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.

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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 …
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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 …
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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 →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Man v. Nature by Diane Cook

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Man V. Nature: Storiesby Diane Cook is a fascinating book of short stories – the kind that keep you thinking long after you finish reading. The stories present impossible situations — truly impossible situations that you can’t imagine happening in real life. In “The Not-Needed Forest, a 10 year old boy is told he is “not needed” and is sent off for incineration. Huh? What parents would allow this? Why is it only 10 year old boys who are deemed “not needed”? Why not girls or 12 year old boys? It’s a completely improbably situation, but he waits on the front lawn for the bus and off he goes – how could that possibly happen? The way the characters navigate these strange circumstances makes for really intriguing reading.

In “Moving On” my first thought was that this was an impossible situation that some people might really be drawn to. Our main character is a recent widow, and after a very brief period of mourning, she is sent off to a sort of boot camp for widows and widowers. (Her home and all the belongings she shared with her husband are sold and the proceeds become part of her dowry.) She gets counseling to help her get over the loss of her husband as quickly as possible. She is encouraged to get in shape, learn new hobbies, make new friends, all with an eye towards attracting a new spouse. Her spouse will choose her (and her dowry) from among a batch of profiles and she gets no choice in the matter.

In another favorite, “Somebody’s Baby,” a woman comes home from the hospital with her new baby to find a man lurking in the yard — a man who plans to steal the baby. This is a perfectly normal occurrence; some families lose two, even three babies before the man moves on to other families, but when the new mother suggests protecting their children and fighting back, she is ridiculed and shunned by her neighbors.

I find myself thinking about these stories, even as time passes. What would I do if clothes and trinkets began turning up in my washing machine? Why would a woman become fixated on a perfectly ordinary weatherman? What mother wouldn’t want to retrieve her stolen children? I think  that’s really the measure of a book like this — how long do the stories stay with you? How often do you find yourself thinking about them? What new insights have come, weeks down the road? If a book can keep me thinking and questioning, I will definitely be recommending it to my friends, and I will certainly be recommending this one.

My copy of Man V. Nature: Stories was an advanced reader copy, provided free of charge.

man v nature

 

virtual children by Scott Warnock

So this is Christmas?: Ideological smoke

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Christmas 2014, forever to be remembered by me as the year of complete dissolution of internal ideological opposition. A bunch of presents were purchased and exchanged in my house that I did not approve. Yet, it will be the year not that I gave in, but the year I realized I had been giving in for a long time. [Read more →]

diatribespolitics & government

Some Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

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Today, while walking past the Center for Jewish History on West 16th Street in New York, I observed four policemen with submachine guns; several other patrolmen; a patrol car; and a police dog. Unless there’s some specific threat I don’t know about, this strikes me as a bit of an overreaction to what happened in Paris last week. Forgive me for saying what I believe: it amounts to feeding and encouraging paranoia, at the taxpayers’ expense. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten one-liners (the sequel)

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10. I hate people who take things literally – they should leave them where they are.

9. Nowadays, Bill Cosby is spending most of his time on his farm, watching the chickens come home to roost.

8. Standing in the park, I was wondering why a Frisbee looks larger and larger the closer it gets, and then it hit me.

7. One of my favorite hobbies is writing “You have no new messages” on a slip of paper, sticking it in a bottle, and throwing it into the ocean.

6. Why do some women feel the need to talk so much – I mean, do they think, “Well, I’m breathing out anyway”?

5. My doctor e-mailed me asking me what my “blod type” was – he actually spelled it B.L.O.D. – so I had to e-mail him back: “Typo.”

4. A new poll about the 2016 election shows that just 27% of voters would be likely to support Chris Christie – and 4% of chairs.

3. I have a button on my microwave that says “STOP TIME,” and I’m assuming it means “TIMER,” but I’m not touching it, just in case.

2. Always remember: In this country, a white policeman who shoots an unarmed black teenager is still considered innocent – until a grand jury finds him innocent.

1. I just bought a ten-gallon bottle of Liquid Paper – Big mistake!
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

religion & philosophysports

Upward Devotional: Happy New Year!

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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. It’s the start of the Upward Basketball & Cheerleading season here, in Midland, Texas. Volunteers are helping the program in a lot of different ways … as coaches, referees, time/scorekeeprs, 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 …

Good afternoon, everyone … and happy new year to all of you! Let me have a show of hands here … how many of you made New Year ‘s Resolutions for 2015? … okay … now, how many of you are still keeping those resolutions?
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bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Totally bizarre officiating sinks Lions

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What’s worse than a terrible call that changes the outcome of a game? How about a terrible call that does that same thing but does it in a playoff game? The result is the same, but the stakes are so much higher. That is exactly what happened in the game between the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and the Lions are finished for the season because of it.

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Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingreligion & philosophy

In light of The Lost Gospel’s claim that Jesus was married, top ten things overheard at Jesus’s and Mary’s wedding

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10. “Who’s going to cut the wedding loaves and fishes?”

9. “At least we can tell our kids their Grandpa attended our wedding; He’s everywhere!

8. “It drives me nuts, all the kids here who can’t take their eyes off their stone tablets.”

7. “No, when you pronounce my first name that way, it makes me sound like a Mexican!”

6. “Today, I’m walking on champagne!

5. “First we raise the dead, then we raise the roof!

4. “Whose bright idea was it for us to get married on December 25th? – Now people will be combining my birthday, Christmas, and my anniversary gifts all in one!”

3. “It would be a miracle if we could keep this a secret for the next 2,000 years.”

2. “Honey, when I look in your eyes, it’s Heaven!

1. “Sweetheart, you do realize that if we do get buried together, I gotta go!”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The Cleveland Browns are reaping what they sowed

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Some sports franchises just seem to be cursed. A few teams seem to live magical existences, making one good decision after another, and even the bad ones that are mixed in there don’t seem to hurt. Other organizations just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Usually, it seems pretty obvious to outside observers that some of the decisions these teams make are doomed from the start, but the people actually making those decisions don’t seem to see it. The Cleveland Browns are one of these franchises, and this past weekend was evidence of that. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Want You Dead by Peter James

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Want You Dead by Peter James is a woman’s worst nightmare. You date a guy who seems terrific — he’s handsome and charming, doesn’t mind spending money on you and seems to really enjoy your company — and he turns out to be a crazy stalker. In this case an OMGCRAZYWTF stalker. The kind that breaks into your house, burns down your favorite restaurant, tries to murder your parents…you know the type.

Bryce Laurent is a charmer — on the surface. He meets Red Cameron on a dating site and is immediately smitten with her. He is convinced she’s the one and for a while, so is she. Unfortunately, things take a very dark turn and eventually Red has to involve the police, get a protection order, move to a new flat and get a new job. But that’s not enough. Bryce still finds her, and if he can’t have her, no one can.

It’s a scary situation. A recent article I read reports that one-third of women murdered in the US are killed by their male partners. Do a quick Google search on “women killed by estranged boyfriend” and the results are horrifying. Bryce Laurent is different from many of the cases you see in the news (aside from being, thankfully, fictional)- he has money, and time, and he will stop at nothing to punish Red for leaving him. He is frighteningly clever and utterly ruthless – he wants Red to suffer and he is willing to hurt a lot of people to make that happen.

One of the things I loved about Want You Dead is that first, there’s a great thriller at the heart of it – what will Bryce do next, will the police be able to protect Red, who else is going to get hurt? In addition, the secondary characters are great – there’s a little romance, there’s a little conflict, and the personalities are really interesting. A main storyline won’t keep you reading without a great cast of characters. I also love the way that the relationship between Red and Bryce is slowly revealed. In the beginning, it’s hard to believe that such an amazing guy who could be so awful but over time, as the details come out, you are gradually more and more horrified. The reveal is really handled very well.

This is a great thriller, full of surprises and suspense. My copy of Want You Dead by Peter James was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

want you dead

books & writing

Added to My Bookshelf: Futures Near and Far

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More than once I have added a book to my shelf after reading one of Lisa Hura’s reviews on this blog. “Sure would be neat to do something like that,” I thought … so here we go …

We all have our reasons for reading science fiction. Me? I have at least a couple, and I found them both – well, eventually, at least – in Dave Smeds’ collection of short stories, Futures Near and Far. The title is appropriate, really, since some of the futures Smeds presents are far-off indeed, while others are quite near … maybe a little TOO near for comfort.
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adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten axioms to get your New Year off on the right foot (even if that’s your left foot)

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10. Don’t sweat the petty stuff; just pet the sweaty stuff.

9. It’s never too early to start beefing up your obituary.

8. Two rights don’t make a wrong; they make a U-turn.

7. I may be getting old, but I did get to see all the cool bands!

6. We have enough youth; how about a Fountain of Smart?

5. One nation, under surveillance.

4. The best things in life aren’t things.

3. Quantum mechanics: the dreams stuff is made of.

2. All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

1. (And moving up to Number One – for anyone in a relationship:)
Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

religion & philosophy

THE Christmas tradition … Luke wrote it, Linus shared it, I believe it

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8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

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11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2
King James Version (KJV)

However you mark this day, a very Merry Christmas!
May this find you and yours happy and healthy, this holiday season and in the new year to come!