21. What’s So Funny?


New Visitor’s…Please read the two paragraphs at the end of this column before beginning your explorations in theater, movies, television, and the Arts that follow. It will say New Visitor’s Greeting and be in boldface.


Winter is over, you say!…Once again, the groundhog has it wrong. He apparently didn’t see that Pennsylvania and half of America is frozen solid. Many homes are still without power from last week’s storm. The Poconos look like a skating rink. Even Bill Murray can’t get The Groundhog out of this mess. “Truth be told” wasn’t told in this instance. Shame on you, groundhog!

Books…This is National Read A Book Weekend. Forget about the Super Bowl. Beyonce is going to rock. The commercials that win will make you laugh your socks off. Hopefully, the game will be a 37 to 37 tie with both teams splitting the Super Bowl Trophy. Give Ray Lewis the car. Let President Obama raise money by shooting skeet at the fifty yard line as part of the halftime show and pick up a book. Not on your Kindle, Nook, Cranny, or iPad (I have some of these), but with one of those paper things, that is firmly placed in your hand when reading.

David Baldacci is this weekend’s choice, unless you want to read five hundred pages of John Adams or Thomas Jefferson. Sara Paretsky was a close second, but her work is too gripping for this weekend’s reading. If you are not familiar with Baldacci’s work, revisit the movie Absolute Power (1999) with Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Laura Linney. Eastwood is a master thief that stumbles on the President of the United States as he is murdering the wife of the president’s best friend. Eastwood is in the middle of a robbery, so calling the police is out. Makes for a better story. The President’s aides are in cover up mode. Ed Harris is the good cop and the President has a truckload of rogue assassins that Eastwood keeps eluding. It is a winner and Eastwood isn’t overly ornery in this one. I lied!

The Camel Club is the best of Baldacci’s books. It is the start of a multi-book series that has a five-man club meeting in Washington to solve crime, discuss politics, and embroil the group in conspiracy to the nth degree. It is a good “first time with this author” selection. Baldacci’s new book The Forgotten takes the suicide of an aunt in a laid back Florida town to bring her nephew (army special agent John Puller) to town. Proving everyone wrong unleashes Puller, the town’s demons, and best kept secrets.

Books II…While you are reading, a family reading fest might ensue. Do you know how to disable the television, iPhones, and the computers throughout the house? A good younger read for your upper elementary horde or middle schooler is John Bellairs.

The House With The Clock In Its Walls,

The Chessman Of Doom,

And The Mansion In The Mist

are three award-winning mystery and science fiction books by John Bellairs, the more educational R. L. Stein of children’s book lore. Each book features unique characters, fascinating journeys through time, intergenerational cooperation, historical fiction weaved into world saving quests, critical thinking challenges, and some mild edge of your seat fright.

Books III”Mr. and Mrs. Just Starting To Read” (your little ones) will enjoy anything by Roger Hargreaves. He wrote those two hundred little books you see at the check out counter of your local grocery store or book store. They fit into the palm of your hand and have titles like Miss Manners and Mr. Sneeze. Hargreaves best book is Count Worm.

Count Worm is the story of a unique worm that can put its body into the shapes of numbers. This skill becomes important as he meets a young boy who is crying on the way to school. The child doesn’t know his numbers. Count Worm, of course, can help him with a few memory clues and a friend that he will need later enlist when he needs to make the number ten. Providing your child or a class with pipe cleaners that will act like worms will help this reading to be interactive as students act out the story as it is being told. Albert The Alphabetical Elephant is R. H.’s great follow-up book. What better device to teach letter formation is there than an elephant’s trunk?

Poetry… Does Dissecting Poetry Ruin The Poem?

A Poem From Jean Little’s, Hey World, Here I Am

This poem was given to me by one of my students, Jacqueline Matusow, who was taking an on line course in Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum with me. It was part of the class discussion ‘do we dissect poetry too much’. What do you think? Do we ruin poetry this way? Should we just wing it and let everyone be happy with what they see in a poem?

After English Class

I used to like Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.
I liked the coming darkness,
The jingle of harness bells, breaking–and adding to
–the stillness,
The gentle drift of snow. . . .

But today, the teacher told us what everything stood for.
The woods, the horse, the miles to go, the sleep–
They all have hidden meanings.

It’s grown so complicated now that,
Next time I drive by,
I don’t think I’ll bother to stop.

Today From Hey World, Here I Am!

Today I will not live up to my potential.
Today I will not relate well to my peer group.
Today I will not contribute in class.
I will not volunteer one thing.
Today I will not strive to do better.
Today I will not achieve or adjust or grow enriched or get involved.
I will not put up my hand even if the teacher is wrong and I can prove it.

Today I might eat the eraser off my pencil.
I’ll look at clouds.
I’ll be late,
I don’t think I’ll wash.

I need a rest.

Compose an I Need A Rest poem of your own and illustrate it for your journal or diary.

Chocolate…TJ Maxx, the clothing store, not your neighbor, is evil. Easily influenced by chocolate lovers unite! What right does a clothes store have that allows them to put chocolate at every checkout line. The even tell their checkout people to dilly-dally and slow up the check-out process, so you have more time to make your chocolate selections. Last week it was the Bloomer Company’s (1879) Dark Chocolate Grahams. They are better than the ones we spit milk into years ago. This week, it is Bloomer’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Logs. I don’t buy clothes at TJ Maxx, I am just in the line for chocolates. Lindt’s fans, it is time to hand me the Lindt’s Chocolate’s Best Trophy. We have a new king on the block and his name is Bloomer. Do you think they will have Pistachio Peanut Brittle next week? It could happen!

New Visitor’s 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.

New visitor’s comments are welcome, too. 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 your friends, social media connections, and other lovers of discussion.


About tjpalumbo

Tom Palumbo is a nationally known and award winning author, teacher, technology designer, administrator, and grant writer. He has taught for thirty-five years in preschool through 12th grade classrooms throughout the quad state area. His ideas have made a difference in the way thousands of teachers, parents, and children read, write, do mathematics, use technology, and think creatively and critically. Tom’s twenty books on reading, writing, critical thinking, and mathematics have won four national book awards. 5,000 teachers and home schooling parents have matriculated through his graduate courses/lectures. 12,000 have signed up for his website. As Director of Pennsylvania’s Parent Information Center and New Jersey’s Citizen’s For Better Schools Resource Center, Tom received over two hundred commendations for his presentations to thousands of teachers, parents, and administrators throughout the Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland area. Workshop participants receive idea loaded CD’s, access to hundreds of videos, PowerPoints, curriculum links, games, and lessons on his website, and an activity booklet filled with common core curriculum in line with local, state, and national standards. Instruction, on each of these resources, is presented during his presentation. Mr. Palumbo has over two hundred learning centers, bulletin boards, and project developers in reading, writing, poetry, literature, and math in make-it/take it item format that can, also, be part of any workshop program. Call or email Tom to set up a workshop for your organization. Tom Palumbo tjpalumbo@aol.com 215-262-9986 aimtjp.wikispaces.com
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