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Profile for Robert VerBruggen > Reviews


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Hamilton Beach Carafe with Black Handle and Lid (1, A)
Hamilton Beach Carafe with Black Handle and Lid (1, A)
Offered by Buy-it-now-store
Price: $21.93
2 used & new from $21.93

3.0 out of 5 stars Bottom Line ..., May 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
1. Does not seem to actually be a Hamilton Beach product, so the name on Amazon is misleading.

2. Works to replace a broken carafe and is easier to find than the real replacements.

3. Pours better than the real thing.

4. The lid doesn't stay connected well. Mine has already come off a few times, but fortunately it hasn't actually broken.

LittleBigPlanet - PlayStation Vita
LittleBigPlanet - PlayStation Vita
Price: $14.99
152 used & new from $8.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sold with expired online code [UPDATE], January 2, 2015
UPDATE II: I saw some reviews here saying the codes were working, so I got in touch with Sony -- and it turned out my code was un-expired! I'm glad, but this has still been a ridiculous ordeal. I can't believe they didn't get in touch with people who'd complained about expired codes when they decided to un-expire them.

ORIGINAL REVIEW: I had fun with the brief story mode, but when I went to try the user-made levels, the included code would not work. When I got in touch with Sony support I was informed the code is "expired." (No expiration date is mentioned on the card.) I received this as a Christmas gift and my parents bought it from Amazon not long before that, so this means games with expired codes are being sold.

Now I need to get the receipt and send them a scan of it -- in addition to a scan of the voucher, which they've already confirmed is legitimate and unused, just expired -- to get a new code. I understand why game companies require codes, so they're not providing extensive online services for people who bought the game used, but this is just completely ridiculous.

UPDATE: Just heard back from Sony. They are refusing to provide a new code. Now I'm furious. Negative ten stars!

Battic Door Whole House Attic Ceiling Fan Shutter Seal Cover, Fits up to 36" X 48" Attic Fan Shutters
Battic Door Whole House Attic Ceiling Fan Shutter Seal Cover, Fits up to 36" X 48" Attic Fan Shutters
Offered by Battic Door Energy Conservation Products
Price: $39.99
2 used & new from $39.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Works, October 19, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a basic do-it-yourself project, and I got mine installed without too much trouble. You have to put velcro tape along the border of the fan, press the cover against it, and then cut the cover to fit.

There are some issues with it, though. My fan is above the stairs, so it was a little difficult to get the tape on straight and to press the cover against it evenly. The end result is a little ugly, though the kit includes some white electrical tape you can use to cover up the sides (which are not white). When air moves through my attic vents, it makes the cover move in and out like it's breathing, and the velcro makes noise. Also, I'm no expert, but I'm not sure a radiant barrier facing the fan is the best way to keep heat in your house (though this is undoubtedly far superior to bare slats).

Overall, I wish I'd just bought some insulation, brought it into the attic, and packed it into the fan for the winter. (Why didn't I think of that before?) I'm not sure this was worth the cost, installing this cover isn't much easier than going into the attic, and insulating from the attic side would have looked a lot better. But the product does work as advertised.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2016 11:38 AM PDT

Price: $10.99
159 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but sounds too much like their last one, September 17, 2006
This review is from: Amputechture (Audio CD)
I've finally digested Amputechture, and I must say, it's pretty good. The band has trimmed out most of the extended computer gobbledygook that made Frances the Mute and De-Loused in the Comatorium drag at points. The album is still 76 minutes long, so that means fans get more actual Mars Volta music for their money than they ever have before.

However, the downside is that the overall atmosphere sounds a whole lot like Frances the Mute. The guitar tones are all the same, and the same extra instruments pop up -- horns, etc. The songs are there (one standout is Asilos Magdalena, an acoustic ballad sung in Spanish), so it's excusable this time, but the next record will need to show more development to keep fans' attention.

Mars Volta is known for sounding like no other band, combining rock, jazz, funk, psychedelia and folk. But that doesn't preclude redundancy -- once someone remarked of the Offspring that "they sound like no one else, but every Offspring song sounds exactly the same." I'd hate to see that happen to the most groundbreaking band of the last decade or so.

Stadium Arcadium (2CD)
Stadium Arcadium (2CD)
Price: $11.88
160 used & new from $0.34

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits the Mark, May 23, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Stadium Arcadium (2CD) (Audio CD)
Double albums are tricky business. Sometimes they're over-conceptualized - though excellent musically, Pink Floyd's The Wall tries to stick to a common theme and doesn't always succeed. And sometimes they're weighed down with filler - The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness has way too much top-notch material for one CD but not quite enough for two.

Yet the Red Hot Chili Peppers' new Stadium Arcadium walks the line well. Dividing their material into "Jupiter" and "Mars" discs (which seems to mean nothing in terms of stylistic differences), singer Anthony Kiedis, guitarist John Frusciante and rhythm section Flea and Chad Smith deliver two full hours of carefree pop-rock bliss.

Several of the tracks, including "Charlie," "Hump de Bump," "Tell me Baby" and "Readymade," bring back the harder-edged funk-rap sound of BloodSugarSexMagik. Interestingly, the aggressive verses tend to lead into melodic choruses, giving these songs more variety than traditional funk tunes have.

Other compositions, like first single "Dani California," uber-standout track "Especially in Michigan" and soothing ballad "If," continue Californication and By the Way's excursion into Beatles-influenced upbeat melody. Though these songs occasionally lack the negative energy that popped up from time to time on older material (no one dies on a mountain, gets his throat slit or cuts his wrists "Under the Bridge" on Stadium Arcadium), the lyrics keep away from cheesy territory.

Amazingly, listeners won't be inclined to skip a single track, making Stadium Arcadium one of the most consistent two-CD sets in history. But that's not to say it's perfect.

For one, there are a lot of laid back, melodic songs, each with its own melody and guitar riffs. Unfortunately, because the record is so long and leans so heavily in this direction, many of the tracks sound alike for the first few listens. Fans could avoid this pitfall by only listening to one CD until it becomes familiar.

Also, though many of the lyrics are insightful or at least comprehensible, oftentimes they're little more than gibberish. In "Charlie," for example, Kiedis belts out, "Everybody do the twist / Get the message on Flea's fist / Move around like a scientist / Lay down, get kissed."

Then, in "Storm in a Teacup," there's "You try to be a lady / But you're walkin' like a sour kraut [sic]." Google informs us "kraut" can be a derogatory term for a German person, but maybe it's a typo and Kiedis really is accusing a woman of moving like cabbage.

While a bit much to handle at once, the 28 songs on Stadium Arcadium are catchy, well written and worth repeated listens. They continue a trend: Since the 1999 comeback Californication, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have pleasantly surprised listeners with each release. At this rate, they'll soon be worthy of the "classic rock" moniker.

Rebel Meets Rebel
Rebel Meets Rebel
Price: $12.99
31 used & new from $5.02

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, May 23, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Rebel Meets Rebel (Audio CD)
When musicians from radically different genres work together, the results typically have little more than novelty value. Jay-Z's collaboration with Linkin Park was all the rage for awhile, but it will hardly go down in music history as a stunning accomplishment. The Aerosmith-meets-Run D.M.C. and Anthrax-plus-Public Enemy stints of decades past might fare better, but they're far from the highlights of those four bands' careers.

But Rebel Meets Rebel - a collaboration between controversial Ohio country star David Allan Coe ("Take This Job and Shove It") and controversial Southern heavy-metal rockers Pantera ("Walk") - could change that. The disc offers 12 solid tracks of grooving, aggressive riffs topped with genuine, gritty country-and-western vocals.

Adding a bittersweet note to the booze-and-women attitude of the record is the fact that Rebel Meets Rebel marks the first posthumous release of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. The revered guitarist was shot by a crazed fan at a Damageplan concert on December 8, 2004. (Damageplan was Abbott's first project after the breakup of Pantera. Rebel Meets Rebel was recorded between 1999 and 2003, the plan being to release it after Damageplan's second album.)

Journalists have often asserted that neither Coe nor the Pantera alums changed what they did to fit Rebel Meets Rebel. There is a certain degree of truth to this, as Coe is as country as ever and the "Cowboys from Hell" rock out quite convincingly. Yet there is a definite give and take to the sound, with Abbott and Co. giving.

It is hard to imagine a riff like the hip-shaking backbone to "Rebel Meets Rebel" (yes, that's the name of the group, the album and the song) on a Pantera record, to say nothing of the improvised acoustic track "N.Y.C. Streets." And "One Night Stands" is an amalgamation of country clichés, albeit a very distorted one, from the vocals to the riffs to the guitar lead.

There's even the occasional fiddle solo or honky-tonk piano intro. Rebel Meets Rebel doesn't sound like David Allan Coe fronting Pantera, and that's a good thing.

Virtually every track on the album stands out. First single "Nothin' to Lose" is a white-trash ride through the gambling world, while "Cowboys Do More Dope" packs more humor, catchiness and attitude into one song than anything in recent memory. "Panfilo" showcases Abbott's little-known skill for acoustic guitar, leading into the pensive-but-heavy "Heart Worn Highway."

"Get Outta My Life" features guest vocals from country singer Hank Williams III, who also played bass in ex-Pantera singer Phil Anselmo's ultra-heavy Superjoint Ritual project. Also, though both Coe and Pantera are known for their racial insensitivity (the cover of Rebel Meets Rebel sports a Confederate flag), "Cherokee Cry" paints a sympathetic portrait of American Indians ("Digging up our sacred grounds / Won't you leave the dead alone? / Let the eagle fly and the buffalo roam / And give us back our home").

All in all, Rebel Meets Rebel is a fantastic album, combining genres with an unusual degree of success. It will prove an enduring testament to Abbott's talent and versatility as a musician.

Price: $13.24
69 used & new from $0.47

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buckcherry returns, tries new styles, April 12, 2006
This review is from: 15 (Audio CD)
After a four-year hiatus, Guns N' Roses-meets-AC/DC hard rockers Buckcherry are back. It's a welcome return, but the new 15 doesn't have quite the intensity that Time Bomb and the group's self-titled debut had. The earlier albums stood out because of their rock-solid songwriting, passionate vocals and punk sensibilities - even the ballads always had a certain desperation to them.

But here laid back, bluesy numbers fill about half the 42-minute CD. While catchy, they lack the immediacy that made even gentle cuts like "For the Movies" and "Helpless" such thrill rides in the past.

For example, the up-tempo "Next 2 You" is finger-snappingly iPod commercial-ready, with an infectious chorus and effective if clich?d lyrics. "Brooklyn" is a swinging, country-tinged blues romp, well written but totally devoid of screaming. And "Sorry" is a power ballad with sappy-as-all-hell lyrics, yet its singable chorus gives it instant "guilty pleasure" status.

"Everything," an emotionally intense ballad, is a little more typical for the band. The pre-chorus in particular shines, though the bridge pairs a cheesy melody with ridiculous lyrics: "If I had everything would I / Still want to be alive / Or want to be high?" Whatever, dude.

Of course, 15 has its share of raucous, old-school rock `n' roll. The opener, "So Far," is a scream-along delight, and "Out of Line's" confrontational attitude embodies everything Buckcherry once stood for. "Broken Glass" is also a lot of fun, though it unabashedly steals a melody from Time Bomb's "Whiskey in the Morning."

By far the album's standout is "Crazy [...]," a strip club anthem and the first single. At first listen the lyrics are a bit over the top ("You're crazy, [...]/ But you [...] so good I'll get over it"), but over time the track morphs into quite the hedonistic speaker-blower.

On its own, 15 proves an interesting, diverse and consistently high-quality effort. However, fans of the first two albums might miss the group's old balls-to-the-wall punk ethic.

In Our Hands : A Plan To Replace The Welfare State
In Our Hands : A Plan To Replace The Welfare State
by Charles Murray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.76
80 used & new from $0.01

21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In Our Hands is no Losing Ground II, April 10, 2006
In the new In Our Hands, libertarian social scientist Charles Murray sets forth a radical thought experiment. The U.S. ends welfare - and replaces it with a $10,000 annual grant to every American 21 or older.

Social Security? Gone. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families? No more. Farm subsidies? Adios.

Everyone would have to spend $3,000 on health care, ending the current crisis. And lawmakers could earmark another $2,000 for retirement savings, making sure the elderly don't starve.

Murray argues persuasively that the system is financially feasible (indeed, cheaper as of 2011 if richer citizens receive less money) and could have beneficial social ramifications. But In Our Hands has numerous problems. Murray fails to detail why the current system is so terrible to begin with, and many of "The Plan's" specifics are discomfiting to say the least.

For two and a half decades Murray has chronicled the evils of the welfare state, arguing it creates dependency by rewarding idleness and irresponsible childbearing. 1984's Losing Ground set off a wave of scholarship and debate that culminated in the 1996 welfare reform. In 1999 the free online paper "The Underclass Revisited" showed that, despite the reform, poverty-reinforcing behaviors were alive and well in the U.S.

Yet none of these insights are included in the 127-page In Our Hands - the work seems to assume that readers accept Murray's previous arguments, or at least believe the current system will go bankrupt without a severe overhaul. An update of "The Underclass Revisited" would have required little extra research, added a few pages and given analysts more to talk about.

Most of all, it would have taken In Our Hands out of the hypothetical and into the real world. Murray himself concedes that "The Plan" won't be politically feasible for years.

Taking the book at face value, however, some important problems remain. The first is Murray's bizarre views about education.

He repeatedly contends that time away from both work and school is a good thing, though he looks down on that when the people sitting around all day are poor. The $10,000 grant, he points out, would allow some better-off students to study abroad or take time off without running into financial trouble. Most would agree this is a pretty benign effect of the proposal.

But Murray argues it's a positively good thing for students to wait between high school and college, and between college and a career. Indeed he tries to persuade his own children to put off university - he reveals in a footnote that, fortunately, they've ignored him so far.

Encouraging the rich to subsidize their children's laziness, though, is a minor issue compared to what "The Plan" would do to education funding. The proposal eliminates all aid to students. Many would have to wait until the age of 21, when the grant begins, to go to college.

It's a good point that, under the current system, waitresses and construction workers pay taxes that fund Pell Grants. These grants' recipients go on to make considerably more money than they would have otherwise (and more than the waitresses and construction workers), yet are not expected to repay the subsidy. But each student affected by Murray's idea would lose three years in a college graduate-level job. He'd end up with less money, less fulfillment and something like 6,000 hours spent on a job that doesn't utilize his skills.

What's more unnerving is that there's an obvious solution: Start the grant at age 18 for those attending college, reducing future grants until the amount is paid back with interest.

A second wrongheaded suggestion is a reworking of an idea that appeared in Murray's The Bell Curve. He contends that unmarried fathers should have neither rights nor responsibilities with regard to children. (Oddly enough, in another chapter Murray touts the ability to take child support from deadbeat dads' annual grants as a helpful feature of "The Plan.") With both "The Plan" and this law for unmarried fathers in place, a woman would have to marry before accessing the man's annual $10,000.

In a social engineering sense, Murray is right. There was a lot less illegitimacy when women faced the entire burden - it made sense for females to secure commitment before getting pregnant, where now they can count on child support checks and sometimes government help. Child support deters men to some degree, but men by and large don't think with the heads on their shoulders.

The bottom line is that it's unfair to punish a mother and child for the sins of a mother and father. Murray will offend much of his target audience by suggesting otherwise.

Finally, In Our Hands is premised on ripping the Constitution to shreds. The U.S.' founding document gave wide latitude to states while severely limiting the federal government. "The Plan" does the exact opposite, using an Amendment to end states' welfare programs while giving the feds control over all income redistribution.

In Our Hands is a valuable contribution from one of today's most important social scientists. But it falls far, far short of what it could be.

Don't Fear the Reaper
Don't Fear the Reaper
Offered by Speedy CD
Price: $7.24
20 used & new from $2.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witchery is back with a vengeance, April 4, 2006
This review is from: Don't Fear the Reaper (Audio CD)
With members of The Haunted and Arch Enemy participating, there was little doubt that Witchery's Don't Fear the Reaper would be a masterpiece of extreme metal. Yet the album manages to exceed even those expectations.

Simply put, the guitar riffs on this release are amazing. Each track is loaded with heavy, evil gems with powerful low end and intricate melodies. The occasional high-pitched phrase adds variety and unpredictability.

The credit, of course, goes to The Haunted's Patrick Jensen - his main band's Anders Bjorler typically overshadows him, but here he proves himself, unleashing passage after passage of nefarious noise.

Death metal growls can seldom do more than complement a good guitar riff, but "singer" Toxine makes a good go of it on Don't Fear the Reaper, belting the words rhythmically enough to make them catchy in and of themselves. The most obvious example of this is the chorus to "Ashes," where he screams: "Ashes to ashes and dust to death / Fade away / Burn away."

The record is incredibly consistent, though some would argue it is homogenous as well. There is no acoustic instrumental, no ballad - just one great metal track after another. To Witchery's credit, metal aficionados might note how the band combines the (somewhat different) styles of death, black and thrash.

Perhaps the only standout is the bonus song "Legion of Hades," a 90-second super-fast death metal hate-fest originally recorded when the band was called Satanic Slaughter in the mid-`90s. It certainly sets itself off from the rest of the CD.

Don't Fear the Reaper is targeted to a niche market, and even mainstream heavy metal fans will never catch on to it. But for anyone looking for that extra ounce of aggression only hard-core metal can give, this album is a great place to start.

Educated Horses
Educated Horses
Price: $7.39
106 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Consistent, but a little lacking, April 4, 2006
This review is from: Educated Horses (Audio CD)
Rob Zombie has never been known for insightful lyrics. Or good singing. Or, since the demise of his band White Zombie, working with particularly talented guitar players. Or inventive album covers - much like Oprah with her magazine, Zombie likes to plaster his face on the front of every single release.

What he is known for, of course, is dark, mindlessly catchy songs with throbbing beats, and the new Educated Horses is adequate if not stellar as far as that goes. However, the record also makes some interesting adjustments in terms of style.

Songs like "The Scorpion Sleeps," "The Devil's Rejects" and "Death of it All" play up Zombie's Alice Cooper influence in a very vaudeville way, with swinging beats and sleazy attitudes. Others, like "American Witch" and "17 Year Locust" are more traditional fare, while "Let It All Bleed Out" and "Ride" capture a heavy-metal intensity the singer's solo albums have often lacked.

The almost complete absence of industrial tinges also hearkens back to the days of White Zombie. Real drums (courtesy Tommy Clufetos, Tommy Lee and Josh Freese) and chugging guitars are the norm, occasionally complemented by piano, clean guitars and keyboards.

Guitarist John 5 (or, as he's listed in the credits, John Five, or, as his birth certificate says, John Lowery) is perhaps the most ambiguous change to Zombie's sound. Five doesn't have big shoes to fill - any 17-year-old with two years' experience could have come up with the music Riggs wrote for Hellbilly Deluxe and The Sinister Urge.

However, while adept at a large number of styles (he's worked with the odd combination of David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson and k.d. lang), he has never been known as much of a riff architect. The guitars on Educated Horses complement Zombie's vocals well and probably top Riggs' work, but they add little enjoyment in their own right.

All of that said, the biggest problem this record will have is that it's missing a song with that special something. Hellbilly Deluxe was an incredibly inconsistent album, but one can hardly hear "Living Dead Girl" without picking up the CD the next day. Educated Horses is much more solid, yet the first single, "Foxy Foxy," doesn't have nearly the buy appeal.

At 38 minutes and 11 tracks (two of which are brief and not particularly inspired instrumentals), this album owes its listeners a straight-through good listen, and it provides just that. But the material fails to push it from goodness to greatness.

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