100. DeNiro, McQueen, Pfeiffer, And Dunaway

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Most movie websites that follow a ‘shoot-them-up’ actor talk about an actor’s kill number in a particular movie. Robert DeNiro’s kill numbers over his career are a truly amazing discussion.


The Family, opening on your doorstep this weekend, is not the light comedy that the previews depicted. It is a volatile, disfigure and murder fest. DeNiro informs on his ex-Mafia friends in New York and then escapes to hide in Normandy. That is somewhere quiet in Europe! As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman….Big mistake, very big mistake. DeNiro is writing his mafia memoirs while in hiding. It is like Goodfellas revisited.


Along with Michelle Pfeiffer (his wife), Diane Argron (his teenage daughter), and John D’Leo (his teenage son), the family is trying to survive ‘Witness Protection’ with the help of Tommy Lee Jones. None of the family members are angels. The movie’s kill and maim numbers are outrageous. Even mom and the kids get into the act.

By the end of the movie three FBI agents, the fire department, the police department, 12 Mafioso, four school children, four neighbors, a butcher, and a plumber have been dispatched or hospitalized. We left out a lot in this list, so the movie won’t be spoiled for you. Church going friends said they liked the movie. A packed theater did, too.


A special note should be mentioned about Diane Argron from the television show Glee. Her agent is putting her in movies with great actors around her. They realize she is not ready for a big time starring role yet. She does do well interacting with DeNiro and Pfeiffer throughout this one, though.


2.  Music: Bruno Mars…An Apology!
Another Big Mistake, Very Big Mistake

We lightly mentioned in the last column that we didn’t know if the Bruno Mars (Peter Gene Hernandez) selection for the Super Bowl Headliner was a great choice.

We, then, looked at his YouTube song Internet hit numbers and his worldwide record sales. Over six billion people have listened to his top ten songs on the YouTube venue alone. That number tops Beyonce, Rihanna, Elvis, MJ, and Julie Andrews put together. Even the remake of his lazy song by five girls in their bedroom has four million Internet hits.


Bruno Mars doesn’t have ties to New York, New Jersey, or the Metlife Stadium, but who cares. He is, truly, an international star. His show is expected to rival Michael Jackson’s and Paul McCarty’s halftime fanfest.

His career started with writing songs for Brandy and then being a background singer with the Sugarbabes. His videos combine song and some really strange but likable dance numbers. His last two albums Doo-Wop & Hooligans and Unorthodox Jukebox reached three and one on the Billboard Top Ten lists. If you need four suggestions to see his recording while wearing a hat genius…..our choices for your viewing enjoyment are:


Grenade…he will stop a train or a grenade for his lover
The Lazy Song…everyone deserves a lazy day
Just The Way You Are…see the “cassette tape” video…it’s creativity plus
When I Was Your Man…he should have brought her flowers…piano solo


3. Movies: Steve McQueen And Faye Dunaway…Re-colored From 1968

The original The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) was a classic movie for story, fashion, and cinematic firsts. It starred Steve McQueen as a dashing Boston millionaire that planned intricate bank robberies just for his own amusement.

Faye Dunaway is the insurance investigator that will outsmart McQueen and Paul Burke, the Boston detective that is also looking for the bank robbers and their mastermind. Boston street scenes and Cape Cod give the movie an artistic look. However, the first real scene-stealers in 1968 were the ten different trend-setting outfits Faye Dunaway wore in the movie.


The second cinematic first was seeing the opening sequences as five different bank robbers appear in frames on the larger screen progressing to their bank rendezvous. You are following all five at once as they control different aspects of the robbery.

Rene Russo’s and Pierce Brosnan’s recent remake have a similar storyline, but this time an art museum is being robbed. The two versions are worth a look-see. Russo’s one dress was the talk of the second movie.


4. Movies: Riddick

Vin Diesel’s Fast and Furious franchise has made two billion dollars. Fast Five, part five of the seven-movie franchise, is being shown on all the local channels this week. The Riddick franchise has made sixty million dollars. Before this week the astute actor, Vin Diesel, had a choice to make:


“Let me think what movie I should do now,” he said a short time ago. The choices are a two billion dollar product or a 60 million dollar product:

  1. Fast and Furious’ glorious locations like Brazil and Italy or a barren fiery planet…I’ll select fiery planet.
  2. Fast and Furious’ fast cars, intricate plot, and more intricate women or eel-like, scorpion monsters with big teeth…I’ll select monsters.
  3. Fast and Furious’ multiple actor concept or six mercenaries on a deserted planet…I’ll select mercenaries.
  4. Fast and Furious’ humorous repartee with multiple friends and enemies or an actor talking to himself…I’ll select talking to myself.
  5. Fast and Furious’ multiple switch plot or a plot everyone has figured out from the opening credits…I’ll select the second plot choice.


When you select Riddick you will now have the ammunition to evaluate the choices of one of our best-liked action-hero movie stars. Where were Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez when Vin Diesel needed them?


5. The Creative Thinking Challenge
Here Is A Good Quiz For The Attenders At Your Football Party!

Yes, The Eagles Can Win A Super Bowl

Fantasy Football, Inc.


Desean Jackson of the Eagles, pass catcher supreme, has a great challenge for you. Each clue below will help you to guess the nickname of a football team. Write the nickname and then its home city for each clue. Compute the mileage from Philadelphia to the city you discovered. Plan a trip to one city.

NICKNAME                                    CITY

EX.    America’s bird               Eagles                                    Philadelphia

1.  King of the jungle                ______________            ______________

2.  A color                              ______________            ______________

3.  Has horns                           ______________            ______________

4.  Fast plane                           ______________            ______________

5.  Very big person                           ______________            ______________

6.  A rough horse                    ______________            ______________

7.  Young pony                       _______________          ______________

8.  A grizzly                            _______________          ______________

9.  Indian’s leader                    _______________          ______________


10. A dead battery needs          _______________          ______________

11. Bug spray                          _______________          ______________

12. $5 and $10                        _______________          ______________

13. A stately team                    _______________          _______________

14.  A number                         ________________        _______________

15.  Stronger than iron             ________________        _______________

16. A giant of mythology          ________________        _______________

16. A knight’s bird favorite       ________________        _______________

17. A puma’s kin                     ________________        _______________

18. They make flipper proud     ________________        _______________

Pick a sports league NBA/MLB and write your own hints for 10 teams.

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6. Travel: Budapest Enjoyed

Hi, Tom:

I hope you can use this Budapest trip in your column. You never hear a whole lot on this great city.

John and Rosemary Doss Mallinson took a trip to a wonderful place called Budapest, the capitol of Hungary, located on the Danube River. For those of you who have never been there, you are missing something rich in history and full of lovely people.


Have you ever had marrow soup? It is quite a treat. It is a squash soup made from a marrow squash with a sunny side up egg and small bacon slices on top of a bowl. This was cooked for us by my friend Irene Kovari. They complimented it with a delicious sweet Tokaj wine known once as a source of income for ruling Princes of Transylvania.

While visiting, I saw the 60 pair of shoes, honoring the Jewish Hungarians shot by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen on the edge of the Danube. It is a reminder of a dark time in history. There are many beautiful churches to visit, including St Stephens Basilica, named after the first King of Hungary. His right hand, known as the Holy Right is Catholicism’s holiest relic. It is housed in the Basilica.


What a joy, the Turkish baths were. Our favorite was the Szechenyl Spa which had 3 outdoor pools and 15 indoor, including thermal baths.


A must see is Momento Park, a park of statues from Hungary’s communist era. There are statues of Lenin, Marx, Engels and Stalin’s boots. A hundred thousand Hungarians tore apart Stalin’s statue,: leaving his boots. A copy was made for the park. The park is about dictatorship as well as democracy, since Hungarians are free to talk about this time in their history of occupation. The park allows us to see a glimpse of what was going on behind the iron curtain.


One last item is a visit to the Great Market Hall. It is a beautiful 3-story building. On the top floor is Souvenir Heaven. Here you can find the famous Kolocsa embroidery display. I must say, we came home with several pieces. On the middle floor, you will find the best paprika in the world, along with some great salamis, caviar and Tokaj wines. On the bottom floor, you will find a supermarket, fish market and pickle section.


Budapest is 2 cities, one on each side of the Danube. It is a treasure you will enjoy. They have a great transportation system and you won’t need a car to get around. It only took us a day to get used to.

I do hope everyone gets a chance to visit and enjoy the culture and history of the wonderful Hungarians.


7. This Week’s Shocking Statistic!
This Can’t Be True!

A research survey on divorce said that only 29 out of 1000 divorced people remarry. The divorced groups that were surveyed said they will move in with a partner but will not marry again. Someone has to do another survey or check this one out. These figures and points of view cannot be correct. How then can all these parents move back in with a mom and dad?


8. Television: A Very Quick Peek!

The Fall movie reviews are in and Monday night looks like it has the best showing. The night features Sleepy Hollow (Fox) at 9PM and The Blacklist (NBC) with James Spader’s return to television. We are also rooting for Michael J. Fox’s and Robin Williams’s new work to find a television audience.


Homeland (Showtime) is still our cable best pick. Netflix’s House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright still rules as season 2 starts. Old television shows have Kerry Washington’s Scandal still number 1 on our viewing board. Does anyone have a television comedy best five?


9. Sean Gallagher Loves Movies
Here Is Sean’s Star Trek Review
Star Trek Now On DVD And Video On Demand Pay Formats

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS immediately throws the viewer into the action in its opening moments, as Captain Kirk rescues Spock from an exploding volcano. The opening scene really sets the tone for the rest of the film. J.J. Abrams has created an extremely fun summer blockbuster that is not only entertaining, but smartly written and compelling.

Unlike other summer films, this one rarely has to sacrifice logic and common sense to show off its big-budget action scenes. While the action scenes are indeed massive, the movie is primarily concerned about the characters and entertaining the audience. As a result, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS has a near-perfect mix of humor, intensity, philosophical drama and huge spectacle.


Much like its 2009 predecessor, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is designed to appeal to both old school Star Trek fans and casual moviegoers. Director J.J. Abrams somehow manages yet again to make a Star Trek movie that will appeal to just about anyone. I was new to the Star Trek series when I saw 2009′s STAR TREK. In fact, I had no interest in seeing it at all, but was very impressed when I did. I am very happy to say that STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS may even surpass the excellence of Abram’s original STAR TREK.

While Abrams did a masterful job of rebooting the Star Trek series with his 2009 film, the new one is actually more fun to watch. The characters have grown a bit and the action scenes are more impressive. Abrams was clearly given a bigger budget and a larger canvas to paint his weird and wonderful alien landscapes on. INTO DARKNESS also has a much stronger villain than the first film, played by the wonderfully suave Benedict Cumberbatch.


Cumberbatch, who plays a terrorist named John Harrison, is terrific in this film. His performance is a complete joy to watch; Cumberbatch is menacing, calculating, cold, yet somehow still sympathetic. He’s a relentless, seeming unstoppable force with wits and brute force on his side. This is a memorable villain and a brilliant performance. Cumberbatch is a real talent, the type of actor who should be showered with as many Oscars and Emmys as possible. He can be seen on the BBC series SHERLOCK in the title role and in the upcoming HOBBIT films as the dragon Smaug. Cumberbatch is one of the most interesting actors working today and I just adore everything he appears in.


Cumberbatch is only one of many great actors in this film. The rest of the cast almost uniformly nails it in this movie. Chris Pine is once again excellent as the young and brash Captain James T. Kirk. Kirk’s relationship with Spock was one of the best elements of the movie. 2009′s STAR TREK saw the two bickering for most of the film, then coming to understand each other by the end.

Spock’s emotionless, logic-based nature clashes with Kirk’s gut-reaction decision making. The personalities of Kirk and Spock come very much into play for some key decisions later in the movie. I’m glad J.J. Abrams never lost sight of the characters and the story he wanted to tell while making such a big movie. I guess that’s the main reason STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS works so well. I genuinely cared about the characters and felt for their struggles, even the villain. I can’t believe it, but I cried during one scene in this movie. I did not expect for a second that the film would have such an emotional scene towards the end, but it packed quite a punch and I was surprisingly moved.


Alright, so you’ve heard me gush about the acting and the attention to the characters, but that’s not all this movie has to offer. If you’re solely going to watch this movie for awesome action scenes alone you will get your money’s worth and more. I wanted to get up and applaud after at least two of the action sequences in this movie. Again, these scenes work not only because of the visual effects, but because you care about the characters. That is why these scenes are so thrilling.

Epic is a word that is way overused nowadays, but this film had some epic action scenes and landscapes to show off. Between the intense action, the great characters and the humor, this movie blows IRON MAN 3 out of the water. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is my favorite summer blockbuster of 2013. For the second time, J.J. Abrams has pulled off the seemingly impossible: making a Star Trek movie that everyone can enjoy.


Here are some of the new businesses that have sent us write-ups and photographs, so we can highlight their businesses and expand the reach of this column.

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Multiple Award Winning Educational Resources

Don’t forget to review aimtjp.wikispaces.com and catapultintopoetry.wikispaces.com for all your back to school creative ideas. These sites are filled with word for word lessons, creative PowerPoints, book talk videos, and links to the best sites to help students in the classroom and with their research and Internet investigations.

100 more of this year’s best book and movie reviews appear at thomasjpalumbo.wordpress.com. Drop your email in the follow box and join the discussion.


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 strong 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 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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