Entries Tagged as 'art & entertainment'

gamesvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Your kid should play D&D

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I’m sure you know this already, but Dungeons & Dragons is coming out soon in its 5th edition, or 5.0 or D&D Next. And you probably already know that your kid should play D&D. I just wanted to take a moment to remind you why. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingtelevision

Top ten least popular new TV shows

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10. Law & Order: Jaywalking Unit

9. Two and a Half Laughs

8. How I Met Your Father: Woody Allen/Frank Sinatra Edition

7. The Old and the Toothless

6. Justified: How I Prefer My Paragraphs

5. America’s Funniest Tweets

4. Dancing with the Has-Beens

3. Breaking Wind

2. Once Upon a Time in Newark, New Jersey

1. So You Think You Can Twerk

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

The secret rituals of history’s most creative minds

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On a recent flight from Texas to London I sat behind a woman who was editing a manuscript. Being very nosy I strained to read the title, and this is what I saw:

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

Wow, I thought. What a load of crap. Clearly the primary “presentation secrets” of Steve Jobs were 1) his conviction that he was totally awesome and 2) his understanding that people are always interested in what highly successful people have to say.

This manuscript was obviously a snake oil salesman’s pitch, yet another example of that tiresome but popular  genre in which some not especially successful person reveals [Read more →]
art & entertainmentBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten spokespersons

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10. Anthony Weiner for Jockey Underwear

9. Gary Busey for H&R Block

8. Justin Bieber for Alberto VO5

7. Rick Perry for the ‘For Dummies’ Book Series

6. Rush Limbaugh for OxyContin Tablets

5. Vin Diesel for Hair Cuttery

4. Charlie Sheen for Self magazine

3. Monica Lewinski for BJ’s

2. John Wayne Bobbitt for Snap-on Tools

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger for Minute Maid

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

art & entertainmentvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Let’s not do this: Stupid movie quotes

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What do the Lone Ranger and a cartoon snail have in common? Well, the answer, other than they might be able to share some foundational Joseph Campbellesque hero archetype role, should be this:  “Not much.” But in contemporary cinema, they have a more specific kinship. Both of them, in recent movies (The Lone Ranger and Turbo), when faced with a/the challenge, say the exact same thing: “Let’s do this.” That’s where we are in the world of modern cinema, boring cookie-cutter characters saying stupid, clichéd phrases. Thus, we now have this equation: The Lone Ranger = A cartoon snail. [Read more →]

televisionThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees an end to commercials depicting ridiculously fun parties

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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. 3-4-33-56: People don’t dance while they eat. They simply don’t. They don’t bop from side to side and smile conspiritorially at each other as they wipe the corners of their mouths and carefully display the advertised product with fingers carefully arranged to give the camera full view. And they don’t gather in impromptu, multicolored mobs on hot city streets and jet joyously through makeshift slip-and-slides in shirts and ties. Parties never are, never have been and never will be that outlandishly fun. (Or that racially and socially harmonious. [That will be the day when a surgeon is on a slip-and slide with the hot dog cart guy.])  In fact, when real parties approach the outlandishly fun level, they usually degenerate in to something much more messy and debauched; they don’t erupt in to Target commercials with beer. Truth in advertising, people. Truth in advertising.

(Side note: And, that African American chap with the crazy hair who is in every commercial made within the past five years…will someone please give him a role in movies or something so the Emperor doesn’t have to see him eating another scrap of snack food or grilling on a grill anymore?)

The Punishment: Guilty directors will be chained in the Imperial dungeon among seductive dancers clad in various tasty foods. The dancers will move just close enough to entice the directors to reach out for a treat and then move away, for the span of a week. The violators will then be released with instructions to amend their ridiculous visions.

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

art & entertainmentBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten “Whatever Happened To…?”s

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10. Mason Reese

9. Balloon Boy

8. Roberto Benigni

7. Kato Kaelin

6. Yahoo Serious

5. Yakov Smirnoff

4. Pia Zadora

3. Manti Te’o’s girlfriend

2. Baby Jane

1. Due process

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten new Obama scandals as reported by Fox News

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10. That, at one state dinner, Obama strongly implied that the defrosted ham was actually fresh!

9. The scandal of Obama hiding something about his heritage: he’s mostly Irish

8. The disgrace of Obama once meeting heads of state wearing a clip-on

7. The fact that Obama really really wanted to call his first daughter Clinique

6. That Obama recently sanctioned killer computer worms able to zap any computer user who dare read this Top Ten list

5. Obama sinking so low as to make the ridiculous accusation that Fox News is screaming ‘scandal’ ‘scandal’ ‘scandal’ ‘scandal’ infinity-times-infinity times just in the hopes that, eventually, something might stick

4. The Smell-Of-Cigarette-Smoke-After-Midnight Scandal!

3. That, when Obama was three, he once advertently stared up a grass skirt

2. That Obama smoked so much dope in Hawaii, it has undoubtedly kept him from even greater things – than being the most powerful man on the face of the earth

1. White-After-Labor-Day-Gate

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

art & entertainmenttravel & foreign lands

The curious Russian afterlife of Steven Seagal

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Judo expert and morbidly obese Hollywood Z-lister open martial arts center in Moscow

Long, long ago – for about 15 minutes – Steven Seagal was a big deal in Hollywood. His movie “Under Siege” made a lot of money. But that was pretty much it. Next came a string of big-budget flops followed by a lengthy and ongoing twilight spent in straight-to-video purgatory.

As for me, I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through a Seagal film. His stiff, tubby frame, extreme humorlessness and mystic posturing make it impossible for me to suspend disbelief. Here in the US he serves as a punch line, part of the flotsam and jetsam of trash culture. Steven Seagal – that’s the washed up ‘90s action movie guy who peddles an aftershave lotion named [Read more →]
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 →]

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.

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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.

art & entertainmentends & odd

Screw you, Citizen Kane: Stephen Baldwin is about to debut!

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“Stephen Baldwin is set to make his directorial debut in ‘Riding Destiny,’ a feature film about an extreme-sports surfer-stuntman who returns home to fix his broken cowboy family.”

I’ll give you a moment to recover from having your mind blown.


That’s all I can spare. Behold it again.

“Stephen Baldwin is set to make his directorial debut in ‘Riding Destiny,’ a feature film about an extreme-sports surfer-stuntman who returns home to fix his broken cowboy family.”

And suddenly the world is a very different place.

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art & entertainmenttrusted media & news

Tutus gone wild! The Bolshoi Theater acid attack

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Ballet: sometimes it’s better if the curtains stay closed.

For somebody who’s not remotely interested in ballet, I’ve watched a lot of ballet. I acquired my experience by accident, after getting to know a Moscow bank executive in the early 2000s. He had a box close to the stage at his permanent disposal, and offered me free access. Figuring I might as well see what this jumping about in tutus lark was about I went very often, for a year or so.

I can’t recall much of what I saw now, and probably remember the weird ones better than the good ones. [Read more →]

televisionThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that television station names must consist only of full words

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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. 99-08-7: The Emperor used to enjoy the “Independent Film Channel.” He also used to enjoy “The Learning Channel.” Time was, one could learn by watching “The Learning Channel.” In fact, the very first show the Emperor remembers watching on the newly launched station was about refrigerators and how they work. Learning. Soon after, he watched a show on ancient warriors. He learned stuff — which is what one would expect from “The Learning Channel.” Sensing, one supposes, that neither learning nor teaching is a lucrative endeavor, the station, at some point, changed to “TLC.” Arguably, one can still learn about which type of shoes one ought to wear with yoga pants, but, other than that, it has generally become a channel with shows about weird families. Likewise, before the “Independent Film Channel” became “IFC,” it showed rarely-seen, less-than-blockbuster, “independent” films, all of the time. Magically, it became “IFC.” The other day, the Emperor, happily wielding the Imperial Remote, caught the opening to Lethal Weapon 2, which starts not only with the classic (and decidedly big-studio-associated) Warner Brother’s logo, but with a brash rendition of the old “Looney Tunes” theme. Down in the corner of the screen was the station I.D. You guessed it: “IFC.” No more of this thinly-veiled deception! Henceforth, television channel names must consist only of complete words. If the content of the channel changes, the name of the station must also change to reflect that content. 

The Punishment: The heads of stations who commit this crime against the Empire will have their names changed, legally, to their own initials. On second offense, they will be changed to someone else’s initials. On a third offense, they will all spend the rest of their lives being called “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.”

Now, go forth and obey.

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

art & entertainmenttravel & foreign lands

Iran vs. Hollywood

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Xerxes: awesome?

So anyway, apparently the Mullahs of Iran are not scary theocrats after all. They’re actually tender petals with exquisitely sensitive feelings. In fact, I hear they silently weep into their beards when nobody is looking.

No, really: according to The Guardian, the regime has just hired a French lawyer named Isabelle Coutant-Peyre to take the directors and producers of Hollywood to court for something they call “Iranophobia.” Speaking this Monday at the intriguingly titled “The Hoax of Hollywood” conference, Coutant-Peyre said: “I’ll be defending Iran against films that have been made by Hollywood to distort the country’s image, such as ‘Argo.’” [Read more →]
Michael Cade's audio files

Audio files: The pathos of Jacko, plus muumuus and balloons

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I’ve been listening to vintage Michael Jackson lately. The ancient stuff.

And I continue to be struck by the transformation MJ went through over the years.

This has been documented ad nauseam, but it still makes for compelling speculation, mostly because the metamorphosis was so stunning. How exactly does one go from wholesome teen idol to David Cronenberg creature? What forces must conspire to create such a mess?

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art & entertainmentmusic

Non-stinky rock n’ roll side projects

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Ah, the rock n’ roll side project: in any long career it’s difficult for a rock star to resist the temptation to indulge. Weary of their official identities, worn out by fan expectations, they seek in a change of name or collaborators a reinvigoration of the creative juices.  So yes: while Mick Jagger’s Superheavy was indeed pretty rotten, it is easy to understand why he joined up with Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, one of the Marleys and that chap from Slumdog Millionaire.


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Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmovies

Top ten movie mashups

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10. The Bourne Yesterday

9. Escape to Brokeback Mountain

8. The Empire Strikes Back to the Future

7. Alien vs. Kramer

6. My Left Footloose

5. Dr. Strangelove Is a Many-Splendored Thing

4. No Country for Grumpy Old Men

3. The Dark Knight of the Living Dead

2. Romeo & Dumber

1. Slumdog Squarepants

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

The good Stalinist

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Àíäðåé Ïëàòîíîâ

“Hm? What? Stalin? Yeah, I kind of dig him…”

As a fan of Soviet literature, one of my great frustrations is the lack of good writing from a pro-Stalin perspective. There is no shortage of books about the evils of Stalin and the system he created- Solzhenitsyn, Shalamov and Bulgakov all spring to mind- but what about those writers who actually believed in his vision for the USSR? [Read more →]

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