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Howard Leight MAX1 Earplugs Uncorded NRR33 Box/200 Count
Howard Leight MAX1 Earplugs Uncorded NRR33 Box/200 Count
Price: $19.75
34 used & new from $18.50

5.0 out of 5 stars The best foam earplugs on the market, end of story, October 10, 2013
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Who reviews earplugs? Ask yourself that. Well, several hundred people, in the case of these earplugs. Why? Because these little foam bastards are so much more *^&^#@#! quiet than all the other earplugs in the market that once you use them, you will never use anything else. To me they feel somewhere between 50% and twice as quiet as the average foam earplug. It is night and day.

If you do anything that makes noise--shooting, using power tools, driving with the windows down...or maybe you are less in love with that straight pipe you put on your truck than you were last year--just buy the whole big box of these and stick them in your car, truck, tool bag, chainsaw case, etc. Buy the big box and forget about it.

Only caveat--after about 4 or 5 years of storage these things definitely don't expand as well. I just tossed the last of an old box I had because weren't blocking sound as well as brand new ones.

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present
From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present
by Jacques Barzun
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.91
273 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bible, October 10, 2013
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I'm not going to wax on too long here because everything about this book has been said already. But this is THE book to get on the last 500 years of western thought. Brilliantly explained, brilliantly contextualized. But not simplified--this is not a pop-theory Malcolm Gladwell type "lite" work. It is big and it is just about as dense as the average college educated person can handle. I tried reading it on an airplane a few times, it's a bit complex for that, but's the only "big" history book I know of which manages to be both digestible and substantial (in terms of density of thought/ideas) at the same time.

Spyderco Medium Benchstone with Box, 2 X 8 -Inch
Spyderco Medium Benchstone with Box, 2 X 8 -Inch
Price: $41.09
42 used & new from $38.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this immediately, October 10, 2013
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I always use a bench stone to sharpen my knives. Not on purpose--in fact I have tried every new fangled doohicky out there, lansky, the spyderco sharp mate, diamond impregnated xyz, and I always go back to my norton bench stone.

Always, like everytime. Why? Because a 2x8" flat stone has so much more surface area than all those new fangled creations that you can set a completely dull/ruined edge in a matter of a minute or two and sharpen a dulled but workable edge to razor sharp in about 20 seconds. Both my lansky and spyderco sharpmaker take 5-10x longer and require more hand effort. I never, ever use them and have been meaning to give them away.

Anyway, I said I always went back to my norton bench stone. NOT ANYMORE! Holy !**@&&# this thing is amazing. I used it once and literally just went and put my faithful norton stone away in the garage. This spyderco stone is 10x easier to clean, it cuts and takes metal like crazy, you lube it with soapy dishwater instead of oil (ie this thing actually cleans your countertop while you use it, instead of spreading cutting oil everywhere).

How you use it--It basically sits in the plastic metal box it comes in, you splash some soapy water over the stone and into the plastic box, sharpen sharpen until the stone stops cutting, then BAM flip the stone (now lubed by the bath of soapy water its been sitting in) and finish your edge. This stone took a ruined 4" 154cm blade pocketknife I'd been cutting WIRE and cardboard with and digging with (roots etc in garden) and made it razor sharp without having the clean the stone until I was done (I did have to flip the stone and that amount of sharpening clogged both sides).

Basically the first stroke you take with this will feel amazing--it cuts very aggressively but leaves an unusually smooth surface for how aggressively it cuts. For me this is all I need for work, hunting, and cooking knives. Leaves an edge which will cut arm hair easily with moderate pressure, though not POP the hair. To pop hair you'll need the finer stone. But for 99% of knives you'll never need an edge that fine.

Did I mention I love this thing? It's a game changer.

The Death of Artemio Cruz: A Novel (FSG Classics)
The Death of Artemio Cruz: A Novel (FSG Classics)
by Carlos Fuentes
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.87
113 used & new from $1.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, October 10, 2013
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A short, quick read that reads strongly like a modern Edgar Allen Poe, if maybe a bit deeper. If you're looking for Faulkner, ie beautiful sentences you'll read over and over, this is probably not the book for you. But it's one of those works that basically fulfills its promises--it's a page turner at first about an erie kind of love, which then turns into...(no spoilers)

As I said, definitely echoes of Poe, and something of a page turner, but imagine that Poe had gone a little deeper, and wrote thoughtful and somewhat existential commentaries on life, death, and the nature of love.

The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man
The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man
by Brett McKay
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.16
85 used & new from $8.30

21 of 62 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Cowardice, December 27, 2012
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The person you wish wrote this book is your grandpa, a famous civil rights lawyer who could gut a deer and rebuild an engine. He stormed Normandy Beach, gave you your sip of whiskey and made you feel like a grown man even when you were a punk teenager.

The guy who actually wrote this book might or might not live in Williamsburg, but you would swear he did. He hangs out in coffee shops, carries a man purse, and wears a baby Bjorne in public. He is sweet but completely neutered half-man whose wife makes jokes about him having a vagina. Also, his wife helped him write it.

Now, I have better ways to spend my time than to saying negative things about some idiotic book. But this one actually offended me. Why? Let's parse this out. One: I am a pretty manly dude myself. I am like your grandpa except I am not old. I hunt most of my food, can fix anything that breaks on earth and I voted for Obama twice even though he is going to take away my guns. And hey, I thought I'd come across the words of a fellow traveler.

Why I am offended by this book, part two: I bought it for my brother for Christmas (he is a classical music composer, ie less manly). Unfortunately, because I buy all my Christmas presents the night before Christmas, there was no time to read it. The result was an actual Mayan apocalypse of humiliation.

My brother, skimming at random: "This book says that a proper bachelor party never involves strippers. It also says that a man should never curse. And there are TWO PAGES devoted to arranging a bouquet of flowers."

It went on like that. The overall tone of the book is somewhere between preacher/sunday school teacher and your most obnoxious PC friend from college (before she married that guy from Goldman).

The rest is just filler from men's magazines, such as the section on: "Stop hanging around girls and start dating them?" WTF? I don't even know what that means and I still didn't after reading the section twice.

And there is an enormous amount of stuff cribbed from those bathroom-reader worst case survival handbooks--how to take the controls of a small plane, etc. How to fight in this stupid obscure martial arts form that is not taught anywhere--no mention of the four or five martial arts you can actually learn in most places in America and why you should consider one vs the other.

And nothing remotely systematized, nothing like: Okay sport, this is what you actually do if you get lost in the woods on your dayhike and it's snowing and neither you nor your girlfriend have a coat. This is how you diagnose what's wrong with your car and this is how the parts work. This is how you survive the week after the hurricane when you have no power and water.

Bottom line: if you are a gender-neutral guy who lives in Williamsburg you will find this book inoffensive but boring, except when its odd conservatism reminds you of Sunday School (don't curse, seriously?) Also, flower arranging? (I am stuck on that one.) But it's basically a waste of time. What else you should read, I am not sure.

As for all these five star reviews, impossible. Absolutely impossible. I suspect that most of them are fake, written by visitors/fans of the Art of Manliness website.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2014 11:49 PM EDT

The Yellow Birds: A Novel
The Yellow Birds: A Novel
by Kevin Powers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.74
333 used & new from $0.01

33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The next entry to the canon of American War Literature, September 6, 2012
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Bought this because of the review in the Guardian. Decided anything getting compared to All Quiet on the Western Front and The Red Badge of Courage deserved a shot. And that is squarely where this book belongs. To that list I'd add The Things We Carried, also by a combat veteran. It's a real story of men in combat and the toll it takes on them, both during and afterward. This is one of those books that has a million different lines that will have you thinking about things in a different way, like this one after a friend of the narrator is killed:

"I'd been trained to think war was the great unifier, that it brought people closer together than any other activity on earth. Bullshit. War is the great maker of solipsists: how are you going to save my life today?"

As far as the plot, it is about one man trying to keep his friend alive (as his friend begins to crack up) during a tour of duty in Iraq; interspersed with his attempts, after the war, to understand a terrible crime he ends up committing.

The author was a machinegunner in a Iraq; whether this book is his way of processing his experiences or not, it is a thoughtful and philosophical work. If you are looking for a Tom Clancy book, or Seal Team Six book--something that depicts men in combat as fearless machines--this is not the right book for you. There is violence, but it is real, not cartoonish; the people killing and dying come across as real people. Like All Quiet on the Western Front, it is more about how real people actually respond to these situations than how some action-hero would.

Which is a long way of saying this is literature, rather than entertainment. There are no political ramblings, no saying that America is better (or worse) than its enemies; it is about people and how they react to being at war. There is no question this thing is going to take its place in the list of serious books about war and, more generally, the human condition. It's short but it will stay in your head a long time.

To the End of the Land
To the End of the Land
by David Grossman
Edition: Hardcover
142 used & new from $0.01

12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the book that is going to get Grossman the Nobel Prize, October 11, 2010
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This review is from: To the End of the Land (Hardcover)
If you are looking for a thriller, or a sort of fast-paced literary/genre fiction type hybrid, stop right here. This book is definitely not for you. What this book is is a dense, deeply literary novel that accurately, acutely, and compassionately describes a real human being whose son has just gone off to war. Think Faulkner or the better parts of Virginia Woolf, Joyce, etc. It's that sort of density, not like David Foster Wallace or Pynchon whose books are dense but mostly without substance.

Anyway, as far as the big comparisons go, Grossman is far, far more controlled and less self-indulgent than Joyce, et al, but still, this is the level on which he is working--this is world literature, the sort of book that will outlast its author and most of its early readers.

It is pretty obvious, and understandable, why it got some negative reviews. There are not many works of real art that appeal to everyone right away. At least on some level, they are unlike anything that has quite existed before. They have to make a space for themselves, they don't always feel comfortable. But this is a real work of art, the sort of book your children will end up reading in college. It is, on every level, "true."

As I mentioned in the title of the review, I think this is the book that will get Grossman way out onto the world stage, and quite frankly, the Nobel. I've never read any of his other work, but this book absolutely blew me away. It gives me hope for literature--it is truly a "Great Book." One final note--calling it an anti-war book seems to imply it's got a strong political undertone--it doesn't, or not really. It's more an anti-war book along the lines of All Quiet On the Western Front--you (obviously) get the sense of the human cost of war, but you never get the sense you are being lectured to.

Motherless Brooklyn
Motherless Brooklyn
by Jonathan Lethem
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.51
543 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Possibly Lethem's best book, December 7, 2009
This review is from: Motherless Brooklyn (Paperback)
An extremely good book--does a deft job of walking the line between literary and genre fiction. Enough plot to keep you turning pages, but not so much you don't enjoy the pages as you read them. Memorable and likeable characters. IHMO, his best book.

Most of the books Lethem wrote after this are more along the lines of the "Big Postmodernists"--rambling social commentary that (a cynical person might say) can be overheard in any coffee shop or undergraduate study lounge. Basically, the kind of books certain readers love because of all the obscure insider pop culture references.

If you love those sorts of books, head for Fortress of Solitude. Otherwise, read this one. It's well-crafted, enjoyable to read, and worth your time.

Out Stealing Horses: A Novel
Out Stealing Horses: A Novel
by Per Petterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.75
779 used & new from $0.01

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great book, March 12, 2009
This is a brilliant book. 4 1/2 stars might be more accurate, but hey, I'll give it 5.

This is definitely literature, as opposed to just good fiction. Once in a while you can feel a fairly heavy Hemingway influence in the prose and cadence, which of course might be the translation as well. An aging man looks back at his life, and the reasons he's become the way he is. Some terrible things happened in his childhood, around the Nazi occupation of Norway. Fifty years later, he is still reflecting on them. Basically a compelling coming of age narrative, part slow burn and part fast-paced WW2 story. As an American, it's about the war in the parts of Europe we don't see in the movies--Norway and Sweden.

After this I read one of his earlier books, To Siberia, which was a bit less polished and less "full" feeling. You can tell he's still warming up a bit as a writer. This is the one to read. He's a major writer.

The Artful Eater: A Gourmet Investigates the Ingredients of Great Food
The Artful Eater: A Gourmet Investigates the Ingredients of Great Food
by Edward Behr
Edition: Paperback
35 used & new from $0.01

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing book, November 10, 2005
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The best book on food, eating, etc, I have ever read. There are 18 chapters on 18 different subjects, ranging from tomatoes to ham to coffee to salmon. Each one gives a concise history of the subject, how it came to its modern form, what the best types are and how to order them (or grow them yourself and order the seeds, as appropriate), what the flavor components are, etc. For even a half-hearted gardener, just the chapter on tomatoes is worth the price of the book. This is a book that a foodie will deeply appreciate and re-read often, but even folks who don't take their food that seriously will like it, too.

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