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
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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
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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
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advicedrugs & alcohol

A Cautionary Tale

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I do not regularly visit Starbucks. Not because I’m a coffee snob; on the contrary, I have yet to meet a cup of coffee I didn’t like. But for me, Starbucks is reserved for those mornings when, due to lack of sleep or an especially early meeting, I know that I’m going to need heavier artillery than what my office’s machine can offer me. This morning was one of those mornings. Eyes barely open, desperately needing caffeine, I entered, expecting nothing out of the ordinary. I was wrong, and I feel the need to warn the masses. So here we go:

If you go into Starbucks and order a cup of coffee, the good people of Starbucks may ask you if you want that cup of coffee “on the Clover.” After you’ve stifled the urge to laugh, just say no. Repeat: Just. Say. NO.

Sure, sure, they will promise you that the Clover process is like the pour-over method and that it will result in a much bolder, more rounded cup of coffee. Do not listen to them, people! Because, in fact, the Clover is not the pour-over method at all. In fact, the Clover is a machine. IN FACT, the Clover is very much akin to a Keurig machine: They grind the beans in front of you, pour said ground beans into a little hole at the top of the Clover/Keurig, hit a button, and watch the machine spit out your coffee.

(Again, important to note that I’m not a coffee snob. I own a Keurig machine and I rock that baby like a hurricane. I’ve also had several carefully crafted cups of pour-over coffee in my day–I did used to live in Brooklyn, after all–and, while I admit they were tasty, I never really saw the big deal.)

“But Meg,” you may say, “Surely having the beans ground fresh two seconds before the coffee is brewed does, in fact, result in a stronger, tastier cup of coffee.” YOU WOULD THINK THAT, WOULDN’T YOU?? It’s ok, I thought that, too. But no. It results in a cup of coffee that tastes exactly the same as the drip coffee sitting in the urns.

What the Clover does produce is a cup of coffee that takes a shockingly long time to make and costs an entire dollar more, a fact that the good people of Starbucks will not tell you when they try to push the Clover on you like so much crack.

It was not a completely disappointing visit, however. One thing you will gain from the Clover experience is the deep personal connections you will make with the other patrons of Starbucks waiting patiently…patiently…not so patiently…fidgety…very fidgety…”Um, do you have something there for Pam? Cause I’ve been waiting fifteen minutes. For coffee.” There’s a very special connection formed among people who realize at the exact same time that they’ve been bamboozled. We’ll always have that.

ends & oddfamily & parenting

Supermama

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So, I just made a list. I’m a pretty serious lister in my work life, not as much in my home life. This one is for my life life. Kind of a “get a life” list. It has six things on it now, but I might have forgotten something, I’ll let it sit on the desk a while before I decide it’s done, at least a couple of days. I mean, these things have been bouncing around in my head for a few years, what could a couple more days hurt?
I basically just made the list because I have so much rushing through my head all the time, so many things that I wonder about, maybe I could be doing this thing or maybe I should be doing that thing, that I feel totally overwhelmed to even spend a moment trying to figure it out.
I was sitting here trying to think of which girlfriends could talk me off this ledge, and then I realized that if I don’t understand it, how will they? Then I started crying, for Pete’s sake. List is for that, too.
I feel this pressure, probably mostly internal, but there are these Supermamas all around me. Some I work around or see around town, a lot that I find on the web at night when I’m trying to tune out my brain. (Like I used to do with books, sigh.) It almost feels like having kids spurs some women into action. Doesn’t it seem like that is the case?  She couldn’t find nontoxic detergent so she formulated one in her kitchen! She couldn’t find organic baby shampoo that her family could afford, so she started making it in her garage! She couldn’t find Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm locally, so she opened a shop! She wanted to do yoga with her kids, so she started a baby and me yoga studio! Oh, these mamas, they all have a thing, a niche, a purpose above and beyond the one that all mamas have (ya know, that bit about raising fairly well adjusted and productive members of society).
I seem to end up with a job, but not a thing, not a purpose, not an entrepreneurial calling, not a personal passion.
And, fuck, I WANT ONE. I have to have one. Maybe I’m not feeling any external pressure at all. Maybe that knot in my gut is just ENVY!
Before I had kids I always had a thing. You know, it’s that thing that is your real thing at parties. Someone asks you what you do. You tell them what pays you, then you say “but, right now I’m editing my second music video that I’ve also produced, and I’m loving it.”
How do these Supermamas have the energy to have a thing, kids, and a happy marriage? Or, even just a regular marriage? Is their house a wreck? Does anyone get fed/cradled/band-aided/helped with homework? Because, oh my God, I’m tired most days. I truly feel like I should be able to pull this off. But, if I’m already tired… Who adds to this amount of responsibility voluntarily? Oh yeah, those bitches over there. Fucking Pinterest. What it’s really here for, I just know it, is to show me how everyone else is doing this better. And cleverer. And craftier.
Meanwhile, I have a job that doesn’t suck at all, and is only 30 hours a week. I leave nearly every day in time to pick up my kids from school. (Now, this is new, maybe three months so far). I have a husband that does dishes and laundry (and has a thing, btw, more sighing). I have a decent support system of other moms and family. I have some people in my corner. (It just occurred to me that they are probably wondering what happened to my thing, too. Bah ha ha!) So, again, I really should be able to pull this off. Whatever this is.
I’ve got six ideas.
I’ll either put them on tiny slips and pull one out of a hat, or I’ll torture my friends by discussing it with them until they pick one for me out of sheer exhaustion, or maybe I’ll make a pros and cons poster, or use 3×5 cards.
It’s also very possible that I will just go back to what I’ve been doing, without a thing, which is still a lot. Just not enough somehow.

fashion & clothingThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that men must, henceforth, obtain a license in order to go shirtless

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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 55 D: It’s simple, really. The Emperor has appointed a committee of ten women: the “Imperial Council for Shirtlessness.” They will handle any requests for no-shirt licenses. Suppliants will appear before the panel and they will remove their shirts. The women will vote, giving the petitioner a score from 1 through 10. Any man given an average score lower than a 3 will be denied a license to appear in public without a shirt on, for any reason, hot weather notwithstanding. There are no exceptions, plea bargains or special considerations. If ten women don’t want to see you without a shirt on, you shouldn’t be seen without a shirt on. Period. The Emperor does this in consideration for the general aesthetics of the Empire. It should be a shining example of joyous beauty, not a funhouse full of wobbling man-boobs and oozing back fat.

The Punishment: Those who appear in public shirtless without a license will be tattooed, across the chest, with the phrase: “My Mom is Hot.” That oughta do it.

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning. If you are lucky.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Was relationship pressure too much for Rory McIlroy?

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Rory McIlroy made news in a couple of different ways this week. First, he broke up with his longtime girlfriend and recent fiancé, tennis star Carolyn Wozniacki. He followed that up by winning the BMW PGA Championship this weekend. Whether or not these events were related has been quite the topic of conversation. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingon the law

Top ten excuses of Lonnie Hutton, a 49-year-old Murfreesboro, Tennessee man who was arrested for trying to have sex with an ATM machine

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10. “Why not have sex with a cash machine? I mean, if it’s good enough for Donald Sterling’s girlfriend…”

9. “I thought it was a sperm bank.”

8. “I couldn’t control myself. The ATM was shakin’ its money maker.”
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bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Michael Sam reality show won’t happen

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Major news was made recently when Michael Sam, an openly gay man, was selected in the NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. I did not write a lot about that event because I had discussed this subject in this space several times in the past, and I didn’t want to keep treading the same ground. It really is a pretty big deal, as far as equality in sports goes, though, and I was thrilled that it happened. Still, as a late pick, Sam has an uphill climb to actually make the team and play in the league. He almost shot himself in the foot this week before ever suiting up for his new team, though, when it was announced that the Oprah Winfrey Network was about to film a documentary show about him and his quest to be a professional football player, following him throughout the camps and team activities. Ugh.

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adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs your house needs a spring cleaning

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10. Your dust bunnies are breeding like rabbits

9. The Health Department has you on speed dial

8. Your Christmas tree is left over from the President Bush years – the first President Bush
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virtual children by Scott Warnock

Games people (or stupid kids) play

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Like any good parent in 2014, I have encouraged my kids to make up their own games. I want them to devise their own stories. I want them to escape the prescriptive screen narratives that increasingly make up the bulk of their play reality. However, I ruined it all when I unfortunately disclosed some of the games my friends and I once played. Let’s just say times may not have changed, but something’s certainly different about how my kids are proceeding along. [Read more →]

ends & oddThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that twerking will stop

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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. 4440: The way the Emperor sees it (i.e. the way you will also see it), those who twerk and those who enjoy the sight of twerking are sub-standard human beings. They are devoid of any hint of subtlety or of any inkling as to the meaning of true sensuality. The Empire can only be improved by their absence. The Emperor’s world is drowning in a flood of sexual literality and in-your-fasceness. Coquettish innuendo has given way to boring, ubiquitous, cookie-cutter shamelessness.

The Punishment: Twerkers and, if you will (let’s face it: even if you won’t), “twerkees,” will be gathered up by the Imperial Dance Police and taken to what we like to call the “Dungeon Twerk-off.” The judges: famished Imperial lions. After all, if people want to be seen as meat, why should we stop them?

Now, go forth and obey.

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

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The Johnny Manziel Show…I mean…the NFL Draft

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This past weekend was the NFL Draft. Somehow, this has become a big-time television show with very large ratings, which is really amazing if you consider what they are actually broadcasting. Part of how the league and the network (ESPN) build interest in this event is by picking a guy and focusing on him to a truly bizarre extent in the weeks leading up to the draft, and then keeping a camera pointed at him almost exclusively until he is drafted. This year’s target was Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s top ten campaign slogans

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10. Rob Ford: A Crack Politician If Ever There Was One!

9. The Mayor Who Just Won’t Quit!

8. My First Term Doesn’t Count! I Was In a Drunken Stupor!
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sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Marathon

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Last weekend I completed the NJ Marathon. People want to know how it was, and I feel like I gotta tell it straight: It was awful. It was a grueling, physically brutal experience, and the physical part was nothing compared with the mental torment which itself paled in comparison with the emotional torture. It was bad. When I got home, stunned and wounded, my youngest, the little guy, asked me, “Were you happy when you crossed the finish line?” My answer?: “No.” I wasn’t. But now, after a recalibrating week, I’m finding some peace and a few lessons. [Read more →]