Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingbooks & writing

Top ten new books by the publishers of the children’s book My Parents Open Carry

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10. The Cat With The Gat

9. Duck Duck Goose…No Duck!!

8. Goodnight Forever, Moon

7. Charlie and the Munitions Factory

6. The Lion, the Witch, and the War Cannon

5. Where the Wild Things Were

4. Cloudy with a Chance of Shrapnel

3. One Fish Two Fish Dead Fish Stew Fish

2. Bazooka Joe

1. The Wizard of Uzi
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Tampa Bay manager doesn’t really understand instant replay

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Most of the big sports now have some degree of instant replay being used in an effort to get more calls correct. In order to avoid endless games, the big sports have implemented a challenge system, where coaches can officially question calls and ask for a review. I see this as great progress in sports, as I hate to see games turn on incorrect rulings. Some of the rules about how the challenges can be used, though, make me wonder if the goal is really to get things right or if it’s just to appease the fans a little bit. A good example of this happened in the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

[Read more →]

language & grammarThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees an end to the phrase “at the end of the day”

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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. 12PM: National Public Radio is a good news source; it is a fine explorer of American culture, but it has created its own little inbred linguistic world full of phrases and speech patterns that the Emperor can stand no more. We just realized that a large portion of our linguistic decrees have come from NPR, over the span of this column, which is usually written after a car ride into the Imperial Palace Offices, with the radio on. The NPR offenses?  The ubiquitous use of “srtiv” for “sort of” (and the use of “sort of,” at all, where the speaker is really trying to say “exactly”); the use of “So…” in response to a question, as if the speaker is trying to imply it is about time the interviewer shut up and allowed him to talk; the use of the phrase “on the ground,” stolen from the military, to mean “in the middle of the issue;” etc… (Check the Imperial archives for any number of examples.) Now, we must speak out against “at the end of the day.” See it work in this annoying, NPR-phrase-laden sentence: “So, at the end of the day, it’s about starting a conversation…” Why does everyone want to start a conversation at the end of the day? What’s wrong with a nice morning chat? And what do you mean, “it’s about”? What’s about what? Do you mean “we need to”? And while everyone is “having conversations,” who is out there actually trying to change things for the better? (George Carlin, the top-secret Emperor of the past [yes, we succeeded him] is rolling over in his grave. )

The Punishment: Any-freaking-hoo, over-users of the phrase “at the end of the day” will be “put to bed”. “Tucked-in,” as it were, by a muscular fellow in a black hood. (And we ain’t talkin’ no memory foam comfy bed, neither; though, the stretching motion of said bed could, conceivably, fix a back problem or two.)

Now, go forth and obey.

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

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Instant gratification and youth sports

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Once us humans reach a certain age, a gene activates that triggers an unwavering belief that our generation is vastly superior to the one currently coming to bloom. With unflinching righteousness, we believe that back in our day, things were more character-forming. All schools were farther away from all homes. There were weird places that were always uphill. Roads were bumpier. Things weighed more. Life was tougher. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingenvironment & nature

Top ten answers to the question “How hot is it?”

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10. “It’s so hot, my tongue got a sunburn telling somebody how hot it was.”

9. “It’s so hot, Optimus Prime decided to transform into an air conditioner.”

8. “It’s so hot, I have a brand on my stomach shaped like a seat belt.”

7. “It’s so hot, Hillary Clinton has been semi-campaigning in her pantsuit…without the pants.”

6. “It’s so hot, Donald Sterling attended an NAACP meeting just for the chilly reception.”

5. “It’s so hot, this morning I saw a bum with a sign that read ‘Will Work For Shade’.”

4. “It’s so hot, I saw a fire hydrant chasing down a dog.”

3. “It’s so hot, squirrels are pouring Gatorade on their nuts.”

2. “It’s so hot, I set my house on fire, just to cool it off.”

1. “It’s so hot, in Colorado and Washington, joints are lighting themselves.”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

books & writing

Lisa reads FaceOff, edited by David Baldacci

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Now, this is a book that had me hooked from the very first pitch!

Ever wonder who would win in a fight if the most popular thriller characters were paired against their most worthy opponents? Would you bet on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher or Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller, or even Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie over Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch?

Oh yeah! If you love your detectives the way I do, I know that you have daydreamed about pairing them up. FaceOff is less about these characters fighting it out, it’s more about them teaming up and working together. And that is worth the price of admission.

It certainly says something about the quality of work that Simon & Schuster puts out that they have so many great characters to pair up. And I will warn you, Readers: you are going to get hooked on new series. You might as well know that going in. Unless you have a lot more spare time than I do, there are going to be characters here that are unfamiliar to you, and I guarantee these stories are going to make you want to run right out and pick up a few of their adventures. (You know the great thing about a Kindle Fire? No matter how many books you put on it, it never gets any heavier.) Smart thinking, S&S.

Now, the stories! I don’t even know where to begin. The weirdest and creepiest of the bunch was Special Agent Pendergast (Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child) vs. Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy (R.L. Stine) – it sounds bizarre, but it works. Now, I am not a Pendergast fan – on paper, it seems like the sort of thing I should love, but I don’t) and I haven’t read any of Slappy’s…adventures, but that didn’t matter. The story is great and I can’t think of a better way to pair up this odd couple.

The first of my absolute favorites was Lincoln Rhyme (Jeffery Deaver) vs. Lucas Davenport (John Sanford). I have many of the Prey novels (several of them autographed, after meeting Sanford several years ago at a book signing) and I’ve read several of the Lincoln Rhyme novels, so I knew this was going to be good. The characters are so different and they butt heads ion such interesting ways. In addition, you’ve got their trusty sidekicks – Amelia Sachs and Lily Rothenburg – to spice things up. Really fabulous – I would love a full-length novel of this pairing!

But really: Nick Heller (Joseph Finder) and Jack Reacher (Lee Child). I can’t say “versus” there, because they really end up working together. I’m familiar with Jack Reacher, read a few of the books, and I’ve already ordered a couple of Heller novels. This one was so much fun – from the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, to the fact that some poor Boston accountant got more help, for free, than he could have possibly paid for and he didn’t even know it! Great, great story.

So, thanks to my friends at Simon & Schuster and Meryl L. Moss Media Relations for providing this free Advanced Reader Copy of FaceOff. The rest of you – hit your local bookstores and libraries for it. And start saving your pennies, because I guarantee this book will spawn a shopping spree!

faceoff

 

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports is on vacation

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It’s just a vacation time of year, I guess.  If it helps tide you over, feel free to make up some Bad Sports stories and put them in the comments.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrecipes & food

Top ten suggested names for Anthony Weiner’s new restaurant

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10. Wienerschnitzel

9. Chuck E. Sleaze’s

8. Red Throbbin’

7. Long Schlong Silver’s

6. Horny & Hardon

5. P. F. Wang’s

4. Dick-fil-A

3. Rock Hard Cafe

2. Jock full o’Nuts

1. Anthony’s Sex-Text Tex-Mex

 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

books & writing

Lisa reads “We’re All Infected: Essays on AMC’s the Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human”

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I am a huge Walking Dead fan and I was really looking to reading the essays in We’re All Infected: Essays on AMC’s the Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human. I have spent hours debating with friends, discussing the meaning of key points on the show, discussing what zombies have to say about our culture, what causes some supernatural entity – whether it’s zombies or vampires or werewolves – to become suddenly in vogue. Lots of great topics there and I was hoping for a great series of interesting essays. This is a dense bit of reading. It’s less like reading an essay and more like reading someone’s dissertation. I knew as soon as I started coming across passages like this one in the second essay, “Burying the Living with the Dead: Security, Survival and the Sanction of Violence” by Steven Pokornowski, that this would not be easy to plow through:

Second, I propose that a multidisciplinary perspective informed by biopolitical, posthumanist, and critical race theories can offer a way to resist this representational problematic at the levels of both consumption and production – can offer, in fact, a political and ethical critique that takes into account the role of the social constructions of humanity and race in maintaining sovereignty.

I don’t even know what that means, and it certainly doesn’t sound like the sort of fun and engaging discussion I was looking for.

There are a couple of high points. I particularly enjoyed P. Ivan Young’s essay, “Walking Tall or Walking Dead? The American Cowboy in the Zombie Apocalypse.” It goes into great detail comparing the tv show “The Walking Dead” to the 1953 film, Shane. I’ve never seen the film, but Young calls out instance after instance where the two Shanes (and Rick, as well) face similar circumstances and react in similar ways. There are too many similarities to be simple coincidence.

I also enjoyed “Zombie Time: Temporality and Living Death” by Gwyneth Peaty. It discusses the concept of time in the series – the ways in which time seems to have stopped, and just how important it is for civilized people to have a sense to time, to feel like they are moving forward. Various points in the series – Andrea planning to celebrate her sister’s birthday, the watch that Hershel gives to Glenn (and its later appearance in the opening montage), the big digital countdown clock at the CDC – all talk in their own way about the effect of time on the living characters. For the walkers, there is no time. Their death, which should mark the end of time for them, instead marks just a change of form. Although their time should be up, they keep on going, with no end in sight.

I have to say that overall, this was a disappointment. Someone with a more scholarly bent might appreciate it more, but I found most of the essays a real slog. There are many great ideas in this series to discuss and I have read some terrific articles on the various themes of the zombie apocalypse, but these are so weighted down with jargon and obscure references (do I think it is significant that Dale drove a Winnebago and Shane drove a Jeep Cherokee, both cars named after Indian tribes that are not native to the region? No, I do not) that I couldn’t really enjoy them.

My copy of We’re All Infected: Essays on AMC’s the Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human, edited by Dawn Keetley, was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

infected

 

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Tony Stewart involved in a fatal accident at a dirt track

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NASCAR drivers are a hot-headed bunch. They drive around in these little compartments at very high speeds for hours on end, their cars banging into other cars and getting cut off and messed with constantly. I am amazed at how often I see these guys, after they have been wrecked, run out on the track toward the car that they feel wronged them, gesturing and yelling and sometimes throwing things. I have always felt that this was a rather dangerous thing to be doing. On Saturday night at a dirt track in upstate New York, my fear that someone would get killed doing this became reality. [Read more →]

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Wiffleball for life

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So the 28th Ralston Cup Invitational Wiffleball Tournament took place this weekend. For 28 years, we have held a wiffleball tournament down in my old stomping grounds in Berlin, NJ. It’s a silly day filled with silly people doing silly things. It’s just wiffleball. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

After the botched lethal injection in Arizona, top ten better ways to execute a condemned man

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10. Check him into a VA hospital

9. Put him in a time machine, and let Joseph Gordon-Levitt deal with him at the other end

8. Give him an all-expenses-paid vacation to the Gaza Strip

7. Have Paula Deen prepare his last meal

6. Send him to Atlanta, and make one of those Ebola doctors his roomie

5. Book him a flight on Malaysia Airlines

4. Hand him the keys to a General Motors car

3. Send him to Texas, where they execute so many inmates, they’ve installed electric bleachers

2. Force him to watch the Sarah Palin Channel 24/7

1. Have him stand between Chris Christie and an all-you-can-eat buffet
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

diatribesterror & war

And for What? Reflections on the First World War

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The centennial of the outbreak of World War I, which began a century ago this month, has excited the usual sort of checkbox-ticking media comment. Here’s some further perspective: more than 15 million people died in the conflict, including some 8.5 million soldiers and 7 million civilians. Millions of widows, orphans and single women were left behind.

[Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads The Kill Call by Stephen Booth

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The Kill Call by Stephen Booth is the first book I’ve read in the Cooper and Fry series. I’m not sure this is a series I’ll keep reading, for reasons I’ll get to later, but it’s a pretty good mystery.  The story starts on a rainy moor – Sean has come up to one of his favorite quiet, deserted spot, where he goes when he needs to get away from everything. Today, something feels different. There’s a smell. And a corpse.

It’s an interesting mystery, with a couple of storylines to follow, and quite British, tied up in the odd world of fox hunting. The body was discovered during the annual Eden Valley Hunt, which is hotly protested by animal rights activists. The area was crowded with hunters and the folks who handle the horses, as well as the protesters (referred to as “sabs” or saboteurs by the police) and a host of police officers there to keep them from killing each other. The “kill call” of the title refers to the long, wavering notes on the horn that the hunters blow to call in the hounds to kill the fox. Only in this case, it wasn’t a fox.

Detective Constable Diane Fry is in charge of the case and totally out of her depth, although she would never admit it. She’s a city girl in a country police district and she has tremendous disdain for the citizens there. She quite clearly turns up her nose at the country life – from the quiet towns to the smell of horses in the barn. She’s supposed to be a great detective, but she can’t seem to see anything beyond her own nose. Even when she recognizes that she is putting people off, she can’t seem to change it. She clearly sees Detective Constable Ben Cooper as a rival, even though he not only helps with the case but tries to offer some personal support. She is so unlikable in this that I can’t see wanting to continue with the series. I may have missed some of her character’s development, and I know that some people enjoy a story with unlikable characters, but that really isn’t for me. If someone has read more of these, I would love to hear about them.

Even with those caveats, it was quite a good read. I enjoyed the various twists and turns of the story, I find Ben Cooper a very interesting character, and I am curious about what happens to Diane Fry – she seems to be at a turning point, trying to get her career back on track and resolve some personal issues. I’m just not sure that I am curious enough to put up with more of her abrasive behavior.

My copy of The Kill Call was a digital ARC provided free of charge.

kill call

 

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Football is back!

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There are a lot of great times of year, spread out all over the calendar. A lot of people love December because of the holidays. The beginning of summer is hugely popular, especially among kids (and teachers). Spring, when it starts to get warm and baseball gets rolling, is a good one too. For me, though, there is nothing quite like the beginning of football season. The festivities officially kicked off this past week.

[Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten new shows on the Sarah Palin Channel

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10. Whose Lie Is It Anyway?

9. B.J. and the Mama Grizzly

8. Minimal Minds
[Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) by Ken Sharp

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I was a Kiss fan as a teenager, so I was really looking forward to reading Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975). Author Ken Sharpe has pulled together an amazing series of interviews with former band members, roadies, industry and media people. In addition, there are a host of more recognizable names: Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Eric Bloom (Blue Oyster Cult), Neal Schon (Journey), Bob Seger, and Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny, Marky and Tommy Ramone. There are a lot of great quotes and interviews in the book – perhaps too many.

There are a number of things about this book that I loved. First, the interviews – it was fascinating to read the quotes from other musicians, people that liked Kiss and those who didn’t, bands who were more popular and those who were just starting out. Hearing what these bands had to say about Kiss, good and bad, gives you some context. Kiss was doing something very new and different, with the makeup and the theatrics. Some of their contemporaries embraced it, while others hated it; some were amused and others may have been a little jealous. But hearing them talk about the band – particularly those who said it was a gimmick and they would never make it – is definitely interesting.

The interviews with friends and industry people are a real look at what goes into launching a band. How difficult it is to get a label’s attention and then, once you have it, how to keep it. Getting signed certainly doesn’t guarantee success, and it is clear from each section of the book that if Kiss hadn’t had a few people who really believed in them, they’d have been doomed. Neil Bogart (Casablanca Records) and Bill Aucoin (their manager) did everything from manage, produce and promote the band to paying for their tours on their personal credit cards. Considering that they didn’t get a lot of radio airplay and they often had difficulty getting signed on as an opening act, they would never have gotten off the ground without their unflagging support.

It’s also clear that Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons shared a dream for their band and were willing to work very hard to make it  reality. There is a sort of single-minded devotion to the band and a refusal to believe that they would be anything other than huge stars that is, by turns, endearing and annoying.

For me, the downside of Nothin’ to Lose is that it sometimes got a little tedious. There is a definite “us against the world” vibe to the book, and it can get a little tiresome. Perhaps it’s accurate – perhaps there really were almost no supporters for the band in the early days – but it is reiterated so often that it seems like overkill.

I was also disappointed that the book really glosses over the departures of Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. I was interested in reading about that, perhaps even getting some of the story right from the departed band members (a timely topic, considering the controversy surrounding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions). Unfortunately, their departures are covered only briefly on the last two pages of the book. Still, the book is an amazing look at a young band, on its way to stardom and all the ups and downs of that journey. There are some great stories here for anyone who was a member of the Kiss Army, and anyone interested in a slice of rock and roll history.

My copy of Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

kiss

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: I guess the NFL is okay with domestic violence

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NFL training camps are just getting underway. Football, certainly the most popular sport in this country, is about to become the center of our sports world yet again. The NFL, you would imagine, should be trying to make sure that it sets the tone for the coming season appropriately. No one wants to start a new season off with a huge misstep, right? Despite that, the 2014 season has stepped in a pothole almost before it has started, and rather than setting the table for a great new year of football, we are all talking about Ray Rice, Stephen A. Smith, domestic abuse and inadequate punishments. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Now that Warren G. Harding’s love letters to his mistress have revealed that he used to refer to his penis as ‘Jerry’, top ten other nicknames for Presidential penises

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10. President Lincoln: The Rail Splitter

9. President George W. Bush: My Weapon of Mass Destruction

8. President George H. W. Bush: The Idiot Producer
[Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Live By Night by Dennis Lehane

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There’s a bit of a story behind my reading of Live by Night: I picked up the audiobook from the library months ago – probably closer to a year ago. I sped through the first 9 cds and then…lost it. I brought it in from the car, set it aside, and it disappeared. I was furious! Ransacked the house, went through all my suitcases, the car, called the hotel I’d stayed at. No luck. Cut to this past week: I spent my vacation doing a thorough cleaning and decluttering of my spare bedroom, and guess what I found? Yep. I was finally able to finish!

Live by Night tells the story of Joe Coughlin, and it is a big story. [Read more →]