116. Downton Abbey And Sex In The City

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1. Let’s Talk Celebrates Year Twenty

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Join the yearlong 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. Thank you! 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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2. Television: Is Downton Abbey Your Next Look And Like?

Season Four of the British series Downton Abbey has just started. It can be seen on Monday at 9PM on your local PBS channel. Downton Abbey is, also, shown all week on PBS until episode two begins next Monday. You can see it on the Internet through PBS Masterpieces’ on your television or computer if you missed the new year’s first two-hour episode, too.

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Netflix has seven different episodes including the new episodes. These episodes do not help with the show’s continuity, if you haven’t seen the show before. Your local library has the past three seasons on DVD. The waiting list is larger than the line in the petites’ section of Macy’s on a ‘discount coupon and shopping extravaganza’ day.

If you like or would like to experience early 20th century history, fashion, architecture, politics, opulence, food, and the machinations of the British class system, Downton might be the new television ‘enjoyment’ for your weekly viewing. The show introduces intriguing characters ‘to the manor born’ and the dozens of household staff members that serve them. Each week Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, tells ten different stories in his two hours of weekly work.

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The staff’s stories are just as interesting as the stories of the manor’s leading family. Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern are the heads of the Crawley household. Maggie Smith is grandma and seems to be more modern than the younger members of the household. The post-dawn of cars, electricity, the woman’s rights’ movement, new business opportunities, and war are interlaced with the house’s new and old loves, dances, dinners, family problems, and landholder politics. Lady Mary’s awakening from the death of her husband, staff healing, new intrigues and romances, new troublemakers, embracing the modern age, and the birth of children drive season four’s new themes. See a few of this year’s episodes just so you can talk the talk!

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There are twenty hotels on hotels.com that are offering Downton Abbey stays and festive celebration weekends. It is the perfect gift for a Valentine’s Day getaway as you recreate the Crawley’s dress and opulence while discussing the show with new friends from all over the world. The Downton Abbey Manor is imaginary, but the search still goes on for its closest vacation match!

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AND…Hope you, also, have realized how much Lady Rose looks like Jessica Lang from the pictures at the start of this column.

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3. Movies…Iron Man III…Don’t Throw Your Comic Books Away, Yet!

It is a cinematic anomaly when the third movie in a series outdraws the first two movies. Iron Man III destroyed its predecessors (IM 1 and IM 2) and buried this year’s best movies with a 1.2 billion dollar worldwide box office. Three of this year’s top eight movies were derived from comic books. Four new comic book forays are being readied for 2014.


The most interesting revelation in the chart above is that the overseas market is twice the US market in viewership. Clearly American movie producers seem to focus more on this market than the US market. Movies that have failed in the United States have gigantic new lives overseas. American actors, directors, and producers embrace the overseas premier.

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4. Music…The Office Play List!

The creation of the “Office Play List” is revered more than the twice-monthly Friday paycheck. Nominations have to be in before the end of January. The songs cannot be top sellers. They have to be discoveries of songs that would make good B sides of records if records still existed. A female, male, and group vocal must be in each person’s ‘Five. The ‘Five’ has to span multiple decades of music to reach all age groups. Just another stipulation for song choices.

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Don’t make fun of vinyl records! Vinyl, with its great sound qualities, has seen a thirty percent increase in sales this year.

Each of the five songs that each staff member nominates must be accompanied by a mini-critique of the song’s theme. Here are five songs (sleepers) that are worth a listen. Send us your list and accompanying reasons de celebrity. How many of your suggestions do you think are worthy of our Top Twenty? Call the office. Ask to be put on hold. See if one of your choices is playing during this time period. Ask for Gabrielle! She is an angel!

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I. Gene Pitney…Backstage
Success is lonely and isn’t enjoyable without your friends and loves along for the ride…

II. Celine Dion and The Bee Gees…Immortality
Clarifying and understanding who you are and the journey through life with your memories…

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III. Christine Aguilera and Blake Shelton…Just A Fool
Getting past midnight and then to sleep will help you forget a lost love…

IV. The Band Perry…If I Die Young
Burial requests from someone if they die youngfrom a flower to a song…

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V. James Blunt…Bonfire Heart
It doesn’t take much to light someone’s heart, especially mine…

Honorable Mention…Beyonce…The Best Thing I Never Had, Rihanna…Hate That I Love You…and ABBA…Thanks For The Music


5. Photography…The One Word With Picture Contest!

Each year we conduct our One Word Photography Contest. The rules are simple. Please submit a photograph and the one word description the photo will illicit. Last year’s first and second place winners were a bit racy and may not be best suited for display on a column filled with grace and beauty. The third place photograph titled ‘UP’ is presented for you below.


Send your photography submissions to tjpalumbo@aol.com. You will not receive a cruise to Alaska like last year’s winner, but the notoriety/infamy will be overwhelming. Snap on photography club and iPhone shoot members!

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6. Television II: Sex And The City…Loves And Relationships!

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Five different stations are showing the Sex and The City marathon this month. Could the girls be making another movie ten years after their last movie? Sex and The City is a beautiful comparison piece to Downton Abbey. The relationships, work, fashion, travel, and men are classic in both. There are, also, learning lessons in dating presented long before any online dating service. Carrie’s quest for an “all consuming love”…someone she can’t live without…is just as intense as the fashion statements made by the girls in each episode.

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7. Movies II…Archangel…Daniel Craig, Gabriel Macht, and Joseph Stalin!

Archangel (2005) is a nice movie find for the “it could happen” buff. It is one of the early movies for Daniel Craig ( James Bond), Yekaterina Rednikova (the Nika Russian Academy Award winning actress), and Gabriel Macht (Suits). Joseph Stalin died in 1953. Daniel Craig, a Russian history professor, with the help of Yekaterina and Macht is researching the possibility that Joseph Stalin had a son with one of his caretakers. Unfortunately for all, that son is ready to come out of hiding with the same views as his father. He and his group of neophytes are now ready to reclaim Russia sixty years after his birth. Stalin II’s protectors seem too powerful to stop!

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The Boys From Brazil (1978) by Ira Levin and its theme of reinventing Adolph Hitler through cloning is a movie of a similar theme to Archangel. The movie is just as shocking today as it was 40 years ago. If you have not seen the movie, the book might be a good start. Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, James Mason, and Lilli Palmer star in one of the first movies that used the concept of cloning to recreate historical characters rather than animals and dinosaurs. The Boys From Brazil is “dictatorship scary” for any history or science buff. Mason, Olivier, and Peck are actors supreme in this movie. Franklin Schaffner’s Planet Of The Apes was just as shocking as The Boys From Brazil. Schaffner made The Boys From Brazil ten years after his riveting Planet of the Apes ending and its groundbreaking science fiction possibilities.

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8. Movies III…47 Ronin…Keanu Reeves Returns!

This true story starring Keanu Reeves as a half blood Ronin-Samuri was a pleasant surprise. The movie is filled with early Japanese history and feudal time perceptions of loyalty, honor, and love. It is not the karate-laced movie the previews seemed to indicate. The Japanese cast system was very much like the British class system in Downtown Abbey. Both systems were blindly followed, but even more so in this movie.

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Here is what the Japanese travel guide (japan-guide.com) says about this historical event and the resting place of the 47 Ronin:

Sengakuji (泉岳寺) is a small temple near Shinagawa Station in Tokyo. The temple is famous for its graveyard where the “47 Ronin” (also known as Akoroshi, the “masterless samurai from Ako”) are buried.

The story of the 47 loyal Ronin remains one of the most popular historical stories in Japan. Many people visit the temple in order to pay respect to the Akoroshi. They do this by burning incense sticks (senko) in the graveyard.

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A small museum commemorating the 47 Ronin can also be found at Sengakuji. December 14 is the anniversary of the 47 Ronin’s avenge. A festival is held annually at Sengakuji to commemorate the event, attracting thousands of visitors. The small graveyard becomes very crowded and smoky during the festival. Many festival foods such as Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki can be enjoyed at temporarily constructed food stands.

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9. History…Martin Luther King: We Celebrate!

Don’t forget to check out these four sites for great portraits and research information for Dr. King’s Birthday Celebration.

The Library of Congress (www.loc.org)…The History Channel (www.history.com)…
Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com)…
Biography (www.biography.com)


10. Creative Writing…Alliterative Name Nonsense

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This creative writing challenge shouldn’t be too difficult to start the new year.

Name Nonsense

I.  Too Tall Tom and So Small Sue were alliterative nicknames of two children on our block. Can you use your skills in alliteration and devise a common and unique nickname for each person below?

Name                            Common              Unique

EX. Sam                       Sad Sam               Slightly Sorrowful Sam

1.  Bonnie                      ______________   __________________
2.  Wilma                       ______________   __________________
3.  Ted                          ______________   __________________
4.  Paul                          ______________   __________________
5.  Donna                      ______________   __________________

6.  Janice                       ______________   __________________
7.  Aida                          ______________   __________________
8.  Edna                        ______________   __________________
9.  Carl                          ______________   __________________
10. Mike                        ______________   __________________
11. MaryEllen                ______________   __________________
12. Keisha                    ______________   __________________

II.  People who work in the advertising field often use alliteration techniques like to name a product or business Mighty Milk _ Dodge Dart_Best Buys_M & M’s….

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Can you find six other businesses before making up real product names of your own?

1.___________________  3.________________ 5.___________________

2. ___________________ 4. _______________  6. __________________

Can you create an alliterative name for these products?

1. Milk Shake                                   5.  Sports Stadium

2. Shampoo                                      6.  Soda

3. Perfume or After Shave                 7.  Cookie

4. Candy Bar                                    8.  Clothing


11. For New Readers Only

The 20th Anniversary Of Let’s Talk

This 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.

Join the yearlong 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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12. Let’s Talk’s Educational Resources

Please check out our FREE educational website at (aimtjp.wikispaces.com). No www. is needed. If you have any educators, creative writers, entrepreneurs, teachers, or children in the family, they will enjoy the information immensely. There are tons of immediately ready to use ideas in reading, children’s literature, Internet explorations, research, problem solving, games, and poetry on the opening screen and in the Public Dropbox.

The creative ideas on the site are in PowerPoint, video, worksheet, and QuickTime talk formats. Teachers from throughout the area have contributed creative lessons, creative games, and book talks to the site. The Public DropBox has extensive files from twenty years of book authoring and graduate courses.

The poetry site (catapultintopoetry.com) is an additional creative resource for the writer or poet in all of us.

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13. Let’s Talk’s Column Distribution Figures

This column goes out to a large number of re-listing groups and column readers. These groups include:

  1. 10,000 Temple University LinkedIn followers
  2. 10 LinkedIn Sites
  3. 1,000 additional LinkedIn assorted group members
  4. 3,000 Patch daily newspaper readers (four best Patch awards)
  5. 1,046 Facebook followers
  6. 1,000 University of the Arts alumni……and my favorite readers
  7. 1,000 Twitter links
  8. 475 individuals who have no social media presence.

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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