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Microfiber Cleaning Cloths - 10 Colorful Cloths and 2 White ECO-FUSED Cloths - Ideal for Cleaning Glasses, Spectacles, Camera Lenses, iPad, Tablets, Phones, iPhone, Android Phones, LCD Screens and Other Delicate Surfaces (Black/Grey)
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths - 10 Colorful Cloths and 2 White ECO-FUSED Cloths - Ideal for Cleaning Glasses, Spectacles, Camera Lenses, iPad, Tablets, Phones, iPhone, Android Phones, LCD Screens and Other Delicate Surfaces (Black/Grey)
Offered by ECO-FUSED
Price: Click here to see our price

5.0 out of 5 stars No more postage stamp-sized cleaning cloths!, August 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* I do not work for nor am I affiliated in any way with the maker of this product.

* Got my package of twelve (12) Microfiber Cleaning Cloths yesterday. Although I'm not quite sure what the two (2) extra "ECO-FUSED" cloths are for, I have to say, this is the best deal available anywhere online.

* I held off putting on a new screen protector on my smart phone until this package arrived and the wait was worth it. Here's why:

* What I like most is these aren't the little thumb-sized cloths which come with many other products, you know, the kind where you can only use two fingers to clean anything. No, the cloths in this package - all twelve (12) of 'em - are BIG, as in the size of NAPKINS! They're much easier to use and do the job of cleaning eye glasses and smart phone screens in fewer strokes. Very efficient.

* I kept my new screen protector inches away while I was cleaning my phone - and in one swift movement, I swapped the huge microfiber cleaning cloth in my hand - with the screen protector - and applied it to my smart phone with ease. No air pockets, no lint bubbles and no dust bubbles to be found!

* This package comes with three (3) clear bags housed inside a bigger, thicker, resealable plastic pocket with a lanyard type grommet at the top. The first bag INSIDE holds five (5) black-colored cloths, a second bag holds another five (5) grey-colored cloths, and a third bag holds two (2) ECO-FUSED white cloths. (Again, if anyone knows what these ECO-FUSED cloths are for and/or what sets them apart from the other ten (10) microfiber cleaning cloths, let me know.)

* Everything is re-usable hence I see this package of twelve (12) cloths lasting a long time. This is such a great value that I threw out my old "stash" of thumb-sized, lint-free cloths without any remorse. Good riddance.

* These twelve (12) NAPKIN-sized microfiber cloths are worth every penny. It makes you wonder why the people who sell screen protectors and eye glasses are so stingy with the tiny cloths they give out with every purchase. Obviously the ECO-FUSE people thought the same thing - and as a result - they've tapped into a need that was well worth meeting. A+!

Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
by Katy Butler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.24
53 used & new from $5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The path to a better way of death is strewn with obstacles., July 7, 2014
* For me, the key takeaways from Katy Butler's journalistic memoir, "Knocking On Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death" - were as follows:

1. Dementia is a miserable path to death. Do not draw it out.

2. Be aware that a giant chunk of your savings will be drained during your last few months on earth - because of procedures which are unlikely to improve the quality of your life - nor change the course of terminal conditions.

3. Embrace comforts wherever you can find them, otherwise you'll go insane.

4. Remember that a "911 call" about an aging parent is sometimes the gateway back into a health care system that places a ridiculously high value on prolonging life - even if quality of life has already fallen through the floor.

* While there are many other good points in this book, these were the most compelling for me. (As I write this, my father, who has terminal Alzheimer's disease, is in an assisted living facility with few if any coherent thoughts in his head.)

* This is an immensely readable book about the author's journey handling the decline of her parents. It's loaded with personal observations, hard-core stats and wrenching scenes of frustration, especially over failed efforts to convince health professionals to disconnect a pacemaker that prolonged the life of her severely frail, incontinent and dementia-riddled father.

* Butler's hard-to-please mother comes across strong-willed and bossy - however correct she turned out to be when her husband's death informed the way she took control of her own impending death - by rejecting life-prolonging medical procedures.

* I took away a star because portions of this book which deal with Buddhism and other spiritual coping strategies - didn't resonate with me. But this was a personal reaction on my part - and to be fair, this is a memoir that represents truths as the author sees them - which she's entitled to express. Most readers will be fine with her spiritual reflections - even though the concrete advice she gives readers near the end of her book - felt more practical to me.

* Katy Butler's past contributions to the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, the New York Times and other high-profile publications - gives her street cred as a journalist. In the end, "Knocking On Heaven's Door" provides, in my view, a good blend of journalism, memoir and "how to" advice - which makes it one of the best books I've read about aging parents - and their children like me who are caring for them.

SOJITEK Nokia Lumia 520 Premium Anti-Glare Anti-fingerprint Matte Screen Protector [5-Pack] - Lifetime Replacements Warranty + Retail Packaging
SOJITEK Nokia Lumia 520 Premium Anti-Glare Anti-fingerprint Matte Screen Protector [5-Pack] - Lifetime Replacements Warranty + Retail Packaging
Offered by SOJITEK
Price: $3.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Highest quality, best value of the six brands I've tried so far., June 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* When it comes to your phone, there are few things more aggravating than applying a screen protector. It is not for the faint of heart.

* Quick history - before I tried SOJITEK, I tried all the top brands for my smart phones - including Illumishield, MPERO, Supershieldz, Fosmon and Archshield. In order of preference, I have to go with SOJITEK and Fosmon. Not all screen protectors are alike.

* I chose SOJITEK with the matte finish - with five (5) protectors in one pack. I chose it because it is NOT only anti-glare, but it is also anti-fingerprint. This is important. The surface of the SOJITEK is smooth to the touch but it's actually mildly textured to reduce oil left by sliding fingertips. It's also scratch resistant. The anti-glare finish allows you to read your screen more easily outside. If you've ever tilted your phone at an angle, you know how a reflective screen can look like you've got a virus living on it. Not so with SOJITEK's anti-glare and anti-fingerprint finish. (BTW, when your SOJJITEK protectors arrive, they WON'T look like they have the matte finish, but it reveals itself after you remove the front and back layers.)

* SOJITEK throws in two (2) "dust stickers." This was a first for me. It's not OIL - nor fingerprints - which are a pain. It's DUST. The tiniest particle is enough to leave a "bubble" beneath your protector. If you see one, lift the protector and take the included "dust sticker" out to blot it off your screen. They're sticky on one side and you just "blot and pull" dust from your screen during the application process. You get two (2) stickers for five (5) protectors. I wish there had been one for each protector.

* Make sure you line up the holes on the protector's edges correctly. On most phones, the holes are near the top where the earpiece is. In another words, don't apply the screen protector upside down, which is a rookie mistake that happens often. Be aware that even if you have the cleanest hands on earth, this SOJITEK protector will capture every impression that comes in contact with its sticky side, including glancing blows from an edge of a table or your palm. Wearing plastic gloves are a safeguard. Regardless, make sure you're in a room with the LEAST air flow and dust. Turn off the A/C and stay away from carpeted rooms.

* Holding the SOJITEK protector by the edges, gently remove just 1/3rd of the protector backing, exposing the sticky side in stages as you line it up with the top edges of your phone screen. Don't remove the entire backing or it'll start twisting. You need to protect the portion of the protector that hasn't yet been exposed to air. If you line up the top edges and corners right, it should be a "straight down the length of your phone" movement, in very small stages, moving bubbles out, lifting the plastic up and down, repeatedly taking out the bubbles. Get the applicator card that comes with it - and start pushing bubbles that are closer to the edges out. If the bubbles are in the center of your screen, you have to lift the plastic up a little higher and re-apply it - while keeping the top edges and corners FROZEN into place.

* As I write this, my touch screen has just one tiny bubble near the top right edge that I can't get rid of. But with a Mozo flip cover over the SOJITEK protector - PLUS a Fosman plastic backer - that bubble is obscured.

* Keep in mind, even with a SOJITEK, it's near impossible to get a 100% perfect application unless you're in outer space. But I like its anti-fingerprint treatment and the "extras" that are thrown in to cover every potential aggravation. What I've described will protect my phone from everything except being stepped on. BTW, I do NOT work for nor am I affiliated with anyone from SOJITEK. I hope this helps.

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir
Price: $14.99

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Wheel of Doom" and gallows humor about some grossly brutal truths., May 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* As I write this, my 83-year-old dad is withering away in an assisted living facility, riddled with Alzheimer's. Sometimes I want my Dad to die now - because he's unaware of his suffering - and he'd cuss me out if he knew he is turning into what Roz Chast's mother describes as "a pulsating piece of protoplasm." I feel guilty feeling this way - but "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" makes such forbidden thoughts feel normal.

* (BTW, don't buy the Kindle version. This title, with its colorful cartoons and photos - as well as its handsome construction as a hardcover book - truly belongs on your coffee table. I sampled the Kindle version, didn't like it, and bought the hardcover.)

* This book feels clairvoyant. It exposed my doubts, fears and paradoxical feelings about watching my parents die slowly before my eyes. I've read almost everything about the subject of aging and dying. And yet this is the first book that captures the exhausting experience of caring for aging parents, e.g., that it's sometimes gross - (see passages about hoarding, incontinence and "grime") - AND funny - (see "The Wheel of Doom" and Roz Chast's father's obsession with myriad bank books, decades old).

* The author's hand-wringing about whether there's going to be enough money to pay for her parents' care is spot on. How long will the money last if they live "X" more years vs. "Y" more years? I do these calculations every month, constantly updating and trying to prepare for the worst. If the daily care and feeding of your parents doesn't kill you, then the avalanche of paperwork and legal stuff that has to be done will.

* Hence despite the preference to "talk about something more pleasant," if nothing else, this book demonstrates why planning for our parents' end-of-life care must begin NOW, not later.

* I recommend this book for every person who's on the brink of going insane about their aging parents. Give it to caregivers, give it to your siblings, give it to anyone who hates dark subjects - but who can handle them if they're presented in a disarmingly funny style that's accessible - yet still honest. (I don't think I can read another "text-only" book about the "death spiral" of aging parents.)

* In sum, "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" takes the hard edges off some things while inflicting blunt-force traumas about others. Roz Chast nails the impending death of our parents in a way that feels like a landmark work. I know such praise sounds silly given the sea of excellent books out there about aging. But I've never seen this subject presented in an original, humorous and touching way with hand-drawn illustrations and color photos. It avoids the trap of being overly optimistic by not turning away from the gruesomeness of mortality - while STILL providing an emotional "lift" about something universal.

* This book makes going through one of the darkest periods of my life feel almost worth it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 28, 2014 12:57 PM PDT

American Legends: The Life of Barbara Stanwyck
American Legends: The Life of Barbara Stanwyck
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Stanwyck's Life in 40 Pages..., May 12, 2014
* This was my first introduction to the Charles River Editors' "American Legends" series of books and I have to be honest and say it was a disappointment.

* Keep in mind, NO ONE ROOTS for any book they take the time to read - to fail.

* But if you're looking for an in-depth analysis of Standwyck's life and loves, you're not going to get it here. I understand now that most of the titles in the Charles River Editors' series are purposely structured this way, hence many of its efforts are either free to "borrow" if you're a Prime member - or priced cheaply for purchase.

* This Stanwyck book is written well enough to "zip through" in less than an hour, feeling like a long article found in a textbook.

* But this work has the look and feel of a "booklet" or a "pamphlet" - and NOT a book, thus leaving readers like myself unsatisfied. I do not recommend it as a outright "purchase."

* In sum, if you don't know anything about Barbara Stanwyck, this little work will give you a good introduction and a collection of "facts" about who she was.

* But if you already know more than a handful of the great movies Stanwyck left behind in her wonderful filmography, you can skip this. You can get just as much - if not more information about the life of Barbara Stanwyck - over at Wikipedia or elsewhere on the web.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2014 6:05 AM PDT

The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.79
327 used & new from $3.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WARNING TO OLDER READERS ABOUT "The Fault in Our Stars.", May 8, 2014
This review is from: The Fault in Our Stars (Hardcover)
* I'm an old guy in my 50s and thus well beyond the target audience for this book - which to my puzzlement - has been labeled as a work of "Young Adult Fiction."

* I'm not going to waste your time and go over the plotting and themes of "The Fault in Our Stars." Many others - thousands in fact - have already done that in a wonderful way.

* I'll just say that before I turned to "page one" - that I went in with a healthy dose of skepticism about "The Fault in Our Stars" - because other so-called "Young Adult" titles - e.g., the "Hunger Games," the "Divergent" series and the "Harry Potter" series - in my mind, did indeed feel, in my mind, justifiably within the marketing implications associated with the "Young Adult" label.

* But in my view, "The Fault in Our Stars" takes a BIG fork in the road for many of us older adults - that's off-the-charts phenomenal. I read a lot of literature and non-fiction - and I myself could NOT believe how I got sucked into this book. Its content is so beguiling - and its prose so effortless - that I found myself not thinking about how well-written, how exquisitely expressed its themes - which in turn made the clock melt away. As I have often written elsewhere, this should be the dream achievement of all great writers, i.e.,, to compose words and phrases and ideas that makes me unaware of an author's writing style.

* I DID NOT have a problem with the hyper-intelligent teenage characters in this book - sounding wiser than their years. Please don't diminish the achievements of "The Fault in Our Stars" because of this singular criticism. Confession: I had a cancer scare when I was 19 and I know what went through my mind facing life and death issues - at an age when everyone else was out partying. I have kept a diary since I was 15 - and I know how this experience - accelerated my maturity and gave me a sudden grasp of what was, until then, impenetrable existential themes previously beyond my reach. The thoughts purveyed by the teens in this book came naturally - as I remembered how much my life back then - was freighted with more urgency, e.g., trying to put my "best face" on for pals - while coping with what felt like the "cruelly numbered days" moving forward.

* Please, for older adults having problems with the "overly wise" dialogue spewing forth from these teen characters, please do this: Just add three or four years to ages of the characters, i.e., pretend Augustus and Hazel are in their early 20s, pondering seemingly obscure life issues. I guarantee you, the believability of their dialogue will still feel authentic. I went through these very conversations and dark observations so many years ago. Regardless, I myself was fine with everything in this book. It did NOT feel pretentious to me.

* What's strange is "The Fault in Our Stars" has been out for more than two years. My regret is I was SO LATE to recognize its achievements - because I did not, until recently - seriously embrace the acclaim it has long received from its readers. So I apologize for my tardiness. This book ends beautifully - with worrisome clichés avoided.

* "The Fault in Our Stars" is, in my view, a major work of fiction in a suburban setting - with grand themes presented in a straight-forward way. It is tender and humorous and inflicts blunt-force trauma that bolts you to the floor. I confess I choked up many times, enough so that I said to myself - "you know, if I was a teen again - without the experience of the many years that have long since passed - that I would be a bawling wreck." I would've had a tough time going to work or school the next day, paralyzed by contrasting emotions of being in love for the first time - while being hyper-aware of our small place in a universe filled with billions of other humans for whom "life goes on" with seemingly less urgency.

* In sum, this book reminds me of how we're all "just passing through" - of how we're likely to be forgotten by other people arriving two generations after our demise - but who still, via the young words of Augustus and Hazel - can re-experience something beyond our earthly existence, something that feels eternal.

All Is Lost [Blu-ray]
All Is Lost [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Robert Redford
Price: $18.78
35 used & new from $8.94

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, but something's not quite right., February 12, 2014
This review is from: All Is Lost [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
* The problems minimalist films like "All Is Lost" run into - happen when they crash head-on into customers who feel justifiably ripped off because their expectations fell way short.

* Despite the high praise this film has received from critics - putting that praise next to negative reviews from actual customers - exposes a reality that can't be ignored. Something's not right. And keep in mind, NO viewer invests good time and money in something like "All Is Lost" - and roots for it to fail.

* The tip-off that "All Is Lost" is NOT a mainstream picture came last year - when I noticed it playing at mostly art-house theaters - and NOT at my backyard multi-plex. Uh-oh. "Indie picture, low-budget, not fast-paced, non-linear structure, probably lacks a strong payoff."

* So when I finally saw the picture last night as a rental - I was ready. I got into "All Is Lost." It gave me an idea of what it might be like to die on the ocean. (By the way, that last sentence was not a spoiler.) I could not turn this movie off. I already knew there would be little to zero dialogue - and yet I was engrossed with the idea of an almost entirely visual story whereby I would be forced to experience everything through Robert Redford, the only actor who's in "All Is Lost." I didn't feel I had to know much about his character, where he came from, how he got on the boat, etc. I understood what the director was trying to do.

* Note that most of the praise from critics has been about Robert Redford's "near dialogue-free" performance. Well, in my view, despite his status as a beloved icon, there are only so many ways Redford can express puzzlement and frustration. Deprived of an internal monologue, it's hard to emotionally invest in him beyond just wanting him to survive. If I was stranded on the ocean, I'd be talking to myself ALL THE TIME, with a lot of looney things running through my head. We get none of that from Redford.

* As a result, I think director J. C. Chandor's decision to move forward with an existential story without dialogue isn't a total success. His film is technically brilliant, jammed with wondrous sounds and images of a nature at war and peace.

* But the theme of "All Is Lost" never seems more ambitious than just showing what it's like to survive nature's fury. I've already seen that story elsewhere. In my view, a picture that tries to ask big questions without covering old territory - really requires an internal monologue or a moody atmosphere - or abstract images like what's found in "2001" or in "The Tree of Life" - films which force us to think beyond survival and more about our small place in this awesome universe. "All Is Lost" was NOT boring - but I did feel a little "clipped" at the end, and not in a good way.

Blue Jasmine (+UltraViolet Digital Copy)
Blue Jasmine (+UltraViolet Digital Copy)
DVD ~ Cate Blanchett
Offered by maddiekat
Price: $16.50
17 used & new from $11.68

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The fine line between being rich - and being doped up and homeless., February 9, 2014
* There's no need to go into my problems with this film, from its non-linear structure - to its jarring Jersey accents in a San Francisco setting - to its "perky" jazz soundtrack laid over scenes of emotional trauma.

* However, for viewers upset about the darkness throughout this film, and its lack of an emotionally satisfying ending, or more to the point, the lack of any ending at all, I say it's better to frame this picture as a portrait of desperation, of how you can be wealthy with status and condescension towards others - and still end up being mentally ill, hooked on pills and alcohol, mumbling to yourself on a park bench, shunned by strangers.

* The last shot in "Blue Jasmine" felt stunning to me, the irrationality of what Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) says, how she says it - juxtaposed with how raggedly terrible and old she looks after appearing spectacularly elegant throughout the film. In my view, how a second person in that last shot behaves toward Jasmine, without saying one word - before the screen goes suddenly black - told me enough about what's going to happen to Jasmine, without needing to see it. The decision to NOT "tie up loose ends" feels intentional, leaving some viewers justifiably angry about being deprived an ending.

* I don't think it's helpful to compare this movie to "A Streetcar Named Desire" - nor to read national critics praising this film. Expectations matter. Your complaints are justified. To me, "Blue Jasmine" is a sketchy story about how an unlikeable and snobby woman - after losing all of her money - will do ANYTHING to climb her way back up the status ladder. It's one version of how quickly a person can fall from the penthouse to the outhouse, ending up like some homeless person who looks deranged, doped up and dangerous, babbling to herself - without projecting any suggestion of a past once filled with prestige and glamour.

* So who's the real loser if your self-worth is defined by money and material things - and not by love and forgiveness - which Jasmine's sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) has by the truckload? Despite the low opinion Jasmine has for "unsophisticated" Ginger, who's a single mother living from paycheck-to-paycheck - who dates men who are, in Jasmine's view, "losers" - Ginger won't be dragged down. She may not be rich nor stylish, but you're not going to find Ginger dependent on drugs and alcohol, emotionally devastated and homeless on the streets.

* Yeah, Cate Blanchett's performance is electric. Her facial expressions, her ability to suggest bravado, arrogance and crippling self-doubt - are off the charts spectacular. I never got the impression she was delivering lines from memory. The scene where she's "baby-sitting" her sister's kids in a restaurant, "confiding" shallow pearls of wisdom about the human condition and about her own situation - illustrates the extent of her increasing madness.

* But given the rave reviews from critics and the depressingly mixed reactions from audiences, I went in with low expectations. I'm glad I did. "Blue Jasmine" - despite its flaws - is an insanely watchable story about a human train wreck without wheels.

Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
by Henry Bushkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.97
214 used & new from $3.36

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why was Johnny Carson a tortured genius who died alone?, January 26, 2014
This review is from: Johnny Carson (Hardcover)
* On January 24, 2005, the man America knew as "The King of Late Night"- died of complications of emphysema at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. No close friends were with him, nor his estranged wife Alexis, nor his surviving sons - nor - to anyone's surprise - Henry Bushkin, Carson's attorney of eighteen years, who wrote this book.

* Bushkin's chosen title, "Johnny Carson" - at first gave me the impression this might be a biography about Johnny himself - from his birth in Nebraska in October 1925 - to his retirement in May 1992 as the richest man in television - to his death in 2005.

* Instead "Johnny Carson" is a memoir of Bushkin's years with Johnny, from the day he was hired in 1970 to the day he was fired in 1988. A better title for this book could have been, "My Joyous and Humiliating Years Working for the King of Late Night."

* In fairness, you can argue all you want about how this "tell-all" book was a way for Bushkin to "cash in" with his lurid tales about a seemingly "amiable and humorous man" that millions of Americans saw on TV - who was anything but in private. You are equally allowed to speculate whether anything in this book was embellished to increase sales.

* However, in my view, Bushkin has written a readable and credible accounting about Carson - that makes the pages fly by - and the clock melt away.

* Despite the "me-me-me " framing of this book, the fact is - other than the wonderful PBS documentary from 2012, American Masters - "Johnny Carson: The King of Late Night", there hasn't been ANYTHING else to date that's been near as intimate as Bushkin's book - covering the wonderful highs - and the frightening lows - associated with working with a tortured genius like Johnny Carson.

* Despite the warm words comedians have always said about Carson - especially those whose careers were made by appearing on the Tonight Show - I could not help feeling that no matter how great Carson's achievements, working for him had to have been terrifying. He demanded a standard of loyalty from others - which he never applied to himself, especially when it came to his four marriages, his numerous affairs and other petty grudges and peeves that he took to his grave.

* Like the PBS documentary, the take away I got from Bushkin's book is this: Nearly every genius we know on earth - must also have some nebulous insecurity or flaw that somehow acts as a propeller to greatness. In Johnny's case, the roots of his aloofness and pettiness - and his insane drive to succeed - can be traced almost entirely to Ruth - his stern and impossible-to-please mother. I believe Johnny died an unhappy man because Ruth poisoned his life from infancy to adulthood.

* The irony of this is underlined independently of Bushkin's book - when you learn that after Ruth died at 85, Johnny discovered that his mother had kept every single clip and notice of her son's titanic career hidden in a box, withholding her pride from her son. Bushkin writes, "Johnny did not attend her funeral. He just said, 'The wicked witch is dead.'"

* The picture that once again emerges of Carson - is a man who wielded incredible power - but who was not so much a "lonely man" as much as he was a man who loved "being alone."

* Here is just one of many examples cited by Bushkin - of how wild, mercurial and imperious Johnny was, hurting the people around him more often than expressing true generosity (which he also did for people in need, as long as you didn't beg him for help):

* Bushkin writes, "Johnny Carson enjoyed the adulation of millions, but his mother could not love him. He carried that pain, and spread it (to others), all his life." In 1987, Johnny married his fourth wife Alexis. A short time later, at a festive dinner in Europe with friends, "Alex said something Johnny disliked, a remark so inconsequential that it didn't even register with me. But Johnny looked her straight in the eye and said, 'We've been married for three weeks. If you say something like that again, this marriage won't last another three weeks.' It was as nasty a rebuke as I have ever heard, akin to a slap, and I don't know why any of us remained at the table, particularly Alex. (Our) dinner was, of course, ruined."

* Bushkin intriguingly notes that in "Toxic Parents," author Susan Forward wrote, "All of us develop expectations about how people will treat us - based on our relationships with our parents. If those relationships are...emotionally nourishing and respectful of our rights and feelings - we'll grow up expecting others to treat us in the same way...But if childhood is a time of unrelenting anxiety, tension and pain - then we'll develop negative expectations and rigid defenses."

* To me, this is EXACTLY what happened to Johnny. "Never have I met a man possessed of a greater abundance of social gifts - intelligence, looks, manners, style, humor - and never have I met a man with less aptitude for or interest in maintaining real relationships," writes Bushkin.

* In the end, we find ourselves taking the good with the bad. The comedic genius, joy and American cultural significance of Johnny Carson - during the last third of the 20th century - are too compelling to ignore. Carson's life demands our attention. Johnny had a HUGE number of skeletons in his closet - which do not, in my view, diminish his achievements.

* But Johnny had enormous riches and things of luxury that most of us will never have. And at death's door, he could not buy his health nor find a way to cure his innate discomfort with people. In sum, Johnny Carson had a magnificent and horrible life - which still feels painfully sad.

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ Spencer Tracy
Price: $24.99
40 used & new from $23.71

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ** PLEASE READ - Before ATTACKING this Criterion release, please WATCH the "Restoration Demonstration" Feature, January 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
** DEAR FRIENDS: BEFORE ATTACKING THIS PRODUCT, PLEASE WATCH THE "RESTORATION DEMONSTRATION" buried on disc 2 (Blu-ray), feature #12 - and on disc 4 (DVD), feature #7; see details below.

Dick Shawn: "Man, you're buggin' me! Cut out, cut out, cut out!
Jonathan Winters: "What is this 'cut out' talk?"
Dick Shawn: "Out baby, out baby, out baby, out baby, out!"
Jonathan Winters: "Don't call me baby."

* HERE'S A LIST OF WHAT COMES WITH THIS PRODUCT. There's no need for me to go into the plot of this film nor to explain how funny it remains, especially to baby boomers who saw this in a Cinerama or in a second-run theater in 1963 or in 1970 - or saw it chopped up on television.

* All twelve (12) features on two (2) Blu-ray discs - have been spread across three (3) DVD discs that are included in this set.

* Some of the bad reviews about the cardboard packaging of this five-disc set are justified. However, I feel complaints specific to the content of this Criterion product should be counter-balanced with this fact: Much of the footage from the original roadshow production of "Mad World" is LOST. As in FOREVER.

* I am guessing that most writers of the "three-star-and-below" reviews of the extended version of this film - wrote them BEFORE watching a key, five (5)-minute special feature called "Restoration Demonstration." (See below, Blu-ray disc 2, item #12.) It's the only place where customers can get the best idea of the titanic troubles Robert A. Harris's team ran into while trying to restore "Mad World" using lost color footage that had faded completely to deep magenta. This "pinkish" footage had to be stripped, de-saturated and reassembled without adding "colorizing" effects which are taboo when they involve restoring vintage classic films.

* Yes, you have every right to deserve perfection for your dollars. But unless you wanted the restored "Mad World" to be computer generated and "Avatar-ed" to death - you can correct things such as color fading, warping, shrinking and sound drops only so much - before unnecessarily intruding, by creating out of whole cloth - something completely at odds from director Stanley Kramer's original first cut of this film.

* Hence Mr. Harris (best known for his restorations of 1954's "A Star is Born" and of 1958's "Vertigo") has pulled material from all over the world, even from the Far East - to cobble together a film that gives us the most educated vision of what the original "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" looked like - when it world premiered on November 7, 1963.

* Please scroll down to Disc 2 of 5 below - and read item #12 - which summarizes the "Restoration Demonstration" feature. I am NOT associated nor friends with any of the film's makers nor with the distributor of this Blu-ray / DVD set.

* "Nothing succeeds like excess." - This is the title of a 10-page essay about the film's importance - written by Lou Lumenick, chief film critic of the New York Post. Lumenick's essay appears in full in the 18-page booklet that accompanies this product.

* Included is a 6 5/8 x 10 7/8" map - with illustrations of 25 locations throughout Southern California - where the film was shot in 1962-63. According to the liner notes, "Sadly, the Big 'W' where the loot was buried, which was located on private property, no longer stands."

* I took a star away because the original 1991 documentary, "Something a Little Less Serious: A Tribute to 'It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" - which ran 61 minutes on prior home video releases of this film - is NOT on this product.

DISC 1 OF 5 - (Blu-Ray) - SIX (6) FEATURES.

1) RESTORED GENERAL RELEASE VERSION (2 hours, 43 minutes) - This is a restored digital film transfer of the general release version of the film, with a 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack (2 hours-and-43-minutes). This version is superb throughout, rendered for the first time in a high-definition picture and booming DTS sound. This is the more commonly-seen version of "Mad World" - and has been rendered in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.76:1 - and has been broken up into nineteen (19) chapters.

* The digital transfer was created in 4K resolution with all dirt, debris, scratches, warps and flicker manually removed - and the result is, in my view, the cleanest, sharpest and most beautiful general release version of "Mad World" ever distributed on home video to date. The general release also boasts new, easy-to-read white-font subtitles that are optionally available over the film itself, including the overture (2:48) - (with lyrics to the theme music provided), the intermission (Entr'Acte, 3:42) and the exit music (2:11).


2) INTRODUCTION - TV AND RADIO ADS (4:20) - This introduction provides context for the film's original 1963 roadshow advertising campaign, featuring humorist and voice-over artist Stan Freberg's original TV and radio ads.



* 1963 Original Release Promotional Spots - Radio (4:04) - A collection of six (6) radio commercials voiced by Stan Freberg which mirror the manic pace of the film, tagged with information about its impending November 7, 1963 premiere at the Cinerama Dome Theater on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.

* 1963 Original Release Promotional Spots - TV (2:31) - A collection of four (4) television commercials - the first of which is funny as all get-out - with Phil Silvers, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett and Jonathan Winters - bickering in a TV studio. All four commercials are in black and white and rendered in their original 1:33:1 aspect ratio for television.

* 1963 Original Roadshow Teaser (1:27) - A text-animated mini-trailer that uses the original Jack Davis art (which is seen in the film's "style B" movie poster and movie program book) as its centerpiece.

* 1963 Original Release Theatrical Trailer (3:27) - A montage of memorable scenes pulled from the film, this trailer - knowing what we know now about the cult classic status of IAMMMMW - is a joy to watch. The trailer also features positive "advance blurbs" from the top critics of the period.

* 1970 Re-release Promotional Spots - Radio (2:29) - A collection of three (3) radio commercials that aren't very good. They're mildly amusing but not as funny as the 1963 spots produced by Stan Freberg. The spots includes the first reference to the Motion Picture Association of America's new rating of "G" for General Audiences - tagged at the end of each spot.

* 1970 Re-release Theatrical Trailer (3:21) - Similar to the 1963 theatrical trailer, with minimal updates.


4) "TELESCOPE" (50:18) - This is a two-part 1963 black-and-white feature from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's documentary program, "Telescope" - which follows the film's press junket and world premiere. The program is hosted by Fletcher Markle, a name that's "now-forgotten-by-most" viewers today.

* Part One - "A Winter's Tale" (24:56) - The episode's name is a play on Jonathan Winters's last name, who dominates most of this otherwise dull documentary about the press conferences promoting the film. Winters, a "new kid on the block" to cinema in 1963, displays his full range of ad-libbing talents for the press, with Merman, Berle and other stars looking on.

* Part Two - "A Junket Into Madness" (25:22) - The more interesting of the two episodes in this two-part feature - includes the arrival of the film's stars and other celebrities at the film's premiere - which includes a pre-screening ribbon-cutting - at the brand new Cinerama Dome Theater in Los Angeles.


5) OPEN-ENDED PRESS INTERVIEWS, 1963 (35:08) - This is described as a black-and-white press interview from 1963 featuring director Stanley Kramer and cast members. But in my view, it's not so much a "real" interview as it is a "staged" attempt to allow local television stations to "customize" their news segments as if their own reporters "were there," asking all of the questions. This historical artifact demonstrates one of the ways films and music were publicized during the 1960s, complete with "open-ended" interviews with the interviewer's questions "cut out," enabling local stations to insert their own reporters "interviewing" the stars. (For this feature, Criterion has added a contemporary voice "asking the questions" based on available transcripts sent to the press.)

* The result is sometimes awkward because, 1) some of the questions are inane softballs tossed up to the stars, and, 2) NONE of the stars - at the time this video press kit was filmed - had seen the finished film. There are lots of scratches, dirt, debris and holes in this feature. What stood out to me the most, however, were the numerous mentions of the film's then enormous $9.4 million budget - with director Stanley Kramer openly confessing that he hoped they could "get that money back" from customers. Because of "Mad World's" extraordinary "3 hour and 15 minute" length - (repeatedly referenced here as the film's running time) - there were genuine concerns that "Mad World" would lose a ton of money, which explains why it was butchered and chopped to accommodate exhibitors almost immediately after the roadshow version premiered in Los Angeles.


6) "STANLEY KRAMER'S REUNION WITH THE GREAT COMEDY ARTISTS OF OUR TIME" (36:46) - Video taped in 1974, director Stanley Kramer hosted this show with Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett and Jonathan Winters - all reminiscing about the making of "Mad World." This is one of the best special features in that even from the point of view of 11 years after it premiered, the legacy of "Mad World" was already being gilded, with hilariously fond memories and anecdotes being recalled by the cast. Surprising to me was how Buddy Hackett ended up being the funniest guy in the room with his impersonations of fellow cast members, capturing the zaniness that took place on location. This special feature is so good that it ended too soon for me.

DISC 2 OF 5 - (Blu-Ray) - SIX (6) FEATURES.

7) EXTENDED, 197-MINUTE ROADSHOW VERSION - (3 hours, 17 minutes, 35 seconds.) - This is a new high-definition digital transfer of a 197-minute extended version of the film, reconstructed and restored by Robert A. Harris using visual and audio material from the longer original roadshow premiere - including scenes that have been returned to the film for the first time since 1963 - rendered with a 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master audio soundtrack, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.76:1 - and broken up into twenty-two (22) chapters. Unlike the 163-minute general release version, the extended 197-minute version has NO subtitle options.

* The extended version begins with "The Overture" (0:2:27 music with black screen); Part One of the feature begins at the 0:2:28 mark and runs until the "Intermission with Police Radio Calls" at the 1:53:04 mark - which "continues the action" of the film as an "audio only" feature heard in the lobbies of roadshow theaters; the "Entr'Acte musical portion of this Intermission begins at the 1:59:25 mark; Part Two of the feature resumes at the 2:03:04 mark; the film concludes at the 3:15:10 mark, followed by Exit Music (2:25). From start-to-finish, the extended feature runs 197-plus-minutes (3:17:35).

* Contextual Note: The original roadshow version of "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" that premiered on November 7, 1963 - ran approximately 202 minutes (3 hours, 22 minutes) including the overture, intermission and exit music.

* With director Stanley Kramer's help, it was cut to 163 minutes for later engagements. Much of the nearly 40 minutes that Mr. Kramer cut from the film is LOST forever. About 20 minutes of this "cut footage" was recovered from old 70mm prints around the world - or as "audio only" artifacts.

* In 1991, MGM/UA released an extended version of "Mad World" on laser disc and on a 2-tape VHS set that integrated all available footage at that time (182 minutes). This Criterion Blu-ray/DVD set goes further by about 15 minutes (197 minutes). To maintain continuity, Robert A. Harris's team inserted still photos from the film - accompanied by sub-title headings at the bottom of the screen - which identify where only audio is available for footage that remains lost.

* The restoration's limitations start showing up 26 minutes into the extended version, with flickering, color fading and color shifting, audio lags where recovered trims, some as short as a few seconds, were re-inserted into the reconstruction of the roadshow premiere. At the 42-minute mark, we run into the first major section, which runs under two minutes, where lost footage has been replaced with photographs and a subtitle headline at the bottom of the screen noting missing film while dialogue continues to play from audio tracks that still survive. ** For more information about why Robert A. Harris's restoration team decided not to further tinker with color fading, color shifting and audio drops, see "Restoration Demonstration" feature summary below, item #12.


8) NEW AUDIO COMMENTARY (3 hours, 17 minutes.) - The audio commentary features "Mad World" aficionados Mark Evanier, Michael Schlesinger and Paul Scrabo.


9) EXCERPTS FROM THE 2000 AFI PROGRAM, "100 Years...100 Laughs." (11:10) - This is the un-cut segment - some of which was never broadcast in full on CBS in 2000 - about the influence of "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," which ranked #40 in the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest movies ever made. High-definition clips from "Mad World" have replaced standard definition footage that was originally used for this segment. Original interviews remain in standard definition 1.33:1 aspect ratio, featuring Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Alan King, Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney, Charles Grodin and Janeane Garofolo.


10) "THE LAST 70MM FILM FESTIVAL." (37:38) - "The Last 70mm Film Festival" was part of an extended program of 70-millimeter films screened in 2012 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The inaugural event featured a panel interview with the surviving cast and crew of "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" - followed by a screening of the film. Hosted by Billy Crystal, this segment has a bittersweet feeling to it, in that a handful of guests were in wheelchairs and/or needed assistance to get to their seats on stage at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles.

* The panel included Carl Reiner, Stan Freberg, Barrie Chase (still looking marvelous, 50 years later), Karen Kramer (wife of late director Stanley Kramer), casting director Lynn Stalmaster, script supervisor Marshall Schlom (who never gets to speak), Marvin Kaplan (who's very funny), Mickey Rooney (who's mostly incoherent) and the late Jonathan Winters (ditto). This event was filmed on July 9, 2012.


11) SOUND AND VISION (36:28) - This is a spectacular, not-to-be-missed documentary about the film's visual and sound effects, featuring never-seen back lot footage and interviews with visual-effects specialist Craig Barron and sound effects designer Ben Burtt. This documentary reminds us that all of the effects seen or heard in "Mad World" were done by hand. There was no computer-generated animation. The stunts were real, the stunt-people themselves risked their lives and all of the sounds were re-created in studio.

* The most fascinating examples to me included: How the plane "piloted by Buddy Hackett and Mickey Rooney" in the film - made it through a low-ceiling hangar AND a full-sized Coca-Cola billboard without crashing; how the interiors of the "condemned building" at the end of the film were created with matte paintings - and "filled in" with studio footage; how the ladder and street scenes at the end were also shot in studio, outside on the Universal Studios lot and integrated with matte paintings and street footage shot elsewhere - from every camera angle imaginable; how the "ladder scene" is a beautiful mix of footage with real actors, real stunt men and miniature puppets. Yes, that's right. Those figures you see flying off the ladder into windows and awnings were puppets. They had to use stop-animation to get them to twirl correctly off the ladder; also amazing is how the shot of the guys hanging from palm trees at the end was done, as well as how a stunt man had to time "Dick Shawn's" fall from that tree perfectly - so that he could appear to slide and plow smoothly onto a very long picnic table. This is truly amazing, off-the-charts stuff.


12) RESTORATION DEMONSTRATION (5:19) - Again, I wish the makers of this Criterion set - had put this special feature FIRST - at the beginning of the extended, 197-minute cut of this film.

* As mentioned above, Robert A. Harris's team had enormous problems restoring this film, unlike anything encountered previously. The recovered 65mm color roadshow negative was in terrible condition, filled with warps and stickiness - and the color separation masters had to be JUNKED because everything had faded to a pinkish magenta. How they got around this is technical, but the nuts and bolts of the restoration involved: scanning and stripping the magenta out, flattening the curvature distortion of the image that was in the negative caused by lenses used to shoot "Mad World" in Ultra Panavision for Cinerama, matching color available from 70mm footage around the world - and from standard definition laser disc and VHS re-issues in 1991 - and finally - trying to get EVERYTHING to "fit back" into the original 2.76:1 ratio of the original roadshow premiere.

* For the extended 197-minute version of the film - recovered footage was pulled from 70mm print trims, which were in turn scanned in high-definition. When necessary, 3D warping technology was used to blend the trims with standard-definition transfers - to compensate for color fading. The results were mixed. Some color could not be fixed, and artificially colorizing using computers was out as an option for this classic vintage film. Meanwhile, the audio for the recovered footage was pulled from the original magnetic tracks from the roadshow premiere - and from the 70mm trims. But as noted previously, because some scenes exist ONLY as audio, photos were inserted with titles at the bottom to keep the story moving.

* In sum, what these efforts mean to me is this: The restorers had a hard decision to make. Should they computer colorize everything that was faded, like the crayon efforts to colorize "Casablanca" in the 1980s - or should they stick to the spirit of the roadshow release and "reconstruct" everything as it was using the BEST tools available - using the roadshow 2.76:1 aspect ratio as the gold standard?

* Harris's team chose the latter. The result to perfectionists is an imperfect result - which angry reviewers have complained about. There are color shifts and washed out images, black-and-white "edges" where color couldn't be restored - because corrected footage in 2.35:1 aspect ratio couldn't be laid over the entire 2.76:1 frame - which also left behind jarring, one-second-long audio drops resulting from mixing 70mm trims with 65mm trims into a single 197-minute version with a consistent 2.76:1 widescreen aspect ratio from start to finish - which matches "Mad World's" roadshow premiere.

* It's all explained in this five-minute feature - and had Criterion pushed this at the forefront - I'm sure there would have been far fewer complaints. Personally, I am blown away with the end product, with all of its "glorious" imperfections. I love it and think the restoration is astonishing. I'm glad Harris's team didn't artificially boost and saturate the color of this lost footage with computers - which would have looked like something from 2014 instead of 1963, artistically different from director Stanley Kramer's original first-cut.

* It's also noteworthy that this special "Restoration Demonstration" feature openly acknowledges "Mad World's" problems. It cites legendary director David Lean's comment about film restoration - (whose own 1962 classic, "Lawrence of Arabia," was also restored by Robert A. Harris to a far less extent). Lean described restoration as a thing stitched together like a Navajo blanket, resulting in something that's "beautifully imperfect." In my view, this accurately captures what this 197-minute extended version looks and feels like: a work of history brought "back to life" in the best possible way.

DISC 3 OF 5 - (DVD) -

1. RESTORED GENERAL RELEASE VERSION (2 hours, 43 minutes) - (See disc 1 of 5 above, item #1.)

2. INTRODUCTION - TV AND RADIO ADS (4:20) - (See disc 1 of 5 above, item #2.)

3. ORIGINAL AND RE-RELEASE RADIO SPOTS AND MOVIE TRAILERS (17:19) - (See disc 1 of 5 above, item #3.)

4. EXCERPTS FROM THE 2000 AFI PROGRAM, "100 Years...100 Laughs." (11:10) - (See disc 2 of 5 above, item #9.)

DISC 4 OF 5 - (DVD) -

5. EXTENDED, 197-MINUTE ROADSHOW VERSION - (PRESENTLY UNDER REVIEW.) - (3 hours, 17 minutes, 35 seconds.) - (See disc 2 of 5 above, item #7.)

6. NEW AUDIO COMMENTARY (3 hours, 17 minutes.) - (See disc 2 of 5 above, item #8.)

7. RESTORATION DEMONSTRATION (5:19) - (See disc 2 of 5 above, item #12.)

DISC 5 OF 5 - (DVD) -

8. "TELESCOPE" (50:18) - (See disc 1 of 5 above, item #4.)

9. OPEN-ENDED PRESS INTERVIEWS, 1963 (35:08) - (See disc 1 of 5 above, item #5.)

10. "STANLEY KRAMER'S REUNION WITH THE GREAT COMEDY ARTISTS OF OUR TIME" (36:46) - (See disc 1 of 5 above, item #6.)

11. "THE LAST 70MM FILM FESTIVAL." (37:38) - (See disc 2 of 5 above, item #10.)

12. SOUND AND VISION (36:28) - (See disc 2 of 5 above, item #11.)
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