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artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzogetting older

Back to honesty: Unaffected self-portraits

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In discussions about art, we babble constantly about “quality” as if it is the determining factor in terms of what is “good” or “bad”. Some say that, for instance, Mozart was a better composer than John Williams could ever be. Or, we might dismiss Norman Rockwell (a mere illustrator) in comparison to, say, a VanGogh. We read a novel, and we nit-pick, saying: Steinbeck is sentimental; Dickens’s plots are too neat. A ballet choreographer might look at kids dancing for change on the street and he might say, “Unsophisticated. That’s not art. It’s ‘pop’ dancing.” But, in the end, what does all of this mean? As I have suggested lots of times, isn’t the measure of art in the way it directly affects us? How important is the “quality” of the work? One can (and I certainly do sometimes) marvel at an artist’s craft, but is great skill necessary for great art? Is skill necessary at all? [Read more →]

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

Saying “thank you” not as easy as it sounds

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I think the best thing that has ever been said on the subject of prayer was said by the medieval mystic known as Meister Eckhart: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

This, of course, is precisely the most difficult prayer to utter when you are not feeling at all reverent …and yet it would seem the one most necessary at precisely such a time. [Read more →]

moviesreligion & philosophy

Myth in movies: Deciphering Hollywood’s hidden messages

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As mentioned in last quarter’s column, there have been a lot of “life-as-illusion” themed movies coming out lately. While I suspect that the success of Avatar and Lost are partly responsible for this trend, I think people’s fascination with 2012, drastic world changes, and a surge in our search for meaning are also fueling the recent string of films about alternate realities and simulated worlds. When airplanes are crashing into buildings, cities are submerged underwater, the Middle East is revolting, and the world economy is collapsing, real life almost seems more fantastical than our dreams. Jon Stewart summed it up perfectly at the 2008 Academy Awards: “Normally, when you see a black man or a woman president, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty.” Yes, we are now officially living in the future, and we all know what kind of stuff happens in the future—exactly the kind of stuff that’s happening right now. But at least, thanks to Hollywood, we’ve been warned. And Hollywood’s heads up may even go much deeper than prophesies of events to come. They may help explain the reality we all find ourselves in. [Read more →]

education

MartyDigs: The respected, esteemed professor Dr. Martin O’Connor

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I work at a very fine institution of higher education in the Philadelphia area. I cannot stress how much I love working in the college atmosphere, so much so that I am pursuing my Master’s In Higher Education so I can support and advance my career in the college world. I feel like every day is exciting, and its always invigorating to walk onto a college campus. I think it even keeps me young, although I still haven’t learned how to properly “Dougie”, can’t figure out why kids like this rapper Drake, and (for humanity’s sake) I would never dare attempt to wear skinny jeans    [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Scottie Pippen insults Michael Jordan

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Some people just like to hear themselves talk. I have been accused of this myself on occasion, and I can’t say that it has never been the truth. With this column, I at least try to make sure that I have something of value to impart to anyone who chooses to read my weekly missive. In the world of sports, particularly in this era, when there are so many outlets for just about everyone to make his or her opinion known, this problem seems to be particularly prevalent. This week’s example comes from the mouth of Scottie Pippen, the former NBA star who won a bunch of titles alongside Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls in the nineties. While appearing on the Mike & Mike show on ESPN radio on Friday, Pippen made the statement that Lebron James might be the best player to ever play the game of basketball, rather than his former teammate Jordan, who is widely considered to hold that title. [Read more →]

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs you have a bad commencement speaker

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10. He delivers his speech without moving his lips, thanks to his little ventriloquist’s dummy ‘Muammar’

9. Her first name is Snooki

8. His speech is laced with crude double entendres and Polish jokes

7. He can’t emphasize enough the many incredible advantages of buying a ShamWow!

6. His claim to fame: He played Epstein on Welcome Back, Kotter

5. She goes on and on about how Barack Obama’s birth certificate has to be a forgery

4. Before he goes on, he asks the principal if he wants a little ‘nose candy’

3. He claims to have deciphered the “secret language of kitty cats”

2. He begins his speech, “If life hands you lemons, you should squeeze the juice directly into the wounds of your enemies.”

1. He spends an entire hour blathering on about his tiger’s blood, Adonis DNA, and fire-breathing fists

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

moneytrusted media & news

Left behind

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Rapture is postponed. Good thing. Not that I was going anywhere, but I assume a good fraction of the tough guys who make the toilets flush and the internets flow would have been gathered at the Final Call. They’re here. We’re queer. Let’s get started.

Fresh Air…. what an insipid and presumptuous bit of condescencion that logism contains. You know these skunks; their position in so-called Public Broadcasting and Murphy’s Law assures that, wherever you drive, the subsidized voices of liberal salvation will always come through the radio clearer than anything but the spanish stations. These cats are defininitely Left Behind under any recognized scenario. They are as adamantly against rapturees as they are for perfectly modulated saccharine tumbling out of their oh-so-well compensated pie holes.

The doof on the pyre today is the unlikely named Dave Davies, although really, he is of little consequence except as an exemplar. And his fulfillment of that duty pales compared to the object of his recent interest; a pair of Registered Genii, financial reporters for the New York Times no less. They have written a book, well titled Reckless Endangerment that explains the hows and whys of our financial meltdown.

Let’s go to the audio. [Read more →]

politics & governmenttravel & foreign lands

21st Century President, 19th Century Ideas

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moneypolitics & government

The importance of helping Americans “hold themselves in line”

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Back in 2005, while attending a live Bob Dylan show, I encountered the country stylings of his opening act, Merle Haggard. This artist’s simple songs of soil people touched me in a surprising way, and I was glad I didn’t follow my first instinct, which was to skip his act altogether. Later, I actually purchased his box set, “Down Every Road,” which features a number of his classic songs, among them the haunting lament, “I Can’t Hold Myself in Line.” This song was written in 1968, but its expression of melancholia in a world that gives humans too many choices for his own good could easily be torn from the diary — or, if you prefer, blog — of any Four Loko-drinking, Big Mac-eating, Sport Utility Vehicle-driving, Camel-smoking iPad-user today.

Hey, my weakness is stronger than I am
Guess I’ve always been the losin’ kind
Now I’m full speed ahead down the wrong road of life
And I can’t hold myself in line

[Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

The authenticity myth: Art without boundaries

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I don’t know why I get so annoyed by clichés. Maybe it is my fiction-writing background. Maybe I’m just an early-onset curmudgeon. But one time, at a party, someone referenced the idea that you can’t play the blues well unless you lived the blues — whatever the hell that means.  Does he mean you need to be short of cash for the rent? A heavy drinker? Does he mean you have to be from a certain town? Do you have to be African-American? If that is what he means, I think he is simply buying-in to a tired cliché. Worse, he may be treading on prejudiced racial ground, just when he thinks he is being complimentary. [Read more →]

education

MartyDigs – SMS – Save My School!

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The end of the world was supposed to happen on Saturday, it didn’t, but rapture jokes replaced Charlie Sheen jokes in the social media stratosphere. I am glad to know we weren’t all sucked into the ground from an earthquake, and happy that Jesus is waiting to make his second coming. I kindly pray that he at least hold off until I break the high score on the Ms. Pac-Man machine at my local pizza shop. However, my community got some very bad news about the end of a very special place in many hearts- St. Mary’s school in Gloucester City, New Jersey is going to be shutting its doors after this school year. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Things are going downhill for Lance Armstrong

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The skies are looking ominous for cycling champion Lance Armstrong. One of the world’s best known athletes, Armstrong has long been dogged by accusations of doping during a career that produced seven victories in the Tour de France, cycling’s most prestigious event. He has firmly denied any wrongdoing, and has never failed a legitimate drug test. For some reason, I have always been inclined to believe his denials, even going as far as to defend him here when his disgraced former teammate Floyd Landis spoke out against him a year ago. Now, though, several more of Armstrong’s former teammates have claimed that he not only used performance-enhancing drugs, but that he encouraged them to do so as well. [Read more →]

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs you’re not going to graduate

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10. On your paper “What I Plan To Do After Graduation,” your teacher wrote “Guess again”

9. Your final paper in Music class was entitled “Why Justin Bieber Is the New Mozart”

8. The last time you picked up a book, it took you the better part of the afternoon to find all the Waldos

7. It’s bad enough you had an affair with a teacher, but the shop teacher?!

6. In Geography class, you identified the Ivory Coast as “two brands of soap”

5. In your high school yearbook, you were voted ‘Most Likely to Be Unable to Tell His Ass from a Hole in the Ground’

4. You were caught out on the football field, sticking a suppository into a hole in the ground

3. In Chemistry, the only elements you could name from the periodic table were Neon, Freon, Dione, and Leon

2. After years of instruction, you still talk into the wrong end of the telephone

1. The only history you learned all year long, you learned from Glenn Beck’s Classroom of the Air
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

politics & government

Newt’s eerily familiar rhetoric

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educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Pay attention: Standardized tests are destroying education, part 1 (of 874)

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I have this ongoing belief that most of the woes we deal with as a nation, as a species are because we just haven’t paid enough attention; I think, I guess in what is an unshakable optimism about human potential (and you may read this as “delusion”), that once we are shocked awake to stupidity and injustice, we will fix it. In that regard, I am convinced that if we stepped back and thought hard — with real clarity and attention — about the amount of time U.S. students now spend preparing for the filling in of little bubbles and then filling in those bubbles, overnight we would have a massive education revolution. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

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“Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”

Last Friday, I got on a plane in Minneapolis. It had been a very long day and I was extremely tired. I opened my new read, Graveminder by Melissa Marr, thinking I would read the first chapter while they finished boarding and got through the announcements. I planned to sleep the rest of the way home…187 pages later, we landed in Cleveland. I hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep. Instead, I was utterly absorbed in the book, wishing I had just another hour in the air so I could finish it. [Read more →]

language & grammar

Loose lips vs. clean hands

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Once upon a time in America there were posters that said “Loose Lips Sink Ships“. It was good advice for serious times. (According to some sources, posters actually said “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships“, but we remember the catchier, more concise version.)

These days we have different posters and different slogans. Pictured below is one posted in a men’s restroom where I work: “Clean Hands Save Lives!” [Read more →]

damned liesreligion & philosophy

RSVP to Doomsday

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Dear Harold,

Boy! I am certainly feeling a little silly this morning. It seems my faith in Woody Harrelson, the Mayan calendar and the world’s demise in 2012 has been exceedingly misplaced.  According to you, the end of the world actually begins this weekend. Saturday—right after the six o’clock news!

[Read more →]

art & entertainmentpolitics & government

Now I’m actually kinda looking forward to that whole “Governator” animated TV show and comic book thing

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“After leaving the governor’s office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago,” Schwarzenegger told the Times in a statement that also was sent to The Associated Press early Tuesday.

The above quote was copied and pasted from an AP story (via yahoo!) regarding a certain “event” that occurred over a decade ago.

That “event”?

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has acknowledged that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff, a revelation that apparently prompted wife Maria Shriver to leave the couple’s home before they announced their separation last week.

Oh, that event. When he “evented” a member of his household staff. What kind of man is Mr. Schwaretc, that the act of copulation is for him an “event”? That’s actually pretty impressive. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzofamily & parenting

The artistic instinct: Is something starting here?

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Many, many parents think their kids are geniuses. Some of them are right, some of them are dead-wrong and some of them work hard to deceive themselves into believing that Einstein gobbles Cinnamon Toast Crunch at their breakfast table: “I know he fails everything, but I believe this happens because he is not challenged enough. So he needs to be in all the top classes, even though he has a test average of 6.”  [Read more →]

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