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7 Swans a Swimming: A Gift Guide for the Nature Lovers

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

Today is Wednesday, December 18, 2013.  If the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song was a countdown, today we would receive “seven swans a swimming.”

There are only seven days until Christmas!

Today’s gift guide is for the outdoorsman/woman in your life.

fmhunter1The Cozy-Factor:

Classic Jacket for Him: North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell Jacket

100% windproof, warm, but not bulky.

Cozy Jacket for Her: North Face Denali Fleece

A great fleece that will keep her warm with or without other layers.

Base Layer: Under Armour Infrared Hood

For the outdoor adventurer who likes to push the limits of frostbite.

The Hot Hot Headband: Knit Winter Headband Ear Warmer

These headbands are all the rage.  They’re cute, come in many colors, and are a good alternative for hat-haters.

Smart and Warm Fingers: Isotoner Smartouch Matrix Glove

Keep fingers warm while using your Smartphone or tablet. (Here is the same gloves for manly man hands.)

Rainy Days, Warm Toes: Women’s Original Hunter Tall Welly Rubber Boot

Perfect for splashing in puddles or wading through winter slush.

81qK9eA7NUS._SL1500_The Helpful Gadgets:

Handy Bugs: Nite Ize BugLit LED light

A helpful critter to light even the most awkward spaces.

Hands-Free Illumination: Petzl Tikka Headlamp

Great for nighttime hikes.

DeFEETing Ice: Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats for Snow and Ice

Stay upright this winter.

A Raincoat for your Electronics: Waterproof Pouch Case for Smartphone

Keep your precious phone dry while out skiing, ice-fishing, or hiking.

Swiss-made: Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ Pocket Knife

Thirty-two tools.

tubbs_w_couloir_08The Other Fun Stuff:

Walk on Snow: Tubb’s Men’s Wilderness Showshoe

Great snowshoes for both experienced and novice showshoers. (Women’s Tubbs can be found here)

Ammo Storage: Plano Ammo Can (Field Box)

House your ammo and/or gun accessories in one place.

Old-School Fun: Trumark Slingshot

Unexpected but sure to put a devilish smile on their face.

For the Good Ole’ H2O: Nalgene BPA Free Tritan Wide Mouth Water Bottle

Dishwasher safe. Suitable for both hot and cold liquids.  Shatter Resistant.

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8 Maids a Milking: A Gift Guide for the Bakers, Bartenders, and Chefs

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

Today is Tuesday, December 17, 2013.  The reverse “Twelve Days of Christmas” countdown indicates that we would receive “eight maids a milking” today.

This means that there are only eight days until Christmas!

Today’s gift guide is for the people on your list who are so in love with preparing food and entertaining that their blender has a name.  These gifts are sure to serve up some joy–as well as delicious dishes!

img81oFor The Frequent Baker and/or Adventurous Cook:

Scoop it: Le Creuset Silicone 7-Piece Utensil Set

Besides the ingredients and the will, every good chef needs the proper tools.

Prep it: Joseph Joseph Nest 9-piece Compact Food Prep Set

One can never have enough prep bowls. Joseph Joseph’s design allows all 9 pieces to be nested together for maximum use of space.  The brightly colored bowls are also a fun addition to any kitchen.

Slice it: OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer

Slice your ingredients ultra thin without cutting yourself.

(Don’t) Cut it: Cut Resistant Gloves (Level 5 Protection)

Keep your fingers safe while you chop.

Roast it: Stoneware 6-Piece 8oz Mini Cocotte Set with Cookbook

From molten-brownie desserts to mini pot pies, you can’t go wrong with this set of bright, durable stoneware.

Stew it: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-iron Round French Oven

The infamous Le Creuset “dutch oven” is a kitchen classic and cookware essential.

Bake it: Doughmakers Grand Cookie Sheet

No burnt cookies! (I can say by experience that these really are the best.)

cuisinart_griddler_350For the Kitchen-Gadget and Appliance Lover:

Read it: ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer

Pen-sized. Digital. Easy to read

Whip it: Ozeri Deluz Milk Frother and Whisk (with 4 frothing attachments)

Froth milk, beat eggs, and whip dressings and sauces galore!

Grill it: Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler

This compact, counter-top grill has five functions: contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle.  The plates are even dishwasher safe.

cocktailFor The Bartender:

Whiskey: Sipping Stones—Set of Grey Whisky Chilling Rocks

Keep your whisky cold in style!

Martini: Stainless Steel and Pewter Martini Picks

Serve your guests martinis with a side of fun.

Wine: Fred Wine Line Reviews Wine Glass Markers

A quirky way to personalize your glass of wine.

“How to” Cocktails: Architecture of the Cocktail: Constructing the Perfect Cocktail from the Bottom Up

Impress your boss, friends, and family by making cocktails the RIGHT way.

Liquor: Visol “Raven” Stainless Steel Flask and Gift Set

A handsome way to carry your clandestine liquor.

Bottle Opener: Vertical Rabbit Lever Style Corkscrew with Foil Cutter

Opening wine has never been easier.

latte-tableFor the Caffeine Lover:

Espresso: Nespresso Essenza C91 Manual Espresso Maker

This espresso maker is compact and simple to use.  The Nespresso brand also has a great “menu” of espressos to choose from that fit your machine.

Tea: Kikkerland Robot Tea Infuser and Drip Tray

Who can resist this adorable robot?

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9 Ladies Dancing: A Gift Guide for the Kings and Queens of Beauty Products

Monday, December 16th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

Today is Monday, December 16, 2013.  If we were having a literal, backwards countdown of the “Twelve days of Christmas,” we would all receive “nine ladies dancing” today. Newsflash, there are only nine days until Christmas!

Shopping procrastinators, overwhelmed list-makers, and confused uncles and aunts, listen up.  Although there is one fewer weekend in December this year, and Christmas shopping is sure to be even more hectic than usual, there is still a way to keep your sanity in tact!

Take back some Christmas peace and quiet and make your shopping painless. Here is a gift guide chock-full of holiday cheer and guaranteed smiles for some of the people on your list:

The Beauty Queen/Well-Groomed Man

For that person in your life who loves all things beauty and grooming—from head to toe!

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For The Ladies:

Skin: Clarisonic Mia Skin Cleansing System

Beauty aficionados know that beauty starts with healthy, glowing skin.  (This is also a good gift for the males who love a deep clean, skin deep.)

Nails: London Butter Nail Polish Set

High-end, high-pigment nail color that is sure to make their fingers and toes sparkle.

Make-up: Bare Minerals Starter Kit

Bare Minerals powder system has good coverage–but without the thick, goopy foundation mess. This is a good starter kit for those who are curious about the “mineral powder craze” or want to try something new!

Lips: Frola Cosmetics Professional 66-Color Lip Gloss Palette

So many color options, so few days of the week!

Hair: Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment

This stuff really is a miracle worker—smooth on wet or dry hair for a silky smooth finish and frizz control. (Also available for curly hair)
beauty-products-for-menFor The Gentlemen:

Shaving (Manual): The Art of Shaving Starter Kit

The lucky person on your list who receives this gift is sure to become addicted to the products. My male friends especially rave about the “sandalwood” scent kit.

Shaving (Electric): Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D

This bad-boy came highly recommended by the gadget gurus.

Cleansing for the traveling man: Men’s Jack Black Cleansing System

All the essentials for face, hair, and body and it’s great for frequent travelers who need to take better care of themselves.

Men’s Face Mask: Baxter of California Clarifying Clay Face Mask

Purify and invigorate your mug. You can’t go wrong with Baxter of California.

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Does New Honda Commercial Promote ‘a Culture of Rape’?

Monday, December 16th, 2013 - by Dave Swindle

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Just received this morning from a reader via email:

Amid all the problems of the world in India and elsewhere:

Just in time for the holidays, Honda has a new ad trivializing rape for its commercial gain.

In the cartoon, two men are depicted lowers a restrained man, who takes the place of a angel to top a tree. One of two workers  says, ‘we might have to twist him on.’

This is not only tasteless but entertains a culture of rape. Even the most radical feminist should stand against this, as women suffer disproportionately from acceptance of this culture.

Please help take a stand up  against this by taking the lead and cover the story.

I am sure your viewers would applaud taking a stand against this.

What do you think? Should one “take a stand” against Honda’s PG-13 rated double entendre type joke in an effort to reduce rape?

Or are there pieces of media that inspire much more crime and chaos than holiday car commercials? Like the Koran, perhaps?

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What Really Matters At Christmas? It Might Not Be What You Think…

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

bythefire

My daughter hung our Christmas stockings on the mantle this week.

Sitting in the living room, watching the fire and enjoying its beauty made me rethink Christmas.

What is Christmas really about?

I know the right answer. The right answer is that it is about Luke 2:11, the birth of Christ.

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

King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition

And yet, most will agree that December 25th is not the day of Jesus’ actual birth. When you take into consideration that it holds many pagan traditions, it draws lawsuits like bees to honey, and was almost trampled to death on Black Friday — it leaves precious little to embrace.

In spite of it all, it is a holiday that still holds deep meaning.

Years ago a Jewish girlfriend told me that they celebrated Christmas. Although they were capable of buying their children the best of everything this family had a strong work ethic and taught their children to work and save for what they wanted. “Christmas,” she confided “is the one day of the year I can spoil them. I can buy them the things I want to give them.” For their family, it had absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. However, they embraced the holiday to celebrate one another.

Before you head to the comments to accuse them of only using Christmas to indulge materialism, that’s not it at all. Face it, good parents want to give good gifts to their children. It’s just built into us. However, good parents don’t routinely indulge their own need to give. They understand the harm overindulgence brings. Christmas allows us to celebrate those we love through gifts both material and giving of ourselves.

When my daughters were little, and money was tight, I would buy them each a “Christmas dress.” They were usually collected throughout the year at garage sales. We would spend hours the night before putting their hair in curls. Then on Christmas Eve dress up in their pretty new dresses. Later that night they could unwrap “one” gift. The rule being, Mom picked which gift they could open. It was always a new pair of pajamas.

Truth is that both the Christmas dresses and new pajamas was all a set up. I was staging them for pictures then and in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, they loved getting all dressed up, and looked forward to the new PJs. But, for me it was all about creating and capturing the memories of their childhood.

It wasn’t long until they outgrew velvet and bows. So one day I tore all their Christmas dresses into shreds.

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What’s On Your Christmas List of Things You Don’t Want Others to Have?

Sunday, December 8th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

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Some ideas trigger an intellectual gag reflex and leave your neurons gasping for reason. This image conveys one such idea.

Once you regain your composure, realize that this characterization says more about its leftist creator than it says about the Right. It’s because the cartoonist fixates upon the holdings of others that they project that fixation upon the Right.

Indeed, it’s the leftist who seeks to affect what everyone else owns, not the Right. It’s the leftist who presents a list of things others can’t have — large sodas, carbon-emitting vehicles, a healthcare plan they like, etc. It’s the Left that acts as Grinch, plundering in the guise of Santa.

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Insta-Turkey!

Friday, November 29th, 2013 - by Glenn Reynolds

Things went well at our house, where I cooked a turkey (see below) and three legs of lamb — though since the bad weather kept my brother’s family from making it, the third leg wasn’t really needed. (But it didn’t go to waste, either).

turkeypic2013

*****

Cross-posted from Instapundit

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Chanukah: The Triumph of Light

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 - by P. David Hornik

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Chanukah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, starts this year on Wednesday evening, the only time it has ever just about coincided with Thanksgiving.

Chanukah, which celebrates the triumph of the few over the many, of light over darkness, goes back over two millennia to a time when Judea was under the rule of the Seleucid Empire. In 198 BCE the Seleucid King Antiochus III ousted the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy V from Judea. Antiochus III was a tolerant ruler who wanted the Jews to practice their religion as they saw fit.

His son and successor Antiochus IV, however, was a different story. In 168 BCE, under his reign, the Second Temple in Jerusalem—the focal point of Jewish worship—was looted, Jews were massacred, and Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus IV had an altar to Zeus built in the Temple, banned circumcision, and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the Temple’s altar.

It was what one might call a cultural genocide. Not an attempt at the wholesale destruction of the people themselves, but of their values, beliefs, and identity. According to Jewish tradition, it may have succeeded—without the revolt.

The revolt against Antiochus IV began that same year, 167 BCE, in the Judean foothills and was led by Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah. The next year Mattathias died and his place was taken by Judah—Judah the Maccabee (“Hammer”). By 165 BCE the revolt had succeeded; the Maccabees and their followers had ousted the monarchy, liberated the Temple, and rededicated it to their God.

It was during this process that, according to the Talmud, the miracle of Chanukah occurred. The Maccabees discovered that almost all the ritual olive oil in the Temple had been contaminated; they found only one container with enough pure oil to keep the Temple’s menorah (candelabrum) lit for one day. But when they used it, it burned for eight days—enough to prepare more of the kosher oil. Jews have been lighting a menorah—or chanukiah as it’s now called in Israel—on Chanukah ever since.

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Give Thanks with these Jersey Wines

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

cranpagne

According to Better Homes & Gardens, Thanksgiving is the number one holiday for wine sales. Following their list of recommended varietals, here are some New Jersey wine selections that should grace your Thanksgiving table this year.

For a fine Sparkling Wine, look no further than Valenzano Winery’s Cranpagne. The effervescence of this sparkling Jersey cranberry wine ushers in the holiday spirit like no other, making it the perfect sweet-tart traditional flavor to toast the autumn chill, fall foliage and hearts full of thanks.

If you love cranberry but aren’t as crazy about the bubbly, check out Sharrott Winery’s Cranberry Wine. Made from 100% New Jersey cranberries (think: Ocean Spray) this delightful elixir is the perfect compliment to your turkey-led feast. Leave the cranberry sauce for the kiddies and sip away at this bright red delight.

Red Wine drinkers will give thanks for two beautiful dry reds from Heritage Vineyards in Mullica Hill, NJ. A fruit farm that has been family owned since the Civil War, Heritage began wine making in the 1990′s and has cultivated a reputation as one of the Garden State’s best wineries. Their 2010 BDX Reserve, a Bordeaux-style blend of Cab Sav, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot aged in French oak, was the highest ranking Jersey red in the infamous Judgement of Princeton. Richly balanced, the 2011 version of the BDX will inspire many a good conversation at this year’s table. Prefer the spice of a Syrah? Heritage’s Estate Reserve 2010 Syrah is one of the most complex and balanced versions of the grape in the state. Both reds are round with a flavor that dances across the palate and promises to make a partner out of any holiday meal.

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Kmart Takes Shaking Your Package to a Whole New Low This Christmas

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

YouTube Preview Image

Who still shops at Kmart?

This advertisement is a pathetic cry for help. It’s even less effective than an 8 year old “acting out” to get his parents’ attention and then ending up with a time-out in the corner.

Kmart is the commercial version of that kid. Once the darling of the American family, it fell into obscurity after its bout with porn a couple of decades ago.

In the early 1990s, Kmart, through their Walden books stores, was one of the largest retailers of pornography in America. Kmart refused to take porn out of their bookstores. Walden then sued the American Family Association (AFA) for meddling in their backdoor profits. So AFA let the rest of us in on Kmart’s dirty little secret and called for a boycott.

It only took a few months for Kmart to feel the heat. By 1994, while Walmart and Target sales saw healthy gains, Kmart had suffered consistent and continuing profit decline and announced plans to close 110 stores.

This year a new boycott is being threatened after Kmart announced that its stores will remain open from 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving through Black Friday. The uproar is over the company’s apparent lack of concern for its employees’ ability to spend time with their families over the holidays.

Perverting Christmas by showing men tinkling their testicles in public is one thing, but perceived corporate greed is the unforgivable sin of our new Marxist economy.

H/T  Todd Starns

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The Top 5 Christmas Season Traditions At Walt Disney World

Thursday, November 21st, 2013 - by Chris Queen

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Walt Disney World possesses its own brand of magic 365 days a year, but from early November to shortly after the New Year, the World becomes something much more magical as the whole resort takes on the air of Christmas.

The holidays really are a special time to visit Walt Disney World. Sure, prices go up during this “peak” season and at times the crowds go up just as much, but it’s worth the extra saving to be able to experience the parks and resorts in their full Christmas regalia.

At night, Cinderella Castle transforms into a wintry ice castle. Each park and resort boasts its own unique tree, and the decorations match the theme of each land and attraction. World of Disney in Downtown Disney is the perfect place for gift shopping, while at World Showcase in Epcot, each nation features storytellers who share that country’s holiday traditions.

Above everything else, five events and experiences stand out. These traditions make a November or December vacation to Walt Disney World one the whole family will remember forever.

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Less Than 6 Weeks to Christmas and Decisions Must Be Made

Sunday, November 17th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

perfecttree

The window candles are all in place. I love how their warm glow greets the dark, cool autumn air. The sound of cousins giggling is the current music playing throughout the house.  The season of giving thanks and celebrating family and friends is in full swing at the Robinsons’.

The first wave of house guests arrived this week. Our daughter, along with three little grand-daughters, is visiting while their daddy is on a hunting trip.

Reminiscing, talk of creating new traditions, and plans for a dress-up tea party filled our first days together. It’s been mildly amusing over the years to watch my adult children’s early attempts at capturing the Christmas spirit those first years out on their own. At first, my oldest son Chris thought Christmas only resided at our house. So he hauled his new bride home to spend the night with us (on the couch) for Christmas. If the spirit of Christmas was in our home that year, it didn’t come within ten feet of that poor girl. That particular tradition didn’t seem to fit his family well–and died quickly.

Not willing to give up, a few years later he decided it was all about the tree.

So a new family tradition was in order, and they made an outing of the whole Christmas tree process. The best part of the afternoon was spent at a local tree farm searching for the perfect tree. They found it, the largest Christmas tree they could imagine.

Hot chocolate and Christmas music set the mood. The children learned to string popcorn while mom and dad decorated the giant tree. Then the unthinkable happened. Their beautiful fully decorated tree crashed to the floor. They all took it in stride… the first time.

The second time it hit the ground, there was little humor left. Once again the family made it whole again, then called it a night.

With everyone tuckered out, tucked in and sound asleep they heard a loud clatter. It was not the joyful sounds of reindeer hoofs, but you guessed it, falling timber and shattering glass.

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This Veterans Day, Blessed Are The Peacemakers

Monday, November 11th, 2013 - by Andrew Klavan
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[If you have a moment, please watch the wonderful three minute movie scene above through to the end.]

It always annoys me when a church waxes mealy-mouthed in celebration of the military. They do this, I know, because the church leaders think such celebrations detract from their aura of Christly peace. “We pray for those serving in the armed forces around the world,” goes one Episcopalian formulation — which is twice mealy-mouthed because it not only fails to pray for the right people, it’s fashioned to make you think that you ARE praying for the right people.  You can tell yourself you’re praying for those serving in OUR armed forces around the world, but you’re not. You’re praying for the soldiers of North Korea too — and, Lord, if you’re listening, as far as I’m concerned, you can feel free to smite those sons of bitches at any time. Don’t hold back any smiting on my account.

Jesus blessed the peacemakers. In this fallen world, that sometimes means good guys with guns. Just as neighborhoods are safer where homeowners go armed, so the world is more peaceful where free nations maintain a strong military. I am aware every day — every day — that I read, write, love, pray and simply walk down the street — because there are those who risk their lives to protect me from the armies of the bad guys. If you think that detracts from my aura of Christly peace, so be it. Personally, I think it gives the aura a fresh layer of realism and honesty.

Love is not love that will not stand and fight.

God bless our veterans and those serving today. Just like the Man said.

*****

Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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This Veterans Day, Don’t Call It Sacrifice

Monday, November 11th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

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As we take a too-infrequent moment to honor the service of our men and women in uniform this Veterans Day, let us consider our language and test whether it does them justice.

Commonly, we refer to the contribution made by those who serve in the military as a sacrifice. Our veterans have given up relatively comfortable alternatives to place themselves in harm’s way and protect our liberties. When we call that a sacrifice, we mean it honorably. Nevertheless, we may be selling our now and future veterans short by continuing to think of their choice in that way.

What is a sacrifice? It’s one of those words, like “love,” which has many nuanced meanings depending upon the context in which one uses it. For our purposes in this discussion, let’s settle upon this definition: a trade of value for something of lesser or no value. In order for something to be sacrificial, it must leave the giver worse off than they were before, right? How often do we lift up as virtue the notion of doing something for others without any expectation of receiving something in return?

Yet many of the things we commonly refer to as sacrifice do not fit that definition. When a college student passes on a night out with friends to stay in and study for a big test, he hardly ends up worse off for the trade. Yet, we call it a sacrifice. When a parent prioritizes the needs of their children above her own personal needs, she rarely thinks of the trade as a loss. Yet we think of that as sacrificial too.

In truth, many if not most of the things we call sacrifices actually stand as rational value judgments. Studying for an important test has greater value than a single night out on the town. Providing for one’s children has greater value than indulging yourself to their neglect. We make such choices in pursuit of our values, not at their expense.

The same applies to our men and women in uniform. Enlistment rationally values the nation’s security and individual liberties above mere safety. That is what makes it so honorable! That is why we stand in awe of our veterans and offer them our thanks, because the choice to protect what the rest of us take for granted declares something of their character. It tells us what they value, and how much they value it. I imagine few if any enlist hoping to lose life or limb as a “sacrifice.” Rather, they accept the risk to life and limb as an affirmation of that which they value — life in a free country. As the beneficiaries of that choice, we ought not diminish it by calling it a sacrifice.

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British Pilot Not Amused By Daughter’s ‘Twin Towers’ Halloween Costume

Thursday, November 7th, 2013 - by Stephen Kruiser

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Unreal.

The pilot father of a student who caused outrage by dressing up as the World Trade Center for a nightclub fancy dress competition has said he is ‘not happy at all’ about his daughter’s behaviour.

Amber Langford and Annie Collinge, both 19, won the contest and a £150 prize at a Chester nightclub despite lampooning the worst terrorist attack in modern history.

Miss Langford’s father Martin, who was flying in the U.S. at the time of the atrocity, said: ‘I didn’t know anything about it, but I’m not happy at all.

‘She knows I’m a pilot and that’s not cool at all. We will be having a little chat, I think.’

I know they are young and clueless but…come on.

Also, let’s give Halloween back to the little kids.

*****

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Halloween Cute Dose: The Puppacita’s Pillage-Worthy Costume

Thursday, October 31st, 2013 - by Bridget Johnson
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Chi-Chi (aka The Puppacita), my Chihuahua, dressed as a Somali pirate for Halloween.

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Hey, there’s no sleeping on Somali pirate duty!

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That’s better. On the lookout for supertankers and random wads of cash.

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Jumping ship to go pillage or plunder or poo.

 

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The Most Spook-tacular Cars On the Road

Thursday, October 31st, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

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Washington, D.C. is ready for Halloween! Row houses have been covered with giant cobwebs, yards scattered with pop-up ghouls, and porches decorated with cleverly carved pumpkins. Our neighbor has a giant arachnid perched above the front door–and when I say “giant,” I mean the spider is half the size of a car. Eek!  Traditional yard and house decorations aside, every once in awhile I see a decorated car (a few pumpkin stickers or a fake bat)– but that’s child’s play compared to some of the die-hard Halloween decorators out there. These die-hard Halloween fans have graduated from the spooky house and yard decorations to the drivable canvases parked in their garages.  Their cars.

I would like to honor these die-hard decorators with an awards ceremony that I’ve created just for them.

Here are the winners of the first annual Automo-BOO-le Awards:

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Why You Should Give Yourself A Cable-Free Life For Christmas: Go Roku

Sunday, October 27th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

osteragestuck

For most of our adult lives, television at the Robinson household consisted of a large antenna in the attic. We jokingly called it “farm vision.” Then we did what all old people do when their children are grown–we moved into town. I really enjoyed the luxury of cable–that is for about two years. Then I started to feel a bit cheated.

This past year forced us to reevaluate almost every aspect of our lives: our health, our lifestyle and our spending habits. When assessing the cost of cable, and the value it brings–cutting it was a no-brainer.

However, my husband and I both have favorite programs we enjoy. I’m not going to lie, as an information-junkie, my withdrawals from news and commentary hit fairly hard.

We’ve had AppleTV, and enjoyed streaming Netflix and routinely mirrored videos or live streaming church services or breaking news. But it really doesn’t offer a whole lot more than what’s on your computer or iPad.

Enter Roku.

Pronounced Row-Koo. If you’re considering Apple TV as an alternative to cable or DVD rentals checkout Roku first.

Roku is a little black device about the size of the palm of your hand and it streams Internet “channels” to your television. Roku comes loaded with access to over 1000 channels.

It’s a mixed bag of hundreds of free content and paid subscriptions. The best part about it, is you can add the channels you want and you’re not forced to weed through hundreds of channels to get to the couple you prefer. You can get Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, Amazon Instant Video, PBS, The Blaze and Fox News. There are no fees connected with the device itself after the initial purchase. You will have to have wi-fi of course, as it is a streaming device.

Roku currently offers four different devices starting at $49.99. You can add a few bells and whistles at a time.

Currently, we have a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime, and are in the process of comparing Redbox (which offers four DVDs and unlimited streaming for $8.00 monthly) and Netflix. The subscriptions or combination you choose all depend on your viewing habits.

We have enjoyed the ability to watch entire seasons of television shows, watching episodes back to back without commercial interruption. Who cares if they are last year’s season–I’m no longer subjected to ED commercials or dating sites no matter how late we stay up.

You now have several options.

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4 Blood Moons On Jewish Holy Days: A Sign for Israel or Christians?

Saturday, October 26th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs, to mark seasons and days and years…” Genesis 1:14 (NIV)

Having a real aversion to doomsday predictions, I’ve never paid any attention to people claiming to know when the end is near–and I still don’t.

Frankly, or maybe shamefully, I’ve never explored the book of Revelation much either. As a mother of nine natural born children, I filed it under the same category as giving birth: nobody gets to sleep through it–you’ll know when it happens.

However, as a Christian who believes in the God of Israel, it’s becoming glaringly obvious we need to understand how the Creator of the universe records timenin the heavens. The “expanse of the sky” is a mathematical clock by which all creation keeps time.

Apparently, that’s why our Jewish friends keep a separate calendar. Good to know, right?

In 2008 Mark Biltz saw an image circulating on the Internet of a blood-moon over the Dome of the Rock. It struck him. As a pastor, his first thoughts went to scripture that describes the moon turning to blood.

Joel 2:30-31:

“I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of  the Lord.

So he did what any man of faith would do–checked NASA’s website. What he discovered has Christians around the world checking their calendar–and looking over Jewish shoulders at theirs’.

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‘Sexy Belly Dance Costumes for Children’ Among Top Online Halloween Costume Searches

Saturday, October 26th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Tada! We’re a screwed up country.

It’s a well-chronicled fact that people tend to gravitate to sexy Halloween costumes, but sexy Halloween costumes for babies? In our pre-Halloween infographic, we’ve coupled trending Halloween costume search terms (both popular and strange) from our sister site Bizrate.com and a survey of 7,315 online shoppers.

We found some interesting things, namely that someone out there wants to be Slutty Bacon for Halloween. (True story!) We also found plenty of evidence that the senior population hates Halloween, while Generation Y embraces it. And what’s even better for retailers? Most people will at least spend a little bit of money on the holiday.

“Slutty Bacon”? I subscribe to the theory that “bacon makes everything better,” but still…

Tada’s artists managed to depict what “Slutty Bacon” might look like. It turns out that bacon really doesn’t make sluttiness better.


Get more coupon data at Tada.

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Crossposted from the PJ Tatler

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6 of the Most Unbelievably Extreme Horror Films You Must Never Watch on Netflix Streaming

Friday, October 25th, 2013 - by Kyle Smith

Maniac2012

Looking for a Halloween horror movie that goes beyond screaming-babysitter and haunted-house cliches? Some of the most disturbing, vile, disgusting and off-the-hook films ever made are available on Netflix’s instant streaming service.

Here are six incredibly twisted experiences that will have you whimpering with disbelief. Tasteless? Wicked? Exploitative? These films are all of these things and then some. Don’t watch them, if you have any sense whatsoever.

6. Maniac (2012)

Even more violent and depraved than the trend-setting 1980 original (which isn’t available to stream on Netflix), this slasher flick involves the mommy-fixated owner (Elijah Wood) of a mannequin store who prowls the night in search of women to stab. Even sicker: He keeps the scalps to top off his mannequins in a fly-ridden room. You’ll almost smell the rotting flesh.

“If it’s possible to be both impressed and appalled by a movie’s pull-no-punches savagery,” wrote The A/V Club, “Maniac earns that dubious distinction.”

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Why So Horrifying? Supernatural Fiction and The World

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 - by Andrew Klavan

In an article called “Who Killed the Halloween Horror Movie?” USA Today recently noted the dearth of big budget horror films this Halloween, the Carrie remake being the exception. Don’t blame me for this, since I’ve done my little all to provide you with a Kreepy Klavan Holiday via my new young adult ghost story Nightmare City (now available to pre-order) and the reboot of Neal Edelstein’s ghost story app Haunting Melissa  script by me — now getting a shiny new 2.0 reboot.

And in fact, it’s not that there are fewer horror stories out there, it’s that there are so many that they can’t be confined to one time of year or to one medium. Horror has gone mainstream, and the zombie-like hunger for Halloween fare can be satisfied at any time and in any number of ways. The Conjuring was released in theaters in the summer, and is out on DVD for October. World War Z, The Evil Dead and Insidious 2 all broke this year and two out of three are available now. And whatever other spooky-dooky tale you want to experience on Halloween or any other time, you only have to stream it or DVR it or, for all I know, have it injected directly into your brain. Like the real world, the fictional world has no shortage of horror — none at all.

Does the mainstreaming and mainlining of eerie fare tell us anything about ourselves, I wonder. I’m always suspicious of such generalizations, but here’s something I’ve noticed for myself. After a career of realistic crime writing with only occasional forays into ghost stories, I’m finding it harder and harder to describe my vision of the world in fiction without resorting to the supernatural.

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Is the Star of Bethlehem a Myth or Actual Astrological Event?

Saturday, October 19th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

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“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Matthew 2-11

In my series on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesusthe author explains that one of the primary reasons Jews refuse to accept Jesus of Nazareth as the promised messiah, was his failed attempt at liberating his people from the oppression of the Roman Empire.

However, in ancient times, not everyone used Boteach’s litmus test.

Some looked for the sign of the coming messiah in the stars. The story goes that three “wise men” came from the east bringing gifts, following a star to worship a new king. And so it goes, the rich historical account of the birth of Christ is watered down to a manger scene, reenacted every year by Sunday school children and illuminated in plastic on lawns everywhere.

But what if we read the book of Matthew as an accurate historical document? What, if anything, actually happened on December 25th?

Using Matthew as his guide, indisputable historical facts and today’s technology, one man did just that– what he found will astound you.

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How To Stop Distorting Christmas

Saturday, October 5th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

Orange

Do you remember the segment on Sesame Street where they presented a zoomed-in view of an ordinary object? Then you were supposed to guess what it was?

You couldn’t recognize it at first, because the camera came in so close, it distorted the picture. The focal point is only one small portion of the object. Its details become the entire picture. Then your mind interprets the part as a whole, and renders it something completely different than it actually is.

That’s what often happens to Christmas. You have to take in the entire picture, to view it clearly and appreciate its true beauty.

If you start planning too soon, you zoom-out too far and all the details seem meaningless. Zoom-in too close, like the days before, and it all becomes distorted.

That’s when we become zeroed-in on one aspect and Christmas is in danger of becoming hollow and superficial, which is the complete opposite of what it is supposed to be — and what children need it to be.

Last minute shopping is the usual default focal point. That’s also when we fall in the trap of over-buying, debt and stress.

Focusing on just the gift aspect doesn’t just do damage to your bank account. I’ve heard more than one person complain, and become hurt, because of the gifts they were given — usually by a spouse.

While that sounds shallow, it’s not. Gifts wrapped in thoughtlessness do more damage than good. Ask the lady whose husband shops at the hardware store three days before Christmas — she’ll tell you who’s selfish.

In “13 Week Countdown To Christmas: When Something’s Just Not Right,” I explained that I love the “feel” of Christmas. I truly enjoy creating an atmosphere in my home that illuminates what Christmas means to our family. However, I get in trouble when I wait to start planning until I get in the mood for Christmas.

With 12 weeks to go, it doesn’t feel a bit like Christmas — frankly, I’m not in the mood yet. But we have the advantage of the right distance to view it with the proper perspective.

Let’s create a Christmas that our families will cherish.

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