117. Julia Roberts, Kevin Costner, Maria Sharapova


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1. Movies…Cancel Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts For Dinner
August: Osage County

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If you could invite four people to dinner from a category like movies, television, history, music, or politics, what four people would you invite? Creative writing classes present this writing project year after year. It, also, often, pops up at dinner discussions after a movie. Sometimes the four have to be living actors (our topic for this column), sometimes they have to be dead. That sounds morbid…inviting four dead people to dinner! However!

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Before seeing August: Osage County, our four living movie star invitees were Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, and Meryl Streep. The breadth of their movie knowledge depicting characters and stories in sports, history, family, politics, and world events would make for an enlightening dinner. Mom’s lasagna will greatly enhance  the talk and dinner fest.

However, the dysfunction, meanness, cat-fighting, and four letter word bombs that Streep and Roberts displayed at their family dinner and throughout their new movie made them dinner cross-outs.

August: Osage County is about a large family that returns to the family household in Oklahoma to console their grieving or not grieving mother. Their father is missing. The dysfunction in this movie is epic and we can’t share it all without ruining two of the movie’s key plots. Here is a primer of what you will experience while eating your popcorn.

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Meryl Streep is a drug addict, has mouth cancer, and is mean and vindictive to the core.

Julia Roberts (daughter one) brings her estranged husband (Ewan McGregor) who left her for a younger woman and her directionless teen daughter (Abegail Breslin) to the family meet and beat. Fireworks prevail!

Julianne Nicholson (daughter two) is in love with her cousin (Benedict Cumberbatch) and is hiding it from her family. She wants to leave Oklahoma for New York.

Juliette Lewis (daughter three) is about to marry a man (Dermot Mulroney) that gives drugs to teen women to promote sex with them.

Sam Shephard, the missing dad, is an alcoholic and the initial narrator for the story.
Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale round out the dinner table.

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On the other hand, our four dead actor invitees would be Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, and Veronica Lake. You can catch their classic movies on the Turner Network’s Old-Time Movie Channels and see why they were our top choices.


2. Movies II…Kevin Costner…Back With A Vengeance And A Football

Kevin Costner has been awarded an Oscar, three Golden Globes, and an Emmy, and 28 other awards for his acting prowess. He has been absent from the movies since his low-keyed stint as Superman’s father. Costner, the star, has roared back to the big screen this week with three compelling movies. In our movie-house memory, it is the first time that three movie trailers from the same actor were every shown together at the local Cinemaplex.

We thought he was in the movie sound booth running the projector.

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Costner opens this week in the spy thriller in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. His spy network includes Chris Pine, Keira Knightly, and Kenneth Branagh. The Russians are trying to crash the United States’ economy and no one knows who their friends are in the battle against money terrorism.

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Costner in Draft Day tries to recreate his sport mojo in the area of football not baseball. His task, along with Jennifer Garner, is to bring the Cleveland Browns back to prominence. No one should be given this impossible task, not even in make believe! Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi would probably say no. Sorry Jimmy Brown!

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Three Days To Kill has life saving experimental drugs, estranged daughter issues, and killing once again as their jumping off points. Costner has to solve them all to survive. January 18th is Costner’s 59th birthday. In this movie, he has to decide whether he wants another birthday and at what price!

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3. Television…HBO’s True Detective…Mathew McConaughey And Woody Harrelson

HBO achieved a television coup when it recruited Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey to star in their six part mini-series True Detective. Watching the start of this series on Sunday instead of the Golden Globes was risky. The Globes did giant numbers.

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From 1926 until 1995 every young detective story lover read the True Detective Magazine. The crime contents and the damsels in distress on each cover were magnets for the crime enthusiast.Pick up an issue of True Detective at your library.

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In the television series Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are mismatched new partners trying to track down what seems like a satanic cult killer. The first episode introduced everyone’s background as the ‘detective quest’ started to roll. It is no surprise that Matthew McConaughey plays the thoughtful introspect and Woody Harrelson the ‘family expressive’ one. Typecasting or fate we guess!

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4. Sports…Maria Sharapova…Money And The Australian Open

The Winter Olympics and the new tennis season are tops in sport’s news for women this January. If you are asking yourself if your daughter should be an ice skater or tennis player, the answer is tennis player. Of the top ten grossing women athletes, seven are tennis players. Maria Sharapova leads this talented money enriched group for the ninth straight year.

1. Maria Sharapova…$29 million ($6 million represents prize money)

2. Serena Williams…$20.5 million ($8.5 million represents prize money)

3. Li Na…$18.2 million ($3.2 million represents prize money)

4. Victoria Azarenka…$15.7 million ($6.7 million represents prize money)

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Tennis grooming is an interesting discussion topic for parents. More importantly though is when Maria Sharapova is used as a “tag” for your column. A “tag” is something you attach on your column to attract readers who goggle certain words or people for their Internet searches and what is going on look-ups. Maria Sharapova, Miley Cyrus, and that woman who married an English prince always bring the greatest amount of readers to any posting. Thanks Maria! No fault on!

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5. Books and History…Benjamin Franklin, Shakespeare, And More

Your local library is celebrating The Year of The Book and The Year of Shakespeare. Check your library for workshops and creative offerings in a host of areas like: Introduction To The Kindle, Shakespeare Shares, From Word Processing To PowerPoint Construction, Poetry, Creative Writing, Internet Resources, presentations by local authors, poets, and illustrators, and more. The would love to present your creative topic. Every library’s movie lending files will save you hundreds of dollars, too.

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Please remember to sign up for the sites Good Reads (www.goodreads.com). Book Page (www.bookpage.com), The Internet Public Library (www.ipl.org), and Reading Is Fundamental (www.rif.org), and The African American Literary Book Club (www.aalbc.com) for your next reading delight.

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Our newest recommendation is The University of Pennsylvania’s Digital Library (digital.library.upenn.edu/books). The aesthetics of the site are embarrassingly bad, but the 10,000 free downloadable books will keep you busy for at least a week of great reading.


Start your digital book journey with The Graveyard Book (2009). The book won the Newbery Award, the Hugo Award, and Nebula Award. Graveyard is read by its author Neil Gaiman. This unique presentation is in video form. You can watch him read each chapter of his book at various book presentations. Neil Gaiman’s additional offerings can be found on his website (http://www.mousecircus.com).

Ben Franklin’s birthday is overshadowed every year by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Philadelphia is embracing both equally this week. Don’t forget Ben in your reading (Ben And Me…The Ben Franklin Diet). If you are in the Philadelphia area please visit Franklin’s new museum at Fourth and Market Street.

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6. Books II…Linda Nance’s Bookcase Full Of Great Titles And Reads

Please goggle Linda Nance Books and take a look at some of her great titles. She writes about her work with children, her love of writing, and the help you can give to special needs’ students in your area. Her titles cover everything from writing journeys to ghosts to learning how to deal with everyday events in your life.

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7. Music…Justin Timberlake And Robin Thicke…Sales’ Kings

This coming weekend (January 26th) is a music lover’s nirvana. The outrageous Grammy Awards, the Oscars of Music, will lyric-size themselves across your big screen television. This year’s awards will pay tribute to the creative genius of music makers and the financial stashes their recordings have made in 50 categories. The Beatles are performing together and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Justin Timberlake’s album The 20/20 Experience sold 2.5 million copies. Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines was the leader in the singles department with 6.5 million sales. As we said last week, vinyl record resurgence lead to 6.5 million sales of assorted titles. Daft Punk leads in new vinyl sales. They are followed the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan catalogs which have been re-pressed this year.

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Noticeably absent from the Grammy award list were Miley Cyrus and newcomer Lorde. Both Miley and Lorde had multiple recordings that lead every U.S. and international music chart. Hopefully they will be presenters.

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8. Animal Cruelty…The Black Rhino

Those of us that have raised money for the World Wildlife Fund and cruelty to animals groups are extremely upset over selling chances to kill the magnificent and rare black rhino by conservation groups in Namibia, Africa. They say that the $350,000 paid by the winning hunter will help other conservation projects. Hello! Did we miss something in the world of endangered species?

The Let’s Kill Rare Animals Message to save rare animals is not a message that we want sent to poachers and black marketeers of hides and horns. It is startling (a real surprise) that there was no international outrage. Hundreds turned out for the ‘deer herd thinning protest’ at our local environmental preserve in Churchville.

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Corey Knowlton is the Texas hunter who paid $350,000 to hunt the black rhino. The rhino is one of the most endangered animals on earth. Be ashamed Corey! We are ashamed for you! Write his Texas Senator or Congressman please!

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9. Music II…Elizabeth McGovern And Robert Downey, Jr.

Here are two great listens that might be news to you. If you are expecting a new Ironman 4 movie from Robert Downey, you might have to wait until he finishes touring with Sting. He is not really touring with Sting, but he has joined Sting on three different occasions and contributed outstanding soloes and duets with the Sting master. You can see Downey’s vocal interpretations and work at Stings’ 60th birthday celebration and across You Tube and Vevo. He sounds amazing and gives a great performance!

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Elizabeth McGovern is the front person for the PBS award winning Downton Abbey and a new jazz group called Sadie and The Hotheads. She and Robert Downey could make a great Duets album. Goggle her work on your favorite free music application or station! Elizabeth will surprise you and Downey will, too!

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10. Music III…People Like Us…Kelly Clarkson

The American Idol season started off with some hilarious segments and some great vocals. The show is in the new talent interview and performance segment of the show. They visit locations across the country before things really get heated up with major stage performances in Hollywood. Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. are this year’s judges. Kelly Clarkson’s 2012 hit People Like Us was a roll down your windows and scream hit performed by many of the Texas participants. It is the perfect companion listen to her Stronger. One hour later Clarkson was on the first of this year’s episodes of Nashville. Kelly, supposedly as part of the show’s theme, was looking for some new songs for her latest new album from members of the Nashville’s new song writers.
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11. A Column And Resource Overview For New Readers

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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. The sister at St. Mary’s read it, 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. 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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12. Let’s Talk’s Educational Website

Please check out our FREE educational website at (aimtjp.wikispaces.com).

No www. is needed in the URL. 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.

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13. Let’s Talk Poetry

Let’s Talk’s poetry site contains audios, videos, PowerPoints, Internet resources, and worksheets in both poetry and creative writing. It can be found at: (catapultintopoetry.wikispaces.com). Thousands of parents and teachers use the website and its creative resources.


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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