Section 2, part 2

(1) Linda M. in PA: Thank you! Good tips on keeping the inbox under control. Lots of junk especially this time if the year.

Response: Something else I like to use is Adblock, which keeps my screen under control. If you’re not using it, please click:

(2) Joe D. in NC: Looks like you are having a great time as always. We are experiencing much of that active lifestyle here in Pinehurst. Have a great holiday.

Response: Sometimes I have to pinch myself–or Cynthia–and ask, “How good is this?”

(3) Evan G. in GA: Saw “American Hustle” tonight. Good film — a solid “B” in my book — but outstanding performances from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and, especially, Jennifer Lawrence, whose work is among the best I’ve seen this year: It’s worthy of Michelle Williams. But it’s probably a small-screen movie: David O. Russell disappoints.

(4) Bruce R. in PA: I haven’t responded or added any thoughts to your e-mails in quite awhile.    I wish you to know i still enjoy them very much.   I had just been busy with my parents  for awhile.

Please tell all your followers to remember their parents for as long as possible.   My father had a very bad sroke at the end of July this year and was doing well.    But he had gotten sick the beginning of December and was gone by the 14th.   Very hard to watch and worse when the reality sets in.
Enjoy your holidays but  please tell all to respect and remember their parents as we do only have 1 original set.
(5) Susan R. in NC: I so enjoyed this latest installment. Love them all. Happy Holidays!
(6) Carole B. in NC: Thanks Blaine! Great newsletter as always! Loved those Party pictures and info about enroll me! Cheers!
Response: That enroll me site–actually, unroll me (see Section 8 in last week’s newsletter)–is sooooo cool. It really helps make your email much more manageable.
(7) Henry W. in NY: Why have the critics awarded “Inside Llewyn Davis” such rave reviews? Although I typically enjoy Coen Brothers movies, this one left me unmoved and indifferent to Llewyn Davis’s plight. Llewyn, a mediocre folk singer trying to make it in Village clubs in the early 1960’s, is an unsympathetic, selfish, character with few, if any, redeeming qualities. For starters, he sleeps with a fellow singer’s girlfriend and possibly impregnates her; insults a pleasant Upper West Side Columbia University couple, who genuinely like him and let him stay in their apartment whenever he needs a place to crash, which is often; scorns his sister’s middle-class values and lifestyle; etc. The best parts of the movie were the supporting roles played by Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham, Carey Mulligan and others.
(8) Bruce S. in AZ:  “INSIDE LEWELLYN DAVIS” (Stoooopid). The worst movie I’ve had the misfortune to stumble across. Not worth summoning a particle of reviewer eloquence to communicate the “downer” this diatribe of early 1960’s Greenwhich Village folk is, I will leave it at “SKIP IT” lest you hear your self saying “he told me so”…..
(9) Marilynne H. in NC: The Case Against Multivitamins Grows Stronger
(10) Mel G. in CO: 30 Jewish Movies to watch on Christmas

(11) Natalie K. in PA: I am so moved by this movie [THE BOOK THIEF].  Ivan was even crying.  I loved it.  The acting was unbelievable.  I am going to see if I can find out anything about the young girl who played Liesl.
(12) Beth D. in PA: 21 Habits of Happy People
(13) Micah S. in PA: My new article in forbes tonight: The Anti- Amazon: Delivering Books For Authors (And Not By Drone) — featuring 800-ceo-read
(14) Herb S. in NJ: Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz.
(15) John B. in NC: Homeless for the holidays
(16) Della S. in FL: Just shed tears watching “Saving Mr. Banks.” Brought up emotions and memories. A good focus film to bring in the New Year.


Section 4, Reviews

A. AMERICAN HUSTLE might well be my favorite film from this past year. It tells the story of a brilliant con man, who along with the help of his seductive partner, is forced to work with a crazy FBI agent to take down both crooked politicians and the mafia. There are twists and turns aplenty, as well as great acting from   Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and an electrifying Jeremy Renner. David O’ Russell, quickly becoming one of my favorite directors for his previous films (including SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and THE FIGHTER), again hits the mark here. Rated R.Note: Shortly after seeing the above, I came across the following headline:
Checks To North Carolina Politicians Came From Illegal Gambling

So though AMERICAN HUSTLE was set in the 1970s, it still felt very contemporary.

During the week, I also saw NEBRASKA and also liked it very much. Look for my review in next week’s issue.

B. As good as AMERICAN HUSTLE was, ELYSIUM (now out of DVD) was as bad. The premise was an interesting one; i.e., some of the people of Earth can only get state-of-the-art medical care at a man-made space station. However, after about the first 15 minutes, the film became an overly violent mess. Matt Damon eventually goes up against Jodie Foster and her hard-line forces, and frankly, I didn’t care who won or lost as long as I could get out of the theatre in quick fashion. Though ELYSIUM was only 97 minutes, it seemed longer. Rated R.
A much better rental: See if you can find TWIST OF FAITH, a 2013 made-for-television drama about an Orthodox Jewish cantor who witnesses the senseless murder of his wife and three children. He abandons his identity and winds up in a small Alabama city where  he is embraced by a single mother and lead singer of a gospel choir. The film is moving and held my attention until almost the very end. Unfortunately, the last 15 minutes seem to have been thrown together–and prevented this from being included on my list of all-time favorites. Nevertheless, I still recommend that you see it. Unrated, though certainly appropriate for any teenager.
C. TEMPORARY ROSES DIPPED IN LIQUID GOLD (Finishing Line Press) is a short collection of poems by James Andrew Freeman.Now I must admit to being a bit biased in this review, in that Jim is a good friend of mine. Yet putting that aside, I must admit to having been very impressed with the quality of poems he has written.

In addition, I appreciated the fact that they covered many different subjects–ranging from picking blueberries to taking out the trash. A tribute to a departed Bucks County Community College colleague, Allen Hoey, particularly moved me.

I also liked the following poem that I’ve graciously been given permission to include:

24 Second Clock

now in the middle of
writing I have a
strong want
for the ball
to be sixth man
in a basketball game
It doesn’t matter much for whom
or the color of the uniform
I need to see if
my jump shot still
I need to see if
I can still
rip it through
without travelling, charging
or landing with broken muse wings
this poem lifeless
as it clangs off the rim

Lastly, my enjoyment of the book was enhanced by a striking cover by Anna Gaul, a Bucks County artist.

D. Heard THIS TIME TOGETHER: LAUGHTER AND REFLECTION (Random House Audio), written and read by Carol Burnett.It’s a collection of short anecdotes about her career in show business, including the hosting of her widely successful variety show on television that lasted for 11 seasons and won 25 Emmy Awards.

Though there’s a lot of name-dropping (Lucille Ball, Jimmy Stewart, Marlon Brando, etc.), if you are a fan of the author and/or things she has been, you’ll love these stories. I did.

I especially enjoyed listening to her account of how she broke into show business and the “community closet” that she shared with her roommates. In addition, I got a kick out of listening to her talk about the film ANNIE–the very first one I ever saw with my daughter.

Best of all, Burnett did a fantastic job with the narration. It felt almost as if I was at a lunch with her, and she was telling me all about her life.


Section 12A, NC events

(1) A real “FISH FRENZY” is building among both WNC individuals and businesses!

On January 28th from about 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (with a terrific networking period from 5:30 to 6:30) at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville, an incredible Lessons in Leadership event will fire-up you to dive into 2014 with passion, energy and excellence!

Harry Paul, the author of the ENORMOUS hit best-seller FISH will be here for an event you won’t want to miss.

LIL Harry Paul

For only $20 per person, all in attendance will learn, grow and ignite as never before.

Registering is a breeze! Simply go to: today and follow the easy enrollment instructions.  Or, if you prefer, send an email directly to Keith Challenger at and let him know how many participants you would like to register.  Keith will take exquisite care of you!

And how exciting that our registration coordinator is ALSO the opening speaker on January 28th.  His presentation on “LACK of Time Management” will knock your socks off!

LIL2 Keith with book

PS. Please also like Lessons in Leadership – Asheville on Facebook by clicking: That way, you’ll get both the latest information on the event and motivational messages.

(2) Join The BJ Leiderman Band along with David LaMotte, The Screaming J’s, Eric Congdon, Chuck Beattie, Rhoda Weaver, Zuzu Welsh and the poetry of Barbie Angell, Tracy Schmidt, Laura Hope-Gill and Pasckie Pacusa…

New Year’s Eve at 9PM at White Horse Black Mountain.

Call 828-669-0816 for tickets!

(3) Zuzu Welsh in NC: Tune in this Sunday night 12-29 if you live in Asheville to The River 98.1 on your FM dial at 7PM to listen to Homegrown. If you cannot listen on the radio, hit them up at and click on the “Listen Live” button in the upper right. Why? Because Heather Anders is going to try to squeeze “My Hero” into the show Sunday night.





Section 12B, PA/NJ events


Because of staging requirements, the other Cabaret’s simply are not big enough to accomodate the show, so this is the only Comedy Cabaret he can play.  The Doctor holds the all-time consecutive sell out record for Comedy Cabaret, 40 sell outs. Wherever you live, it will be worth the trip to see this one!Thanks for laughing with us and we will see you laughing at the show!


OBOJC logo

Join us for the Seventh Annual
One Book, One Jewish Community
Author Event
Michael Lavigne

A conversation with Michael Lavigne,

author of  2013-2014 featured selection, The Wanting 
Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
Congregation Adath Jeshurun
7763 Old York Road / Elkins Park,  PA 19027
Free and open to the community.
   Click here to register.

The Wanting is a powerful novel about an Israeli father and his daughter that brings to life a rich canvas of events and unexpected changes in the aftermath of a suicide bombing. Click here to read Nathan Bronner’s review as published by the New York Times.
Michael Lavigne’s first novel, Not Me, received the 2007 Sami Rohr Choice Award for emerging Jewish writers and was named an American Library Association Sophie Brody Honor Book.
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