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art & entertainmentbooks & writing

Graphic Novel Review: “Crusades” by Izu, Nikolavitch and Xiaoyou

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One of the things I like most about European graphic novels is the wide range of genres on offer. Some of these are very different from what you can find in American comics, where you very rarely encounter historical epics. In France though, you can find stories set in the Middle Ages, Ancient Rome, Renaissance Italy, Byzantium or set in the Middle East during the crusades. Indeed, my understanding is that the French are crazy for stories set during the crusades. [Read more →]

language & grammarThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that the phrase “pitch-perfect” is banned

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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. 104: It was one thing when Paula Abdul started using the phrase to describe a good performance on “American Idol.” That was just annoying; which is to say: that was just Paula Abdul. But, recently, the Emperor saw the phrase “pitch-perfect” used in a book review to describe a writer’s prose. What the Hades does that mean? — his writing was “pitch-perfect”? Reverse the words, and you have something: a “perfect pitch” is a 104 MPH fastball, with tons of movement, that catches the corner of the plate and is completely un-hittable, even though it is still in “the zone.” “Perfect pitch,” in music, is the ability to identify or to reproduce an exact tone on the scale without having heard it first or without having heard any tones in reference: “Hey, Mel! Sing me a third-octave Bb…”  Bing! Laaaa! Mel delivers. But, pitch-perfect? We don’t think so.

The Punishment: Anyone heard using this phrase will be brought to Imperial Park (home of the World Champion [Every Year, or Else] Minions). Behind home plate, there will be a plywood cut-out of a catcher (which, in fact, on the back side, is actually an old-fashioned “stocks” [ah, the classics…]). There will be a hole in the catcher’ s mitt and the offender will be forced to push his head through the stocks and out through the hole. He will then, quickly, most unfortunately, and quite finally, find out what a perfect pitch really is…

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: College athlete gives up final meet to donate bone marrow

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For many athletes, sports are more important than anything else. Those at the top of their sports must have an even greater focus on that area of their lives than the rest, I would imagine, considering the level of accomplishment. College athletes have certainly reached a level of athletic achievement of which most people can not boast, and it must be quite difficult to eliminate distractions and physical ailments that could interfere with those pursuits. You would not expect one of these people to voluntarily choose something that would end his college career, but that’s exactly what Cameron Lyle did. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingsports

Top ten signs your horse isn’t going to win the Kentucky Derby

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10. His odds are about the same as Romney’s winning the next Presidential election

9. The racing form states he’s a descendant of Seattle Stew

8. He’s scared of crowds

7. His nickname is Tripod

6. The Elmer’s glue people have already put in a bid

5. Trotting gives him the trots

4. The only surface he’s ever run on is shag carpeting

3. Parts of him have already shown up in British beef burgers

2. In the starting gate, he’s facing the wrong way

1. Your jockey is Chris Christie
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

religion & philosophyscience

The invisible thread

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“We’re all connected.” It’s the ubiquitous mantra of new-agey types. Chances are if you’ve ever watched Oprah, were a fan of the TV show Lost, or have read just about anything I’ve written, you are very familiar with this concept. Along with its close cousin “everything happens for a reason,” it’s pretty much become a cliché that isn’t really given much thought. Yet, how exactly are we all connected? Sure, we’re all made of the same elements, live on the same planet, and are plugged into the same Internet, but the phrase usually refers to the idea that all of our minds are somehow connected, that our lives are intertwined, that actions taken by you, now, could somehow affect a struggling shoe salesman living in Uzbekistan. I think it’s about time we explored this concept and saved it from the nether regions of trite, hackneyed banality. After all, if the idea that “we’re all connected” is a given, why doesn’t anyone (with the possible exception of Oprah herself) really believe it? [Read more →]

living poetry

The Astronomer (Vermeer)

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JohannesVermeer-TheAstronomer(1668)

#99

We know no more than he knew then.
We see farther and imagine numbers
Larger, but the same old infinities
Confront us, we still count to ten,
See through mirrors dying fire’s penumbra,
Envision alien cities,
And watch for asteroids to come too near.
Like him, we are empty of fear,
Assume the universe is like a globe,
To be dissected and mapped, lobe by lobe.
He touches the heavens and says a prayer,
Not for insight, guidance, or grace
(Though he longs to pierce the layers
Of darkness), but to transcend space.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

What I want to know about George W. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas

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Howdy y’all- the robot LBJ keeps us yukkin’, pic from here

There are 13 “presidential libraries” in the US. These are grandiose shrines that contain the papers and records of every president since Herbert Hoover. Tomorrow the library dedicated to George W. Bush will open in Dallas and all living presidents will be there to celebrate – rather like one of those episodes of Doctor Who where the current incarnation meets with his past selves to foil a Dalek invasion.

I have visited three of these libraries. The first was Nixon’s, which I explored while staying with a friend in California 10 years ago. At the time, Nixon was still sufficiently notorious that his library was the only one to receive no support from the federal government. Instead it was run by [Read more →]
recipes & foodThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that boneless Buffalo wings are banned

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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. 10: Restaurants and taverns in the Empire are no longer allowed to sell “boneless Buffalo wings,” because they are a lie.

The Punishment: Anyone attempting to peddle these meaty imposters will be forced to use wing sauce as aftershave for the span of three weeks.

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: My thoughts on the Boston Marathon

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This column will post on Monday morning, nearly a full week after the horror that occurred at the Boston Marathon. I really wanted to write something soon after it happened, but, as is so often the case, life interfered and I never “put pen to paper,” as they say. With the added perspective of 6 additional days, I am not sure I can make a lot more sense of what happened that afternoon. As the resident sports columnist for When Falls the Coliseum, though, I feel like I need to at least give it a shot. The human tragedy of lives lost and lives altered forever at an event that should have been a joyous celebration is one that most of us will not quickly forget. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmoney

Top ten excuses for filing your taxes late

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10. “If all those Congressman can’t figure out their finances, how do you expect me to?”

9. “I have a deathly fear of 1040 paper cuts.”

8. “Trying to use the Qualified Dividends and Capital Gains Tax Worksheet gave me a severe brain cramp.”

7. “My dog ate my return.”

6. “Fill out a tax form?! I can’t even figure out my tip at the Red Lobster.”

5. “I’m rich. I thought we were exempt.”

4. “When I burned my business down for the insurance, I forgot to remove my receipts first.”

3. “I thought the penalty for filing late would make for a sweet deduction on next year’s return.”

2. “I don’t want to bounce any more checks.”

1. “I was stuck on a Carnival Cruise.”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

living poetry

Four Riffs on “Three Musicians” (Picasso)

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Three Musicians
#87

A tune is the ultimate abstraction,
An emotion expressed as a fraction.
Some notes invariably repeated
Become a cold emotion reheated.

Not all musicians are made of music.
Some are talent, some mere facility.
The best I’ve known live a necessity,
Like physicists slave to mathematics.

Picasso’s clowns can only make us dance,
Twist our senses into a whirling trance.

I’ve wept at the silence a conductor
Held at the end of the Ninth of Mahler,
As if to say, “Behold what’s gone before —
Anguish, redemption, hope — and don’t despair.”

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

TAs are richer than college presidents: Standardized tests are destroying education, part 5 (of 874)

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What does it mean to write well? That the writing is clear? Eloquent? Powerful? Emotion-inducing? Connected? Ah, but there we get into it: Your writing’s value is connected, linked, intertwined with an audience. A reader. Someone who might think about what you’re saying. Someone who might, of all things, care. [Read more →]

ends & oddreligion & philosophy

The other Koresh

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Don’t worry, there are no dinosaurs.

This Friday, April 19, will mark the 20th anniversary of the fire that brought an end to the Waco siege, after a 50-day-long standoff between David Koresh, his followers and the FBI. Seventy-six people died in the inferno, and the name “Koresh” is forever infamous as a result. What most people don’t know is that a century earlier, there was another Koresh – also American and just as messianic, if less randy. [Read more →]

educationThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that teenagers must use “the” before the word “prom”

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Emperor’s Decree No.  2013: We don’t know when it happened, but, sometime over the last sixteen years, young people have completely dismissed the use of the definite article, “the,” before the word “prom.” The Emperor knows this, because he has been teaching high school throughout this period  (call it a diversion from the rigors of Imperial Domination) and, sometime during this stretch, a linguistic shortcut took hold. No longer does a boy ask a girl: “Do you want to go to the prom with me?” No, now, it is, “Do you want to go to prom with me?” “How are you getting to prom?” “Are you going to prom?” “Shall we chip in  for a limo for prom?” Gaaahhh!! This annoys the Emperor to no end.  He tried to change this appauling habit, at least on a local scale, through his pedagogical efforts – nay, heartfelt entreaties – in the classroom; he even addressed this on the school’s television system, once, but, to no avail. (In fact, this only made things worse, because, now, students intentionally seek him out and ask him if he is “chaperoning prom.” Little snits.) The Emperor didn’t want it to come to this, but, it’s time for a decree. Let all of America’s youth take note:

The Punishment: Young people who leave out the definite article in discussing THE prom (and are heard by the Imperial Maintenance Men (they’re everywhere, sweeping) will be assigned to a type of grizzly, gray-stone-roomed detention the likes of which they have never known…WITHOUT THEIR CELL PHONES!!!!!!  [Teens scream in horrified unison from the four corners of the globe…] Oh, we mean it. What now? Whuuuut?

Now, go forth and obey.

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

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The stupidity of bench-clearing brawls

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There is a whole lot of idiocy in sports. I write about a lot of it here on a weekly basis, although there is far more of it than I could possibly cover in this small space. Aside from the material it gives me, though, I do genuinely wish that most of it would go away. Things like what happened Thursday night in San Diego during the Padres game against the Los Angeles Dodgers just make me angry. The thing in question was a bench-clearing brawl between the two teams that included a major injury to Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, incurred when he was attacked by Padres slugger Carlos Quentin. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmoney

Top ten things you don’t want to hear from your accountant today

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10. “Look, if you file late, it’s no skin off my nose.”

9. “I’m pretty sure you just multiply your income by 1040.”

8. “You needed another deduction, so I billed you again.”

7. “My last client was Wesley Snipes.”

6. “Of course one bajillion is a real number.”

5. “It’s close enough; it’s five of one, half a dozen of the other.”

4. “To save you some dough, I listed myself as one of your dependents.”

3. “Please, no math. It makes my brain hurt.”

2. “Don’t worry. You know that little box ‘For Office Use Only’? I wrote in ‘Approved. Send Massive Refund’.”

1. “That’s due today?!!!”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

living poetry

Container for Stars (Klee)

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#75

We thought, when we were the heart of the universe,
The constellations accumulate the divine.
We chanted as we watched the gods slowly disperse,
Replaced by single stars and Albert Einstein.
A star can fall. There’s too much of velocity,
Distance, and duration in our current science,
Because there’s no such thing as specificity.
Even if we could fly a billion light years hence,
What we want to see would be just as far away.
We might find a planet where men would want to stay.
Life could be altered. The sky would remain the same,
New constellations we’d have to give new names.
The discovered universe is not what we sought.
The only container of the stars is a thought.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

Michael Cade's audio files

Audio files: Happy birthday, Herbie Hancock

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Hello, welcome to a special Friday Audio Files column that exists for the sole purpose of wishing “happy birthday” to the great Herbie Hancock. (h/t to pal Ethan.)

J-a-z-z   F-u-n-k!

My favorite Herbie album is probably Secrets, though the man has a huge catalogue of great material from which to choose, making any attempt at a “favorites” list something of a fool’s errand.

[Read more →]

musicThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that people must be officially approved before claiming that they “listen to everything”

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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. 9-X/32-CMany make this claim, in an attempt to prove their sophistication: “I listen to everything.” This claim, of course, is a reference to their musical tastes. (Usually, it indicates a complete lack of musical taste, but that is subjective and the Emperor would never want to be subjective.) The sad part is that this claim is usually made by those who make it in referencing the fact that they have pop, rock, rap and country on their playlists. This, to these ignorant auditors, is, “everything.” (And, no, it does not count that you listen to variants within rock and pop. One is not being musically explorational because one listens to Led Zeppelin and Slipknot and Rick Springfield. It is also fair to point out that music is not automatically experimental because its composer wears wool caps in the summer.) In short, most who make the claim of listening to “everything” are like an ant on a beach who, tuckered out after a good three-inch walk, exclaims “Well, I have now seen the world.”  He has seen grains of several different shapes, but, the fact remains, they are still a particular kind of sand. Henceforth, no one may claim that they listen to “everything” until their playlist contains at least 75% names  and works from outside the popular realm and whose works are not available on collections of “relaxing music” sold in endcaps at Target.

The Punishment: Those who wish to make the “everything” claim must be cleared by the Emperor, himself. He will quiz the person in question, who will need to score an 80% or above on a quiz filled with questions like: “Who wrote ‘Koyunbaba’?” — or, “Who was Count Basie’s legendary rhythm guitarist?” — or, “What American orchestra is best know for interpreting French Impressionism?” — or, “What Irish traditional band once teamed up with Roger Daltry for a recording of ‘Behind Blue Eyes?” Those who fail and still continue to make the claim will be chained to the dungeon wall and forced to listen to the entire catalog on their own MP3 player performed by a precocious child with a comb and some wax paper.

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: A big mess at Rutgers

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There are not a lot of major state universities that do not have the name of their state as part of the school’s name. I imagine that Rutgers is not the only example of this, but it is the only one that springs to mind. Rutgers is New Jersey’s biggest state university, and although it does technically have New Jersey in the name (the full name is “Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey”), nobody calls it that. I choose to believe that is to avoid having to admit they go to school in New Jersey. Anyway, the school, or more specifically the school’s basketball program, is having a bad week. Last weekend, ESPN’s Outside the Lines showed a video of the basketball team practicing and being verbally, and somewhat physically, abused by head coach Mike Rice. The coach’s behavior was pretty outrageous, as he tossed homophobic comments and profanity at his players, while also physically pushing them, throwing basketballs at their heads, and doing a variety of other awful things. [Read more →]

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