The Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees an end to positive comments about “selfies”

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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. R-34-Z: We are not a vain Emperor. We are simply superior to all others.  This superiority is a Blessing from Above – a Blessing under which (to put it frankly) you, dear reader, do not fall. And while your benevolent Emperor will benevolently allow you to continue to post [to use the vernacular] “selfies,” He must place a ban against reactions to those selfies which might fuel the fire of conceit in the hearts of the mediocre masses. Therefore, We needs must ban a particular reaction to posted selfies. Ye may no longer respond with “Beautiful!” Instead, try to be more critical; perhaps point out a pimple or make a comment about evidence of a double chin that the subject is clearly trying to hide by looking unnaturally upward in the picture. Do not hesitate to say things like: “Why the hell are you doing that weird thing with your mouth?” or “Yeah – the way the light is hitting you definitely makes you look less fat. Good call!” or “FYI, humans, in Nature, never really stand like that” or “You know, you could really injure yourself working so hard to achieve cleavage.” Sometimes it’s best to be dry and straight forward, perhaps with a comment like, “That’s the picture you picked? That’s all you got?” While some may see this as judgmental and bordering on cruel, We see it as necessary. Too much self-esteem among the common rabble can lead to no good.

The Punishment: Those who comment encouragingly on posted selfies will have their portraits painted [naked, pre-tan, fully-frontal and in full sunlight, on the beach] by the Imperial Master of Photorealism. This portrait will then be inextricably electronically linked to the offender’s social media accounts for the rest of his or her miserable Earth-span.

Now, go forth and obey.

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

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten favorite bumper stickers I’ve actually seen (political)

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10. How Many Armed Psychopaths Does It Take To Change A Gun Law?

9. I Don’t Mind You Being Rich – I DO Mind You Buying The Government

8. Politics Is The Entertainment Division Of The Military-Industrial Complex

7. We Are Creating Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them

6. War Is Terrorism With A Bigger Budget

5. Do You Hear Crazy Voices? – Turn Off Fox News

4. Corporate Media: The Rich Telling The Middle Class To Blame The Poor

3. You Keep Your Bill O’Reilly – I’ll Keep My Bill O’Rights

2. I’ll Believe Corporations Are People When Texas Executes One

1. I Went To The Tea Party, But All I Got Was Kool-Aid

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Tony Romo’s event gets screwed by the NFL

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We stand for justice here at BSGS. I show my biases regularly, but I usually root for fairness. At least, I like to think I do. So when an athlete that I really dislike is getting the short end of the stick, I am happy to stand up for that individual. OK, maybe “happy” isn’t the right word, but at least “okay with it.” This week, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, one of my least favorite people in all of sports, got the shaft from the National Football League. There is little doubt that the league is being very hypocritical here. [Read more →]

educationThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that graduation clichés will cease

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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. 2015: The Emperor’s Imperial Sociologists have determined that societies around the world are stuck in the anthropological and evolutionary mud. The human race is simply not making much progress. Sure, we have all sorts of things figured out, like, whether or not Bruce Jenner is a hero for becoming Caitlyn Jenner. Sure, we have become digital crusaders against “shaming” anyone who has any particular habit or characteristic, regardless of effect or defect, but…we’re just not really moving forward. The cause of this has been determined: clichés on graduation cards, in graduation speeches and at graduation parties.

For decades upon decades, graduates have been told the exact same things: “Follow your dreams/passions;” “Do a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life;” “Get out there and change the world…” These things may be true and their utterers and writers might be fine and successful people, but if we are going to get anywhere, we need to stop anaesthetizing our graduates with pickled aphorisms, howsoever well-intentioned or wise.  (I am the Emperor. I can mix any metaphors I want.) We need to shake things up, as it were.  (I can also use clichés, if I want.) This hackneyed prattling is so much corn in the intellectual digestive system: straight through and down and out into the old toilet pipes.  And it will stop with the class of 2016. The solution is simple: card writers, relatives, and commencement speakers will, henceforth, speak not of what to do, but of what to consider. This should, in ten years’ time, send the world forward in the evolutionary process by a full century.

The Punishment: Violators of this newest commandment will be forced to eat nothing but corn for an entire week.

Now, go forth and obey.

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

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten favorite bumper stickers I’ve actually seen (nonpolitical)

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10. Watch Out For The Idiot Behind Me

9. If This Car Were A Horse I’d Have Shot It

8. WARNING: In Case Of Rapture This Vehicle Will Be Unmanned

7. Stop Making Stupid People Famous!

6. WITCHES PARKING – All Others Will Be Toad

5. I’d Rather Be Teleporting

4. Honk If You’ve Never Seen A Gun Fired From A Vehicle

3. Despite The High Cost Of Living, It Remains Popular

2. If Everything Is Going Your Way, You’re Probably In The Wrong Lane

1. Hang Up And Drive!

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Paean to The Inferno

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Last weekend, my eighth-grade son’s soccer team, The Inferno, played their last game together.* Eh, maybe it’s really not that momentous in the grand scheme of the great world, but this is their sixth year playing travel soccer, and it’s been one heck of an enjoyable ride. [Read more →]

books & writing

Added to my bookshelf … “The Purple Heart Detective Agency”

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Chapter 1 of “The Purple Heart Detective Agency” opens with many of the trademarks of a classic Dashiell Hammett whodunit … it’s a sun-drenched day on the streets of L.A. and hard-boiled detective Clayton Grace is sitting across the desk from a beautiful dame who is offering him what appears to be a simple and straightforward ‘missing person’ case.

Fans of detective fiction will know, of course, that there’s bound to be much more to the case … you know there will be a colorful and entertaining array of supporting characters popping-up in the chapters that follow … and there will be speculation that the dame may be offering Grace more than a retainer at some point.
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bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: FIFA comes apart at the seams

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Last Wednesday, the corrupt house of cards known as FIFA came tumbling down. FIFA, or Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the governing body of international soccer, which includes the enormous event called the World Cup. Every four years, this tournament is held somewhere in the world, and the teams that have made it through the myriad qualifying rounds compete for the championship in a city that has been selected to host. Now I am not a big soccer fan, and don’t follow the sport anywhere nearly as closely as many people out there, but even I had often heard rumors of corruption and bribery involving the FIFA officials. Last week, fourteen people were indicted as part of an investigation into mass wrongdoing within the organization. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs you’re not going to win a Tony this Sunday

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10. Trying to cash in on jukebox musicals like Mamma Mia and Rock of Ages, your new musical is called Milli Vanilli

9. The title of your massive epic two-part play isn’t Wolf Hall, but Monty Hall

8. No elementary school play has ever won the top prize before

7. The marquee reads “Adam Sandler is Willie Loman”

6. All the dialogue was translated into Lithuanian, because it lost something in the original

5. The name of your musical is not Something Rotten, though that was the majority of your reviews

4. When the premiere ended, the audience shouted “Author! Author!” while boiling tar and stirring in feathers

3. Your production is called You’re A Good Man, Charlie Sheen

2. Your idea for an ‘all mime’ production of My Dinner with Andre never really worked

1. You unwisely named your production Theater Closed for Renovations

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Ruben Amaro Jr. rips Phillies fans

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Oh, Ruben Amaro Jr. Really? Are you genuinely this clueless? I find it hard to believe that a man in his position can be so completely tone deaf. The embattled general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies stuck his foot firmly in his pie hole the other day and then spent Tuesday trying to put out the fire. [Read more →]

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Twelve hours and two minutes in one day is a lot of TV watching for any generation

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Adults lament it all the time and I have lamented it here: Kids watch too much TV and generally look at screens too much. Researchers have quantified their screen-viewing in all kinds of worrisome ways: Too much screen time may even inhibit their ability to read emotions. It’s bad, people. But what is perhaps really bad is that the behavior, as with most behaviors of the youth, is so unself-aware, so mindless. Does it have to be that way? [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten things you don’t want to hear at today’s Memorial Day barbecue

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10. “These GMO burgers actually glow in the dark!”

9. “Those chicken breasts won’t burn; I coated them in Vaseline.”

8. “What’s Cousin Sid processing those Memorial Day poppies into?”

7. “Before you try the coleslaw, would you mind signing this waiver?”

6. “Why would someone route a Memorial Day Parade right through the middle of our barbeque?”

5. “Who invited Chris Christie? – and where’d all the steaks go?”

4. “On this Memorial Day, let us remember those people Memorial Day was designed to memorialize….It can’t be veterans; that’s Veterans Day!”

3. “That’s not mayonnaise; you’re standing under a tree.”

2. “Uncle Harvey, I think the tradition is to lower your flag to half-mast, not your pants to half-assed.”

1. “Why does everything on the grill have a long thin tail?”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

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.


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.

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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.


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 →]