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bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The Cleveland Browns are reaping what they sowed

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Some sports franchises just seem to be cursed. A few teams seem to live magical existences, making one good decision after another, and even the bad ones that are mixed in there don’t seem to hurt. Other organizations just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Usually, it seems pretty obvious to outside observers that some of the decisions these teams make are doomed from the start, but the people actually making those decisions don’t seem to see it. The Cleveland Browns are one of these franchises, and this past weekend was evidence of that. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Want You Dead by Peter James

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Want You Dead by Peter James is a woman’s worst nightmare. You date a guy who seems terrific — he’s handsome and charming, doesn’t mind spending money on you and seems to really enjoy your company — and he turns out to be a crazy stalker. In this case an OMGCRAZYWTF stalker. The kind that breaks into your house, burns down your favorite restaurant, tries to murder your parents…you know the type.

Bryce Laurent is a charmer — on the surface. He meets Red Cameron on a dating site and is immediately smitten with her. He is convinced she’s the one and for a while, so is she. Unfortunately, things take a very dark turn and eventually Red has to involve the police, get a protection order, move to a new flat and get a new job. But that’s not enough. Bryce still finds her, and if he can’t have her, no one can.

It’s a scary situation. A recent article I read reports that one-third of women murdered in the US are killed by their male partners. Do a quick Google search on “women killed by estranged boyfriend” and the results are horrifying. Bryce Laurent is different from many of the cases you see in the news (aside from being, thankfully, fictional)- he has money, and time, and he will stop at nothing to punish Red for leaving him. He is frighteningly clever and utterly ruthless – he wants Red to suffer and he is willing to hurt a lot of people to make that happen.

One of the things I loved about Want You Dead is that first, there’s a great thriller at the heart of it – what will Bryce do next, will the police be able to protect Red, who else is going to get hurt? In addition, the secondary characters are great – there’s a little romance, there’s a little conflict, and the personalities are really interesting. A main storyline won’t keep you reading without a great cast of characters. I also love the way that the relationship between Red and Bryce is slowly revealed. In the beginning, it’s hard to believe that such an amazing guy who could be so awful but over time, as the details come out, you are gradually more and more horrified. The reveal is really handled very well.

This is a great thriller, full of surprises and suspense. My copy of Want You Dead by Peter James was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

want you dead

books & writing

Added to My Bookshelf: Futures Near and Far

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More than once I have added a book to my shelf after reading one of Lisa Hura’s reviews on this blog. “Sure would be neat to do something like that,” I thought … so here we go …

We all have our reasons for reading science fiction. Me? I have at least a couple, and I found them both – well, eventually, at least – in Dave Smeds’ collection of short stories, Futures Near and Far. The title is appropriate, really, since some of the futures Smeds presents are far-off indeed, while others are quite near … maybe a little TOO near for comfort.
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adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten axioms to get your New Year off on the right foot (even if that’s your left foot)

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10. Don’t sweat the petty stuff; just pet the sweaty stuff.

9. It’s never too early to start beefing up your obituary.

8. Two rights don’t make a wrong; they make a U-turn.

7. I may be getting old, but I did get to see all the cool bands!

6. We have enough youth; how about a Fountain of Smart?

5. One nation, under surveillance.

4. The best things in life aren’t things.

3. Quantum mechanics: the dreams stuff is made of.

2. All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

1. (And moving up to Number One – for anyone in a relationship:)
Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

religion & philosophy

THE Christmas tradition … Luke wrote it, Linus shared it, I believe it

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8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

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11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2
King James Version (KJV)

However you mark this day, a very Merry Christmas!
May this find you and yours happy and healthy, this holiday season and in the new year to come!

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports is off for the holidays

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Hey all – no column this week due to travel and timing.

One thing to highlight: Penn State’s women’s volleyball team won its 6th national championship in the last eight years this week. Amazing. Congratulations to them.

See you next week.

 

books & writing

Lisa reads Flings by Justin Taylor

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Flings: Stories by Justin Taylor, a book of short stories, is interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying. The blurb on the back names Taylor “A master of the modern snapshot” and they might well be right. The book is like a stack of Polaroids, taken by strangers and with no context to explain them. (Think Awkward Family Photos.) They are fascinating, funny, vaguely disturbing, but by themselves, they aren’t enough to tell a story.

As always, I wanted to love the book – I love short stories, in particular, and I always want to love the books I settle down to read – but I found this one easy to put down. That’s never a good sign. While the stories were interesting, they weren’t absorbing and they weren’t satisfying. A good example is Mike’s Song, a story about a divorced father taking his adult children to a Phish concert. There is some hint that the divorce was his fault – probably something to do with his new girlfriend, Lori, who may or may not be cheating on him, based on some misdirected texts – and there is some random reference to a neighborhood boy who committed suicide back when his kids were in their teens. It is most definitely a snapshot. It’s an odd, awkward night with this family, full of tense undertones and secrets no one talks about. I can see why some people might be fascinated with it, the way you can be fascinated staring into a lighted window, watching the family inside and wondering about them, but in the end? I wasn’t drawn in. I didn’t care how it ended — which is a good thing because it doesn’t end, not in the sense that anything is wrapped up and resolved. We learn a few things about them, Mike learns a few things about his kids, but you don’t get any sense of what will come of that knowledge. We walk past the window and on to another one.

One story I felt was much more successful was After Ellen –  Scott leaves his girlfriend because she suggests getting a dog and he can suddenly see his whole life stretching out before him. The dog is just the start, the test before they have kids, get a house in the suburbs, a minivan, a carpool, etc., etc., etc. So he takes off, sneaking out while Ellen is at work, taking his half of their stuff, the car, and leaving her a note. He crashes in an expensive hotel with Mom and Dad’s credit card, and eventually finds a new place, a new gig as a DJ, a new girlfriend…and a dog. It goes somewhere. It has some resolution to it.

Now, there may be people who really appreciate these kinds of snapshot stories; apparently, I’m not one of them. The book, for me, was like seeing Waiting for Godot: I spent the whole time waiting for something to happen, feeling like there were clues and allusions that I was missing. There’s a fair amount of graphic sex in the stories that seems sprinkled in at random, more for shock value than anything else; for me, it didn’t seem to serve the story. While I enjoyed some of the writing and found interesting bits in most of the stories, overall, they left me unsatisfied. It was easy to put the book down and walk away because even the stories I finished felt unfinished.

My copy of Flings: Stories was an Advance Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythinggames

Top ten most dangerous holiday toys

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10. Hospital Waste Grab Bag

9. Hello Kitty Tiki Torches

8. Miss Piggy’s Big Bag O’ Pork

7. Easy Bake Microwave

6. Baby’s First Choking Hazard

5. Lil’ Devil: The Satan-Worshipping Game

4. The José Canseco Finger Trimmer

3. The ISIS Indoctrination Reader

2. Toddlers & Tiaras‘ Official You’re Never Too Young To Twerk Outfit

1. Mr. Wizard’s Live-Culture Ebola Kit

 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Video games and boys’ literacy

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So, to me, these two dudes – and I wanna stress that they are dudes — in my house seem to be at the video games a lot. I thought this would never happen to me.  I thought I would steer them to loftier pursuits. But there they, at FIFA and Minecraft. I have this awful feeling their brains are leaking intellect because of video games. I particularly worry about the brightness of their literacy lights. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Networks change schedules for Johnny Manziel

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Unlike a friend of mine, I am not one of those people that has ten televisions and the ability to watch all of the NFL games at once. That’s not to say I don’t wish that I were, but it is not my reality. On Sundays, if the Eagles are not playing at 1:00, I look at FOX and CBS to see which games they are carrying and I pick one to check out. Most often, I end up watching FOX, as they are usually carrying NFC games, and I am partial to that conference. This past Sunday, I was totally confused when I put on FOX and saw a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals, two AFC teams. I had never seen that before, so it made me curious. It turns out that the reason was a predictable one: Johnny Manziel.

[Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmoney

Top ten least popular mall stores

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10. Big, Tall & Gay

9. Banana Dictatorship

8. Holly of Fredericksburg

7. Organ Donation Shack

6. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Kale

5. Turban Outfitters

4. Abercrombie & Bitch

3. Bed, Bath & Beyoncé

2. Chick-fil-A-Hole

1. Old Merchant Marines

 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The death of a college football program

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Students and fans of the University of Alabama-Birmingham were dealt a tremendous blow this week when the school decided to shut down its football program. No one is more directly affected than the players and coaches, who will see the work they have done to build this program flushed away with barely a thank you. Although there was not a lot of history in this program, as it only started in 1991, the team just finished its most successful season in a decade and things were looking up. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingenvironment & nature

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

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10. It’s so cold, this morning, the early bird catching the worm had gloves on.

9. It’s so cold, the optician was giving away free ice scrapers with every new pair of eyeglasses.

8. It’s so cold, hitchhikers are holding up pictures of thumbs.

7. It’s so cold, cab drivers are flipping people off with their mittens.

6. It’s so cold, people were contracting Ebola just for the fever.

5. It’s so cold, I chipped a tooth on some broth.

4. It’s so cold, if I had a stick up my butt, it’d be a popsicle.

3. It’s so cold, my aunt slipped on some ice and accidently keyed someone’s Mercedes…with her nipple!

2. It’s so cold, the Blue Man Group turned Caucasian-colored!

1. It’s so cold, Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick.
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

art & entertainmentends & odd

7 unanswerable questions Bill Cosby made me contemplate

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How much does Cosby biographer Mark Whitaker suck? I can understand not wanting to dwell on the allegations of abuse so much it became the focus of Cosby: His Life and Times…but wasn’t there some room for them in its 500-plus pages? (It includes a 19-page chapter called “The Art of Jell-O.”) Why do I feel like if Whitaker wrote a book about Ted Bundy it would focus on Ted’s academic performance at law school? [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Deep Shelter by Oliver Harris

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Let me start off by saying: I loved this book. Nick Belsey is a sorry excuse for a cop, probably a worse boyfriend, but he is smart and determined and he just does not quit.

Deep Shelter by Oliver Harris is a terrific story, full of twists and turns, with a lot of great characters. Belsey is trying to find a suspect that disappeared down a rabbit hole. Instead, he finds a tunnel that leads into an old wartime bunker underneath London. It has offices and dorms and workspaces, it’s fully stocked with food and medical supplies — he even finds cases of champagne. They were new went they went down into the tunnels, but they are vintage now. So, of course, Belsey does what any good cop would do: he calls his dealer and his fence and makes plans to sell the drugs and the booze. Then he invites his new girlfriend, someone he arrested a while back, on a romantic trip to the tunnels.

Belsey took the candle and walked into the dorm. Bunk cages danced in the wavering light. No sign of her. He waited for his date to jump out. That would be classic. She didn’t.

“Are you OK?” he called, and his voice sounded like the voice of someone on their own.

Incredibly creepy. And it gets even creepier when he starts getting text messages and emails, taunting him. He knows that if he reports her disappearance, he’ll be the prime suspect, so he doesn’t report it. Instead, he investigates on his own. The investigation leads into an incredibly twisted story of wartime preparations, top-secret cover-ups and a city beneath the city.

If you like complicated storylines, you’ll love this. There is so much going on, so much backstory, so many interesting twists and turns that I could not put this down. I like Belsey – he’s a crooked cop, but he’s trying to do the right thing. He’s got quite an assortment of equally bent contacts, and they make for an interesting crew. The book makes me want to go back to London — I’ve been to a few of the locations mentioned in the book, like St. Pancras Station, but not many — and look for the landmarks in the book and dream of a secret city beneath my feet.

My copy of Deep Shelter is an Advance Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

deep shelter

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Refs don’t know the rules at the Iron Bowl

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One of the favorite pastimes of sports fans is complaining about officiating. I like nothing better than yelling at the television in anguish as a referee makes brutal call after brutal call. Well, let me qualify that. I like well-officiated games the best, and I really hate when one of my teams gets screwed by a terrible call, so I shouldn’t really say that I like all the yelling. However, watching sports would not be the same for me if I didn’t get worked up and indignant a time or two while doing so. If I am watching a game in which I have no real rooting interest, especially, it really does add to my enjoyment, although it may not do the same for the people around me at the time. On Saturday night, Alabama played Auburn in a game that is known as the Iron Bowl. There were several bad calls and confusing situations in this one, but the worst one involved a “simultaneous catch” in the second half.

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educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

From the mouths of babes?: Colorado students refuse to be tested

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Part 10 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.

The Denver Post reported recently that thousands of high school students in Colorado refused to take standardized state tests. Activism? Test fatigue? Obstinancy? Whatever the case, I like that we’re hearing the student voice, which is often absent in the many conversations about testing. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrecipes & food

Top ten signs you ate too much on Thanksgiving

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10. You pricked your finger for a blood-sugar test, and cranberry sauce came out

9. You’ve pounded on so much poundage, in one of the shots of earth in the film Interstellar, you are clearly visible

8. It took two EMT guys and the Jaws of Life to get you out of your Barcalounger

7. They took a picture of you after the meal, and it’s still printing

6. Both Ben and Jerry have friended you on Facebook

5. You had so many smashed potatoes, you set off another famine in Ireland

4. You’ve gotten several inquiries from representatives of the Butterball Hall of Fame

3. You ate all the leftovers…before dessert

2. After the meal, you had to loosen the band on your wristwatch

1. When people see you from the rear, for some reason they keep calling you “Kim”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.