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Customer Reviews: 26
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Christopher Meeks RSS Feed (Los Angeles, CA USA)
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LG Electronics 43LF5400 43-Inch 1080p LED TV (2015 Model)
LG Electronics 43LF5400 43-Inch 1080p LED TV (2015 Model)
Offered by Video & Audio Center
Price: Click here to see our price
16 used & new from $299.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High-quality, Easy to Set Up, December 2, 2015
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This is my first LED TV. I had to write this minutes after I installed it. The television that this replaces was a 30" Super Slim LG TV that used a cathode-ray tube. Perhaps because it was an early high-definition TV, I needed to hire a video engineer to make sense of the difficult instructions for high definition. It gave a great picture, but the TV was heavy (two people to carry it) and it probably used a lot of electricity. In contrast, I pulled this out of the box easily, attached the two feet with two screws each, plugged in the cables, and turned it on. The screen asked me if it was HDMI (i.e. high definition), and I pressed the OK button on the remote. A stunningly sharp and beautiful picture came to life.

I was not looking for a "smart" TV, as I have a receiver with multiple ports. I just needed a monitor, which this basically is. I'm impressed how easy this was to set up. Fabulous price.


Raw: A Love Story
Raw: A Love Story
by Mark Haskell Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.00
53 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars One Wild Ride--smart and funny, February 17, 2014
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This review is from: Raw: A Love Story (Paperback)
I don’t write many book reviews because I used to do it for a living. I was driven to write about this one because it’s unique and funny. It’s a fast read with a wonderfully quirky plotline that skewers our culture.

“Raw” focuses on reality star Sepp Gregory, who became known for his washboard abs and his sexploits with Roxy Sandoval on Sex Crib. Smith describes that show as, “Kind of like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, except instead of looking for true love by going on dates and skydiving and horseback riding and taking French cooking lessons until you’re the only man standing, Sex Crib was about hooking up as much as you could.”

Sepp has written a thinly veiled novel called "Totally Reality, which comes off as autobiography while layering in philosophy. Of course, the guy can barely read, and certainly can’t understand philosophy. A Brooklyn novelist going for easy money has ghostwritten the book.

When the book comes out and it’s wildly popular, a minor literary celebrity, a young woman named Harriet Post with a literary blog, sets out to uncover the real writer and blow this book and its publisher out of the water. She feels popular culture has devolved, and someone has to stand up for quality. She’s ashamed serious book critics have liked the book—something is terribly wrong—and they need to know it was ghostwritten.

What Harriet is not prepared for, though, is how well-written the novel is. It’s truthful and clever (like Haskell’s book itself). She’s fallen in love with the ghostwriter, whoever it is.

Sepp hasn’t even read his own book, but he goes on a book tour, including radio and TV shows. Harriet manages to sneak into a book party at the Playboy mansion in L.A., and there she veers from her mission of talking with Sepp and getting him to reveal the ghostwriter by falling for a young man sitting alone in Hef’s library. What she doesn’t know is that this guy is the very ghostwriter she’s after. When she’s just about to learn who he is, crazy things happen. The story zooms off in unexpected ways.

When I’m strongly recommended a book these days, I usually download a free sample onto my Kindle. In that way, if I don’t like it, it doesn’t take up space nor have I spent money. One of my own novel’s readers recommended Smith’s books, saying we have similar sensibilities. I downloaded a sample of Smith’s novel "Baked," which is about a pothead botanist who has perfected a strain of marijuana that’s so good, it wins the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. After he wins, someone steals all his plants back in Los Angeles, and the police, of course, can’t be called on to help. Thus, he becomes his own detective and crosses paths with bad guys.

When the free sample of "Baked" ended at Chapter Five, I had to find out the rest, and I ordered the book. I found it hilarious, Vonnegutesque without the science fiction, and I read his other novels, "Salty," "Delicious," and "Moist." "Raw" is as delightful as his others. He manages to make each book distinct, yet the humor and cultural observations are fabulous. I hope you try one of his books.


The Piper
The Piper
by Lynn S. Hightower
Edition: MP3 CD
Price: $29.99
11 used & new from $18.28

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Audio Version an Incredible Treat, August 3, 2013
This review is from: The Piper (MP3 CD)
I just finished "The Piper" by Lynn Hightower, which simply blew me away. I've known Hightower as a Shamus-Award-winning mystery writer, so I didn't look into what I was buying at all. I started the Audible book, and was quickly introduced to Olivia James, a pragmatic Southern woman living in Los Angeles. She receives a strange phone call from her brother who assures her everything is all right, that he "has paid the piper." The thing is, her brother has been dead for nine weeks.

I don't buy scary horror stories like this or those by Stephen King. Truth is, I get scared. When I was a kid, I saw a movie called "Thirteen Ghosts," and it haunted me for weeks. Best leave that stuff alone.

Still, I felt compelled to go on with "The Piper." Olivia has lost her job, gone through a divorce, and is about to move back to her childhood home in Tennessee with her eight-year-old daughter. Olivia has inherited the house from her brother.

For me, alarms immediately sounded. Don't go into that house where your brother died! Olivia, though, is a Southern steel magnolia, an agnostic of the paranormal. There has to be logical reasons behind the weird stuff that starts happening.

I listened in the car, as I walked the dogs, as I worked out, and even as I lay in the dark in bed just when I really shouldn't be listening. I had to find out what happened. The reader, Xe Sands, voices each character, male and female, masterfully. The experience is akin to a listening to a great story around a campfire. Things in the story get worse and worse, yet you have to know what happens next. There isn't a wasted sentence. Olivia James is a strong character in an overwhelming situation.

The story goes to amazing places--and it is truly frightening. I don't think I can read another like this for a while. Yet I'm deeply satisfied. Now my only worry is can I find another audio book as great as this one?


CocoBee Illustrated Periodic Table Poster
CocoBee Illustrated Periodic Table Poster
Offered by PosterRevolution
Price: $21.96
6 used & new from $21.96

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Memory Tool -- And a Fun Chart, June 5, 2013
As a former chemistry major who took a turn into the arts (I'm a novelist now), I received this as a gift and love it. The standard periodic table of elements, which any good chemistry text book shows, was created to show the relationship of all the different pure substances on earth. It's a list of gases, liquids, and solids in their elemental form--things such as oxygen, gold, aluminum, and lead. A physicist once explained it to me as, "The stuff we call 'our world' can be reduced to 98 naturally occurring elements. Your camera, your car, your kitchen table are all a mixture of some of these things. The entire universe can be reduced to these 98 things. It's simple! It's amazing!"

All in all, any periodic table is arranged in rows and offers the chemist or chemistry student a sense of similarity and differences between the elements. This Cartoon Chart of the Elements by animator Zak Zych includes a cartoon icon for each element to make the elements more memorable. For example, element 31, Gallium, is represented by a galley ship. Element 46, Palladium, is a lady bug ("laid" in the middle is the mnemonic"). Element 74, Tungsten, is a giant tongue. For students whose teachers require them to memorize things, this would be invaluable. It also makes for a unique art piece for a wall.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great memory tool--and just a fun chart, April 5, 2013
As a former chemistry major who took a turn into the arts (I'm a novelist now), I received this as a gift and love it. The standard periodic table of elements, which any good chemistry text book shows, was created to show the relationship of all the different pure substances on earth. It's a list gases, liquids, and solids in their elemental form--things such as oxygen, gold, aluminum, and lead. A physicist once explained it to me as, "The stuff we call 'our world' can be reduced to 98 naturally occurring elements. Your camera, your car, your kitchen table are all a mixture of some of these things. The entire universe can be reduced to these 98 things. It's simple! It's amazing!"

Each element has a specific number of protons. Hydrogen has one proton. Helium has two. Uranium has 92. If you add a new proton, you get a new element. For every proton is a matching electron. Protons are positive, electrons negative. Thus we have different atoms with proton-electron pairs. The center of atoms, the nucleus, is where the protons are, and the electrons whirl around the nucleus like moons. The nucleus may also have neutrons, which have no electrical charge, and they are simply quiet cousin particles along for the ride. Neutrons add weight to an atom.

All in all, any periodic table is arranged in rows and offers the chemist or chemistry student a sense of similarity and differences between the elements. This Cartoon Chart of the Elements by animator Zak Zych includes a cartoon icon for each element to make the elements more memorable. For example, element 31, Gallium, is represented by a galley ship. Element 46, Palladium, is a lady bug ("lad" in the middle is the mnemonic"). Element 74, Tungsten, is a giant tongue. For students whose teachers require them to memorize things, this would be invaluable. It also makes for a unique art piece for a wall.


Baked: A Novel
Baked: A Novel
Price: $8.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Deft Marriage of Mystery, Romance, and Marijuana, October 18, 2010
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This review is from: Baked: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I'm new to Kindle, so when I got it just over a week ago, I was ready to buy buy buy. When I saw the "get a sample" button, I decided to get many samples instead. I downloaded samples of Sara Gruen's "Ape House" and Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom", which I still have to try. That's because a friend suggested Mark Haskell Smith's "Baked," and I became swept up with that. She said he has a similar style to my own novel "The Brightest Moon of the Century."

I'll disagree with her. While perhaps a comic sensibility may be at work in our novels, Smith's book is different. I swept through the sample quickly and had to buy the whole thing. In a weekend when I had so much to do, I read "Baked." The novel is a deft marriage of mystery, romance, and marijuana.

In "Baked," a young man named Miro never had a particular talent or drive until he discovers he was great at botany, particularly in improving marijuana. His hero is Floyd Zaiger, the man who invented the pluot, which is a cross between a plum and an apricot. Miro has created a strain of pot that is rich in THC, yet is mellow to smoke and has a taste of mango. Miro enters his strain in Amsterdam's Cannibis Cup--and wins.

The story takes off in another direction when Miro returns to California. He expects his strain to be popular at the cannibis clubs, the outlets for medical marijuana--but he's shot, left for dead, and all his seeds and plants stolen. When he recovers, he needs to find out who did this to him, yet he's up against criminal experts.

Unknown to him is that back in Amsterdam, the beautiful Portugese scientist he met and slept with is pregnant. She's trying to find him, and as he's recovering from his shooting, he realizes how his time with her had been special--no one like her ever.

Why this book hit me now, I don't know. I like books that are funny yet are about real people. This isn't jokey but more like what you'd get if you crossed Nick Hornby with Jimmy Buffet. Plus the mystery part rockets you along. The first sentence of the book is, "One bullet can really f*** up your day."

I will say that there's a disturbing rape scene where the tables turn and where I was rooting for the woman. Yet it's graphic, so be warned.

Smith's style is fabulous. I now will move onto his "Salty."


Silence of the Lambs
Silence of the Lambs
by Thomas Harris
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from $0.23

5.0 out of 5 stars As great as the movie, May 4, 2010
This review is from: Silence of the Lambs (Hardcover)
I resisted reading the book because I was such a fan of the film. The book is fabulous, even lyrical at times. The psychology in it is masterful, and there's an ongoing dialectical dialogue on the meaning of evil. In this day-and-age, we're willing to look at what made an individual do what he did--bad childhoods or hate-crime-loving fathers, for instance. Harris doesn't come up with an answer, but the question is certainly interesting.


Classic Myths (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press)
Classic Myths (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press)
by Mary Catherine Judd
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.99
12 used & new from $5.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not the Book to Inspire a Love of Myth, May 4, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I assigned this book to my children's literature class when my previous book of myths fell out of print. On Amazon, Judd's "Classic Myths" looked like a good replacement. It isn't. Reprinted from a 1901 textbook, it's replete with problems. While there are many Greek and Roman myths in this volume, some of them are mislabeled. For instance, the story, "How the Horses of the Sun Ran Away," is labeled Greek, but the gods in the story, such as Jupiter and Diana, are Roman. In Greek, they are Zeus and Artemis.

Many of these myths are so watered down that the stories are mere echoes of what they were. For instance, in the story "Diana, Queen of the Moon" (again labeled Greek when it's using Roman names), the better known version of the story has Diana turn a Theban prince into a stag for spying on her while she's bathing. In this book's version, a female narrator has dialogue with modern-day kids about stories she knows, including one about Diana. She tells of a hapless hunter who sees a woman run into a cave. He goes to look and is turned into a stag. Such changes are irritating when one knows the better versions.

So much about this book, too, is mediocre on a book design level. Paragraphs do not have indentations but are blocks with extra space after each paragraph. Because right justification is used without hyphenation, some lines have big chunks of extra space between words. Highly disappointing are the illustrations that look merely scanned and enlarged so that pixilation is apparent. Many illustrations are simply crude looking.

Some of my students when they were younger loved myths and they know them well, so they can't understand why this book exists. I wonder, too.


Laffit: Anatomy of a Winner
Laffit: Anatomy of a Winner
by Madelyn Cain
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from $3.36

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of a Great Biography, November 1, 2009
I was given this book. The last biography I read was probably in junior high when I read about George Westinghouse who convinced Americans to go with alternating current instead of Thomas Edison's insistence on direct current. (It was a good book--don't know why I haven't read more bios.) I also have only gone to the race track twice in my life. The horses are beautiful but the racing didn't excite me. Thus, it was with great surprise that I became so caught up with "Laffit." Not only did it take Laffit Pincay Jr. to live an interesting life, but it took author Madelyn Cain to sort through it and select the right dramatic moments. The writing is so smooth, I wasn't even thinking about the words--just caught up in the unraveling of a life where Willy Shoemaker was such an icon and master, it seemed no one could do better. "Laffit" is much a story about the mindset it takes to be successful. Clearly, so much about winning is in the head. Business people should be reading this book. There's love and heartbreak here, too. His wife, Linda... well, you'll just have to read the book.


The Things They Carried
The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
937 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is a Touchstone, September 6, 2008
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With nearly 700 reviews already, this book is not a touchstone for me alone. I'm a few years younger than Mr. O'Brien, am also from Minnesota, and participated in the last year of the draft. I remember sitting in a dormroom my freshman year with many other young men watching the draft lottery on TV. Three-hundred-and-sixty-six ping-pong balls bounced in a cage, one ball for every birthday of the year. The order they were removed was the order of the draft. At the ninth ball, someone groaned dejectedly. My birthday was two hundred and something--not likely to be called ever, let alone go to Vietnam.

I've explained this because when I first read "The Things They Carried," it was more out of an interest of how my life might have happened if my ball had come up number 9. Like O'Brien's character in the book, I would have not been brave enough not to go as asked. I would not have fled to Canada.

This book far surpassed my interest in the road not taken, one I'm glad I did not tread on. As a fiction writer, too, I've come to feel the many truths in this book that talk about what stories do for us. Fiction can reveal deeper truths than most autobiographies. We need stories, and sometimes I reread parts of this book when I need these particular short stories. One becomes part of every cell of this book. It's as if O'Brien created a warm bath and then opened his veins. While there's death in this book, it's all about life, our perceptions, and our needs.
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