Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tearjerker Flicks

Alright, Lords and Ladies, for today, let's all get in touch with our feminine side. What are the movies that made you cry? It can be as a kid or an adult. However, if you're a person that's apt to let the rivers flow at any touching cinematic moment, then I only want to hear the ones where you were crying walking out of the theater... and then later on, whenever you thought of the movie or touching scenes, the water was falling once again. We're talking major league blubbering here.

Obviously, as this is a blog, everyone is more than welcome to expound on the scenes or parts of each movie listed that made them well up with tears. And just as painstakingly obvious, as this is a blog, anyone who would rather not expound, well, they're more than welcome to just list some movies... or lurk... whatever so pleases.

Brian's Song (pictured) and Where the Red Fern Grows were two movies, as a kid, I can remember just outright bawling when I watched. Even today, Brian's Song will get to me when I watch it. Also, I know Christians had both good and bad views of it, but I cried during Passion of the Christ. Really, though, I'm not a huge crier at movies, so it takes a bit. I'll try to remember a few more and list them in the comments.

Okay then, all you macho dudes "woman-up", and girls, I'm bracing myself for some Nicholas Sparks books-to-movies (rrrrreeeeeeetchhhhhhhhhh!!!). Make me cry!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew...

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Viruses and Dinosaurs

Wish I was exaggerating about having a computer virus, but it turns out the part I was a little hyperbolic with on that subject was the word "had"... as in "I had a computer virus." No, it turns out that, while that was true, not only did I "had" a computer virus, but I still have one.

The other computer I have at home is a dinosaur sooooooooo old that turning it on takes a good half hour.

Right now, I'm pretty hosed as far as posting much to the blog. I'll try starting something from my home computer tonight, and maybe I'll have something within the next two days. Now, though, since I'm at work, I need to make this short. I hope your lives are going great.

Aside from the Dolphins being 0-3... well, is there really an aside from that?

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Favorite Recipes #1 - Dessert Category

In the interest of making the world a better place, I present you with the recipe for my favorite dessert, Magic Cookie Bars (or Hello Dollys as they are known in some circles).


1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 can (14oz) Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1 package (6oz) chocolate chips (or butterscotch chips if you prefer)

1 can (3 1/2 oz) shredded coconut

1 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for glass pan).

Melt butter in 13 x 9 pan.

Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over butter.

Pour condensed milk evenly over crumbs.

Top evenly with remaining ingredients.

Press down gently.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool thoroughly before cutting into squares.

Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Similar recipes can probably be found in most cookbooks or on the Net, but I know this one is good.

Also, make sure you have a cold glass or three of milk nearby to cut the sweetness so you can keep eating until they are all gone.

You're welcome!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009


At the risk of embarrassing myself by speaking about something of which I know very little, I present the concept of Alternate Reality Gaming or ARG.

This should not be confused with virtual reality or role playing games, though ARG may in some way owe some of its principles to ideas developed in these endeavors. Confused?

Well, ARG seems to pride itself on remaining elusive, even mysterious. It intentionally stays out of the spotlight, and yet snickers as it parades right before your eyes without you even knowing it's there.

So, what is ARG, and why should you care?

The short answer is that it's a cool multimedia scavenger hunt utilizing real world events in a secretive, highly sophisticated, conspiracy theory, secret agenty way. And you should only care about ARG, if you like fun and enjoy being in the in-crowd or if you are a writer.

Why a writer? Because the complicated structure, twists and turns, and ultimate resolution are very much like the well-developed plot of a great novel. A few novel writers have already realized this and are actively involved in developing new ARGs. And the best part is that ARG marketing is intentionally minimalist (called the This Is Not A Game aesthetic) and dependent on word-of-mouth and information sharing.

Intrigued? Curious? Check out the Wikipedia entry on ARGs or the trendy ARG headquarters at

Good luck finding a rabbithole and be wary of the puppetmasters!!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Sky Is Falling

Been a little slow on the blog. Hate to go all personal on you, but a few things:
  • My friend a co-worker, Dan Phillips, passed away after a bout with cancer. I blogged about him here, and in case anyone's interested -- because his wife was a fantastic writer and the story was so touching -- the Caring Bridge journals can be found here.
  • My computer caught a virus, and that was irritating.
  • The Miami Dolphins are 0-2, and last night's gut-wrenching, abysmal defensive, hollowed-out-my-heart loss in a game our offense dominated... total misery.
  • My younger son brought home a robust 50 (F) on his science test, so more studying needed.
  • Instead of a blog/website I really read on the sidebar, Ken included a Precious Moments Doll site, which promptly includes the Diabolical Genius in the Buzzard of the Week discussion.
  • My co-worker is out at Disney World, so I'm here at 9:30 at night at work trying to do two people's job.
  • Working on 8 hours sleep in the last two days.
  • Even with Auburn being 3-0, our defense looks as much like Swiss cheese as Georgia's and Arkansas'.
  • I'm gonna be late on two bills, and I keep not making it to that oil change I desperately need.
  • Mom's waiting on lab test results from some nodules on her throat, and Dad just had a procedure to check on his semi-clogged arteries.

Anyway, all this to say I haven't been blogging much lately, and look what happens when I do. This drivel that I post that reminds me of blogs I'm not interested in reading. Come back for more of this!!!

Notwithstanding my complaints, please pray for Dan's family and my parents.

And I'm sure I forgot to mention -- the Dolphins are 0-2. Mizzzzzery.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Favorite Spots #2 - Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia

Thanks for tuning in to the Realm Channel. Today we'll be traveling from the Rockies to the Everglades with stopovers at the homes of the North Avenue Trade School, the Stamford branch, and Rocky Bluewinkle.

You made our first installment of Favorite Spots big, 44 comments large. But if you somehow missed it, bang here. To recap, the theory is that you guys have been there, done that all over the country and beyond. And this is your chance to share your favorite spots. Try to be as specific as possible on the location of your favorite spot, as if one of our readers was headed there tonight.

Your favorite spot can be an attraction, a quaint cafe, a lovely meadow, or as we showed last time even a make-out spot.

Good luck and thanks for all the fish.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Patrick Swayze Post Script

I was never a huge fan, but my mom, who is what I consider a typical female Oprah-watcher, liked him a lot and says he was a really good person. Others have made similar statements, so I'll go along with that. Think my mom even met his mother, who I believe owns or owned a dance studio. Of his movies, I saw The Outsiders, Red Dawn, Roadhouse, and Ghost, and then I saw one episode of The Beast on television. Never saw Dirty Dancing, Donnie Darko, To Wong Foo, or Point Break. None of the movies were classics, although I think The Outsiders and Ghost both had a bit of a following and Ghost was a pretty good movie. Roadhouse has taken a beating over the years, but I was entertained by that ol' Dalton in that one.

However, what I saw or thought is neither here nor there. Patrick Swayze was a figure most people knew, and, like Farrah Fawcett, his battle with cancer was pretty well publicized. People were pulling for him. So, if there are any thoughts you have about him and don't mind sharing, let us know.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tossin' Ken a Bone

Here you go Ken! Four kids stoned this creature to death a couple days ago.

What is it?


The Spanish to English translator used (not perfect) says the article reads thusly:

Strange Creature Found in Cerro Azul

The discovery of a strange creature in Cerro Azul has aroused controversy among the people, for while some say it may be a being from another planet, others simply believe that is an animal.

Four teenagers aged between 14 and 16 years, met him at the Jet Blue Hill, on Saturday, while having fun in the place.

As recounted one of them, they suddenly saw the creature emerging from a cave located behind the water jet. At her appearance and it began to climb over the rocks to one of them panicked and began to thrash him and throw sticks, getting killed, after which they threw into the water and ran.

Anyone? Anyone?

Here's our first guess - a hairless one of these:

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Buzzard of the Week: Rodney McGill

This weeks' buzzard story comes from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where I do a tad of my Dolphin reading. However, this one is not sports-related.

Pastor Rodney McGill of New Hope Outreach Center in Jensen Beach, Florida and his wife Shalonda were convicted back in July on nine counts of obtaining mortgages by false representation, first degree grand theft and racketeering for fradulently obtaining some $1 million in real estate loans. At his sentencing, McGill turned his back on Judge Sherwood Bauer, Jr. as the pastor was handed a twenty-year prison term. Also, the good pastor had this little nugget to say at his counsel table last Tuesday:

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, for every witness called against me, I pray cancer in their lives, lupus, brain tumor, pancreatic cancer.
Wow. Just wow. Here's the Sun-Sentinel link. The unfortunate truth is that there are some that will associate Mr. McGill and, more specifically, his actions, with Christians and Christianity. That's saddening. One of the comments under the story is pretty humorous, but sad in a way, too:

Hey! I never knew this. You can PRAY so people you hate will DIE? Oh man, this is GREAT! I have a boat load of people I would like 6 feet under. Thanks SS Sun-Sentinel) for letting me know about this...
Sure, (and I realize the comment is tongue-in-cheek) we as human beings may feel this way at times, but this is the exact opposite of what Jesus said and did. Pastor McGill's words and actions, and I assume he probably has segments of followers at his Outreach Center backing him and influenced by him, are reprehensible in so many ways. Here's hoping that he finds the accountability he needs and Jesus, who forgives others and taught the same. Nonetheless, for his comments, Pastor McGill is The Realm's Buzzard of the Week.

Honorable mention to:

Serena Williams, who threatened a line judge at the U.S. Open
Anthony Fasano, Dolphins TE who fumbled twice against the Falcons
(but since both are related to the Dolphins, we don't eat our own)

Let me know your thoughts and any of your Buzzards of the Week, present company excluded, of course!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If You Loved Your Big Wheel...

... as a kid, you're gonna go ape over the new Persu as an adult.

Reminds me of the Big Wheel and the Green Machine with some futuristic elements from the Jetsons or Meet the Robinsons thrown in. This is sure to be popular with boys and girls just like its childhood inspirations were.

I'm not normally a "car guy", but I gotta tell you, my inner geek comes out a little when I think about getting behind the wheel of this bad boy. 75 miles to the gallon and it can run all electric or Hybrid. And the leans around the curves? Oh yeah!! Like a theme park ride.
Make sure you check out the BBC videos showing the Danish version called the Carver being driven.

BTW, for those with kids, a new version of the Green Machine has been released by Huffy.

Hey Mom, watch this!!

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Pick 1 or Pick 2: 1) 10 Best Songs of the '00s or 2) Top 5-10 Most Meaningful Songs to You

Posting slackard that I am, here's another at least half post on the shoulders of yet another of our faithful commenters - Anonymous, (signed) BP. Back on the MRVSS post, Brett mentioned to me:

Oh, and Rich, a silly project I've been torturing myself with in my spare time this week is trying to determine the 10 best songs (or my 10 favorite, anyway) of '00's. A blog post on this subject might be enough to make Ken's head explode?

Seeing Ken's head explode always being a good thing, this exercise might be a good one to try. What are your 10 (more or less) best songs of the 2000s? We should get a lot of divergence on this one, if people participate.


I had been thinking of this one for a while, and I just decided to include this one with the other because I think it's easier. Obviously, music is dynamic and fluctuating, and favorites and bests can come and go depending on moods, age or stages of life, hearing a new great song, and on and on. However, looking back over your life, what five or ten songs are the most meaningful to your life? This can be any type or genre of music, any type of song. Rock, country, jazz, blues, soul, gospel, and then hymns, holiday favorites, national anthems, lullabies, opera pieces ~ nothing is excluded. Music that has influenced you, moved you, gotten you through tough times, tunes that remind you of someone dear, these are the songs I'm looking for, not necessarily and likely not your favorite or best five to ten songs. That would be a different post. For instance, I know two of mine would be:

1) The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life by the 77s


2) The Little Drummer Boy

So, if you're game, pick a list and let me know what you think. Best songs of the '00s, which is tough, or most meaningful songs to you, which should be easier.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Lost Musical Treasures in My Closet # 2: The Connells - Ring

Back in 1993, yeah, that's sixteen years ago, after a few moderately successful albums but problems with a record label causing a three-year hiatus in their recording, this little re-energized band from Raleigh, North Carolina called The Connells put out the CD that I consider the height of their career, Ring. I had really enjoyed The Connells' One Simple Word previously, and Fun & Games and Boylan Heights had been pretty good as well. Ring, however, brought everything together for the band, as they hit on every song. Here's a CD that, for me, had no weak moments, and the music is as fresh today as it was sixteen years ago and will be after sixteen more, I'm quite certain.

What I really love is when every single song from a CD, at different times, encaptivates me. Very, very few CDs pull this off. Ring did for me. Over time, though, and even now, I'll still have one of Ring's tunes breezing through my mind. It's one thing to have a bad song stuck in your mind -- that's bothersome -- but when Doug MacMillan's soothing voice echoes one of Ring's ditties in between my ears, it's always welcome.

Of the twelve songs, I can only remember the up-tempo Slackjawed, the single New Boy, and the haunting '74-'75 getting any radio airplay at all. Nevertheless, any of the songs seemed radio-ready to me. Upbeat numbers like Carry My Picture, Hey You, and Burden along with the aforementioned Slackjawed were interspersed with mid- and slower-tempo songs, but all of them had immediate hooks, and I was in love. After a few Connells CDs that I thought were great in the front half but a little weaker on the B-side, Ring doesn't falter but actually picks up. Spiral and Disappointed, two slower songs, sandwich the the rocking Hey You and stellar New Boy, which is a string of songs that I'd say highlights the CD if Slackjawed and Running Mary, the fantastic closer, weren't also such banner songs.

When I found Ring just the other day in a stack of CDs, I fell in love all over again.

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Who's Behind Our Now?

Wanted to share a little write-up by my Sunday School teacher, Heinrich Dubose-Schmidt, after he listened to a forty-five minute R.C. Sproul commentary on the life of Joseph (Old Testament). I'll add just a few thoughts at the end. Here's what he wrote:

Remember when Joseph had suffered for 13 years but had later been made the Prime Minister of all Egypt? His brothers come to Egypt looking for food during the 7 year famine, but they don't recognize Joseph at all although he recognizes them. As part of a test to see if they've changed, Joseph accuses them of being spies and says they must prove themselves by leaving one of their own (Simeon) until they can bring back their youngest brother still at home (Benjamin).

They return home without their brother, and tell their father Jacob (also known as Israel) all that had transpired. The brothers also discover that all their silver to pay for the food is in their sacks, and they are all frightened. Remember -- Jacob thinks his youngest, most-favored son, Joseph, is dead, and now he's given news that one of his older sons is hostage in Egypt and the Prime Minister is demanding to see his youngest Benjamin. In Genesis 42:36, Jacob utters these words: "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!" (NIV)

As you read those words, I hope Jacob's despair and anguish came through. From his perspective, the whole world is against him; even as a believer, he was filled with despair at the circumstances of life. But, think about the reality for a moment -- Simeon is probably safer now than he's ever been in his life under the care of the Prime Minister (Joseph his brother). Joseph is not "no more" but is alive! In fact, he is working to preserve Jacob's entire family. Benjamin will be safe in Egypt, and while things seem bleak, everything is working out for Jacob.

So what does this mean for us? It doesn't mean that all of our tough times will have a rosy ending. It does mean that we should trust in our God who sovereignly and purposefully works all things to His glory and works all things for our good. The path we're on right now may seem dark and bleak, but God is working in and through and around us. We must trust in His fatherly care.


At least a few times in my life, I have railed to God about circumstances that have afflicted me -- situations that have come about by chance, personal decisions, personal wrong-doing, or others' wrong-doing. Certainly, I can identify with Jacob in this story when he cries, "Everything is against me!" While sometimes I realize that I only have myself to blame, at other times all I can see is a vast inequity of how random, or sometimes calculated, circumstances have stacked against me. As these life events unwind, I usually do find myself going to God, but do I really ever think, behind the scenes, the Lord is working life out for my benefit? For my good? Hardly ever. And it's hard. Very hard to think this way when life appears bleakest.

Nonetheless, a story like this one encourages me to rethink my own attitudes, and not only my attitude about life but my attitude toward God. Because I'm human, I see the surface but don't see in 3-D, figuratively speaking. God is sovereign, and He does. He Is. I can't figure out the Almighty, and really He's God, and it just is that way. However, I know Him enough through Jesus, my Good Shepherd, to know He loves me. At the same time, He loves me enough not to give me everything I want. Heinrich's last paragraph sums it up. Not all our endings will end up rosy. Our job, my job and my attitude, has to be to trust God anyway, through anything and everything.

No matter what's happening now, Someone's behind it.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Secret Sauce and More

Secret recipes, secret formulas, secret sauce, mystery meat, and now this:

I was skeptical, as I am wont to be. So, I did a little more checking on this and found these too:

Christian Science Monitor article

Secret Menus including sit-down chains

A lot of the references seem to emanate from the same source, and you know the Internet.

So... Truth or Urban Legend? If you've held a position on "the other side of the counter" or have success ordering some of these interesting dishes, let us know.

Also, what exactly is the fascination with having insider information and getting something that no one else knows about... and then telling everyone else about it?

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Ever really give any conscious thought as to why we love Fridays so much? Is it:

a) because we're lazy bums that have such disdain for work or school, we just can't wait to get away from the drudgery of those two industrious enterprises?

b) we get to, by-and-large, do household or outdoors chores rather than work-related ones, and household and outdoor chores are so much more fun?

c) because church or mass is on Sunday (or Saturday for some), and only two more days (or one) until you get there?

d) because Fridays start with the letter F, and all that that entails?

e) because most of our escapism occurs on weekends, if we don't count the ongoing daydreams during the week?

f) because our kids don't wake us up early on weekends? (Riii-iiiight.)

g) because you have dinner with your relatives or in-laws each Friday?

h) because everyone else likes it, I should, too?

I don't know. Similar to most everyone else, I like Fridays. I don't have a real good reason or any reason except bits and pieces of a) and e) above, and then there's also a minor twinge of that little feeling you get (or maybe I'm alone in this) when you walk out of work right before holidays or when you have time off for a vacation. A little lightness of being. I usually get that feeling when I leave work Friday unless I have to work over the weekend.

What about you? Like Fridays? Why? Tell me the glass half-full mind set all you optimists out there while I'm busy being Eeyore.

Anyway, as I was saying, Thank God It's Friday.

(Go Dolphins! War Eagle!)

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Since I'm Going to Be Heading to the Bookstore Anyway...

...because Kevin has talked me into purchasing at least the first book in the Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever series, I wanted to throw out the question to our Realm denizens, what REALLY good children's or teens books have you read lately? Anything I should have on my list? Ken and I are writing an action/adventure, we're sending off a picture book to publishers, we've written a fantasy, and Dorkman was a contemporary piece of juvenile literature. So as you can see, my interests run the gamut -- I just want good books.

My son, who is about to turn eleven, has raved to me about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, and I've ordered four of the five of those from his Scholastic book brochure from school along with three of Mike Lupica's sports fiction books, which I'm very interested to read. Along with those, I ordered the last Potter book - haven't read that yet (nor the sixth, although I've seen the movie). Please let me know if you've read any of these, and, if so, I'd like to hear thoughts without spoilers.

However, I always like to go and get something in kid's fiction that I'm totally psyched to read. Let me hear a few titles with a blurb or two about why they were great to you. And though I'm more interested in kid's lit because that's what we write, if there's just something in adult fiction you can't help but get off your chest because it's sooooooooooo good, then let me hear that, too. We can't get to them all in The Realm Book Club, can we? Pretty please, then, shoot me with your bow of ideas and send an arrow through my heart!

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The For Everyone Series - Tom Wright

Just a recommendation because I've gotten a lot out of this series. I'll try to keep it fairly brief.

A lot of you may know that N.T. (Tom) Wright, Bishop of Durham, noted New Testament scholar, theologian, and historian, has written over thirty books, both for academic and for popular readership, focusing on different aspects of Christianity. The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is ranks as one of my top non-fiction reads and illuminates Jesus in ways I seldom, if ever, thought. I also started wading into his Christian Origins series, but to be bluntly honest, I think those volumes may be a little too much for me.

Here, though, I want to plug Tom Wright's For Everyone series, and especially the Gospel editions. If you're interested in who Jesus was from a historical standpoint combined with a discussion of what scripture is saying in that context, because really, they go hand-in-hand, then I can't recommend a series of Biblical commentaries more than this one.

I'll just give a couple of instances from Mark for Everyone, snippets that show scripture in a new light for me, to illustrate why I enjoy these books so much. The first one comes from the Mark 2:1-12 passage. Here's verses 1-5:

1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Wright actually quotes all twelve verses, but I'm just listing these five because of what Wright then states regarding just these. Perhaps I've been dense all these years, but I never thought this:

Most people don't realize that this was probably Jesus' own house. He had moved to Capernaum from Nazareth; the point of the first two verses is that when Jesus returned from his short preaching trip around the neighbouring villages, he found crowds pressing around the door as though he were a movie star or
well-known footballer. Jesus himself was the unlucky householder who had his roof ruined that day.

This opens up quite a new possibility for understanding what Jesus said to the paralyzed man. How would you feel if someone made a big hole in your roof? But Jesus looks down and says with a rueful smile: "All right - I forgive you!" Something in his voice, though, made them all realize this was different. This forgiveness went deeper than domestic disputes. Jesus was speaking with a quiet authority which went down into the paralyzed man's innermost being. Not surprisingly, those around him felt uneasy. Only the priests could declare forgiveness, speaking in the name of God. If that's what the man needed, his friends should take him to the Temple in Jerusalem, not to a wandering preacher.

I think I had heard, maybe some time ago when I was a kid, that perhaps it was Peter's mother-in-law's house, but even that had passed mostly out of my mind. It just never occurred to me that this was Jesus' own house. So, yeah, when Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven, the man probably understands he has sins, but then he's also just had his friends cut a hole in This Guy's roof so he could be healed. Also, I knew that crowds followed Him when he preached, and I suppose I'm dense, but I never figured they were like the paparazzi there at his doorstep. Really, I think a lot of times, I've failed to see in Jesus' humanity, some of the day-to-day stuff that I take for granted, i.e. coming home to my house and relaxing for one.

With nearly every passage of scripture, Wright has dozens of similar nuggets that just make the mind reel. The one other scripture passage -- I won't quote this one -- is Mark 14:12-25 and concerns the Last Supper. I will, however, quote a bit from the commentary:

It's a deep human instinct -- I believe a God-given one -- that we mark significant moments with significant meals. Sharing a meal, especially a festive one, binds together a family, a group of friends, a collection of colleagues. Such meals say more than we could ever put into words about who we are, how we feel about one another, and the hopes and joys that we share together. The meal not only feeds our bodies; that seems in some ways the least signficant part of it. It says something; and it does something, actually changing us so that, after it, part of who we are is 'the people who shared that meal together, with all that it meant.'
How true is this?! He goes on to speak about the Jewish festivals and what they celebrated with these meals and, of course, leads into the Last Supper, Jesus sharing with His disciples. Going back to the eating meals together, I think of my family's special dinners at holidays - Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, Easter - celebrating annual events in our lives. The fact that we're full at the end and that the food was good, well, that is nice. However, the special part is the togetherness, the sharing of our lives, and the binding of our spirits during these times. Wright puts these thoughts together and crystalizes them in a way, over and over, I think, "Yeah!"

I know Tom Wright has his critics with hard-lined reformed Christians, and I know I don't agree with him even on some of the things he writes in the For Everyone books. However, all that stuff really goes out the window for me when I just get down to reading the Bible verses and then hearing what Wright has to say in the For Everyone books. It expands everything for me. To me, it doesn't matter what denomination you may be, and really, I don't think it matters whether you're a Christian or not a Christian, if you're looking to find out about who Jesus was/is. I think everyone can learn a lot about who Jesus was as a man in his particular era, and then learn what orthodox Christianity says about Him as God the Son.

If you ever read one, let me know what you think.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Do Ya?

Some "Do you..." questions for The Realm at large. Only answer ones you want to, if you want to at all.

1) Do ya write, blog, or think better if you're in a carefree or melancholy mood?

2) Do ya read more than two novels a month?

3) Do ya prefer JRR Tolkien or C.S. Lewis as a writer of fantasy? Or do you prefer someone else altogether?

4) Do ya sing in the shower?

5) Do ya ever take an overnight trip or longer, just by yourself, to refresh, commune with God or nature, or just get away?

6) Do ya read non-fiction as a practice? If so, what do you read, mostly?

7) Do ya eat yogurt?

8) Do ya have a favorite holiday moment?

9) Do ya have a favorite author? Who?

10) Do ya like running for the sake of running and being fit?

11) Do ya say grace before meals?

12) Do ya like college or pro sports more?

13) Do ya dance in privacy by yourself or with your kids?

14) Do ya have a one favorite movie scene? TV show scene? Book passage?

15) Do ya have a favorite all-time villian or bad guy from a book? Who?

16) Do ya prefer reminiscing about the past or planning for future events?

17) Do ya have a favorite family game? What?

18) Do ya know of other great blogs? Tell us what they are and why you like them.

19) Do ya eat your food one item at a time or all mixed together?

20) Do ya believe that real live dinosaurs still exist somewhere on earth?

21) Do ya like the ELO song Do Ya? It's thirty years old, but I think it still rocks as much as any song today. If you like it, I've hooked on a YouTube recording on the backside of the post. Just hit the "Read More" link. It's okay. You don't have to thank me. Or do ya?

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Realm Book Club

"Austin, you're a reader!!"

Heart-warming words to any parent, teacher, or lover of the written word, no doubt.

But since many of us already proclaim to be readers (except for the occasional subject line of favorite spot posts), and some of us even purport to be writers (except for the occasional botch-job when attempting to spell "apocryphal"), I propose the founding of The Realm Book Club (hereafter referred to as RBC).

However, for a club to be official, we must have a standing body of members, a stated goal, five or thirty groundrules, and potentially some shameless initiation ritual.

As the proposer of the RBC, let me be the first to add my name to the enrollment list. I know that this has the potential to hinder future enrollment endeavors, but so be it.

I would also like to suggest that our stated goal be: to read one book per month as a group and then discuss its merits, shortcomings, subtextual blah, blah, blah, etc in the comments section of an RBC post here at the Realm.

As far as groundrules, I'll start the ball rolling with: 1) the selection of the book to be read will be rotated through membership each month, 2) book genre must NOT repeat the previous month's genre, 3) book length must be less than 500 pages, 4) book should be something that no one in the group has read in the last fifteen years, 5) no Oprah books.

Let me know, if you would like to be added to the RBC rolls, and then I'd like to hear your thoughts on our goal, groundrules, hazing, and so on.

A verbis ad verbera

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Two-thirds of the World is Covered by Water

The rest is covered by Sean Smith.

Go Dolphins!!!

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Catching Up to the Present: Ken Just Bought TP&tHBs Greatest Hits, and I Just Started Watching the X-Files

Just the other day, Ken called me from the music section of one of the department stores, I think it was Target, as he was leafing through CDs and picking a couple to buy. I started asking about his choices and if the store had this or that. Ken indulged me, like he often does, because he's a great guy. A lot of what I'd recommend, I knew Target wasn't the place, but that didn't stop me from trying. Subsequent to a few band names that probably had him shaking his head, Ken decided it'd be easier to tell me what they did have rather than search for a lot of CDs they wouldn't. He started listing some music where I was "no", "no, you don't want that" and "oh, you've got to be kidding". Then, he casually mentioned Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits, on sale. What? TP&tHBs? Even Ken, methinks, would have that staple. I mean, I know him enough to know that he'd like TP, and, really, I was kind of surprised that his CD collection didn't have at least one of the TP/HBs classics -Damn the Torpedoes, Hard Promises, Long After Dark, or Southern Accents. As he scanned the songs on the CD, he knew American Girl but after that, unless he was yanking my chain -- always possible, but he sounded honest -- he didn't recognize hardly anything. Listen to Her Heart? I Need to Know? Don't Do Me Like That? Even the Losers? Here Comes My Girl? The Waiting? No, no, no, no, no, and no - he said he didn't recognize anything - I think I may have gotten a hesitant yes at Don't Come Around Here No More or Freefallin'. Now, I'm no psychiatrist, but this, to me, sounded like an urgent cry for help. My thoughts were: where had Ken been all this time and please, Ken, be joking? Immediately, I told him to get the CD. I went so far as to say I'd buy it from him for the sale price plus tax if he didn't like it, even though I already have it and have had it for years. Inside, because I'm a little bit, or a lot a bit, of a jerk sometimes, that little "music elitist" (which is really a joke - because I have no talent for singing or playing an instrument, and really only have this subjective taste like anyone else, but mine is just a little more narrow - and for whatever reason, I take pride in that -- yeah, that's the SIN pride), part of me scoffed at my friend (I'm apologizing now Ken - SORRY!) for not being on the musical "in", whatever that is, for so, so long.

Mirror reflection.

Just a day before that, I was in Wal-Mart with my kids, and I saw a package deal, Season 1 and Season 2 of The X-Files, on for $16.99. I remember when the X-Files hit way back in the early to mid-1990s, and I had a lot of good folks recommend it to me. Because I am like I am (well, I've been working on it since), I resisted, then, in getting caught up in something about which everyone else raved, even though, when hearing about the episodes and arc, I knew I'd like it. Over the years, I've caught a few X-Files shows in syndication, and I've always gotten wrapped up in them when I've watched. Since the syndicated shows I watched were at 1 a.m., however, it made it hard to keep up a steady diet. Plus, there was no chronology in the shows I watched. A few had Mulder and Scully, but others had Scully and Doggett and then Doggett and someone else, and then I couldn't figure out what all had taken place. Anyway, to make a short story that I've made longer but am trying to rectify that from the rambling mess of where this post could go, I bought The X-Files Season 1/Season 2. I'm five episodes into Season 1 and, of course, am hooked. All the accolades, at least to this point in my watching, seem well-deserved. And it just makes me think, what in the world was I thinking back in time when other folks, people I trusted and that knew me, told me that I'd love The X-Files? Not hard to see that it was, once again, pride. On the scale of things, I'm fortunate that watching a TV show isn't a big deal, so this time, my pride hurting me is just looking silly for starting to watch a TV show now that I could have been "in on" sixteen years ago. No real harm. Unfortunately, and as an aside, my pride has, believe it or not, reared it's smirky face in other, BIGGER, instances, for real harm - but maybe those another time. And maybe not.

For now, if anyone is a fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or The X-Files, you're welcome to crack on me and/or Ken for being so out of the loop for no good reason. You can especially crack on Ken, because my feelings get hurt easily. I like giving, but taking's not really my thing, if that's okay ;). Nah, I'm kidding, give me what you got!

OR! You could take a higher road, and share some of either your TP or X-File insight with us.

OR! Even better, you could join in my lament on living in the past, having to catch up to the present, and hardly ever glimpsing the future. What are some of the "in"-type things, that you're trying and/or might like now, that were more popular back then. Hopefully, not wearing plaid golfer pants (I've still got enough pride in me to scoff at you if you're doing that, and scoff I will).

AND! Just so everyone realizes I'm not sociopathic without a conscience, the moral I've learned from all this, because it's so very important to apply life lessons correctly, is this:


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Friday, September 04, 2009

I'm Small - I Admit It

That said, I hereby submit my official response to Ken's post that is so magnificent in its utter awfulness. Here are my choices for the picture I want next to my name:>

First, I'd like to try Evil Ken.

Of course, I'm not evil like that, so maybe something heroic would work better. What about Ken the Eagle?

Really, though, neither villian nor hero fit my personna. I think this one does a better job of capturing me:

Naaaaaah. In the end, cartoons really don't work. What about the real deal? I mean, who am I really? Isn't this really my Maslowian actualized real self?

Nope. None of those. I've got to be me. This is the one:

Put it there pretty please!

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Pick a Picture for Rich

Bottom line: Rich needs a user profile picture.

But knowing him like I do, I know that he won't ever get around to actually choosing one. And he certainly wouldn't want to use an actual photo of himself. That's just our lovable Mr. Pearce.

So, we need to help him.

Your mission is straight-forward. Below you will find five potential user profile pictures. Rank them from Most Rich to Least Rich.

Then, I've got the dubious task of hand-holding and cajoling to get him to upload it onto his profile.

Good luck to all of us. It's a worthwhile cause.



c) d) e)

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The Snowflake Method

Plotting is hard.

There I've said it.

In the past, Rich has been known to give me undue credit for my plot development role in our writing projects. I think this is because I feel very strongly about strong plots. Not to diminish the other key aspects of writing (e.g. we are also adamant proponents of excellent characterization), but to me plot is the story.

In the writing workshop that we do at schools, we define plot as "How the main character gets what he/she wants". Having an interesting premise is great, but without the compelling plot with its harrowing obstacles, climax, and resolution, you're just wasting your time.

But plotting is hard. Maybe I mentioned that before.

That's why I was intrigued when I ran across the reference and link to Randy Ingermanson's snowflake method at Joanna's blog: Just a Lyric in a Children's Rhyme. I've read books on plotting, but the snowflake method put things in simpler terms and used an analogy, which dumbed it down so that even I could follow along easily.

If you're one of our resident writers, I recommend that you check out the Snowflake Method. You never snow, it might be just the thing you needed.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

X Degrees of Separation (DugALugs's Game)

All credit to Doug for this one.

One of the cool things about going back and re-reading some of the classic standards laid out spectacularly by our own Diabolical Genius here in The Realm in his All-Time Favorite Realm Posts post, is that some of your -- you, our fair Realm denizens -- comments were golden. One such comment in the Cliches of the World post -- and that post is an outstanding example of our commenters making The Realm of Possibility far better than it could be with just Ken or me rambling -- was from our pal, DugALug who suggested a game that will probably remind you, of the old Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon exercise. I'm gonna lay out Doug's comment, in its entirety, right here for game instructions and examples:


Here is an idea for a post. How about calling it something like X degrees of separation. Start with an item/object/person/place Using one commmon word from the current state for the seed of the transitioned state. Here are two examples:

1) Bart Simpson
2) O.J. Simpson (The Juice)
3) Juice Newton
4) Orange Juice
5) Orange Julius
6) King Julius Caesar
7) Elvis Presley (The King)
8) Lisa Marie Presley
9) Lisa Marie Simpson (Bart's sister)


1) Poison Ivy
2) Ivy League
3) Justice League of America
4) Captain America
5) Captain Cave Man
6) The Bat Cave
7) Batman

What do you think?


Well, I'll tell you what I think, Doug. I think it's a great idea to try. So -- and this may be a bit of a departure from your rules, Douggie, but I think it might help the continuity of an ongoing Net game -- we can use one liners or characters from books, movies, TV shows, and then famous sayings, historical figures, lines from historical speeches, pop culture references, etc. to try to keep our connected separations going. Just one word has to match from the comment above. Also, like all these sort of games that we try, let's try not to post consecutively unless the game stagnates to the point someone feels like they have to if they want to try to keep it going -- I'll try to keep the comments moderated frequently so we don't have overlaps. This should be a great memory exercise for all of us, and let's try to get some clever references so it's fun!

I'll get it started in the first comment block.

[Ed. Note: Doug, if I've mischaracterized the game - just start it over in a comment, and tell us how it's done. Thanks, man!]

{Ed. Note 2: Forget the promise of trying to keep comments moderated frequently so we don't have overlaps.}

{Ed. Note 3: I will now embrace the overlap, intentionally posting a few of my own.}

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Scents You Asked

[Ed. note: This post is for Milly and all the other great-smelling Lords and Ladies of the Realm.]

I love smells. Well, not all of them. But I do love the idea that invisible molecules wafting through the air can create intense reactions of pleasure or aversion.

{Disclaimer: The author of this post appreciates all 5 senses equally and would not want to be deprived of any of them. The above paragraph is just his goofy attempt to begin a blog post which focuses on the sense of smell and in no way intends to slander or diminish the importance of any and/or all of the other 4 well-respected senses. Thank you.}

When you visit someone else's house or ride in their car... or get closer to them than you usually do... you are introduced immediately to the curiosity that is their personal smell. Maybe the smell is dominated by pets, or exotic foods, or candles, or poor hygiene, or fantastic hygiene, but in any case there it is... confronting you.

This smell could be a repulsive odor or a haunting fragrance, but regardless, your nose runs (not as in dripping) through your accumulated smell memory banks frantically searching for a match or etching a new entry which will never be forgotten.

The smell could be an obvious repeat offender. The smell could be deliciously mysterious: an olfactory puzzle to be solved. The smell could trigger past associations with another time and place. Or the smell could prompt evasive maneuvers.

Scents you're still reading and not because you asked me, here are my very own categorical smell rankings. See if they pass your sniff test, and then give me your own aroma winners and losers. Please don't think that because you've smelt it that anyone here will think you dealt it.

And by all means, if you have a funny smell story, do tell. I'm sure I'm not the only "smeller feller" around here.

Top 5 Best Smells (Overall)

  • A clean baby
  • Chocolate chip cookies baking

  • The mixture of plumeria and sugar cane in the Hawaiian air

  • A Spring afternoon shower

  • Model airplane glue

  • Honorable mention: The smell of the beach when you first arrive

Top 5 Worst Smells

  • A paper mill

  • Vomit in a hot car

  • Sour milk

  • Nursing homes (sorry)

  • A football locker room

  • Honorable mention: Coffee/beer breath

Top 5 Parfumes/Colognes

Top 5 Food Smells (other than above)

  • Pit barbecue

  • Fresh peaches

  • Chili

  • Fresh-baked bread

  • Bacon

  • Honorable mention: Vanilla extract

Top 5 Plant/Tree Smells (other than above)

  • Roses

  • Sassafras tree roots

  • Coffee beans

  • Drying tobacco leaves

  • Cinnamon bark

  • Honorable mention: Spruce trees

Top 5 Worst Plant/Tree Smells (other than above)
  • Bradford pear blooms

  • Dead leaves

  • Freshly-cut grass

  • Geraniums

  • Scotch broom

  • Honorable mention: Wild onions

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Chupacabra Finally Found in Texas?

Here's the story and video from CNN.

You be the judge.

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In case anyone here does not yet know, Ken and I have bowed down. We're now on Facebook as "Pearce Story". Apparently, and I've tried hard -- well, I've tried as hard as I usually do with things like this, Facebook rejects the "&" and "and" usage as middle names or in first or last names. So we can't be "Pearce & Story", like we really are. We have to be Pearce Story, whoever that person is (also, if your name is Pearce Story, a thousand apologies). Phooey.

Anyway, if you're not already a Facebook friend and would like to be, "friend us". (Is that the cool way to say it?). I mean, we're really, really good at it. It's almost like our blogging. Here's a list of the fringe benefits we offer:

  • Between zero and few photos

  • Inane "experiences" we share with Facebook friends

  • Probably not many mutual friends

  • $50 "friendship fee" that Ken will mail to you personally so that we don't look like total losers... only partial - because that's important to us

For those of you who have not received your fee, please let Ken know in the comments. We'll get it right to you. The postal system these days...

[Pearce & Story not responsible as a writing partnership, or individually, for the non-payment of friendship fees as stated in the above.]

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Subtitled: Hey there, hi there, ho there. How'd you like 4 billion dollars there?

Well true believers, I never thought I'd see the day, but it's upon us. And even Galactus is shakin' in his boots at the implications.

In case you missed the shockwave that swept through a couple different universes and don't know what I'm talking about, here it is:

BOOM! ZAP! CRAACK!! Hakuna Matata!!

If this rocks your world like it does mine, take a deep breath, think of the possibilities, and let me know what you think. If you're a Disney fan or a Marvel fan, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Personally, I'm kind of excited about the epic Captain Hook vs. Wolverine battles we're sure to see. Not to mention The Incredibles/Fantastic Four team-ups.

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Lights Out

A moment of silence in The Realm. After 72 years, Guiding Light has called it quits. What started as a 15-minute serial radio show that expanded to 30, and took its soapy camp to TV in 1952, and finally over time went to an hour... well, it's done.

Maybe someone would like to say a few words? If I actually ever watched it, perhaps I could eulogize it better. I didn't, though.

As far as you know.

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