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D. Mikels "It's always Happy Hour here" RSS Feed (Skunk Holler)

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)
DVD ~ Ian McKellen
Price: $14.99
70 used & new from $9.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Visuals, Yet Story Mediocre, August 26, 2015
Let's keep things in perspective. J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' is a lighthearted, whimsical, 275-page fantasy novel for children, ages 9 to 12. It is anything but a dark, brooding, sinister epic requiring mining plot lines (and characters) from the appendices of Tolkien's sequel 'The Lord of the Rings'. . .or pulling new characters directly out of writer/director/producer Peter Jackson's creative posterior. Yet with the third--and, we hope, final--installment of THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, Jackson has created a whopping 9 hours of cinema. All of it is a stunning visual feast, full of heart-pounding action, haunting music, and amazing visuals--but most of it is forced and contrived. It's akin to ordering a hamburger and receiving an entire cow; to fans of the novel, these three films are the culmination of over-the-top.

But again, Jackson knows how to make a movie, and FIVE ARMIES is quite a movie. Here we find the original 13 dwarfs, and Bilbo (Martin Freeman), entrenched in Erebor, where Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) has succumbed to the same destructive greed that affected his grandfather. Meanwhile, the nearby humans of Laketown claim they're entitled to a portion of Erebor's treasure, as do the elves of Mirkwood, led by the mysterious Thranduil (Lee Pace). And of course, Sauron has dispatched an army of evil orcs to invade the region, and, not to be outdone, an army of dwarves, led by Thorin's cousin Dain (Billy Connolly is terrific), sweeps in to defend the fortress. And through it all, there persists the non-believable romance between an elf and a dwarf (Evangeline Lilly and Aidan Turner); plus no Hobbit movie is complete without the fantastic Gandalf (Ian McKellen). Throw all of these elements together, and the viewer is overwhelmed by a non-stop battle, but to his credit, Jackson pulls no punches; several characters, as in the book, are ultimately killed. It's all masterfully crafted, with incredible special effects and furious action, yet THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES proves to be too filling. This quarter pounder has too many toppings.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Utopia Towels 8-Piece Value 100% Cotton Bath Towel Set, Includes 2 Bath towels, 2 Hand towels, 4 Washcloths - Gray
Utopia Towels 8-Piece Value 100% Cotton Bath Towel Set, Includes 2 Bath towels, 2 Hand towels, 4 Washcloths - Gray
Offered by Utopia Deals
Price: $59.99
2 used & new from $24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!, August 21, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Where I live, there are limited places to buy bath towels--including the dreaded store starting with a "W", and I never go to "W". So as my existing towels were showing signs of wear and too many machine washings, I decided to roll the dice and come on this website to purchase a new set of bath towels. I picked the UTOPIA towels, but with some trepidation; it's been my experience with cheaper towels that the quality is inferior, causing the towels to shed fibers on your person during drying. But my fears were unjustified; the UTOPIA 8-PIECE VALUE 100% COTTON BATH TOWEL SET is worth every penny and more!

As the product page advises, these towels are feather soft and mega-absorbent. The edges are tightly woven and show no signs of unraveling. Plus they are extremely durable; I've had the bath towels and hand towels through the washer several times, and they've yet to show any signs of wear. And best of all: No towel fibers left behind on my carcass! As advertised, the UTOPIA set includes 2 bath towels, 2 hand towels, and 4 washcloths; in my small household that's more than sufficient. So if you're looking for quality towels at an affordable price, get the UTOPIA 8-PIECE VALUE 100% COTTON BATH TOWEL SET. Hit the showers in style!
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Levi's Men's 550 Short, Medium Stonewash, 44W
Levi's Men's 550 Short, Medium Stonewash, 44W
Price: $26.99
2 used & new from $26.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and Very Comfy, August 13, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Levi's Men's 550 Short (Apparel)
When it comes to comfort and style, you can't beat the Levi brand. I was running low on shorts that weren't absolutely worn out, and immediately decided to try the LEVI'S MEN'S 550 DENIM SHORTS. (I own a pair of the Levi's 550 Jeans.) Needless to say, I have not been disappointed; the shorts are comfortable and look great. So why not 5 stars? Again, the tiny front pockets are a bit of a pain. I carry my wallet, keys, and pocketknife in my front pockets, and with these shorts, the pockets are absolutely crammed.

In my neck of the woods, the warm weather season basically stretches from March to late October, so quality shorts are a must. So if you're looking for a quality, durable denim short, it's hard to go wrong with the LEVI'S MEN'S 550 DENIM SHORTS. Let the summer broil; I'm good.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Haggar Men's Cool 18 Gabardine Hidden Expandable Waist Plain Front Short,Griffin,32
Haggar Men's Cool 18 Gabardine Hidden Expandable Waist Plain Front Short,Griffin,32
Price: $29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, Lightweight, And Oh So Comfy, August 6, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Summer is not my favorite time of the year, because where I live, it can be brutal and broiling outside. So I was looking for a comfortable pair of shorts that was lightweight, yet durable--plus didn't cost me a small fortune. I've been a huge fan of the Haggar Expandle-Waist Dress Slacks; I own several pair, so I took a chance and purchased a couple pair of HAGGAR MEN'S COOL 18 GABARDINE HIDDEN EXPANDLE-WAIST SHORTS. Jackpot!

These shorts are light as a feather, wrinkle free, machine washable, and they look great. Plus with the expandable waist, I can enjoy that gut-splitting chicken fry for lunch, and stay perfectly comfy, as the shorts' waist expands with my girth. On the golf course, working in the yard, running errands, or just lounging around the house, you can't go wrong wearing the HAGGAR MEN'S COOL 18 GABARDINE HIDDEN EXPANDLE-WAIST SHORTS. Want that Death By Chocolate dessert? With these shorts, go for it!
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.28
821 used & new from $0.21

5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read for All History Enthusiasts, July 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I could not wait to read TEAM OF RIVALS after becoming a huge fan of Stephen Spielberg's film Lincoln, which is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's comprehensive presentation of the political genius of Abraham Lincoln. (The film is focused on the passage of the 13th Amendment, which abolishes slavery, so I was so disappointed that in Goodwin's biography this event is glossed over in roughly four pages, and fails to go into the minute detail and machinations Lincoln had to exercise to leverage the necessary votes in Congress, but this disappointment did not take away from my enjoyment of this book.) In TEAM OF RIVALS, Goodwin suggests that Lincoln demonstrated his political prowess by appointing his three 1860 Republican presidential rivals (William Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates) to serve in his cabinet. All three looked upon Lincoln with contempt as a backwoods Illinois lawyer, and all three sought to dominate and manipulate him as their services in the cabinet began--yet all three grew to admire Lincoln's political skill and savvy to hold warring factions of the Republican party together as the country endured the relentless bloodshed and heartache of the raging Civil War. Meanwhile, Goodwin tells us about Abraham Lincoln the man, about his volatile wife, Mary, and the anguish they endured together when their beloved son Willie died in the White House in 1862. Not only was Lincoln faced with the titanic responsibilities of wartime, he was also in personal agony and grief, yet he possessed the talents to put his personal tribulations aside to govern with acute wisdom. And Ms. Goodwin tells the story of Lincoln in a written manner that is as beautiful as it is riveting.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is merely the story of Lincoln and his cabinet during the Civil War--TEAM OF RIVALS tells us the stories of the lives of not only Lincoln, but of his three rivals, as of all them, in their own unique way, gain national influence and prominence. We also learn a great deal about other colorful characters of the period, including Edwin Stanton, Lincoln's feisty Secretary of War; the Blair family, leaders of the powerful conservative faction of the Republican party; Gideon Welles, Lincoln's loyal Secretary of the Navy; and Kate Chase, Salmon Chase's beloved daughter, who becomes the three-time widower's hostess and social darling of Washington. And everything presented in this sweeping historical account is meticulously documented, based on letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and countless other historical studies; that it took Ms. Goodwin ten years to research and write TEAM OF RIVALS comes as no surprise. At more than 750 pages this biography is not a short read--but all history buffs can surely agree that TEAM OF RIVALS is one excellent read.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Horrible Bosses 2 (DVD+UltraViolet)
Horrible Bosses 2 (DVD+UltraViolet)
DVD ~ Jason Bateman
Price: $14.99
41 used & new from $3.95

2.0 out of 5 stars "Horrible" Most Appropos Here, July 18, 2015
HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 aptly follows the sequel rule: It sucks. This monolithic yawn fest dares to follow in the footsteps of its clever original--and muddies the waters accordingly. It's contrived, unimaginable, boring, and predictable. . .and those are its good points. Only the re-appearances of Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston, and Kevin Spacey--especially Kevin Spacey--save this one-dimensional improve rant from beer coaster status.

Once again we're subjected to the trials and tribulations of Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (this time, an alarmingly annoying Charlie Day), as they haphazardly attempt to get back at a tycoon who has backstabbed them (Christopher Waltz) by "kidnapping" his over-willing son (good grief, is Chris Pine more unlikable?). But in this sap-fest, the three protagonists can't get out of their own way: each scene, they're improving more and more and more. . .often talking over themselves. This device--which worked so wonderfully in the original--only ruins this sequel-pretend, to the point of pushing the OFF on the remote. So, if you want to ingratiate yourself to the warm and fuzzies of a grand original, do NOT watch HORRIBLE BOSSES 2.
--D. Mikels, Esp.


GoodFellas
GoodFellas
DVD ~ Robert De Niro
Price: $4.99
80 used & new from $0.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Mob Epic Stands the Test of Time, July 7, 2015
This review is from: GoodFellas (DVD)
Here's one irrefutable fact: director Martin Scorsese knows how to make a riveting gangster film. One of his masterpieces is GOODFELLAS, the story of (primarily) three mobsters and their never-ending exploits. I've seen this film numerous times, and it never ceases to impress me. The film walks the fine line between compelling story and gratuitous violence; the gore--and there's plenty of it--tends to lend itself to the story. And what can you say about Joe Pesci's Tommy DeVito character? Tommy can be cracking a joke one second, then brutally attacking a cohort the next; it's both chilling and riveting.

Told in narration by Henry Hill (Ray Liotta's best role, in this reviewer's opinion), GOODFELLAS is the story of lifetime buddies Henry, Tommy, and James Conway (Robert De Niro is fantastic). Yes, they're in the mob; yes, they will do whatever it takes to advance their interests; and yes, when need be, they can be relentless cutthroats. But their ascension in the mafia hierarchy is fascinating; even though this film is well over two hours in length, it never drags or meanders or gets in its own way. Other noteworthy roles (and there are many) include Paul Sorvino as mob chief Paul Cicero, and Lorraine Bracco as Henry's high-strung wife Karen. Granted, the film is dated by its age, yet GOODFELLAS aptly stands the test of time to take its place in our national cinematic lexicon.


Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, Book 7)
Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, Book 7)
by Jim Butcher
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $9.99
98 used & new from $2.06

5.0 out of 5 stars One Wild Halloween Night, June 10, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Chicago wizard Harry Dresden never has a dull moment. His (newly discovered) half-brother Thomas is now living with him in Harry's tiny sub-basement apartment; trouble is, Thomas, a seductive White Court vampire, can't hold a job (his female co-workers keep throwing themselves at him). Even worse, Mavra of the deadly Black Court of Vampires, has incriminating photos of Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD, a long-time ally of Harry, in the act of committing murder; in order to protect Murphy, Harry must find and present the supernatural 'Book of Kemmler' to her. And just what is this book? Harry learns it's the instruction manual for necromancers to summon Darkhallow--a deadly ritual calling countless spirits back to life in order for the conjurer to absorb their spiritual energy to obtain godlike power. And three of Kemmler's disciples--all necromancers who can restore the dead back to zombie life--are also searching for the 'Book of Kemmler' to conduct Darkhallow on Halloween night, on the campus of Northwestern University. Harry must find a way to stop the ritual, battling necromancers who all possess more power than he, and procure the book to give to Mavra--which will put him at odds with his fellow White Council wizards. Needless to say, the action is fast-paced and furious, giving us DEAD BEAT, the seventh installment of the highly entertaining Dresden Files series.

To fully enjoy this installment, it's important the reader has read Death Masks, book five in the series. For openers, this book introduces us to Butters, the eccentric Medical Examiner; in DEAD BEAT, Butters becomes Harry's involuntary sidekick, as he faces--usually screaming--hordes of mindless zombies. And in 'Death Masks', Harry is exposed unwittingly to a Denarian--one of the thirty pieces of silver given long ago to Judas. This exposure has caused the demon Lasciel to inhabit Harry's sub-conscious, and by the seventh installment the beautiful Lasciel is proving to be one heck of a temptress. In grand Dresden Files fashion, Harry always has a quip at the ready; he may be facing a powerful necromancer commanding an army of zombies, but he's never going to take matters seriously. Author Jim Butcher has a knack for penning an exciting action tale while never taking his foot off the gas; DEAD BEAT moves like running barefoot on a sidewalk in August. We even have a contribution by the fierce spirit of a tyrannosaur to crowd in on the action! DEAD BEAT is a grand supernatural tale, daring the reader not to reach for the next installment in this highly acclaimed series.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


The Judge (DVD)
The Judge (DVD)
DVD ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Price: $10.00
38 used & new from $3.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Heartfelt, June 9, 2015
This review is from: The Judge (DVD) (DVD)
Robert Duvall, please live forever. I've lost count of all the priceless performances you've given over your remarkable career. Add THE JUDGE to that list; here Duvall plays Judge Joseph Palmer, who's been on the bench of his rural Indiana town for more than 40 years. Robert Downey Jr. plays son Hank, a slick Chicago lawyer who has been estranged from his father for decades. The death of Hank's mother draws him back to Carlinville, Indiana, to pay his respects and reunite with his two brothers, Glen and Dale (Vincent D'Onofrio and Jeremy Strong). And, as the story unfolds, all the layers and nuance of the dysfunctional relationship between Hank and the Judge are revealed. Add to that a hit-and-run murder charge against the Judge--with Hank coming to his father's legal defense--and this movie becomes even more tragic and poignant.

Both Duvall and Downey Jr. turn in sensational performances; in particular, I was overwhelmed when father and son reveal a startling fact during an exchange as the town's storm sirens wail from above. And *spoiler alert!* as the Judge's health plunges, the viewer is treated to some very disquieting images. Yet despite their outward contempt for each other, it becomes apparent that both men harbor intense feelings and affection for each other; the Judge's final appearance in this film, as he goes fishing with Hank, is remarkably compelling. One star off due to the prolonged meandering; at least half an hour should have been trimmed from the final reel. Very pleasant surprises include the sensational Vera Farmiga (and good grief, is she under-utilized) as Hank's childhood sweetheart Samantha, and Billy Bob Thornton, playing the Judge's stoic prosecuting attorney. There are several sub-plots I enjoyed, especially the relationship between Hank and his brother Glen, which contribute to my overall fondness for this film. For a poignant portrayal of the complicated relationship between a stern father and his prodigal son, THE JUDGE is enthusiastically recommended.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
DVD ~ Nicolas Cage
Price: $6.34
103 used & new from $1.25

3.0 out of 5 stars Eh, June 3, 2015
This review is from: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (DVD)
For pure escapism, THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE fits the bill. And that's about it: it's a mile wide and an inch deep, but it delivers an over-the-top story in grand Disney fashion. One of Merlin's original three apprentices, Balthazar (Nicolas Cage), must stop another apprentice, Horvath (Alfred Molina is fabulous), from unleashing an evil spirit to destroy mankind. But he must first enlist the aid of another evolving apprentice, geeky Dave (an annoying Jay Baruchel), who must learn the art of magic, and who has little to no self-confidence he can compete in the magical world. The stage is set for the ultimate showdown between the three antagonists/protagonists; it's predictable and mostly contrived, but it's still fun to watch.

Cage is softly subdued, and that's a good thing, given this actor's penchant for tweaking the 9th power of annoyance. He plays well off the nerdy Baruchel; even better when confronting Molina's character. And of course Dave has a secret crush on blonde bombshell Becky (Teresa Palmer), who predictably has feelings of her own for the young sorcerer. But the most fun with THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE is when it pays homage to the Disney classic Fantasia, when a cluster of mops goes animated rogue. That kind of fun will put a smile on your face, and allow THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE to lightly entertain for 100-plus minutes.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


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