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Mike Powers "mkp51" RSS Feed (Woolwich, ME USA)

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Person of Interest: Season 1
Person of Interest: Season 1
DVD ~ James Caviezel
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $19.73
34 used & new from $12.74

5.0 out of 5 stars "Person of Interest" Season 1 engages, compels., April 19, 2015
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This review is from: Person of Interest: Season 1 (DVD)
"Person of Interest" is a tense, taut crime/technological thriller that immediately engages and compels viewers with its highly innovative stories and superb acting from a first-rate cast that includes Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman, Amy Acker, and many others.

All 23 episodes of "Person of Interest's" first season very quickly established this as a series very different from every other drama on network TV. The show's main characters are Harold Finch (Emerson) and John Reese (Caviezel), two men who live in the shadows. Finch is a multi-billionaire computer designer and software developer who created a super-computer for the government; Reese is a former CIA agent and Special Forces soldier, now working for Finch as a "fixer" and enforcer.

Finch's super-computer, which he calls "The Machine," can sift through trillions of megabytes of data and then predict terrorist crimes against the United States. But Finch's "machine" not only can predict all future terrorist threats; it can also foretell every other future crime as well - felonies the government considers "too insignificant" to do anything about.

Finch, suffering from a severe permanent physical injury, feels honor-bound to do something to help stop those "insignificant" crimes before they happen. He enlists the assistance of a down-and-out, homeless, alcoholic Reese, who reluctantly agrees to be Finch's agent in the field.

Complicating matters for both Finch and Reese is the fact that Reese is being hunted by both the CIA and the FBI, who consider him a major threat to national security; and by the NYPD, who suspects him of committing a series of unsolved murders.

"Person of Interest" is a terrific show on many levels. The acting is superb. Emerson and Caviezel maintain a quiet, reserved demeanor, a characteristic that adds tremendous credibility to each character's persona. Supporting actors, especially Taraji P. Henson who plays NYPD Detective Carter, and Kevin Chapman, who plays Detective Fusco, are equally good in their roles.

But what sets "Person of Interest" apart from other new shows (most of which try to bring something "fresh" and "different" to their story lines) is that this show actually does that. Each episode creates a chilling, almost paranoid atmosphere from beginning to end.

All of this adds up to a show that quietly and poses a question we all must grapple with: is vigilante justice ever an acceptable means of preventing or solving crimes? It's a question the show's creators and producers have wisely left unanswered, for even though viewers can see the positive results of Reese's and Finch's efforts, they should carefully consider the means used to achieve their desired ends. Highly recommended.

Beethoven: The Complete Violin Sonatas, Vol. 1;  The Violin Romances
Beethoven: The Complete Violin Sonatas, Vol. 1; The Violin Romances
13 used & new from $11.97

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest recordings of Beethoven's violin sonatas available., April 19, 2015
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"Beethoven: Complete Violin Sonatas Volume 1" is the first of two volumes containing all ten of the violin sonatas composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. Simply put, these performances are brilliant in every way. In these recordings from 1979 and 1980, Austrian pianist Ingrid Haebler and Polish violinist Henryk Szeryng combine to play each of Beethoven's Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-5 with incomparable artistry. Their musicianship exudes tremendous warmth and vitality, and the obviously special chemistry between them is in no way diminished by the slightly thin tonal quality of Szeryng's violin. Both of Beethoven's violin romances, performed by Szeryng and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the baton of conductor Bernard Haitink, also appear in this volume, and are no less beautifully performed. This is one of the finest recordings of Beethoven's violin sonatas available. Most highly recommended.

NCIS: Season 9
NCIS: Season 9
DVD ~ Mark Harmon
Price: $12.89
29 used & new from $8.89

5.0 out of 5 stars "NCIS" Season 9: one of the show's strongest seasons ever., April 19, 2015
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This review is from: NCIS: Season 9 (DVD)
"NCIS" is a police procedural crime drama that, as of this writing, is in its 12th season on CBS, where it has aired on Tuesday nights at 8:00 since it premiered in 2003. The show revolves around the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), an actual civilian-run law enforcement agency of the U.S. Navy. It follows the investigations of the Major Case Response Team (MCRT) located at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, DC. Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Harmon), leads this team, which is made up of Special Agents Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly); Ziva David (Cote de Pablo, since departed the series and replaced by Emily Wickersham), Timothy McGee (Sean Murray), Chief Medical Examiner Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum), and forensics expert Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette.)

"NCIS" Season 9, which ran from September 2010 through May 2011 and certainly ranks as one of the show's strongest seasons ever, picks up right where Season 8 ended in May 2010. In the final episode of Season 8, Gibbs' team had just solved an extremely trying case that had resulted in great sadness for all the team members, especially Gibbs. Special Agent Tony DiNozzo had been given a special assignment: find and "take care of" a suspected rogue NCIS agent...

In the Season 9 opener, repercussions from that recently solved case at the end of Season 8 continue to shake up Gibbs' team. DiNozzo is in the hospital suffering from injuries sustained in a shootout with unknown assailants. Forensic evidence suggests he may have shot at least one other NCIS agent. Now Gibbs must find answers: did DiNozzo in fact shoot someone? If so, whom? Are they dead or alive?

Subsequent episodes from this superb ninth season of "NCIS" introduce viewers to Special Agent Tim McGee's grandmother, Abby Sciuto's brother, and a new love interest for "Ducky" Mallard. New cases involve a civilian government contractor gone rogue while developing a secret weapon of mass destruction; a Marine gone missing in Afghanistan; threats to a Navy Congressional liaison officer; and the murders of a beloved Marine Corps enlisted man and a Coast Guard officer. And, in the series' landmark 200th episode, "Life Before His Eyes," Gibbs is forced to relive some painful memories and try to find answers to a series of "what if...?" questions concerning some of his past actions.

In each of Season 9's 24 episodes, viewers are treated to "NCIS's" patented, perfect blend of suspense, drama, forensic science, and comedy, all provided by the best ensemble cast and writers in all of broadcast TV. The inevitable result: a consistently taut, suspenseful, action-packed show that's laced with humor, and is a sure bet to captivate and entertain viewers everywhere. Highly recommended.

Yahoo Mail
Yahoo Mail
Price: $0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Yahoo's problematic email app is improving..., April 19, 2015
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This review is from: Yahoo Mail (App)
"Yahoo! Mail" has been my preferred email service provider for over ten years now. I've been using the Android-based "Yahoo! Mail" app on all my mobile devices ever since I got my first smart phone in 2012. Unfortunately, I've had decidedly mixed results with it over the last three years.

The app has always done a reasonably good job of executing its most basic tasks of receiving and notifying me of my incoming email messages; from that standpoint it performs well. However, I have periodically experienced many frustrating problems with it. At times the app would open very slowly or not open at all. For one three-month period, it would open intermittently with an annoying message about "conversations" splashed across the middle of the screen. At other times I experienced occasions when the app's responsiveness to my touch screen inputs was very sluggish at best. It's important to note that these problems were not limited to just one device, but spanned all four of my devices on which it is installed.

Yahoo continues to update its Android-based email app, and for the last six months I have seen significant improvements in its overall stability, usability, and performance. "Yahoo Mail" now opens much faster, doesn't display any useless and bothersome messages upon startup, and seems consistently much more responsive to my inputs. The app's attractive interface also seems more intuitive, customizable, and user-friendly.

Perhaps there is hope for the future of "Yahoo! Mail" after all. Recommended with caution.

Yahoo Fantasy Sports
Yahoo Fantasy Sports
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A single app that allows me to manage all my Yahoo! fantasy sports teams., April 19, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Yahoo Fantasy Sports (App)
"Yahoo! Fantasy Sports" is a very good app that allows me to manage all of my Yahoo! fantasy sports teams from one central point on all my Android-based mobile devices. Before 2012, Yahoo! had provided an individual app for each of its fantasy sports. I've been playing fantasy baseball, football, and basketball for several years, so that meant that, up until 2012, I was required to maintain three different Yahoo! apps on my devices at all times. All that changed in 2012, when Yahoo! released its "Fantasy Sports" app that covers all of its fantasy sports offerings. Now I can open one app, select whatever fantasy sport I want to play, and go from there.

My "Yahoo! Fantasy Sports" app works very well. With it, I can do almost everything on my mobile devices that I can do on my laptop computer. (There are a few actions that do require the use of a computer.) The "Yahoo! Fantasy Sports" app's interface is clean, attractive, consistent across all covered sports (with minor interface customizations for each sport), and very easy to learn and operate. Graphics are excellent, and the app responds very quickly to my touch screen inputs. The app has never given me any problems.

Overall I am very satisfied with the "Yahoo! Fantasy Sports" app. Recommended.

Lonesome Dove: A Novel
Lonesome Dove: A Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lonesome Dove: a genuine literary masterpiece., April 17, 2015
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"Lonesome Dove" is Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of life in the Old West of the late nineteenth century. It’s a tale of two aging ex-Texas Rangers who live in a small town called Lonesome Dove, located in south Texas, near the border with Mexico. Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call jointly run a hardscrabble business called the "Hat Creek Cattle Company and Livery Emporium." (Actually, it's Call who does most of the running of the business and Gus who does most of the running of his mouth.) Despite their disparate personalities, Gus and Call have remained close friends for years.

A small crew of long-time friends (also former Texas Rangers) lives and works with Call and Gus. Pea Eye Parker, Josh Deets, Dish Boggett, and young Newt Dobbs are loyal, hard-working men with simple desires. For them, life revolves around Lonesome Dove, the Dry Bean Saloon, and Lorena Wood, the town's only "sporting woman." It seems like these men are all destined to live, work out their lives, and then die, in the same spot...

One day an old friend pays an unexpected visit to Gus and Call. After an absence of several years, Jake Spoon, a smooth-talking former Texas Ranger (and former partner of Gus and Call) arrives, bringing with him a "get-rich-quick" scheme: drive a herd of cattle north to Montana, then set up a cattle ranch there. Surprisingly, it is the stolid Woodrow Call, and not the impetuous Gus McCrae who's all in favor of picking up stakes and setting out for Montana…

…Meanwhile, up in Fort Smith, Arkansas, July Johnson, the town’s young sheriff, sets out for Texas in order to track down and capture Jake Spoon, fugitive from justice. Spoon, an itinerant gambler, had once passed through Fort Smith, where he had accidentally killed an innocent bystander in a gunfight. Accompanying July is his stepson, Joe. Not long after July and Joe leave, July's wife, Elmira, also departs on a separate quest to find Dee Boot, her long, lost lover. What does July do when he learns that Elmira has disappeared? And what happens when he crosses paths with Gus and Call and Jake Spoon and the rest of the Hat Creek outfit?

There are simply not enough superlatives to do complete justice to "Lonesome Dove." Larry McMurtry - a natural storyteller if ever there is one - crams every page with beautifully descriptive passages, intensely emotional situations, and fast-paced action. His characters are wonderfully drawn... the heroes are easy to like, and the villains easy to despise. Yet, the heroes are never too heroic, and the villains, although despicable, still manage to show an occasionally faint glimmer of humanity.

I was completely captivated by Larry McMurtry's mellifluous prose, which is rich, deeply textured, and abounding with great detail. McMurtry does a nice job of keeping things realistic and believable. Never once does he allow his multi-faceted story to descend into overwrought romanticism, hyperbole, or floridity. His descriptions of people, places, and situations is so realistic, so clear and vivid that, as I read along, it seemed I could almost hear his characters' voices and see the actions and places he describes.

"Lonesome Dove" is is simply an excellent read - alternately comic and tragic; romantic and hard-boiled; poignant and violent; this novel is always fast paced, witty, and highly entertaining. In short, it’s a genuine literary masterpiece, and certainly one of the finest novels I've ever read. Highly recommended.

Justified: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
Justified: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Timothy Olyphant
Price: $16.99
39 used & new from $13.96

5.0 out of 5 stars "You can't go home again...", April 17, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"Justified" is an altogether outstanding and somewhat offbeat crime drama that aired on the FX network for six seasons, from January 2010 through April 2015. This is a tale about a Deputy United States Marshal who returns to the area of eastern Kentucky where he was born and reared, and finds out the truth of the Thomas Wolfe's admonition: "you can't go home again..."

"Justified" is based upon two novels and a short story written by the late novelist Elmore Leonard. The show was originally developed for TV by Graham Yost, who also was one of the executive producers, writers, and directors of "Band of Brothers," "Boomtown," and "The Pacific." "Justified" stars Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, a modern-day Deputy United States Marshal whose behavior is more akin to that of a 19th century Western lawman than that of the 21st century law enforcement officer that he is. Like those legendary Marshals of the Old West, Raylan dispenses his own style of hard-nosed justice that frequently gets him into hot water with his superiors in the U.S. Marshals Service, and puts him into the crosshairs of many of the criminals he is pursuing.

I now have added each season of "Justified" to my Blu-ray disc collection. As Season 1 of "Justified" opens, Raylan is working in the Marshals Service Miami office. He gets himself into big trouble after he very publicly shoots and kills a notorious drug cartel "gun thug." The shooting is justified (hence the series title), but it's also an embarrassment to the Marshals Service, which immediately reassigns Raylan to its office in eastern Kentucky. This is where Raylan was born and raised; although he absolutely does not want to go there, he reluctantly takes the assignment anyway.

Very soon, Raylan manages to get himself into more trouble in his new assignment. An old friend of his from Harlan, Kentucky is the prime suspect in a series of violent and bloody hate crimes; a young woman he knew from high school days has just shot and killed her abusive husband; and Raylan's estranged father may be once again involved in criminal activities of his own...

All this (and much more) makes for a captivating, suspense-filled first season of one of the best and most original series I've seen in a long time. Everything about Justified - the acting by a superb ensemble cast that includes Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Joelle Carter, Nick Searcy, and Natalie Zea, is superb, as is the writing. "Justified" Season 1 is television entertainment at its very best! Don't miss it!

Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding version of Reversi from AI Factory., April 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Reversi (App)
"Reversi" is another absolutely superior Android-based game published by British software manufacturer AI Factory. I originally purchased this app for my Kindle Fire HD tablet, and liked it so well that I eventually installed on it on my smart phone as well. I've been hopelessly addicted to it ever since.

Like all AI Factory games, "Reversi" has multiple levels of difficulty; the lower ones are fairly easy to win, while the higher ones are practically unbeatable. "Reversi" keeps track of each player's individual statistics at all levels. Game graphics are very appealing. They're simple and yet sophisticated, and easy on the eyes. The Reversi board and tokens are all of a 2D design. Game play is silky-smooth, with almost instantaneous responses to touch screen inputs.

Although there is a free, ad-supported version of this app called "Reversi Free," I decided that 99 cents was a small enough price to pay for the paid version that removes the ads. Either way, "Reversi" and its ad-supported sibling "Reversi Free" are outstanding games in every respect. Highly recommended!

Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A superior Android-based chess app from AI Factory., April 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Chess (App)
One of the better computer chess programs I've found for Android devices is "Chess," another absolutely superior game published by British software manufacturer AI Factory. I originally purchased this app for my Kindle Fire HD tablet, and liked it so well that I eventually installed on it on my smart phone as well. I've been hopelessly addicted to it ever since.

"Chess" has a fairly long list of excellent features that should please chess players of all skill levels. As with all AI Factory games, graphics are clear, crisp, and simple yet sophisticated. The chess board and pieces are of the traditional 2D design. Touch screen response is immediate; the chess piece movements are always silky-smooth, without a trace of hesitation.

"Chess" has ten levels of difficulty, and keeps track of player statistics at all levels. Players can choose to play against the CPU or against other human opponents. The game's underlying chess engine is "Treebeard," which was developed by AI Factory engineers with the intent of making the game challenging but with a more "human-like" feel to it. In this, I think they have succeeded to a remarkable degree. At its lowest difficulty levels, the "Treebeard" engine is actually fairly easy to beat; it will make an occasional and unexpected boneheaded move that makes me feel right at home. However, at its higher difficulty levels, The game is tremendously challenging and almost impossible for this average player to beat.

Although there is a free, ad-supported version of this app called "Chess Free," I decided that 99 cents was a small enough price to pay for the paid version that removes the ads. Either way, "Chess" and its ad-supported sibling "Chess Free" are outstanding games in every respect. Highly recommended!

Chess King 2 Playing and Analysis Software (Just Published June 2013)
Chess King 2 Playing and Analysis Software (Just Published June 2013)
Price: $24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A very challenging chess opponent, and a very good chess teacher., April 12, 2015
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Chess King 2 is a very good all-around computer chess program that I discovered a couple of years ago during my search for an affordable, easy to use, and comprehensive modern chess software package. At the time, it fulfilled my desire to improve my distinctly average chess-playing skills better than any program I had ever used before. Here is a chess app that contains the Houdini 2 chess engine - still considered one of the better engines on the market today - and a host of other features that make learning and playing computer chess easier and more fun than ever before.

Chess King 2 is easy to learn and use, a very challenging chess opponent, and a very good chess teacher. It allows me to play "rated" games against the Houdini 2 chess engine. Games can be set at varying difficulty levels ranging from USCF rating of 800 (beginner) to approximately 2,800 (grandmaster). To date, I have never won a game against the Houdini chess engine. Chess King 2 can also be played in what's termed "fun mode," where the Houdini chess engine is not active. In this mode, I've actually managed to win a few games, although only with some difficulty.

Chess King 2 contains a large variety of chess puzzles that I have found very enjoyable and helpful to me in improving my game. Puzzles range in difficulty level from beginning to grandmaster.

When I first purchased Chess King 2, I was running an older laptop computer with a single core processor, running Windows 7. The program worked flawlessly on this computer, and continued to do so when I installed it on a new laptop with a quad-core processor running Windows 8.1. Although Chess King 2 does tend to run somewhat slower on my new machine, it shows no compatibility issues with the Windows 8.1 operating system.

I have two (very minor) gripes with Chess King 2: 1.) I wish they had made the chess board and pieces a bit larger. Even on my 15.6-inch laptop display, the board and pieces seem a bit small, cramped, and difficult for me to see. 2.) It would be nice if Chess King 2 had provided even a basic user's guide or help files with the installation disc. Although the program eventually showed itself easy to learn and use, there are just enough complexities in the user interface where a guide or help files would have proven themselves beneficial.

Since I purchased Chess King 2, my interest in chess has been greatly renewed. I like this program so much that I eventually upgraded it on my new laptop to Chess King 4 Deep, with its expanded chess database and multi-core processor capabilities. Chess King 2 is still going strong on my older laptop, however, where it continues giving me hours of challenging fun, all the while helping me improve my game. Recommended.

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