bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports is out of town

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A brief personal trip followed by a work trip has had me away for a while and I am unfortunately short on time to get a column together. We’ll return next week with something brilliant, I’m sure. In the meantime, here are a few stories to check out.

1) Pitcher Time Lincecum falls down.

2) Carlos Gomez gets hit in the head with a pitch.

3) Tiger Woods helps a stutterer.

4) Corey Kluber strikes out 18 and 12 in back-to-back games.

5) Rory McIlroy shoots a 61 at Quail Hollow.

6) Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh wins the Preakness.

 

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingeducation

Top ten prom themes for 2015

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10. My-My-My Bruce Jenner-ation

9. Journey to the Center of My Pants

8. A Midsummer Night’s Bris

7. 21 DryHump Street

6. Raise the Roofie!

5. Give ’Em Enough Grope

4. The Future Is Ours! (One-Percenters only)

3. Abstinence Makes the Fond Grow Harder

2. 100 Seniors Standing Around a Ballroom Texting

1. Fifty Shades of Bunting
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: NFL wildly overreacts to “Deflate-gate.”

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Please make it stop! The self-righteous grandstanding by all of the haters of the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady is making me crazy. If you don’t know what I am talking about, then you haven’t paid any attention at all to national news over the last couple of weeks. In the aftermath of “Deflate-gate,” about which I wrote back in January, the NFL has suspended Tom Brady for the first four games of this next football season, fined the New England Patriots a million dollars, and docked the team two future draft picks including its first round pick next year. How absolutely absurd. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Disclaimer by Renee Knight

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“Any resemblance to persons living or dead…” The disclaimer has a neat red line through it. A message she failed to notice when she opened the book.

Sometimes a novel really speaks to you – really seems to hit home. You can see yourself and your struggle in those pages. But what if it really was you? What if someone got wind of your deepest, darkest secret and decided to tell the world…in the pages of a “novel”? That’s the situation facing Catherine Ravenscroft in Disclaimer, a thriller by Renée Knight.

Catherine is a documentary filmmaker. She and her husband have recently emptied their nest, moving their somewhat trouble son, Nicholas, into his own apartment. They’ve moved to a new, smaller home, and as they are getting their belongings sorted out and put away, she finds the book on a table and from that point, her life begins to fall apart.

E. J. Preston, the author of this mysterious book, has somehow learned Catherine’s deepest secret, a secret that is slowly revealed to us over the chapters. It involves her son, that much we know from the beginning. We know that something happened and we know that Catherine didn’t tell her husband at the time. Preston has put his own spin on the events, told the story from a different point of view, made it into something that horrifies Catherine and would devastate her family.

We meet Preston early on and learn about his family. We learn about how he comes upon this story, and why he decides to tell it in this way. He has never met Catherine, but he believes that she is responsible for one of the great tragedies in his life and this is how he has chosen to take his revenge.

There were a couple of things I really liked about this novel. First is the idea that someone could put our deepest secret out there for everyone to see. That you could pick up a novel or open a website and there you are, exposed and humiliated. In this age of self-publishing, a story like this is completely probable and completely terrifying.

I also appreciate the skillful way the secret is revealed. I have to say that what I originally thought was way off. You think you know where it’s going, you think you know what side you’re on, but you’re probably wrong. The secret was not what I expected, and the way each piece of the puzzle comes to light made for a great story.

My copy of Disclaimer is an Advance Reader Copy, provided by the good folks at Harper Collins. It is scheduled for release on May 19th.

disclaimer

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingtravel & foreign lands

Top ten baby gifts for Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge

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10. A Princess phone

9. A pound of Imperial margarine

8. A crib with a moat and turrets

7. A Hello Kitty scepter

6. A mattress with no pea under it

5. A year’s supply of Royal Crown Cola

4. A throne-shaped potty

3. A can of dragon repellant

2. A silver knife and fork, to go with the spoon in her mouth that she was born with

1. A frog to kiss
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

The relevance of school?

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As I wrote recently, I’m fascinated by what influences people to be who/what they are. Perhaps in the same vein, I’m also curious about how what we learn transfers to other situations. There is a robust body of research studying learning transfer; it’s elusive to pin down how what we learn in one situation can be applied to another.

[Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Orient by Christopher Bollen

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There are always quite a few murder mysteries in my TBR pile, so only the really good ones stand out. Orient by Christopher Bollen is definitely in that pile – I have to admit that I did not guess the murderer until the very end, and I certainly didn’t guess the motive. I like it when a book can surprise me.

Mills is a bit of a drifter, a foster kid who has fallen on hard times and is rescued by a neighbor, Paul Benchley. We know from the first few paragraphs of the book that there will be murders. We know that Mills will be blamed for them, even though he didn’t commit them, and he gives us some clues as to the murderer. The clues didn’t help me unmask the killer; they just made me suspicious of everyone we meet in Orient.

Paul offers to take Mills to his family home in Orient, on the North Fork of Long Island. It’s an isolated town, lots of families who have been there for generations, and the town is undergoing some rapid changes as new money and new people flood in. In particular, there are a lot of artists coming to the community. Not nice folks who want to paint the lighthouses along the shore. No, these are big-time, big money modern artists, the kind who will bash through your dining room wall with a sledgehammer, expose the pipes underneath, throw glitter on them and call it an installation piece (and charge you $100,000). They have very different sensibilities than the long-time residents, and the cultures are bound to clash. Some neighbors welcome the new blood and the new money that comes with it. Others are afraid of losing the quaint and peaceful town they’ve always known. There is plenty of hostility and distrust on both sides.

In addition, there is the threat of Plum Island Animal Disease Center – a research facility that some residents believe is working on dangerous projects. When a strange, mutated carcass washes up on an Orient beach, even the skeptics begin to wonder…

Paul puts Mills to work cleaning out two generations of hoarding in the old family home, where he discovers some secrets about his benefactor and the town. He becomes friendly with Beth, a failed artist struggling with her husband’s artistic success and a bad case of “I have everything I wanted so why am I not happy?” There are conflicts on the island between the successful artists who are driving up real estate prices and long-time residents who want to keep Orient a sleepy village, frozen in time. When long-time residents start turning up dead, it’s easy to point fingers at the new kid in town.

I didn’t recognize, at the start of the book, that the places Bollen mentions – Orient, Plum Island, Oysterponds, etc – are real places. I think that adds to the appeal of the book, the idea that you could take a drive through the streets you’ve read about, stand on the beach and look towards the lighthouse.

Beth became a real source of annoyance for me (which may have been intentional, on Bollen’s part). She’s an artist who doesn’t paint because she’s afraid to fail, even though her husband is supportive and encouraging. Her husband agrees to leave New York City and move out to this little island town because his wife wants to go home again. Her mother gives her a beautiful, spacious home on the island. She and her husband want to have a baby, but now that she finds out she’s pregnant, she hasn’t told her husband and she is considering an abortion. She has everything she wants, she gets everything she asks for and she is still not happy. She is the kind of character you want to grab by the shoulders and give them a good shake, ask them if they have any clue just how lucky they have been and how pathetic they are for not appreciating it. It’s infuriating! But you hope they have time to work it all out.

Really enjoyed this one, mostly because it was tough to see where the story was going. There were several angles – conflict on the Historic Board, a drunken handyman who knows all the town’s secrets, crazy artists and the looming presence of Plum Island, which may be slowly poisoning the residents. I admit I didn’t care for that last storyline, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the mystery.

My copy of Orient by Christopher Bollen was an Advance Reader copy, provided by the good folks at Harper Collins.

orient

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Top football player goes undrafted due to murder investigation

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Playing in the NFL is the goal of many college football players. The amount of work these guys put in to get to that point, from the time they are young children, is astonishing. Most of them will never even get a sniff of The League, but that does not necessarily keep them from dreaming. By the time the best players reach the draft, these guys have a pretty decent idea of when they are likely to be picked, so the money they’ll make on that initial deal is fairly well determined as well. Sometimes, though, the dream is derailed. For one player, La’El Collins, an unimaginable situation arose last week, immediately before the draft, leaving his football future very much in doubt. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingfamily & parenting

Top ten things your mother doesn’t want to hear on Mother’s Day

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10. “Mom, we kind of always assumed you were our father.”

9. “I’m taking you out to dinner, but we have to hurry; Taco Bell closes at nine.”

8. “What do you mean, ‘What is it?’ – It’s a nose hair trimmer!”

7. “Here’s all the ingredients for a fantastic Mother’s Day dinner. All you have to do is cook it!”

6. “And you are…?”

5. “Uncle Dad knows about us!”

4. “Of course these flowers aren’t stolen from a funeral home. That banner just means, when you go to bed tonight, I hope you rest peacefully.”

3. “Mom, I have a surprise for you: I’m adopted!!”

2. “Here’s your gift, Mom: a DVD of Oedipus Rex –you sexy thing you!”

1. “Honey, I’m afraid the kids now have a new Mom. Her name used to be Bruce.”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Violence in Baltimore disrupts baseball

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The world of sports is often insulated from the troubles of the outside world. Fans use it as an escape from the difficulties of their lives and of society around them. Sometimes, though, the non-sports stuff can’t help but break through that barrier, and the last few days have seen that very thing happen in Baltimore, as riots triggered by the death of a man named Freddie Gray have had a significant impact. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Can and Abe by James Grippando

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In Cane and Abe by James Grippando, Miami’s top prosecutor becomes the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance. Is she the victim of a serial killer? Or is there a connection to the women in Abe’s past?

Abe Beckham is a prosecutor in Miami, married to the lovely Angelina but still hung up on his first wife, Samantha. The relationship between the three of them is pretty complicated: Abe is white; he dumped Angelina to start dating Samantha, who was black. Abe and Samantha married, but Samantha died of cancer. Angelina worked her way back into his life, but I doubt she’s ever forgiven him. Now there is a serial killer on the loose, his victims are all in interracial relationships, and Abe’s wife has gone missing…

Abe starts out a victim, but quickly becomes a suspect. FBI Agent Victoria Santos doesn’t trust Abe and even something as innocent as a broken wine glass seems like a smoking gun. Abe makes some dumb mistakes – as a prosecutor, he really should know better – but as hard as Santos tries, she can’t quite pin this on him.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this story, and a lot of tangents that may or may not lead to the killer. There’s J.T., Samantha’s mentally unstable brother; Samantha made Abe promise to look out for him, but that may be an impossible task. There are untraceable cell phones, a possible connection to a major corporate player, and a storage unit where some long-forgotten boxes may hold vital clues. There are plenty of reasons to suspect any number of characters, and that keeps the mystery humming along. The ending managed to surprise me – though I doubt we’ve gotten the whole story.

This is a great choice for modern mystery lovers who want a twisty plot, a host of suspects, and any number of ways to interpret the evidence. I love it when a book leaves me with a few loose ends to toy with, so I can unravel bits of the mystery on my own. If you like your stories neatly wrapped up with all the questions answered in the last chapter, this isn’t the book for you.

James Grippando spent 12 years as a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time writer. He’s published 23 thrillers – Cane and Abe is #22 and Cash Landing, #23, is near the top of my TBR pile. For more about the author, check out his website.

My copy of Cane and Abe was an Advance Reader Copy, provided by the folks at Harper Collins.

cane

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingreligion & philosophy

Top ten signs you need an exorcist

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10. You notice a bunch of sixes on your scalp

9. You suddenly start speaking unintelligibly, and you don’t work for Fox News

8. Your blood type came back as “Fire and Brimstone”

7. Every time you walk into a room, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells starts playing

6. You’re producing more pea soup than Campbells

5. You’re Chris Christie (Sorry, that’s a sign you need exercise)

4. You recoil and hiss every time you see a hot cross bun

3. You’re one of the Koch Brothers

2. Your head has been spinning around so much, you’ve worn out twelve collars

1. No matter how you prepare your eggs, they always come out deviled
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Parents, remove yourselves from the equation

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You know that old equation that goes something like this: hard work + dedication + dreams = success. An updated version has emerged: hard work + dedication + dreams + parents = success. Really, that version is hard work + dedication + dreams + parents = success + parents. Parents have gotten into this thing on both sides! You don’t have to be Poincaré to notice, though, that if you minus [parents] from both sides of the equation, you still get the original formulation. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads World Gone By by Dennis Lehane

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I am becoming a Dennis Lehane groupie – that’s all I can say. I loved The Drop. I loved Live By Night. And I loved the final book in the Joe Coughlin trilogy, World Gone By. This was a story that really drew me in, the kind of book where you keep re-reading pages, going back to an earlier section because you want to hear those words one more time. You can’t wait to see where the story is going, but you don’t really want it to end. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: ESPN’s Britt McHenry is a bully

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Bullying is everywhere. We mostly think of kids when we picture bullies, as we can all remember a few of those “tough” guys or girls from when we were young. Bullies comes in many shapes, sizes, and ages, though, and sometimes the offenders aren’t whom we expect. This week, a video surfaced of Britt McHenry, a reporter for ESPN, verbally abusing and belittling a woman who works for a towing company in Virginia. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingsports

Top ten rejected names for baseball teams

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10. The Orlando Blooms

9. The Indianapolis Religious Freedom Fighters

8. The Philadelphia Cheesesteaks

7. The Fightin’ Amish

6. The Austin Pendletons

5. The Major League Assholes

4. The Albuquerque Herky-Jerkies

3. The San Francisco Smoothboys

2. The New York Dolls

1. The San Jose Felicianos
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

musicreligion & philosophy

A precious moment at 1st Prez

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A big day at 1st Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas a couple weeks back … THE day, really … not just for Christians, but for all people … Easter Day, Resurrection Sunday, Empty Tomb Day, whatever.

It was also a day of added significance for me, in a small personal way … it’s the one time I have the courage to go up front and sing in public. As I have noted before, little remains of the fine tenor voice I carried into high school. If maturity had replaced it with an equally fine baritone, I wouldn’t have minded so much … but, alas, such was not the case. I still sing in public, but only that one time each year, and in the particular circumstances we have at 1st Prez that day … when I am surrounded by a large choir, accompanied by chamber orchestra and organ, and singing for a packed house of people feeling more than the usual level of Christian charity and forgiveness.
[Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods light up the Masters

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This past weekend was one of the few times out of the year that I actually put golf on the television. There were a number of reasons for this. First, it was the Masters, which is always a fascinating event. Second, Tiger Woods was returning from a break of a couple of months during which he tried to piece his suffering game back together. Finally, young Jordan Spieth taught everyone else how it should be done. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmoney

Top ten signs you’ve hired a bad tax accountant

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10. He does his math calculations in the nude, so he can count to 21

9. It takes him half an hour to figure out his tip at the Hair Cuttery

8. He’s wearing a T-shirt that says, “Audit, Schmaudit!

7. He tells all his clients from Colorado that they can deduct weed as an entertainment expense

6. Every time you question his methods, he grabs himself and says, “Hey, why don’t you deduct this?!

5. He asks you to name him as a dependent

4. Before every number on your tax form, he puts one of those ‘more or less’ squiggly lines

3. When you point out a math error, he says, “Ahhh, five of one, half a dozen of the other.”

2. He claims he spends a lot of time consulting with his own tax advisers: Martini and Rossi

1. He tells you that, because you’re filing a 1040, your tax liability is only 10 dollars and 40 cents
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

virtual children by Scott Warnock

C’mon, Sports Illustrated

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Look, man, I’m no prude (I can hear, from those privy to my debauched past, the knowing snickers rising). I don’t have a Grandpa Simpsonesque view of smut on TV (particularly in episode 7G05). I enjoy the sight of a pretty woman and don’t feel bad about saying that. [Read more →]