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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey [Blu-ray]
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Neil Degrasse Tyson
Price: $24.99
56 used & new from $15.94

508 of 528 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, April 14, 2014
I heard about this project a year ago and have been waiting patiently for its release. Being spearheaded by Neil Degrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan, and Seth Macfarlane, I knew this show was in good hands:

Tyson is one of the most famous astrophysicists alive. His involvement in NOVA and his podcast 'Startalk' have made him a rockstar among the scientific-literate youth. Ann Druyan (who co-wrote the original Cosmos) helped produce and write this revamp. Seth Macfarlane, better known for starting the show Family Guy, it seems has always been interested in science...this revamped version of Cosmos came about when Seth ran into Tyson at a meeting at the National Academy of Sciences. Who woulda thought?

Now onto the show:

In the first episode, you are invited aboard the Ship of the Imagination. It's a sleek vessel that allows Tyson and the viewer to go anywhere: from the edge of the universe to the nucleus of an atom. It's a fantastic way to get to the places that Tyson is describing in the narration.

The cinematography is jaw dropping. 3D renderings of galaxies, nebulae, asteroid fields, atoms, storms on Jupiter, etc are scattered throughout each show...and they look 100% real. There are moments where animated cartoons are used, usually representing a story about past scientists or philosophers...I thought the cartoon animations would detract from the shows grandeur, but that doesn't seem to be the case - the animations are beautiful and tasteful.

The music score, by Alan Silvestri, is perfect for this series. Silvestri has scored soundtracks for movies like Contact, Castaway, Forrest Gump...and for Cosmos he has used his talent to create yet another fantastic score. It gives the show a perfect sound to go along with the visuals...you'll see (hear) this in the first episode when you take a tour of the universe.

The science is mind-blowing. Neil Degrasse Tyson clearly talks you through each scientific tidbit, allowing even the youngest developing minds to understand intricate ideas, theories, and laws. Most who graduated high school (and college) will already know about most of the science talked about in this show, but this is a great refresher.

In addition to making it easy for you to understand the science, Tyson urges the viewer to continue the charge of the scientific revolution. He makes it clear that ANY viewer could be the next Einstein, Darwin, or Newton...it just takes one spark of inspiration and the next great idea will be born.

Cosmos is one of the most important television shows to ever grace the airwaves. No doubt it will inspire teachers to educate more clearly, inspire students to learn, and allow everyone to appreciate the vast beauty and complexity of the universe we live in.

As the show goes on, I will continue to update this post with my likes and possible dislikes (though I doubt I'll find anything I dislike). I will also update my post when the Blu-ray is released. For now, I just want everyone to know how great this show is.

BLU RAY REVIEW:

The picture and audio quality is mindblowing - every little star is noticeable, even the smallest bacterium is full of detail. This is the quality I expect from blu-ray, but this detail also spotlights the care and precision that went into this show (the special effects mirror that of a high-budget Hollywood film).

The audio is crisp and deep. If you have a sound system, definitely use it when watching Cosmos.

The packaging is great (even has a little Cosmic Calender printed on an inside flap). The menu screen is slightly difficult to navigate - the words on the screen are very small (I have near perfect vision and I have to squint to read the show titles on my 42" television).

My main gripe with this release is that it didn't come with a digital copy (even one that we could download from the web). This is a show I'd love to have on my tablet, but I'm more or less confined to just watching it at home now.

Regardless, if you have a blu-ray player and are remotely interested in Cosmos, it's worth the plunge. Never before has a show brought me to such an emotional level: Cosmos isn't just about science, it's also about the grandeur of the universe. And in blu-ray, it's like having a front row seat to all that is, was, and ever will be.

5/5
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2015 2:16 PM PST


The Marshall Mathers LP 2
The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Offered by Great Price Media
Price: $13.99
104 used & new from $5.24

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agreed: It's his best since The Eminem Show, November 6, 2013
Creativity. Surprises. These were the elements I felt were missing from Encore through Recovery. Eminem is brilliant with words - and it shows on every one of his albums. But there is a magic about SSLP, MMLP, and The Eminem Show - the production on each of those is immaculate. It grabs you and takes you for a ride. MMLP2 recaptures that magic for a whole hour and 20 minutes.

Eminem said in a recent interview that he didn't get into the production on Recovery, but was really into it, along with Rick Rubin, on MMLP2. It shows. The album is all over the place, from sampling Time Of The Season by The Zombies (Rhyme or Reason) to revisiting old skits (Parking Lot), from rapping 101 words in 16 seconds (Rap God) to having Nate Ruess from Fun sing one of Em's most emotional songs. It's all over the place...yet it's cohesive, it flows so well together. It's actually unbelievable how many styles are incorporated into this album.

Standouts: Legacy, Rap God, Stronger Than I Was, Headlights, Beautiful Pain (bonus track).

This album is worth every penny. You'll like some songs better than others, but you'll find it hard to skip any track.

5/5


Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch) 2012 Model
Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch) 2012 Model
Offered by Innovation Tech
Price: Click here to see our price
203 used & new from $109.59

34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Deal, November 1, 2012
(since this Chromebook was sold out on Amazon, I bought it at my local Best Buy)

Here are my initial thoughts:

Starting it up was a breeze. The computer had to update the system, which only took a few minutes. I then signed in to my google account and I had all my emails, documents, and music waiting for me in the cloud. It is as simple as they advertise it to be.

THE HARDWARE:

First thing you notice: It is so light! Absolutely perfect for traveling. I was very impressed with how smoothly the laptop opened. It opens and closes very fluidly - a problem I've had with previous laptops. The keyboard is a dream to type on. It exactly mirrors that of a Mac keyboard - both in looks and in overall feel. I bought this laptop primarily for writing, so this was a huge deal for me. The trackpad is okay. Multi-touch works fine. The size of the trackpad is great. The problem: when you 'click' on the trackpad it makes an unusually loud noise. I've had to learn to tap-to-click just to avoid the noise.

As another reviewer pointed out: there is 'give' on the edge of the palm-rest. If pressure is applied to the area right of the trackpad a slight clicking noise occurs. It is not a major problem, but it does show a minor flaw in the build quality.

The speakers on this device are rather poor. The bass sounds muffled and the higher-pitched audio sounds tinny. Part of the reason they sound like this is because the speakers are located on the bottom of the device...however, they sound poor mostly because they are cheap speakers. Thankfully, the Chromebook comes with a headphone jack.

The screen is nothing incredible, but for the price, it works perfectly. Hi-Def youtube videos look very Hi-Def. Pictures look vibrant. The matte display makes it easy to work in high light. It's definitely not retina-display quality, but again, for the price it's quite good. The webcam is awful. It lags, the picture quality is terrible. To me, the webcam itself seems unnecessary. The 6.5 hours of battery life is relatively correct. I wish that the battery lasted longer, yet, as with most of my complaints, given the price it is completely understandable. The computer barely gets warm. I've had laptops get so hot that they melt the plastic and yes, I had to put the computer ON ICE! The Chromebook has no moving parts, thus no fan, thus it stays very cool and quiet.

THE 'SOFTWARE':

Being my first Chromebook I was wary of an OS that was primarily based around the web. But thus far, I've found that it's nothing too different from a regular computer, just that your hard-drive is in the cloud. The 'Cloud' does concern me, however. There are privacy issues and security concerns that linger in the back of my mind. I'm hopeful that Google will continue to follow its 'Don't Be Evil' slogan AND that they make sure the cloud stays secure.

And to the people saying that you can't do anything offline with this Chromebook: there are 16gb of space on this computer solely for offline activity. You can take movies, photos, documents, music on the go and play/edit them without needing a web connection. There are a slew of offline programs in the ChromeStore.

The interface is exactly what I have been looking for in a computer for years: a smooth, uncluttered, and simple UI that looks nice. I hate files on the desktop and a menu-bar on the top or bottom of the screen. ChromeOS is elegantly simple and allows you the ability to keep everything perfectly organized and clean.

There is a drawback to the simplicity: google's offline music app is TOO simple. I would love a designated program that is devoted to organizing my media files located on the 16gb hard-drive. I hope this feature is included in future updates.

*If anyone from Google reads this: There is no way to get rid of the 'For quick access, place your bookmarks here...' box on the 'new tabs' page. I don't use bookmarks, and I find the box to completely interfere with the simple look of the interface. Please find a way for us to remove this bar*

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Overall, for the price, this is an incredible computer. The hardware is far more than what you'd expect for $250. The keyboard is wonderful, the trackpad and screen are nice. The OS is simple yet powerful. This computer is not meant to be a replacement for a tablet or a primary computer. This is a computer for people who want a simple OS, a physical keyboard, all at a nice price. It is perfect for web browsing, emailing, and writing documents. It suits my needs perfectly. If Google/Samsung continue to make top-quality products like this I will surely stay a loyal customer to them.

5/5

UPDATE (11/13/12):

I've noticed, in the last few days, a lag in the speed of the chromebook. When I first got this chromebook the internet was lightning fast - now, even after I shut it down and restart it, it is very slow. I was hoping this was just a problem with my internet, but the internet is still lightning fast on my imac. Also, it is starting to get slow when I open documents.

The battery life is very consistent, 6-6 1/2 hours of time is enough for two or three days of casual web browsing and writing.

I LOVE the cloud: I'm still grateful that I can open a doc in the chromebook, and see that very same document on my iphone and/or imac in seconds. I'm still bummed that the onboard music 'app' is so bare-bones. It's irritating when you're away from your internet and you have to rely on the 'folders' app for music organization. I watched an Mpeg-4 movie (located on an SD card): Every 4 seconds the video seemed to speed up and then slow back down to normal speed. It's a very odd glitch that I hope was remote to just that one file (though when played on my imac it did not have this problem).

I'm keeping my review at 5 stars because this is still one very powerful computer for the price. It's simple to use, fun to have around when watching television, great to travel with.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 22, 2013 8:39 PM PST


That's Why God Made The Radio
That's Why God Made The Radio
Price: $9.00
118 used & new from $2.51

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank You, Beach Boys., June 6, 2012
They're known as "America's Band" for a reason: No other American rock band has more top-40 hits than The Beach Boys. They stormed the charts in the early-mid 60s with songs of surf, cars, and love. Now, 50 years later they're back to fill our stereo systems with more beautiful harmonies.

After YEARS of lawsuits, stagnant solo efforts, and John Stamos (cringe) the REAL Beach Boys are back to give their fans one last treat. Of course, we're missing Carl and Dennis Wilson on this album, but the guys and Jeff Foskett do a great job in picking up the slack. Listening to the opening harmonies of 'Think About The Days' the listener starts to realize that this isn't a half-hearted attempt at making some easy money (like most reunion albums are). A few seconds into the title song the listener realizes that this album could possibly rank among their greater works.

'Isn't It Time' is exactly how a 2012 Beach Boys song should sound: It's got great harmonies, good lyrics, and the vocals from these guys are incredible! 'Spring Vacation' is a nostalgic piece that blends Mike's summertime lyrical-style with Brian's keen ear for harmonies and chords. The Private Life of Bill and Sue, Shelter, Daybreak Over The Ocean each have their own unique personality, yet they all have that trademark Beach Boy sound.

Ok, so there are some clunkers on this album....first off is the biggest sore thumb: Beaches in Mind. Words can't describe how awful this song is, so I'm not going to try....just listen to it, then you'll understand what I mean. Strange World is another that I found to be a bit of a letdown. It sounds unfinished in instrumentation and unimagined in lyrical content. It seems that a lot of people like this song, you may too, but this is just my opinion.

'From There To Back Again': Now is where the album become's a chord-progressing, tempo-changing, tear-jerking performance. This song is the start of a three-song suite that subtly tells the listener that The Beach Boys, like all things, will soon be going away. Al Jardine sounds like he hasn't aged a day since recording 'Help Me Rhonda'. 'Pacific Coast Highway' is one of the greatest Beach Boy songs I have ever heard. Period. 'Summer's Gone' has some of the best Brian Wilson vocals I've heard since the late 60s. The end of this album will seriously tug at your emotions.

Overall, this album is their best since 'Sunflower'. It has got AMAZING vocals, the song-writing is very thought out, each song is unique. I want to say THANK YOU to the Beach Boys for making one last effort at an album: it paid off immensely. And if you decide to record another album, I don't blame you. You guys still have what it takes to get to the top of the charts and it shows.

5/5
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2012 1:13 PM PDT


In The Key Of Disney (Amazon Exclusive Version)
In The Key Of Disney (Amazon Exclusive Version)
Price: $9.49

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars? Come on people!..., October 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was incredibly skeptical of this album ever since I heard of its conception about a year ago. I didn't think it would be good at all - Brian recording a bunch of adolescent Disney songs?....ugh. But WOW was I wrong!

I won't go into a song-by-song review, but I will say that they are all standouts. They all have a life of their own (some feature moog synths, others banjos, marimbas, saxophones, electric guitars, organs, harmonicas - what other modern-day album has this amount of instrumental diversity!? Only Brian Wilson could pull something like this off!). The vocals for each song (lead and background) are incredible...Brian hasn't sounded this good since his early days with The Beach Boys. The arrangements, both vocally and instrumentally are amazing.

I own all of Brian Wilson's solo albums, and out of all of them I have to say that this one is my favorite....this has the best instrumentals I've heard on any of his albums (they aren't overdone like usual), and the background vocals sound perfect. I was smiling through the whole first listen....and I'm on my third listen through this album, and I'm still smiling! Give this album a chance - you'll love it from the first song on!

5/5 - Great job Brian!


3M Touchscreen ST1GY002369 Stylus - Retail Packaging - Grey
3M Touchscreen ST1GY002369 Stylus - Retail Packaging - Grey
Price: $14.99
4 used & new from $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice little tool!, July 27, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I use quite a few programs on my ipad that could really benefit with the use of a touchscreen pen. I use a note-taking app called 'Notes Plus' and a drawing app called 'Sketchbook Pro'. So I jumped on the chance to get a touchscreen pen.

Upon arrival I took it out of the packaging and first noticed how light the pen is. The body is made entirely of metal (except for the tip which is made of very soft plastic) - so it seems to be made of durable material. Then I went straight to my ipad and opened up 'Notes Plus'. Notes Plus gives you the option of typing your notes or writing them on the screen (or both). So I took the pen and started to write notes and draw in the program. I really noticed a lag from time of actual pen use to the time my marks showed up on the screen....This is not the fault of the pen but rather the program. I will say that there are other note-taking apps out there that have almost non-existent lag time - so this may not be an issue if you get the right program. I usually type my notes down anyways, so this wasn't a big loss.

The pen worked fantastic in Sketchbook Pro. Besides the very wide tip, it felt just like using a Wacom tablet pen. The tip of the pen is somewhat wide and it took a while to get used to making a precise mark; But after awhile I was able to make concise marks with ease. There was virtually no lag-time and it worked very smoothly. I can see this pen being a great tool for artists/designers. I then closed out of sketchbook and got on Safari - It is nice to sit in bed and use a pen to click on links....instead of having to extend your arm out to touch the screen with your fingers you just point with the pen and press on whatever link you want. Very ergonomically friendly.

Is it worth the price (as of 7/27/11 the price is $15.99)? It really depends on how much you use it. If you own an ipad (or other touchscreen device) and you are a graphic designer/artist/architect/student that jots down ideas on the go, I can see this pen being very much worth the price. Or if you just want an easier way to surf the web and have the money, it is worth the price.

*Note to 3M: It would be great if you integrated your product with bluetooth so as the pen could have buttons that function with certain drawing programs (one button placed near the tip of the pen could be an eraser button, another could designate brush sizes, etc). This may have already been done, but if not, you should definitely look into it!

5/5


Black - Israeli Paratrooper Shoulder Bag w/Emblem
Black - Israeli Paratrooper Shoulder Bag w/Emblem
Offered by Direct Premium Buys
Price: $18.99
2 used & new from $18.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Durable. Spacious. Looks great!, July 7, 2011
I have owned this bag for nearly 8 years now. It has seen my last days of high school, my last days of college, it has been on long road trips, has seen the inside of hospitals, famous art museums, even went to the pentagon once. It goes with me every day to work. Not once has it torn, ripped, broken, anything...this bag is probably the only product I have gotten that has withstood such a weathering and beating in such a time. And after all these years it still looks brand new.

On any given weekend this bag holds for me: a change of clothes, iPad, iPod, a book, wallet, water bottle, cellphone, chargers....granted, when it is this full it has the appearance of a balloon, but the point is it can carry a lof of stuff.

My only complaint is that the strap was far too short for me (even after adjusting it)...it was a minor irritation that was easily fixed by buying a longer strap.

If you want a reliable, durable, spacious, good looking bag I fully recommend this product.


Seven Notebooks: Poems
Seven Notebooks: Poems
by Campbell McGrath
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from $3.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speechless., June 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Seven Notebooks: Poems (Hardcover)
The poetry in this book:

- challenges my thinking.
- helps me escape a dreadful day.
- clears my mind of trivial worldly matters.
- helps me understand that there is more to life than what seems.

The poetry in this book is as beautiful as it is intellectual. The imagery of Florida, the thoughts on consciousness, the day-to-day journal writings - this book is a stunning collage of life. This book will make you see nature differently. It will (hopefully) make you see life differently.

Thank you Mr. McGrath for making such a beautiful array of writings for us.

Definitely get this book if you are even remotely interested in it.


Red Mars (Mars Trilogy)
Red Mars (Mars Trilogy)
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.98
235 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal., June 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
'Red Mars' is one of the best science fiction books I have ever read.

As you probably guessed by the cover and name, this book is about a group of astronauts and scientists who colonize mars. Kim Stanley Robinson talks about the selection process of the astronauts, he delves into the hardware that took these astronauts to Mars. He talks about nearly every aspect of life on mars (from the physiological and sociological ramifications, to political and physical problems that could arise in such as situation). Robinson not only makes it all plausible, he does it in a way that the story is not just facts and statistics: this is a story of love, politics, engineering, religion, and psychology.

Many here have said that this book isn't for people on the conservative right; I disagree. BOTH liberals and conservatives could learn a thing or two from this book. I have read The Communist Manifesto, the constitution, many libertarian works....and 'Red Mars' was THE first book I've read that really challenged my political beliefs. Since reading this series I have thought things over more carefully. I am more understanding of nature (and human nature). I am more open minded towards politics.

If you are even remotely interested in this book I implore you to get it. You won't be disappointed.


Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile!
Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile!
by Domenic Priore
Edition: Paperback
31 used & new from $12.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy It!, March 17, 2011
This book should be required reading for any SMiLE enthusiast. Granted, it is not really a book, it is more of a scrapbook of magazine articles, newspaper articles, AFM Sheets, Music sheets, lyrics, pictures, essays, and cartoons. Also included is the famous Jules Siegel piece "Goodbye Surfing, Hello God". This is one of my favorite books to pick up and glance at for hours at a time. Also, it is a fairly big book, covering nearly 300 pages and it is chock full of information. Priore did a ridiculously good job of compiling all of these articles and clippings....this has to be the greatest album-related scrapbook of all time.

This is mid-March 2011 and SMiLE has just been confirmed to be soon released sometime later this year. In light of this information, I implore anyone even remotely interested to buy a copy (used or new) of this book.

5/5


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