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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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Mein Land
Mein Land
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Wohin Gehst Du?, May 31, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mein Land (MP3 Music)
Have you seen the video for this thing? Pretty creative and fun, pretty entertaining, with a great twist for the last 30 seconds or so, adult content n' all. Check it out.

This is a fun, rocking piece of the New German Hardness, club meets metal,, goth meets dance.

It opens with a tinny little intro that sounds like a theme song for a Knight Rider knockoff that didn't get past its pilot. Then it kicks into a simple and exceedingly catchy power riff and the song drives, drives, drives. Then Rammstein lead Till Lindemann drifts in asking the musical question, "Where are you going? Where?" With typical Rammstain cleverness, there are multiple ways to interpret the question, as well as the various answers strewn throughout the song. Basically, he's singing about his land, and that you are here, in his land. Now, that could be Germany--duh--or he may be describing a state of being where his existence inhabits. You decide.

Yes, it's got a great beat, and you can, in fact, dance to it.

Bottom line: Catchy tune, clever lyrics, great video.

Tell The Coach
Tell The Coach
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Smooth, Sweet Ode to The Power of Athletic Mentoring, May 31, 2015
This review is from: Tell The Coach (MP3 Music)
I'm writing this review because today my 16-y-o son, on the way home from a day of playing rugby, heard this song for the first time. He listened to it, without a word from me, and afterwards commented that, "I think those guys (he doesn't even know who The Busboys are) had some pretty good coaches."

Now, I don't know if this song actually has a real backstory, like one of the band members was an all-star ball player, there was some kind of player-coach tragedy, that kind of thing. What I do know is that I love this song, and now it's got a more special place in my heart due to the effect it had on a sports-playing teenager.

I was a fan of the Busboys way back a-when, when "Did You See Me" was a hit. Still listen to them today, still enjoy their music just as much.

The best part of this song is the chorus. The song opens with a simple pop shuffle, which doesn't really sound too 80s, kind of generic. As the song is winding up, we get a second round of the chorus and at 3:05 there's a great drum break to lead into that big, final chorus. It's all over in less than three minutes.

Call me a sap, but this is a song of young men who were led, taught and clearly influenced by a coach, and most likely coaches, as they came up, on the way actually learning something valuable about life and being a responsible man, rather than just how to run, dribble, shoot, tackle, whatever. As a dad who's coached youth basketball for a son and daughter, 13 seasons of girls youth soccer and now into my tenth year of youth rugby, it's nice to hear that real-live adults actually remember their coaches for more than whistles, clipboards, drills and lectures. It's great to hear that sometimes we do have an effect on some kids, and they remember us.

Bottom line: This is a short and sweet pop song, which I hear as testimony to the power of adults working with kids in sports.

Boot Tray Multifunctional and can be used for Pets also Plants (Brown, Large)
Boot Tray Multifunctional and can be used for Pets also Plants (Brown, Large)
Offered by LaRoyal
Price: $30.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy, Strong, Waterproof Plastic Tray, May 27, 2015
Disclosure: I was contacted by the manufacturer and offered this product. I accepted, promising a fair and honest review in return.

So, it’s a big, semi-rigid plastic tray. That’s pretty much it.

The copy says it’s 29 ˝” wide by 15” long; my check shows this to be accurate. It’s a little more than 1” deep, that is, the edge of the tray comes up about an inch above the tray bed. It sits on small little raised ridges on the bottom for a tiny amount of ground clearance, maybe 2mm at the absolute most.

If you’re carrying stuff around the house, in the yard/garden, this is a good choice. The product copy does not mention any kind of recommended weight limit, but it seems to be pretty sturdy. It takes a lot to get this to bow in the middle; it does not sag and you can’t just make this thing bend. It twists/torques a bit along the long axis, but in my limited household use this did not affect its ability to reliably carry objects, even heavy ones. The corners also do not droop/sag under weight.

The color choices offered here are black and brown (and a gray is pictured but not offered). Looking at the colors, it seems I got the black, but the black I got is more of a dark charcoal gray. The texture on the bottom is a copy of textured steel plating/decking, offering a small amount of surface variation to mitigate slippage. A non-stick type of surface might be a good addition to this product, if it did not significantly change the price.

There are no drain holes in this tray, so it will retain water. I tested its water-holding capability in the yard, and as the tray fills with water it does get heavier pretty quickly, does not bow, but the long-axis twisting becomes more pronounced, making it difficult to hold this thing flat/steady and thereby keep water inside its confines. The edge of the tray folds over, both at the handles and all around the outside edge. This is a nice feature for getting a positive grip on it, and apparently is part of its overall structural strength.

The He-Man Standpoint: One could use this as the Ultimate Picnic Man-Feeding Tray, for exceedingly hairy and flannel-wearing men only, and brother, it would hold one serious amount of potato salad, chili, hot dogs, brisket, pie, beans, whatever and then some, with plenty of room left over for more than a few cold drinks. You’d never have to go through the line again. But sitting down at a table would be a clear nuisance to your neighbors because this thing is a good 2˝’ wide, after all. Best just go over and sit under yonder tree and git your feed on there. This tray also might be good for a teenage boy eating in the living room.

Price. At about $14 this is about right for this product. It looks good and works well, and is pretty good size, so the price seems accurate for this product.

Bottom line: this is a simple and effective product for use around the house.

DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable  Heavy Duty Canvas Reusable Shopping Tote Bag, Natural and Nautical Blue Stripe, Set of 3
DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable Heavy Duty Canvas Reusable Shopping Tote Bag, Natural and Nautical Blue Stripe, Set of 3
Price: $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 Sturdy Bags, May 25, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What can you really say about canvas tote bags? They’re, uh, canvas, and they tote stuff, right?

I got the blue set. I like the color and look of the green-themed set.

So far these are shaping up to be pretty good bags. The price for the 3 in the set is about right, about $6.50 each. They seem to be well made, in that my completely non-professional, barely informed, end-consumer inspection showed tight and uniform seams, reinforcing stitching at stress points, that kind of thing.

They’re not really trendy or flashy, but then again, they’re canvas tote bags. If you want mod-happenin’ bags, go to the outlet mall and pay more for fashion.

They did and are doing well in a number of applications around the house, mostly holding loose junk in the cars, in the store room. We’ve put one to use for grocery runs, and it’s done pretty well. I would like, though, to see them come in a slightly larger size—say, add 15% to the dimensions—for bigger jobs, such as carrying six-packs of bottle beer, 2-liter soda bottles, etc.

Bottom line: this is an easy and simple product that is working well.

Dreadlock Holiday
Dreadlock Holiday
Price: $1.29

5.0 out of 5 stars A Long Way From Home, May 23, 2015
This review is from: Dreadlock Holiday (MP3 Music)
This song goes way back, to 1978 and then some. It was 10cc's big hit from the Bloody Tourists release, and most recently this song got a big shot in the army when Guy Ritchie used it in Snatch.

It relates the simple tale, in a regatta de blanc motif of a tourist in Jamaica who encounters danger, crime and drug use. He's a long way from home, and it doesn't really matter how much you like, or even love cricket, reggae or Jamaica itself, this particular visit is not really going to go the way you want it to. At least that's how it went in Barbados for Justin Hayward and 10cc's Eric Stewart a few years before this song came about.

The song is clear, catchy, and the simple reggae rhythm guitar sets the hook from the very first bar. The lead vocal is smooth, but the vocal strength really comes in and achieves depth when the band harmonize the story's voices. You don't get any solos, but you do get a nice change of key for the third verse.

Bottom line: real life informs musical life in this sweet, simple and enduring tune, an enduring rock classic.

Dream Gerrard
Dream Gerrard

5.0 out of 5 stars Eleven Minutes of Easy, Stripped-Down Rock, May 23, 2015
This review is from: Dream Gerrard (MP3 Music)
Wikipedia notes: "...Allmusic's retrospective review asserted...that the album indulged in long and meandering instrumentation more than any other work by Traffic, with even the vocals doing no more than 'improvising his melodies over the music, paying little heed to the meaning of the words...'" Ouch.

Well, this classic Traffic song fits that description almost perfectly; it's likely the Allmusic reviewer was thinking of just this song when writing that. But then again, this is exactly what I love about this song. It's a simple, extended jazz without any real musical pyrotechnics, no screaming guitars or blazing horns. It's just a band finding a simple groove and just running with it. It's just eight notes, over and over, with a few minutes of the vocal and then the band just works out, the bass thumping away in the back, and piano and keyboards/synth floating in and out for a good eight minutes.

The lyrics? The meaning of the song? Beats the hell out of me. I've been listening to this song for years and I still basically have no idea what in the hell Winwood is saying, let alone what kind of musical message he and the band are putting out. Me, all I really care about is the music.

Bottom line: you don't really get this kind of music anymore, a meandering studio recording of a simple jam. Too expensive, too risky, too self-indulgent...and most likely not sufficiently fiscally efficient. It's all too engineered and manufactured now, digital music for the digital age, and digital consumers. This song goes back to before all of that was important, before any of it was even considered. Great song.

JustinLatex Black Latex Rubber Boxer Shorts Underwear with Crotch Zipper
JustinLatex Black Latex Rubber Boxer Shorts Underwear with Crotch Zipper
Offered by BX Apparel
Price: $44.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Fetish Shorts, Runs Pretty Small, May 23, 2015
Disclosure: I was contacted by the manufacturer and offered this and a ton of other products. I accepted this one and one other, promising fair and honest reviews in return.

Right up front: these are not the kind of tighty-blackies you’re gonna wear to work…not unless you’re working in a strip club or you have a special work colleague that is the stuff of fantasy and seemingly fictitious letters to adult magazines. These shorts are for off-time private play, adult playtime, that is.

Well, this was an interesting diversion for me; I most certainly have never tried on a pair of shorts like this in my life (and likely never will again). It was entertaining, and in the end not quite successful.

Basically, they didn’t fit. Nope, the appearance I presented does not even come close to the photo they offer here. I got them in XXL, and while I go XL in boxer shorts and XL and XL in shorts, these still didn’t make it. Yeah, they’re stretchy as hell—that’s kind of the point—and all of my various gyrations to attempt to get them on were vigorous, but ultimately they did not go on as they should have. Through all of this they stretched a whole lot but did not tear or split, that is very sturdy and well-constructed.

Yep, I tried to get them on in the shower under the water and while that was delightfully squeaky and fun in its own strange way, these still did not quite make it on to what I’d call a proper fit. A snug fit—yeah, buddy, snug fit is what this item of clothing is all about. But when it’s so tight that the leg bands are providing a mild tourniquet effect, that kind of snug is a bit too tight.

Yep, the front zipper is a back zipper, too. The thing goes all the way from just below the zipper in the front to just below the waistband in the back. The zipper is lined on the inside…for your protection. It’s a double zipper, with two closures, so you can customize your opening in whatever way you—or your master—desire.

While the photo here clearly shows a male figure wearing these, it strikes me that they also could be worn to striking effect on a lady as well. The manufacturer might be smart to add such a photo to the product description, and modify their copy accordingly…or set up a separate listing.

The addition of a size chart in the product description is kind of nice, but when they’re including height measurements, head circumference, bust and waist-to-ankle specifications for a product that has nothing to do with these parameters, I’m wondering what exactly they think they’re doing.

Price: $45 for a pair of rubber shorts seems a bit spendy. But at the same time, I note that they are two-ply in a number of sections and have to be particularly well-made to hold up to the pulling and stretching required to get them on and off.

Bottom line: These are sexy fetish rubber undies that appear to be well made, but they do run rather small, so order a good two sizes up.

Solilor Men's Spring Casual Plaid Checked Button Down Shirts
Solilor Men's Spring Casual Plaid Checked Button Down Shirts
Offered by BX Apparel
Price: $19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Shirt for the Price, Sleeves Run Small, May 23, 2015
Disclosure: I was contacted by the manufacturer—the label on the shirt says “Jiang Yi Xuan,” not “Solilor”—and offered this and a bunch of other items. I accepted this and one other, promising fair and honest reviews in return. I chose this in XL and in the “Color 4” pattern, which essentially is a nice, subtle black/ecru/green plaid.

The packaging was good and it looks good in the bag, well folded. Thankfully there was none of that extraneous and largely wasteful additional packaging, like collar blocking, pins, tisse paper, etc.

There were a lot of loose threads inside and out, small snippets of thread on the shirt and coming from the seams. They do not appear to be from poor manufacturing, but from poor cleanup of the product once it’s made. There were some seams and sewing on the inside that have exposed threads, and two of the buttons had exposed threads. A gentle pull on each did not pull the stitching out, which is a good sign.

The buttons are in silver-tone plastic with a raised silver rim and a black center. That’s not bad with this shirt, a small bit of flash. The buttons have tiny writing that says “FASHION.” I’m not quite sure what the meaning of this is, but it’s unnecessary, and a bit tacky. The upside is that the writing is so small that only the most observant of fashion consumers will notice it.

The shirt is long-sleeve, with two buttons at the cuff and a wrist button as well. The cuffs are slightly notched, a nice touch. The sleeve length is good, probably a 38”, correctly proportional to the size of the shirt. The cut of the sleeves, though, is pretty small. I’m no beefy muscle man, but the cut of the sleeves is quite small, most definitely not in proportion for a size XL shirt (at least for the US market). If you’re a trendy skinny dude, as shown in the product images, then maybe the sleeves will work for you; I note that the product description says nothing about a trim/slim fit (although they do offer the exact dimensions of each shirt’s size). If you’re a big guy or have big arms, this could be a problem for fit.

Price: this really ain’t a bad shirt for $20.

Bottom line: this is a nice cotton flannel shirt in a nice color. The construction is pretty good throughout, the sleeves run pretty small/narrow.

Watermelon In Easter Hay
Watermelon In Easter Hay
Price: $1.29

5.0 out of 5 stars The Sound of FZ's Soul, May 22, 2015
The classic Central Scrutinizer voice provides the intro to this song, and you also get a delightful helping of FZ's humor at his own expense, a genuine moment of him cracking up due to his own material, the serious meeting the absurd.

But then floats in that 8-note backing and this lovely, lovely song opens as Frank describes this as Joe's death-solo. This is the sound of the Joe's Garage titular character crafting his last bit of imaginary guitar noodling before he chooses to die, before all is said and done, oblivion beckoning. Laid down more than a decade before FZ died in 1993, one could call this his swan song; that's how I hear it. Yeah, call me a maudlin old rocker who's a total sap, but every single time I hear this song I shed a tear for the guy who in many ways has provided a soundtrack for my entire adult life.

I saw Dweezil and Zappa Plays Zappa in NYC on Halloween in 2014, and they opened with this song. It's the only time I've heard them play it, and I've seen a good 20 of their consistently awesome shows. Before starting into it, Dweezil commented only, "Here's a special treat for you." I don't know exactly what that meant, but this song is special to me, quite special, actually, and I got the feeling that playing it in that venue on that date was a special thing, this song a son's homage to his dad, his work and his legacy.

Other than the Central Scrutinizer intro, this song is purely instrumental. It's not a rocker, actually rather slow in pace. It does have some musical pyrotechnics in Frank's extended soloing, but that's it. It is not a dirge, not sad in its key or arrangement, but actually is uplifting, positive and optimistic in sound and feel, in keeping with the conclusion of the Joe's Garage story, the ultimate triumph of creativity over the banal and manufactured.

Bottom line: this is one of my favorite FZ tunes of them all, a truly beautiful piece of work that represents the man and his body of work. Every time I hear this I thank him for his efforts.

Individual Choice
Individual Choice
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An Enduring Masterpiece, May 22, 2015
This review is from: Individual Choice (MP3 Music)
Funny, I came to JLP via Frank Zappa. As an idiot teenager I'd finally discovered popular music sometime around 1975 and by 1978 had graduated from AM glop and teenybop to real music, and a huge part of that was FZ and his rapidly expanding cosmology. And part of that universe was the name Jean Luc Ponty on the liner notes for Hot Rats, Over-nite Sensation and my own personal gateway to FZ, the enduringly magnificent Apostrophe. So, I hit the local library in suburban St. Louis and managed to find Cosmic Messenger and A Taste for Passion, and I was hooked on another artist putting out fun, interesting and deeply beautiful music. This was the third JLP album I managed to find, and the opening track had me hooked in just a few bars.

I love this album and continue to listen to it on a weekly basis. On my iPod every single song on this album is a 4-star or a 5-star, so they all continue to get a huge amount of play.

This is wonderfully thoughtful and thought-provoking music. It is perfect as background/ambiance, great on the road, and the absolute best on headphones in the quiet of the night, just the wonderful sound drifting into your head.

Bottom line: Not everything in the 80s was synth-pop and bad haircuts. This wonderful work of jazz, er, fusion, ah, awesome and beautiful original music shows that we weren't completely lots in the Me Decade. Thank you, JLP, for all of your superb work.

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