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artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzogetting older

Tempus holdit: Music, magic and youth

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I recently remembered a magic spell I once knew.  Here’s how it happened:

A few months ago, I had my metaphorical butt kicked by a twelve-year-old.  Part of my lifelong musical journey is that I have been studying classical guitar for the past five years. My teacher is kind enough to hold “salons” for her students several times per year, at which we can perform solo pieces for each other — mostly adults. Many self-conscious jokes are cracked before performances (mostly by me), many excuses are made from the stage (mostly by me) and many right hands shake nervously over the strings (mine, especially), derailing passages that sounded so great just the day before in everyone’s practice rooms.   [Read more →]

religion & philosophythat's what he said, by Frank Wilson

On the God instinct

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In a blog post titled The God Instinct. Some notes , Mark Vernon quotes William James: “Scientific theories are organically conditioned just as much as religious emotions are; and if we only knew the facts intimately enough, we should doubtless see ‘the liver’ determining the dicta of the sturdy atheist as decisively as it does those of the Methodist under conviction anxious about his soul.” Vernon then adds a gloss to this: “Only atheists don’t usually consider dismissing their own convictions on evolutionary grounds. Funny that.” [Read more →]

moneypolitics & government

It’s bottom of the ninth, Congress, and you’re up to bat

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The lame duck Congress took flight last week. Man, it’s going to be hard for the country to soar with the eagles if it has to flutter with this bunch of turkeys. To be fair, some of the big players are promising title fights between now and Christmas. Let’s hold back judgment on this bit of trash talk as we review two important measures they took up since the election. Oh, they were busy, alright. Critical legislation hit the floor to honor Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Yankees announcer Bob Shepperd. Holy Toledo! The government means business! [Read more →]

politics & government

The Tequila Party head scratcher

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From Yahoo News: Inspired by TEA Party success, Latinos float ‘Tequila Party’ grassroots movement.

Latino leaders in Nevada and around the country are floating the idea of breaking traditional ties with the Democratic Party and creating a grass-roots independent movement tentatively called the Tequila Party. According to Delen Goldberg at the Las Vegas Sun, the leaders want to pressure the Democratic Party to deliver on Latinos’ priorities much in the same way the tea party has done with the GOP over the past few years.

I’m at a loss…  Can someone please explain to me how established leaders can spark a grassroots movement?  Or how it can be independent if its goal is to pressure (lobby) only the Democrat Party to deliver on Latino priorities?

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

God and germs are everywhere

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I recently moved and one of the things that attracted me to my new address was the church at the end of the street. It’s a white, wooden structure, with a narrow spire: classic Americana, like something out of a movie. Best of all is the message board outside the entrance, which reads:

One out of every one will die.
Life is a terminal illness.
Where are you going?

Now some individuals might object to being confronted daily with this bleak message, but I was delighted. It’s good to be reminded of your mortality, even- or perhaps especially- when you’re running down the store to buy toilet paper. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentpolitics & government

Bruce Wayne and the superhero-industrial complex

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When I look at my children, I shudder.

They have lived their entire lives in the so-called “age of superheroes.” They are too young to remember a time before the likes of Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman forced us to accept their “protection.” They didn’t ask to live in this world – they had it forced upon them.

The rest of us should have known better. We should have seen this coming. We have given up our sovereignty to people (if in fact they are “people;” many of them are not even of this world) who, by virtue of their enormous physical strength or possession of amazing weapons capable of mass destruction, believe they have the right to decide what is best for the rest of us.

At what point did we, the average and non-superpowered individuals, decide to just let this happen? When did we become sheeple, just placidly accepting the notion that because some people have the ability to destroy things efficiently they can make the rules for all of us?

Earlier this month, Gotham City’s wealthiest and most powerful resident, Bruce Wayne, held a press conference in which he revealed that he has been financing the extra-legal activities of the vigilante known as “Batman.” If there were any sense to our world, Mr. Wayne would have been immediately arrested and brought to trial. Taking the law into our own hands is a crime. [Read more →]

drugs & alcoholmusic

Marty Digs: Free Willie

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No, I am not talking about the heartwarming 1993 movie about the love affair between a young boy and a killer whale. I am talking about the weekend arrest of grizzled country music star Willie Nelson for marijuana possession. It just ain’t right.

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bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Denver Broncos caught cheating

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I don’t know which is more shocking: a professional sports team being found to be cheating, or the fact that the cheating is discovered so rarely. Sports are big money, and jobs hinge on wins and losses. I imagine that there is a whole lot of cheating that occurs that is never revealed. Steve Scarnecchia, the video operations director for the Denver Broncos, seems worse than most at hiding his indiscretions. For the second time in recent years, Scarnecchia has been connected to the illegal videotaping of opponents. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs Sylvester Stallone is too old to be making action flicks

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10. In The Expendables he wore an orthopedic beret

9. He keeps looking for the ‘mute’ button on his machine gun

8. He rides into battle on a Rascal scooter

7. His ‘reinforcements’ are a big bag of prunes

6. That headband in the latest Rambo was to help keep his wig in place

5. His stunt double is Eli Wallach

4. Instead of raw eggs, he’s gulping down Metamucil

3. Now, instead of bounding up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, he uses the wheelchair ramp

2. His latest love interest was played by Betty White

1. To help him lift his gun, he’s been taking Viagra

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Gail sees a movie

Gail sees a movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

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I feel a little sad that this series is almost over.  But Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is by far the most adult of the Harry Potter films and I found that I relished it in a whole new way. As Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) proclaims, “Well, well, well, look what we have here. It’s Harry Potter. He’s all bright, and shiny, and new again, just in time for the Dark Lord.” Oh, yeah. [Read more →]

Broadway Fred

Broadway Fred: Too gay?

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Sometimes I play a game for my own amusement. I sprinkle references to musicals into my conversations and lectures and wait expectantly to see if anyone notices. A few years back a student returned to class after an absence and as I took roll, he asked facetiously if I missed him.  I said, “I cried and cried until the tears came down and I could taste them.”  No response. Then I added, “I love to taste my tears. I am special. I am special. Please, god, please… don’t let me be normal.”

After I got no response, I announced the name of the musical I quoted and asked if anyone had ever heard of it. Still no response. Then one of my brightest students, a fearless and flamboyantly “out” gay man, answered “No, I’m not that gay.”

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moneypolitics & government

Obama’s overcooked economy

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trusted media & news

What’s in a word?

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William Shakespeare once suggested that “beauty is bought by judgement of the eye.” With a deeply deferential bow to the Bard, I would go on and add my own scribble, that “sense is bought by judgement of the ear.”

Which brings me to a verbal gaffe by Sarah Palin, the uproar – or lack thereof – over said gaffe, and the ensuing backlash towards those who did choose to raise an uproar.
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artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

Why I am thankful for artistic failure

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My sons have been making construction paper turkeys in school with multicolored feathers that are labeled with the things for which they are thankful. So, here’s my one-feathered construction paper turkey: I’m thankful for artistic failure. Of course, if you have read any of my stuff before this, you will know that (1) “failure” is going to be qualified and that (2) I blame no one but myself for this failure. [Read more →]

travel & foreign lands

It’s about money? I am shocked

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Michael Chertoff, the former Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security that’s been going on TV brow-beating the American people about how safe and needed body scanners are, runs a security and risk management firm and one of his clients is one of the biggest manufacturers of body scanning machines in the country. [Read more →]

recipes & food

Marty Digs: Dunkin Donuts hash browns

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Ladies and gentlemen, as we dig into a new Marty Digs posting, I am asking you to excuse me.  My son Jack and I had the weekend together as mommy away doing another running race.  Jack decided he didn’t want to sleep much this weekend, which culminated in coming home from the Eagles game last night at 1am and finding him wide awake at home.  If there was a way to slur speech via typing, I am probably going to do it today. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Jimmie Johnson may be the best ever in NASCAR

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It is time to start talking about NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson being one of the greatest sports figures of all time. Whether you are a fan of NASCAR or not (I am), there is no denying the monumental feat Johnson and his team accomplished on Sunday, winning their fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship. This year’s edition was the closest one in recent history, with the top three drivers separated by less than 50 points going into the final race of the season. It appeared to me that most of the experts were picking Denny Hamlin, the points leader headed into the finale, to win the title. I would say that was wishful thinking, more than anything else. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythinghealth & medical

Top ten signs you’ve eaten too much on Thanksgiving

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10. You’re mistaken for a runaway Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon

9. You had to let out your shower curtain

8. At the beach, compassionate surfers keep trying to push you back in the ocean

7. This morning, the display on your bathroom scale read “Holy crap!”

6. You’re constantly asked what circus you work for

5. Your bellybutton suddenly popped out like one of those turkey thermometers

4. You’re sweating yams

3. NASA is planning to launch a rocket in the hopes of photographing the other side of you

2. So far, twelve people have referred to you as “Mr. Limbaugh”

1. Whenever anyone says, “Please pass the Butterball,” somebody grabs you

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

race & culturesports

The right to punch a man of any race

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Recently the boxer Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins accused Manny Pacquiao of being biased against blacks. Why? Because they’re apparently the only people on Earth the phenomenon from the Philippines hasn’t been beating into comas. After all, recently Manny’s fought Hispanics (Antonio Margarito), whites (Ricky Hatton), and blacks (Joshua Clottey). Oops! When pointed this out, Hopkins amended his accusation to say Pacquiao was avoiding African-Americans, since even though Clottey was born in Africa and now lives in America, he technically is an African in America, not to be confused with an African-American (or a plain American, such as Bernard’s business partner “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya, whom was clobbered into retirement by Manny). Still with Bernard? Let’s continue. [Read more →]

educationpolitics & government

Public Libraries: A Public Adventure

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“Sancho followed on foot, leading his donkey — his perpetual companion in prosperous and adverse fortune….”  — Don Quixote

In these threadbare days, what kind of future do we foresee for that homeliest and homiest of institutional beasts, the public library? It is surely the donkey of the American cultural menagerie — toothy, overworked, belittled, yet stubborn to the point of endearment. How else, other than out of sheer stubbornness, can we account for the fact that libraries continue to supply communities all over the country with books… made of paper…to the public… for free?

But for residents of Santa Clarita, California, this persistent belief in community education in the age of the bottom line may at last be coming to an end. Thanks to the city’s controversial vote to outsource its libraries to a private for-profit company, the donkey may be going the way of the dodo.

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