Greeting…Welcome to Let’s Talk, a freewheeling column on movies, theater, television, books, educational practices, current events, and the Internet. If you are a first time visitor to the column, I recommend that you start with the About topic in the Index Bar at the top of the page. Follow About with the Let’s Talk column in archives. It was the first column of the new year. Proceed to Let’s Talk II and then work your way up to today’s column. These columns will introduce a plethora (a better word choice than myriad) of new ideas and old delights you may have missed. It will give you a foundation for some of the issues we are introducing and following up in newer columns.
Your comments are welcome. They are immediately placed on this page in the contributor’s comment section or are shared with the column’s readers on Sunday. You are welcome, also, to suggest topics for discussion or enlist help from the site’s family of readers. I am a compendium of useless information. Challenge me, please, with great theater, travel, history, books, movies, and educational issues that would interest a wide audience of readers. The “compendium comment” was stolen from Orson Bean. Bean used the quote many times on television talk show interviews. Please recommend my column to other lovers of discussion.
Politics…This column does not do politics. It follows the adage of Charles M. Schulz, the creator in 1947 of Charley Brown. Schulz said his cartoon strip would never discuss religion, politics, or the Great Pumpkin. This column holds to the same principle. However, we do review books and shows with political themes. In a search of a theme to go with the inauguration, John Grisham’s The Broker was a good fit and quick read. The Broker analyzes the President’s right to give pardons when leaving office. Do presidents do this to right a wrong or are huge sums of payoff money involved in the decisions? The story focuses on Washington politics, underhanded pardons, the CIA, and the FBI. Grisham takes the lead character to Italy and takes you through an excursion of history, food, culture, and character.
John Grisham…Grisham is now writing a children’s book series for the 8 to 13 year old middle school group. He has three books in the Theodore Boone series. The first in the series is Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer. Boone’s parents run a law firm, so it is natural he would know some things about the law. Teachers, students, parents, and community members all seem to benefit from young Ted’s knowledge. This new series reminds you of the old Encyclopedia Brown books written by Donald J. Sobol. Like Teddy, Leroy Brown (no relation to the song) is a young school aged detective following in the footsteps of his father the Police Chief. Encyclopedia and the Baseball Cards is a classroom favorite, both book and video.
Television…The Do No Harm television series premieres on January 31 at 10PM on CBS. The competition is great in that time slot. We, in Philadelphia, are pulling for the show. It is being filmed at 440 North Broad Street. 440 North Broad houses the administrative offices of the Philadelphia School System. We need the rental money, so tape it if you are watching something else at that time. Rating systems can even tell how many shows are taped for later viewing. Sponsors want these facts to see how far their product money is going. They wouldn’t give me the first show to review. It appears to take the old theme of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and update it to a present day doctor. Let’s give it a chance before we judge.
Internet…If you are looking for grant money for your school or business, sign up for the newsletters of these three organizations. Grant Wrangler (www.grantwrangler.com/mygrantwrangler.com), The Foundation Center (www.foundationcenter.org), and School Grants (www.k12grants.org) keep you apprized of grants in all areas of philanthropy in their weekly newsletters and grant release updates. The newsletters are free and introduce grants and grant writing procedures. These three sites are great resources for a grant-writing course, also. Add these two sites (www.adoptaclassroom.org and www.donorschose.org) that everyone knows for easy grant sign-up.
Poetry…Every Other Line Poetry is a classic writing form and a creative challenge to students and adults. Put your favorite poem downward and erase the even numbered lines. Replace the erased lines with lines of your own. Sometimes, like when we use Maya Angelou’s Woman’s Work, we try to keep the theme consistent. At other times, like with the poem Toss Me A Winter, we encourage students to wander from the core meaning of the poem.
Present this illustrated poem challenge to your class and send the best ones in to be featured on my site. Place the full poem on the top of the student’s page and the missing line poem on the bottom of the page for student fill-in. Does anyone know who the author is of this poem. My Internet searches proved futile. Try Maya Angelou’s poem next before letting students run with their ideas.
Toss me a winter
Of new fallen snow,
So I can leave footprints
Wherever I go;
Lots of white snowflakes
To blow through the air…
Landing on mittens,
My nose and my hair.
I’ll build a snow fort
To fill with snowballs,
I don’t mind snow pants…
They soften the falls!
Pick me an icicle,
My outside treat!
Toss me a winter,
I think they’re neat.
Nikki Grimes…Discover Nikki Grimes at (www.nikkigrimes.com). She is a younger Maya Angelou and winner of the Coretta Scott King Literature Award two of the last four years. Grimes writes for the pre-school through grade twelve writing audience. Her high school book Bronx Masquerade, introduces the relationship of classic poetry to rap. A struggling white high school teacher grasps the similarities and slowly wins his class over in this “today” story. She reads audio clips from eight of her books on her website. Every student should do the same with their writings using Quick Time Player. The Quick Time Player program is a ‘two click’ a baby could navigate.