dana Demange. Jim Tedder was the voice of Harry Houdini. Faith Lapidus was the voice of his wife, Bess. I’m Steve Ember.

BARBARA KLEIN: And I’m Barbara Klein. Our programs are online with transcripts16 and MP3 files at voaspecialenglish.com. And you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English.

 


点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 harry heBxS     
vt.掠夺,蹂躏,使苦恼
参考例句:
  • Today,people feel more hurried and harried.今天,人们感到更加忙碌和苦恼。
  • Obama harried business by Healthcare Reform plan.奥巴马用医改掠夺了商界。
2 magician 287zL     
n.魔术师,变戏法的人,术士
参考例句:
  • With a wave of his hand,the magician made the rabbit vanish.魔术师手一挥兔子便不见了。
  • The magician transformed the man into a rabbit.魔术师把那个人变成了兔子。
3 remarkable 8Vbx6     
adj.显著的,异常的,非凡的,值得注意的
参考例句:
  • She has made remarkable headway in her writing skills.她在写作技巧方面有了长足进步。
  • These cars are remarkable for the quietness of their engines.这些汽车因发动机没有噪音而不同凡响。
4 legendary u1Vxg     
adj.传奇(中)的,闻名遐迩的;n.传奇(文学)
参考例句:
  • Legendary stories are passed down from parents to children.传奇故事是由父母传给孩子们的。
  • Odysseus was a legendary Greek hero.奥狄修斯是传说中的希腊英雄。
5 crate 6o1zH     
vt.(up)把…装入箱中;n.板条箱,装货箱
参考例句:
  • We broke open the crate with a blow from the chopper.我们用斧头一敲就打开了板条箱。
  • The workers tightly packed the goods in the crate.工人们把货物严紧地包装在箱子里。
6 yell cfQwN     
vi./n.号叫,叫喊
参考例句:
  • This gave them a chance to yell.这给了他们大声喊叫的机会。
  • When his schoolmate made the last goal,the boy gave out with an untrammeled yell.那个男孩在他的同学踢进最后一球时不禁纵声欢呼。
7 standing 2hCzgo     
n.持续,地位;adj.永久的,不动的,直立的,不流动的
参考例句:
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
8 decided lvqzZd     
adj.决定了的,坚决的;明显的,明确的
参考例句:
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
9 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
参考例句:
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
10 tedder 2833afc4f8252d8dc9f8cd73b24db55d     
n.(干草)翻晒者,翻晒机
参考例句:
  • Jim Tedder has more. 吉姆?特德将给我们做更多的介绍。 来自互联网
  • Jim Tedder tells us more. 吉姆?泰德给我们带来更详细的报道。 来自互联网
11 fraud mf5zq     
n.骗子,欺骗,欺诈,诡计
参考例句:
  • We will introduce legal safeguards against fraud.我们将推行防止欺诈的法律条款。
  • The prosecutor accused the defendant of fraud.原告控告被告犯有欺诈罪。
12 celebrities d38f03cca59ea1056c17b4467ee0b769     
n.(尤指娱乐界的)名人( celebrity的名词复数 );名流;名声;名誉
参考例句:
  • He only invited A-list celebrities to his parties. 他只邀请头等名流参加他的聚会。
  • a TV chat show full of B-list celebrities 由众多二流人物参加的电视访谈节目
13 pose 0ukyP     
vt.造成,陈述;vi.摆姿势,装腔作势;n.姿势
参考例句:
  • He sat in a relaxed pose.他轻松自如地坐着。
  • He always strikes such a dignified pose before his girlfriend.他总是在女友面前摆出这种庄严的姿态。
14 stiffen zudwI     
v.(使)硬,(使)变挺,(使)变僵硬
参考例句:
  • The blood supply to the skin is reduced when muscles stiffen.当肌肉变得僵硬时,皮肤的供血量就减少了。
  • I was breathing hard,and my legs were beginning to stiffen.这时我却气吁喘喘地开始感到脚有点僵硬。
15 appendix mNtz7     
n.附录,附属物,阑尾,盲肠
参考例句:
  • I have recently had my appendix removed.我最近切除了阑尾。
  • There is an appendix at the back of the book.该书末尾处有一附录。
16 transcripts 525c0b10bb61e5ddfdd47d7faa92db26     
n.抄本( transcript的名词复数 );转写本;文字本;副本
参考例句:
  • Like mRNA, both tRNA and rRNA are transcripts of chromosomal DNA. tRNA及rRNA同mRNA一样,都是染色体DNA的转录产物。 来自辞典例句
  • You can't take the transfer students'exam without your transcripts. 没有成绩证明书,你就不能参加转学考试。 来自辞典例句
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TAG标签:   VOA慢速英语  Houdini
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