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Labyrinth
Labyrinth
DVD ~ John Hurt
Price: $14.99
6 used & new from $10.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Medieval fantasy, with a twist, July 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Labyrinth (DVD)
Historical fantasy? Is that the best way to describe what this tv movie is about? In any case, this is an adaption of Kate Mosse's book of the same name. It is a medieval fantasy, with a twist. It is a story of two women, separated by time. Alais, living in southern France over 800 years ago, becomes the guardian of the Grail. Meanwhile, in the present day, Alice Turner is a teacher on holiday in the same location. Alice is a volunteer at an archaeological site near the walled city of Carcassone. The story centers on the Grail, all wrapped up within the bigger story of what happened to the Cathars as they were purged from the city. In the present day, two powerful factions are on a race to find the Grail.

The movie seamlessly switch from one time period to another, giving the impression that the events are all occurring simultaneously, rather than separated by 800 years. The production quality is very high. And the acting from the major characters are all great, coming from a terrific young cast.

Jessica Brown-Findlay plays Alais, while Vanessa Kirby plays Alice. John Hurt, Tom Felton, Katie McGrath, and Sebastian Stan play major roles. John Lynch, Emun Elliott, and Tony Curran round out the excellent cast.

The plot unfolds slowly at first. This may bore some viewers. However, your patience will be rewarded with some good action scenes. The fight choreography in the movie was of good quality. Both Ms. Brown-Findlay and Ms. McGrath have nude scenes. And the castle town of Carcassone is quite a sight to behold, even on film.

Will Alice Turner discover the secrets of the Grail, as well as its current location, before it falls in the wrong hands? One faction wants to harness its power for wealth and profits. While another would like to destroy it and its secrets forever.

Highly recommended.


APP (English Subtitled)
APP (English Subtitled)
DVD
Price: $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Your mobile phone "knows" your secrets!., July 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Everyone has something they want to keep secret. Some part of their lives that they would not want others to know about. Whoever had knowledge of that secret and has the ability to reveal or to conceal it will have power over others. Gaining control over the mobile phone of a modern, socially-connected person could allow someone access to not only sensitive information, but also to use the device's microphone and camera to spy on that person. Your phone "knows" a lot about you. Be careful what you put in there, and make sure whatever you put there is not compromised by your apps. That is the premise of this thoroughly modern suspense thriller from the Netherlands.

Anna (Hannah Hoekstra) is a college student who is majoring in psychology. She has a lot going on in her life. In addition to academic demands, she also has to cope with a crippled younger brother, Stijn. Anna has a close circle of friends and fellow students, who are all connected via their mobile devices. One day, Anna downloads an App called Iris. Iris claims itself to be a personal assistant A.I. At first, the artificial intelligence appears to be useful, responding to Anna's voice instructions. One day, Iris starts making decisions on its own and rings Anna's phone in the middle of class. Naturally, the professor confiscates the phone and asks Anna to stop by his office later to pick it up.

In the next scene, we see two phones on the teacher's desk. One belonging to the teacher, the other to Anna. Iris activates, presumable using Bluetooth to connect to the other phone. Anna stops by and retrieves her phone. IRIS then proceeds to dig into the man's personal life and proceeds to destroy it.

As the plot progresses, Iris starts taking media files from Anna's mobile and distributes them to her social connections. Private media files. The kind that could ruin another person's life if made public. And so the story escalates and our lovely heroine's life becomes a living nightmare. Anna races across the city, hoping to find the person responsible for the app before more of her friends become victims.

Hannah Hoekstra is very, very beautiful. Tall, slender, and athletic. With a naturally beautiful face and blonde hair. And, oh those sexy eyebrows!. Her Anna is a slightly tomboyish, motorcycle-riding, spirited girl. She is very fun to watch. Hannah Hoekstra is the main reason why I rented this movie from Amazon. I plan to buy the DVD when it comes out later this year.

The plot itself is not groundbreaking. I did not download and play with the IRIS app that is part of the movie. I know nothing about that little extra feature. Watch this movie primarily to see a fine performance from Ms. Hoekstra.

UPDATE (JULY 23, 2014): I downloaded the IRIS app on a Motorola android mobile phone and watched the movie again. The IRIS app worked together with the movie playing on the television to provide additional content. From time to time, additional content will play on the mobile phone's display while the movie is playing. This could be a different camera angle on the same scene playing on TV, text messages being transmitted by the characters, news flash, and extra scenes. The "second screen" experience did not detract from the enjoyment of the film in any way. IRIS worked flawlessly, responding to inaudible audio signals coming from the movie to keep itself in sync with the movie. IRIS is completely optional. You can fully enjoy the movie without using the app. But if you have an android mobile or an iPhone, you owe it to yourself to try out the IRIS app and watch this movie. This is something new and we will probably see more apps like this as movie makers continually look for ways to make their films more of a complete experience. Mobile phones are now being steadily embraced in higher education, as lessons and course content are being created to integrate mobile devices in the classrooms. This is a paradigm shift in curriculum design and pedagogy. It is not a surprise that the movie industry has taken steps to do the same thing. Highly recommended.


Witches of East End: Season 1
Witches of East End: Season 1
DVD ~ Eric Winter
Price: $19.96
8 used & new from $19.96

5.0 out of 5 stars A very fun show. Very fun to watch., July 10, 2014
This show was a pleasant surprise for me. As always, I do not catch on to a TV show until after it has made it to DVD. In a way, that is good since I get to watch all of the episodes over the span of one weekend.

So, what is this show about? Let me try and explain it this way: Beautiful women, magic, handsome men, a slight overdose of melodrama, plenty of comedy, mild violence, and a bit of overacting. And it's all good. It works to deliver a fine, fun show.

Three veteran actresses anchored this first season. Julia Ormond, Madchen Amick, and Virginia Madsen. Jenna Dewan-Tatum and Rachel Boston play Ormond's adult daughters. Ormond is Joanna Beauchamp. Her girls are Freya and Ingrid. All three are witches.

The story starts off with a murder. Meanwhile, Freya and her family are enjoying an engagement party at the Gardiner's mansion. Freya, a beautiful bartender, is engaged to marry Dr. Dash Gardiner. Little do they know that their lives will be turned upside down as the events start to unfold. Soon after, their Aunt Wendy drops in, claiming that they are all in danger. An unknown enemy is out to destroy the women. An enemy who can shape-shift. To complicate matters, Dash's younger brother comes back to town after a five-year estrangement and catches Freya's attentions.

The beautiful Madchen Amick plays the impulsive and sexy Aunt Wendy, who practically steals most of the scenes that she is in. Ormond is the serious, very capable, overly-protective mother. Eric Winters is the dashing doctor, Freya's fiancee. Virginia Madsen joins the fun and plays Dash's mother, Penelope Gardiner. Daniel Di Tomaso plays Killian, Dash's mysterious brother.

Highly recommended!


Five Star Zipper Binder Plus Multi Access File, 2-Inch Capacity, 13.75 x 12.12 x 3.5 Inches, Blue (72534)
Five Star Zipper Binder Plus Multi Access File, 2-Inch Capacity, 13.75 x 12.12 x 3.5 Inches, Blue (72534)
Price: $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A versatile carry-all for the mobile student., July 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a large organizer for the mobile person. Inside, you will find a 2-inch capacity 3-ring notebook binder. On the outside, there is a zippered file folder with 6 pockets. There is also a zippered mesh pouch inside.

This is a big carry-all zippered binder. The 2-inch rings inside allows for a high paper capacity. It would be an ideal binder for a college student who wants to use one binder to keep track of all materials for more than one subject. A typical user might also be a high school student who wants to use one binder for more than one subject. This binder is more than what a typical user would need for one subject. However, for the person with a lot of materials to haul around, it is ideal. The binder will do a very good job of protecting your documents. You can also carry writing materials and calculators inside. All protected from the elements. There is a carrying handle built into the spine for ease of handling.

This is an attractive carrier; however, for more formal settings, you might want to consider a leather binder. This one is made of a nylon material, similar to cordura. It is available in bright colors. While ideal for the student, it may be too casual for the business professional.

The 3-ring binder gives this a lot of versatility. You can add additional pouches for carrying small items. You can add dividers to help you keep your loose leaf materials organized. You can even add a portable hole puncher. The important consideration for you is the size that you need. There is a smaller model that has a lower capacity.


Gulfstream Tropical AGU030SM Mag-Float Glass Aquarium Cleaner, Small
Gulfstream Tropical AGU030SM Mag-Float Glass Aquarium Cleaner, Small
Price: $7.99
22 used & new from $6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Clean the glass, without making a mess., July 7, 2014
Clean the glass, without getting your hands wet. Using this magnetic scrubber allows you to clean the aquarium glass in-between water changes. You can clean the glass without having to use a long-handled algae scrubber and making a puddle of water on the floor.

The "handle" remains outside the tank, nice and dry. The "scrubber" stays inside the tank, on the other side of the glass. The strong magnetic attraction between the two will allow you to manipulate the scrubber by moving the handle. Very clever. And, the scrubber will float. If it ever loses connection with the handle, the scrubber will float. This is a very important feature. You do not want to allow the scrubber to get contaminated with sand or gravel. Such contaminants can scratch the glass. Therefore, if ever the scrubber were to lose connection to the handle, you do not want it to sink and drop down to the substrate. You want it to float.

This will not clean your glass as well as a long-handled scrubber. But, for those times in between water changes, this is good enough to keep the front glass clear of brown algae. Just be sure to take out the scrubber during your weekly water changes and clean out the shallow bristles. Yes, it will scare the fish at first. But, they will eventually get used to it. My Rams actually are fascinated when they see the scrubber moving across the front glass.

Also, please be sure that you get the right model. There is a model for acrylic tanks. This one is for glass tanks. The magnet should be a little bit stronger. Otherwise, I would have given it five stars. This small version is not for tanks with thick glass. It is only for smaller tanks, with relatively thin glass walls. If you have a big tank, say with glass thicker than 1/4", pick a larger model with a stronger magnet.


Rogues
Rogues
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.68
84 used & new from $12.24

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another nerdgasm for fantasy fans!, June 30, 2014
This review is from: Rogues (Hardcover)
What we have here is another collaboration between George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Yes, another potentially nerdgasm-inducing reading material for fantasy fans out there. Once again, like a box of "Whitman's Sampler" chocolates, the purpose is to give readers a "sampler" of works from several authors.

Let me begin by saying that I am a long-time fan of George Martin's work. I bought this book primarily to read about Daemon Targaryen, the rogue prince. However, I have also enjoyed the other short stories within the volume. That is the advantage of an anthology such as this. You get to sample short stories from a lot of authors to see if one of them will interest you. And, you get to do this without having to read a 500 page novel. With this, you will know right away whose work interests you. I find that to be a valuable service to the picky reader, like me.

Abercrombie's short story was fine. A little too repetitious of a plot, as an item changes hands throughout the story. It was not for me, that story. Flynn's started off hilarious and definitely will hook you into the female character. There are lot of variety here. Some you will like, and some you will not.

I am a regular at the forums of www.towerofthehand.com. While I am far from being a prolific creator of posts over there, I do check in on a regular basis. I read just about everything that I can get my hands on that is related to "A Song of Ice and Fire". Once again, the big man did not disappoint. This short story, "The Rogue Prince" tells of the events which led to the Westerosi civil war known as the "dance of the dragons". The events here predate that of "The Princess and the Queen". The central character is that enigmatic man, Prince Daemon. The same man who met his end on the back of a dragon in the first volume. As the story unfolds, the events which may have led to the bloody war are presented to us. And in true George Martin fashion, we are still not completely sure just how accurate these are. We get conflicting accounts, from two sources. As in the main novels, the desires of the human heart is the primary motivator of events. The Targaryens have a fascinating history. Their history is full of colorful characters. Some are destined for greatness, possessing great abilities and vision like Daenerys Stormborn in the current novels. While some are quite the rogue, like Daemon, pursuing their own self-interests. Rhaegar, who by all accounts had the potential for greatness, and foolishly threw it all away due to one weakness. And others like Aerion Brightflame, full of petty cruelty and prone to fits of insanity. It is doubtful that the events here will have any impact on the plot in the current novels. However, this just serves to enrich the history of the Targaryens, which is the history of Westeros for the last 300 years.

Highly recommended.


Carib Sea ACS00821 Tahitian Moon Sand for Aquarium, 20-Pound, Black
Carib Sea ACS00821 Tahitian Moon Sand for Aquarium, 20-Pound, Black
Price: $27.57
3 used & new from $18.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Brings out the color of your fish., June 29, 2014
A fine, black sand such as this helps to bring out the colors of your tropical fish. Some fish. In particular, species that have blue colors such as Boesemani Rainbows, German Blue Rams, and Blue Dempseys. With neon tetras, not so much.

You can grow plants very well on this. I have had good luck growing dwarf hairgrass on this substrate without having to add substrate fertilizers. This black sand also hides algae very well.

Highly recommended if you keep the rainbow species. Some bottom-dwelling species like the Corydoras will appreciate a fine, sandy substrate.


Carib Sea ACS05840 Super Naturals Crystal River Sand for Aquarium, 5-Pound
Carib Sea ACS05840 Super Naturals Crystal River Sand for Aquarium, 5-Pound
Price: $11.56
5 used & new from $7.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Substrate, June 29, 2014
There are two versions of the Crystal River Sand from Caribsea. One is just the sand. The other comes packed pre-cultured with nitrifying bacteria.

The version that comes pre-cultured with nitrifying bacteria will come in the same plastic bag, but the sand will be moist. And it is not recommended that you rinse it out. Within the bag, you will find two small packets. One is a dechlorinator. The other contains a floculant, to help clear cloudy water. If you are starting a new tank, this is the one that I would recommend. It helps eliminate deadly ammonia spikes. Naturally, you will still want to start with hardy fish until the tank stabilizes.

This is a beautiful substrate. The grain size will range from fine to medium. The size is large enough that you can vacuum the bottom without losing too much of your substrate in the siphon hose. This is the ideal size, in my opinion, for most situations. The grains are small enough so that fish feces and other debris cannot work their way into the substrate. And yet, large and heavy enough not to get siphoned out during tank maintenance. Some fish species, like Corydoras and German Rams prefer a fine, sand substrate like this.

"Crystal" comes from some small, clear grains that catch the light and actually shine. Almost like a sparkle, but not bright. You can use this in a fish-only tank or you can even use this as the substrate for a planted tank. This could very well be the perfect substrate, except for one thing. If you have bright lights, algae will grow on this sand. And that ruins the beauty of it. Darker sand still grows algae, but hides it.

Bottom line. If you can keep your tank clean, this is perfect for you. If you are slack on maintenance, pick a darker sand. There is a black sand from the same manufacturer called Tahitian Moon. It is slightly finer and it hides algae very well.

Oh, and one other thing. If you keep rainbows, they will tend to exhibit their best colors when their sand is dark.


Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator
Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator
Price: $88.00
723 used & new from $8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Pricey, but versatile, June 29, 2014
This is a pricey but versatile calculator. Yes, there are better, more advanced calculators out there for the advanced mathematics and scientific user. And yes, this item should be priced much lower than it is, considering it has been on the market for a long time. However, for use in an academic setting, consider that there exists a lot of teaching materials out there in the classrooms, as well as activities, that are built around this model. So, because of that, this model has survived all this time.

I bought this calculator to use in a Corporate Finance class. Calculating Time Value of Money problems with this was much easier than using the BA II Plus. The inputs are easier to enter, without having to memorize long sequences of key strokes.

Your instructor and the class activities will most likely dictate which brand and model of calculator to purchase, rather than a reviewer's recommendations. However, one bit of advice I can give you is very important to remember: Please, use regular 1.5v alkaline batteries should you purchase this model. The rechargeable batteries, with their 1.2v, will not be enough to give you a clear display. A set of four batteries will last a very long time. However, it would not be a bad idea to carry a spare pack of 4 in your briefcase or backpack. You would not want to run out of battery in the middle of an important exam. This calculator, unlike the more basic models, will not run on solar power.


Laura
Laura
DVD ~ Maud Adams
Offered by TeleSales
Price: $14.79
15 used & new from $13.95

5.0 out of 5 stars It's a David Hamilton Movie!, June 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Laura (DVD)
It's a David Hamilton movie. That should already tell you what to expect. Old world setting, soft focus lighting, and nudity. If you have seen his other movies, this one should be familiar.

Just like "Tendres Cousins", this is a coming-of-age movie. The main character, in this case a teenager, starts to experience romantic feelings for the first time. Hamilton presents this journey as a soft, tender process that is part of growing up. This is not the hard-edged, visceral teenage movie that you might typically find in Hollywood. You won't find teenagers doing drugs, driving hot rods, and drinking themselves to oblivion here. Hamilton presents the journey to adulthood in a sweeter, more romanticized fashion.

Just like "Tendres Cousins", this movie takes place in a small town with old world charms. You will find homes with shutters, with walls built of traditional materials. No steel, glass, and aluminum architecture for this David Hamilton film!

Well-known actress Maud Adams plays the mother of Laura. With Laura being played by Dawn Dunlap. An old boyfriend of the mother becomes infatuated with the daughter and asks her permission to sculpt her likeness. Nude, ofcourse. The mother refuses, but agrees to take photos, from which Paul (old boyfriend) can then use to create his masterpiece. Laura meets Paul and starts to take a strong interest in him.

I suppose the controversy here is that the main character was played by an underaged actress. I am not sure how old Dawn Dunlap was when the film was made. Perhaps 16 or 17. In any case, this is actually a pretty good movie.


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