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environment & naturetrusted media & news

How I was almost incinerated

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The other night I was working in my backyard when I caught a whiff of smoke on the wind: a barbecue? I wondered. But there were no smoke trails coming from behind my neighbor’s fences; nor could I smell sizzling meat.

I checked the green belt behind my house- no tongues of flame there either. Furthermore, the odor was different, not a wood fire, but rather…. Ah that’s it! It was the same burning plastic/chemical/metal aroma that had hovered over my Austin apartment last year after an angry man had flown a plane into the local tax office, hoping to inflict a mini 9/11 on the IRS (He got there too early, before most of the staff were at their desks, and so killed only himself and one other person). [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzomusic

The sheepdog’s eyes: Lady Gaga’s empty theatrics

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If it weren’t for Lady Gaga, many of the points I have tried to make in this column would have been so hard to illustrate. She consistently delivers. She constantly examplifies the things that, in my opinion, are the unnecessary and even damaging trappings of art, from the element that I have called “artistic weirdness” to plain-old insincerity. At the recent MTV video awards, dressed up and acting like a dude, as “Jo Calderone,” Gaga physically illustrated the pitfalls of insincerity in art — the problems that are caused when “show” overshadows art. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Arian Foster thinks we should care about him as a person

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It must be an amazing thing to be a star athlete. You not only have the fame of many Hollywood stars, but you also have legions of children who want to be just like you. There is a whole lot of money that usually goes with that status too. It has to be easy for those athletes to lose sight of reality, at least a bit. Some guys seem to stay pretty grounded, while others really need to learn when to keep their mouths shut. Count Houston Texans running back Arian Foster among those in the second group. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingtravel & foreign lands

Top ten signs you’re having a bad summer

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10. You’ve lost so much blood from mosquito bites, they’ve stopped biting you

9. That ‘travel agent’ you went to drunk turned out to be an Army recruiter

8. You go in for a spray tan and come out looking like John Boehner – which makes you cry like John Boehner

7. Your summer highlight: watching reruns of “iCarly”

6. Your eyebrows haven’t grown back since the Fourth of July

5. First name “Rod.” Last name “Blagojevich.”

4. Your vacation package is for seven days and two nights

3. Your sunburn is so bad, drivers stop at you and wait for you to change

2. Due to hard-of-hearing travel agent, instead of Cancun you wind up in Camden

1. The B&B you’re staying at evidently stands for ‘bed’ and ‘bugs’
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

race & culturereligion & philosophy

Hangin’ with the Chin, Pt. 1: Mysterious Ways

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It was sometime in the second half of the 18th century that English poet and hymnist William Cowper suggested that “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” Over the ensuing centuries it has been used many, many times to explain many, many different situations that seem to defy explanation. Many of us have been faced with such a situation, and some of us have found Cowper’s advice to offer a satisfying explanation … it worked for me when I first met the Chin. [Read more →]

environment & nature

A prayer for everyone back-east

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Even as we experience one of the worst droughts in Texas’ recorded history, our television sets and desktop news feeds are filled with words and images of the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irene. I realize that many WFTC contributors are based somewhere in the storm’s path … our thoughts and our prayers are with you, and with all those in harm’s way. [Read more →]

politics & governmenttravel & foreign lands

Biden’s zero brain policy

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virtual children by Scott Warnock

Personal trainers I wish I had known

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If you have talented, dedicated, interested older children, I recognize the value of getting them to someone who knows things about sports that you and/or their coaches don’t. But it strikes me that there is an epidemic of personal trainers out there, a horde of people charging parents for drilling little kids in one-on-one practice sessions. Many of the little kids would rather be, well, doing something else, and this explosion of personal trainers is another sign of our era of sports-obsessed parenting.

[Read more →]

books & writing

An extraordinary gentleman

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An extraordinary gentleman, Edward Beauclerk Maurice. Not “The Last Gentleman Adventurer” as his publishers have advertised in the title of this posthumous 2005 memoir. Not an adventurer at all, we discover, but a better man than that, honest, earnest and brave. A true-heart. Certainly a gentleman, but not the last of those, however rare they are today. Extraordinary in every way that I know of him. But, alas, I only know of him through the pages of this, his only book. And though a fine and natural writer, he is not given to bragging.

To be fair to the publisher’s choice of titles, the Hudson’s Bay Company, for whom Maurice worked in the 1930’s was established by Charles the Second of England in 1670 as the ‘Gentleman Adventurers Trading into Hudson’s Bay.’ In these times of Costco and Apple Inc., we don’t have such incorporations today. But the publisher’s misleading banner is subtitled, “coming of age in the arctic.” This is more to the point. This has more of the straightforward modesty of the author. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads: The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca

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The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime alternately entertained, educated and enraged me. I love that authors Jason Turbow and Michael Duca were not afraid to name names. They told some great stories about some of the great rivalries in baseball — not just between teams, but between players. They explain the rules — the unwritten codes that players learn in the dugout and in the clubhouse. Some of these rules are black and white: everybody joins a fight. Some of the rules are so vague that even the players can’t agree on the specifics. But everybody knows there are rules…and there are consequences for breaking them.

“I can break it down into three simple things,” said Bob Brenly, who followed a nine-year big-league career by managing the Arizona Diamondbacks to a world championship in 2001. “Respect your teammates, respect your opponents, and respect the game.”

[Read more →]

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Funniest headline in the news this week

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I think it might be this one, from The Daily Beast, a website run by a formerly successful magazine editor of some renown:

Obama Trumps Libya Critics

A bit early for drawing that conclusion, wouldn’t you say? Apparently not.  After a few paragraphs of preamble, reminding us of the criticisms of the president (such as his failure to seek approval for this war from Congress, well who cares about that?) we arrive at this stunning piece of analysis:

Now that Libya seems to have turned out all right, with the rebels controlling most of Tripoli and Gaddafi barely clinging to power, the critics look overly cautious, if not plain wrong. But none of them are saying that they are sorry. [Read more →]

diatribessports

U-nited we stand

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I thought I might be the first  in the Coliseum to write about the University of Miami athletics scandal, until the talented Alan Spoll made it the subject of his weekly Good Sports Bad Sports piece. Alan did a bang up job of giving readers a snapshot of what is going down at the U. But being a former ‘Cane, I would like to give it all just a bit more perspective. [Read more →]

travel & foreign lands

MartyDigs: Shore Enough

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The Jersey Shore, contrary to popular belief, is not crawling with spray tanned, STD-ridden, greasy haired, foul mouthed, borderline date rapists. My family owns a home in Margate, New Jersey, so you can rest assured there are at least six people along the Jersey coastline who possess reddish hair, pinkish skin and are of a strong moral fabric. I was lucky enough to spend the past week down in Margate my own little family, my sisters and my niece, and my parents. It was a fun filled, great time – despite the weather for the week that made it seem like we were in rainy and foggy ol’ LondonTown (sans the riots, of course). Ironically, it was the closest vacation I have had since visiting London back in 2006.   [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: A huge mess at the University of Miami

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Major college sports, particularly football and basketball, have been a breeding ground for corruption for a long time. As much as I love to watch them, the idea that these are amateur athletes is certainly a questionable one. The money is so huge, and the stakes are so high, it would actually be harder to believe that everything was on the up and up. The scandals have been coming fast and furious in college football recently, with Auburn, Oregon, and Ohio State dealing with some very high profile messes. Fortunately for them, I guess, the big one was waiting in the wings, ready to take the focus off of those schools. The University of Miami, which dealt with a lot of problems back in the late 80s and early 90s, is back in the stew, and it does not look good for the Hurricanes. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

Robert Crumb’s canceled trip to Australia, and the artist living in fear, inside his own head

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Robert Crumb was one of the most important of the Underground Cartoonists of the late 1960s-mid 1970s. He became an icon thanks to creations like “Fritz the Cat” and “Mr. Natural,” the original Zap Comix, and the cover of the Big Brother and the Holding Company album “Cheap Thrills.” His artistic skills are among the best in the history of comics.

His work was fantastically personal. The subject matter was usually bleak, and featured caricatures of sexual violence and depravity that were so exaggerated as to be almost quaint. Very often, it read like the fever dreams of a teenage virgin fantasizing about what he would do with an enormous woman with mythical proportions of chest and buttocks. Crumb’s fantasies were, for the most part, specific to himself, and so reading his works is too often like listening to someone tell you about the really weird dream he had last night. Any satirical elements or broader social commentary tended to be superficial at best, and usually accidental. The greatest tension in his work is the dichotomy of artist vs. diarist. And when he ventures outside his “let-me-tell-you-about-the-really-weird-dream-I-had-last-night” comfort zone, he tends to lose focus. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingenvironment & nature

Top ten answers to the question, “How hot is it?”

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10. “It’s so hot, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s having an affair with the counter lady at Baskin-Robbins.”

9. “It’s so hot, Dick Cheney was caught waterboarding himself.”

8. “It’s so hot, street people are making their own gravy.”

7. “It’s so hot, Charlie Sheen tested positive for Slurpees.”

6. “It’s so hot, I saw an Amish guy buying an air conditioner.”

5. “It’s so hot, former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn said he was looking forward to spending some time in the cooler.”

4. “It’s so hot, chickens are laying omelets.”

3. “It’s so hot, my car’s GPS lady keeps directing me towards Canada.”

2. “It’s so hot, Hillary Clinton’s been wearing her pantsuit without the pants.”

1. “It’s so hot, Anthony Weiner actually appreciates his wife giving him the cold shoulder.”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

Election watch II: The cowboy cometh

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In June, I wrote an overview of Republican candidates for the 2012 presidential nomination, and concluded with the suggestion that readers keep a close watch on Rick Perry, governor of Texas. Well, last weekend Perry declared his candidacy and immediately leaped into second place, behind Mitt Romney (who is a Mormon). That’s what happens when you run against such obvious losers. Now we are swamped with critical articles about Perry and Texas, most of them by people who knew very little about the state or its governor until a few days ago. Today, I will analyze the effectiveness of these criticisms, and once I’m finished you won’t need to read any more articles about Perry (unless I write them, of course).

CRITICISM 1: PERRY IS A MORON [Read more →]

environment & naturepolitics & government

Forget aliens — it’s squatch that we really need to worry about

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Recently, presidential candidate Rick Perry claimed to be skeptical of man-made climate change.

Now, as if on cue, some people at an institution called Pennsylvania State University have come up with a very serious reason for human beings to fear climate change, and their role in it.

Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth’s atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.

This is ridiculous. We all know that we have much more to fear from Sasquatches (“Squatches”), Chupacabras (“Chuppies”), Loch Ness Monsters (“Nessies”), and Moth Men (“Mothies”) than we do from extraterrestrials. [Read more →]

politics & government

Obama’s one-track mind

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books & writing

Lisa reads: The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg

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I had a crisis a few weeks ago. I was on an airplane, diverted from my original destination, and I didn’t pack a back-up book. Luckily, we eventually got off the plane in Indianapolis, and I picked up The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg in the airport bookstore. (I admit that I picked it up because I liked the cover and I’ve been reading some Scandinavian authors lately, so it fit the bill.)  More than entertaining enough to keep me engrossed all the way to Chicago.

The theme of the book seems to be cold. Even the corpse that starts the story is frozen.

“Mercifully, the corpse’s eyes were shut, but the lips were bright blue. A thin film of ice had formed around the torso, hiding the lower half of the body completely…The knees also stuck up through the frozen surface. Alex’s long blonde hair was spread like a fan over the end of the tub but looked brittle and frozen in the cold.” [Read more →]

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