Case Smith

Joined a year ago

Case's Favorites
The Fashion Conspiracy: A Remarkable Journey Through the Empires of Fashion
The Fashion Conspiracy: A Remarkable Journey Through the Empires of Fashion
Witty, entertaining, interesting interviews with famous fashion designers and anecdotes from their lives. Its style reminded me of a well-written article in The Times. As the subtitle suggests, the focus of the book is on premium brands, and there are a lot of "old money" vs "new money" comparisons. The clientele of these brands receives almost as much attention as the designers themselves (priceless quote: "They're the best-dressed children in New York, though one of them, who is only two, has already refused to wear smocking" - one of the women about her grandchildren). This book is probably more of a study in anthropology than in fashion, but there is a lot of fashion in it too.

I wonder what Nicolas Coleridge, godfather to Cara Delevingne, would say about the modern state of the fashion industry - fashion blogs, social media and e-commerce. Maybe he could write a book about that. I'd buy it.
Amazing Grace [Blu-ray]
Amazing Grace [Blu-ray]
mi ero preparato e l'avevo ordinata molti mesi fa. Quando mi è arrivata alla fine di agosto o i primi di settembre ero rimasto malissimo perché la copia era codificata USA e quindi per l'Europa illeggibile. Per fortuna Amazon me l'ha sostituita prontamente e quando è tornata ho dato appuntamento agli amici e un sabato pomeriggio ci siamo messi comodi per vederla (lei Aretha) e sentirla. Bèh, una delle cose più belle di soul che abbia mai sentito in vita mia. Ci sarebbe da fare un monumento a colui che dopo più di 40 anni è riuscito a mettere insieme audio e video, su Internet i particolari :)
Jazz Masters 24
Jazz Masters 24
"Ella's voice was never warmer or more flexible, and her emotional involvement with lyric content, the least dependable facet of her art, proved much more penetrating than usual. Louis' singing radiated depth and sensitivity and his trumpet chops were strong and assured." ~ Joel L. Siegel ~

I have always enjoyed compilations from Verve Jazz Masters Series and this one is not an exception. "Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong" is one of the best in the series. It contains a dozen of well-loved standards interpreted in duet settings by two of the greatest jazz icons in the music world who need no introduction, Ella and Louis. An added attraction to this set is the presence of an inimitable and admirable rhythmic trio - Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass and Herb Ellis on guitar, with special participation of two of the most remarkable drummers the jazz world has ever known, Louis Bellson and Buddy Rich.

This compilation was taken from two albums that were recorded between 1956 and 1957 at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and produced by Norman Granz of Verve Records, Ella and Louis and Ella & Louis Again (Dig). It is written on Liner Notes by Joel L. Siegel that jazz writer and critic Nat Hentoff predicted in 1956 that Ella and Louis was one of the very, very few albums to have been issued in that era of the LP flood that is sure to endure for decades. After fifty-some years, the album is still making waves among jazz fans. And that confirmed his prophecy.

On all tracks, Ella sings, and Louis sings and plays trumpet. For huge fans of these two jazz icons who already owned the aforementioned albums, this set is not new to them, however, it is still a worthy addition to any jazz collection considering that the best tracks from the two albums were compiled to make this set a great listening experience.

Ella's vocal artistry is as charming as ever and Louis' voice is so unique and his trumpet playing is very articulate and spontaneous. They both belong to the category of singers-of-a-rare-form. They both bring brilliance and grace to this stellar collection. On the entire set, they are cool and confident as they give their sublime readings of heartfelt lyrics and enchanting music of all the songs most especially my all-time favorites "Moonlight In Vermont," "Our Love Is Here To Stay," "Tenderly," "April In Paris," "Learnin' The Blues" and "Isn't This A Lovely Day."

You can't go wrong with this Verve Jazz Masters superb compilation - it is a worthy listen to all vocal jazz fans. Treat yourself with some of the most artful and compelling duet recordings of all-time.

With my heartfelt recommendation for your listening pleasure.
The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings
The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings
This is a most welcome album. Finally, mono digital recordings of Bob Dylan's early songs! And an excellent selection of songs too; covering every phase of his output up through the album JOHN WESLEY HARDING. Almost every song here is a better digital recording than you will get anywhere else (except of course the full mono albums themselves). One of the rare exceptions, actually, is also one of the bigger disappointments. This mono version of "Like A Rolling Stone" does not compare well with the version on the, now out of print, DCC release of HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, which was remastered, in stereo, in the early 1990s by Steve Hoffman. That stereo version of "Like A Rolling Stone" crackles with power. It is clear, crisp, and overwhelming. This mono version is more average; not bad, just average. I did not actually expect this to be the case, so have now listened to both versions, back to back, twice at home and twice in my car. Steve Hoffman's stereo version wins, and it is not even close.

Okay, so that's the bad news. The good news is that every other song here is better in mono. In the case of "Mr. Tambourine Man" this is particularly true. It has never been better! The mono version makes the stereo version sound primitive. The recording is smooth and steady, with Dylan's singing warm and clear. Bravo!

Every Dylan fan will want this disc -- unless they are buying the entire mono box set.

P.S. I do not have a copy of the 2003 remastering of "Like A Rolling Stone." Thus cannot compare to this mono.
A Tribute To Bob Dylan In The 80s: Volume 1 [2 LP]
A Tribute To Bob Dylan In The 80s: Volume 1 [2 LP]
I am not a fan of these tribute albums but this one deserves high praise. Instead of semi-famous people murdering the famous Dylan songs here we have some lesser known artists getting stuck in to lesser known songs. The one exception to that rule is Slash's version of Wiggle Wiggle, it is not only an affront to the ears but totally out of character with what is actually a really solid album.

The highlights for me are Brownsville Girl (reprise), Series of Dreams and the acoustic version of Every Grain of Sand; all are affectionate homages to the original songs and they all sound great to my ears. They are obviously not as good as the originals and I do get the urge to listen to Dylan's versions when i play this cd...but that that is not a bad thing, i have never heard anyone other than Dylan do these songs so it is useful to have a different take on them.

As you can see from the selection of songs this cd is really aimed at the Dylan connoisseur, half the songs have never had an official release so the little in joke line-changes that are occasionally inserted will pass over your head if you have not heard the song.

Having said that the versions are of such a high quality and have such a nice modern sound that this could be a good starting point for anyone who is not familiar with Dylan's 80s stuff.

Finally the profits all go to charity too so if you have bothered reading this far you might as well go ahead and order it- there is a moment during the acoustic Every Grain of Sand when the guy takes the trouble to reproduce the noise of a dog barking (from the Bootleg 3 version) with just his keyboard- that is almost worth buying the album for on its own!
Crestware 40-Inch Pizza Oven Brush
Crestware 40-Inch Pizza Oven Brush
used this half a dozen times now in a 4 deck oven. the blade is great for removing cheese from calzones or strombolis that may ooze cheese onto the stone while cooking. the brush works as expected and the thick handle is comfortable. the thread cap is machine pressed onto the handle and it wobbles slightly but makes a solid connection to the brush itself. time will tell when it comes to the overall quality of this item but I feel this was a worthwhile purchase. I did find this item for cheaper elsewhere on the web however.
Midnight By Dean Koontz
Midnight By Dean Koontz
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. The story was very suspenseful, exciting and interesting. The writer is amazing and very creative.
The Bourne Identity: Jason Bourne Book #1 (Jason Bourne Series)
The Bourne Identity: Jason Bourne Book #1 (Jason Bourne Series)
Spoilers if you haven't seen the movie.

For those of you thinking I've seen the movie. Why bother with the book? Well, the book and the movie do not really look alike. There are aspects that are the same. Bourne has amnesia. He meets a girl. He is on the run. The US govt is involved. He is a BA. That's pretty much the only similarities though. The entire plot differs. The villains differ. The girl differs. Probably 85-90% of the book is different. So why bother? Because this is the real story and it's far more complex than a 1.5 hour movie can give you.
The writing is very well done. The research put into this book must have been a long process. Be it research just for this book or an accumulation of life experience, it spans continents and multiple languages. There's the banking system and the slick ways Bourne survives. Perhaps it isnt exactly how things were done, but it could be. Its realistic regardless of whether it is real or not. The book spans over 7 months of Bourne's new life. It takes him from being like a newborn babe to being a grown man able to destroy the world.
Marie is also far more complex in this book. Far smarter and more ingratiated into the plot than the movie allows.
Bourne himself is far more complicated in this book. You hear his thoughts. You learn who he is at the core. You feel his confusion and fear. You learn who he is as he does. You begin to wonder how well you would cope waking up without knowing yourself. What would you do if you were wiped from existence, even as your shell was still here? As he gathers pieces of his previous self, he doesn't like what he hears. Still he tries to be noble even as he learns of his nefarious past. Perhaps even without the memories that shape us, our core self remains. Perhaps it is something we are born with.
The action is fairly fast paced throughout. There are some lulls that are filled with plotting and revelations. The action soon picks up again and we are back to the controlled chaos that is his reality.
This is a very well done series that I would recommend to anyone able to comprehend the subject.
The Great Zoo of China
The Great Zoo of China
The idea? Fun. The research? In-depth. The action? Intense. But the writing? Good grief is it horrible! I was actually compelled to wiki the author's age because it felt like I was reading something from a 14 year old (he's 45 btw). The incredible amount of first-time-writers mistakes are simply unforgivable for an author of so many books. The general concept is a fun one (Jurassic Park with a twist) and well-explained (almost to a fault!), but it was 442 pages of laughable writing.
I am not bashing on the "Jurassic Park as written by the writers of Fast & Furious" story. I understand that his type of works are high-octane thrillers with movie-style action sequences. But that is one thing that hurts them: everything is ploddingly described as if it were an action movie. Vehicles "skid 20 feet to a halt," commandos have "blank faces" and "wore gun belts across their chests with extra ammo clips and grenades on them," and there are more "fireball(s)" and "explosions" in this book than an actual Micheal Bay movie. There is an embarrassing amount of dead words/ sticky words (words and phrases that don't really "do" anything or echo what was just written), and more repeat words than repeated jokes on Family Guy.

Would you believe if I told you he uses the word "garbage truck" 32 times in three chapters? Or the word "tunnel" 18 times in just one? Or how about mentioning the main character's name 12 times in a single page? This is a *constant* issue in the book. Obvisouly authors will use repeated words- it is near impossible to create a well-flowing story without doing so. But the way they are repeated here is so overt that they stick out and ruin the entire reading experience. In fact, it was so bad that I actually created a list of some (that can be fact-checked by other reviewers here):

Garbage Truck, Hatchback, CJ (character name), Perfect, Ring Road, Cable Car, Chinese (he always tells you if a character is Chinese even when it is completely understandable from context), Explosion/ Fireball, Gate, Tunnel, Peered/ Glanced, Bounded (to run), Rim, Space (the inside of a building/cave/etc), Jaws, and Range Rover. Yes, Range Rover. All of these are used 30+ times, and *literally* all of them 4+ times per page when reused. Several twice in the same sentence!

And that list is not all-inclusive (of offending repeats, not normal repeats such as "the" "his/her" "in" etc, I'm not *that* anal!). Further ruining this book is the use of -yet again- juvenile phrases such as "guts started falling out," "glistening with newness" or, my favorite, "she calculated her best moves in a nanosecond." And he uses words like "swooshed" and "zoomed" and... wait for it... "shoomed." Liberally. Really dude? Really?

What is sad is that the book starts off on a very strong note: excellent pacing, intriguing writing style, strong world-building, and most importantly, strong technical writing. But as soon as the action begins it's like the author hands the story off to a teenager fresh out the theater and everything goes to hell. Yes, just like in the book (naturally). Again- make your badass female star, have some explosions, and write some cheesy one-liners... I understand this is that kind of tale. But for the love of Zeus... do not use the word "perfect" 10 times on one page, do not write your book as if you were writing a screenplay, and do not name a character "the small girl known as Minnie" until the final chapters.

Closing up- I wish I liked this book, because it *had* promise. I love how the author did his research about animals, weapons, and Chinese politics. And I can tell he had a passion for the story with the amount of detail he put into it. Unfortunately that was its undoing; he "showed" instead of "told." It is a very common beginners' mistake, which makes it so baffling as to how he made soooooooo many -mistakes *and* books-. Maybe his affluent parents (back of the book bio) greased a few palms to give their only child's dream a boost? Or maybe I'm just a crazy GenXer who is out of touch with the times. (oh wait- he is older than me by over half a decade...). Anyways, 4/10, won't read again.
The Storm (NUMA Files series Book 10)
The Storm (NUMA Files series Book 10)
Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala return in this second installment from the NUMA Files by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown. Their first collaboration was "Devil's Gate" in November last year. In this reviewer's opinion "The Storm" is a far better work for a number of reasons. First, the length of the novel is about sixty-four pages shorter than its predecessor. Fat has been trimmed from the plot, leaving a much leaner story line. Second, the proofreading errors that plagued "Devil's Gate" are gone here. Perhaps it was something as simple as a change of editors. And finally, the actual writing is much better this time. It's a lot crisper.

"The Storm" begins with a very short Prologue set in 1943 in the Indian Ocean. A "fast freighter" is under attack by the Japanese. Its top secret cargo seems to be of great interest to them. Chapter 1 takes us to 1967 in northern Yemen. A family is slaughtered and a pact to take revenge is set. Fast forward to June 2012 when a NUMA research vessel is overrun by some type of particle mass that swarms the ship, leading to the deaths of its three-person crew.

These three seemingly disparate events bring the NUMA Special Projects team (Austin, Zavala, and the Trouts) to the Maldives to investigate. Now that Dirk Pitt is Director of NUMA and rarely in the field, Kurt Austin has become the workhorse and he does a fine job of it.

First-time Cussler readers will not be disappointed, and long-time fans of the series should be pleasingly surprised with the new turn of writing events. I think everyone will enjoy this storm.

And finally a trivia footnote: One of the members of the evil consortium is Sheik Abin da-Alhrama. Readers may recognize the play on letters between Alhrama and Alhambra. Clive Cussler is a proud graduate of Alhambra High School.
Katie Mulholland's Journey
Katie Mulholland's Journey
It's many years since I read a Cookson novel but I had some idea of what to expect - brave and beautiful protagonist struggles against poverty and great odds to achieve eventual happiness. My grandmother was a Jarrow lass and contemporary with Catherine Cookson and the stories she told of her own childhood bear out Cookson's fictionalised accounts of grinding poverty, desperation and the ever-present fear of losing ones job and ones home with absolutely no safety net.
In 'Katie Mulholland', however, I felt the author was in competition with herself to see how many Awful Things she could make happen to one character! Rape, unwanted pregnancy, wife-beating, murder, miscarriage of justice, corruption, false imprisonment, eviction and homelessness, incest, unrequited love - this book has it all and more.
I kept reading because I was bemused by the piles of ordure being heaped on the wretched Katie and wondering how on earth she could emerge for a satisfactory conclusion. Unfortunately, by the time I was two-thirds of the way through, I'd ceased to care and would have been happy enough to see Katie and the rest of the cast put aboard the Titanic and sent to the bottom of the ocean. Alas, the writer chose not to include that disaster in this saga of misfortune! By the time I got to the end of the book, I thoroughly disliked most of the characters - the words manipulative, scheming, complacent and smug all have an application here. I felt the ending was far from satisfactory although that, at least, reflects real life.
I've given it three stars because of the writer's skill in bringing to life a set of personalities and a way of living which is almost impossible for a modern audience to comprehend and for her evocation of Tyneside speech patterns which bring back many personal happy memories.
Possessed by the Sheikh (Arabian Nights Book 3)
Possessed by the Sheikh (Arabian Nights Book 3)
When a young woman is stranded in the desert by her adulterous boss, she is kidnapped by a group of outlaws. The man who captures her advises her that he will sell her for a profit, but she comes to realize he really captured her to keep her from being abused by other members of the group. When he is challenged for her the only way he can protect her is to marry her but he assures her that the marriage is a tribal ceremony and will not hold up in her country. When they give in to passion and he realizes she was a virgin her captor vows to make the marriage real. Later it is revealed that her captor is not really an outlaw but half brother to the king who is undercover to foil an assassination plot. When she is injured protecting him, her new husband believes she loves him as he loves her. When she threatens to leave him if he cannot be honest and caring with her they discover their love for one another.

I had a bit of a problem with the two people in this book falling in love in one day. I know it happens in books, but it happened to them without even knowing anything about each other but the ugly words they throw around. This just wasn't too believable but it wasn't bad either. The hero is hot just give him a personality and he would have been hotter.
Rubie's Costume Co Men's Hallows Deluxe Replica Raven Claw Robe
Rubie's Costume Co Men's Hallows Deluxe Replica Raven Claw Robe
To those who wonder: yes, it is a very fine collection piece for any fan of the Wizarding world. It's material is both very comfortable and of good quality. The only two things I didn't like are that the rubber band which holds the button that holds the robe in front is extremely small. It takes a bit of strenght to stretch it so that it can appropriately close the robe. Second, it looks on the model that there is a zipper under the tie, but it doesn't; the only thing that holds it close it the rubber band you have to tie around the button.
I could (have) send it back, but I was too afraid that the new one would have (been) as good as the one I already got. So, I'll have to ask a taylor to sew one in to complete the look.
So all and all, am I satisfied? To tell the truth, I find the price a bit too steep for what I got.
Harry Potter MG22059"Slytherin Crest" Ceramic Mug - White
Harry Potter MG22059"Slytherin Crest" Ceramic Mug - White
When I got this mug, along with the other house chalices, I was pleased but it has not held up as a quality product. The crest has turned out to be just a transfer and it is now faded, yellowed, and actually slipping off of the mug. I have compared this to the other ones and they look fine. For an officially licensed product that is not acceptable - it has the appearance of a market stall £0.99 product. For reference, I first used the mug on Christmas day and it has been washed by hand and in the dishwasher approx 10 times. Anyone else had this issue? I did read that someone had a similar problem with the Hogwarts mug but I am sipping pollyjuice potion out of mine and it is fine.
Alternate Generals
Alternate Generals
This collection of 16 short stories was profoundly disappointing, if only because I expect better from something with Turtledove's name on it. There is a certain expectation when reading alternate history that either the the events and/or people being tinkered with are so familiar that they need no introduction, or that a small introduction will be given to set up the story (not to mention maps). Unfortunately that was not the case here, as a number of the stories used rather obscure incidents and people as their basis, and there was no corresponding supplementary material. It also doesn't help expectations when the jacket copy is about scenarios that aren't in the book. Add some rather tepid writing in a number of cases, and the book got rather tedious.
If you're going to borrow it, there are a few stories worth checking out. Lillian Carl's "The Test of Gold," focusing on the Romans vs. Boadica, was one of the better stories, albeit somewhat roughly told via the memoirs of an old Roman. S.M. Stirling's, "The Charge of Lee's Light Brigade," has a somewhat interesting premise at least: that Gen. Lee of Civil War fame, instead fights with C.S.A. along with other British forces at Balaclava in a very different Charge of the Light Brigade. Somewhat slyly, Stirling seems to have inserted George MacDonald Fraser's legendary scoundrel and rouge "Flashman" in the story as an homage to the great Scottish writer, which works rather well as Flashman does campaign there in "Flashman at the Charge." Another of the best stories is William Sanders' "Billy Mitchell's Overt Act," in which a military aviation pioneer manages to thwart the attack on Pearl Harbor. Told as a series of excerpts from books, interviews, and testimony, he manages to weave a very engaging tale. The final story, R.M. Meluch's "Vati" is probably the best of the bunch, showing what might have happened had a more imaginative and forceful man taken over German air operations and sped up production of jet aircraft, thus preventing D-Day. It's something the Germans did manage to do at the end of the war, but by then was too little, too late.
As for the rest: "Tradition," by Elizabeth Moon (who's "Deed of Paksenarrion" trilogy I love), suffers from an unknown main character, British WWI Rear Admiral Cradock, a slightly obscure setting, the Mediterranean (more interestingly treated in the historical fiction of John Biggins), and the need to have detailed maps at hand to follow the action. Brad Linaweaver's rather silly "And to the Republic For Which It Stands" imagines an alternate Caesar. Lois Tilton's "The Craft of War" is annoyingly written as a dialogue between Socrates and a student about Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." Jody Nye's "Queen of the Amazons" is a terrible Crusader piece fortunately followed by a competent as usual WWII piece by editor Turtledove. Unfortunately, one then segues into an utter piece of dreck, Esther Friesner's "An Old Man's Summer" featuring the rambling reminisces of a dying Eisenhower. Bill Fawcett's "The Last Crusader" establishes the fun premise of Napoleon as a Cardinal, but doesn't take it anywhere. Even though it didn't particularly engage me, Janet Berliner's "A Case For Justice" is worth mentioning for taking as it's subject, the South African leader Jan Smuts. William Forstchen's "A Hard Day For Mother" folds a cliché "brother vs. brother" Civil War tale into the battle for Round Top Hill at Gettysburg. David Weber's "The Captain From Kirkbeam" is the first of two seafaring stories, his being about a commander trying to blockade French ships from sailing into the Chesapeake Bay during the War for Independence. "Vive L'Amiral," by John Mina imagines Nelson as fighting on the French side, rather than the British, with rather different results, of course. Brian Thomsen's "Bloodstained Ground," is a rather cheezy and weak attempt to show a drunken Samuel Clemens uncovering the hidden truth about "President" Custer and what really happened at Little Big Horn.
So, maybe four or five stories worth reading all told, mixed in with a few more interesting premises, and a lot of bad and just plain boring ones. You're better off checking out Robert Cowley's "What If?: The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been."
Hell's Cartographers - Some Personal Histories of Science Fiction Writers
Hell's Cartographers - Some Personal Histories of Science Fiction Writers
Very interesting collection of essays by a group of SF masters, which are a mixture of personal memoirs and analysis of the craft of writing. Those in the know will pick up the allusion in the title to Kingsley Amis' book, "New Maps of Hell", which was an influential study of the SF genre back in the 1950s (it is still worth a quick read, although it is obviously long out of date as a survey of the field). I am not sure how they have chosen the authors on display here, but they were all first-class writers in the field. The Frederick Pohl essay, my favourite, covers some of the same ground as his extremely entertaining memoir, "The Way the Future Was", but also adds in some fascinating observations on science fiction writing. He likens SF authors to crabs in a very persuasive way. I like Pohl's gentle humour and fluent style so much that I can read just about anything he writes. The Alfred Bester essay is very revealing about both the man, his ego, his incredible life, and also his writing. He is refreshingly honest about other writers and editors, such as Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, John W. Campbell, which is a nice change from the usual mutual appreciation you get in this kind of thing. All the essays in the book make a strong argument for science fiction being a far more collaborative occupation than most people imagine. Bester describes the process of development of his two most famous books, "The Demolished Man" and "The Stars My Destination," and editor Horace Gold's contribution to his writing. Also in this volume are essays by Harry Harrison (who started as an artist and never seemed to live in one country very long before moving on) and Damon Knight (I found his essay a bit dull, to be honest). If you are interested in the process of writing, in science fiction or in the work of any of these venerable old boys, then this is definitely worth a read.
The Original Big Snap-E Mouse Rat Trap, Easy Set, Re-useable, Durable, Easy to Bait, Provides a Sure Catch.
The Original Big Snap-E Mouse Rat Trap, Easy Set, Re-useable, Durable, Easy to Bait, Provides a Sure Catch.
I'm blown away. I've had a problem with rats the last couple of months. Honestly to call these things rats isn't really fair to most rats. This is bigger than anything I've ever fed to my snakes. These rats should come with little saddles attached. They're HUGE.

I've tried the humane traps with peanut butter. The rats were too smart for that, even when placing it directly in their path. I've tried bait... didnt' work work at all so decided it was time to get dirty since I could hear them running around the walls. I bought 3, baited them with peanut butter and set them where i'd seen the rats running repeatedly (face the trigger plate TOWARD the wall). Two were against a baseboard and I put the last one on our garage pantry shelf where they had been gorging on boxed groceries (my rats really liked barley and ramen apparently).

Check traps on morning 1 - nothing
Morning 2 - trap one is missing (wtf?) and traps 2 and 3 are untouched. When I saw the trap literally gone I was beside myself. These are STRONG traps, but these are also big rats. I thought maybe they got sprung and the rats drug them away or something... Got out my flashlight and went digging. Eventually found the rat, stone cold dead. Apparently these traps are so strong that when they trigger they flug the rat and the trap over 3 feet away from where the trap was set. Rat's neck was completely crushed. I'm guessing he never knew what hit him.
Morning 3 - walk into the garage and see an even bigger rat laying in the middle of my garage (dead) with the trap around his head. This one had been set high on a shelf where I have kept ramen and barley. Apparently, same thing happened. He hit the trap and it flug him clear across the garage.

You can easily dump the rats and re-set the traps without ever touching the dead rat which is very nice. These traps can be used over and over again easily. They're very well made / durable. Very impressed and well worth the $$.
Masterpiece: Indian Summers Season 1
Masterpiece: Indian Summers Season 1
Indian Summers takes on the waning days of the British Raj in India with some mildly interesting characters and some beautiful photography, but completely lacks the depth and gravitas of The Jewel in the Crown (made way back in 1984). There is nothing subtle in the politics as presented here (always a problem when you have to make your characters say out loud what should be evoked through plot and character development), and the characters in general seem rather inconsistently portrayed from one episode to the next. The central character of Cynthia is a complete waste of Julie Walters' talents -- she's a one-dimensional bore. For the most part, the show really seems to lack the sense of time and place of India in 1932, and feels more like one of those vaguely sentimental period pieces that shows like Downton Abbey really seem to specialize in: lots of beautiful costumes and scenery, but rather ahistorical in tone, with characters who look and sound like they're from a very different time and place than the ones they're portraying. All in all, it's little more than a soap opera masquerading as a history lesson of some sort -- but if you really want to dig into the complexities of the British presence in the last days of the Raj, do yourself a favor and watch The Jewel in the Crown.
Electronic Torture, Electronic Rape: Technology and Gang Stalking at the Post Office
Electronic Torture, Electronic Rape: Technology and Gang Stalking at the Post Office
Having worked for the post office for twenty years myself, I found about 75% of this story quite easy to believe. I have met some very unsavory, sadistic, manipulative (also easily manipulated) people working in this business. I have to say that the majority of people are not evil, but it only takes one if they have a position of power or are particularly psychopathic.

The author writes very much in the same style I would have written the story if it had happened to me. I've always been one to document things at work just in case I needed it at a later date. It was helpful on a few occasions. Although the typos in the text got on my nerves, it didn't stop me from finishing the book in one sitting.

The point where I started to question her sanity is where you would guess, where she starts talking about the mind control devices implanted in her body somehow. Not that it couldn't be possible, but it's just textbook tinfoil hat conspiracy theory stuff. Can't prove it's true. Can't prove its false. Still, something to keep in the back of my mind for future reference.

What it reminded me of was the sort of "pre-anxiety attack days" when people thought they were really having heart attacks instead of panic attacks. Before it was really a topic of public knowledge. Maybe the author is having symptoms of some yet to be discovered mental illness. Or maybe not.

Regardless. It's very interesting to ponder and the story keeps your interest. I wish I knew more of the specifics of this office and its location. I feel like if I had been there I would have documented hard evidence and just sent it to everyone from the postmaster to the FBI just to be heard. Yes there is corruption in management for sure, but they aren't all corrupt and there is always someone above your boss, and their boss.
Blaze Orange Hunting Bandana (22" x 22")
Blaze Orange Hunting Bandana (22" x 22")
I was a little concerned about ordering this based on some of the negative reviews of this and other bandanas on
Amazon, but went ahead anyway and have been very happy with this product. As I said in the title, it has stood up to many washings and is still an excellent bright orange (wash by hand and it will last longer - DEFINITELY don't use bleach, even color safe bleach). The stitching has remained secure, as well.

I have used this bandana for many things. a napkin, headwear, neckerchief, etc. but I primarily keep it in my pack because it is an excellent bright signal orange which is a great thing to have, especially if you are anywhere near hunting lands or a place where an emergency signal would be useful. It's a great product which fulfills the one item/multiple uses desires of many outdoor's enthusiasts.
I would and will buy this product again.
Learn Robotics with Raspberry Pi: Build and Code Your Own Moving, Sensing, Thinking Robots
Learn Robotics with Raspberry Pi: Build and Code Your Own Moving, Sensing, Thinking Robots
In this detailed and well-paced book, Matt explains how to get started with the Raspberry Pi right from unboxing and powering up the computer for the first time through to building your own autonomous robot. There are lights, sounds and sensors along the way, and the book ends with line following and basic image recognition. A younger, or more impatient, reader might wonder why so much preparation is needed before we can connect up the parts and get coding. But, the comprehensive nature of this book means that a user should, on their own, be able to get started without frustrating searching around on the internet for tips and fixes. With sections on basic operating systems, simple circuits and coding from scratch this is an ambitious book. The illustrations are clear, colourful and well presented, and look very easy to follow. I've spent a very pleasant afternoon reading the second half of the book. Now I need to find my box of bits....
Odyssey --The Business of Consulting: How to Build, Grow, and Transform Your Consulting Business
Odyssey --The Business of Consulting: How to Build, Grow, and Transform Your Consulting Business
Mostly an advertisement for the authors' "Odyssey" course, it's full of testimonials from program attendees and course-specific terminology. There is not very much in the way of practical advice, but I enjoyed a few parts that dealt with practical matters of value-based consulting. The book seems mostly written for management and executive search consultants, Ch. 2 in particular describes everything in terms of management consultancy. The book material is possibly sampled from Odyssey course materials.

I much preferred Aseervatham's "You're the Boss" from the same publisher, which has a similar purview, but is to-the-point, broader in the scope of consulting businesses it addresses, and not padded with self-promotion.
Star Wars Original Trilogy Collection Rabe Action Figure
Star Wars Original Trilogy Collection Rabe Action Figure
Really cool figure. It's hard to find anything for the handmaidens of naboo. And while the costume is amazing and the paint is perfect, the face mold/paint is a little garish. Bright red lips where the handmaidens barely wore makeup, and undefined eye sculpt (at least on mine). But don't let that deter you! Like I said it's hard to find anything about the handmaidens, so this is a super cool find!
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Something Wicked This Way Comes
If you’ve read this Bradbury book, you’ll know what a special world full of myth and mystery it is. Set in a world full of magic and archetypes and brooding atmosphere, it’s mesmerizing. The heart of the story is aging. It’s about staying young, and becoming young again.

It also contains the imagination of young boys as a strange carnival train arrives during the middle of the night along with all of the typical members and attractions one would find in a late 40s traveling show. The fortune teller, the strong man, the littlest man, the biggest one, and the master of ceremonies. In this story, all askew, all dark and full of mystical powers.

Bradbury’s prose is to this day some of the most eloquent and poetic ever written. Once started, it’s hard to stop reading. The places, the characters, the underlying evil and menace are woven into descriptions of the wind, the night, the buildings and the seasons.

A novel so embedded with dark dread and temptations hardly seems fodder for a Disney movie, and looking at it now, it really isn’t the stuff of a Disney movie. Even though Bradbury wrote the screenplay, it’s a tempered made-for-TV version. The story is there and in place. It has some menace and dread, but it’s a surface interpretation of whatc is a timeless and very visceral story.

The film makes cliches out of both the characters and the events. The sets are cheap looking, the costumes a bit too obvious, the actors restrained and lacking the depth needed to tell this story. This is a shame because with actors like Jason Robards, it could have been much better.

It’s a good watch. It’s a classic tale and the basic story is there, but it simply looks dated and old. It needs to get on the carousel and go backwards to make it fresh and young somehow. As a Disney property, that is not likely to happen. It deserves to be.

Made today, with the right director, cast and effects this could be an astonishing film. The original story is eternal. The fear of aging and dying and what if we could change that? The carnival offers that option — but at a soul surrendering price.

Bradbury stories were made into films in the sixties and all the attempts need to be revisited. The illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, and most of all The Marian Chronicles (the made for TV version with Rock Hudson is a travesty and an excuse for good “ol Rock to get his little boy toys into movies and no more) all could be done right and they’d be opportunities to make films that capture the amazing worlds Bradbury created.

Sadly, the Disney version of his first real novel stops far short of the short of the station the mysterious carnival train needs to reach
SUPERDANNY Power Strip Tower USB Surge Protector with 9 AC 4 USB Ports 9.8ft Multiple Electrical Outlet Extender Desktop Charging Station for Office Home Dorm Room
SUPERDANNY Power Strip Tower USB Surge Protector with 9 AC 4 USB Ports 9.8ft Multiple Electrical Outlet Extender Desktop Charging Station for Office Home Dorm Room
06/16/2020- I loved the blue color so much that I bought 2. Unfortunately, the first purchase just arrived late and the LED light doesn’t work even when switched to the ON position. Thus makes me question the durability and quality of the product if it is not working as advertised on day one. The outlets all seem to work today; but, the faulty, non-functions LED light to signal that power is “ON” is VERY concerning.

06/23/2020- I still love the blue color of this; but, my 2nd power strip arrived today. It has the same issue as the first. Oddly, the product box has a sticker that claims is was verified by quality control. Ha! if they can't catch that the LED light doesn't work, it is probable the sticker is just false. Do Not buy this product! FYI- If I have two with quality issues (100% of my orders), you may be better off picking up a power strip from your local "dollar" store. I also purchased the blue power strip with wireless charger from this company. I can only hope the quality control on that more costly product is better than the non- existent quality control on this one.

07/01/2020 Update:
- I received an email from SupperDanny advising that the Red Button was not intended to light-up. They clarified that it is an “overload reset button that will be sucked in to cut off power when there is an overload or short-circuit. When this happens, please press the button and it will be popped up to restore the power strip tower again.”
- With this in mind, my original review was unfairly harsh. There are no defect issues with this product; thus, I have upgraded my review.
- I just wish SuperDanny had clarified this after the first time I reviewed this power tower; but, better late than never because I now have 3 of these
Tostador Nostalgia hdt600retrored Retro Series Pop-Up Hot Dog, Rojo
Tostador Nostalgia hdt600retrored Retro Series Pop-Up Hot Dog, Rojo
When I saw this product I had to have it. This is the most amazing thing since hot water as far as I am concerned. I got it the day after I ordered it. After reading all the negative reviews I could find here is how I approached using the product.

1) Smokes during first few uses-I turned the knob to 5 and let it perform a burn-in cycle with nothing in it. Instructions say to not operate without at least 1 hotdog and bun. But in my opinion if it can't survive 1 cycle it would need to be returned as POS. Burn-in worked fine and it did smoke like a bingo player at first, then it stopped. Subsequent uses were smoke free with no odor/taste effect on the food.

2) Bun burning along edges-Yes it burned the buns along the edge and was heavier from the top of the toaster down. But after a bit of carbon buildup on the inside it no longer burns the bun and I do cook on number 5. The buns need to be regular sized. I also noticed that most buns, I tried 3 brands, are baked/sliced in such a way that one end is more tapered and I place them into the toaster tapered end up.

3) Hotdog expands in holder and is hard to get out-Yes it does on fat hotdogs. Also over cooking causes the hotdogs to split as I discovered when working out the best cook setting. Skinny ones like Oscar Mayer or Nathans or Hebrew National have no problem. I tried 6 different brands all beef brands including Ball Park and Bar S and some generic brand. The BallPark were the worst case of the bubch but I got them out without too much carnage. Overall they all cooked great at setting of 5. I prefer my hotdogs either hot or cold but not in between.

4) Cheaply made with plastic-It was only $20. However the plastic housing makes it cool to the touch. Key points are it works very well and is easy to clean up.

In conclusion, I think my organs are failing from all the hotdogs I've eaten the last couple of weeks. Everyone who sees the toaster has a big inner child smile moment and has to try it. It works as advertised. It's inexpensive and its color matches my coffee maker.
Naturise Shea Butter Raw Organic Unrefined Ivory 16 oz (1 LB), Highest Grade African Shea Butter, Great for DIY Skincare Products and Body Butter Moisturizer for Dry Skin, Eczema, and Hair Care
Naturise Shea Butter Raw Organic Unrefined Ivory 16 oz (1 LB), Highest Grade African Shea Butter, Great for DIY Skincare Products and Body Butter Moisturizer for Dry Skin, Eczema, and Hair Care
Superb texture, smells fresh, and absorbs well. Although the jar’s lid arrived crooked, the seal was entact and the butter is fresh. The expiration date gives me 21 months, but I finish a huge jar every three months. I usually order two or more jars at a time and store them in the fridge for freshness. This is my first time trying the butter from this seller, and I am impressed! However, I do wish that there would be a plastic seal outside like other brands of Shea butter I have purchased. Thank you for offering this fine product.
Núm. 1103: Té de hierbas orgánico "Té de regaliz" - hojas sueltas ecológico - 100 g - GAIWAN® GERMANY - raíz de regaliz de la agricultura ecológica en China
Núm. 1103: Té de hierbas orgánico "Té de regaliz" - hojas sueltas ecológico - 100 g - GAIWAN® GERMANY - raíz de regaliz de la agricultura ecológica en China
Decepcionado con la calidad de esta marca.
4 diferentes tes y mezclas de infusiones comprados, todos carecen de sabor y su calidad, pese a tener precio medio alto, es bastante ordinaria. El packaging no es hermético. Similar calidad se encuentra en el supermercado a un precio muy inferior. Altamente decepcionado con Amazon por elegir esta marca como si bandera en tes.

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