106. Dracula’s Bite, Lorde’s Music, And Ender’s Game

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It is enticing, hypnotic, mysterious, thought provoking, and splendidly cast. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is Dracula (Friday 10PM) in NBC’s new series. As Alexander Grayson, an American industrialist, he has invented wireless light and has brought it to England. This business guise will help him as he makes war on the Order of the Dragon. The ‘Order’ has been killing peasants, gypsies, vampires, and every other group it dislikes in Europe for over five hundred years.

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Long forgotten members of this group thought they silver-staked and entombed Myers’ Dracula forever. The Dragon group’s present membership, in this 1896 time-stamped story, rules industrial England. Revenge ‘served cold’ seems to rule the first episode. It was dished out an inordinate number of times in this first chapter of presumably weekly bloodletting.

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While battling past enemies, the ‘Order,’ and anti-American resentment in England, Dracula, also, has to match wits with a multifamily establishment of vampires that has been living and feeding in London for years. Dracula and these families are both experts in keeping their insatiable and unquenchable thirst for blood hidden.

Jessica de Gouw from the Arrow television series is his love interest. Dracula thinks she is a re-embodiment of his past wife. As Mina Murray, a blood squeamish medical student, it is everyone’s guess that she will soon be getting over her blood issues. Bram Stoker’s original book might give you added insights about ‘vampiredom’ if you haven’t read it yet.

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Television II…Reign

If Dracula doesn’t give you enough 19th century fashion and creative historical settings to fill you thirst for history, Reign on the CW network might be a good second choice for your ‘looking for amazing history’ channel surfing. You did see The Tudors, Borgias, and Game of Thrones??? Reign is the story of a young Mary Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane). Her story highlights the plight of the young before they become the pinnacle of royalty. Naivety rules this show. The future queen (and king) does not understand courtship, palace intrigues, and the world outside her cloistered upbringing. Mary has to be dizzy with the number of times they tried to poison her in the first two installments of this series.

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Every European country has an interest in the arranged marriages and the partnerships that have to be forged for their protection. Catherine de Medici (Megan Fellows) is plotting against everyone and everything. Mary thinks she is a friend. She doesn’t realize that the Scotland she represents, in this setting, is not a key player compared to France, England, and Spain. The show is a good history lesson and presents a novel point of view for the 16-90 year old history lover.

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The use of a modern soundtrack is really fascinating as it supports the various pieces of the story. It is a challenging task to take a top twenty song and integrate the song into the show’s various backdrops.

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Books…Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game (1985) has been used in classrooms for close to thirty years. It is science fiction at its best. Written by Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game is the first of a five part series that has been updated for its movie opening this weekend. It is a futuristic novella that has the Earth fighting for survival from other worldly beings (half human-half insect) and local Warsaw Pact members.

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The book introduces you to Ender Wiggins a six-year old genius that might be the answer with proper training to defeat the aliens, Russians, and future enemies of what is left of Earth. Earth went to near demise, at the hands of the  insect-o-creatures 70 years ago. Ender is taken from his family and sent to military school to enhance his mental and military skills. The sister and brother that Ender leaves at home are just as smart as he is but weren’t one of the ‘chosen’ few. They are now secretive political bloggers on opposite sides of the war discussion. The are making a name for themselves but alienating the power structure that doesn’t approve of criticism.

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Ender’s leadership lessons and game simulation training on military tactics and the tendencies of earth’s enemies in battle is finished in four years, not eight. Earth with his leadership is ready to take the battle to its foes. Twelve hardly sounds like the age to command thousands of men and lead thousands of spacecraft into war.

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Orson Scott Card credits Isaac Asimov, the king of science fiction, with influencing his work. Seventy five percent of today’s science fiction writers have developed some aspect of their work and their vision of the future in their writings.  Ender’s Game has won the Nebula and Hugo Awards for best writing in science fiction and fantasy. You have time to read the book before this weekend’s movie or you can read other books in the series such as: Speaker of the Dead, Children of the Mind, Ender In Exile, and Ender’s Shadow. In these books the world advances three thousand years, but Ender does not! Neither does the new battles, adversaries, and challenges that confront him for his much revised solutions.


Art…Jamie Bruno


Jamie Bruno has a unique concept of telling a story over multiple works of art. Here is what she shared about her work:

Hi Tom!
I have included 4 pieces that have one best in show in a local figurative art show in December 2012. The project started a few years ago when I wanted to combine painting and illustration. I had this idea of a girl in a red dress that was stuck in my head. I finally created a story for her that gave her a context. It begins with her suffering a great loss and ends with her being able to find a happier place. It is a much broader story than illustrated in these four 12″x12″ canvases, but given limited space, I tried to simplify her grief.


I graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor’s in Art Education in 2006, and have been doing fulfilling commissioned orders and working on my own personal artwork. I substitute teach Art at Pennsbury School District and also own an invitation business. I’m usually commissioned for portraits and personalized illustrations. There will be many more combinations and experimentations of painting and illustrating in the near future. I love the solidity and texture that these two mediums and styles bring.

Jamie P Bruno


Music…The Joyful Noises Quartet…Photos By Heddy Bergsman

Here is a local group that is a great model for musical possibilities. Give them a call before your next function. They are entertaining and exceptional. Here is what Bob said about their music creations:

Hi Tom,

You asked about my quartet and I am happy to discuss that wonderful part of my life.  We began as just a gospel group with members from my church.  Since, we were having so much fun, we branched out into the secular world. They say there are two original forms of music: dixie-land jazz and barbershop singing.


We auditioned, along with around 150 other singers and groups, to sing the national anthem for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. They are a Phillies AAA farm team (one step from the majors). They were so impressed with our singing that they sent our video to the Phillies. We sang the national anthem on August 3 at the Phillies and August 20 for the Iron Pigs. We thoroughly enjoyed both experiences. We are just an energetic quartet with pitch pipe and four-part harmonies. We have performed at churches, assisted living facilities, resorts, restaurants, and retreats.

Bob Rosenberger   570-223-7076


Writing…The Book Critique

Here are some creative points for researching books and writing a book critique. They are from a graduate course on writing. Share it with your friends, classroom, or writers in your family. Google Books and AALBC are great research sites for everything in literature.

Directions For Writing A Book Critique

Each reading for the course is on line. This saves you money, but more important is that it will allow you to select topics as close to your teaching program and teaching needs as possible. Some of the on-line books you have selected will give you an amazing amount of information. Other books in these initial selections will give little tidbits previews hoping you’ll buy the book at some future time. There are professional articles and biographies to explore. I enjoy reading books by authors that explain their background and how they honed their writing ideas. These sites share every type of research paper, magazine article, and creative presentations.

Type in your research title or type of book you would like to read in the Google Books or The Internet Public Library search text box and hundreds of large and small selections will appear.

You will create a one page critique on a reading for each unit…five critiques in all. You may choose your critique selection from our readings or substitute one of your own. This will allow you to delve into your personal library and research the book you have been meaning to research for ages. Keep in mind you are writing and making teaching suggestions for a multi-level, K-12 audience. Please define the levels and curriculum subjects that are stressed in your selection as a starter. In your critique you could also include ideas from the following:


1. New and creative lessons and techniques we can add to our programs
2. A different twist to a much-used activity
3. Areas of the book (lists, checklists, charts , tips, hints) that will make us better and more organized teachers
4. The author’s and illustrator’s background and purpose for writing the book
5. Other resources that support the book’s topic
6. Areas you liked best/least

7. An activity you would revise or adapt for your students or recommend we do for other levels
8. An activity or suggestion you used from the book
9. Compare it to another book you have used as a resource
10. Explain why it should be a part of our professional library
11. What attracted you to this selection over other possible selections
12. Books that are similar in purpose and shared information


Music…Lorde Hits Number One On The Music Charts Everywhere

Ella Maria Lani Yellick O’Conner, better known as Lorde, is the first New Zealand singer to reach number one on the US Billboard music charts. Katy Perry holds second. Ella Maria is, also, number one in England and New Zealand. She is the second youngest person to ever do that in England.


Miss O’Conner’s music tells the story of all sixteen year olds. Some stay at home and read, some embrace their hometowns, and some are seriously tempted by crazy. Her new song Royals has 23 million hits in less than a month on VeVo. It has won the Best Song Silver Scroll in England. The award is our equivalent to the Grammy. She just released her second album Pure Heroine. It is not as scary as its title. She talks about how it drives you crazy to get old at sixteen and sometimes you are in A World Alone.

Check her live performances out on YouTube as she appears on the KCRW music network. Send her a birthday card for the start of her 17th year on November 7. Maybe you will be invited to the celebration?


Some Additional Thoughts

Please send me something interesting in small paragraph form and a photo for my daily column. I need your ideas to make my column relevant on a national scale.

 Here are three rewarding things to do today!!!

1. Visit my FREE, award winning, educational website aimtjp.wikispaces.com. Ten thousand classrooms use it. It is filled with creative lessons, games, puzzles, book talks, videos, and PowerPoints. It meets the needs of educators, students, and parents from kindergarten through graduate school. No www. is needed in the address (URL).

Visit catapultintopoetry.com for a ton of interesting challenges for Salute To Poetry Month. No www. is needed in this address, either (URL).


2. Drop your email in the “Follow” box for my daily column. If you enjoy hearing about theater, music, television, educational issues, in the news topics, games, puzzles, and poetry following my daily column at (thomasjpalumbo.wordpress.com) will heighten your zest for interesting topics, daily discoveries, creative ideas, and lively discussion. Promise!!!


3. Send me any unique and newsworthy things you are doing in your work, creative programs, and social group. Include a picture, so I can add it to my daily column. My column goes out to over 100 re-posting sites.

Artists or friends that are artists: Do you have any artwork or photography I can feature or use to introduce my daily column. Please send me three pieces and a little write-up. Don’t forget to include your name for credit. How about your new art ‘showing’ write-up?

Tom Palumbo


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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