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virtual children by Scott Warnock

Reading for the good life

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Summer has arrived, and many households have begun an annual, time-worn struggle: Parents trying to get kids to read. Despite (and perhaps because of) the vast numbers of lists available nowadays, summer is a time of often fierce reading wars, featuring lots of passive-aggressive behavior by both sides. The proliferation of screens hasn’t made things easier. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrecipes & food

Top ten things you don’t want to hear at Friday’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. “Who invited Eric Cantor? He’s gonna bring everybody down!”

8. “These burgers are actually made with Shmeat — you know, those shamburgers grown in a test tube.”

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

6. “Who stuck Yank My Doodle! It’s A Dandy! into the VCR?”

5. “Where does the burger begin and the charcoal leave off?”

4. “Call 911! Call 911!”

3. “Is Uncle Jerod’s drinking the lighter fluid again?”

2. “I think I just saw the potato salad move.”


Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

moviesreligion & philosophy

The long lost instruction book to the game of life

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When you’ve seen as many movies as I have, you begin to see that they all follow a certain pattern. This is true not just of movies, but of all great stories ranging from those found in classic mythology and literature to modern TV series and video games. Joseph Campbell called it the monomyth or hero’s journey. It’s basically a series of steps that the protagonist must go through during the course of his or her adventure. In addition to this, there are also a number of spiritual principles that often find their way into storytelling. By combining these principles with the monomyth, you can pretty much figure out where just about any story is headed. While this skill has proven to be incredibly annoying to my wife, it’s come in very handy for me. Not because I’ve continually annoyed her with my usually correct movie and TV show predictions, but because I’ve noticed that these storytelling rules apply to more than just fictitious stories. They also apply to real life. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The sports world loses Tony Gwynn to cancer

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Tony Gwynn died last week. For those who are not familiar with him, he was a baseball player who played for twenty seasons in the majors, all with the same team, which is something that is a rarity anymore. Fans of the San Diego Padres got to call him their own from 1982 through the 2001 season, and he was probably the best hitter I ever had the pleasure of watching. His death was caused by cancer of the salivary glands. He spent many years chewing tobacco, and it seems pretty clear that the habit led to his death. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmusic

Top ten songs in the new Rob Ford musical, premiering at Toronto’s Factory Theatre this September

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10. Baby Got Crack

9. I’m a Boozer

8. Michael Row the Bloat Ashore

7. Tequila Mockingbird

6. (All We Are Saying Is) Give Obese A Chance

5. The Plumpty Dance

4. He’s a (Dipso)Maniac

3. Wish I Could Fly Like Stuporman

2. Booze Sorry Now

1. Leader of the Crack

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: San Antonio Spurs win it all and do it the right way

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So much of sports is glitz. Highlights. SportsCenter. Kids grow up watching the “plays of the week” shows, and rarely do those shows focus on teamwork or fundamentals. A young football player wants to spike the ball over the crossbar. A young basketball player wants to dunk or shoot a three-pointer. Blocking and free throw shooting just don’t have the same appeal. The thing is that these things go a lot further toward winning championships than their eye-popping counterparts. Superstars can do great things for a team, especially when it comes to selling tickets and merchandise, but a cohesive team that works together is the smartest bet nearly every time. That point was proven this week by the San Antonio Spurs, who dominated the star-laden Miami Heat to win the NBA championship, the team’s fifth in the last sixteen years. [Read more →]

books & writingThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees there will be no more dream sequences in novels

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree No. 10PM: Dream sequences in novels must stop. We get it. We really do. Authors think they are, by giving us a glimpse into the character’s subconscious, increasing the depth of said character. But consider real life, writers. (More authors should, by the way.) Did you ever listen to someone recounting a dream? Did you LIKE it? Consider:

Oh, so I was in the mall but it was really my house and everyone behind the counters was a giant chicken with a PhD in Metaphysics (not sure how I knew that but, you know, in a dream you just know stuff)), but, this one chicken was actually my uncle, Fred, even though he looked like a chicken and he looked at me like he was disappointed when I told him I wanted a cheeseburger with no pickles and the next thing you know I was in a harem (but full of guys instead of women) somewhere in the Middle East, back in the 1800’s, but I was dressed in a baseball uniform except no one noticed and I, for some reason, really wanted to kill this blue camel that was tied to a palm tree next to a cobblestone road, except the cobblestones were actually hot dogs, but when I stabbed him my knife turned into a shoe and for some reason I was really mad — not because it wasn’t working to kill  the camel but because the laces were untied — isn’t that weird? — and….and…

So, no, you really don’t give us “character depth” with dream sequences. At best, you manage to bruise our brains with the mallet of heavy-handed symbolism while we try to scan the pages for where the actual story starts up again.

The Punishment: Those who ignore this decree will only be released from the Imperial Dungeons after writing a complete novel  with a quill; with water for ink and with old-fashioned “overhead projector” transparencies for paper.

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingtelevision

Top ten new shows on The Cat Network

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10. The King James Persian

9. Here and Meow

8. Paper Tiger

7. The Weakest Lynx

6. Garfield of Dreams

5. Cougar Town

4. Tails from the Crypt

3. L.A. Claw

2. Sex and the Kitty

1. Downton Tabby

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

What just might really happen at college for your kid

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We’re coming out of that fast-paced, manic season of high competition, painful watching-and-waiting, brightly-colored sweatshirts, and intense travel. No, I’m not marking the end of youth sports spring seasons — I’m talking about college admission season (well, really, this is just the end of high admissions season. Like youth sports, college admissions is a year-round and even life-round activity nowadays). Most students know now where they’re going to college. Parents have written placeholder checks. Car adornments have been purchased. Parties are planned. It’s exciting. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Another year without a Triple Crown winner

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The Belmont Stakes was run on Sunday in New York, 147 years after the first one. It was an eventful race, as California Chrome was attempting to become the first horse to win horse racing’s Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. He fell short, finishing in a dead heat for fourth, a couple of lengths back of winner Tonalist. California Chrome’s owner, Steve Coburn, was unhappy with the result and he made it known very publicly. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingeducation

Top ten least popular prom themes

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10. One Night on a Carnival Cruise!

9. Donald Sterling’s Plantation Hoedown

8. Journey to the Center of My Pants

7. Moon Over Abu Ghraib

6. You’d Be Lucky To Get Minimum Wage

5. Genital Herpes-palooza!

4. 21 DryHump Street

3. Crepe Paper, Bunting, and the Smell of Gym Socks!

2. A Midsummer Night’s Bris

1. The Future Is Ours! (One Percenters only)

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

family & parenting

Two Year Old Conversation

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That title may be misleading. I’m not talking about a conversation that has been going on for two years, but rather the conversation that occurs between myself and my two year old.

Most of the really intricate ones take place in the car or at night just before bed. In the car she asks lots of questions. Right before bed she often tells on herself, her brother, or her father. For instance, today she wanted me to know that daddy said the pizzeria at Great Explorations did not have real pizza that you could eat. She wanted me to say he was wrong, and that she should have been allowed to eat the pizza, which I’m pretty sure is made of felt. Had to side with Daddy on that one. [Read more →]

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Camden teacher reflects on getting fired

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On May 12, at the Camden City Board of Education meeting, school board members announced that 272 Camden City School District employees will lose their jobs at the end of this school year. Of that number, 206 are teachers. District administrators made the cuts, according to this Philadelphia Inquirer article, as “as part of a plan to bridge a $75 million revenue gap heading into the 2014-15 school year.” Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the fired teachers. Not surprisingly, she voiced frustration with the process and outcome, but she also provided some surprising views about the charter school environment in Camden and its role in the firing decisions. She asked to remain anonymous, as she is of course now seeking a new job, maybe even at one of these charters. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Chauvinism is alive and well at the French Open

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I often fool myself into believing that we have come so far as a society. It’s 2014, and the world is incredibly different than it was when I was a kid. Any time I think that the short-sightedness and prejudices that seemed so prevalent in those years are gone, some neanderthal opens his mouth and reminds me that there are still a lot of yahoos out there. This week, tennis player Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who is the 18th seed at the French Open, has had a bunch of success on the court, including a win over Roger Federer on Sunday to advance to the quarterfinals. His big performance was marred, though, by some things he said in a post-match interview on Friday. He stated that a career in tennis might not be a good idea for women because they need to worry about kids and family.

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Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingeducation

Top ten signs you’re not going to graduate from high school this year

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10. On your British Literature final, you put Pride and Prejudice was written by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling

9. The only times you’ve ever raised your hand in class involved needing to pee

8. Your son is in the same grade you are

7. On your Civics final, you kept spelling it “Cervix”

6. Every night of the week, you party harder than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

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

4. In your high school yearbook, you were voted ‘Most Likely to Be Unable to Distinguish between His Ass and a Hole in the Ground’

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

2. On a true/false test, you answered every question “C”

1. On your American Literature final, you put An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge was written by Chris Christie

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.