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Elton Pinto "Eptiger" RSS Feed (Seattle, WA, USA)

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Frommer's Italy 2010 (Frommer's Color Complete)
Frommer's Italy 2010 (Frommer's Color Complete)
by Danforth Prince
Edition: Paperback
44 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps With the Quality of Other Frommer's Books, March 11, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you've ever owned or read a Frommer's travel guide before, then you already know what's going to be in here. There aren't any surprises - it's the same quality you've come to expect, but a little better since there are some color pictures now and color maps. My sister-in-law is definitely somewhat of a world traveler and turns to Frommer's first because it often takes you to places that aren't mainstream travel stops.

I was actually in Florence, Rome, and Pisa just a couple of years ago and am trying to plan another trip back to Italy for next year, so I'm in the unique position to evaluate how accurate this guide is and how useful it is for planning a new trip. It's great on both fronts.

I love how much general information is there just for things about Italy like events throughout the year, the history, getting around, etc. The example itineraries catered to different interests is always a great part of the Frommer's books because it's an awesome at-a-glance view of what they most recommend seeing, but I wish they would've broken it down further by region instead of Italy as a whole.

For each region or major city, there's information on getting around, eating, where to stay, where to shop, and tourist stops. Sprinkled throughout these are helpful maps and visuals of some of the attractions, and this actually is less of a gimmick than I thought it would be because it ends up making the book feel more accessible despite being so large. I actually had it out on a table when I went on a weekend trip with some friends and I caught several of them sitting down and doing some heavy browsing because some of the information was so engaging.

The only downsides I have to this book are really due to the nature that it's for Italy as a whole rather than a specific city. Some of the blurbs are a bit short, which is good and bad depending on how you look at it, but there were places in Rome that I think could've used a couple more tips. For example, when waiting in line for St. Peter's Basilica you'll be approached by tour guides to get you past the line faster whereas the wait really isn't that long if you don't go with them, and that's something I would've expected the book to mention. I also wish there were more detailed maps like in the Eyewitness Travel books to help you get around day-to-day, but I can forgive this since this is more of a planning guide than something you're going to carry in your back pocket.

I think all the problems with this book are easily forgivable, especially compared to the wealth of great, concise information it gives you. It totally gives you an insider view of these places. In reading the section in Florence, I realized that it actually gives you a lot of background that makes you appreciate these places even more when you're there in person. If you're planning a trip to Italy and don't know where to start, you need this book. Even if you have a general idea of where you want to go and you're covering multiple places, I think this book is well worth it. I doubt you'll regret buying it - at the least it's fun to read and very educational.

No Title Available

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sci-fi Classic is Born, January 3, 2010
In case you haven't seen the more revealing trailers, Avatar's story falls in the family of films like Pocahontas or Tarzan - the clash of two disparate worlds. A human company has arrived at Pandora to mine for a very valuable rock, but there's a village of natives, the Na'vi, who are sitting on a large deposit of this rock. Sam Worthington's character is part of the Avatar program, in which a human's being can be transferred to a genetically engineered Na'vi version of himself, to try to learn from the Na'vi and find a way to get this village to move. I know that sounds like I just spoiled the whole movie for you, but that all probably happened in the first 20 minutes. It's literally nearly 3 hours long, so a lot happens in it. I'd say 4 major acts, in all.

There are some movies that you can look at over the history of film making and know that they are classics for one reason or another. On my short list of classics would be Chinatown, The Godfather, The Matrix, Star Wars: A New Hope, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. You can say what you will about them, but they're definitely classics. If I had an honorable mentions list it'd probably include Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but neither of those series' starting movie was as important as the movies I just listed (which is obviously not an exhaustive list). I think Avatar is a movie we're going to look back on as a big deal in science fiction films and probably in films, in general.

I heard all this hype about the movie but didn't buy any of it because the movie didn't look interesting to me. I was as big a skeptic as they come and insulted that James Cameron claimed a CG movie was an innovation, even if it was 3-D. Both those technologies had already existed, so what was the big deal? Well, he was right: I don't think I've ever been so impressed with computer graphics before in my life. He was able to map his actors/actress's faces to their computer-generated forms to display real emotions. It's phenomenal. I felt more for these characters than many movies I've seen with live action movies. As for being in 3-D - it looks amazing in 3-D. It's no longer that stupid gimmick at your local science museum from when you were little where at special moments you'd put on these gigantic classes to see something silly coming at you. It's not a gimmick at all in this movie, in fact - it's a part of how you experience the movie. It makes everything very palpable to the point that I don't know how I'd react to some scenes if I saw them in 2-D. The idea of depth of field you get in some scenes is very valuable for conveying a lot of information to you without having to spend a lot of time on it or just use camera tricks. To not see this movie in 3-D is a disservice to yourself since seeing it in 2-D will be easy once it's out on home video. Back to just the visuals though: the level of detail in this movie is awe-inspiring. You definitely willfully would forget that the world you're seeing isn't real and that these creatures are just computer generated - they're that realistic. Part of what makes you believe is that when you see scenes that didn't need to be computer generated - the scenes between just humans - they don't look computer generated at all. If you see this movie for nothing else other than to enjoy it as a visual feast then it was well worth the price of admission.

When it comes to the acting and writing, you start entering somewhat thorny territory. I enjoyed the story more than I thought it would. It was somewhat formulaic but still epic and engaging. It wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be, and I was still happy with the direction it went in. Some of the writing came off to me as a little kludgy and corny. Strangely, I found myself moved even by a couple of the cornier scenes. The acting by most of the leads was strong, especially Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, and Zoe Saldana. Giovanni Ribisi never made sense to me though and Stephen Lang's role as the Colonel felt hollow and stereotypical. I think that's more due to the writing than his portrayal though. I did find myself enjoying Michelle Rodriguez as the same character she always plays, but I have a soft spot for her so I was ok with that. The movie was definitely way too long. I don't know what they could've done about that, but it was quite long. To be honest, I enjoyed it enough that I didn't mind sitting through all of it, but I can see other people losing interest during the slower parts. The set up of the film feels like a bunch of scenes I won't want to watch whenever I get it on Blu-ray, but once it gets going it really does fly by. It reminds me a bit of the end of a Metal Gear Solid game where the ending keeps getting prolonged. I know I'm saying a lot of bad stuff here, but the writing was good overall and I thought the language they created was actually kind of cool. All the Na'vi characters were very cool and well-designed.

The bottom line is that you have to see this movie. There's no reason to not go out and see this movie in 3-D if you're in a place that has it in 3-D. If you do not you will almost certainly regret it. Whether or not you like sci-fi, this is an important movie to see right now in theaters. Even if you don't love it like I did, you will at least appreciate the significance of the technology at play here. Even the people I knew who didn't love it definitely didn't hate it, so I think it's a fair bet that you won't hate it either. It'll almost certainly come out on Blu-ray in 3-D, possibly the first movie to do so, but unless you're rich I'm guessing that you're not getting a 3-D TV set and this is one of the very few movies where 3-D adds to the experience. If you see it in 3-D and hate it then you can yell at me about it later. My overall score for Avatar is an A-.

No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Behind-The-Ear Headphones Ever!, December 13, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've bought 1-2 pairs of behind-the-ear headphones a year for the past 6 or 7 years now, so I've tried different brands and styles. My objective is always the same: cheap (so I can lose it or it can be destroyed without me freaking out), good sound quality even in louder environments, comfortable while at the gym, portable so I can also use it while walking around the city, and a cord that's not too long. This fit the bill on all counts and was overall the best pair of such headphones I've ever had.

The thing with the cord is absolutely genius. I drop my mp3 player at least once every couple of weeks while my headphones are on and it's usually a terrible experience, but this cord really does help with that and keeps your mp3 player with you!

I really like also that the cord feels like a thin drawstring. It sets it apart in style from most other headphones and makes it feel like they're designed more for what I need them for: active use.

I have pretty big ears but these fit on them very well and aren't heavy or tight at all. Plus, the foam on them isn't really thick or cheap-y like the kind you used to get on airplanes.

The reflective band is a really nice touch, especially if you live up north like I do and have to deal with dusk starting at 4 PM in the winter. The cans themselves being glossy probably also helps with the reflectiveness. It's really impressive that all of this looks really attractive together. Even the placement of the R and the L for right and left is in a somewhat stylish place.

Sound quality is great, too. Definitely works in the noise at the gym. Of course, it's not noise canceling, but I can usually wash out external noise with them. Like most headphones in this class it's heavy on the bass compared to studio quality headphones, which I'm a fan of and I definitely don't think it's too much bass.

An excellent value, overall, even if you just use it for working out or running, but I use it day-to-day for general purpose and I've been very happy with them. They're comfortable and they sound great.

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear [Clean]
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear [Clean]
Offered by SONY Music Entertainment Downloads LLC.
Price: $1.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME Rendition!, December 11, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I totally fell in love with this version of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear the first time I heard it. It takes a classic and spices it up a bit with just the right amount of rock. Great effects used on the guitar and it makes the song feel a lot more poignant, in my opinion, than the Bing Crosby version I grew up with. No slight to Bing Crosby - I love the guy - but this is a cool modern take on the song.

Krazy Glue KG92548R Instant Krazy Glue 0.18-Ounce All Purpose Brush
Krazy Glue KG92548R Instant Krazy Glue 0.18-Ounce All Purpose Brush
Offered by Pharmapacks
Price: $4.14
44 used & new from $0.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works Even on Nails!, December 3, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I thought this was just something my only guitar teacher did but it turns out that it's not so uncommon for classical guitarists to glue their nail together after a crack (or total nail tip dismemberment). Classical guitarists usually can't play without their nails, so a crack or a rip is a big deal.

I had a crack in my index nail bed and wanted to keep it from cracking further since my index finger is the most important in playing (and ripping the pink park of your nail off really hurts, trust me). So I first tried my dad's super glue when I visited home. I don't remember the exact brand, but it was a decent brand in the traditional tube style. This was messy. It followed the curvature of my nail to my finger and left glue under my nail on my finger, which creates an unsatisfying, annoying feeling on that finger afterwards. To top it off, it didn't last very long at all before it cracked back to where it was before.

So I bandaged my finger until I got this Krazy Glue brush to try to prevent further cracking. This thing is great! This brush is like what you use for old school white out, only with really strong glue instead of white out. One ever-so-light dab of my nail with this brush and I was good to go. It took 20-30 minutes to set but then it survived a shower and washing dishes and everything! Haven't tried playing guitar with it yet, but I will tonight. It definitely feels strong though, and it didn't get all over my finger! I'm really glad I paid the extra buck or two to get this instead of the traditional kind.

Star Trek (Three-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
Star Trek (Three-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Chris Pine
Price: $30.56
116 used & new from $0.48

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exceptional Transfer, November 24, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I don't pre-order movies very often at all though (hadn't since literally January) because I'm usually ok with waiting for price drops if I liked it enough that I'll want to watch it again sometime, so the fact that I pre-ordered this should be some indication of how blown away I was by this film. Months after seeing it there were scenes that stuck with me (much like my favorite of the year, Inglourious Basterds) and it proved further to me that this is a really fun film for repeat viewings. It puts together a well-constructed story (despite being controversial) with truly dedicated actors/actresses and grand set pieces that feel really worthwhile rather than tawdry reminders that this is a summer movie (that was actually intended originally for a winter release). If you haven't seen this movie then you really need to put renting it at the top of your list for movies to check out - definitely above pretty much anything playing in your local theater right now (at the time of this posting, at least).

Moving swiftly along: I was a little disappointed with the overall presentation of this set. First of all, the slip case for the Blu-ray box had the back side with the run time and pictures and such just tacked on with the junk that credit card companies use to send you new cards. I like the fact that the Blu-ray case itself is full-on Chris Pine's face (the one peeking through the title on the slip case), and on the other side is a close up of Zachary Quinto's face as Spock. I loved the focus in the marketing of the theatrical release on the characters as being powerful enough imagery to sell the film - it's simple and it works. What I was really more disappointed in was the overall menu system. It's not terrible, but I just expected something cooler given that it's Star Trek, especially compared to Iron Man. There's also like 3 trailers (or ads, as I like to call them) and a video game ad to start the feature film disc, but I actually just figured out today that you can hit the 'pop-up menu' button on your Blu-ray player remote to skip straight to the top menu (I don't recall ever hitting any menu button a DVD and going straight to the main menu until I watched all the ads).

Why am I whining about something so trivial? Because that's about all I can complain about here. I was floored by the ridiculous video quality here. I can't recommend it as a gold standard for introducing people to Blu-ray necessarily because it doesn't have bright colors like Planet Earth, but I think the only Blu-ray I own now that looks better than it is Wall-E. Still, the transitions between dark scenes in this movie and those with color are quite smooth with all the colors looking very true to how they should be (the more vibrant they're supposed to be the more awesome they look on your TV). There are a lot of face close ups in this movie and the clarity in even these shots made me want to get up off my couch and just applaud the folks who did this transfer. If you are disappointed with the video quality of this disc, no matter how big or high-end your TV is, there may be something wrong with you (or your TV video settings). I don't have a high-end surround system so I don't want to pass judgement on sound, but it does sound great as far as I can tell. I can't complain about anything except for that maybe it's a bit soft in some places. Clarity is stellar, even in scenes where I was afraid I would be straining my ears to understand what they're saying.

There are so many special feature videos on the second disc that I couldn't get through all of them. What' truly remarkable is that each and every video you see on these discs is in high definition. I think the movie itself certainly looks better than the special features, but we're really talking about shades of gray here because they still look like you're watching an HD channel and whatever the aspect ratio is on them fits my widescreen TV perfectly (whereas the movie has black bars on top and bottom). There's actual more content here (in minutes) than the running time of the feature film, and this is one of those movies that actually has interesting backstories for how every aspect of the production process came about so they're pretty addictive if you have an afternoon/evening to spare going through them all. The deleted scenes are also more interesting than you normally find on a home video release, including the original opening sequence of Spock's birth. The only other features on this disc are a gag reel, all 3 trailers, and 3-d models of the Enterprise and Nero's vessels with details about specific parts of them. As a cherry on top, these features actually have subtitles (which, in my experience, is pretty rare). On the main disc, there's also commentary, which I didn't listen to a whole lot of it but I have to say that it was hard to stop watching once I did turn it on because it's very much like you're peering into the minds of the writers and producers in the format of a candid, relaxed conversation that doesn't feel forced or scripted at all. I don't usually listen to these, but I think I'll have to make an exception here.

Simply put, if you have a Blu-ray player and liked Star Trek at all, you're really doing a disservice to yourself by not picking this up. The studios are trying this crazy thing now where they price Blu-rays equivalent to DVDs instead of price-gouging, so $20 for this one is more than reasonable. They really didn't put this out there to set up for a double dip, or they're doing so with great stupidity because I can't think of what else you'd realistically want from a Blu-ray set for this movie in any sort of re-release. It's going to quickly become one of favorite Blu-rays, for sure.

D'Addario EJ45 Pro-Arte Nylon Classical Guitar Strings, Normal Tension
D'Addario EJ45 Pro-Arte Nylon Classical Guitar Strings, Normal Tension
Price: $6.49
87 used & new from $1.33

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great strings at a great price!, November 23, 2009
I've been using this model of strings since I first started playing in 2003 and they've been awesome! They're good not only for beginners but intermediate classical guitarists, as well.

I plan on switching to the composites for this model just to see how they stack up, but I don't really have any complaints about them. I had bought these strings on recommendation from a fellow classical guitarist who I had very much respect in (I haven't talked to him in a while, but I'm sure he's still a great guitarist) and multiple sites I browsed regarding buying strings and installing them were fans of the D'Addario Pro-Artes.

I'm not an expert on different kinds of strings so I don't have much else to compare to other than guitars I've played in stores or that friend have owned, but I felt like these strings have had great longevity for me as long as I wiped them down after practices/performances and washed my hands before picking up my guitar. Even when they were past their prime they actually held pretty decent sound, but obviously not at the quality that they do when they're fresh. I get really nice, rich sound quality from them when they're fresh.

As I've gotten better guitars these strings have still continued to serve me well as they provide as loud a volume as the quality of guitar I'm playing on should provide, and they've just felt really nice on my fingers overall. Part of why I don't like steel string acoustics is that they're kind of harsh on my fingers, which is really bad for when you can't practice every day because you're on vacation or something, whereas I'm able to pick up my guitar with these strings easily after a break in practice.

Crazy Love
Crazy Love
110 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Some More Buble!, October 17, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Crazy Love (Audio CD)
At first listen, I didn't know what to think of his album. The first three albums are so even that I can barely remember which songs are on which because I love them so much - I just pick one at random when I want to hear some Buble. This one is definitely a departure, and I personally think he knocked it out of the park. I don't doubt that not all the fans will like this one, but I thought it was more upbeat than his other albums.

It definitely opened strong with "Cry Me a River" and "All of Me", which are more traditional Michael Buble fare and benefit from his dominant voice at the poignant parts. "Heartache Tonight" follows in their vein, as well, and has that Frank Sinatra feel to it.

I was a little disappointed with "Georgia on my Mind". It's still a worthy cover, but it's one of his few covers where I wasn't blown away.

One of the tracks that really stuck with me was "Stardust", a collaboration with Naturally 7. It makes me feel like I'm in a 1940s song, only I know that I'm not - it stirs up very different and fun emotions within me.

"Haven't Met You Yet" is a perfect single and is sure to be a mainstream hit, and is very catchy.

I'm not a fan of the sampling in "All I Do is Dream of You", but it's otherwise a truly fun track.
"Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" is definitely one of the bigger risks he took, but Sharon Jones adds a really cool element to this album, in my opinion. I love that it's something different, and it really grows on you. "Whatever it Takes" with Ron Sexsmith is another great collaboration, and it's just awesome how well their voices work together. The accompaniment on this track is really wonderful and has some beautiful riffs.

As you can probably tell, I have trouble giving descriptive words about these tracks, but I really am just trying to convey that this is a well-rounded album that is as much a joy to listen to as any of his other albums. It is a slight departure from his normal stuff, but you will get a fair amount of the Michael Buble you've grown to love. I recommend that first timers check out his self-entitled album or It's Time first, but regulars should feel safe in picking this one up. It's a great feel-good album and it's clear that he hasn't fallen into a creative rut yet, so hopefully the great albums will keep flowing.

No Title Available

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Zombie Comedy I've Ever Seen, October 5, 2009
Zombieland is a zomedy/zom-com/whatever you want to call a zombie movie that's self-aware and makes fun of the genre actively. To be honest, the whole horror genre is predicated on movies that have fun scaring you and making you laugh at totally ridiculous situations, so a zombie comedy isn't really very far-fetched. It's also not very unique given the popularity of Shaun of the Dead. Fortunately, it's not like Scary Movie where it's actively making fun of a prototypical zombie movie but rather it derives humor from existing in a world where, without logical explanation, a zombie outbreak has spun out of control and virtually everyone except for our group of survivors are zombies. Aside from that, the plot just follows the main character (Columbus, Ohio, is his name - the characters don't use real names to avoid getting attached) as he tries to head home to find his family, which he's largely been estranged from. Needless to say, hilarity and misadventures ensue along the way.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie. Shaun of the Dead was definitely good, but I didn't love it and didn't laugh as much as I thought I would. Conversely, Zombieland was full of situational humor and violence so ridiculous and gratuitous that it was hilarious. It had a very good visual style with superb special effects. I don't know if I've seen such detailed violence before. Part of the visual style is borrowed from Stranger Than Fiction (which I love more each time I see it and looks great just on DVD) where you have information presented to you in an augmented reality design. The main character has rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse that appear in the movie as if they're as 3-dimensional as the actors in the appropriate scenes and are just the cherry on top of already funny scenes.

I think the cast really works, overall. There's something seductive and sweet in a scary way about Emma Stone and it plays out perfectly here. Woody Harrelson really steals the show though and clearly has a lot of fun doing so. There's also a cameo so good that I'd urge you to not go to the iMDB page for the movie until after you've seen it. The cast is literally just 4 characters plus a cameo, and I found it really cool that they were able to do much with so few characters. There's no question that the plot has its issues and there are as many things that don't make sense as your average zombie movie, but you find yourself caring less about those as you have more and more fun with the movie. It has its scary parts, but they're few and far between and well-balanced with comedy, which I thought worked really well overall.

If you can stomach a few scares, this movie is well worth the price of admission. Try to see it with a group though (or with a date) - it's just one of those movies that work better when you're with other people. I give it a B+ just because I can't in good faith give a B movie and A score, but I definitely highly recommend it. It's probably the most worthwhile movie in theaters right now (unless your theater has Inglourious Basterds, which is one of the best of the year and everyone needs to see it).

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Pen for Writing in Dark Ink, August 27, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really like these pens. They're great for writing checks and signing documents where you want the ink to bleed through to help prevent foul play, but they're also nice day-to-day because they produce nice, even text. They're not good for doodling or drawing pictures, but that's not really what they're meant for. With most pens of this type, I tend to feel like I have to press down hard to get it to look even, and it produces friction that I don't like against the paper, but these pens happen to write quite smooth.

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