Saturday, October 12, 2019

Michigan Association for Media in Education conference 2019 opening keynote

Thank you to MAME, especially Cat Kerns and Klaudia Janek, for your efforts to bring me to Michigan to open your lovely conference! It was an honor.

Friday, October 4, 2019

First official Batman-related credit for Jerry Robinson

The Joker is not the first Batman antagonist to headline a standalone live-action movie. (Catwoman beat him by 15 years.)

Yet Joker, which opened today, does have a significant first up its sleeve: Jerry Robinson, early Batman ghost artist and co-creator of not only the Joker but Robin, is finally credited—and on equal footing with Bob Kane and Bill Finger. No "with"!


Friday, September 27, 2019

Sensitivity adjustment in my school visit presentations

I believe I began talking about Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman at schools even before the book came out in 2008. My presentation includes the two photos I uncovered of the small apartment building where then-teenaged Joe Shuster lived in the 1930s.

The first photo (which I found at the Cleveland Public Library) was taken in 1959:



The second (which the Cleveland City Planning Commission located for me) was taken in 1974:


For years, I would transition from the first to the second image while saying “The other photo I found of Joe’s apartment was taken fifteen years after this one, and as you can see, the neighborhood had gone downhill.” I would then explain that soon after, the building was demolished.

A couple of years ago, I realized that my wording could be hurtful to certain kids. While it was clear that the neighborhood had changed from what I think would have been considered middle class to a lower-income population, some would construe the word downhill” as pejorative. It is also subjective; some people of lesser means would describe themselves as content whereas some of greater means are miserable. The physical condition of their environment does not factor significantly into their outlooks.


Surely some kids in some of my audiences lived in buildings that were in a state similar to Joe’s. 

Though no one has ever called this word choice to my attention, I felt badly that I had let it go unchecked for so long. 

Now I say that “the neighborhood had changed,” which I feel is both fair and non-judgmental.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

"New York Times" writer Nicholas Kristof and "Thirty Minutes Over Oregon"

In 1997, I saw this obituary in the New York Times:


In 2007, I began to write a picture book on Nobuo Fujita.

In 2014, after around 50 rejections, I sold the manuscript to Clarion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

In 2018, the book came out.


In 2019, I reached out to the man who wrote that obituary 22 years ago, Nicholas Kristof, by both tweet and email; he replied by both.


I sent him a copy of the book that he helped inspire.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

“Booklist” interview features quirky questions

Kathleen McBroom kindly interviewed me for the 9/19 issue of Booklist.


Most of her questions are ones I haven’t gotten before (which I appreciate!):


  • In another interview, you referred to some negative feedback you received when you first pitched the idea for Thirty Minutes over Oregon, a story about friendship and forgiveness. What were the objections?
  • In your author’s note for Thirty Minutes over Oregon, you end with a question about the Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita: “He went from fighting to uniting. Which took more courage?” Have you ever gotten any feedback from kids about this, either in letters or during school visits?
  • The thing I like best about your books is how you spark inquiry in kids through revealing tiny morsels of information that have been overlooked. How did your interest in these types of forgotten facts begin?
  • While we’re talking about research and inquiry, I was struck by something you included in your author’s note for Fairy Spell. You wrote, “Having the internet doesn’t mean you can kick back and think less. On the contrary, it forces you to think more.” Would you care to elaborate on that?
  • You are always profoundly respectful of the people in your books. You never say anything really damning about Bob Kane; you stress your belief that Frances and Elsie, the girls from Fairy Spell, had no intent to perpetuate a nationwide hoax; you very effectively explain how well-educated adults fell for the fairy photos ruse; and you portray Nobuo Fujita from Thirty Minutes over Oregon as a truly remorseful person who was willing to apologize for his wartime actions. Why is it important for you to portray these characters so sympathetically to young audiences?
  • Your brief bio from Fairy Spell says that “he believes in a number of things that haven’t yet been proven.” I’m not sure if you wrote this or not, but it makes me wonder—with a philosophy like that, might you have any concerns about being taken in by some fantastic claim someday, like your fellow writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who championed the fairy photos?


Thank you, Kathleen and Booklist!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Powers activating in San Antonio

The week of September 16, I spoke at schools and a conference in San Antonio. 

In my school presentation, I typically show a Super Friends drawing I made at age 8. On 9/19/19, at San Antonio Academy, an 8-year-old asked who the two in purple are. 



As I began to explain the Wonder Twins, a teacher spontaneously came up to help demonstrate...



Which, as will be no surprise, was a first for me. And hopefully not a last.

Adding to the memorable visit, the boys showed their empathy by giving the presentation a standing ovation. 


Though it was probably all because of the Wonder Twins reenactment...

Sunday, September 22, 2019

"Batman & Bill" aired in New Zealand

Missed one!

After airing on Australian TV (November 2018) but before premiering on Delta Air Lines or Spanish TV (September 2019), Batman & Bill was shown on New Zealand TV (Rialto Channel, June 2019).


Saturday, September 21, 2019

"Batman & Bill" on Delta Air Lines

On a flight, a 4th grader sitting near me and looking at a seatback screen said “This guy looks like you.” 

No, it wasn’t Ed Sheeran or Sam Elliott. 

It was me—one of the movies Delta currently offers is Batman & Bill. (It’s not in the Movies/Documentary category; it’s under TV/Hulu.)




I regularly get tweets and emails asking when the film will come out on DVD. The answer, apparently, is never (and out of my hands). That doesn’t surprise me because Hulu, a streaming service, produced the film and the economics of not manufacturing physical copies seem to make sense.


But this is the third place besides Hulu where the film has run. First was on Australian TV in November 2018. Second was on New Zealand TV in June 2019. Fourth is Spanish TV on Batman Day 2019—today—in honor of Batman’s 80th anniversary.

Friday, September 20, 2019

"Batman & Bill" airing in Spain

In honor of Batman’s 80th anniversary, Batman & Bill is debuting in Spain on the Spanish channel TCM España (TCM Spain) on Batman Day, September 21.

To coincide with that, the two most influential Spanish newspapers, El País and El Mundo, and Agencia EFE, the leading Spanish-language news agency (and fourth largest news agency in the world), interviewed me. 

The newspaper articles both end their headline with the word “father,” but only El Mundo refers to me throughout as “Tyler Nobleman.” (And not the first time someone has thought my last name was both words.)

El País 9/14/19: “Batman: 80 years without his real father”




El Mundo 9/20/19: “Crusade in favor of Batmans secret father”



Here is Agencia EFE coverage.

In late August, when a media agency asked if I could do these interviews, I said the best timing for me would be that week, before back-to-school craziness—unless I would first need to learn Spanish, in which case February (2021).

Muchas gracias to you all!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"Batman & Bill" aired in Australia

In November 2018, Batman & Bill aired on SBS, an Australian TV channel. To my knowledge, it’s the first international showing (and the first time airing somewhere other than Hulu).



I’m only now—nearly a year later—posting this because Australia is all the time zones ahead.

Bill Finger: Australian for co-creator of Batman.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Four years ago today, history was corrected

Four years ago today, three words corrected a 76-year-long injustice when DC Comics added them to the Batman credit line: "with Bill Finger."


One big step for Bill Finger, one giant leap (I hope) for creators' rights.

Friday, July 19, 2019

"12 Don't-Miss Comic Book Panels At Comic-Con International 2019"

Thank you, Comic Book Resources, for including "Bill Finger and the Secret Origin of Batman" on your list of must-see comic book panels at San Diego Comic-Con. 



I saw it only after the panel and was doubly thrilled because we had a great turnout even though many of the audience members probably didn't see the article. Make that triply thrilled because we (Bill) got a (partial) standing ovation. Humbling every time.

Yet another shout-out to friends/fellow writers Brad Ricca and Danny Fingeroth for stepping up at the last minute to take over for the scheduled moderators, Tom King and Marc Andreyko.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Auditioning for Robin in "Batman Forever"

In 1994 in Boston, while I was in college, I attended an open casting call (see photo below) for Robin for the movie Batman Forever

My not-quite-Method prep consisted of drawing but not coloring a Robin logo, cutting it out, taping it on a too-big, comics-inaccurate T-shirt, and posing for this dramatic photo:


Then as per the Warner Bros. instructions, I made an audition video. I filmed it by myself on campus in a classroom at night. A glimpse of the high-end production values:


No need to check IMDb—I did not get the role.

Neither did any of these guys:


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Interview: De’Voreaux Sefas (Argyle in "Die Hard")

Yippee-ki-yay, moviegoer. 

You know the line I’m bastardizing. You know the 1988 film it’s from. You know the new kind of rush audiences got from Die Hard (#20 on Empire’s 2017 list of the 100 greatest movies of all time).


But you probably don’t know the man behind the wheel—De’Voreaux White (now Sefas), the actor who played Argyle, the limo driver/accidental hero and fan-favorite character.

You can fix that. Simply read on…with a vengeance:

What were you doing professionally prior to Die Hard

I started acting at the age of 10. To divert my thinking from the pain and PTSD of my mother’s [passing, on Christmas Day that year], my grandparents honored her wishes and got me into show business. My first three [bookings were] The Jeffersons, Little House on the Prairie, andThe Blues Brothers.

How old were you when you were cast in Die Hard

Early 20s [born 1965].

How did you get the role?  

Places in the Heart with Danny Glover and Sally Fields, which I was featured in, had received huge accolades for Oscars the year before. My agent pitched me to Joel Silver and Bruce [Willis]. They agreed to take on a meeting and a reading with me. By the time I got home that day, they called and offered me the role.

Did you have any input on shaping your character, or was he already fleshed-out by the writers? 

The director, John McTiernan, suggested that both Bruce and I just have fun with it, so we both basically made up some of the dialogue and let the scenes make artistry of themselves per se.

Any funny anecdotes about your Die Hard experience? 

Being spontaneous and quick-witted, which I learned by starting so young, helped tremendously. The first television show I guest-starred on was The Jeffersons. I will never forget the live audience and the comedic energy that prepared for projects like Die Hard.

Is there one story about your Die Hard time you tell more than any other? 

They were all memorable and a great learning experience. What an honor to work with the late Alan Rickman and Alexander Godunov. At that time, Alexander lived up the street from me in Benedict Canyon.

While working on it, did it seem like just another script to you, or did it feel like something special? 

All we knew is that it was an action movie to propel Bruce. I don’t think anyone had any idea of the miraculous impact it was going to have on the diversity and climactic genre of what cinema is today.

What was your impression of Bruce Willis? Did it change over time in any way? 

We hit right off. He’s a professional and so am I. Sometimes the public does not understand that we are there and hired for a job. At the same time we attempt to have fun at what we do.

Same question with Alan Rickman? 

My filming schedule was spread out over a three-month period and my scenes were not done all at once. I was not on the sets every day. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rickman only a few times. Nice dude and very focused.

How often were you recognized on the street? Any funny stories about that? 

When the film started grossing a lot at the box office, the more people would see it [more than once]. I went with some friends to see [Die Hard] when it opened in Westwood, CA. Before the movie even started, people were turning their heads and saying “Hay! That’s him, the limo driver!” LOL. 

When was the last time you were recognized? 

Last week at Starbucks. Still happens three decades later.

What was your favorite acting gig? 

They all are my favorites. Gained so much experience at such a young age.

What are you doing these days? 

Wise investments and strong relationship with God has permitted me to have my own company in CA. I work in recovery, helping people with alcohol and drug addictions. I am also on the clinical staff [at my facility] and facilitate groups on self esteem there.


Where do you live? 

Newport Beach, CA.

If you have children, how many and ages?  

None yet…LOL.

It looks like your last name is now Sefas, not White. What prompted the change?

I am Ethiopian. My born name is Sefas. [After] my mother passed away, my grandparents (last name White) adopted [me].

Have you participated in any Die Hard-related events or appearances (reunion, convention, documentary, etc.)? 

Sometimes, when my schedule allows it. [I went to the] Die Hard 25th Anniversary at Burbank Studios.

Are you still in touch with anyone from the cast?

I reach out to Joel [Silver] and Bruce from time to time.

When was the last time you saw a member of the cast, and was it on purpose or by chance?

I saw Bruce by chance in L.A. I was driving my Jeep down Fairfax Boulevard and lo and behold, Bruce [drove past me] in his vintage corvette. I honked and chased him a bit. He looked over and we both busted up laughing!

Please tell me you pulled over and took a selfie.

No, I did not take a picture. No reason to. The moment was priceless. LOL.

When was the last time you watched Die Hard? How did you think it held up?

I never watch my own movies. LOL.

Do you have any mementos from the experience such as set photos, a script, or anything from the set?

No. However, I do have wonderful memories.

Do you have clippings from magazine/newspaper interviews/profiles published at the time?

No, that is my management’s department.

What did you think when you first heard from me?

I respect and honor anyone who reaches out to me.

A Brazilian fan.

How do you look back on your Die Hard experience?

It is always an enchanting reminder when anyone mentions [my] character [in] the film to me.

If the experience changed your life in any way, how?

This character allowed me to take my craft seriously.

Anything you’d like to add?

It was an honor and a wonderful experience that I will never forget.

Friday, July 5, 2019

How to make a standout elementary graduation slideshow

In some schools, elementary ends with 5th grade; in others, 6th. 

In either case, it often also ends with a slideshow in honor of graduation (or, as some schools now call it, promotion). 

In any case, if you’re the parent/teacher volunteer/recruit tasked with putting together a 5th/6th grade promotion slideshow, you know it’s a big time commitment. 

Plus, it’s not enough to make it. You also want to make it good.

I had the pleasure of doing the slideshow for my son’s 5th grade promotion. (Full disclosure: when first asked, I politely declined; see “big time commitment” above.) 

Below are tips on how to make your slideshow truly stellar. But first, what I learned about elementary slideshows in general…

They are often fairly routine—same kinds of group shots again and again, same overused songs, little to no attempt at flourish. To see what I mean, search “5th grade slideshow” or “6th grade slideshow” on YouTube and watch portions of several. Of course you won’t know the kids, but most likely you will know the music, the compositions, the sequencing (approximate chronological order starting with kindergarten; sections grouped by theme—i.e. Halloween, field day, etc.).

In years past at my kids’ elementary school, and probably at every elementary, parents have griped that the slideshow was too long. What they’re really saying: it was boring. A slideshow can be both long and awesome. (Depending on how many students are in the grade, yours may have to be on the longer side—i.e. more than 10 minutes.)

I mean no disrespect. And I understand. Slideshows are daunting projects made by busy people who aren’t getting paid, may not have created a slideshow before, may not have much time, may not have had enough cooperation or help, and may never have seen another grade school slideshow.

That said, a graduation slideshow should be entertaining for everyone who will see it—both students and adults. The kids (and some teachers) will like it no matter what because they’re the stars. But many of the parents will know only a few of the kids…so your challenge is to craft something that even they will appreciate. 

Here are tips on how to make your school’s slideshow funny, surprising, and emotional (beyond the fact that it’s wall-to-wall photos of cute kids):

COMPILING THE PHOTOS

  • Ask for photos by emailing all parents (either directly if you have the means or via the PTA) at the end of the school year prior to graduation (i.e. end of 4th for a 5th grade slideshow). Why a year instead of a few months ahead of the slideshow world premiere? Because some parents will not reply the first time (and some never will). When you start gathering this far in advance, you will have cushion time to ask again (or fill in the gaps yourself). The clearer you are with your request, the less back-and-forth you’ll encounter, so I suggest these criteria:
  • ONLY high-resolution photos—ideally 2 MB or bigger. If sending from an iPhone, it will ask what size; instruct parents to select “Actual Size.”
  • Preference given to photos featuring 2-4 students. Solo shots are not ideal because you want the slideshow to incorporate everyone as evenly as possible yet not run too long. Bigger group shots are not ideal because slideshow images change too rapidly for the audience to take in more than a couple of faces. No professional class portraits; they will be in the yearbook anyway.
  • Preference given to funny/unusual shots.
  • Tell parents they may submit photos taken outside of school (birthday parties, sleepovers, etc.). But to help ensure that the slideshow is fair and runs a reasonable length, avoid photos that include 1) family members and 2) kids who have never attended your school. Emphasize that you are focusing on just the graduating grade (including kids who were in the grade at one point but have left/changed schools).
  • Avoid Halloween photos. It’s probably the most photographed school day every year, meaning photos from it are the least surprising. Plus some masks obscure faces, so the audience wouldn’t be able to tell who certain children are anyway.
  • (optional depending on your preference) Request that parents attach all photos they will submit to a single email (NOT embedded within the body of the email and NOT via a site like Dropbox, which requires extra steps to download).
  • Be prepared to go to the school to take (creative) photos yourself. (As mentioned above, some parents simply won’t respond to the submission request, but of course that doesn’t mean you can leave out their kids!) Besides showcasing under-represented kids, these photos also increase composition variety, add humor, keep people looking forward throughout, and do something different than other slideshows. I took photos throughout the year in two main ways:
  • I made “memory signs” in five categories: Favorite/Funniest/Weirdest/Saddest [insert name of school] Memory and What I Will Miss Most About [insert name of school]. I asked various kids to pick one of the categories and write in their answers with a Sharpie (neatly and largely so it could be read when projected), then took a photo of them (with different backgrounds) while they held up their signs. As you would imagine, many were hilarious. Some were almost heartbreaking.


  • I showed kids pictures of certain poses from pop culture that parents will instantly recognize (the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, The Breakfast Club movie poster, the iconic front-of-the-boat scene from Titanic, etc.). I asked a group of the corresponding number of kids to recreate each pose—sometimes more than one group per pose so I had choice. Guide the kids on getting into position—the closer they match the famous pose, the more amusing it will be. 







  • I suggest rounding up all the twins in the grade and taking a group shot. You’ll be the first to do it, which will make it even more of a crowd-pleaser.
  • To add to the unpredictability, sometimes I brought together and photographed kids who don’t normally hang out. They’re still young enough to go along with it without (much) pushback.

ORGANIZING THE PHOTOS

  • Put all photos in one folder on your computer. 
  • Name each photo with the first name of every child who is clearly visible in it, except for larger group shots. When more than one child in the grade has the same first name, also include the last name. To quickly determine how many photos you have of each child, simply search the name in this folder. I aimed to have a minimum of six “spotlight” shots for each child who had been at the school for more than a couple of years (at least four shots for any child who was new). This didn’t mean each child was alone in all spotlight shots, just close up and therefore immediately identifiable. (The six-per-child tally didn’t include group shots with more than seven kids, so most children were in the slideshow more than six times.) 
  • Also put keywords in the file name: crazy hair day, concert, field trip, etc. If you are planning to arrange certain photos by theme, start the file name with that theme so all of those photos will appear together when you’re skimming through the folder.

EDITING THE PHOTOS

  • I used the Microsoft software Movie Maker. It has a simple interface and offers plenty of features for a layperson.
  • Avoid photos that are blurry, cut off, or too dark. This seems like obvious advice but such unaesthetic shots make it in to slideshows fairly often!
  • Avoid repetitive shots (i.e. a revolving group of kids each in front of the same background or multiple shots of different kids doing the same thing). 
  • Trim out dead space (i.e. if the angle of a photo shows lots of uninteresting empty room/wall/ceiling behind someone) so kids fill as much of the frame as possible. Exception: artistic/wistful shots; for example, a backpacked child in the distance, walking away from school; in such a case, the environment makes it more poignant.

ASSEMBLING THE SLIDESHOW

  • Photos with four or fewer kids: hold for 3 seconds. Photos with five or more kids or with words to read: hold for longer, but generally no more than 6 seconds.
  • Do your best to spread out compositions that appear frequently, such as kids at desks, kids playing sports, and kids with their arms around each other.
  • If you use memory signs and/or famous poses, spread them throughout; when the audience sees the second one of either, they realize they’re in for a fun series. These “known surprises” amplify audience anticipation. 
  • I chose to spread out photos that are commonly shown in a cluster (i.e. Halloween, Valentine’s Day, school play, science fair, etc.) because looking at multiple similar photos in a row can get dull. Conversely, try to include a cluster or two that are not typical, such as a sequence showing kids with dirty (i.e. cupcake-smeared) mouths.
  • Alternate the density of the compositions. In other words, surround photos of bigger groups with photos of small groups or solo shots. This gives the audience a rest from frantically scanning bigger groups to try to spot their child or kids they know.
  • As much as possible, I avoided showing the same student in back-to-back close-up photos. (I was okay with kids appearing in back-to-back photos when one of the two was a larger group.)
  • I did not include a “before and after” sequence (i.e. kindergarten/most recent grade) because a) you have to include every student so it takes up too much airtime, b) it is typical, and c) parents can see that comparison elsewhere (namely the yearbooks). 
  • I highly encourage doing something interactive. For example, I took photos of three groups recreating the Breakfast Club pose; in the slideshow, I introduced these three photos with a slide asking the audience to applaud whichever group nailed the pose—knowing that every group would get applause. (On a related note, kids will automatically applaud any teacher/other school staff member who appears in the slideshow, and it’s so endearing.)
  • Try to include photos of non-classroom school employees whose jobs can be taken for granted such as the office staff, librarian, specials teachers, reading specialist, nurse, counselor, custodial crew, lunchroom staff, and recess aides.
  • If you include any video where something someone says is hard to hear, use subtitles.

INCORPORATING THE MUSIC

  • I suggest skipping certain songs that have become ubiquitous for school slideshows (“Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams), even if your audience has not attended other slideshows. On some level, they’ll know these are standards or even clichés! Instead, catch them off guard with at least some unconventional choices (see below). 
  • You do not need to use full songs. Shorter clips allow you to include more songs, which helps keep it lively.
  • For greater impact, the music should not simply play underneath the images but rather sync with them. For example, the song “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman contains the lyric “Every night I lie in bed / The brightest colors fill my head.” If you have a photo of a kid or kids lying on a bed or on the floor/grass, you could time it with the “bed” line, and if you have a photo where a vivid range of colors is prominent, you could time it with the “colors” line. People notice (and enjoy)!
  • Similarly, coordinate certain music transitions with images. For example, when the song “Walking on Sunshine” reaches its introductory “Ow!” (about 10 seconds in), jump cut to a dynamic picture that matches the joy of the exclamation, such as a kid jumping or diving. Time it just right and it’s a guaranteed laugh.
  • When possible, pair any photos that include words (i.e. the memory signs) with a song section that has no words. This can make it easier for the audience to focus on reading. 
  • To help keep parents engaged, use some music of their (your) generation. It won’t much matter to the kids; they are paying more attention to the images—and besides, they often like “older” songs, too.
  • If the grade includes at least three kids whose names appear in a well-known song title, place quick-cut solo shots of all three in a row, each accompanied by a snippet from their corresponding song. For an even bigger laugh, do it a second time later in the slideshow (same snippets, different photos). I used “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, and “Luka” by Suzanne Vega.
  • I suggest using a mix of upbeat and melancholy songs, but more of the former. (I included “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce, which prompted a beloved teacher who was sitting in front of me to turn around and whisper with a smile “Oh, that’s cruel.”)
  • Vet lyrics. For example, parts of Ed Sheeran’s nostalgic “Castle on the Hill” are beautifully appropriate, but the song also includes mention of underage drinking and overdosing. (Again, you do not need to—and sometimes should not—use full songs!)

UPBEAT SONGS I USED OR CONSIDERED

Note: I may not have pointed out all potentially problematic lyrics. Please doublecheck!

  • “Be the Change” by Britt Nicole
  • “Believe” by Suzie McNeil
  • “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy (chorus only; paired with “This One’s for the Girls”)
  • “Celebrate Youth” by Rick Springfield
  • “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey (has a tame alcohol reference that people are generally cool with because the song is legendary)
  • “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds (with Breakfast Club poses, if you do that)
  • “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
  • “The Final Countdown” by Europe 
  • “Free to Be…You and Me” from the classic ‘70s children’s album of the same name
  • “Good Company” from Oliver & Company
  • “The Great American Melting Pot” from Schoolhouse Rock
  • “Hall of Fame” by the Script
  • “Happy Days” (TV theme)
  • “Jump Rope” by Blue October
  • “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince and the Revolution
  • “Live Every Moment” by REO Speedwagon
  • “Magic” by the Cars
  • “ME!” by Taylor Swift/Brendon Urie
  • “My Shot” from Hamilton
  • “Oh Yeah” by Yello
  • “Only the Young” by Journey
  • “Sitting on Top of the World” by Delta Goodrem
  • “So Young” by the Corrs
  • “This One’s for the Girls” by Martina McBride (chorus only; paired with “The Boys Are Back in Town”)
  • “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves
  • “We Go Together” from Grease
  • “What Is Life” by George Harrison
  • “When I’m Gone (Cups)” by Anna Kendrick (from Pitch Perfect; has an alcohol reference)
  • “Wings” by Little Mix
  • “With a Little Help from My Friends” by the Beatles 
  • “You & Me” by James TW (chorus only)

MELANCHOLY SONGS I USED OR CONSIDERED

  • “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran (see caveat above)
  • “Circle” by Harry Chapin
  • “Goodbye” by Night Ranger
  • “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman
  • “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King
  • “This Way” by Jewel
  • “Time” by Chantal Kreviakuk
  • “Time” by Sandi Thom (has references to smoking and drinking)
  • “Time for Me to Fly” by REO Speedwagon (only roughly the last minute because the first part of the song is clearly referencing a dying relationship whereas the end could apply to any life transition)
  • “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce
  • “You Learn” by Alanis Morissette

I know—the process may now seem even more complicated than it did before, but fear not: many of my suggestions are not mandatory and the learning curve should be fairly quick.

The slideshow I made for my son’s 5th grade is online but password-protected. If you are a teacher or parent who would like to see it, please email me at mtnobleman@gmail.com. 

I agreed to make the slideshow to be a team player. But I soon discovered that it benefited me, too; it enabled me to learn about every child in my child’s grade—in fact, more in one year than the previous five years combined. As those kids head off to middle school, where the social dynamics tend to get trickier, it’s comforting to know that I now know the kids…at least a little bit.

Good luck with your slideshow!
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