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Pretend You're Alive - 10-Year Anniversary Edition: Rarities
Pretend You're Alive - 10-Year Anniversary Edition: Rarities
Price: $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid reminder of just how good Lovedrug was in the bands' original incarnation, March 2, 2015
A vivid reminder of just how good Lovedrug was in the bands' original incarnation. The full-blown alternate takes on several classic songs are in many ways just as masterful as the versions that made it onto the final album, even while they are often quite different. In addition to different arrangements several songs have different lyrics, additional verses or even entirely different choruses. The live tracks are a lot of fun too. A must have for Lovedrug fans.

Does God Ever Speak through Cats?
Does God Ever Speak through Cats?
by David Evans
Edition: Perfect Paperback
Price: $10.99
2 used & new from $10.99

71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He does!, January 10, 2015
God frequently speaks to me through cats, although I'm not always certain why God is meowing insistently at me at 5 AM or why He in His divine wisdom has hacked up a hairball into my Nikes. God moves in mysterious ways!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 6, 2015 6:58 PM PST

The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It
The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $13.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing the Bible through fresh eyes, December 4, 2014
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"The Bible Tells Me So" is an excellent book that I would recommend to most people who identify as Christian or are seeking to know more about Christianity. At the same time I feel compelled to warn you, to quote Rachel Held Evans in her review, "it is not for the faint of heart."

Peter Enns has written a book for Christians who are struggling with the contradictions and distasteful stuff (Canaanite genocide, anyone?) in the Bible and who, for some reason, do not have an advanced degree in textual criticism. He offers them a way forward: you can continue to believe in God and ask legitimate questions about all the weird stuff in scripture that doesn't make sense.

All too often there has been a deep divide between people who study the Bible: good Bible-believing Christians on one side, godless academics on the other. Peter Enns wants to bridge that divide. He shows that textual criticism allows us to look at the Bible as it really is rather than trying to impose our own vision of what the Word of God should be on it. The Bible that he presents is messy, self-contradictory and challenging. It offers conflicting portraits of who God is and what He wants from His children. And, Enns suggests, that is okay!

Of course such a radical shift in perspective on the Bible might be a pretty earth-shaking experience for some people. Thus, my disclaimer at the top of this review.

But the fact is that if you read your Bible with open eyes, you will run head-long into things that don't make sense, seem glaringly self-contradictory or just don't match up with the God that Christians believe in. At times, scripture almost seems daring the reader to challenge it, like for instance in Proverbs 26:4 where it says "Answer not a fool according to his folly" and then the following verse says "Answer a fool according to his folly..."!

The way to deal with these contradictions, Enns argues, is to accept that the Bible is a compilation of different writers at different times who are telling stories about God in their own way. And, yes, through the lens of their own times and cultures.

Modern scholars, for example, believe that the books of the Torah were compiled from several different writings or oral traditions, which is why there are stories and even laws that flatly contradict each other. Interestingly, Enns shows that this is not a new way of looking at scripture: the Jews of Jesus' time accepted that there were at least two different 'legal traditions' in the Torah and were not afraid of 'creatively interpreting' them.

Nor were the Church Fathers of the New Testament afraid of creative interpretations of scripture - including the Apostle Paul and even Jesus! Enns spends a great deal of time at the end of the book showing how both of them put creative spins on established scripture that would give a modern Bible teacher a heart attack. Yet today we accept their radical reinterpretations without question.

In the New Testament, Paul points out that God's relationship with the Israelites predates the writing of the Torah. Likewise, Peter Enns points out that Christians' relationship with God and with Jesus predates the writing of the New Testament. Christians don't believe in the Bible - they believe in Christ. God, to quote what of Enns' chapter titles, is bigger than the Bible.

Peter Enns' argues that in the Bible God lets his children tell the stories about him. And when they tell it in their own way, like when the early Israelites made God out to be a vengeful tribal deity, God is okay with that. Yet God is also bigger than those stories. The story of who God is doesn't end with the impatient deity who wiped out almost everything on earth with a flood just six chapters into Genesis. God had more to say about himself and still has more today. After all, he is the vast, incomprehensible creator of the universe. Is anyone surprised when our knowledge of him turns out to be a little incomplete?

Peter Enns argues convincingly that the Bible was never supposed to be a rulebook. We have put the Bible and ourselves into a straight-jacket trying to make it into one, editing out the parts that we don't like and doing logical back flips to try and tidy up all the little 'problems'. The trouble is, these efforts convince nobody but ourselves.

Enns writes that Christians are supposed to wrestle with scripture, like the Psalmists and the writers of Ecclesiastes and Job. But fear about being 'wrong' about the Bible has driven us to make indefensible arguments about it, and to deny serious attempts to study it as it is.

The idea that the Bible isn't 'perfect' can be a deeply unsettling one for evangelical Christians. But Peter Enns tackles it with humor, wit and serious scholarship. And he shows that accepting the Bible for what it is is also deeply liberating.

I could write a great deal more about this book: I have given mere lip service to only a handful of the ideas Peter Enns' presents in The Bible Tells Me So. This book is insightful, challenging, funny and engaging. You may not agree with all of it. You may not even agree with most of it. But if you are a Christian that wants to dig deeper into your faith you should definitely read it.

Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire
Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $11.79

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining angel (sex) and other dubious intepretations, November 28, 2014
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Jennifer Knust's central thesis is that the Bible cannot be taken as a guide to sexual behavior because it is entirely and completely self-contradictory on the subject. This is a provocative thesis, so surely she has convincing evidence and powerful arguments on her side, right??

Well, she has arguments. Lots of them. Knust's approach is to bombard the reader with every possible argument against whatever aspect of Biblical sexuality she is attacking. She will even present two different arguments against a text even if they seem mutually contradictory. And she holds up strange fringe interpretations of passages as proof of those passages supposed incoherence.

In fact the author seems drawn, almost compulsively, to the weirdest interpretations she can find. If any scholar or interpreter in history has ever read something particularly bizarre into a passage, she takes it as gospel. This happens throughout the book, but perhaps the most glaring example is the chapter in which she claims that Biblical authors were obsessed with protecting people from having sex with angels. She bases this on a four word tag on a passage where Paul recommends that women in church should cover their heads, "because of the angels."

I'll grant this is a somewhat strange aside in Paul's writing, but your average reader probably wouldn't leap from these four words straight to the conclusion that Paul was paranoid about sexually aggressive angels. For Knust, however, this is the only possible explanation, and once stated will be taken as fact throughout the book. Similarly, the ideas that David and Jonathan were gay lovers and that Ruth administered oral sex to Boaz in the middle of a crowded barn obviously need no further defense (oh and Ruth and Naomi were of course lesbian lovers).

Knust can't seem to tell a good argument from a bad one. On the occasions that she does offer up something that makes the reader go "hmmm" she will inevitably follow it up with one that is so ridiculous that the reader is likely to forget about the first one entirely.

She deploys all sorts of logical fallacies in her zealous pursuit of her thesis. Frequently she will claim that passages forbidding this or that sexual behavior cannot be valid because the Israelites in other texts engage in that very behavior. But the fact that the Israelites were extremely bad at following Mosaic law is almost the entire point of the Old Testament. It's hard to credit that a Bible scholar and theologian would not know this, so it simply seems dishonest.

Knust also cherry picks the passages she quotes with a fervor that would make any Bible-thumper blush. And just to make doubly sure the text says what she wants it to say, she frequently uses her own translations for passages. There are many, many extant translations that have been vigorously vetted by large committees of experts, but when these don't say what Knust wants she just rolls her own. At least, that is how it will come across to many readers.

The author also claims that since the Bible was once used to defend the institution of slavery that it cannot be trusted on sexual issues. Why this is the fault of scripture rather than the fault of the defenders of slavery is not made clear. Even more troubling for Bible believers, if they were to accept this argument it is not clear why it would not simply discredit the entire Bible end to end rather than just the parts about sex and sexuality.

In fact it's hard not to shake the conviction that this is just what the author is after. Although 'Unprotected Texts' is book-ended by proclamations of faith in and respect for the scripture, the actual meat of the material reads like something a very arch atheist academic might write.

This brings up the question of who exactly the author is writing FOR. From the beginning and ending, where she repeatedly notes that she is an ordained pastor, you might expect she is writing to fellow adherents of the Christian faith. But the text itself is extremely academic, steeped in the post-modern style of a typical liberal arts professor. And frankly, the weaker her arguments the more academic Knust gets.

This confusion is most evident in the final chapter which is about circumcision and impure discharges. While these topics do relate somewhat to sex, very few religious people these days are concerned about either; but Knust goes and on and on at great length as though she is delivering an obscure thesis paper on the subject to a group of seminarians. In addition, after enumerating the many ways in which the Bible is remarkably consistent on the topic of menstrual impurity across the Old and New Testaments, she concludes this chapter by claiming she has demonstrated precisely the opposite!

Reading 'Unprotected Texts' was not entirely without value. I will grant that the author is clearly very widely read on her topic. I did learn some things, and, as I said, she occasionally stumbles across a compelling argument that made me want to dig deeper. But readers who want a serious re-examination of what the scripture says about sex will be disappointed. Readers who came simply to point and laugh will, I suppose, be amused when they aren't being bored to tears.

Readers of this book who are Christians will find the author's attitude and intellectually dishonest arguments off-putting. Readers of this book who are not Christians will find it lacks academic rigor. Both kinds of readers will probably wind up confused about who, exactly, this book is for.

The fact is that the author is trying to fit her square peg of a thesis into the round hole of actual Biblical texts. It just doesn't work. This book is poorly argued and it's not going to convince anyone who wasn't already convinced that the Bible doesn't have anything useful or important to say about sex.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
by Caitlin Doughty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.61
69 used & new from $14.83

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death: we're doing it wrong, October 2, 2014
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This is the modern American funeral: the body, prepared, embalmed and unnaturally made-up until it looks like a waxy replica of the deceased, is briefly viewed by grieving relatives. It is then sealed in a heavy casket. At the grave site the casket is viewed, and then everyone leaves and the casket is lowered into a metal vault, which is also sealed, and then covered with several feet of dirt. At every step in the process, death is kept at arm’s length. We don’t talk about it, in fact we fear it, because we don’t ever truly see it.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: & Other Lessons From the Crematorium is about a woman who has truly seen death, and been changed by it in a powerful way. When she was a child, Caitlin Doughty saw a little girl fall to her death. Haunted by that experience and the fear of death it engendered, Caitlin developed what some might call a morbid fascination. As an adult, she decided to confront her fear of the unknown of death by getting down and dirty with it: she took a job at a San Francisco crematorium.

Initially she was, of course, grossed out by the corpses and what was done to them. But this soon gave way to sadness that grieving families were simply surrendering their loved ones to faceless industrial processes in which they would participate as little as possible. Caitlin realized that death was natural, but what we were doing with our dead was unnatural. And she decided that had to change.

I discovered Caitlin through her hilarious and insightful Ask A Mortician videos on YouTube (which you should check out). Caitlin, I think, intends for these videos to be a gateway drug to get people to talk about death in a positive way. In this book, however, she reveals the true passion she has for confronting a topic that so many people simply don’t want to deal with: what happens to our physical bodies when we die?

The one thing that stops me from recommending this book to everybody and my mother is the graphic descriptions of corpses that it contains. And yet, even these parts are important. Caitlin isn’t simply writing about smelly gross bodies to shock people. She is writing about them because we need to face our fear of these things and realize that are natural, normal and that they won’t hurt us. The fear of death is in many ways the fear of the unknown. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes helps make that unknown become known.

Caitlin Doughty is clearly a talented writer. This book is equal parts memoir, behind-the-scenes expose of the Death Industry, and manifesto. If it had been any one of these things alone, it would have been interesting, but the combination is incredibly potent. If this book was simply a call to arms, it might be important but persuade few. If it was simply a factual exploration of the funeral industry, it might be interesting but not life-changing. But what makes it persuasive and powerful is adding the author’s own personal journey from ordinary, death-fearing American to someone who feels called to reform not just the death industry but the way our culture deals with death.

To be clear, Caitlin is not some San Francisco death-hippy. She is not trying to sell the reader on Wiccan funeral practices. She simply believes that people can and should be involved in the death and disposal of their loved one, and that this is a powerful part of the grieving process that we have done away with. The specifics can be left up to individuals, but we do have choices beyond embalming or cremation.

Speaking of embalming, after reading this book I will never, ever choose embalming for myself or any of my loved ones. The process of ‘embalming’ a body is a disgusting violation of that body in order to basically present a massive lie. Cremation, at least, is relatively honest, even when it keeps death at arm’s length.

At any rate, this is a very good and very important book, if you can stomach it. I encourage you to at least attempt to do so. It is not an exaggeration to say this book will change the way you think about a topic that is fundamentally relevant to every single human being.

Deshedding Tool & Pet Grooming Brush- NO.1 BEST SELLER For Small, Medium & Large Dogs + Cats, With Short to Long Hair. Dramatically Reduces Shedding In Minutes GUARANTEED!
Deshedding Tool & Pet Grooming Brush- NO.1 BEST SELLER For Small, Medium & Large Dogs + Cats, With Short to Long Hair. Dramatically Reduces Shedding In Minutes GUARANTEED!
Offered by DAK Corp
Price: $39.90
4 used & new from $29.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I had no idea my cat had this much hair!, June 11, 2014
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This thing gets huge WADS of hair off my short-haired cat, way more than any other brush. It's kinda scary. If you need a serious de-shedder, here you go.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 25, 2014 11:12 PM PDT

[NFC/Google Wallet Capable] Anker® 2200mAh Li-ion Battery for Samsung Galaxy S3, I9300 (EB-L1G6LLU), Galaxy S3 Neo, I9305 LTE, I535 (Verizon), I747 (AT&T), T999 (T-Mobile), L710 (Sprint) [18-Month Warranty]
[NFC/Google Wallet Capable] Anker® 2200mAh Li-ion Battery for Samsung Galaxy S3, I9300 (EB-L1G6LLU), Galaxy S3 Neo, I9305 LTE, I535 (Verizon), I747 (AT&T), T999 (T-Mobile), L710 (Sprint) [18-Month Warranty]
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: $33.99
2 used & new from $8.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Quit working after about three months, January 14, 2014
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Wound up having to go back to the old battery after this one blew up like a balloon and stopped working. Note, if you can place your battery flat on a table and spin it, it's gone bad.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2014 2:45 AM PST

4E Condition Tokens, Players Set
4E Condition Tokens, Players Set
Offered by Art's Game Store
Price: $14.57
3 used & new from $8.17

1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculously overpriced for what you get, January 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I guess I should have read the fine print. You literally get eleven tokens. Not eleven TYPES of tokens, just eleven, period. That's an incredible value of over $1 for each square inch of cheap plastic!

Goodness knows there's never a situation where you would need, say, more than one 'bloodied' token. I guess I could just order another couple of overpriced boxes. But it would be faster to just go ahead and set fire to my wallet, so I think I'll do that instead.

13th Age RPG Core Book
13th Age RPG Core Book
by Jonathan Tweet
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.30
18 used & new from $24.99

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Way better than 12th Age!, November 6, 2013
This review is from: 13th Age RPG Core Book (Hardcover)
13th Age is the classic swords-and-sorcery tabletop game, modernized. It is a system built for fast, fun combat that also encourages role-playing and improvisation. It tries to balance the races and classes available to players while also making every choice feel distinct. And it trades in-depth simulation of its fantasy world for simple-yet-clever game mechanics.

This shouldn't surprise readers once they discover that this game is the brain-child of Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, lead designers of Dungeons and Dragons 3rd and 4th edition, respectively. 13th Age is very much a descendant of those games, but it is able to jettison a lot of their baggage. It's simpler and faster than 4th Edition and more tactical and balanced than 3rd. And it also adds mechanics specifically to encourage role-play, something no edition of D&D has ever done.

This game is not for everybody. If you prefer an exhaustive fantasy simulation that has tables that list the overland travel speed of a one-donkey cart or an entire sub-system for grapple rules this is not your game. But if you want a game where a mission from the Archmage finds you fighting storm giants on top of a migratory terrasque, well, you're gonna like this.

The major new mechanic of 13th Age is the Icons. The important thing about icons is that every piece of the game relates to them - the setting, the story, the rules... and the players. Each player will pick three Icon Relationships at the start of the game, and they will roll to see which relationships will factor into a given game session. The Icons themselves are fantasy archetypes: the Archmage, the Dragon Emperor, the Great Gold Wyrm and the Prince of Shadows, among others. Most of them will fit just about any fantasy world, although 13th Age comes with its own sandbox setting for them to play in.

Combat in 13th Age does away with counting squares or hexes and tracking movement speed. You are either near enough to hit that orc with your axe or you are not. The `escalation die' mechanic makes sure that combat keeps getting more exciting without overstaying its welcome. Abilities for both monsters and players trigger off the natural values of the d20. Many attacks do damage on a miss. Leveling doubles, then triples, then quintuples damage and HP. This really is a rule set that is simple and elegant yet still looks fun to play.

The book itself is no slouch, either. It is nicely bound with color-coded pages, full-page color illustrations and a nice map. It contains everything you need to run a game: the rules, character creation, monsters, treasures, the setting and a sample adventure. Tables and charts are reproduced at the back of the book for convenience, and the index doubles as a glossary of terms! Yes this book is pricey, but you really are getting value for money here.

The style of the book is conversational, with frequent sidebars explaining the intent behind many of the rules. Wonder why a half-elf would want to lower their d20 roll by 1? No need, a sidebar explains the significance (many powers trigger on natural even rolls). Often the designers will offer their personal preferences, especially when it comes to optional rules (such as rolled stats vs. point buy). No trap feats or powers here! Well, there is one, but it's called out hilariously in, yes, a sidebar. This book is not trying to give the edge to the rules lawyers or trick unwary players. I appreciate that.

My one beef is that the authors actually needed to spend more time on Icons. This is a radical new mechanic that will throw many game-masters for a loop. More concrete examples of practical ways to incorporate it at the reader's own table would have been nice. It also would have been nice to see some effort expended to talk about how to port the icons to other settings. Fortunately, there is a lot of material out on the internet to help with this, including some actual play recordings with the designers, if you are willing to spend the time searching for it.

Overall I am impressed with the book and excited for the game. When I first heard of 13th Age it sounded like exactly the D20 system I had been looking for. And now that I've read it, it's actually better than I expected. I really cannot wait to run a game!

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made
The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant character study, October 20, 2013
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'The Disaster Artist' is an amazing book, and I don't mean that in the same way that people say the film 'The Room' is amazing, i.e., amazingly bad. I mean that it is actually a really amazing character study of one Tommy Wiseau, the wealthy, earnest and completely bizarre auteur behind what has been called "the Citizen Kane of bad movies." As is often the case, truth is stranger than fiction, and the character of Johnny from the film only scratches at the surface of the weirdness of the real-life Tommy.

Tommy speaks bizarrely broken English with a heavy Eastern European accent, but insists that he's from New Orleans. Tommy wants to be an actor even though he can't remember simple lines in a script that he wrote himself. Tommy always puts his phone on speaker so that he can record conversations with a cheap tape recorder and play them back later. Tommy is so secretive and paranoid that even after a number of years his close friend Greg is still clueless about whether he has any family or what he does for a living. Tommy occupies his own reality.

We meet Tommy through the eyes of his close friend, actor Greg Sestero. An aspiring actor in San Francisco, Greg meets Tommy at an acting class. Charmed by Tommy's fearless obliviousness to his lack of acting ability, Greg strikes up a friendship with Tommy, a friendship that will prove to be crucial for both men. Tommy will help jump-start Greg's acting career by renting him a cheap apartment in Los Angeles. And Greg will be Tommy's close friend, maybe his only friend, and help Tommy make the film which will make him infamous.

Intercut with this story is the making of 'The Room itself. If you haven't ever seen 'The Room, I urge you to do so immediately. Whatever strange confluence of events the viewer might imagine lead to this such a weird film, the truth is stranger still. The sublimely ridiculous rooftop scenes were shot in a hastily erected set in a parking lot, despite the fact that Tommy owned an actual rooftop with gorgeous views of downtown San Francisco. Tommy routinely showed up for filming four hours late. He shot on both film and HD cameras simultaneously, even though he had no intention of using the HD footage. Actors were scared away from the casting process due to Tommy's insistence on meeting them at night in a parking lot. And famously, it would take hours and hours to get a passable take of many of Tommy's simplest lines even though he wrote them himself.

All of these bizarre stories and many more are faithfully recalled by Tommy's best friend on and off the screen, Greg Sestero, but the heart of the story is Sestero's friendship with Tommy. Sestero comes across as an unbelievably patient and forgiving friend, willing to let Tommy be his own weird self and encouraging him in his starry-eyed ambitions. This despite the fact that at times his friendship with the paranoid and secretive Tommy feels extremely toxic. Tommy is, after all, the guy who hired a documentarian to secretly spy on the cast and crew of the film.

Sestero makes it abundantly clear that the secret to `The Room', the thing that makes it such a uniquely strange and riveting film, is that it's filtered through Tommy Wiseau's unique vision. Tommy Wiseau would be one of the great characters in literature, if he weren't completely real.

To their credit, Sestero and his co-author Greg Bissell do not approach their subject with a spirit of mockery. They treat Tommy as a genuine person, albeit a very unusual and fascinating one. Tommy has his highs of ebullient fearlessness and lows of manipulation and paranoia. Sestero and Bissell capture both in the style of the best documentarians painting a picture of a very complex and troubled individual.

This book is compulsively readable, one of the best character studies I've seen, and made me laugh out loud at several points. Watch 'The Room if you haven't seen it, then pick up 'The Disaster Artist immediately.

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