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THE PALE EMPEROR [Deluxe Edition][Explicit]
THE PALE EMPEROR [Deluxe Edition][Explicit]
Price: $16.99
32 used & new from $11.05

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manson kills the blues, January 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Pale Emperor roars to life from the very beginning, shoving nasty blues-tinged funk in our faces. "Killing Strangers" is a slowed down song, moving at a slinky pace before building to full-on Marilyn guttural screams. On one hand, it's a little surprising for an opener because it shows a lot more restraint than I would expect from The God of...well, you know. But on the other, more pressing hand, I've always found that Manson's opening song sets the tone for what's to come. Listening to "Hey Cruel World" or "Great Big White World" tells you exactly what you're going to expect from the rest of the CD. In this regard, "Killing Strangers" is the perfect opener for the world of bluesy pain we're in for.

Immediately following, Manson slams us with "Deep Six," a track I loved on first listen and have only grown to love. The feel is still in the blues mold, but it's a bit more vicious and up tempo. Manson has grabbed us for his bluesy ride and he's not letting go. Manson's fascination with Greek mythology and turns of phrase show up here, with his chanted lines of "Wanna know what Zeus said to Narcissus? / You better watch yourself," which, for those who don't know, is how Narcissus died (watching himself) but also is a common threat. Typical turn of a phrase for our lyricist. Great song. Followed up by another fantastic song, the first single "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge," another song that carries the blues motif.

Other great songs follow. I absolutely love "The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles" for the blues funk it carries. The mournful wailing in "Warship My Wreck." I think one of my favorite songs from the back half is definitely "Slave Only Dreams to be King," which starts with a quote from "As a Man Thinketh" by James Allen. For me, the only weak track here is "Birds of Hell Awaiting," which for some reason just doesn't do it for me. But, as a whole, the songs here feature Manson at his most restrained and powerful. Working with Tyler Bates, whose known for his work as a composer (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither, 300, etc.), Manson has created his most cinematic album, with its highs and lows, but always with a pulsing beat.

I know at least some of Manson's diehard fans haven't cared for his last few albums. It's typical in a career that lasts as long as Manson's has; the artist must change, but the people who supported him in the beginning just want another Mechanical Animals. I get that. But, I'll be honest, this album is probably my favorite of Manson's. The parts of Manson's last few albums that I really loved were when he started singing the blues. Some of The High End of Low is my favorite he's ever created. Manson knows how to sing the blues. So, an album that is so strongly influenced by blues is perfect for me. And, The Pale Emperor has an energy I've found lacking in his last few albums. Is it the second coming of Mechanical Animals? No, probably not. But, then again, I don't know if I'd want that.


Arcadia Quest
Arcadia Quest
Offered by D3ALHUNTERS
Price: $77.65
25 used & new from $68.48

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fantastic, December 22, 2014
This review is from: Arcadia Quest (Toy)
Arcadia Quest is a competitive fantasy-themed board game for 2-4 players. The concept behind Arcadia Quest is that you and your friends are rival guilds, trying to both take back Arcadia from a vampire lord named Lord Fang and get as much gold as possible in the process. I backed Arcadia Quest on Kickstarter and it has quickly become one of my favorite board games to play. One of the neat things about the game is that, while each scenario takes approximately 45-60 minutes, the individual scenarios are connected to each other. You basically play through a number of scenarios to secure the city of Arcadia in the Outer Circle (6 scenarios), the Inner Circle (4 scenarios) and the Final Showdown. In between scenarios, you use the gold you accrued in the previous adventure to upgrade your equipment. As you progress through the campaign, your characters get stronger (as do the monsters) and it's this progression that really makes you want to play another scenario.

But I'm getting ahead of myself in excitement. Each player chooses a guild/color and then drafts three heroes. These heroes will stay with you for the duration of your campaign. Each player is then given five pieces of starting items that they can assign to each character. You choose your beginning Outer Wall scenario (grouped from easy to hard), set up the board (9 double-sided big tiles) according to the scenario, place the monsters, items and quest tokens as needed, and then place your guild in the specific starting areas and go to town. On your turn, you can either choose to rest your guild or activate one hero and can use three movement points to move, open/close doors or use portals and you can attack using one of the starter items assigned to your character. Each time you use one of your items, you place a guild token on it to show it's "exhausted," meaning you can't use it again until you rest. Instead of activating a hero, you can rest your guild which takes all of the exhausted tokens off the cards and brings heroes back to life. Guilds get money for killing monsters, killing other players and solving quests. Each scenario comes with specific Player Versus Environment (PvE) quests and the general kill the other team, Player versus Player (PvP) quests. The first guild to complete a quest also gets an additional coin. The first guild to complete three quests, one of which has to be a PvE quest, wins the scenario and ends the session.

In between sessions, you can spend the gold you earned from the previous session and buy tiered equipment. Arcadia Quest comes with A LOT of equipment cards, broken into different levels. So after the first scenario, you draft equipment from the Level 1 equipment deck; after the second scenario, you draft from the Level 2 deck, and so on. The equipment really adds wrinkles to your characters. You can actually create awesome combinations of equipment that mesh well with particular characters (who also have their specific health, defense and special abilities). In between sessions, you also have to deal with Death Curses. Each time you die in a scenario, you're given a death token as a penalty. Then, after the scenario, you are given a random card for each death token your character has. Some cards actually don't give you a death curse, some of them can be pretty debilitating. And you have to choose the highest rated death card for your character and use it in the next scenario.

There's a lot of rules in Arcadia Quest and reading through the rulebook (I didn't even touch on the spawn tile, how attacks are resolved, the monsters, etc.) and explaining them can be confusing. But the game as a whole is really simple. Once you've played through a couple turns in your first scenario, everyone should get a good feeling for how the game progresses. The best part about it is that you actually feel a progression as you move from scenario to scenario, get stronger and face stronger foes. The game smartly comes with a pad of thick paper for your to keep track of where you are, which characters you're playing with and their equipment so you can keep playing night after night and not have to worry about remembering characters, etc. Just like equipment that's based around your level, each monster you face also has a specific card for a level range--so they level up, just as your heroes do. It's a well thought-out system and it plays really well. Even my friends who are not big into this type of game usually enjoyed it and felt pulled in. Turns go by quickly, so no one is sitting there waiting very long.

The best and worst thing about the game is that each scenario is relatively quick...which means you will spend a lot of time setting up and then tearing down/setting up the next scenario. The Campaign Book comes with the eleven scenarios and maps out how you build the board, where you place the monsters, etc. It's time consuming. This is by far the only real complaint I have about the game. The boards are gorgeous, the cards are awesome-looking. It definitely feels high quality. The best part are the miniatures. They are delightful and full of life. I started getting into miniature painting with this game and these are some fantastic miniatures. Probably some of the best I've seen. Miniature painters will have a great time with them.

I absolutely love this game and could keep gushing about it. It's fun, fresh and long-lasting. There's so many small details that Cool Mini Or Not just absolutely nails with Arcadia Quest. As part of the Kickstarter, I also received the first expansion Beyond the Grave and it is also awesome. The miniatures in that are even better than the ones in the core game. Hopefully that becomes available for the general public soon, too. I would definitely recommend this to most gaming groups, particularly for fans of fantasy games and those who don't mind backstabbing their friends.
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Stone Cove Island
Stone Cove Island
by Suzanne Myers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.21
99 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Good for the target audience, December 16, 2014
This review is from: Stone Cove Island (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Stone Cove Island is about a 17 year old girl named Eliza. A brutal storm tore through town and left it in disarray. Eliza joins a volunteer crew to help with the cleanup. She starts cleaning the lighthouse, comes across an old letter and before you can say MacGuffin, Eliza's on her way to solve The Mystery of the Dead Bess Linsky. Naturally, the townspeople don't want to discuss it. She's warned against digging into it. But Eliza, our steeled-willed protagonist, won't back down. Especially with the help of Ben, a recent high school graduate who's heading to college.

In some ways, Stone Cove Island is your typical young adult novel. Characters overreact. The flow of the novel is sometimes disjointed. The mystery at the heart of it won't pass the muster for those who've read their share of mysteries and thrillers. There's the requisite romance. Teen drama. You know the drill. But, yet, I was entertained throughout most of it. And I'm definitely not the demographic. What I enjoyed the most was that Eliza was a strong character and the romance wasn't the entire point of her existence. I also liked that the book touched more on the thriller aspect and the horror feeling than most popular young adult books right now (dystopias are the in thing, obviously). So, it's a good book. It read well and fast. If you're new to this genre and a teen, add one star.


Nutri Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-iQ (BL641)
Nutri Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-iQ (BL641)
Offered by pawnworld
Price: $203.00
6 used & new from $200.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised me, December 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have never used one of these types of blenders. They always seem like one of those "As Seen On TV!" specials that aren't really that special. But I figured, given the opportunity to try one, what the heck. I couldn't be more surprised. The Auto IQ comes with a 72 ounce pitcher that has blades at varying levels, so get a more consistent blend. Most blenders operate on wave technology, where the blender on the bottom pulls the ingredients down. This can lead to inconsistent blending. I've found that this particular pitcher's blending dices things up perfectly. It's very nice. But it also comes with "to go cups," in three sizes: 18, 24 and 32 oz. They also come with sippy lids. I found this to be a fun and welcome surprise. Blend the drink and then go on with your day. Unlike the pitchers, these come with the traditional blender on the bottom.

The bigger feature with this, is the Auto IQ technology. The base has buttons that will blend for specific things, like smoothies, food puree, as well as more standards like low, medium and high.

I'm going to be completely honest. I'm not going to use this to make healthy smoothies, like most people will. I will most likely use this to make margaritas and other frozen drinks. I have the Margaritaville models and they make perfect margaritas. I am more partial to the way those machines shave the ice, blend the ingredients and then mix them all. But next to the shaved ice perfection of those machines, this blender makes the second best home margarita I've had. The fact that it has so many more uses is also a plus.

I'd recommend checking this one out, if you're in the market for an expensive blender. It has a lot of options and I really like the to go cup aspect of it. It also comes with a recipe book with around 200 recipes. So that was also a nice surprise.


The Girl on the Train: A Novel
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.17
153 used & new from $12.88

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An above average debut, December 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Girl on the Train brings to mind the great Hitchcock story of Rear Windows. I think in some ways, The Girl on the Train is a perfect story for our time. With the advent of vlogs and the popularity of watching YouTubers, where the viewer feels like he/she gets to know the people they are voyeuristically watching, the themes explored in this novel seem perfect. Rachel takes every day to and back from London, watching the world move by. She's an interesting character, with a tragic past. Her current life is pretty much in the dumps. For example, on Mondays, she'll hide alcohol in a bag on the train because it's less acceptable than drinking on a Friday. Every day, she drives by the house of Scott and Megan, two individuals that Rachel does not know. But she's developed a fanciful idea of their relationship, naming them Jason and Jessie. As Rachel watches their relationship unfold in front of her, she decides they are the epitome of the Golden Couple. To Rachel, their interactions seem like the life she had when she lived about four houses down from them, with her ex, Tom.

The Rachel from that period of time seems markedly different from how she is now. She suffers from blackouts from alcohol. She's been living with a not-friend from college who had a spare room. Her life has seemingly fallen apart and she doesn't seem to care about any of it. She isn't bothered when the train takes longer to get home because, why should she? What has she got to look forward to? She only seems to care about this golden couple she sees every day, on her ride home. When we're first introduced to Rachel, she's making up a convoluted story about a pair of clothes seen on the side of the train tracks. And we see that she makes fanciful stories to, presumably, take her mind off her own sad state. Life intrudes on Rachel's fanciful delusions of Scott and Megan when she sees Megan kissing someone in the backyard who is not her husband. And then, of course, Megan disappears, and Rachel, in a blackout drunk episode, was seen in the neighbourhood. Then Rachel manages to force her way into the investigation.

The Girl on the Train is told from three different perspectives and timeframes. Author Paula Hawkins expertly weaves together the three women narrators expertly, adding complication upon complication. What seems like a standard case has wrinkles; mostly because all three narrators are completely unreliable for different reasons. As the seemingly simple story continues, twists and turns drew me in and kept me guessing as to what was really going on. It's not the most complex thriller and I did figure out what happened way before it finished, but the twists were genuinely intriguing and kept me second-guessing myself. This is probably the best voyeuristic thriller I've seen since Rear Window and I would definitely recommend giving it a chance.


Wahl 9787 KM5 Professional 2 Speed Corded Clipper Kit, by Wahl Professional Animal
Wahl 9787 KM5 Professional 2 Speed Corded Clipper Kit, by Wahl Professional Animal
Price: $173.07
8 used & new from $168.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great clipper, comparable to Osters, November 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a Maine Coon cat. She has thick fur. She has long fur. She takes a lot of maintenance. She's also incredibly feisty. I have mainly used Oster shavers in the past. I bought the A5 awhile ago and then was offered the A6 last year from this program. I really enjoyed the A6, it worked really well on my cat's fur and, unlike the A5, she wasn't as panicked when I was using it. As other reviewers mentioned, The A6 is probably the closest model you can compare to this Wahl clipper. In some ways, the A6 might seem like the better choice. It has three speeds, while the Wahl has two. The A6 also goes up to a faster strokes per minute, besting the Wahl's 3500 SPM. They also weigh about the same, and the A6 is currently cheaper since it's been out longer.

That said, I still think I would go with the Wahl. As I mentioned above, my Maine Coon is feisty and when I would use the A6 at the highest setting, she wouldn't put up with me clipping very long. But the Wahl, while not going up to the high speeds, is quieter than the A6. It has a lower tone and just seems quieter. It doesn't bother my cat as much. She actually purrs. And even at the lower SPM, it cuts through her thick, sometimes matted hair even better than the A6.

I'm not a professional groomer. I'm not even an experienced one. I just know I don't want to spend tons of money at the groomer constantly, for my kitty's grooming. And this clipper is the best of the three (Oster A5, A6 and this) that I have used. Highly recommended.


The Babadook
The Babadook
DVD
Price: $6.99

136 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baba-ba-dook-dook-dook, November 12, 2014
If it's in a word
Or it's in a look
You can't get rid
Of the Babadook

Grief is such a powerful emotion. It clouds your judgment. It colors the way in which you interact with the world, how you see the people in it and how you deal with everyday living. People deal with grief in completely different ways. It can turn to anger or depression. It can make you overcompensate with giddiness. One thing you don't see very often is horror movies that deal with grief as its central theme. Surprisingly, when it is used, it's often used effectively, as in The Orphanage. Or the Babadook.

Amelia is a single mother, widowed by a car accident that took the life of her husband. Compounding this issue is that the couple were on their way to the hospital to deliver their son, Samuel. The Babadook opens years after that event, just as Samuels is going to turn seven. His birthdate obviously coincides with the husband's death, so pressure surrounds them. Amelia and Samuel deal with this overwhelming grief in completely different ways. Samuel acts out and has become convinced that an evil presence is going to take his mom away from him. He carries makeshift weapons to school and his interactions with others prove that he lacks certain social cues. He's looked at as a weirdo and no one seems to want to be around him. Amelia, burdened by grief and also trying to make ends meet as a single mother, seems depressed. She frequently spends more time sleeping and when she looks at Samuel, you can see the resentment in her eyes. And as the birth/death date starts to come closer, her depression and tension gradually increases.

I haven't even mentioned the titular villain in this movie yet because, like any good horror movie, the story isn't simply about the horrific being. But when a book shows up called Mr. Babadook and depicts horrific events in a pop-up book fashion, Samuel freaks out. More pressure weighs on Amelia. They both become increasingly cognizant that something evil is following them. Mr. Babadook is quite an original creation and when it shows up, it's often freaky and disquieting. Disquieting is actually the best word I can think of to describe this movie. Viewers looking for jump out scares or disturbing violence, etc., probably won't enjoy the more subtle and creeping familial horror here. It's scary and intense at times, but even when it's not trying to scare you, there's a disquieting dread that sits just beneath the surface for the entirety of the film. When I first watched the movie, I didn't particularly care for the resolution. But the more I think about it, the more it seems like the perfect ending to the theme and intent of the movie. One thing the movie does perfectly is the way it presents the story to you. Even as it progresses toward the finale, you doubt whether the events are true or if they're made-up delusions brought on by depression, sleep deprivation and resentment. Fantastic acting, particularly with the weight of the story resting on Essie Davis' (Amelia) shoulders. Grief oftentimes sits below the surface, ready to rear its ugly head when you least expect it. The film examines these powerful emotions and in a way, the Babadook becomes the thematic and visual expression of that emotion. But even as Amelia tries to overcome her grief, you have to remember:

You can't get rid of the Babadook.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 26, 2015 10:16 AM PST


The Army Painter Wargamer Brush - The Psycho
The Army Painter Wargamer Brush - The Psycho
Offered by Art's Game Store
Price: $6.53
14 used & new from $1.54

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic details brush., November 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Can I tell you how awesome this brush is? I recently got into miniature painting, thanks to Kickstarting Arcadia Quest and finding myself surrounded by dozens of unpainted miniatures. Cool Mini Or Not's resident artist had painted a few of them and was posting them in the Kickstarter updates and I was amazed at how they looked. So I decided to try my hand at it. I've learned quite a few things in just the four weeks I've been painting and one of the biggest lessons (outside of using good paints and thinning them) is the importance of the correct brush.

Now that might seem obvious. And it is. But one area I kept falling woefully short in was the details. These miniatures are so small and the parts like the eyes, clean lines and small details require a fine touch and an even finer brush. Most of the brushes I found, even the ones marked "fine details" were too big for me and my clumsiness. You won't find me claiming to be an artist, but I want to try my best. This brush was a life saver. Now, I'm not as worried about eyes or tiny details. The tip is so fine that you can pickup just a small amount of paint and apply it...even if you have unsteady/untrained hands. It's a great learner's brush, too, I've found.

I would definitely recommend this brush for miniature painters who need a finer touch when taking care of fine details. It's probably my favorite of the brushes I own.

Note: I've read some of the reviews stating that the product arrived damaged. Mine did not, but it was ordered along with other items so it was in a box. The actual brush came wrapped in a bag and with one of those brush protectors over the tip.


Dirt Devil SD30060 Jag 3 Multi Bagged Canister with Turbo Floor Tool
Dirt Devil SD30060 Jag 3 Multi Bagged Canister with Turbo Floor Tool
Price: $105.44

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, terrible execution, October 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If a vacuum causes you to constantly pull out the instructions to put the device together, you know there's a problem. In my case, the problem would be the handle part of the vacuum. There was a cat litter spill, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to test it. Took it out of the box and, after looking through the instructions, figured out (sorta) how to put it together. Except that I couldn't figure out how to switch from carpet mode to hard floor. This is important because I really didn't want to get pelted with litter. So, I went back to the instructions. After searching through them, I discovered that all you need to do is push the button to switch--wait...what button? Oh, the button on the handle part of the vacuum. That I seemed to be missing. Dug through the box, found absolutely nothing except a two-in-one hand tool (more on that in a bit). So I'm missing what's arguably the best feature of this little vacuum: the ability to turn off the bristles so I can vacuum my linoleum. Not deterred, I decided to try the attachment tools. I'll be honest, they confused me. They looked like a bristle attachment and an upholstery attachment were trying to...well this is awkward...get it on, rather unsuccessfully. What the heck am I supposed to do with this?

Needless to say, it took me more than I'd like to admit to figure out how the two-sided tool work. It involved a lot of pulling and pushing. It made me a little uncomfortable. The instructions were absolutely no help. They don't even really mention the tool, except for the fact it's supposed to snap to the vacuum (with a piece that, surprise, didn't come with my unit). Finally got the attachments to uncouple and managed to finally get the litter cleaned up. Entire time: ~30 minutes of searching, reading instructions, tearing the box apart to look for the handle, messing around with the attachment tool and screaming in frustration. It then went back in the box and I went back to one of my upright vacuums.

I like the idea and concept behind this vacuum. I thought it would be perfect for my litter box and small cleaning around the kitchen. But, my model at least, was missing the important part that would let me do that, so it's strictly a carpet vacuum right now. The problem is that I can't see this being used for major vacuum carpet jobs and if I can't use it in my kitchen, it just feels useless. Maybe it's because it's a Vine product, but I can't recommend this device to anyone based on my experience with it.


Cash N Guns Second Edition
Cash N Guns Second Edition
Price: $32.05
34 used & new from $30.59

4.0 out of 5 stars A good, fun group game, October 23, 2014
This review is from: Cash N Guns Second Edition (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I remember seeing Wil Wheaton tweeting about Cash N Guns a few months ago and thinking, "ah man, that looks like fun!" Unfortunately, the first edition was sold out and I wasn't aware of a second printing. Normally, my board game interests run the gamut of Last Night on Earth or the recently Kickstarted Arcadia Quest or Shadows over Camelot. But there's something to be said about pick-up-and-play party games. Let's face it, not all of our friends want to hunker down and play through a four hour marathon game of Arkham Horror. For them, we have Sushi Go, Bang! and, now, Cash N Guns.

Cash N Guns is the best part of those heist movies: the crew has gotten away with a massive robbery and everyone is meeting up to disperse the goods. But, like any good heist movie, you're dealing with robbers. Criminals who think that they deserve more money than the rest of youse crooks! The game is played out over eight rounds. You turn over the loot and then everyone picks a card from their hand, either a "bang" or a "click" and finally the bullets start flying. You point your foam gun at whoever you want and the game becomes a bluffing game. Does the person who is pointing their gun at you have a "bang" card? Or is he/she trying to fake you out. The goal is to make it through the rounds with the most money, and to not get shot, obviously.

Cash N Guns is a very simple game. The rules are few and easily understandable. This type of game is really dependent on the group of people playing. I find bluffing games to be fun and laugh-inducing. But if you have a group of people who aren't into the more social games, this might be like pulling teeth. For those old enough, it also can get quite raucous when you introduce alcohol. It also can be played with up to eight people. In fact, I would recommend with this type of game to play with at least five people. I think six hits the sweet spot. I'd really recommend this game for the board game group that sometimes has a lot of players. It's a good game to break the ice or as an intermission between more complex games.


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