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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


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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.”

7. “I’m not sure. It was an ATM, so it didn’t make any cents.”

6. “I was just trying to make a deposit.”

5. “I really really love money!”

4. “I heard there was no penalty for early withdrawal.”

3. “I thought it was one of those new sexbots I’ve been reading about.”

2. “Banks are always screwing us. I thought it was our turn.”

1. “I was hoping to come into some money.”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

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

7. The “lace curtains” seem to be trapping an unusually large number of flies

6. You wipe your feet on the mat before stepping outside

5. All your rats have moved on to less disgusting environs

4. You’ve lost three pets and a nephew to indoor avalanches

3. Raccoons have gnawed through the hose, making it difficult to hose down the hallway

2. The producers of Hoarders weren’t able to film in your house, because no insurance company was willing to cover them

1. When somebody asks, “What died in here?” you give them a list

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

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!

7. Just Say ‘Yes’!

6. Changing Canada’s Image One Toke at a Time!

5. This Mayor Is Smokin’!

4. Rob Ford: You Name a Substance and He’ll Abuse It!

3. A Truly Unique Individual! (A Fat Crack Addict!)

2. Rob Ford: He’s Addictive!


Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock


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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 →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Jameis Winston shoplifts seafood

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What an amazing thing it must be to be a world class athlete. I grew up imagining myself out on a football field or a baseball field in front of thousands and thousands of people, making big plays and hearing the cheers. The fact that I had no special skill in either sport did not really enter into my thought process, of course. It seemed to me that every kid had the same dreams, and I imagine that many of them did. This is why I find it so unfathomable that so many of the guys who not only have the skill to get them to the pros but are actually good enough to be superstars are so willing to screw up and risk it all. Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is one of these guys.

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Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingsports

Top ten excuses of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling

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10. “I’m no racist! My basketball team is well over half black!”

9. “Poor people and middle-class people are racists; billionaires are just eccentric.”

8. “I’m no more racist than my good buddy, Cliven Bundy.”

7. “How can I be a bigot? My girlfriend who taped me is half black.”

6. “In 1983 I asked a potential new coach, ‘What makes you think you can coach these n*ggers?’ In 2009 I was fined $2.73 million for housing discrimination – the largest such payment in U.S. history – claiming that the blacks in my building ‘smelled’ and ‘aren’t clean’. At least I’m consistent!”

5. “I’m was hoping my remarks would make me a front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.”

4. “Since when do you get in trouble for doing a Paula Deen impression?”

3. “I once got a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People! (Oooooo, I love saying ‘colored people’!)”

2. “How can I be a racist when, only last week, the U.S. Supreme Court held that racism in this country is a thing of the past?”

1. “I just believe in calling a spade a spade.”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.