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J. Michael Click RSS Feed (Pineville, Missouri, USA)
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Earthquake
Earthquake
DVD ~ Charlton Heston
Price: $9.24
43 used & new from $4.79

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Earth-Shattering Here, January 22, 2011
This review is from: Earthquake (DVD)
"Earthquake" is more than just a disaster movie - it's a disaster of a movie! I remember seeing it in the theatre when it first came out in 1974. I was barely in my teens, but even at that age I thought that this over-baked, overlong saga of "The Big One" hitting Los Angeles was simply awful in terms of plot, dialogue, casting, and special effects. The only thing that impressed me at the time was Sensurround, the innovative Special Sound Effect that approximated the rumbling of shifting earth and was awarded an Oscar.

Cut to almost 40 years later. I find a copy of the DVD in a bargain bin for a couple of dollars, and begin to wonder, "Was it really as bad as I thought?" Well, in a word, yes! In fact, "Earthquake" surely qualifies as one of the worst unintentionally funny movies in Hollywood history. Consider the casting of Lorne Greene and Ava Gardner - he plays her father despite the fact that she is clearly close to his own age! (He was born in 1915, she in 1922.) As if this isn't bad enough, they - along with the rest of the cast - are given abominable material to work with. Miss Gardner, for example, plays a one-dimensional shrew with no redeeming qualities whatsoever; she cusses and fusses in every scene she's in. No one else in the all-star cast is given material that's any better; every character is strictly a cardboard stereotype, including those played by Charlton Heston (the principled, steel-spined hero), George Kennedy (the tough, can-do police officer), Genevieve Bujold (the perky young love interest), Marjoe Gortner (the psychotic National Guardsman), or even the unbilled Walter Matthau (the drunk who doesn't notice the walls falling in around him).

One might think that the special effects would makeup for any inadequacies in the script and performances, but one would be wrong! See if you can spot the hilariously awful shot in which an entire brick wall (obviously made out of Styrofoam or some other lightweight material) crashes down in one piece, without the mortar or bricks breaking apart on impact. (The editor cuts away quickly, but not quickly enough.) It goes without saying that the effects in "Earthquake" are rudimentary compared to the digital effects we have in this day and age, but in fact, even movies made 40 years *before* "Earthquake" had more believable scenes of destruction (I'm thinking of the earthquake in the 1936 MGM film "San Francisco" in particular).

There's really not much in this movie to recommend; today, even the once revolutionary Sensurround effects are mundane. It may be worth a single viewing if your curiosity gets the best of you, but consider a rental rather than a purchase. Once is definitely enough.


An Impartial Witness: A Bess Crawford Mystery
An Impartial Witness: A Bess Crawford Mystery
by Charles Todd
Edition: Hardcover
77 used & new from $0.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and Suspenseful Historical Mystery, January 19, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In "An Impartial Witness", the second volume in the Bess Crawford mystery series, the mother and son writing team known as Charles Todd have given readers a crackling good mystery with a devilishly clever and intricate plot. It all begins when Nurse Crawford, having accompanied a transport of wounded World War I vets from the French battlefields back to England, happens to see one of the soldier's wives bidding a tortuously emotional farewell to a mysterious officer. Shortly thereafter, the hysterical woman is found murdered, and her injured husband commits suicide. Bess, the impartial witness to the incident in the train station, soon becomes enmeshed in Scotland Yard's investigation. An unlikely confession by one of the many suspects prompts Bess to continue to delve more deeply into the officially closed case, thus annoying the authorities and putting her life and reputation in grave danger.

As readers familiar with the Todds' other books will already know, the authors have a special talent for recreating historical settings and mores, particularly those in England during and after the First World War. Coupled with their ability to conjure up interesting characters and fascinating plots that end with highly dramatic and exciting resolutions, their books are invariably great reads that are hard to put down. "An Impartial Witness" is no exception to the rule, and thus is highly recommended for your reading enjoyment.


No Title Available

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Sampler Pack, Perfect for Entertaining, January 19, 2011
This Green Mountain Flavor Sampler is a great item to have on hand when you're entertaining a large group of friends. It also makes a nice host or hostess gift when visiting someone who has a Keurig coffee brewer. Of the four varieties included, three of them rank among my personal all-time favorite K-cups. Rain Forest Nut is a deliciously smooth medium blend with no bitter undertone whatsoever. The Wild Mountain Blueberry tastes exactly as you might imagine: full-bodied and sweet, with a satisfyingly tangy aftertaste. The Vanilla Caramel Creme makes a wonderful dessert coffee: it's rich, smooth, and has an appetizing aroma. I also enjoy the French Vanilla; it's just not as distinctive as the other three, and tends to be the least seldom chosen the coffee drinkers in my world.

Another little tidbit about this Green Mountain Sampler: two of the flavors -- the Rain Forest Nut and the Wild Mountain Blueberry -- are Fair Trade Certified, which simply means that the coffee farmers who grew the beans were paid a living wage for their crops. I like that concept. It makes my morning cup of Joe just that much more pleasurable.


Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Spicy Eggnog, K-Cup Portion Pack for Keurig Brewers 24-Count
Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Spicy Eggnog, K-Cup Portion Pack for Keurig Brewers 24-Count
Offered by Perfect Samplers
Price: $15.05
8 used & new from $15.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich Eggnog Flavor with a Dash of Nutmeg, January 19, 2011
This wonderful K-Cup variety brings to mind fond memories of sitting around the fireplace with my grandparents and enjoying a delicious glass of cold eggnog topped with a generous sprinkling of nutmeg. The coffee has an inviting aroma and a distinct eggnog flavor that is quite satisfying. And I very much like the fact that it is Fair-Trade certified, which means that the coffee grower was paid a living wage for their crop.

I heartily recommend this K-Cup flavor, but must note that taste is a highly subjective matter ... especially when it comes to coffees, which we all "doctor" in our own unique way. I drink mine with fat free non-dairy creamer and artificial sweetener (Truvia) which seems to be bring out the coffee's undertones. Your results may vary, so I might suggest that you read as many reviews as possible when you are considering an unfamiliar variety, and base your purchasing decision on the general consensus rather than any one review. Cheers!


Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Golden French Toast, K-cups For Keurig Brewers, 24-count 8.8 Ounce Box
Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Golden French Toast, K-cups For Keurig Brewers, 24-count 8.8 Ounce Box

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fragrant and Delicious ... No Bitter After-Taste, January 16, 2011
I truly enjoy the taste and aroma of this delicious K-Cup selection, which does indeed remind me of those special mornings during childhood when my mother would make French Toast and serve it to the family with warm maple syrup on the side. The coffee is medium-bodied (I would describe it as "mellow"), and doesn't have the bitter after-taste that so many flavored coffees seem to leave. And I very much like the fact that it is Fair-Trade certified, which means that the coffee grower was paid a living wage for their crop.

I heartily recommend this K-Cup flavor, but of course taste is highly subjective ... especially when it comes to coffees, which we all "doctor" in our own unique way. (I drink mine with fat free non-dairy creamer and artificial sweetener.) So I might suggest that you read as many reviews as possible when you are considering an unfamiliar variety, and base your purchasing decision on the general consensus rather than any one review. Enjoy!


Apache
Apache
DVD ~ Burt Lancaster
23 used & new from $7.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars APACHE: Film, Format, Timing & Quality of the 2001 DVD Release, January 15, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apache (DVD)
Although I'm a huge fan of Burt Lancaster, with an affinity for Westerns, even I have to admit that "Apache" is not one of Burt's best films. Very loosely based on the true story of the last member of the title tribe to resist the sociological and cultural changes brought about by the advancement of the white man, the film is well-acted, ably directed, and impressively photographed. However, the script by James R. Webb too often sacrifices characterization and context for action, and thus the audience is never really given the opportunity to learn much about the background of Lancaster's character, Massai, and what has made him into the man we meet in the film's opening sequence. "Apache" runs roughly an hour and a half; had an extra fifteen to twenty minutes been added showing Massai's early years and establishing his tribe's cultural heritage, the movie would have taken on additional dimensions and layers and might have been a great motion picture rather than just a good one.

Speaking of the film's length, its actual running time has been in dispute since its original theatrical release back in 1954. Even then, various resources listed it as running as short as 86 minutes, and as long as 91 minutes. The MGM "Western Legends" DVD release (copyrighted in 2001) runs 87 minutes, and there is no solid evidence to indicate that any footage is missing from this version. Similarly, although some modern sources claim that "Apache" was originally exhibited in a 1.85:1 widescreen format, that ratio would have made the film an anomaly back in 1954 when CinemaScope was still in its infancy and most features were still being produced in the standard 1.37:1 format. The "Western Legends" release notes that the DVD is presented in a standard, "modified to fit your screen" ratio, but my research has lead me to conclude that the film was modified from 1.37:1 down to 1.33:1, not from 1.85:1 down to 1.33:1.

What is certain is that the "Western Legends" DVD release does not offer the best print of the film now available in terms of visual clarity. While some scenes are remarkably sharp and clear, others are too soft, with improper color balance. A more consistent, seemingly restored print has been screened on various premium cable TV channels during the past few years. Hopefully, this improved edition will be made available on DVD and/or Blu-Ray in the future, now that the "Western Legends" DVD has gone out-of-print.


Donut House Collection Coffee, Chocolate Glazed Donut, K-Cup Portion Count for Keurig K-Cup Brewers, 24-Count
Donut House Collection Coffee, Chocolate Glazed Donut, K-Cup Portion Count for Keurig K-Cup Brewers, 24-Count
Price: $14.64
29 used & new from $12.49

38 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Taste It Promises, But I Like It Nonetheless, January 15, 2011
I think that Donut House's "Chocolate Glazed Donut" coffee is perhaps misnamed. In my experience, Chocolate Glazed Donuts tend to be very sweet with a strong chocolate flavor. This coffee, on the other hand, has a more subtle taste with a lightly bittersweet undertone. To my mind, it's more reminiscent of a "Chocolate Cake Donut" than the Glazed variety. Even more specifically, it tastes like a chocolate cake donut that has been dipped in a regular cup of coffee, and in the process has taken on a slightly acidic aftertaste. Interestingly, I find that as the coffee cools, the chocolaty taste becomes more pronounced.

Personally, I like the way this coffee smells and tastes, despite the fact that it hardly matches up to its name. Thus, my four star rating. But I can well understand why someone expecting the sweet comfort of a classic chocolate glazed donut would find it objectionable. Keeping in mind that everyone's taste buds are a little bit different, I think you might be well advised to take into consideration many reviewers' opinions before you decide whether this particular K-cup flavor is one that might appeal to you.


A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mysteries)
A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mysteries)
by Charles Todd
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.17
150 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Duty Uncovers Dishonor, January 13, 2011
"A Duty to the Dead", the first volume in the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd, starts off explosively ... literally! ... as the English nurse is introduced as one of the passengers on board Titanic's sister ship, the Britannic, when the latter sinks while in hospital service during World War I. Injured during the tragedy, Bess uses her leave to deliver a cryptic final message to the family of a soldier she had cared for, but who failed to survive his war wounds: "Tell Jonathan I lied. I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right." Little does Bess know that in passing along the dead man's final words, she will reset into motion a long-dormant chain of murder and injustice that began years earlier and that has already engulfed an entire town and destroyed many individuals' lives ... including branches of the deceased soldier's diseased and twisted family tree.

Author Todd (actually the mother and son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd) have a gift for developing intricate and suspenseful plots; and yet they are also masters are creating full-bodied characters in historical settings. Their previous work on the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, also set in England during World War I and its aftermath, has already earned them a legion of enthusiastic fans who admire the authors' ability to build up layers of mystery and then resolve all the questions during a tense and action-filled climax. Happily, "A Duty to the Dead" measures up to the high standards this ingenuous team has already set. Based on their skill in bringing Bess Crawford to life in this fledgling effort - and its sequel, "An Impartial Witness" - I can only believe that this new series will bring them new laurels. And deservedly so!


No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly Engineered and Easy to Use, January 9, 2011
The simplehuman wall mount paper towel holder and dispenser is one of the nicest gifts I have ever given myself. Rather than mount mine to the wall, I chose to install it underneath one of my kitchen cabinets, and it absolutely works like a charm. It has been designed to handle a quadruple-sized roll of towels, and makes it possible to tear off one towel at a time, using just one hand! And it's so easy to load ... simply squeeze the spring-loaded knob at the end of the knob, slide the new roll of towels onto the bar, and push the knob back into place. Voila! You're ready to "roll" ... or "unroll", as the case may be.

If you're tired of trying to grab a paper towel and either having the whole roll unravel or ... even worse ... come off the dispenser and fall onto the counter or floor, you owe it to yourself to purchase one of these simplehuman holders. Life's too short to waste your time dealing with a problem so easily solved! Highly recommended.


The Silent Land: A novel
The Silent Land: A novel
by Graham Joyce
Edition: Hardcover
63 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Puzzle, Cleverly Solved, January 6, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Reading Graham Joyce's "The Silent Land" proved to be an unexpected pleasure. I approached the book with modest hopes, but it grabbed my attention within the first few pages and held it all the way through. In fact, this spellbinding blend of mystery, suspense, and the supernatural quickly became one of those rare novels that I use as a special treat; each night after my work for the day was done, I would curl up and allow myself the pleasure of reading a couple of chapters as a "reward" for my daily accomplishments.

I won't reveal any spoilers, but the book is a two-character study of a married couple who are caught in an avalanche during a skiing holiday. After digging themselves out of the snow, they find themselves in a strange new world, where the normal laws of time and space don't apply. Are they dreaming? Hallucinating? Have they crossed over into the Twilight Zone? Just when I thought I had figured it all out, author Joyce introduced a clever twist that made me reconsider everything that had transpired earlier in the book ... and then proceeded to keep me off-balance through the rest of the tale as he revealed more and more seemingly contradictory facts about his characters and the world they inhabited. The ending was truly a knock-out; although I never quite saw it coming, it nonetheless made perfect sense and provided an enjoyable solution to an exhilarating puzzle.

Mr. Joyce is definitely a skillful writer who knows just how to turn a phrase, and is an expert at building both character and suspense. I am pleased to recommend this book to you, and sincerely hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did.


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