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Задание 18. Полное понимание информации в тексте: все задания

1. Задание#T6888

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Moscow’s ‘Universal Provider’

Teatralnaya Square in Moscow is dominated by three imposing buildings: the Bolshoi Theatre, the Maly Theatre and TsUM – Central Universal Department Store. All of them have a rich and fascinating history.

The building that has been known for almost 100 years as TsUM was built in 1908 as the famous Muir & Mirrielees Dpartment Store and is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. Back at the turn of the 20th century, the building was owned by a Scottish family which was very well-known in Moscow.

Archibald Mirrielees was a 25-year-old ambitious Scotsman when he came to St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1822 to gain fame and fortune. Having started as a representative of a British company, in 1843 he founded a business under his own name. In 1852 he was joined by his young brother-in-law Andrew Muir, and so the Muir & Mirrielees company was born.

At first, the company was operating in St. Petersburg as a whole-sale business. Andrew Muir traveled all over Europe choosing the best fabrics, clothes and other fashionable goods which were then imported into Russia and sold to local shops. In 1867 the firm opened its first office in Moscow, which had played second fiddle to St. Petersburg from the time of Peter the Great, but now was rapidly developing its industries. By that time Archibald Mirrielees had already been retired for ten years and lived in England. Now his sons Archie and Fred were helping Andrew Muir to run the company.

In the middle of the 19th century the first Department stores appeared in Europe: first, The Bon Marché in Paris, and then, Whiteley’s in London. At the time when most shops were small, this was an innovation that was characterized by fixed prices, the possibility to exchange goods or get a refund, seasonal sales and daily deliveries to every part of the city. William Whiteley, who was first to open such a store in London, called his shop a 'Universal Provider' and indeed managed to find anything a client could ever fancy to buy.

This was the example that Muir & Mirrielees in Moscow were going to follow. In 1885, they bought a three-storey building in Petrovka, across the street from the Bolshoi. By 1892 the store had 25 departments, and in 1891 Muir & Mirrielees gave up wholesale trading and focused entirely on their Department store – Moscow’s true ‘Universal Provider’.

Nobody knows how the big fire started. Some believe that it was jealous rivals from the smaller shops that set Muir & Mirrielees on fire. In any case, early in the evening on November 24, 1900, while Feodor Shalyapin was singing one of his leading roles across the street, the famous store went up in flames. By midnight, to the audience of both Bolshoi and Maly theatres’s spectators who'd deserted their performances in favour of a more dramatic spectacle, the building burnt down completely.

In 1908, the new Muir & Mirrielees store with 80 departments was erected in the same place, designed by the well-known architect Roman Klein. It was the first building in Russia to use walls of reinforced concrete – a technique invented in America for sky-scrapers. It allowed for thinner walls and bigger windows. Moscow had never seen a building quite like this before. One of the attractions of the new store were two lifts that held 8 passengers each. This was also a novelty in Moscow, and not everyone trusted them.

Among the loyal customers of Muir & Mirrielees were Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy’s wife and daughter, the Tsvetayev family and many more.
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The new Muir & Mirrielees building seemed unusual to Muscovites because
  1. from the outside it looked like a sky-scraper.
  2. of the modern technologies that were used in it.
  3. it was designed by an American architect.
  4. of the attractive decorations on the lifts.
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2. Задание#T5538

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Doctor Who

'Doctor Who' is a British science-fiction TV series that follows the adventures of a time-traveling alien, called the Doctor, and his human companion, as they travel through time and space in a spaceship, called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), and courageously save the world time and time again.

'Doctor Who' first aired on BBC on 23 November, 1963 and was one of the first science-fiction stories to appear on screen: 3 years before 'Star Trek' and 14 years before the 'Star Wars' franchise. In 1989, due to falling popularity, the show was suspended. But 16 years later, in 2005, it was brought back to the screen with a whole new cast of actors and has been ongoing ever since. It is considered to be the longest running sci-fi show in the world, having celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013.

But how has 'Doctor Who' managed to survive for this long? What sets it apart from other amazing shows that are now over? What makes 'Doctor Who' really unique, is that it does not have to rely on any particular actor to continue. When the Doctor is close to death, he is able to start a biological process within himself, called regeneration, that changes every single cell in his body, while still leaving his mind intact. Essentially, he becomes a different person: new looks, new personality, new everything. But one thing that never changes is his genius, and his sense of humor. This means, that every four years or so, when the actors playing the Doctor decide to move on to different projects and leave the show, the producers can find a new actor to take on the iconic role. So far twelve actors have played the Doctor.

Another reason the show has been running for so long is that there is no main storyline, it is very much episodic, each episode telling a story of a separate adventure. So as long as the writers of the show keep coming up with new planets for the Doctor and his companion to visit, and new alien villains for them to defeat, the show can continue forever.

'Doctor Who' has an unbelievably huge fan base all over the world, so big in fact, that the 50th anniversary episode aired in 94 countries simultaneously, earning it a Guinness World Record. There is also a large amount of music, inspired by 'Doctor Who', and since the series's renewal, a music genre called 'Trock' ('Time Lord Rock') has appeared. The most famous 'Trock' band is 'Chameleon Circuit'. They produce music exclusively about 'Doctor Who', and so far have released two albums.

Soon after 'Doctor Who’s' appearance in 1963, novels surrounding the series started to appear. The first ever novelization came out on 12 November, 1964, almost exactly a year after the first episode came out. Since then over 150 novelizations and 200 spin-off books have been published, including some written by Neil Gaiman.

'Doctor Who' has been an important part of popular culture for over half a century now. The show is limitless, filled with possibility: you can go to Victorian London, or to Pompeii, or to the 51st century. It can be any genre: comedy, horror, fantasy, drama, sometimes all of them at the same time. It’s clever, and funny, and sad, and makes you think. The plots are well written, and sometimes you feel like you’re twisting your brain into a knot, trying to figure out the paradoxes. But most importantly it’s kind-hearted and beautiful. No doubt 'Doctor Who' will remain a fan-favorite for many years to come.
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Which choice is closest in meaning to the phrase ‘you feel like you are twisting your brain into a knot’ in the last paragraph?
  1. You are trying very hard to solve a problem.
  2. You come to a dead-end while solving a problem.
  3. You give your brain some good training.
  4. You are using intuition rather than your brain.
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3. Задание#T5521

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Ha, ha, ha! How they laughed that day in the 1790s when a man first walked the streets of London holding an umbrella.

Some people got angry and began shouting that to carry such a contraption was ungodly because it ‘defied the heavenly purpose of rain’ (which is to get us wet).

Drivers of Hackney carriages soon realised umbrellas posed a threat to their trade, and insulted chaps who carried them by yelling: ‘What’s wrong – are you a Frenchman?’ It was a grievous insult (and still is today), but the umbrella was not to be denied.

Eton schoolboys took to carrying them, much to the annoyance of their headmaster, John Keats. “An effeminate innovation,” he thundered. “We are degenerating into a girl’s school.”

Early umbrellas were not impenetrable to rain. Their coverings of cotton, or even silk, were coated with oil, varnish or melted wax, which soon cracked.

They featured all kinds of gimmicks. Some had windows, or whistled when open. There was an umbrella with a gutter, which drained rain down a tube. A variation on this caught rain in a flask for use as drinking water.

It was not until about 1800 that umbrellas and parasols achieved separate identities in Britain. Since ancient times there have been umbrellas to keep off the sun, but the word umbrella had nothing to do with rain. It is derived from Latin ‘umbra’, meaning shade.

Until the early 1850s umbrellas had heavy whalebone frames which tended to crack. But then Samuel Fox came on the scene, and from his factory in Stockbridge, Sheffield, he revolutionised the umbrella world. In 1852, he patented a lightweight metal frame which was to make him a fortune and set the standard for umbrellas we know today.

The first umbrellas came to Britain from France but by the time of the battle of Waterloo in 1815 it was the French who were laughing at the British for using them. Napoleon’s General Lejeune was highly amused that English officers rode across the field of battle holding aloft umbrellas and parasols. It might have looked ridiculous, but the British won!

That was not the only instance of umbrellas being used by the British army. The British Major Digby Tatham-Warter, veteran of WWI, and a commander of a parachute brigade during WW
, always carried an umbrella into battle. This not only provided some British humour in otherwise very serious and frightening circumstances, but was even used by the brave major to fight the Germans. Once he disabled a German tank by pushing the umbrella through the observation slit and wounding the driver in the eye.

Some collectors believe that now is a perfect time to start collecting antique umbrellas and parasols, as they are reckoned to be underpriced, a situation which could easily change if more people got the idea of collecting them. Parasol styles seemed to change every few months in the 19th century, so there are plenty to choose from. Beautiful parasols made in Victorian times can be bought for as little as 30 to 100 pounds, but even a rare Georgian umbrella with carved ivory grip might be unlikely to exceed 500 pounds at an auction.
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According to the author of the article, Victorian parasols are
  1. now cheap to buy.
  2. collectors' favourites.
  3. not reliable enough.
  4. not sold at auctions.
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4. Задание#T5481

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How much do you really know about the man on the ten-dollar bill? You might know that his name was Alexander Hamilton, that he was one of America’s founding fathers, you might even know that he was the first secretary of the treasury and founded America’s financial system. But what do you know about his life, his story?

In February of 2015 a musical premiered in New York’s Public Theatre by the name of “Hamilton” written by Lin Manuel Miranda. It was met with universal acclaim and in August of the same year transferred to Broadway. Since then the show has exploded in popularity, winning many awards including 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“Hamilton” tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, a “young, scrappy and hungry” orphan from a tiny island in the Caribbean, who at the age of 17 immigrated to America, fought alongside George Washington in the revolution, worked for the new American government and wrote over a thousand pages in letters, essays, speeches and reports. Through Lin Manuel Miranda’s emotional narrative, we get a closer and more personal look at Hamilton’s life and his death.

The idea for “Hamilton” was born in 2009, when, while on vacation, Lin Manuel Miranda picked up a 700-page biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. After reading only a few chapters Miranda was on the Internet, sure that someone had already made Hamilton’s story into a musical. As it turned out, no one had, and so Miranda began his project. A year later Miranda preformed a rough version of the opening number at the White House.

Due to its revolutionary use of different styles of music, critics claim that “Hamilton” is making musical history. Hamilton’s story is told primarily through hip-hop music, but also includes some elements of pop, soul, blues and traditional show tunes. In interviews Miranda says that he had always taken it as a given that hip-hop is the music of the revolution. Because of its energy, its empowering narrative, it seemed like the perfect pick for “Hamilton”.

But Lin Manuel Miranda took the idea of using music as a plot device to a whole new level. Each character has their own music style. King George
, for example, has a distinctly British pop sound, the Schuyler sisters sound a lot like the popular R’n’B group “Destiny's Child”, and Hamilton’s lifelong rival Aaron Burr sings a few classic “showstoppers”.

In March of 2016 Lin Manuel Miranda was interviewed by British actress Emma Watson who played the role of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films. Miranda confessed that a lot of the structure of the play was inspired by Harry Potter, and the “Hamilton” cast was sorted into their Hogwarts houses. Lin and Emma discussed the importance of the play in current times and how Miranda’s personal history influenced his writing. Lin Manuel also shared a few interesting stories behind the creation of some of the beloved songs.

In less than 2 years, “Hamilton” has become a cultural phenomenon. Not only did it introduce many teenagers to the world of theatre, it also gave the world a history lesson. The show humanizes the founding fathers, shows us that they were actual people with emotions and personal relationships. But the show did more than just touch the hearts of thousands of its listeners, it actually made an impact. In 2015 the US Department of the Treasury announced that they were redesigning the 10-dollar bill, replacing Hamilton, but thanks to the show’s popularity the plans were reversed.
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According to the article, the US Department of Treasury are planning to
  1. take the 10$ bill completely out of circulation.
  2. keep the design of the 10$ bill the way it is now.
  3. choose a portrait of a new historic figure for the 10$ bill.
  4. print more 10$ bills because of the show’s popularity.
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5. Задание#T918

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The culture shock of being an international student

For any student, moving away from home can be a bit scary. But I did not expect student life in Scotland to be all that different from my home of the Netherlands. After all, we get the same news and TV shows online. Many students find the northwest climate can affect them a lot. You may find the grayness and dampness, especially during the winter months, difficult to get used to. However, when I moved from Amsterdam to study at the University of Stirling, I began to realise that a few minor issues were catching me off balance. I was suffering a minor cultural shock.
In my first year, I quickly found out my English was not as good as I had assumed. Most of my roommates were born and raised in Scotland, and I constantly found myself having to ask people to repeat themselves. Their Scottish accents did not help and I was mispronouncing names and places all the time. I also got confused about minor cultural things. Much to my flatmates’ amusement, it took me two Christmases to figure out that mince pies are not actually filled with minced beef.
The linguistic barrier meant that public transport was tricky at first. I found the lack of information about bus prices and how and where to get tickets really surprising. It turned a simple 15-minute journey into a daunting task.
Then I had to adjust to a new social life. I was surprised by the campus culture in the UK – in the Netherlands, most universities don’t have one main campus where you can attend university, as well as live and exercise all in the same place. But here, you never have to leave campus if you don’t want to. I had to adapt to everyone being so close to each other all the time.
Parties are different here too. In the Netherlands, the less effort you put into getting ready, the better. I’d normally slip on my trusty Converse shoes, along with some clothes I could get away with wearing to class tomorrow, and wear minimal make-up. But, in my experience, partying is more formal in the UK. Your make-up needs to be flawless and your hair needs to be immaculate. You’ll preferably be wearing a dress and heels, too. I was constantly having to borrow clothes off my friends just to fit in. Parties finish early and everyone just wanders off, whereas in my country that would be the time I’d leave the house.
But it is not all early closing times and strange pastries. Social behaviours may also confuse, surprise or offend you. For example, you may find people appear cold, distant or always in a hurry. Cultures are built on deeply-embedded sets of values, norms, assumptions and beliefs. It can be surprising and sometimes distressing to find that people do not share some of your most deeply held ideas, as most of us take our core values and beliefs for granted and assume they are universally held.
However, I have found lots of pleasant surprises in the UK too – and so have many other international students I know. My friend Agnes was taken aback by how sociable people are. She says she was shocked when complete strangers started talking to her at the bus stop. I, personally, was surprised by how smartly male students in Stirling dress compared to my home country.
Culture shock can knock your confidence in the beginning. But you are not alone in taking time to adapt, and soon you start to come to grips with all experiences. Studies suggest that taking a gap year or studying abroad can positively influence your brain to make you more outgoing and open to new ideas. Looking back, most of the ones I experienced made good stories to tell my friends.
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The expression “the ones” in “… most of the ones I experienced …” (paragraph ) refers to …
  1. culture shocks
  2. studies abroad
  3. feelings about friends
  4. gap years
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