114. Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, And Christian Bale

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1. Forbes: Money Makes The World Go Round!

Madonna at 125 million dollars was the top money getter this year on Forbes’ Top Grossing Celebrities List. Oprah topped the Forbes’ list that combines the Forbes fame and money scale. (http://www.forbes.com/celebrities/#page:1_sort:0_direction:asc_search:_filter:All%20categories).

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Forbes is an interesting read this time of the year. They analyze fame, money, entertainment, world leaders, and politics with ten biometric scales and then spit out incredible lists based on this information. Madonna’s records, DVD’s, and song singles did little this year in comparision to past efforts, but her world tour grossed over 310 million dollars. Everything Madonna puts her name on from children’s books to perfume sells and has added immense funds to her children’s inheritance. She out earned some of the best! It was shocking to learn the top television star is Simon Cowell at 95 million lyrics. Cowell is a money magnet for entertainment ideas.

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2. Movies…Is American Hustle A Drama Or Comedy?


Christian Bale offers a leading man double feature this weekend as he stars in American Hustle and Out Of The Furnace. American Hustle with Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, and Bradley Cooper takes the scam, the con, and the grift and sprinkles it with comedy and death. The ‘hustle’ takes two small time artists with expertise in thievery and forces them to enter into the big time scams of politics and gigantic payoffs.

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American Hustle, with seven nominations, is the most nominated movie in this year’s Golden Globe’s Award race. AH’s measuring stick might be The Grifters with Anjelica Houston, Annette Bening, and John Cusack or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin, Glenne Headley, and Michael Caine. In all three movies the participants have to decide the importance of family, lovers, jail time, friends, and the scam. In all three movies you will love the oddball, then serious, character portrayals and the mini-cons on the way to the big finish! In all three movies you are waiting for the final scam. As we have said three times before in this column about ‘flip-flop ending’ movies….You will be wrong in your final predictions for all three!

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A Let’s Talk Side Note: Jennifer Lawrence, in a smaller role than the movie’s big four, adds ditzy to her Academy Award and impressive list of acting credits. Visualize her new short hairdo in red, a couple of freckles on her face, and believable ditzy. You, then, have to see this week’s I Love Lucy Christmas Special to believe! Lawrence could play Lucy in a twinkling of Desi’s eye!
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3. Movies…Out Of The Furnace…Christian Bale Once More!

Every critic that reviewed Out Of The Furnace mentioned the remarkable acting by Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepherd, Woody Harrelson, and Willem Dafoe. This is Scott Cooper’s follow up story to the Academy Award winning (Bridges for acting) Crazy Heart. It is not anywhere near the warm, fascinating, and endearing story that Cooper fashioned in Crazy Heart. The previews gave you a good idea what you were getting into if you selected this story!

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Furnace features the brutality of the steel mills and backwoods of Pennsylvania and New Jersey as Christian Bale tries to save his brother (Casey Afleck) from both. In grafter movies there are sometimes winners. The bleak picture in Out of the Furnace of drugs and no options shows there are no winners in this story.

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4. Television I…Hidden…Philip Glenister: Universal Actor

Everyone likes their detectives to be swarthy, good-looking, and intelligent. (We asked everyone in the office the meaning of swarthy…no one knew…everyone said something to do with pirates. We used swarthy as an adjective anyway. We figured our readers would think it is a well-placed adjective. AND most readers wouldn’t know swarthy’s definition either.)

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Brendan Gleeson in The Guard (an earlier recommendation with Don Cheadle) wasn’t swarthy, handsome, or seemingly intelligent at first peek. He was, however, entertaining and certainly got the perplexing, crime-solving job done perfectly. Philip Glenister in Hidden, a four part BBC min-series, comes from the same detective type mold as Gleeson. Glenister is the BBC’s Universal Man. He has starred in 10 movies and 10 mini-series from Agatha Christie to Ashes To Ashes to Kingdom Of Heaven.

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In Hidden, beautiful Thelka Reuten is lawyer Gina Hawkes. She needs an elusive witness to be found. Local everyman, Glenister, is her choice to track down this alibi witness. Hawkes is beautiful and mysterious. Of course, Glenister says he’ll do the job. It was, probably, her eyes. Won’t they ever learn?

Five twists and turns through the courts, the prisons, the police network, politics, and London’s underbelly and three different cases are solved by the series’ conclusion. Telling you about the mysterious witness will ruin the surprises! Hidden is a series for movie watchers that watch to the ‘beat of a different drummer’ and expect something different from their movie choices. Hidden can be found on all the re-listing networks and pay channels. It is arrestingly different!!!

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5. Travel…Scenic Sicily Sizzles…Anita Smolens Shares

Anita Smolens is to cruises as cream cheese is to a bagel. It seems she has been around the world at least three times on everything from the Santa Maria to a sailboat to a yacht. Her Felucca (half sailboat/half skiff) experience up the Nile rocked! She has shared trips and photos from China, the Panama Canal, Egypt, Alaska, and islands all over the Pacific. Why she hasn’t written a book about her adventures boggles the mind. Anita swears cruise food, drink, entertainment, gambling, leisure activities, people meeting, and tours are unmatched. She has tried the competition. She has lived in the world’s hotels but claims your ship as your hotel is way more affordable, dependable and convenient. Stay tuned for her next experience…space travel seats are now being sold!

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Ms. Smolens is an art museum fanatic and claims Italy and Sicily remain her favorites. Her list of yet to be seen venues rivals the places she has already enjoyed. She recommends The Thinking Traveler connection and their talk to someone that has been there feature! She included her contacts for Italy and Sicily (shared below). Cruise creatively Friends of Columbus!

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Dear Thinking Traveller,

Can we help you with your 2014 travel plans? We know that choosing can be difficult, so to help out we’re dedicating this newsletter to an overview of our three destinations in the heart of the Mediterranean.

Sicily, Puglia and the Ionian Islands have a lot in common, including some of the loveliest beaches and crystalline waters in the world. They share enviable climates that guarantee sun and warm weather for most of the year. However, they also boast many unique characteristics, a few of which are highlighted in the sections below.

If you have any questions in the meantime, why not get in touch with our expert Client Managers? They visit Sicily, Puglia and the Ionian Islands regularly and would love to share their knowledge and passion with you. Call them on +44 (0) 20 7377 8518 or 1-800-490-1107 (from the US and Canada) or e-mail info@thethinkingtraveller.com.

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6. Television…MI-5…Hugh Laurie And House

It is always memorable and informative to trace your favorite actresses and actors back to their original movies and television shows. The British Broadcasting Company’s MI-5 was one of England’s longest running shows. MI-5 is the security wing of the British services. The characters in every US television series are always teaming up with MI-5. MI-5 members carry their brains not guns. Other MI offices carry guns as the criminals they are chasing do…not MI-5. James Bond from our last column would not fit into MI-5. If you are on television for ten years without your guns, your audience must like the brainy part of your show.

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MI-5 has been a star launching pad for European and American projects. In each episode you will see a character that used the show to springboard into other shows or the big screen. Most notable is Hugh Laurie who crossed the big pond (pond?) to star as the brilliant but curmudgeonly doctor in the House series.

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7. Books…LeVar Burton…The Reading Rainbow Series

The Reading Rainbow Television Series (PBS) has provided children, parents, and teachers a weekly tour into the excitement of books and reading for twenty-five years. LeVar Burton, one of the series’ hosts, took us to visit marvelous characters and book places. He then introduced the authors and illustrators that enthralled us with their writing and art. The shows on Mummies Made In Egypt and Digging Up Dinosaurs remain favorites.

Rainbow is on DVD and old-fashioned videotape. Both formats are a reasonably priced purchase and great gift for the new reader, college instructor, or elementary teacher. They series’ best programs come in an enjoyable six-pack. Burton is now the spokesperson for Reading Is Fundamental. RIF’s website is outstanding and filled with invaluable resources. Here is what Burton says about supporting this group:

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Dear Tom,
My mother was my first and best teacher. She inspired my love of reading, and it changed my life. Words cannot begin to express my gratitude for this precious gift. So! What about you? Who set you on the path to embrace the written word? A teacher? A parent? An older sibling? A family friend?  Whoever it may be, why not take a moment to honor their influence and commitment. A gift in their name shows how much you care-how important their role was in shaping who you are and what you have been able to achieve.  Please, join me in celebrating the special people in our lives who inspired us to be readers. They gave to us; let’s give back. Give the Gift of Reading Is Fundamental (www.rif.org)

Happy Holidays,


8. The Workplace…Which Is More Creative The Office Or The Home?

There is a new business movement afoot that is bringing all those employees that worked from home back to the office. Struggling and not struggling companies like Hewlett Packard, Yahoo, and Best Buys are leading the revolution. Some are changing just for the sake of change. There is no empirical data that indicates what is better in the office versus home debate. More time is wasted in the office, but brainstorming ideas with others in the office seems to be the big push from prominent CEO’s. Seems like everyone has forgotten about webinars, I-conferences, distance learning formats, and phone roundtables. You can chime in here in our comment section or on a number of different websites looking for your opinion.

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Our office staff overwhelmingly voted…HOME. Nice try guys and gals!


9. Philadelphia…Phillips’ Photography

Here are a few more pieces from 15 year-old Phillip King. His photographic vision was featured in the last column. Use your down arrow key to smoothly navigate any previous column.


10. Some Let’s Talk Reminders As We Head Into The New Year

Navigating Let’s Talk And Its Discussion Page…There is an index bar across the top of this home page and above this writing. The titles in the index bar are: 100 Writing Resources, About, Mini Biography, Poetry, and What Is Next. The 100 Writing Resources section contains five years of creative ideas from Writing Across The Curriculum. It, also, introduces favorite websites, lessons, teaching videos, and creatively designed PowerPoints. This piece of the WordPress site is constantly changing and being up-dated with everyday events and new teaching approaches. The Public Dropbox in 100 Writing Resources can be opened to reveal downloadable folders in creative classroom materials, audio talks, grant writing, video lessons, books, and the projects of hundreds of graduate students that I have had the pleasure of teaching. About is a short description of the goals and objectives for writing this column. A full resume can be found in 100 Writing Resources. Let’s Talk focuses on children’s literature, television, movies, travel, business, theater, and best educational practices.


An abbreviated resume called a ‘biography brief’ appears in Mini-biography. Poetry is a creative writing and poetry lover’s paradise. It has a master PowerPoint with easy to follow lesson directions under each slide. It introduces over 25 poetry formats and how to creatively present them. Mini-presentations, also, dot this poetry site. What Is Next is a step-by-step PowerPoint describing one of our favorite classroom activities. I am still working on how to add videos directly to my column of my book talk movies and lessons in the classroom movies. There are no, ads, pleas, or gimmicks in anything I do. What is given freely is rarely appreciated! I hope my column’s readers appreciate my ideas, the ideas of my peers, and the input of the column’s readers. Let’s Talk as described in the bottom of this column is beginning its 20th year of sharing information across all thinking spectrums.


11. For New Column Visitors Only

The 20th Anniversary Of Let’s Talk

The approaching new year (2014) is the 20th Anniversary of Let’s Talk. What once was a newsletter shared in University Of The Arts’ lectures and classes, professional development presentations up and down the east coast, and in book publications for Good Apple Publishing is now a Word Press column that is read across four continents and Philadelphia. Let’s Talk is distributed through multiple re-listing sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Mom occasionally reads it at home, also.


Join the year-long celebration of writing and creative discussion by contributing a story, book, movie, art piece, award notice, photography, game, business, multimedia, travel, or theater write-up for the column. Your ideas should be sent to Tom Palumbo at tjpalumbo@aol.com. Please send a photo or two with your two-paragraph contribution. Your varied ideas, experiences, and insights will surely bring a larger audience to the column and make the column’s content more interesting and far reaching.




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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2 Responses to 114. Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, And Christian Bale

  1. Jenny Witterick says:

    Wow Tom…how do you come up with so much! Another great read. Happy holidays, Jenny

  2. Jenny Witterick says:

    What do you think of Annette Benning playing Franciszka? I said no because I thought her features were too fine…we’re talking about a Polish peasant woman…but your article here made me think twice.

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