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politics & governmentThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that you thank authorities for what went right during Hurricane Sandy

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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. 2012, Category 1: Hurricane Sandy is all but come and gone and she did great damage to the Emperor’s American East Coast. The Emperor’s Palace has been situated in this area for many years and He has seen a few storms. This time, things went much better. The Imperial Electric Company did its job well. Sure, some subjects are without power, but, overall, it seems the IEC was much better prepared. They have learned how better to deal with storms like this. Local governments were much better prepared, as well. Will anyone hear about it? Well, they will now: You are commanded to thank authorities and organizations for anything that went right (systematically-speaking) during this storm. (Of course, it goes without saying you should do the same for our safety and health workers.)

Why? Because the Emperor is used to being in a position of authority (both in his Imperial and his “real” life) and he knows that no one ever thanks those in authority for things that improve or that go well. But they sure as hell are ready to tell us when things go wrong, whether those problems are our fault or not.

The Punishment: Those who neglect to send thank-you emails will have their power turned off during the next drizzle.

Epilogue: The Emperor leaves you with this pictorial tale of kindness in the face of tragedy: This Great White Shark is ignoring his natural instincts in order to save a poor seal from drowning in the inland flooding on the Jersey coast by spitting him out toward the open sea. Inspiring. (Hat Tip: Marni Vaccaro and Joe Cairns.)

Now, go forth and obey.

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

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Mack Brown’s excuses are absurd

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In professional sports, the difference between the haves and have nots is fairly small. In leagues like the NFL, the salary cap is structured in such a way as to force the teams to spend a similar amount of money on their payroll each year. In baseball, where there is no cap, the difference can be far more dramatic. Still, when compared to major college sports, even the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates are far more similar than a school like the University of Texas when compared to some of the small schools out there that are trying to compete in something like football. To widen the gap even more, Texas, in conjunction with ESPN, started its own television network last year that pays it $300 million over 20 years. Amazingly, the head coach of Texas football, Mack Brown, complained this week that the network is actually one of the reasons why his team has underperformed over the last couple of years. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrecipes & food

Top ten least popular Halloween candies

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10. Feces’ Pieces

9. Bit-O-Honey Boo Boo

8. Boston Baked Garbanzo Beans

7. Mice Krispie Treats

6. Smelly Belly

5. Almond Soy

4. Dixie Chicks Pixy Stix

3. I Can’t Believe They’re Not Raisinets

2. Baby Ruth Bader Ginsburg

1. Dingleberry Crunch

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

Trick or cheat!

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Tweet at When Falls the Coliseum with #WhenFalls

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Writers and readers of When Falls the Coliseum can now have their tweets appear on the sidebar of our site. Just below the list of the latest posts is a list of the latest tweets. To have your tweet appear in that space, include #WhenFalls in the tweet. Please use #WhenFalls when you are tweeting something amusing or linking to or commenting on news or current events.

books & writing

Lisa reads Killing Them Softly by George V. Higgins

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This is definitely a vintage crime novel. It’s got an old-fashioned feel to it from the very first chapter. No cell phones, no computers, no fancy hardware, just guys with guns figuring out what other guys are gonna do. In general, I like those kinds of stories and there is a lot to like about Killing Them Softly by George V. Higgins (originally titled Cogan’s Trade). I picked this up in the airport bookstore and figured it would be a good way to pass the time on the plane. (I admit it. I had three other books in my carry-on, but this one appealed to me right off the shelf. Don’t ever let anyone tell you cover art doesn’t matter.) [Read more →]

all workends & odd

Oh, how nice: Starbucks really did give some VP’s niece a shot at graphic design.

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I don’t even know where to start with this one, so I won’t, other than saying maybe it’s actually genius in the way they’re going for the must-watch-car-crash factor.


It’s fun to let kids get involved in design.


musicThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that ye shall no longer quote crappy lyrics on Facebook or Twitter

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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. Cmi7: It may seem a tad common for one of his dazzling grandeur, but the Emperor does enjoy a little stint on Facebook or Twitter from time to time. (This invariably leads to finger-blisters for the Imperial Scribe who keeps a list of dictated future decrees.) But, for the love of ME, people, could you stop posting vapid, pedestrian, mediocre excerpts from song lyrics that a three-year old could have churned out during an inspired potty squeege? Sweet Jesu — what compels a person to take the time to type up “Yeah, baby — yeah; you’re mine and I’m yours and that’s the way it will always be”? This is such a good lyric that it had to be electronically broadcast to the world? This made you sit up and say, “Wow — that’s deep. I must share this.” Cripes. Meanwhile, Johnny Mercer dwells in Facebook obscurity — in the dark refuse pile of the un-tweeted — despite having written: [Read more →]

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

Animal Cruelty and enormous breasts, or: more fun with Alejandro Jodorowsky

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Recently I reviewed The Incal, the epic psychedelic space opera from the all-round holy madman Alejandro Jodorowsky and French comics master Moebius. It is, as I said, good to a consciousness-scrambling degree. But Jodorowsky has many other works available in English, and today I draw attention to two of them, one of which dates from the beginning of his comics career and the other of which appeared at what we must assume is close to the end of it, given that he is now 83. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Can running around a corn maze be considered a sport?

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I generally try to restrict myself to writing about actual sports when I put together this column each week. I tend to define a sport as something that has a winner that is determined on the field, as opposed to by judges, although I am sure an occasional ice skating or gymnastics story has slipped in here and there. There are also many forms of competition that have a clear winner and loser that don’t really qualify as sports, like chess or shuffleboard, for example. This week, I have decided that there are no rules. This is my column, and I’ll write what I want. The benefit to you is that you get to read about my team’s winning effort at a corn maze near Lambertville, New Jersey, on Saturday. That’s right. Count yourselves lucky. [Read more →]

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

The character of an injury

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If you read between the lines in this space — or sometimes just read the lines themselves — you know that my now teenage daughter is not always the easiest person to get along with. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten little-known facts about Mitt Romney

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10. ‘Mitt’ is short for ‘Mitigate’

9. He has less charisma than Clint Eastwood’s chair

8. On vacation, he likes to visit his money in the Caymans

7. He’d gladly show you his tax returns – when you pry them from his cold dead fingers

6. His nickname for his dog is ‘Luggage’

5. He has a three-prong strategy for winning the election: lie (look at the Republican convention), buy (the Koch brothers have $50 billion), and cheat (voter I.D., etc.)

4. He’s somewhat smarter than your average marmoset

3. He doesn’t have a birth certificate to show; instead he has a warranty

2. He not only wears magic underwear, but a matching magic bra

1. If elected, he plans to fire everybody, flip the country, and move to Sweden

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

politics & governmentterror & war

He’s just too similar to Bush

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animalscreative writing

Grizzly bear stories: the Quiet Car

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Sometimes I buy expensive versions of things without understanding why. Some stuff’s just weird like that I guess — like toasters. I know I could have gotten a perfectly functional version without cracking a twenty. Yet somehow, if only through the existence of a luxury version of it, I found myself needing it as if it would magically fix me crab cakes for breakfast out of two pieces of bread. It doesn’t. Damn thing cost me three hundred bucks and I still burn my toast.

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books & writing

Lisa reads Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

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Last week, I reviewed 1222 by Anne Holt, the first book in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series. Blind Goddessjumps back in time, back before the shooting the left Hanne in a wheelchair. This gives us more background on Hanne and what she was like as a detective, before she became the bitter woman we met in the first book.

There’s an interesting mystery at the heart of this, though I admit I got a little mired down in the middle. A drug dealer is found battered to death in a part. A deranged man, covered in blood, is found wandering in the middle of downtown Oslo. He insists on having Karen Borg as his court-appointed attorney — the same woman who discovered the battered body of the man he apparently killed. And then things get really strange. [Read more →]

creative writingmoney

Grizzly bear stories: the impossible decision at Dunkin Donuts

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The gym where I work opens early enough that I’m usually the only person there when the Dunkin Donuts opens. But to my surprise, I wasn’t first today. There was a bearded man in his early forties and a grizzly bear in a blue polo in line in front of me and the following scene took place:


(I enter the store wiping sleep-boogies out of my eye and get in line behind the grizzly bear. He nods to me.)

BEAR: Hey, how ya doin’?

ME: Not too bad, yourself?

BEAR: Can’t complain.

ME: Chilly out there again, eh?

BEAR: (casually shrugs) Eh, ‘supposed to hit fifty a little later this week.

ME: Wish that was today. Just gotta bundle up I guess.

BEAR: Not me. I’m a grizzly bear.

ME: I see that.

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language & grammarThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that ye will no longer preface statements with “not to…”

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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. 16 1/3: The Emperor loathes parroted language. He hates when people use a phrase that is either contradictory (or that is completely ineffectual) simply because that phrase appears in a popular pattern of speech. (And, if the Emperor hates it, then so shall you.) With that in mind, subjects of the Emperor (that’s all of you, in case you haven’t caught-on by now) may no longer preface statements with “Not to…” If you are not doing to do “it,” just don’t, but do not use “not to” to announce that this mysterious, forthcoming phrase is exactly what you next intend to do. For instance, during a conversation about baseball: “Not to change the subject, but I think aardvarks might have been deposited here on Earth by ancient aliens.” Or, in any other conversational circumstances: “Not to be sexist, but women are just not as smart as men.” Instead, replace “not to” with the statement: “Warning! I am about vomit forth a statement of alarming stupidity or irrelevance!” and, then, continue. It’s far more effective and logically sound and it makes it easier for the Imperial Spies to determine who needs to be watched closely. “Not to,” my minions, simply does not work out to absolution for your upcoming, moronic verbal ejaculation.

The Punishment: Violators will be sent to the Imperial Torture Chamber and they will repeatedly have their heads forced into a large tub of water by Gerhard, the Imperial Dunker. (You should see his arms.)  Before each submersion, Gerhard will smile and say, “Not to deprive you of oxygen, but…” The violators will be released after twenty dunks, if they live. A lot depends on Gerhard’s mood. And he has a tendency to lose track of time…

Now, go forth and obey.

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

creative writingtechnology

Grizzly bear stories: a phone call to Apple

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Recently, I spent four days trying to figure out how to activate my new iPhone 5. I’m not a very technology-savvy fellow, but I am extraordinarily stubborn, particularly when I know that asking for help will involve having to follow a robot’s instructions for a while, pressing a series of buttons, and sitting through a lengthy holding period before I actually reach a human being. But yesterday, I finally caved: I talked to a robot. I pressed buttons. I sat on hold for a while. And then Danielle from Apple was very helpful and got me up and running. The following is a completely factual account of what might have happened if Danielle had not been working, and had been replaced by a grizzly bear.


BEAR: Thank you for holding and welcome to Apple. This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes. My name is Monty and I’m a bear. How can I help you today?

ME: Yeah, hi Monty. Did you just say you’re a bear?

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bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Michael Vick gets a dog

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It was bound to happen. Three years ago, Michael Vick left Leavenworth prison after serving nearly two years on charges related to the dog-fighting ring he had been running in Virginia. A year later, he became the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Around the city of Philadelphia, there are a variety of opinions about Vick, from people who despise him and refuse to watch the Eagles while he is playing, to those who feel that he served his time and deserves to be judged based on his performance. Whether or not you like him, it would be tough to find fault with his behavior during his time with the team, as he has done and said the right things throughout. Until this week, that is. On Thursday, Vick admitted that he owns a dog. [Read more →]

family & parentingrace & culture

Topless pictures and the culture of shame

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I don’t know if you guys have been following the story of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd, but for those who haven’t I will give a brief summary.

Just about a month ago, Amanda posted this video explaining in detail what happened to her. When she was twelve years old, Amanda exposed her breasts to a man she was chatting with online via webcam. A year later he (or another man, it is unclear) threatened to send a topless screenshot of her to everyone she knew if she didn’t put on a private show for him. She refused and he made good on his threat. He sent the topless picture of Amanda to her parents, teachers, friends, and neighbors. She was humiliated and depressed, began using drugs and alcohol, and attempted suicide several times. This past Wednesday, October 10th, she finally succeeded in taking her own life.

The reaction to Amanda’s death seems to be focused on two themes: 1. we should make sure children never use the internet unsupervised, and 2. we have to impress upon our kids the permanence of the internet and make sure our girls value their bodies enough to be more selective about displaying them.

I think they are missing the point.

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