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art & entertainment

A critic remembered

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Recently I checked my voicemail and discovered a message from the NYPD, which is never a good sign. (I initially thought it was related to an incident when two undercover officers confronted me for impulsively slapping a subway train that had just closed its doors; long story short: I learned a valuable lesson about our surprisingly fragile public transport system.) It was worse than expected: my friend Donald Lyons had died. Trying to track down any next of kin, the officer was phoning everyone in Donald’s address book. I called the officer back and discovered Donald had passed after some years of health problems, in apparently as painless a manner as such things go. [Read more →]

family & parenting

I love you, but I don’t need to know your status every second

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I enjoy my kids a lot, and I try to express interest in all of their goings-on. I want to know what they’re up to. I like to hear about what happened in school and who likes who and who cheated in kickball and the dead beetle they saw this morning. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads: A Lonely Death by Charles Todd

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It’s always tough to come into a series of books in the middle. I imagine it’s hard for an author, as well — to make sure that new readers have enough information to understand the story, without boring your longtime readers.  A Lonely Deathby Charles Todd does an excellent job of involving you in the ongoing story. It made me want to seek out the rest of the series and add it to my TBR list.

A Lonely Death is part of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series. Rutledge is a war veteran with a ride-along: he has the voice of one of his soldiers, Hamish. As I’m new to the series, it took me a bit to sort out that Rutledge feels a lot of guilt over Hamish’s death and the voice of his old comrade nags at him, chastises him, scolds him…and occasionally gives him clues. [Read more →]

Michael Cade's audio files

Audio files: LEATHERBOY

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In my time on Earth I’ve had some silly, stupid encounters with rock stars.

Backstage at a Triumph concert in the 1980s, I witnessed Yngwie Malmsteen stick his tongue down the throat of an appreciative female fan.* During that same backstage experience, Triumph’s Mike Levine shooed me away as I tried to get an autograph.

I got to attend several of these events because the dad of my best friend worked for a local concert promoter. For a few nights each year, half-deaf pal Jesse G and I rocked out at the Brown County Arena. Denim and leather.

Lovin’ every minute of it.

TRIUMPH

[Read more →]

family & parentingpolitics & government

Caveman editorial: Stop “a wheel” before make rolling move over children innocence

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In addition to being an avid runner and a foodie, I spend a lot of my free time as an amateur archeologist. On a recent dig, I came across what is perhaps my most amazing find since the Neanderthal enemata: An ancient and very primitive type of “newspaper,” carved on a large piece of flat stone.

The stone contained a number of interesting “stories,” which I was able to translate due to my also being a skilled linguist well-versed in ancient languages. What follows is an item that I would classify as a very early “editorial.” As you’ll see, the caveman days weren’t as carefree and easy as we’ve been led to believe. In fact, there were many controversies raging:

Stop “a wheel” before make rolling move over children innocence

Telling by Foo Thik

Foo Thik hear about new create thing come from Tril Pop. Tril Pop create thing that shape in sort of circle way, with hole in middle. Make what call rolling move. Tril Pop call create thing a “wheel.”

Foo Thik not like this new thing call “a wheel.” Foo Thik worry about what “a wheel” do to our children. “A wheel” make caveman children less innocent. [Read more →]

adviceends & odd

How I almost went to jail for five years

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Recently a friend of mine decided to sell the antique Indian headdress she kept in a Perspex box in her house. I was baffled by this decision as it was a thing of great beauty and she did not need the cash. But she had made up her mind: she was moving house and the headdress had to go.

I asked how she had acquired it in the first place:

“My grandparents picked it up at a train station in the 1930s,” she said. “They used to travel around the South West and the Indians would come to the platforms to sell things. So they bought the headdress. They probably didn’t pay much for it, either.”

It was, apparently, a Navajo war bonnet, a headdress of great symbolic power. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

Lounge lizards, literati and napkin scrawlers: The irrelevance of artistic venue

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Once, I had a music teacher.  I will not name him, but, let it suffice to say that he disliked me. There are a few good reasons for this. The first is that when he came, during my eighth grade year, to “recruit” me to play trumpet in the high school band, I asked if I could just be in the “stage band” instead of marching. He said no; so, so did I, informing him that I refused to walk around wearing those ridiculous outfits.  Then, when I had him as a teacher in high school in music theory, I would often enrage him by changing his questions which, in my teenaged opinion, often amounted to strictly academic musical possibilities, not ones which would appear in “real” music. [Read more →]

travel & foreign lands

Qatar vs. Canada: a comparison of Toronto and Doha

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Diversity pops up where you least expect it. For instance, Doha, Qatar and Toronto, Canada, two places I visited recently and which at first glance are complete opposites, then upon closer examination shockingly similar, before upon still further review become utterly dissimilar again. (I stopped comparing at this point – you’re welcome to dig deeper on your own time.) I had always pictured Qatar possessing an almost entirely Arab population and Toronto being filled with white folk in Maple Leafs gear. Both communities have more than their fair share of these demographics, but it’s only a small slice of the social fabric. Indeed, Qatar may be the most diverse place I’ve visited outside of Epcot Center, as I encountered Europeans, Asians, Africans, etc. There is a reason for this: Qatar has massive oil and gas reserves and as a result – follow me here – lots of money. [Read more →]

art & entertainment

MartyDigs: Bikin’ It (Commuter Blues Revisted)

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My already annoying/difficult/always-changing commute to work has been made even more expensive/time consuming/aggravating. The Delaware River Port Authority has jacked up the price of toll to five bucks, and also raised the price of taking the PATCO/High Speed Line.  Having to pay more money to go to work is a proverbial slap in the face – this is money I could be spending on my son Jack, or beer! As I have discussed in a past blog, my commute to work in the most difficult 10 miles you could imagine. So I have decided I may start bicycling to work to give the Delaware River Port Authority a stubby, pinkish, Irish middle finger. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Man dies trying to catch a ball at Texas Rangers game

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There is nothing quite like attending a professional sporting event. The live experience brings something that you just can’t get on television. I attribute much of that to the feeling you get from being a part of the crowd, a collective excitement that magnifies the impact of any positive or negative occurrence in the game. Baseball, in particular, takes on a whole different dimension when you’re watching it in person. This week was a tough one for baseball fans, though. First, three fans were injured in San Francisco on Tuesday when a bat, formerly held by Pablo Sandoval of the visiting San Diego Padres, went flying into the stands, hitting three people, one of whom required hospitalization. That was nothing to what happened on Thursday in Arlington, Texas, though. A man fell to his death when reaching for a ball tossed to him by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. [Read more →]

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs your home is way past due a spring cleaning

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10. The rats have gnawed through your garden hose, making it impossible to hose down the hallway

9. Your living room’s leaf pile dates from three autumns ago

8. The producers of Hoarders thought your place was just a little too much

7. Your heating vents are clogged with Frito crumbs

6. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t come inside

5. The Health Department has you on speed dial

4. When you go in the kitchen, your spouse uses Raid to provide cover fire

3. You have so many dust bunnies, the legs of your bed no longer touch the floor

2. You’ve misplaced two of your children

1. Your refrigerator has a wet hacking cough
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

on the lawtrusted media & news

Proposed “Caylee’s Law” does not go nearly far enough in protecting children

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If you were not stunned by the verdict in the Casey Anthony case, then you must have a heart of stone, if indeed you have a heart at all. When Casey Anthony was found to be “innocent” of the “crime” of “murdering her own daughter,” I myself was stunned. How could such a terrible crime be allowed to go unpunished?, I thought to myself. The fact that I didn’t do anything about it other than give it a few minutes’ thought and then move on with my life only proves how callous I have become, in the face of injustice and the suffering of others.

But one woman from Oklahoma saw that verdict and actually did something about it, drafting an online petition to encourage “a new federal law created called Caylee’s Law that will make it a federal offense for a parent or guardian to not notify law enforcement of a child going missing in a timely manner.” Here is some of the powerful prose of the proposed law:

I’m writing to propose that a new law be put into effect making it a felony for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to not notify law enforcement of the death of their child, accidental or otherwise, within 1 hour of said death being discovered. This way there will be no more cases like Casey Anthony’s in the courts, and no more innocent children will have to go without justice.

Also, make it a felony for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to not notify law enforcement of the disappearance of a child within 24 hours, so proper steps can be taken to find that child before it’s too late.

[Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

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Secret Daughter should really get 2 reviews.

There is a part of me that really enjoyed this book. It’s well-written, it paints very vivid pictures of India, and you are definitely drawn into the story and the characters. You are honestly worried for Kavita’s future. It’s easy to get caught up in Somer and Krishnan’s romance. You want Somer and her daughter to really form a bond. You can sense the clear and immediate dangers in the slums of Mumbai, and picture the lovely, well-decorated apartment, staffed with servants and scented with wonderful, spicy food. Gowda is wonderfully descriptive. That’s one face of the book.

The second face of the book nagged at me, irritated me to no end. It starts with the diagnosis from Somer’s doctor:

“By the time she reaches the age of thirty-two, she will no longer have the ability to bear children, the one thing that defines her as a woman. What will I be then?

What?!? The only thing that makes her a woman is her ability to have babies? [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzomusic

Ditch the Shuffle: Albums in the iPod age

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I’ve been going back in time. As I have said before, I’m a real believer in the potential of pop music, though I’m a lover of modern orchestral music and classical. I think pop is the music with the most creative potential, even if it is the area in which the least creative potential is realized, as things stand. Anyway, I have been going back in time to check out the the particular tunes of the pop greats that we don’t usually hear.

My latest purchase is Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection. (It’s really, really good. But this isn’t a music review. I hate music reviews.) [Read more →]

that's what he said, by Frank Wilson

Shakespeare’s rich ambiguity

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Recently, I watched a DVD of Julie Taymor’s film version of The Tempest, in which Prospero is renamed Prospera and is played by Helen Mirren. I rather liked it. The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play, and I am always moved to tears by those great lines toward the end: [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Dad costs his football-star son his life

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I was going to start this week’s column by saying that I have as much testosterone as the next guy, but that may not be true. I probably have an average amount, which means that roughly half the population of men has a higher reading than I do, if someone were measuring. Today, my wife and I went to see Miss Saigon, a musical that I have seen before and for which I have a great fondness. Now there are some that would say that the previous sentence proves that any reading of my manliness that showed a level above minimal was invalid, but that’s a discussion for another time. I bring this up because sitting behind me was a gentleman, a term I use loosely, that not only did not understand that the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia was not his own living room, but that also took offense to my request, made quite respectfully, I might add, that he please be quiet. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentpolitics & government

Tom Petty helps Michele Bachmann get elected president of the United States of America

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When I heard that Tom Petty wanted Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to stop using one of his songs at campaign rallies, my first thought was, “Didn’t former Democrat presidential nominee and all-around sleazy guy John Edwards use a Tom Petty song at his campaign rallies?”

Yes, he did.

Edwards speeches were filled with references to fighting corporations and American revolutionaries, often urging his listeners to rise up against special interests. Through 2007 and 2008, Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” could be heard in a repertoire of Edwards campaign songs that fit his themes and underlined his message. In gearing up for the New Hampshire primary in August 2007, for example, Edwards spoke in the town of Hookset. After the event, the campaign played “I Won’t Back Down” as Edwards shook hands of supporters on the way to boarding his “Fighting for One America” campaign bus.

If you follow the link above, you will also see that Petty actually performed the song “I Won’t Back Down” for Al Gore and his supporters, after Mr. Gore “backed down” from the 2000 presidential race. It was also used by former New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer, who has now fallen so low that he hosts a nightly program on CNN.

Anyway, having thus refreshed my memory, a second question naturally came to mind: “Why would TEA Party stalwart Michele Bachmann want to associate herself with Al Gore, Eliot Spitzer, and John Edwards in the minds of voters?” I tell you honestly, I will not vote for anyone who is in any way, even remotely associated with those people. In fact, I will not associate with anyone who has voted for any of those people, or who would even consider voting for any of those people. I would not associate with anyone who would even think of those people. If I could, I would stop associating with myself, because I actually thought about those people. Why can’t I go into a fugue state or something? I think it would be beneficial in a lot of ways. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten things you don’t want to hear at today’s Fourth of July barbecue

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10. “I knew it was a bad idea to leave the fireworks in the trunk on a day this hot!”

9. “That’s not mayonnaise; you’re standing under a tree.”

8. “I think Grandma lost her dentures in the coleslaw again.”

7. “I told Phil a thousand times: either lose some weight or don’t stand directly over the septic tank.”

6. “Weird Uncle Frank wants to play his DVD that certainly sounds patriotic; it’s called The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming!

5. “Why does my hot dog have an engagement ring on it?”

4. “Which is the burger and which is the charcoal?”

3. “I hope nobody minds, but today’s barbecue is completely vegan.”

2. “To give it that little something extra, I put lighter fluid in the punch.”

1. “It’s deer meat! Couldn’t have been in the road more than a day or two.”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

terror & war

You are now under arrest!

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It’s 4th of July weekend and I have already seen and heard a fair share of patriotic television production. In the intellectual osmosis that is channel changing, I somehow subconsciously absorbed the Marine Hymn. I found myself humming it throughout most of the day. I don’t know the words really, but I do know the first two verses.

“From the Halls of Montezuma,”
“To the shores of Tripoli.”

I never though much about the words – or the song really – but the reference to Tripoli got me thinking that, just like 200 years ago in the Barbary Wars, we are in a fight in North Africa. This time the only pirate is Muammar Gaddafi, and as of this past week he is figuratively on the lam. [Read more →]

technologyvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Road madness: Irresponsible NJ family drives 2,000+ miles without TV, DVDs

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(From wire reports)

RIVERTON, NJ–Annoyed authorities have confirmed that a NJ family, in defiance of modern rules of common sense and maybe some real rules as well, took their three children on a driving vacation of 2,137 miles without an in-car DVD player or TV. [Read more →]

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