Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We answer a question about Zorro ...
Play some music from the Zozo Sisters …
And report about a new computer program that creates video games.
Make Your Own Video Games
Have you ever thought about making your own video games? For creative people who enjoy playing video games, Microsoft has announced some good news. Mario Ritter has more.
Microsoft is offering a computer program for making video games. The XNA Game Studio Express tools are free for download on computers with Windows XP systems to create games. Later this year, people will be able to join a "creators club" and pay ninety-nine dollars a year. That will permit them to build, test and share video games for the Xbox Three-Sixty game machine.
The program will make it possible for people to create their own video games and share them with others on Microsoft's Internet game service.
Microsoft representatives say the program will be a simplified version of what professional game designers use. However, professional software costs tens of thousands of dollars. The program will not be as technical as the ones that professionals use. But it will still require users to have some programming knowledge.
People who are skilled in game-programming should be able to create a video game in about three weeks using the new program. Microsoft will oversee games created to make sure they do not contain any illegal material. But creators will own their games.
Microsoft experts say they hope that giving young people the tools they need to create video games will help them become interested in professional video game design. They say this will help the video game design industry.The company says this new program is the first of its kind to be sold to the public. It says the online sharing service will be similar to YouTube, a Web site where users can watch and share short videos they have created.
The new program is the latest among a growing number of tools used to create material to be shared on the Internet. Personal photos, music, and writings are already being shared this way.
(MUSIC from "The Mask of Zorro")
Our VOA listener question this week comes from India. Sampath Kumar wants to know about the history of "Zorro."
The Spanish word ''zorro" means fox. American writer Johnston McCulley created the fictional character "Zorro" in nineteen nineteen. Zorro was the hero of his book "The Curse of Capistrano."
The story takes place in the early eighteen hundreds in the area of California when it was ruled by Spain. A young man named Don Diego Vega has returned home from studying in Spain. He discovers that the people are being ruled by an evil governor who misuses his power. Don Diego decides to become a secret hero named Zorro to help the local people and fight injustice.
Zorro wears black clothing and hides his identity by wearing a black mask on his face. No one knows he is Don Diego except his servant, Bernardo. During the day, Don Diego is a peace-loving man who likes poetry and music. But at night, he becomes Zorro to fight for the common people. He uses a sword to fight his enemies. And he uses it to mark a large letter Z for Zorro. At the end of the book, the evil Spanish officials are defeated, and Don Diego reveals himself as Zorro.
Johnston McCulley may have regretted that ending because the character Zorro became extremely popular. He later wrote more than sixty stories about his hero. In all of them, the true identity of Zorro remains a secret.
Many movies have been made about Zorro over the years. They include two popular films called "The Mark of Zorro." The first was a silent movie made in nineteen twenty. The second was made in nineteen forty. In the nineteen fifties, the Walt Disney company produced an extremely popular television series about Zorro. Its theme song also became a hit:
In the nineteen nineties, another television series was a joint production of American, French and Italian film companies. It was broadcast in more than fifty countries.
Two recent American movies continued the story. "The Mask of Zorro" was released in nineteen ninety-eight. "The Legend of Zorro" was released last year. Both starred Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Also last year, Chilean writer Isabel Allende published a new book about how Don Diego became Zorro. And recent reports say a musical stage show about Zorro is set to open in London next year.
Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy have released a new album called "Adieu False Heart." Their beautiful voices combine to sing many kinds of traditional American music. Faith Lapidus has more.
Linda Ronstadt became famous as a country, pop and rock singer in the nineteen seventies. Since then, she has sung many other kinds of music. Ann Savoy is part of the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band along with her husband, Marc Savoy, and Michael Doucet. She sings Cajun music. This is the music of the French-speaking people of the southern state of Louisiana. She also wrote a book about Cajun music.
Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy call themselves the Zozo Sisters on their new album, "Adieu False Heart." They sing folk, bluegrass, pop and Cajun songs by many songwriters. One of these songwriters is Bill Monroe, known as the "father of bluegrass music." Here they sing Monroe's song "The One I Love is Gone."
Many excellent musicians play with Ronstadt and Savoy on "Adieu False Heart." This song, "I Can't Get Over You," is by Julie Miller. Her husband, Buddy Miller, plays the guitar.
Critics and fans agree that Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy make beautiful music together. We leave you now with their version of a popular song from the nineteen sixties, "Walk Away Renee."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
This show was written by Brianna Blake, Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. Mario Ritter was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Send your questions about American life to [email protected] Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.