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Customer Reviews: 511
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,154
Helpful Votes: 5636

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Sir Charles Panther "Life is hard. It's harder when you're stupid." RSS Feed (Alexandria, Virginny, USandA)

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Nalgene BPA Free Tritan Wide Mouth Water Bottle, 32 Oz, Gray with Black Lid
Nalgene BPA Free Tritan Wide Mouth Water Bottle, 32 Oz, Gray with Black Lid
Price: $11.36
10 used & new from $10.35

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Durable Product with Flawless Cap and Strap, July 28, 2014
This is a super-durable product that is perfect for just about any outdoor activity.

I just got back from a week in the Canadian wilderness, with two of these--full--clipped to the front of my PFC. Through 12 hours/day of paddling, portages, swamps, and a capsize, these took the beating and stayed right with me, with very little scratching and wear on the bottle.

I'm especially please with the cap, the retaining ring and the plastic strap connecting the two. Even after all of the abuse these bottles took, there was no cracking, peeling, burrs or other obvious signs of wear on any part. This may seem a simple and relatively unimportant aspect of the product, but it's not just to keep the cap from getting lost, it keeps the entire bottle with you when you need both hands to be doing something else.

Bottom line: I, my scout, and all other outdoorsmen I know love this product and will just keep on buying them.

Speedo Deluxe Ventilator Mesh Equipment Bag, Black
Speedo Deluxe Ventilator Mesh Equipment Bag, Black
Price: $19.50
9 used & new from $14.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super-Sturdy, Ventilated Bag which Holds a Lot and Dries Quickly, July 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is an excellent bag for items that can be exposed to weather. It breathes/dries very quickly, while having ample space and varied options for storage.

I just returned from a week in the northern Manitoba wilderness, and this bag served as my crew's day bag, that is, the bag outside the dry bags, open in the canoe. In the small front mesh pouch we kept our sunscreen, bug spray and iodine water purification, and were were constantly in and out of this pouch, using it incessantly. After a week with 8 folks in and out of it, not a bit of stretch in the elastic, not a bit of wear on the cloth at the lip of the pouch, not a single pull or burr or stretch in the mesh.

The zippered pouch is great for "valuables;" we used it for spare glasses and medications. It did a great job of securing both. And after both rain and a capsize, this compartment dried out in no time.

The main pouch is just one big open space, and we stuffed it full with rain jackets, water bottles, maps, and more, It took everything and showed no sign of wear whatsoever. The string closure at the top and the main barrel lock performed very well and did their job throughout.

The two shoulder straps and the single web loop at the back got a lot of workout in and out of the boats and at every portage, and none of them showed any weakness or wear.

And on return, this thing cleaned up in no time flat, and dried completely through in less than an hour.

Bottom line: whether on the swim meet circuit or in a more challenging weather environment, if you want to organize, store, carry and access all kinds of gear, this is an outstanding product. I will take this bag on float again, and will not hesitate to recommend it to others.

LOKSAK SplashSak Map Case (Clear)
LOKSAK SplashSak Map Case (Clear)
Offered by P Coast Partners
Price: $31.91
9 used & new from $31.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Product, Durable and Resilient, July 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Absolutely excellent product that took a real beating and didn't fail at all. It held up and performed wonderfully.

I just got back from a week in the northern Manitoba wilderness, and we were using two of these in our canoes. Both kept all of our documents completely dry for 12-14 hours/day on the water, and through a full rapids capsize, too. The two removal sealing bags inside each clear pouch is very smart design, and all panels on both the main bag and the two interior sealable bags remained clear through use and mud/dirt.

One design update I would make: put a clip on at least one end of the main strap. The strap is adjustable, which is good, but a clip on one or both ends would make this pouch a lot more versatile.

Bottom line: if you're headed into a weather environment where you need to keep documents and especially maps safe and readable, this is an excellent choice.

Mens Boots - Jungle GI Type, Black, 12 Regular by Rothco
Mens Boots - Jungle GI Type, Black, 12 Regular by Rothco
Offered by Army Universe
Price: $32.34
11 used & new from $27.24

1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Garbage, July 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Black Jungle Boot (Mens) (Apparel)
Up front: don't buy these boots. They are poorly constructed and will not hold up; they are junk.

Yeah, I see why the exchange window closes after 33 days--that's just about the time these things start to fall apart...I'm writing this the day after I get back from a trip where these boots utterly failed.

I just got back from a week in the northern Manitoba wilderness, and these boots showed their total worthlessness by day 2. The sole started to separate from the left heel, and it just kept getting worse throughout the entire trip, nonstop. The only minor positive was that it didn't come off completely, so at least I could still walk, with the constant flapping and exceedingly poor footing in a place where that is something valuable. I note the product page does not offer the ability for customers to post photos--if you want to see what these crummy boots looked like before I threw them in the trash, send me an email and I'll be happy to send you the photos.

The right boot did not separate, but had started to, at the mid-sole on both the outside and inside.

Bottom line: you get what you pay for, and at approximately $20 per boot, these things will immediately show their level of craftsmanship--pure crap--within weeks if not days. Don't waste your money, buy another product, one that will hold up.

Columbia River Knife and Tool 9110KC Eat N' Tool Black Multi Tool, X-Large
Columbia River Knife and Tool 9110KC Eat N' Tool Black Multi Tool, X-Large
Price: $11.14
59 used & new from $7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy Tool, Spork Needs Some Design Tweaks, July 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm a CRKT fan; my original Crawford Kasper 6773 and replacement 6773Z is the best pocket knife I've ever had, no doubt. But unfortunately, this took is not quite what I'm after for hitting the trail.

It's sturdy, no doubt. It's easy to clean, and I like the clip so you can connect it to your mess kit or hang it on something else. I like the other tools, too.

But what I've just found after a week in the northern Manitoba wilderness is that the main feature of this tool, the spork, is not optimally suited to its purpose. The bowl is just too round; this makes it lack any "point," or more slender surface to get into the corners/edges of your mess kit to dig out the last of dinner, or to help clean it up to minimize KP and cleaning. Also, the bowl of the spork just isn't deep enough. It's not like I'm eating soup out in the woods, but a bit more concavity of the spork would increase its utility.

Bottom line: this is a highly durable tool, innovative, too. But the main purpose in my purchase was eating, and this tool isn't quite what I'm after. I didn't starve, but at the same time, the spork end of this item could use a bit of redesign.

Kona French Press #1 Premium Coffee Maker & Tea Press~Thick Thermal Shock Resistant 34oz Glass ☆FREE Bonus Screen Limited Time Offer~Easy Clean 3 Piece Stainless Steel Parts~Best Espresso Maker Gift Perfect for All Coffee Lovers by Idylc Homes ✔Buy With Confidence 100% RISK FREE GUARANTEE
Kona French Press #1 Premium Coffee Maker & Tea Press~Thick Thermal Shock Resistant 34oz Glass ☆FREE Bonus Screen Limited Time Offer~Easy Clean 3 Piece Stainless Steel Parts~Best Espresso Maker Gift Perfect for All Coffee Lovers by Idylc Homes ✔Buy With Confidence 100% RISK FREE GUARANTEE
Offered by Idylc Homes
Price: $35.89
5 used & new from $29.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice Press, Few Coffee Grounds, July 5, 2014
Disclosure: the manufacturer contacted me and offered this product to me in exchange for a review. I accepted, promising a fair and honest review in return.

First off, once again I have to comment on the name of the manufacturer. Is that pronounced "Eye-dilk?" I'm guessing they're shooting for "idyllic," but that's not what "Idylc" says. So what exactly are the characteristic of eye-dilk homes?

This is a nice little French press for a great price, and it works very well. I recently received and reviewed a similar French press (of the same size/volume), and comparatively, this one has performed much, much better. Not so much in the flavor of the coffee as in the amount of coffee grounds coming through into the cup. Using a French press you're going to get grounds almost every single time, and it's really only a question of how much. With this press I got coffee grounds very infrequently, and when they did come through they were much less than with the other press I recently tested. Maybe the difference is in the construction of their screen, or maybe it was just my improved technique--I've got no way to know.

In the box you get the press beaker, the press lide and handle assemply, a little coffee grounds measuring cup and the owner's manual/instructions. You do not get an extra press, but my box had a coupon for an extra--free!--press, if you'd only go to their website and sign up (so they get your email address for marketing/sales purposes--duh); I declined.

The body is a polycarbonate/plastic wraparound, which in my model does not detach from the glass beaker. I had no problems with this in hot dishwater or in the dishwaser.

Bottom line: if you're going with a French press for your coffee, this is a great choice. Recommend.

Flings: Stories
Flings: Stories
by Justin Taylor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.99
34 used & new from $9.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snippets, June 15, 2014
This review is from: Flings: Stories (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The snark in me wants to say that these are meandering sketches, little life-slices that to my reading just start somewhere and don't seem really to go anywhere. But that isn't it. It seems they are character-development pieces, Taylor working/exploring situations and characters as part of a larger narrative arc that seems to be coming. This is a real book, though, from a real publisher, not one of the self-published stinkers that I keep getting requests to read/review. Smart literary professionals recognize Taylor as the real deal, so I have to respect that. One of the back cover accolades from the LA Times says Taylor is "a master of the modern snapshot;" sure, I'd agree with that, with a tone and depth of description that very well captures what's going on right now, right down to pop culture references to technology, social media, movies, music (at times reminding me of Chuck Klosterman, actually).

These are short stories, short on beginning, middle and end, so it may be a bit unfair to expect a great deal of movement in the space of 20 or so pages. But the back cover copy of "powerful and incisive stories of men and women unmoored from their pasts..." didn't really come through for me. Mostly it's young people, 20-somethings exploring identity and direction in that awkward post-college period (phase?). None of this content is bad; all of it is well written, detailed and the characters are unique, interesting and have depth. I guess I was just disappointed from expecting something a bit more epic than what I got. I think this is my unrealistic expectations from short stories.

You get a dozen stories in 219 pages, so you're at about 18 pages per story. If you don't like one, it'll be over soon enough and you can move on to the next.

Some stories are interconnected with characters. No, you don't have to remember what each character did in previous stories to get what's going on in the new story.

The one that I liked most was one of a college guy and gal, their approaches to each other from almost polar opposite to the realization that they really are for each other, belong together and deserve a future sharing each other's lives. Taylor writes how "...deep within her the pins in a lock were aligning..." That's good stuff.

The content is adult, with salty language, some graphic albeit short sexual descriptions, and some pot and cocaine use. There is no violence other than a couple of relatively minor fights. It's nothing gratuitous, but you won't find this text in the high school reading list. It's suitable for the mature over-16 reader.

Props to Taylor for a mention of Frank Zappa and even a few pages later a sly inclusion of a character saying, "What's New In Baltimore?" Good stuff, fellow Zappa fan.

And, having recently read another novel in which Philadelphia was not described warmly, I couldn't help but note yet another slam: "...a provincial sh*thole filled with ugly people uninterested in traffic laws or any other form of etiquette or self-preservation." Ouch.

Bottom line: These are well crafted short stories about people trudging through present-day issues and challenges, mostly interpersonal, among family and friends. Some resolve, and some do not. Things move quickly, and if you're looking for a more highly developed and intricate story, you'll probably want to go with a fully developed novel instead.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2014 3:17 PM PDT

Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Men's Razor With Flexball Handle Technology With 1 Razor Blade
Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Men's Razor With Flexball Handle Technology With 1 Razor Blade
Price: $10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice Product, Expensive Refills, June 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the package: the razor, that is, the handle assembly, complete with flexball and AAA battery, and one razor cartridge, already installed. There is a tiny folded-up notice (English, French, Spanish) regarding the battery only; there are no instructions on how to use the razor, change the cartridge, etc.

The Flexball really isn't a ball, more of an oblong spheroid. The packaging tells me that it responds to facial contours, complete with a curvy side-to-side motion diagram. I'm not too sure how this improves my shave, as my face neither curves side to side nor do I move my head side to side as I shave; that's usually a bad idea when working with razor blades. The Flexball does look pretty cool in the razor assembly, though, all orange n' stuff.

The Flexball is just part of the Three-Way Action of the mighty Gillette triad of shaving dominance, the tilt back and forth of the razor head and the powered vibration being the other two components. The tiIting makes complete sense, since shaving is usually a downward/vertical/up-and-down sort of activity. The vibration, however, escapes me; I don't see how it helps me shave better/closer. Gillette's copy tells me it's "soothing micropulses, which help reduce friction and increase razor glide." Now, the rutting pig-man in me sees how this feature would be a strong sell for ladies' razors, but I don't get how a vibrating razor helps me along. I see major opportunities for very quick multiple cuts, which I note did not happen even once. I used it numerous times with the vibration on (complete with a little orange light on the power button!) and off, and I could detect no difference whatsoever in the ease or the quality of the shave.

Performance: There are just two measures of performance, ease of shaving and the resulting feel.

For the ease of shaving, I like the feel of this in my hand. It is heavier and bigger than my old razor (the legendary Gillette Sensor/Sensor Excel), and has some nice little grippy nubblet-thingies down the length. Good grip = good control. But bigger is not necessarily better. This razor is kind of like a Massey-Ferguson 9895 combine reaping its way across the bounteous plains of Kansas, a massive tool mowing down acre upon acre over the rolling, contourless countryside. But you can't drive that combine into town, or even think about turning it around. On the cheeks and down the neck this razor is easy and performs well, but on the upper lip, under the nose, around the ears and working around the edges of a moustache or beard these five blades and the two moisturizing strips fore and aft make this big ol' thing unwieldy and ultimately less than useful. Sometimes small and compact is a better option.

But there is a solution! I didn't even notice it on the product, and the packaging doesn't mention it either: the product copy online pointed out the "precision trimmer" on the back of the cartridge. Whaddaya know; there IS a doohickey that helps you get into the tight spots and get it done. That's a nice add, and it's needed.

And the resulting feel--how close did it shave? Well, I've got no way to measure this, but after a good three weeks of using this product and comparing it to my usual Gillette Sensor, it does seem that this is giving me a closer shave, with or without the vibration on.

Price: At about $11, this is about what I expect for this, so the price seems fair. But the razor cartridges are disposable, so you've got to replace them. And with them coming in at near $4 each, and that's for the purchase of a value-pack of eight, that's really pretty spendy.

Bottom line: Overall this is some pretty neat personal hair-management engineering in a small space. But, does my face really need all of this technological innovation just to scrape the little hairs away every morning? No, not really, but I have to admit that it does a very good job of it. I've got the handle now so all I need to do is spring for the cartridges, so I will definitely keep my eyes open for sales and coupons so I can bring that hefty price down a bit.

Tide Plus A Touch of Downy Liquid Laundry Detergent, April Fresh, 92 Fl Oz
Tide Plus A Touch of Downy Liquid Laundry Detergent, April Fresh, 92 Fl Oz
Price: $9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff, June 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I see this product is part of the “Tide Plus collection.” I’d like to see Tide Plus Jalapeno, Tide Plus Blueberries, Tide Plus Cinnamon, that kind of thing.

I’ve been a Tide guy for a long time, which is to say I’d never hesitate to buy it. I’ve used Gain, a bunch of others, but always have had no problems with Tide.

And I like this Tide logo with that bullseye flair, and the textured silver ring with the + sign. The nerd in me sees it first as a chemical notation, some kind of exotic ionic detergent breakthrough, extra protons, something powerful, mighty powerful. But, I’d expect that for the vast majority it simply comes across as “Tide Plus…” Sure, that works, too.

The price of this is right, too. Running about a quarter per wash. That’s a good sales point for me.

A personal quest has always been to get our towels to the level of hotel towels in terms of fluff and softness. We still have not achieved this laundry grail. Did this product live up to the Downy rep? Well, I guess. It seemed that the towels—and this is what I was concentrating on—were a little bit softer and fluffier. But maybe that was just wishful thinking.

Reading closely on the packaging, it says “a touch of” Downy. The product page says “a little bit of” Downy. Now what exactly does that mean? Clearly it’s not 50/50. There’s a reason they’re being so specific on the incorporation of Downy into the product…I guess it has to do with hyping the brand synergy while at the same time jealously guarding the integrity of the brand. Sure, whatever.

Scent: officially it’s “April Fresh.” To me April doesn’t quite smell this soapy. But then again, for a laundry detergent it’s just fine, not too soapy and with a nice finish that stays with the laundry and most importantly is not overpowering.

Bottom line: Would we buy this again? Yeah, sure, why not. It’s a great detergent in the first place, one we’re used to using and will use again, and now it’s got a little bit of extra that seemed to actually deliver on its promise. Nice product.

In the Realm of the Senses [HD]
In the Realm of the Senses [HD]
Price: $3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Tale of Indulgence and Surrender, May 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been hearing about this film for years, and never really paid too much attention to it. I thought it was just another squishy Euro art film about Asian sensuality, so didn't give it much thought, or a watch. Then recently I read the full story of Sada Abe and knew I had to watch the movie. And it was not a disappointment, not in the least.

Pornographic? That's a matter of taste and appreciation for the work. I don't see it as such, not even close. It's packed with explicit sexual content, most definitely, but that does not make it pornographic.

This film's NC-17 rating makes the NC-17 Henry and June look like children's programming. From the opening minutes, the sexual activity and depiction of it is absolutely unflinching and direct. I found that surprisingly refreshing, that the main subject of the movie is actually depicted honestly and clearly, not simulated, not hinted at or hidden. Guccione (kind of) tried to get there with Caligula, but didn't get it right. This film most certainly does.

The sexual content is intimate, tender, cruel, infuriating, brutal, erotic and more, a lot more. I was reminded of A Real Young Girl, but the content here is much more abundant and explicit.

And that ending, with the cutting-off scene. Really, really bloody and gnarly, quite unpleasant to watch, but I did very much appreciate that it was related completely and honestly, adult content for an adult following and contemplating the story.

In the end, the story develops and it's wonderfully ambiguous if Sada is an insanely jealous lover, or if her man is so stricken by her that he knowingly and willingly completely surrenders to her, solely for her pleasure. Kind of a reversed Story of O, maybe. As for the interpretations of feminine response to emerging Japanese imperialism, I didn't really see that.

Bottom line: this is serious art-cinema for the serious and mature movie lover. This film is not about hot and romantic sex for the purposes of setting a mood or arousal. It is, as the title says, a chronicle of how two people can fall absolutely and completely for one another, so much so that they lose their bearings, morals, ethics and more.

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