Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmovies

Top ten signs you’re not going to win an Academy Award next Sunday

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10. It’s the world’s first pro-Catholic pornographic musical

9. The best acting you did all year was telling your wife that her new dress didn’t make her look fat

8. Your film was called Left Behind – and it should have been

7. It’s the sequel to The Love Guru

6. On the red carpet, instead of asking you who you’re wearing, they ask you why you showed up

5. The opening and closing credits actually meet in the middle

4. In your Biblical epic, the product placement for the iPhone 6 was too distracting

3. You’re Mitt Romney, and therefore can’t win anything

2. The jury at Cannes found you “Guilty as charged”

1. You’re a Black actor or director
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

The mysteries of college costs

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If you’re of/in a certain stage/mindset/class, you’re thinking about where your kids are going to go to college. More likely, you’re lying awake at night wondering how you’re going to pay for it, perhaps tinged with a nagging feeling that maybe you shouldn’t bother. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

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Oh, I can’t tell you how excited I was to get a copy of Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances for review! My love affair with Neil Gaiman’s writing has been a troubled one – some things I love, some things I don’t – but I love short stories when they are well-written and this collection was a treasure. That doesn’t mean I loved every one of them, that almost never happens, but there are some that were so good, so compelling, that I was sorry to see them end.

The book starts with a fairly long introduction, which makes great reading if you’re interested in a writer’s process and how they think about their work. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: New York Knicks owner rips long-time fan

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Professional sports team owner would seem to be a pretty cushy job, don’t you think? I mean, sure, there is likely some pressure to put a winning product on the field, epecially in the larger, sports-crazed cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc. Outside of that, though, the owner watches his or her fortune grow and grow, sometimes into numbers that end in “billion,” while getting to hobnob with the athletes, celebrities, and politicians. It’s remarkable how often these guys screw this up. New York Knicks owners James Dolan seems to be having a tough time of it, for example. [Read more →]

language & grammarThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that the letter “E” shall no longer be spoken as an “A”

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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. 3421: A, E, I , O, U and sometimes Y. They have their own sounds. They have their own purposes. They are the blood in the veins of every word. It’s them versus twenty-one other letters and they hold their own. Let us not weaken them for the sake of vain affectation. “E” has always been one of our favorite letters. Double it and it can sing butterfly notes, like a mezzo-soprano on her wedding night; or, it can screech madness, like a hawk with flaming feet. Let it sit alone at the end of a word and it exerts force upon the less powerful letters, like a director’s shadow brooding in the wings. It is a strong letter…until some dippy robot comes along and, through yet another in a long line of current puzzling affectations, changes it into an “A”. The woman, for instance, who pronounces her own name of “Emma” as “Amma; “ the announcer, for another instance, who pronounces the call letters to a Philadelphia radio station (WMGK) as AM-GEE-KAY; the person who inadvertently changes the word “ember” to “amber” —  into a different word altogether…  For the love of God we don’t know how it became perceived as stylish to unhinge one’s jaw whilst speaking, but, it shall not continue.

The Punishment: These E-radicators will be taught how to make the proper sound by having their mouths carefully positioned, permanently, by the Imperial Orthodontist (who prefers iron appliances for this sort of obligatory speech therapy).

Have an axcellent day.

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning, whether you like it or not. 

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingliving poetry

Top ten favorite lines for a Valentine’s Day poem

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10. I hope and pray to see The Light again,

9. To see the Heaven lurking in our eyes!

8. I’m looking forward to the moment when

7. We share a blinding rapturous surprise!

6. But if we’ve got to wait, then we shall wait!

5. And if it never comes, I say at least

4. I got to spend each day with my soulmate,

3. Amazed at how each day our Love’s increased!

2. I’ve waited for you ever since my birth!

1. To wait with you is Heaven here on Earth!
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: What a Super Bowl.

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If you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday evening, you received a treat. What a fantastic game. Two great teams, quite evenly matched, played a game for the ages that was decided right at the very end by some huge plays. We got an awful lot of good, mixed with a bit of bad, in the biggest sporting event of the year. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

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It’s been almost three years since my review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I recall being a bit mesmerized by the book at that time – the photographs were remarkable and the idea that they were real, found photos made them ever more fascinating. Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children) picks up where Miss Peregrine’s leaves off, and I do mean right where it leaves off. That’s a big part of the problem I had with the book. We are thrown right back into the story of Jacob, Emma, Bronwyn, Olive and the other Peculiars, rowing their little boats toward the coast of Wales…and I honestly could not remember why they were there. There was no recapping of the story so far, even though the books were published 3 years apart. There were no re-introductions to the characters, no little clues when the characters referred to wights and hollowgasts and ymbrynes. There are some small photos at the beginning of the book but, to be honest, I didn’t stop and read them before jumping into the story. Luckily, the first nook was still on my Kindle, so I could go back and refresh my memory before digging into the book at hand. Not a good start, to be sure.

The story itself is much like the first book – entertaining and fairly fast-paced. The children are still on the run from wights who have invaded the “loop” where they’ve lived for decades. The loop is a bit of stopped time, well-protected from those who would harm the peculiars. The hollowgast are the sad remnants of an experiment gone wrong, with tentacles for mouths and a hunger for Peculiar children. They are invisible to most Peculiars, which is what makes Jacob so valuable: his Peculiar skill is that he can sense and see and kill hollowgast. Wights are evolved hollowgast – they evolve by consuming the souls of Peculiar children. In Hollow City, they are after more than the children’s souls.

Jacob and his friends are traveling to London, the capital city of Peculiars, in the hopes of finding help for Miss Peregrine, who has become trapped in her bird form. They encounter a number of other Peculiars along the way, and learn much about the history of Peculiars. The children don’t have much time to save Miss Peregrine and to derail a terrible plot that would devastate Peculiars everywhere. In the midst of it all, Jacob must make some difficult choices, about leaving his friends, about being apart from his family, about falling in love and just what it is he wants to do with his life.

This was a quick read (shorter than a flight from Cleveland to Atlanta). Although I was frustrated by the lack of recapping and annoyed that I had to basically re-read the first book to continue the series, I still enjoyed the story and the characters. Although I admit that I am heartily sick of trilogies, this book was better than most second books, in that there was a lot of action and new development, which kept it from being more than just a set-up for the next installment.

As before, the highlight of the book, for me, was the photos. These are more real, found photos, showing all sorts of unusual people, and they bring so much to the story.

My copy of Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children) came from my personal library.

HOLLOW-CITY-COVER deirdre_the_emu-raffe CT

language & grammarThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees an end to the use of the suffix “-gate”

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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. XLIX: Okay. We admit it. “Deflategate” almost changed our minds about the whole thing, because, let’s face it, that’s funny. But other than that, there will be no more adding “-gate” to the names of scandals, by media writers. First of all, it’s weak and a cheap attempt at cleverness. Second, “Watergate” was the name of an office complex where covered-up break-ins occurred in 1972. “Watergate” was not a scandal about water. It makes about as much sense to use “water” as it does to use “gate.” Why not call the Christie thing “Waterbridge”? — or the football thing “Waterball”? I love my minions dearly, but they need to stop being twits now.

The Punishment: In order to literally drive home the literal nature of the term “Watergate,” offenders will have their head repeatedly slammed in the iron gate at the end of the Emperor’s driveway while the Emperor enjoys a bowl of popcorn on his front porch. (Although most of our punishments are symbolic, it should be noted that the Emperor just happens to enjoy popcorn while taking in the suffering of the naughty.)

Now, go forth and obey.

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

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmusic

Top ten signs you’re not going to win a Grammy next Sunday

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10. Your album All About That Bass is nothing but freshwater fishing tips

9. Your music is considered too sappy for elevators

8. There is no category for Best Kazoo Recording

7. Nobody bought your CD A Whiter Shade of Pale by Boko Haram

6. Your album didn’t go gold or platinum; it went aluminum

5. You’re Mr. Methane, the professional farter

4. The judges are prejudiced against karaoke

3. Every time you put your CD into a CD player, it immediately spits it out again

2. Your record – 37 minutes of silence followed by 3 minutes of applause – is entitled The Best of Marcel Marceau

1. You’re “The Artist Formerly Known as Bobby Goldsboro”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Can we please talk about the Super Bowl instead of football inflation?

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We are in the midst of Super Bowl week. The two weeks that separate the conference championship games and the Super Bowl are usually a time filled with discussion of the game and everything that goes along with it, like proposition bets, commercials, wardrobe malfunctions, and the like. Mostly the game, though. This year, it has been nearly impossible to find any actual game talk. Instead, the news has been dominated by the fascinating subject of the air inflation levels of some footballs. By “fascinating,” of course, I mean “mind-numbingly dull and pointless.” [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads The Deep by Nick Cutter

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Nick Cutter’s The Deep starts out with a very promising premise: a strange plague is afflicting humanity on a global scale. Scientists have stumbled upon a possible cure — at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. In a desperate race to save the human race, governments have come together to build a research station at the bottom of the ocean, eight miles underwater. The Trieste may be man’s last hope, but there is something lurking there, and the cure they are researching might not be benign.

I loved the beginning of the novel. The plague itself is horrifying: those suffering with The ‘Gets slowly begin to forget everything. At first, it’s small things, like where they left their car keys. Later, it’s their name, how to feed themselves, even how to breathe. The situation is dire enough to imagine this sort of multinational cooperation and expenditure. Luke Nelson has been called to the site of this amazing research station to try and retrieve his brother, Clayton. Clayton is difficult and unpleasant, probably a bit of a sociopath, but he is also a genius, a brilliant researcher and he is currently at the bottom of the ocean and he has stopped communicating with the researchers on the surface. They hope his brother can draw him out, but that means sending his brother on that long, cold, dark journey to the ocean floor.

It’s a great build up. I was reading the novel while on a business trip, in a hotel room far from home. The descriptions of the research station were strangely in tune with the hotel: the strange shadows and unexpected noises, the feeling of isolation combined with the weird watched feeling you get when you’re surrounded by strangers – it was the perfect atmosphere for reading something like this. It really gave me the creeps. The story itself was pretty engaging, especially when you start learning the backstories of the various characters. Luke and Clayton had a pretty rough childhood and they have never been close. The other scientists have their own tragic pasts and early on, you begin to wonder if that is a coincidence. There is definitely something happening on the Trieste, and it’s not something good.

My real problem with the book is the ending. After a great build-up, great stories hinting at something evil, something strategic and inhuman, the ending really fell flat. I found some of the conclusions just too much to swallow – the idea that whatever this lifeform might be, it had the sort of influence they suggested was too implausible. The last scene was even more disappointing to me. I don’t require that a book wrap up every storyline in a ribbon and present it to the reader all neat and tidy – in fact, I would prefer that it did not – but this felt like taking the easy way out. I still have another book by Nick Cutter on the shelf – The Troop – and I plan to give it a try. The Deep had so much potential, but a really flat finish.

My copy of The Deep was an Advance Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

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moviesvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Why you want Peter Jackson as your Dungeon Master

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I was warned that this title would discourage almost all readers. So be it. The fact remains, that if you are ever lucky enough to play a character, say a dwarf fighter or a halfing rogue, in a good ol’ Dungeons & Dragons game, you definitely want Peter Jackson to be your DM.

[Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten things overheard at the wedding of Grace Gelder, the first woman in England to marry herself

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10. “When she proposed to herself, I heard at first she played hard to get.”

9. “I’m glad they now allow same-sex marriages here; otherwise, this’d be really difficult to pull off.”

8. “Was there a pre-nup?”

7. “The ring exchange is going to be bloody awkward.”

6. “I know I’m old-fashioned, but does anybody know if the couple saved themself for marriage?”

5. “Did anyone clue in the minister? He looks mighty confused!”

4. “My God! She’s also one of her own bridesmaids!”

3. “And now she’s giving herself away!”

2. “Yay! She even caught the bouquet!”

1. “And now she’s releasing dozens of pigeons wearing tiny little Grace Gelder masks!”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

religion & philosophysports

Upward Devotional: Looking Inside, Underneath

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As I noted before, it’s the start of a new year, and that means part of my Saturdays are spent in gymnasiums … one in my church, and another in the public high school across the street. The Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season is well underway here, in Midland, Texas. Volunteers are helping the program in a lot of different ways … as coaches, referees, time/scorekeepers, and delivering devotionals to the fans during halftime breaks … I’m one of the volunteers doing the devotionals, and here was my presentation for today, inspired by the story of a an alumnus of the college where I work …
[Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Was Kurt Busch really dating an assassin?

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There are wacky stories and then there are wacky stories. Occasionally, you read something that seems so completely bizarre that it feels like it almost has to be true, because why would someone make that up? The sports world is no exception to this phenomenon, and this week, it was NASCAR that could have appeared in the Weekly World News. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads…A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory by Sara Midda

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A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory
 is a lovely little book, beautifully illustrated with tiny watercolor paintings of olives and figs and rabbits and vegetables and wine bottles. The emphasis is on the word little – on some pages, the writing is so small that it is almost impossible to read. The pages are full of tiny watercolors, small-scale photographs, leaves and flowers and fruits in a wonderful color palette. The paper is heavy and more textured than an average book, and the font is chosen to mimic handwriting. I spent a long flight studying the tiny charts on how to cut cheese correctly, miniature photos of bamboo implements, drawings of dogs and stone walls. 

It is a food-lover’s journal of places visited, meals eaten, tastes remembered, There are recipes and recommendations: what to eat in Morocco, perfect foods for summer days and nights, the best way to prepare parsnips. I loved the pages on choosing the perfect mug, food memories, and the chapter on the history of olives and olive oil.

It’s really a beautiful book, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with it, now that I have enjoyed the first reading. It’s not the sort of thing I’m likely to read again (at least not after I try that recipe for Onions Monegasque). It would have been the perfect stocking stuffer for food-loving friends; I know a number of people who will enjoy reading the tiny print and smiling over the tiny pictures. Whether they will use it to suggest table settings or ideas for onion tarts, I can’t say for certain, but it will be a lovely addition to their shelves and certain to bring a smile.

My copy of A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

 

bowl of olives

 

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Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten suggested Mitt Romney campaign slogans

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10. Romney: Third Time’s the Charm!

9. “I and my magic underwear will turn this country around!”

8. He Believes In America (Though He Banks In The Caymans)

7. “This time I’ll beat Obama for sure!”

6. Romney: “Let’s make the White House my fifth home!”

5. It’s Time for Rich White Guys to Have Some Power!

4. “Vote for Me, I’m Full of Mitt!”

3. He’s Not As Dumb As He Looks!

2. “Let me rescue you from affordable health care, low unemployment, falling gas prices, and a record high stock market!”

1. “I stand for Truth, Justice,…and a Third Thing!”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

religion & philosophysports

Upward Devotional: Good News

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As I noted last week, it’s January, and that means part of my Saturdays are spent in gymnasiums … one in my church, and another in the public high school across the street. Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season is underway here, in Midland, Texas. Volunteers are helping the program in a lot of different ways … as coaches, referees, time/scorekeepers, and delivering devotionals to the fans during halftime breaks … I’m one of the volunteers doing the devotionals, and here was my presentation for today, inspired by the fact that bad news here, in my part of western Texas – a motor vehicle accident that claimed ten lives, and effects of the continuing decline in oil prices –  made it into national headlines this past week …
[Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: How exactly does college football put Jim Tressel in its Hall of Fame?

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Hall of Fames (Halls of Fame?) are kind of silly if you think about it. Similar to the Oscars and other awards shows, HoFs are ways for different sports to congratulate themselves. We are a society that likes lists, though, so we appreciate the fact that they tell us which players and coaches are worthy of this high honor.  The choices that are made can be perplexing sometimes, of course. A good example happened this week when Jim Tressel was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. [Read more →]