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Greathall Productions, Inc. - Intelligent listening for the thinking family.

Wednesday March 6, 2013

Welcome to our March, 2013 Greathall eMagazine

MARCH - it originated in ancient Rome and was named after Mars, the god of war. It was actually the first month of the year for the Romans, the beginning of spring, and the military campaign season. Now the third month of our calendar year, its name also reminds us that time marches quickly on. We invite you now to pause for a minute, let time stand still, and enjoy our monthly eMagazine.  In it we hope you find encouragement, inspiration, ideas, and a moment of rest from your busy day.

Thank you for being a Greathall guest.


* StoryTime on YouTube with Jim Weiss -Mark your calendar for  Tuesday, April 9 at 8:00 PM

* From the Storyteller, Jim Weiss: "We Are All in the Story"

*Reflections from Randy Weiss: "A Dose of Winter Tonic"

* Bonding with Literature

* Monthly Special: The Mark Twain Duet

* Digital Spotlight: Giants!

* Do You Know Greathall? Enter and Win!

* Ask Jim:  Choice Reads for a Deserted Island

* Jim Weiss' Updated Travel Calendar

PHOTO: Jim Weiss in his studio/office, diligently working on an article for our eMagazine

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StoryTime on YouTube with Jim Weiss

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In December we launched our inaugural live online "StoryTime with Jim" via our YouTube Hall. From the comforts of his studio, Jim shared three holiday stories with viewers in what we anticipate will become an annual tradition.

Now we are excited to announce the date for the next online adventure with Jim. We invite you to mark your calendar for Tuesday, April 9 at 8:00 pm ET. Be sure and check the time zone you are in for the time it will air where you are.

We will send out a special eblast invitation to the event that will include all of the details and the necessary link, but get the date on your calendar now.

Will it be an evening of mystery? A mythological journey? Perhaps it will be a journey through the classics. Most importantly, it is sure to be an evening of fun, and we look forward to having you join us!

PHOTO: Jim presents his YouTube Events straight from his studio in Charlottesville, Virgina

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From the Storyteller, Jim Weiss: "We Are All in the Story"

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I arrived on time to present my “live” performance.  When the new owners of this San Francisco book store had called to order recordings to sell, Randy suggested, “Why don’t we have Jim give a show?  It will bring in lots of customers and publicize your presence.”

Now, at the appointed time, the manager met me at the door with a face red with embarrassment.  She explained, “The new owners hired me just three days ago, and they themselves know nothing about publicity.  I’m afraid this is your whole audience.”  She stepped aside to reveal – a mother and her two young sons. 

“Well,” I said, “they came, so I’ll give them a full show.  Afterward, you and I can talk about publicity.”

Inside, the mother told me that her boys, ages 5 and 3,  had my Greek Myths recording and loved it.  They hoped I would tell one of the stories, “King Midas and the Golden Touch”.  Well, as it turned out, the boys had listened so often to the recording that they had memorized it word-for-word.  As I began to tell the story, they began to “correct” me any time I used a different word than I had on the recording; and since I never use the exact same words twice for any two performances, the boys were soon interrupting pretty frequently. 

Their mother’s face turned as red as that of the store manager.  I could see her struggling to decide, “Should I break into Mr. Weiss’s performance to explain to my boys?”  Instead, I laughed and broke in myself.  I explained to them, “It’s the same story you know. The same things will happen to the same people.  But some of the words will change.”

One of the boys understood, and afterward just listened.  The other one, struggling, started to “correct” me a few more times while his mom gently stopped him, until at last, he, too, “got” it. 

When I finished the story, I smiled and asked, “Did you like that?”  The boys nodded enthusiastically.  “Wonderful!” I said.  “Do you have my Arabian Nights recording?  No?  Okay, then I’m going to tell you one of those next.”  (And I did.) That incident occurred 22 years ago!  That mother and her boys came back for shows many times through the years, and the boys truly grew up on my recordings. 

Our Greathall relationships are lasting ones. A few weeks ago, the mom e-mailed to ask if I could offer a “live” show on behalf of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society; and as it turned out, I was coming to California, so Randy set it up.  Yesterday, the “mom”, her husband and I went to the remarkable building that had once been the U.S. Mint of San Francisco, now the home of the San Francisco Museum.  The Mint was one of the few structures that survived the deadly 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and the resulting fires.

The grand, ornate old building is now a museum dedicated to San Francisco (and to a lesser degree Bay Area) history.  The rooms where once Gold Rush miners brought ore to be assayed, weighed and sold; in which gold and silver were melted and turned into U.S. coins; which housed vaults so solid that they survived, phoenix-like, among the ashes of a city felled by disasters, now held museum exhibits on history and tables of materials from local organizations focused on particular historical elements or neighborhoods.  

The halls that once held armed guards and lines of prospectors now swarmed with crowds, both adults and children, who hungered to feel themselves part of the great city that had risen from the ashes.  And of course, some of them had come in response to the ads about my “live” show. 

Two families living across the bay in Oakland had read about my presence two hours before show time and rushed to be there.  Another family drove for 2 1/2 hours to hear me tell about "The Louisiana Purchase", "Jefferson and Monroe", and the subsequent adventures of "Lewis & Clark" and "Sacagawea".  (As a bonus, since there were some younger kids in the crowd, I also told “The Tortoise and the Hare”.)   All of these lovely people were drawn to the Old Mint Museum by stories, both the stories I told and those other stories of people who had lived and died throughout the thrilling past of San Francisco. 

After my show, I visited with members of the audience before going to dinner with my friends – the woman and man whose two boys, now all grown up, had once so loved an ancient Greek tale that they just had to be part of it.  And I realized that, like all of our ancestors and all who would come after us, we all were there to play our parts in a story.

PHOTO: Jim presents to old fans and new at the Old San Francicso Mint



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Reflections from Randy Weiss: "A Dose of Winter Tonic"

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It’s late February as I write this piece. It’s dark, it’s cold and the Virginia weather forecast calls for “Winter Mix.” Coming from California, this term seems suspiciously vague and a bit ominous. It reminds me of my childhood days of eating in the school cafeteria. When the school menu featured, “Chef’s Surprise” I just knew the title was some sort of excuse for inexcusable ingredients. Lately I can say the same for our weather, and subsequently for my emotions.

If I am ever to get into a serious funk, it is most likely going to happen between November and March. I am a summer girl through and through. The antidote for me is to be open for humor wherever I can find it. Laughter is soothing, healing medicine for me.

I am very blessed to have some amazing women friends who are exceedingly deep but also particularly funny and great fun to laugh with. Laughter via such deep relationships is true winter tonic for my soul and spirit.

Earlier today I was talking to my dear friend Charlotte. Our long conversation involved many serious matters and then she said, “I have to tell you the craziest thing that happened to me this week.” Knowing Charlotte, who always has a full cornucopia of wonderful, crazy stories, my enthusiasm perked at the very thought of yet another.

In Charlotte’s words:

This week we moved into new offices at work and I now have a wonderful corner office with a window that faces south. The office is in a neighborhood that seems to have a lot of dogs.

As I sat at my new desk, I could see a house across the street with a dog that seemed to be tied with a cable to the front porch. All of us in the office commented on how cruel it is that the dog is continually left out in the cold Nebraska winter. One of my colleagues mentioned that if the dog didn’t occasionally move its head, she’d think it was dead. We all agreed. A few days later, I couldn’t stand it any more so I called Animal Protection. I actually saw the officer come to the house, inspect the dog and then leave. The next day it was snowing and the office was closed but I went to work to pick up some papers, and saw that the dog was still outside.

I returned home totally exasperated. My husband and I decided that we were going to rescue the dog, but he suggested that I first call Animal Control to check on the officer’s report. It turns out that the designated officer was in the office and I could speak to him directly. I ascertained that he was indeed the officer that came to the house. He said he was. I asked him if he filed a report because clearly the dog was still enduring such cruel circumstances. The officer paused, and then said, “Madam, that dog is a statue!!!!”

I said, “WHAT????”
He said, “It is very lifelike, but it is indeed a statue!”
I told him, “My colleagues and I actually believed it not only real, but that it moved its head!”

When Charlotte got to the end of this TRUE story, I was so taken aback and so unprepared for this fabulous ending, that I am certain my peals of uninhibited laughter parted the skies and caused rays of sunlight to instantly fill my family room as well as my heart.

My funk dissolved into the masses of nothingness that probably caused it in the first place and my focus shifted to the deep love that I have for my friend and the soothing tonic she offers all year long. Laughter is a powerful tool that can sandblast through the darkest of days and the moodiest of moods.

PHOTO: The dog in question rests comfortably on the front porch!

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Bonding with Literature

Greathall's primary focus is classical literature, history, and science presented in clear, dynamic language that encourages children to read the originals for themselves.

Jim "tells" stories in his own words, reinvigorating a timeless oral tradition. He maintains the integrity of the source material in rich language that appeals to both grownups and children. His style is that of a beloved and trusted parent or grandparent, using easy-to-understand, vivid language, occasionally enhanced by explanations and asides.

Families tell us they "bond with literature" in their homes and as they drive along in their cars by listening to Greathall recordings.

While reading a book and listening to an audio recording are different forms of learning and entertainment, studies show they reinforce one another. At the end of most readings Jim says, "If you liked this story, get the book at a library or bookstore and read it for yourself."

While Greathall recordings are never meant to take the place of reading, for children who can't or won't read the classics, listening to a Greathall recording ensures comprehension, appreciation, and involvement. For avid readers, our recordings will lead them confidently straight to the original books.


We invite you to join our Facebook Hall and share your stories with us. How has Greathall "led your children to the bookshelves"?

PHOTO: Directly above, we find Jim Weiss admiring ancient Roman ruins in Jordan. Further up, bonding with literature with Jim Weiss CDs!

Learn more about the advantages of audiobooks by clicking on: Audiobooks & Literacy: An Educator's Guide to Utilizing Audiobooks in the Classroom

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Monthly Special: The Mark Twain Duet

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"A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." - Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens aka Mark Twain, famed author and humorist, was born the year Halley's Comet paid us a visit in 1835. Ironically Twain predicted he would depart our world upon the comet's return. True to his word, Twain died the very day after Halley made its subsequent return in 1910.

This month, we are delighted to bring you a fan-favorite Greathall Duet featuring Mark Twain at the very special price of  $19.95 ($9.98/each).

The Prince and the Pauper cover image

Join master storyteller Jim Weiss as he brings to life two of Twain's most enchanting tales: The Prince & The Pauper and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Re-live the genius that abounds in the story of two young boys who exchange identities and learn the nature of true nobility. Then, enjoy a humorous tale of childhood and adventure that is one of America's most beloved stories.

Order both Mark Twain recordings by March 22, 2013, to receive the special pricing offer of $19.95 for both CDs. Simply enter the code "TWAIN" in the Special Instructions box during checkout.

In the meantime, enjoy learning more about the renowned author by visiting his official web site: Mark Twain

PHOTO: Tom Sawyer is so beloved. The cover picture depicts Tom convincing his friends that it is actually fun to whitewash a fence. This is probably one of the most useful tricks in literature!

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Digital Spotlight: Giants!

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On March 1, 2013, "Jack the Giant Slayer" opened in theaters across the country. Rather than a retelling of the classic, it is a movie that utilizes familiar characters from the original story while crafting a new tale altogether.

The good news is that it has brought renewed attention to the English folktale. So, with that in mind, we are using our Digital Spotlight to highlight our own stories of giants.

Giants! A Colossal Collection of Tales and Tunes was released in 1996 and has continued to be a listener's favorite due to the timelessness of the stories.

The frolicking recording won the 1997 Parents' Choice Honor Award and has since added Pegasus and AudioFile Earphones awards to its collection.

Download yours today and enjoy the following stories:

* Jack and the Beanstalk

* The Selfish Giant

* The Giant of Grabbist

* Song: "If I Were a Giant"

* The "Fantastical" Tale of Finn MacCoul

Click here to order yours today!

PHOTO: Giants! A Colossal Collection of Tales and Tunes contains a wonderful song ("If I were a Giant") about being small and competent. Your little one will want to march around the house, feeling proud and "big!"

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Do you know Greathall?: Enter and Win!

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March Trivia: While not "giant," these are nevertheless "tall" stories that will have you "laughing out loud and pondering."

Know the answer? Send it to by March 25, 2013. We will select one winner at random from the correct entries to receive a copy of the recording.

February Answer: Uncle Wiggily's Storybook

February Winner: Naomi H. from California

Congratulations Naomi!

PHOTO: Uncle Wiggily, the old rabbit gentleman is so beloved. When we first recorded this CD, we were sure that everybody knew Uncle Wiggily. We soon found that people either knew and loved this fabulous character or had never heard of him!

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Ask Jim

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Q: If you had to spend the next year on a deserted island without the Internet, a phone, or any other gadget, what five books would you take with you and why? -- Susan, Florida

A: The answer would be: Complete Works of William Shakespeare and The Bible because they are the two richest pieces of learning and literature in the world; A Moveable Feast, by Hemingway OR Small Vices, by Robert B. Parker for a stripped down, yet meaningful, modern masculine voice; Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen for a female counterpoint to Hemingway, and for Austen's wit and humanity; and Gods, Heroes and Men of Ancient Greece, by W.H.D. Rouse, the most enjoyable collection of the Greek tales, because in conjunction with the Bible and Shakespeare, I would find a year too short for pondering these stories.  Of course, this list would deprive me for a year of W.B. Yeats, Carl Sandburg and Matsuo Basho, which would feel as if I were deprived of oxygen.  I would have to read those again as soon as I got home.

PHOTO: Jim Weiss relaxes on a not-deserted-island, but is always, always reading nonetheless!

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Jim Weiss' Updated Travel Calendar

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Here is a current update of Jim's on-the-road presentations that are open to the public. Our website is updated as new events are booked.  If you or your organization are interested in a Jim Weiss Performance/Workshop, please contact us for a                           Free Performance Packet and/or additional information.

March 2 San Francisco Mint The Old Mint * 88 5th St at Main, San Francisco, CA 11 AM-5 PM (Jim performs at 2:00 PM.

March 14-16 Southeast Homeschool Convention Greenville, SC Jim offers numerous presentations.

March 22-23 Virginia Homeschoolers Jim offers numerous presentations.

April 4-6 Cincinnati Homeschool Convention Jim offers numerous presentations.

April 11-13 Greater Saint Louis Area Homeschool Convention Jim offers numerous presentations.

April 20 Hospice of the Piedmont, Charlottesville, VA

April 29 Fairbanks Public Library, Fairbanks, Alaska Jim Weiss Family Storytelling Evening Noel Fairbanks Public Library

May 10-11 Hearth and Home Homeschool Book Fair Arlington, Texas Jim offers numerous presentations.

May 23-25 North Carolina Homeschool Educators Convention Winston-Salem, North Carolina Jim offers numerous presentations.

May 29-31 Latter-Day Saints Home Education Conference Central Virginia Jim offers numerous presentations.

June 14-15 Washington Homeschool Organization Conference Pullyap, Washington Jim offers numerous presentations.

June 28-29 California Homeschool Network Family Expo Southern California Jim offers numerous presentations.

July 25-27 Valley Home Educators Convention Modesto, CA Jim offers numerous presentations.

We are now booking Jim Weiss events from June, 2013-June, 2014. Please email for a FREE PERFORMANCE PACKET.

PHOTO: Where in the world is Jim Weiss? In this photo he is in Spain having a chat with Cervantes.

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* Visit our web site for more information about Greathall storytelling audio recordings and performances by Jim Weiss.

* View back-issues of our newsletter in the Greathall archives.