115. Will Ferrell, Britney Spears, Ben Stiller

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1. Movies…The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty!
What Is Your First Or Next Awesome Adventure?

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Ben Stiller stars in and directs The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. It is very different remake from the 1947 version with the bumbling Danny Kaye and beautiful Virginia Mayo. The 1947 version is now showing on your local channels as a nice precursor to the new movie in your local cinema-plex.

Forget the local reviews. Everyone, young and old, in a packed theater spontaneously applauded at the conclusion of the movie. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is a feel good movie filled with silly antics leading to a great, easy to imitate journey. It is perfect for the holidays or any time of the year.

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Walter Mitty, like most of us, is a dreamer. Instead of confronting difficult or possibly enjoyable situations in his life, he skips to fantastic adventures in his mind. His body freezes in this daydream state whenever this happens. Those around him are not charmed by these advents, especially his new boss. His sister, Odessa (Kathryn Hahn), and his mother (Shirley MacLaine), understand these freezes, but few others do!

Kristen Wiig, Cheryl, is a workmate that has Mr. Mitty smitten. He cannot connect with her at work or on a national dating site. Walter has done nothing. Therefore, nothing is in his profile to attract anyone’s attention. A botched assignment at work and the encouragement of Kristen put Walter on a road to discovery. As he pursues the mystery of the assignment (a missing slide) and undertakes a global journey to find it, his successes and failures make him stronger. His online profile becomes more interesting, also.

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An underlying feature surrounding this story is the publication of the last issue of Life Magazine. Walter is responsible for the last cover…hence his amazing quest. Life’s classic covers are featured on office walls and hallways throughout the movie. They offer many great past visions of history, people, and art.

You will definitely leave the theater thinking that if Walter can do it, why can’t I be next! Pick a small journey and start it after the movie. Finish your popcorn first, please.

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2. Books…James Thurber…The Prince Of The Short Story!

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is a short story by James Thurber. Don’t expect to find it at your major bookstore. Our stops to three big time book emporiums were pointless. Everyone should have a Book Exchange Store in their neighborhood. It is like a trip back in “book time” if you have one near you. Past stories and writers come alive with ten selections of everything they have written! New books are half price! Half Price???

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David Baldacci’s The Hit (2013) joined Carnival in the take home bag.

James Thurber’s The Thurber Carnival jumped off the Book Exchange’s shelf. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, thirty short stories, and thirty cartoons drawn by Thurber graced the book’s landscape. Thurber’s words in simple fashion tell stories of the famous and not so famous. His characters are memorable and discussion provoking. Thurber was and is Americanna.

If you only read one story after Mitty try The Secret Life Of James Thurber. It tells how Salvadore Dali’s life and paintings influenced Thurber’s ideas, drawings, and writings.

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3. Music…Britney Spears Enchants Las Vegas!

Britney Spears’ two-year run in Las Vegas jumped off to a great critically acclaimed start. Her 24 lavish musical vignettes in Las Vegas pomp and fashion salute everyone from Michael Jackson to Rihanna. Planet Hollywood’s Hotel and Casino will feature 100 performances of her creative masterpieces over the two-year span of this mega deal. She has already brought a whole new entourage of fans and curious visitors to Vegas.

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Catch the Britney Spears’ documentary on your local channel or on YouTube. It shows a revealing glimpse of her present life. Being a parent and a star would be hard for anyone. The documentary will bring a clearer understanding to her music, her family, and her future projects. She is likable and real in this portrayal!

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4. Movies II…Anchorman 2: Ron Burgundy Lives Again!
Stupid Is What Stupid Does!

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Here is the set-up for this movie’s introduction. We thought this movie has to be stupid and filled with crude humor. We will see the movie as reviewers. We are smart enough not to laugh at stupidity or any of the movie’s jokes ranging from blind people to Afro-Americans. Ten guffaws later, that could not be stopped from leaving one’s body….we tried to hold them in…we are now researching how many other stupid people like us are seeing this movie.

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Will Ferrell’s second movie in the series will make over 100 million dollars worldwide. That equates to 10 million stupid people. We use this phrase lovingly because we are now members of this notorious group. We are not proud of ourselves!

Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Keochner are members of Ferrell’s news team. Their intelligence quotient is minus ten, so, along with Ferrell, all America loves them. They want New York to love their new concept of presenting the news. Christina Applegate married Ferrell, loved Ferrell, doesn’t love him now, but may love him again. She is his competition in New York. Ferrell’s six-year old son loves him no matter what!

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By the way, Baxter, the dog, saves the movie as all super dog companions oft do. The soundtrack is great, too!

The ten cameo appearances at the end of the movie are worth the admission price. Kristen Wiig’s love trance could happen?

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5. Books II…Why We Write…Thanks Meredith Maran!

Why We Write compiled and edited by Meredith Maran introduces 20 of America’s favorite authors and asks them to share their ideas in six simple formats. The formats are:

  1. Revealing Background Information
  2. Newest Book Preface
  3. Vital Statistics (Dates, Schooling, And Honors)
  4. Their Collected Works
  5. Why I Write
  6. Writing Tips

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Your favorite author is somewhere in the twenty. Our favorite reads were those presented by: Terry McMillan, David Baldacci, Judy Picoult, Sue Grafton, Isabel Allende, Sebastian Younger, and Sara Gruen. All the author’s descriptions of writing being a disease, passion, fear, battle, affliction, stimulant, journey, baby, and more were startling. These reveals neatly meshed with their stories of success and failure. Most of the authors shared that they write because they don’t know how to do anything else. This was surprising given their total accomplishments from Pulitzers to copies in the multi-millions of their stunning book successes. Their work ethic surely could be emulated and reproduced?

This ‘Why‘ book will look great next to The Art Of Reading on anyone’s bookshelf. The Art Of Reading has the two-page story of 20 authors and illustrators. Like Why We Write, these children’s authors and illustrators share their book favorites growing up and events in their lives that contributed to their writing and art creations.

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6. Poetry…The New Year Won’t Go Softly Into The Night!

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Everyone in their end of the year columns looks for something to salute the past year with before bringing in the New Year in a resounding form.

Alfred Lord Tennyson has a New Year’s piece in In Memoriam called Ring Out, Wild Bells. It was written to commemorate his sister’s fiancée who died at the early age of 22. Supposedly, the local church’s bell’s chiming initiated this thoughtful summary of the past year and what would be desirable in the New Year. It is long but as Abraham Lincoln said:

“I apologize for such a long letter. I did not have time for a short one.”

“We apologize for such a long poem, we did not have time to find a shorter one!”

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Tennyson In Memoriam (ring out, wild bells)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind

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For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,

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The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;

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Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Person that is to be.

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7. Poetry….A Shorter New Year’s Tribute In Rhyme!
William Cullen Bryant’s A Song For New Year’s Eve

It is one hour before the New Year and the writer is caught between beseeching the Old Year to stay or demanding that the New Year begin. Review the whole poem at poets.org. We liked the images from the last two verses.

A Song For The New Year

Dear friends were with us,
Some who sleep beneath the coffin-lid:
What pleasant memories we keep
Of all they said and did!

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Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.

Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
Oh be the new as kind!

Oh stay, oh stay,
One parting strain, and then away.

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8. Applications For Your Apple IPad…Top Ten Picks!

Don’t miss the top ten applications that go with your holiday IPad. All of them are FREE, easy to load, and will enhance the learning experience at every level. There are applications that will feature your photos, videos, writing, business files, and graphics at every level.


Sites recommended like Evernote even have video directions on how to use the site and how to navigate its sublevels.

Skitch will help you draw and edit any image.

Box is the ultimate storage application and great competition for the fee based Drop Box.

The application Ted is filled with inspirational videos and creative talks to start any meeting, talk, day, or week.


9. Books III…Natalie Monroe…Are More Book Awards In Her Future?

Natalie’s book is already an award winner. It sounds like a fascinating must read. Hopefully it will do well in its Kindle format. Here is what Janet shared about her new work:

Hi Tom,

It was nice talking to you this afternoon. Like I said, I’ve written my book under a pen name (Natalie Monroe). So, I don’t want to associate it with my other books. Attached is the front cover image of the book and the synopsis is as follows:

Divorced and unsure about her future, Natalie is alone for the first time in her life. Living in Florida, she feels isolated, but afraid to get back into the dating scene. Luckily, she didn’t have to. Only three months on her own, an old classmate through the high school website contacts her.

Daniel Weaver was one of the popular boys, and someone who never had an interest in Natalie. Handsome and charming, he says all the right words to make her fall for him. Natalie is convinced he’s the man who could turn her dreams into reality, and sees him as a second chance for love. However,

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Daniel is a master manipulator and Natalie finds herself on an emotional roller coaster, trying to hold on for her life.
Entangled is the story of a personal journey with a sociopath—handsome, charming, and potentially lethal to one’s soul.

Available on kindle / Print version scheduled for January 2014
This book is an award winner in the RPLA Florida Writer’s Association for 2013.

Let me know if you need more information.
Thank You
Natalie Monroe


10. Games And Puzzles

Here is an end of the year challenge that will test your word power. After completing our clues, see if you can write five “double definitions” of your own.

Double Definitions

Did you find any words in your reading selections that had more than one meaning. Did they confuse you? Columns A and C below have the definitions of an easy to recognize word. Place the word answer in column B. With two hints for each word, this activity should be quite easy to do. Complete sections One and Two, then write three of your own clues/answers to share with your classmates.



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11. For New Readers Only…A Review!

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. 475 readers subscribe to the column. Mom occasionally reads it at home, also.

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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.

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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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