Topics can also be suggested and then researched to fit your residents interests. Here are just some of the topics that are popular, and listed by the latest additions.
(All lectures include Multi-Media)
The History and a Tour of Ancient Pompeii
Pompeii was a large Roman town in Campania, Italy which was buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. Excavated in the 19th-20th century, its excellent state of preservation gives an invaluable insight into everyday Roman life. Pompeii is perhaps the richest archaeological site in the world for the volume of data available to scholars. In this lecture we will look at a simulation of what happened on that frightful day, and then tour the site, which has been uncovered for the world to see.
The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Father of the Atomic Bomb)
J. Robert Oppenheimer is known as the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in creating the first nuclear weapon during World War II. The theoretical physicist was director of the Manhattan Project’s secret Los Alamos Laboratory, which created the bombs that killed an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. In 1942, General Leslie Groves Jr. asked Oppenheimer to lead the Manhattan Project despite concerns about Oppenheimer’s lack of managerial experience and Nobel Prizes (something many of the other possible candidates had). After the war, Oppenheimer served on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, where he argued for more oversight regarding the use of nuclear weapons and opposed the construction of the hydrogen bomb.
With the help of the FBI, which illegally tapped Oppenheimer’s phone, the Atomic Energy Commission argued during the hearing that Oppenheimer’s association with communists made him a security threat. In 1954, the government revoked his security clearance, making him one of the many people to be blacklisted during that era.
Elvis Presley "The King of Rock and Roll" with a Tour of Graceland
We will look at his life, tour his home Graceland, and listen to his iconic music.
In 1954, Elvis began his singing career with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation. With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture. *Here are a few Elvis Presley facts: he starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
It's true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. The discovery of mirror neurons, what causes you to smile when someone smiles at you, gives credence to the belief that laughter is contagious. When you’re feeling down finding friends to laugh with can help your brain trigger its own laughter response and foster closeness, both of which contribute to your sense of well-being. From silly tv sitcoms, to watching babies laughing, this lecture will make you hysterical!
50's and 60's Suburban Culture and Classic TV; The Values We Grew Up With
Just "Leave it to Beaver" to bring back wonderful memories! Despite the passing of decades, classic television can still entertain even today’s generation of viewers. For most of us baby boomers, suburban life was much simpler, and classic television programs are now relics of the good old times, when "Father Knew Best"; and it’s only natural that we cannot help feeling nostalgic about them. When times were indeed hard, there were TV dramas, sitcoms, game shows and variety shows that provided us momentary relief and distraction from life’s realities. This lecture revisits those "Pleasantville" goodies, and the way we lived our lives. But was it real or fantasy? Isn't a horse a horse of course? Not "Mr. Ed"!
The History of Broadway and Musical Theatre
Musicals of the 1920s borrowed from vaudeville, musical hall, and other entertainment types and ignored plot to instead emphasize actors and actresses, dance routines, and popular songs. Annually, Florenz Ziegfeld produced song-and-dance reviews on Broadway that featured extravagant and elaborate sets and costumes. Many of the productions from the 1920s were lighthearted and included Funny Face, Harlem, Lady Be Good, Sally, and many more. Show Boat premiered at the Ziegfeld Theatre on December 27, 1927, leaving behind the frivolous shows from earlier that decade. The musical had a book and score and was made up of dramatic themes told through music and dialogue, along with setting and movement. It holds the record and ran for a total of 572 performances. Oklahoma followed and the rest is history!
The Notre Dame Cathedral
Constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries, Notre-Dame has borne witness to countless historical events, wars, and revolutions. The cathedral’s breathtaking stained glass windows, elaborate stone carvings, and soaring spires, which reach heights of over 100 meters, have captivated millions of people worldwide.
The cathedral also houses numerous significant religious and historical artifacts, such as the Crown of Thorns, believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. Every year, millions of tourists from across the globe flock to this architectural marvel. In April 2019, a catastrophic fire engulfed Notre-Dame, causing extensive damage to the building, including the destruction of its roof and iconic spire. The disaster left the world in shock and mourning, inspiring an outpouring of support and contributions for the cathedral’s restoration.
Despite the adversities it has faced, Notre-Dame continues to symbolize the spirit of Paris. The cathedral’s magnificence and enduring presence inspire reverence and awe in all those who behold it.
Automation and Robots
The “new automation” of the next few decades—with much more advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will widen the range of tasks and jobs that machines can perform, and have the potential to cause much more worker displacement and inequality than older generations of automation. This can potentially affect college graduates and professionals much more than in the past. Indeed, the new automation will eliminate millions of jobs for vehicle drivers and retail workers, as well as those for health care workers, lawyers, accountants, finance specialists, and many other professionals. In Japan a female robot cooks, cleans, says nice things, performs wifely duties and can bear children in an artificial womb. In this lecture we look at the implications of robots taking our jobs and maybe even our relationships with each other.
The History of the Titanic
Titanic, launched on May 31, 1911, and set sail on its maiden voyage from Southampton on April 10, 1912, with 2,240 passengers and crew on board. On April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg, Titanic broke apart and sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking with it the lives of more than 1,500 passengers and crew. In this lecture we will listen to survivor stories, look at recovered artifacts and take a look at this incredible ship sitting 13,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. The Titanic remains the worst maritime disaster in history. This is a fascinating lecture which is very popular.
The Palace of Versailles and the History of King Louis the XIV
The Palace of Versailles, former French royal residence and centre of government, now a national landmark. It is located in the city of Versailles, Yvelines département, Île-de-France région, northern France, 10 miles (16 km) west-southwest of Paris. As the centre of the French court, Versailles was one of the grandest theatres of European absolutism.
The original residence was primarily a hunting lodge and private retreat for Louis XIII (reigned 1610–43) and his family. In 1624 the king entrusted Jacques Lemercier with the construction of a château on the site. Its walls are preserved today as the exterior facade overlooking the Marble Court. Under the guidance of Louis XIV (reigned 1643–1715), the residence was transformed (1661–1710) into an immense and extravagant complex surrounded by stylized French and English gardens. Every detail of its construction was intended to glorify the king.
The Moulin Rouge in Paris (Armchair Travel and Lecture)
It isn’t merely by chance that the Moulin Rouge became the most famous cabaret in world. This is what its founders, Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller, set out to do when they opened the now legendary cabaret on October 6th, 1889. Daring and extravagant, we will look at some of the most interesting facts about the Moulin Rouge that have helped it wow people from the four corners of the globe for over 130 years. Did you know that the Moulin Rouge was the first building to have electricity in Paris? We will go to Paris and the Moulin Rouge and watch scenes from the show including the famous can-can dance! The cancan will forever be linked to the Moulin Rouge, and it’s even helped the cabaret enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
Her Majesty the Queen: Queen Elizabeth the II
Queen Elizabeth II served from 1952 to 2022 as reigning monarch of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and numerous other realms and territories, as well as head of the Commonwealth, the group of 53 sovereign nations that includes many former British territories. Extremely popular for nearly all of her long reign, the queen was known for taking a serious interest in government and political affairs, apart from her ceremonial duties, and was credited with modernizing many aspects of the monarchy.
Vincent Van Gogh - The Mad Artist
Was Vincent van Gogh a “Mad Genius”? It seems that the stereotype is here to stay. We can say that Vincent’s art wasn’t directly influenced by his mental illness. His style, technique, and subjects were always artistic choices. Considering his art was meant to express emotion, it seems inevitable that his mental state found a way into his art. His suffering, madness, depression, and insecurity had always been a part of it but rarely the center of his work. He might have been considered “mad,” but the way he looked at nature and used color to express his own emotions is what made him a genius.
Bizarre Foods From Around the World
I am pretty sure that most of us are the 'live to eat' kind but I wonder how many of us would actually be able to stomach any of the dishes mentioned in this lecture. While we may not be able to even so much as give these items a glance, remember there are people who actually eat, rather savor some of what might be considered by most of us ugh GROSS! So get ready for your dose of weird, skipping the lizards, chicken feet, bugs and the like, in this lecture we will look at food that looks absolutely normal, maybe even delicious, until you know what it's made up of! YUK!!!
NASA - "The Right Stuff
Beginning in 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) began experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1. In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (1957–1958). An effort for this was the American Project Vanguard. After the Soviet space program's launch of the world's first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. The US Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership (known as the "Sputnik crisis"), urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower counseled more deliberate measures. The result was a consensus that the White House forged among key interest groups, including scientists committed to basic research; the Pentagon which had to match the Soviet military achievement; corporate America looking for new business; and a strong new trend in public opinion looking up to space exploration. It changed our world forever with the moon landing in 1969 which all will remember!
"Filthy Rich" - America's 1%
Upper-income households have seen more rapid growth in income in recent decades. The growth in income in recent decades has tilted to upper-income households. At the same time, the U.S. middle class, which once comprised the clear majority of Americans, is shrinking. Thus, a greater share of the nation’s aggregate income is now going to upper-income households and the share going to middle- and lower-income households is falling. In this lecture we look at the richest Americans, and how wealth inequality is effecting our society.
The Story of Anne Frank (Light)
Anne Frank was a German-Dutch diarist of Jewish heritage. One of the most-discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame with the 1947 publication of The Diary of a Young Girl. The fate of the Frank family and other Jews in Amsterdam was wrapped up with the German occupation of the city, which began in May 1940. In early 1942, the Germans began preparations to deport Jews from the Netherlands to killing centers in the east. During the first half of July 1942, Anne and her family went into hiding. For two years, they lived in a secret apartment. While in hiding, Anne kept a diary in which she recorded her fears, hopes, and experiences. I have been to the "Anne Frank House" many times and it is a holy place to say the least for many reasons. In this lecture keeping it light, we will explore the life of Anne Frank. Travel to the Anne Frank House, and explore the importance of her diary to modern history.
Mysteries of the Ocean
Do you ever wonder what happens at the bottom of the ocean? Our ocean is vast. The ocean surface is 300 times the size of our land dwelling area. It is extremely cold and covered in near-total darkness. Yet the blackness is alive, containing numerous unexplored mass of fantastic creatures! Other mysteries for example, like the Atlantic Ocean’s fabled Bermuda Triangle has captured the human imagination with unexplained disappearances of ships, planes, and people. Some speculate that unknown and mysterious forces account for the unexplained disappearances, such as extraterrestrials capturing humans for study; the influence of the lost continent of Atlantis, and vortices that suck up objects.
Are there really "sea monsters" lurking out there?
"America's Sweetheart" - The Life of Doris Day
In the constellation of stars that illuminated Hollywood’s silver screen after World War II, none sparkled quite like Doris Day’s. Her comparatively short film career spanned only two decades, but she made 39 major motion pictures and played opposite some of Hollywood’s greatest leading men, Rock Hudson, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Frank Sinatra, James Cagney, and many others. Sing, dance, act in comedy or drama, on the radio, in the recording studio, in films or on television, Doris Day could do it all. She was “America’s sweetheart,” “the girl next door,” as wholesome as home-baked bread, as chipper as a lark, with a dazzling smile that could dissipate a storm cloud. Nonetheless, she would confess in her 1976 memoir, “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” “I’m tired of being thought of as Miss Goody Two-Shoes. I’m not the All-American Virgin Queen, and I’d like to deal with the true, honest story of who I really am.”
Was the "Wild Wild West" really that wild?
Contrary to popular perception, the Old West was much more peaceful than American cities are today. The American west featured all sorts of people from pioneers and scouts to lawmen, outlaws, gangs and gunfighters (gunslingers), to the American cowboy, and legendary pioneering women on the frontier. We'll look at history, lore and biographies of the lives and times of those who populated the Wild West. Meet “Billy The Kid”, Jesse James, the Clantons and the Dalton gang and the lawmen who stopped them, famous sheriffs and their deputies. Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and other lawmen played an important role in keeping the peace. We will also look at the culture and everyday lives of the people who lived during these wild times in American history.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, sometimes simply referred to as the Rock Hall, is a museum and hall of fame located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States, on the shore of Lake Erie. The museum documents the history of rock music and the artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have influenced its development. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established on April 20, 1983. After a long search for the right city, Cleveland was chosen in 1986 as the Hall of Fame's permanent home. The first group of inductees, inducted on January 23, 1986, included Elvis Presley. In this lecture, we will enjoy the music of the great performers who have earned their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Featuring a lot of music, this program will bring back a lot of memories!
A Trip Through Forgotten History
George Santayana said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. This lecture is all about remembering, and your residents remember a lot! Where were they, and how old were they when Japan invaded Pearl Harbor? Memories are abundant when it comes to major historical events. History builds empathy through studying the lives and struggles of others. Studying the diversity of human experience helps us appreciate cultures, ideas, and traditions that are not our own, and to recognize them as meaningful products of specific times and places. This lecture conjures up many memories which can be shared and even recorded.
New Jersey Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
New Jersey may be known as the Diner Capital of the World, but it’s also famous for an all-star lineup of mouthwatering signature dishes. In this lecture we travel to some of the best iconic diners, drive-in's and dives in New Jersey. This is such a fun lecture and will get you and your residents remembering their favorite restaurants and unique New Jersey food. We will look at some of those crazy joints and goodies that have put New Jersey on the map of Flavor Town U.S.A.! This lecture will get your appetite churning for a hot dog, some pizza, and of course our famous Jersey pork roll. Or is it, Taylor Ham?
The History of Radio City Music Hall (Lecture and Music)
Nicknamed the Showplace of the Nation, it was for a time the leading tourist destination in the city. This lecture focuses on the unseen areas of this amazing theater, looking at the famous Wurlitzer organs, the hydraulic stages, and the art deco architecture. The venue is notable as the headquarters for the precision dance company, the Rockettes. We also view footage of the famous Christmas Spectacular and Rockettes.
Weird America & Weird New Jersey
A good old virtual road trip across America and a good excuse to get off the beaten path to get a little taste of weird America. In addition to wide-open prairie, twisting coastal highways, and sun kissed mountain ranges, the United States has its fair share of oddities really, really odd oddities, as it turns out. New Jersey has the Jersey Devil and much more! "Enough with the head-severing mobsters of Jersey. The state is packed with far more evil and oddities than TV could ever invent. -Rolling Stone Magazine
The environment plays an important role in the existence of life on the planet earth. The word Environment is derived from the French word “Environ” which meaning “surrounding.” An ecosystem refers to all the living and the non-living things present in the environment and it is a foundation of the Biosphere, which determines the health of the entire planet earth. Ecology and Environmental science are the branches of life science, which mainly deal with the study of organisms and their interactions among organisms and their environment.
The Miraculous Betty White
Why do we love Betty so much? “We loved Betty White,” first lady Jill Biden said as she and President Joe Biden left a restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware. Added the president: “Ninety-nine years old. As my mother would say, ‘God love her.’”
“She was great at defying expectation,” Ryan Reynolds, who starred alongside her in the comedy “The Proposal,” tweeted. “She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty.” White launched her TV career in daytime talk shows when the medium was still in its infancy and endured well into the age of cable and streaming. Her combination of sweetness and edginess gave life to a roster of quirky characters in shows from the sitcom “Life With Elizabeth” in the early 1950s to oddball Rose Nylund in “The Golden Girls” in the ’80s to “Boston Legal,” which ran from 2004 to 2008.
The United States Presidents
A brief look at the history of the U.S executive branch, and a trip to Disney Worlds Hall of Presidents. As the head of the government of the United States, the president is arguably the most powerful government official in the world. The executive branch of our Government is in charge of making sure that the laws of the United States are obeyed. The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch. The President gets help from the Vice President, department heads (called Cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies.
An Introduction to American Literature
Like other national literatures, American literature was shaped by the history of the country that produced it. American literature is literature predominantly written or produced in English in the United States of America and its preceding colonies. Before the founding of the United States, the Thirteen Colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States were heavily influenced by British literature. The American literary tradition thus is part of the broader tradition of English-language literature. A small amount of literature exists in other immigrant languages. Furthermore a rich tradition of oral storytelling exists amongst Native American tribes.
A Tribute to "The Greatest Generation"
The Greatest Generation, also known as the G.I. Generation and the World War II generation. The generation is generally defined as people born from 1901 to 1927. They were shaped by the Great Depression and were the primary participants in World War II. In the United States, members of this generation came of age, were children, or were born during the Progressive Era, World War I, and the Roaring Twenties; a time of economic prosperity with distinctive cultural transformations. They experienced much of their youth with rapid technological innovation (e.g., radio, telephone, automobile) amidst growing levels of worldwide income inequality and a soaring economy. After the Stock Market crashed, this generation experienced profound economic and social turmoil. Despite the hardships, historians note that literature, arts, music, and cinema of the period flourished. This generation also experienced what is commonly referred to as the "Golden Age of Hollywood", and the Big Band phenomenon.
Healing Through Art
Healing through art is a study of art therapy. Art therapy, a hybrid field largely influenced by the disciplines of art and psychology, uses the creative process, pieces of art created in therapy, and third-party artwork to help people in treatment develop self-awareness, explore emotions, address unresolved emotional conflicts, improve social skills, and raise self-esteem. Art therapy primarily aims to help individuals experiencing emotional and psychological challenges achieve personal well-being and improved levels of function.
The Human Brain
Let's learn about the anatomy of the 3 pound human brain and how it works! The human brain is the command center for the human nervous system. It receives signals from the body's sensory organs and outputs information to the muscles. The human brain has the same basic structure as other mammal brains but is larger in relation to body size than the brains of many other mammals, such as dolphins, whales and elephants. The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical signals throughout the body. Different signals control different processes, and your brain interprets each. Some make you feel tired, for example, while others make you feel pain.
New Jersey Gardens and Arboretums
Do you know why New Jersey is called “The Garden State?” It’s because New Jersey is home to many gorgeous nature centers, public gardens, and arboretums. Whether you’re looking for unique gardening ideas or just a quiet stroll among the flowers, these public gardens are a great (not to mention gorgeous) way to spend an afternoon. We also visit the beautiful Grounds for Sculpture.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice: Ginsburg was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her older sister died when she was a baby, and her mother died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school. She earned her bachelor's degree at Cornell University and married Martin D. Ginsburg, becoming a mother before starting law school at Harvard, where she was one of the few women in her class. Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School, where she graduated joint first in her class. During the early 1960s she worked with the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, learned Swedish and co-authored a book with Swedish jurist Anders Bruzelius; her work in Sweden profoundly influenced her thinking on gender equality. She then became a professor at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School, teaching civil procedure as one of the few women in her field. After being appointed to the Supreme, she successfully fought against gender discrimination and unified the liberal block of the court.
What is Body Language?
Body language refers to the nonverbal signals that we use to communicate. According to experts, these nonverbal signals make up a huge part of daily communication. From our facial expressions to our body movements, the things we don't say can still convey volumes of information. It has been suggested that body language may account for between 60 to 65% of all communication.
Understanding body language is important, but it is also essential to pay attention to other cues such as context. In many cases, you should look at signals as a group rather than focusing on a single action.
The History of the Electric Car
There are many benefits to driving an electric vehicle but the economic benefits are usually the most important to a consumer. Driving an electric vehicle reduces dependence on the volatile gas prices. There is also lower fueling costs when using electricity as your fuel source. Many utilities now offer special rates for electric vehicle owners providing a discounted cost to electric vehicle customers when they charge their vehicle during off peak hours. Additionally, there is an overall lower maintenance cost when owning an electric vehicle compared to a gasoline vehicle. For example, without a combustion engine, oil changes are no longer needed. These "clean" energy vehicles are good for the environment, and will create good paying jobs and economic growth.
The History of the United States Postal Service
On July 26, 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many aspects of today’s mail system. The innovations that followed included Rural Free Delivery (1896) and Parcel Post (1913), which brought rural residents into the mainstream. At a time when banks largely ignored the needs of average citizens, the Postal Savings System (1911) provided basic financial services. As World War I engulfed Europe, the Post Office recognized the value of air transport and almost alone supported the aviation industry until the late 1920s.
Hava Nagila; How a Song Defines a People (Lecture and Music)
The Song Hava Nagila is instantly recognizable; musical shorthand for anything Jewish, a happy party tune that you dance to at weddings, bar mitzvahs and even at Major League Baseball games. It conjures up wistful smiles, memories of generations past…and no shortage of eye rolling. The song is much more than a tale of Jewish kitsch and bad bar mitzvah fashions. It carries with it an entire constellation of history, values and hopes for the future. In its own believe-it-or-not way, Hava Nagila encapsulates the Jewish journey over the past 150 years. It also reveals the power of one song to express and sustain identity, to transmit lessons across generations and to bridge cultural divides and connect us all on a universal level. Includes performances by many artists!
Behind the Scenes of the Vatican Museum
This program looks at the history of the Vatican and the Vatican Museum.
The Vatican Museums attracts about 6 million people per year. With 43,000 square meters (460,000 square feet) the Vatican Museum is the 5th largest museum in the world. Not only the Vatican Museum, but the whole Vatican city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. Included in this program is some Armchair Travel to go behind the scenes of this incredible site!
Judy Garland (Lecture and Music)
Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress, singer, dancer, and vaudevillian. During a career that spanned 45 years, she attained international stardom as an actress in both musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on the concert stage. We look at Judy Garland's bio, and see Judy in action through a lot of her films, and concerts.
The 1950's - American Culture & Society
In the 1950's, young Americans had more disposable income and enjoyed greater material comfort than their forebears, which allowed them to devote more time and money to leisure activities and the consumption of popular culture. The 1950's are often remembered as a quiet decade, a decade of conformity, stability, and normalcy. Ahhh, the 1950's: The decade of the baby boomer. Exciting times indeed."
“Taking it to the Streets”; The Culture of the 1960’s; Civil Rights, and Vietnam
It was a decade of extremes, of transformation, change and bizarre contrasts: flower children and assassins, idealism and alienation, rebellion and backlash. For many in the massive post-World War II baby boom generation, it was both the best of times and the worst of times. The Sixties was dominated by the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Protests, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the first man landing on the moon. Whether it was due to experimentation with drugs or anger over the Vietnam War, the 1960s were an overwhelming decade. From The Beatles, to Woodstock to the Assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, these events shocked and changed the fabric of America forever.
“The Roaring Twenties”
The 1920s were an age of dramatic social and political change. For the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on farms. The nation’s total wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929, and this economic growth swept many Americans into an affluent but unfamiliar “consumer society.” People from coast to coast bought the same goods (thanks to nationwide advertising and the spread of chain stores), listened to the same music, did the same dances and even used the same slang! In the nation’s big cities, the 1920s were roaring indeed.
“Thanks for the Memories” - The History of the "Tonight Show"
It’s a field filled with big personalities, larger than life late night television comedians and conversationalists who put America to bed each night. From Jack Paar’s extemporaneous small talk to Steve Allen’s infectious laugh to Johnny Carson’s witty monologues, and all the big personalities that filled the guest chairs, America has had a love affair with late night television programming for years.
Princess Diana – The Queen of Hearts
From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in 1997, the Princess was arguably the most famous woman in the world, the pre-eminent female celebrity of her generation: a fashion icon, an image of feminine beauty, admired and emulated for her high-profile involvement in AIDS issues, and the international campaign against landmines. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as the most photographed person in the world.
Western Expansion and the Gold Rush
The story of the United States has always been one of westward expansion, beginning along the East Coast and continuing, often by leaps and bounds, until it reached the Pacific, what Theodore Roosevelt described as "the great leap Westward." The discovery of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century.
The Golden Age of Hollywood (Lecture and Film)
The Golden Age of Hollywood: 1915 - 1963
The Golden Age of Hollywood, sometimes referred to as the period of classical Hollywood cinema, started with the silent movie era and the first major feature length silent movie called the 'Birth of a Nation' (1915). The Golden Age of Hollywood ended with the demise of the studio system, the emergence of television, the rising costs and subsequent losses notably 'Cleopatra' (1963).
The Battle of AC DC; AKA “The War of the Currents”
One of the most interesting battles in American history was the “Battle of Currents”, or the battle of AC-DC. In the late 19th century, three brilliant inventors, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse, battled over which electricity system direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) would become standard. During their bitter dispute, Edison invented the electric chair, and put a convict to death just to show how dangerous AC really was.
The Great Composers and Their Music (Lecture and Music)
The Great Composers - a classical music lecture, will explore the history and lives of some of western classical music's most famous composers and musicians. Classical music is filled with some very colorful personalities and riddled with drama of all kinds ranging from political intrigue to failed romances and everything in between. Throughout this lecture, we will discuss composers and musicians from the distant past all the way to the present, beginning with the greatest, J.S. Bach.
Nutrition in a Nutshell
For years, people held to the idea that there are “bad” nutrients and “good” nutrients when, in fact, all nutrients play a certain role in the body. Even those nutrients once considered “bad” such as fats and carbohydrates perform vital functions in the body and if one consumes too many “good” nutrients such as vitamins or minerals there can be harmful results, as well. This lecture is about the stuff our bodies need in order to stay healthy!
The name Mark Twain is a pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Clemens was an American humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872), and Life on the Mississippi (1883), and for his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain would become a popular public figure and one of America’s best and most beloved writers.
Love in the Digital Age
A new report says most Americans think online dating is a good way to meet people. Almost 60 per cent of Internet users said there is nothing wrong with trying to find a partner on the Internet. This has changed from ten years ago when the figure was 44 per cent. The report is from the Pew Research Center. It says around one in ten Americans has used online dating services.
It also said 11 per cent of people who started a long-term relationship in the past decade met their partner online! What do you think about all of this?
"Get Your Kicks on Route 66"
U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year.The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s. In John Steinbeck's classic American novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), the road, "Highway 66", was turned into a powerful symbol of escape and loss. (Includes Armchair Travel)
The Art of Minimalism
Modern culture has bought into the lie that the good life is found in accumulating things—in possessing as much as possible. They believe that more is better and have inadvertently subscribed to the idea that happiness can be purchased at a department store. But they are wrong. Minimalism brings freedom from the all-consuming passion to possess. It steps off the treadmill of consumerism and dares to seek happiness elsewhere. It values relationships, experiences, and soul-care; and in doing so, it finds life. Also inspired by the new "Decluttering Queen" Marie Kondo, Minimalism, the art of simplicity, has make a big comeback! Art, Architecture, and Music has all been influenced by the idea that less is more.
The Songs of America (Lecture and Music)
A celebration of American history through the music that helped to shape a nation.
Through all the years of strife and triumph, America has been shaped not just by our elected leaders and our formal politics but also by our music—by the lyrics, performers, and instrumentals that have helped to carry us through the dark days and to celebrate the bright ones. “From hymns that swelled the hearts of revolutionaries to the spirituals that stirred citizens to spill blood for a more perfect Union and the blues- and country-infused beats that aroused change in the 1960s, this lecture connects us to music as an unsung force in our nation’s history. Songs of America is not just a cultural journey—it strikes our deepest chords as Americans: patriotism, protest, possibility, creativity, and, at the root of it all, freedom of expression enshrined in our founding document.”
The White House Situation Room
The Situation Room was created in 1961 on the order of President John F. Kennedy after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion was attributed to a lack of real-time information. The room has secure communications systems built into it and the walls contain wood panels that hide different audio, video and other systems. The Situation Room staff is organized around five Watch Teams that monitor domestic and international events. This lecture includes a simulation, and rare pictures of this famous room in action.
Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body or other legally constituted tribunal initiates charges against a public official for misconduct. Most commonly, an official is considered impeached after the house votes to accept the charges, and impeachment itself does not remove the official from office. We look at the history of impeachment including the U.S. presidents who were impeached
"The Sound of Music" (Lecture, Music, and Film)
When the Sound of Music was released in 1965 it took the world by storm, earning five Oscars.
For millions of people, the film is the rare combination of a powerful and moving story, first rate music, and breathtaking scenery of Salzburg!
The musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children and their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide to flee from Austria with the children. Of course this lecture features many scenes from the film, and some very special surprises, including a couple of "sing a longs". Included is return to the Salzburg with Julie Andrews, the star of The Sound of Music.
The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Code named Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front. This lecture features rare film footage of the invasion, and rare narratives of some of the witnesses who experienced this incredible day.
"The Rat Pack" (Lecture and Music)
Who hasn’t heard of the Rat Pack? Everybody knows who they were: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, best known for chasing women, filming “Oceans Eleven” in Las Vegas, and performing together in “the Summit at the Sands” while filming early in 1960. That honor went to the Hollywood power couple of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Sinatra joined them once he moved to Hollywood. Bacall gave the group its name, although exactly how it came about is less clear. This much is known: A night of carousing ended back at the home she shared with Bogart. She looked at her friends in various stages of inebriation and mood alteration and said, “You look like a pack of rats.” This lecture uses concert footage, and is very entertaining and nostalgic.
"And the Winner Is?" The History of the Oscar (Academy Awards)
The Academy Awards, more popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The award was originally sculpted by George Stanley from a design sketch by Cedric Gibbons. AMPAS first presented it in 1929 at a private dinner hosted by Douglas Fairbanks in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in what would become known as the 1st Academy Awards. The Academy Awards ceremony was first broadcast by radio in 1930 and was televised for the first time in 1953. It is the oldest worldwide entertainment awards ceremony and is now televised live worldwide.
The Most Influential African Americans in History
This lecture is about influential African Americans; a collection of dreamers and doers, noisy geniuses and quiet innovators, record-breakers and symbols of pride and aspiration. A dashing lawyer who redefined fearlessness and broke Jim Crow’s back. The most gravity-defying, emulated athlete the world has ever produced. A brilliant folklorist of fierce independence who was a proudly “outrageous woman", and many others.
Women Who Have Changed the World
From the White House and the silver screen, to Olympic podiums and equality marches, these women changed the world — blazing the trail while battling adversity. Without each one of their contributions, our world wouldn't be the what it is today. In honor of Women's History Month, we take a look at these fierce, empowering, and inspiring ladies. Throughout history, numerous women have pushed for societal change and influenced the lives of many, allowing women and girls globally to live a life that's free from stereotypes and patriarchal restraints and, most of all, encouraging girls to dream bigger.
Seasonal Favorites (A Combination of Lecture, Music, and Travel)
The Origins of Halloween and Witches
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
Take a trip with the greatest music hits and movie scenes from Halloween, such as the Monster Mash, and scenes from The Wizard of Oz, etc. We also travel to Transylvania, the home of Dracula, and vampires.
The History of the American Thanksgiving
Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. The modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is traced to a well-recorded 1619 event in Virginia and a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1619 arrival of 38 English settlers at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia, concluded with a religious celebration as dictated by the group's charter from the London Company, which required "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned … in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. The Pilgrims celebrated this with Native Americans, who had helped them get through the previous winter by giving them food in that time of scarcity. The treatment of and the peace shared with the Native Americans shortly changed for the worse.
Christmas and the Winter Solstice
Since prehistory, the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day "midwinter" (winter solstice) holiday called Yule. Many modern Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath, the Yule log, and others, are direct descendants of Yule customs. Of course there is no better way than to celebrate the holidays then with music and scenes from holiday films. We also take a look behind the scenes of the Radio City Music Hall Holiday Spectacular! Scenes from the show includes the Rockettes, and of course the arrival of Santa Claus. We travel around the world seeking out the best Christmas markets. We also go to Rockefeller Center in New York City to see the spectacular Christmas tree all lit up and shining brightly!
Celebrating the Chinese New Year
What is the Chinese New Year and why is it celebrated? The New Year celebration is centered around removing the bad and the old, and welcoming the new and the good. Based on folklore, it's a time to worship ancestors, exorcise evil spirits and pray for a good harvest. The Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, is an annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world that begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. Festivities last until the following full moon.
Valentine was a Christian priest who lived in Ancient Rome. In 270 AD, the Emperor Claudius II forbade marriage because he wanted men to be able to concentrate on war and not on their loved one. Valentine carried on marrying couples, but only couples he thought were truly in love. Emperor Claudius found out and Valentine was executed on the 14th February 270 AD. As a result, he was martyred and made a saint.
Love songs, love songs, and more love songs! We also look at the greatest love scenes from the films we know best. Of course there are so many places we can travel together to fall in love with our world. Of course Italy and Paris come first to mind, but pick a place, and we will go!
Martin Luther King Day (Holiday)
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, and died on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a Baptist minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid 1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. His leadership was fundamental to that movement’s success in ending the legal segregation of African Americans in the South and other parts of the United States. King rose to national prominence as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which promoted nonviolent tactics, such as the massive March on Washington in 1963, to achieve civil rights. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
The "Ides of March "
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March." The Ides of March is the 74th day in the Roman calendar, corresponding to 15 March. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts. In 44 BC, it became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar, which made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history. Ides were ancient markers used to reference dates in relation to lunar phases. Ides simply referred to the first new moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th. In fact, the Ides of March once signified the new year, which meant celebrations and rejoicing.
A Trip to New Orleans, & the History of Mardi Gras. (Comes with all the Fixings)
New Orleans is world-renowned for its distinctive music, Creole cuisine, unique dialects, and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The French name Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, from the custom of using all the fats in the home before Lent in preparation for fasting and abstinence. We look at the history of New Orleans and this magical event, listen to traditional New Orleans jazz, and zydeco, and if scheduled right, go live to the parades on Fat Tuesday!
Saint Patrick's Day Celebration, and a Brief History of Ireland (Includes Song and Dance, and a lot of magic!)
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted thousands.
Patrick's efforts were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove "snakes" out of Ireland, despite the fact that snakes were not known to inhabit the region.
Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland's foremost saint. Today's Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have been greatly influenced by those that developed among the Irish diaspora, especially in North America. Until the late 20th century, Saint Patrick's Day was often a bigger celebration among the diaspora than it was in Ireland.
The Kentucky Derby (Includes Lecture, Music, and Virtual Horse Racing)
There are few American sporting events with the history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby. It’s rich traditions – sipping a mint julep, donning a beautiful hat, and joining fellow race fans in singing “My Old Kentucky Home” – transcend the Kentucky Derby from just a sporting event, making it a celebration of southern culture and a true icon of Americana. The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875. The race is often referred to as "The Run for the Roses" and has continuously produced “the most exciting two minutes in sports”; uninterrupted, even when coinciding with profound historical events like The Great Depression and World Wars I & II.
More light lecture topics to come..
Lifelong Learning is what keeps us going...