Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten things you don’t want to hear at tomorrow’s Fourth of July barbecue

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10. “Hope everybody likes tofu burgers!”

9. “Is my hot dog supposed to have an engagement ring on it?”

8. “Tell Uncle Jerod’s that’s not a flask; it’s lighter fluid.”


6. “Wish somebody had told me this BBQ was BYO!”

5. “Why do all these burgers have long, thin tails?”

4. “Who stuck Yank My Doodle! It’s A Dandy! into the VCR?”

3. “Is coleslaw supposed to move like that?”

2. “Who puts mayo on top of all the buns? Oh, wait…. Whose bright idea was it to put our picnic table directly under this tree?”

1. “Don’t worry about blowing your fingers off with those firecrackers; we’ve still have Ocamacare for at least another twelve hours!”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

ends & oddhealth & medical

One down, seven to go

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The very first thing that crossed my mind when I got my diagnosis, I am not proud to say, was “shit, I’ve been growing my hair out forever.” That is the first thought that I think we all have when someone says the word chemo, the fact that a person’s hair falls out. Initially, I was hoping that I’d be one of those lucky women who could just have a lumpectomy and some radiation (maybe) and then move on. Then I hoped it would just be the mastectomy without chemo. Once I got used to the idea that the chemo was going to happen (my tumor was more aggressive than first suspected) I just wanted to be done with it already. That didn’t work because I started the revolving door of oncologists. I was informed on May 16th that I needed to start chemo, on June 27th I got my first treatment.

My new hope was that I’d be one of those bitches who says that chemo doesn’t really make them feel bad. Isn’t hope funny? I was told that it would take at least three days for the chemo to get in there and create the dreaded side effects. It took about four hours. I think. I actually have no idea what time it was when I started to vomit. I felt like I was made of granite. I was heavy, so heavy that I couldn’t move my arms and legs. When I was getting the infusion, I could feel it going into me. Especially the red devil, because they actually hand pump it into you with a giant syringe, like you’re a cartoon character getting a shot from a mad scientist. Lying on the floor hours later it felt like the red cement had finally hardened. I’m pretty sure that at some point I just texted my husband (only two rooms away) “help.” My thumbs weighed too much to say what I needed. I only vomited once. All that I will say about that is that a friend of my husband’s brought me something that helped.

Every day since has been a little different and a little better. On day two I barely moved or ate, and the bone marrow bomb on my hip went off, which was super weird. Apparently people weren’t showing up for their day after chemo appointments to get this shot that forces your white blood cell count up. I don’t blame them. The solution was to stick the shot onto the patient with adhesive, and set it like a time bomb to shoot the meds into them at precisely twenty seven hours past infusion. I could feel it pumping into my abdomen. Super freaky, not in the Rick James way. Last night, night four, I slept without taking anything for the nausea. Today is Saturday, and not only have I not spent the entire day sleeping and spitting (I feel like I need to spit a lot, and I’ve never felt the need to spit previously, like ever), but I also walked a few laps around our pool. I’m sure that sounds weird, but I didn’t want to get a block from home and then realize that I had to just sit down and text someone to come carry me back.

I have big plans for the upcoming week. I will spend the holiday feeling grateful that my extended family will make sure my kids have fun (as they are doing today). Then I intend to feel well enough by Wednesday to go wig shopping, and on Friday I hope to make it to physical therapy. Woot woot. Until then I am thanking my lucky stars that my kids know how to cheer me up, my husband feeds me when I can stand it, and I have Netflix, Hulu and HBOGO when nobody is home.

virtual children by Scott Warnock

My yard used to be a playland

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One of the many advantages of my job is that I work at home sometimes, especially in the summer. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingtrusted media & news

Now that it has decided to jettison its classic slogan, top ten suggested new slogans for Fox News

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10. “Nobody Fox with the Truth Better than We Do”

9. “Ruining America Since 1996!”

8. “At Fox News, ‘Harass’ Is Two Words”

7. “Proving You Can Be Right and Wrong at the Same Time”

6. “Where Journalism Goes to Die”

5. “Deutschland Über Ailes”

4. “You Can’t Handle the Truth!!”

3. “The Inside Poop, Straight from the Horse’s Ass”

2. “For Fox Sake!”

1. “Unfair and, Especially, Unbalanced”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

virtual children by Scott Warnock

You dummies want screens…

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I know it’s all too easy to say “this jumped the shark” or “that jumped the shark” about moments in our entertainment-addicted/addled/saturated culture, but a few commercials I’ve seen have really pushed me to wonder how, well, stupid they think we are. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingbooks & writing

Top ten classics being made into superhero movies

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10. Little Wonder Women

9. Of Human Torch

8. The X-Man Cometh

7. Daredevil and Daniel Webster

6. Kiss of the Spider-Man

5. Doctor Strange and Mr. Hyde

4. Anne of Green Lantern

3. Of Mice And Superman

2. The Naked and the Deadpool

1. The Groot Gatsby

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

books & writingcreative writing

Back and Broke in Philly

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Back in Philadelphia was when I first saw my father as weak, as dependent, and as a guy who didn’t like working. Despite his lack of funds he seemed insistent on this last point—he would avoid work entirely unless he found what he considered to be his proper position. This was when I first saw that he’d possibly risk getting booted onto the street rather than take any job. In 1991 we were in the heart of the first Bush’s recession, and it didn’t seem like there were many of those idealized white-collar management positions around. My father was overweight, unemployed, under massive debt, and for the first time in my life, I saw him as old. He hadn’t had a full-time job since 1987, and I could see he wasn’t looking forward to searching for it. He knew the companies didn’t want him anymore, at least not for any kind of lucrative position. [Read more →]

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Talk is cheap… but it’s not disappearing just yet

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It’s a pretty regular occurrence lately. I’ll be in one part of the house, and I get a text from another part. Now, I know you think that I’m a high-paid blogger, living in a mansion that requires long-distance intra-abode electronic communications, but the truth is that my living arrangements are modest, with all parts reachable via shout, if not slightly elevated voice. [Read more →]

animalsBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten dog one-liners

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10. To err is human, to forgive, canine.

9. My wife wanted me to help her start a dog collection, so I gave her a couple of pointers.

8. I’ve had no luck at all trying to teach my dog to dance, because he’s got two left feet.

7. I’m pretty sure that, if dogs could talk, their most common phrase would be, “Are you gonna eat that?”

6. When I took my dog to the flea circus, he stole the show.

5. A German shepherd craps on my lawn every morning, and today he even brought his dog.

4. I tried to teach my dog how to fetch, but he just doesn’t get it.

3. I lost my dog, and I don’t even have collar ID.

2. I went to our local zoo, but all they had was a dog in a cage — it was a Shih Tzu.

1. My dog has been sitting outside in front of the snowman for an hour, just waiting for him to throw one of those twigs.

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

health & medical

Oh, hell no

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Sometimes something seems like a good idea, and then it seems like the worst idea ever.

I’ve been going to Moffitt in Tampa for all my cancer fun. It takes some time to get there and back. Every time I have an appointment I plan for a three hour minimum trip. I call it the three hour tour (if only it would end with me stranded on an island). I’ve been happy with my care there, minus a couple of hiccups and the very long time that it takes to get certain appointments.

That being said, when my oncologist at Moffitt suggested that I didn’t really have to drive there for chemo if I wanted to get the infusions somewhere in St. Pete, that sounded great. I could get my heart checked at Moffitt and get my port put in, then go to the oncologist in St. Pete who had previously been at Moffitt and now had her own practice. This all seemed like winning to me. Cutting my commute by two thirds sounded like a no-brainer.

As soon as I had the port placement scheduled I called the St. Pete office to schedule chemo. It doesn’t work like that, of course. First you have to get a consultation, and I couldn’t get that until a week after my port was put in. The first warning bell went off when the appointment setter said that it might be a week “or so” after the consultation before I could start chemo. This was due to checking with insurance, time it takes for meds to arrive once ordered, and available openings. I should have told her to forget it and I should have just called Moffitt. I want to get this over and done and move on. I did not call Moffitt. I just said: “Ok.” Sigh.

I waited for the consult, which was today. As I pulled up to the “cancer center” I began to feel like this was not the place for me. It’s in a sort of strip mall. When I walked in, every ounce of my intuition screamed “NO!” There were dirty (yes dirty, like scuff marks and smudges) walls. The chairs were older than the office chairs at my kids’ underfunded public school. The carpet was dingy, the “art” was mismatched and faded. Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad. Maybe I sound like I’ve got a case of the first word problems. Maybe I do. In my experience, though, environment is always a reflection of something, and that something is usually not good. I looked at that uncared for space and connected it to the care that would be given to me. Beyond that, as a chemo patient your immune system is a mess. You can get infections or illnesses so easily. It really should be the cleanest joint in town. There was a giant TV, though, constantly playing local news (cheerful as ever), so there’s that.

Being the nice midwestern girl that I am, I waited to see the doctor anyway. I thought that it was possible that she would be wonderful and thorough, and that the back of the office would be tidier. My blood was drawn and the girl did a great job, it was painless. Then I was led into an exam room. It looked the same as the waiting area, though cleaner. The doctor was lovely. Young, great hair, very professional attire that she probably got at Banana Republic or Ann Taylor. She mostly said the right things. She joined the practice 9 months ago. The doctor she joined has been there 25 years. I mentioned the environment of the office in what I think was a light hearted way, and she said that sometimes the crooked pictures on the walls distracted her while she talked with patients. “But,” she reflected, “the important thing is that our infusion area is comfortable, nice recliners.”

It didn’t look comfortable to me. It looked dark. It looked scary.

She introduced me to the nurse in charge of the scary room. The nurse didn’t even look at me. She just took that moment to tell the doctor that she wasn’t feeling well and list her symptoms.

At the desk as I was leaving the receptionist said that they would call me after my drugs had been approved, ordered and delivered. “If you don’t hear from us in a week or maybe a week and a half, give us a call.”

Say what? If I don’t hear from you? Should I be expecting you to just forget about me?

I replied that if I didn’t hear from them in a few days I would be calling, because I just wanted to get past this. I said it with my nice girl smile, and everyone smiled back.

I was already thinking that they wouldn’t need to order anything for me at all, I just had to settle it in my mind. I called someone who works in the oncology field and has been through this herself. We were 100% in sync. No chemo at this place, not for me.

I called Moffitt as soon as I got home. Hopefully I’ll get a call back tomorrow to schedule my chemo there. More three hour tours to come, but at least I know the care is good, the physicians have high standards, and someone does a good job tidying up at night.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingsports

Top ten horses least likely to win next Saturday’s Belmont Stakes

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10. Appaloser

9. Not-Very-Thorough-Bred

8. My Little Pony

7. Night Mare

6. Tripod

5. Seattle Stew

4. It’s A Grand Old Nag

3. Feckless Equus

2. Shouting Myself Horse

1. Sean Spicer

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Mr. Sean goes to Washingtonpolitics & government

Why Trump is so very Trump: a step-by-step analysis

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Shortly before the presidential election, I wrote if we had a Trump presidency, it would most resemble that of his fellow dark horse candidate Franklin Pierce: “Like Trump, Pierce was surrounded by chaos. (Though, unlike Trump, it wasn’t usually of his creation.)”

So far, so good.

It’s hard to remember sometimes, but from a historical standpoint Trump took office during an unusually stable moment in America’s history. We are a nation that’s fought two World Wars, suffered a handful of economic freefalls, seen our President die in office on eight occasions, had the British burn our capital, and for a time splintered apart completely.

By comparison—and this is no way ignores numerous massive problems, such as the fact you can’t refer to our nation’s infrastructure without using the word “crumbling”—America right now is a lazy summer day.

Of course, America doesn’t feel like a lazy summer day: nope, it’s the middle of winter and we’re freezing to death on the tundra, yet somehow simultaneously getting hit by a category 5 hurricane at the same moment the killer bees attack.

In what may be the biggest understatement of all time, there appear to be aspects of Donald Trump that could prove challenging to a successful presidency. Understand: most presidents have qualities or experiences that threaten their ability to lead. Pierce himself witnessed his son die in a train accident shortly before taking office and promptly went on to be a truly miserable Commander-in-Chief. However, we have also seen presidents overcome absurdly long odds to find success, as Lincoln’s struggles with depression and F.D.R.’s battle against polio didn’t stop either from being a great leader.

But if a president had depression and polio and refused to seek treatment for either condition and insisted on making fun of other people with depression and polio… well, that’s our Donald. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingeducation

Top ten prom themes for 2017

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10. At Least I Can Vote In the Next Election

9. I’ve Had My Fill of Clearasil

8. Give ’Em Enough Grope

7. Hide That Flask and Dance!

6. Journey to the Center of My Pants

5. Goodbye Textbooks! Hello Minimum Wage!

4. Fifty Shades of Bunting

3. 100 Seniors Standing Around a Ballroom Texting

2. Abstinence Makes the Hard Grow Fonder

1. You’re Not In the One Percent, So Why Even Bother

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten things Donald Trump said during his commencement speech at Liberty University

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10. “Relish the opportunity to be an outsider. You can be outside of so many things these days: a decent-paying job, the health care system,…”

9. “Betsy DeVos was going to be here to give a commencement speech, but she forgot how to read.”

8. “Liberty University ranks among the greatest institutions of higher learning, right up there with Trump University and Hogsworth.”

7. “I am amazed how many people are here today — there must be fifty or sixty million of you!”

6. “You aren’t going to let other people tell you what you believe, especially when you know that you’re right. You don’t need a lecture from Washington on how to lead your lives. That’s how each and every one of you should lead your life, and I know about this stuff because I’m from Washington.”

5. “Can you keep a secret? Oh, sorry, for a second there I thought you were all Russian.”

4. “Nothing is easier or more pathetic than being a critic. Just ask Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, or Crooked Hillary.”

3. “I’m really glad to be here today at this phenomenal evangelical Christian university. No Muslims!

2. “Can anybody tell me why the Democrats never get blocked from doing anything? — Why is it always obstruction of just us?”

1. “Today you end one chapter but you are about to begin the greatest adventure of your life. Now you must go forth into the world and turn your hopes and dreams into action. America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers. The future belongs to the dreamers, not to the critics. The future belongs to the people who follow their hearts no matter what the critics say because they truly believe in their vision. Carry yourself with dignity and pride. The more people tell you it’s not possible, that it can’t be done, the more you should be absolutely determined to prove them wrong. And always have the courage to be yourself. You have to do what you love. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m feeling a bit bloated, ’cause I just ate about a pound of fortune cookies!”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Vouchers and school “choice” — take a good look

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You’re probably hearing more lately about vouchers and what’s called “choice” approaches to schooling. Have your antenna up and look carefully into what these education approaches are about — and what they do to children. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmusic

Top ten least popular songs at funerals

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10. The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive”

9. The Three Degrees’ “When Will I See You Again”

8. Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”

7. Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”

6. Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”

5. Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To”

4. Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”

3. Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”

2. Amii Stewart’s “(You Better) Knock On Wood”

1. The Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Motion pictures of everything

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My dad found an old grainy video of my brother and me when we were about 7 and 8 years old doing – what else? – some wrestling on a lawn. He had it converted from 8 mm to a DVD and titled it “Yesterday.” [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythinggoing parental

In honor of Mother’s Day, top ten worst pieces of advice my mother gave me

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10. When I was young, my mother said I could be anything I wanted to be and that the sky was the limit – which is why I gave up on my dream of becoming an astronaut.

9. My mother always taught me to fight fire with fire – eventually leading to my being booted off our local volunteer fire department.

8. My mother always advised me to quit while I was ahead – and to this day I’ve never won a race.

7. My mother said I should never run away from my problems, and once my problem was I was being chased by a bear.

6. My mother always told me, “You can’t blame a guy for trying,” but the police totally disagreed when they arrested me for attempted murder.

5. My mother told me that sixty was the new thirty – so now I have a one-year suspension on my driver’s license.

4. My mother always said that, when I grew up, I could be anybody I wanted to be – leading to my being arrested for identity theft.

3. My mother told me to always give 100% – which is why I nearly died at last year’s blood drive.

2. My mother said my life goal should be to light up the room wherever I go – and now I’ve been charged with arson.

1. I told my mother, “When I grow up I want to be a man,” and she replied, “Don’t be silly, you can’t do both!

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

ends & oddhealth & medical

Three weeks out

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Three weeks ago today my right breast and 25 of my lymph nodes were removed. Man, did it hurt. It’s getting easier, as far as the pain goes. The strangest part, physically, is that when it doesn’t hurt there is an emptiness. Having air where there used to be this part of me is a strange and sad adjustment to make. It feels ghostly, is that a word? The strangest part, emotionally, is coming to terms with that surgery being just the start.

People talk a lot about fighting. All these war references seem misplaced after a bit. You see it especially with breast cancer. We are all referred to as “warriors” pretty regularly, and we are doing battle with boobs. They make tee shirts that say: “Yes, these are fake. My real ones tried to kill me.” Some women begin to resent and hate their breasts and their bodies when they get breast cancer. I can’t relate.

I have certainly had a love/hate relationship with my body (when I was skinny I wished for curves and then when I wasn’t skinny I wasn’t happy with that either. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I realized I usually looked pretty great and needed to stop caring). It took having cancer to make me feel genuine love for my body. I didn’t get mad at my body. I didn’t feel like an angry warrior. I felt sorry. I have apologized to my self so many times since my diagnosis. I’m so sorry that I didn’t do better and know better. I’m most sorry that I didn’t love my body. I didn’t appreciate it, I insulted it, I didn’t take care of it. I’m not angry with it now. I love it now. I see it now as such a gift. Every day in this body is a gift. Some crap life lesson that we all know is true and never spend two seconds to think about until we are knee deep in the quicksand.

Apologies aren’t getting me anywhere with this body of mine, though. Not so far. And there are so many miles left to go before I rest easy. I’m maybe 20-25% there. I just did this hard thing, and all of these people showed up and fed us and cared and asked and helped. I was so grateful, and then at the same time I wanted them to stop. I wanted to remind everyone that they should maybe come next time instead, when maybe it will be worse. There is so much more to come. I now have two kinds of cancer. About 3% of women get thyroid cancer after they get breast cancer. Most of those 3% get it way after, but I couldn’t wait. I’ve never had any patience. So, this thyroid will probably be removed as well. Those appointments start soon. They want to focus on the breast first, and I have been doing the same (mentally, I mean). I am up to like 6 or 7 doctors now (including naturopath types). Last week I had four appointments in three days and afterward I just crumbled. I had started to feel a little better physically, feel like I was accomplishing something by healing from surgery, and then I realized that my sprint turned into a marathon turned into a triathlon. Is there a kind of race that you run for life?

Life is now the strangest mix of desperately trying to let myself feel joy in every possible moment, being ever diligent about my food and supplements, my doctor’s appointments, treatments, meditation and exercise, and trying to provide my family with the care and love that they need and deserve. I just keep thinking that I want more more more. More of everything. More of this exact life. I don’t think anymore about what I might have done differently. I would take more of exactly this forever.


Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmusic

Donald Trump’s top ten favorite songs

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10. Crazy (by Patsy Cline)

9. Back in the U.S.S.R. (by The Beatles)

8. You’re So Vain (by Carly Simon)

7. Crazy (by Seal)

6. What’s New Pussy Cat? (by Tom Jones)

5. Electra Avenue (by Eddy Grant)

4. Catch a Falling Czar (by Perry Como)

3. Crazy (by Gnarls Barkley)

2. Urine My Heart (by Rod Stewart)

1. Putin on the Ritz (by Taco)

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.