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Caponsacchi RSS Feed (Kenosha,, WI United States)

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SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post
SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post
Price: $41.99
17 used & new from $33.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Buy a treehouse or two guinea pigs instead., October 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If your cat can be schooled in the use of these posts, this one is certainly "best of breed." I said "schooled": it won't be forced or fooled (my cats now have less interest in catnip spray than hair spray).

Problem: This time my wife allowed me to adopt two cats withOUT declawing (probably because I had first asked for a potbelly housepig). She fears a repeat of damage to our furntiture, which had been the result of claws the last few times (claws puncturing leather sofas = not good). This time I promised to do what I could to discourage these silly but smart and willful animals from ravaging our interior. Thus far, it hasn't been the furniture but the wall-paper they've gone after. Like faithful and quiet little workers, they show up at their self-appointed times and proceed to strip the walls, even though we had no plans of repapering (until now).

First, I ordered the $20 model that's supposed to work on the floor or by setting it up vertically with a screw into our wallboard. Bad idea. Not only was it ineffective, but you had begun the process of defacing your walls in the very act of setting the darn thing up. So the Ultimate Scatching Post seemed like a last resort.

I hope it isn't. Because as impressive as it looks (it takes its place, residing as a formidible 4-sided scratching post wherever you decide to place it--looking like both a "barrier" between the cat and the wallpaper as well as the more attractive option of the two). Of course, I placed it directly in front of some of the most flagrantly tvandalized sections of wallpaper. Doing so, merely seemed to attract, not repel, the cats to that site (reminiscent of America's deployment of troops to Iraq serving to attract El Qaeda to the region). Moreover, it seemed to increase the determination of these devilish contrarians to spite me, by going behind the post and once again "having at" the wallpaper, taking up where they'd left off. (I was reminded of the feminist short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," in which a woman imagines she's trapped behind the wallpaper--which is somewhat how I began to feel. Suddenly I was sharing the victimhood of women in a patriarchal society--maybe that was the lesson my silent and sapient female friends were trying to teach me!)

So other than figuratively, the post proved entirely ineffective in attracting my cats' notice and, more importantly, their eager claws, which I frankly had hoped would begin savaging the scratching post rather than the wallpaper of the home we were thinking of putting on the market. Some neighbors have recoomended tree stumps. but I've tried them to no avail with my first cats. I may as well put a fire hydrant in my house. Somehow, I think the wallpaper has spoken to them and they can't bear to hear of any alternative.

I've already spent a small fortune in cat toys, furniture, food, medicines, tonics, etc., etc. Cats aren't dogs (obedient) or mini-pigs (reward-incentivized). They dio what they do. The best you can do is enable them to do it in less injurious ways. The most effective investment has been a hundred bucks in one of those several-platormed perches that extends 7-feet up to the ceiling. Also, the simple mouse on a string usualyl awakens their interest for a few brief moments--after which they merely regard it disdainfully. I've gone to Sparky, a male guinea pig I found on sale at Petco. I'm reading some promising hint into my cats' obvious jealousy over the attention afforded to Sparky.

They're certainly not going to secure my attention by their "bad cat" antics. Get your act together, or take 2nd place to Sparky!

PetSafe Simply Clean Continuous-Clean Litter Box
PetSafe Simply Clean Continuous-Clean Litter Box
Price: $75.98
32 used & new from $49.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High-concept design (if only my cats were abstract thinkers!), October 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I gave this to my engineer son, who is custodian for a household of kids, dogs and cats but, more importantly, an engineer with an inventive mind. He immediately saw this device as an improbable machine that would deprive him of more time than it would eliminate cat waste from the family's domicile. It doesn't require upper-level math skills to conclude that the machine would best be given back to the giver (my 4th and final attempt to lessen his feline duties).

Now that I'm retired, I've had time to set this up and give it a spin. At first I was as unimpressed as my cats were curious about an open, round litter tray allowing them to use half of its diameter. Soon I began to revise my opinion upward a bit. The tray moves imperceptibly and reliably--and it does pick up most of the big clumps and automatically bag them.

As I said above, it manages to catch "most" of the clumps--not all of them. in fact, the remnants in combination with the non-enclosed litter box transmitted a bad odor after the 2nd or 3rd day. Also, some of the litter along with the souvenirs from my cats spilled outside of the circular pan, landing on our polished hardwood floor--not so good. Finally, when their conventional litterbox was set up close to this one, my cats politely formed a line in front of the more familiar box, each waiting for her turn in privacy and comfort.

So this gets a qualifiied recommendation. It's a good idea that is perhaps still ahead of its time and insufficiently successful to subsidize some much needed improvements. I plan to use it downstairs as a 2nd litter box the next time the cats are left home alone. Then these intelligent creatures will be able to deliberate a challenging choice: "Do I like the conventional box enough to go upstairs to use it, or shall I make use of this new-fangled gizmo that's close by my toys, bed, and dishes?" Any bets?

9Lives Seafood and Poultry Variety Pack, 24-Count
9Lives Seafood and Poultry Variety Pack, 24-Count
Price: $9.48
9 used & new from $9.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Value (even better if your cats will eat it), October 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
One can of this is large enought to feed both my cats for the day--if they would eat it. I fed them nothing but Fancy Feast (the small can variety) for the first 3 months after rescuing them from Animal Rescue. As a result, they're as spoiled as the king of N. Korea. They resolutely turn up their noses at and assiduously avoid all large cans such as this (I've even tried putting it 9Lives in a Fancy Feast can, allowing them to see me dispense it from the jr.-sized can. No dice. They're on to my practices as a deceiver (as they say, it takes one to know one).

Jazz Poet
Jazz Poet
Price: $9.99
28 used & new from $6.73

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soft or hard, easy or challenging: Flanagan's "art of scale" encompasses the ranges of great jazz piano playing., October 7, 2014
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This review is from: Jazz Poet (Audio CD)
The art of Tommy Flanagan is delicate, nuanced, detailed to a degree that makes you want to listen to a track over and over--partly because he makes it seem so simple and accessible yet at the same time casts a spell like few other pianists during my lifetime. With Tommy it's all about "scale"--not melodic scales (though his melodic ideas are at once sensible and surprising) but the proportioning of the instrument to the performer and of the piano to the other instruments in the ensemble.

He's an exceptionally light-fingered pianist, yet the best musicians--especially pianists--will recognize his strengths. Because of his unique dynamic contouring, a phrase that might sound pianissimo when played by other pianists sounds like a bold, strong forté when Tommy plays it.

Flanagan also remains one of the freshest pianists because he adheres to no school, employs no pre-rehearsed or formulaic gimmicks (not even "hip" chord substitutions and unique voicings of a familiar chord). He plays no more than what's needed. His left hand might settle for a mere 2 notes instead of all 5, yet if there's an open space, that same hand will, much like Earl Hines' left hand, become part of the action, occasionallly continuing the melodic idea or simply supplying a counter melody.

It should be obvious by now that Flanagan's art depends on the most empathetic, sensitive, alert players. Unlike some Flanagan sessions, where the bass player is too loud or the tough tenor simply too rough, this one is simply perfect in its balance of textures. Again and again, George Mraz takes up residence in Tommy's brain, thinking and phrasing just like Tommy. Practically all of the drummers who play with Flanagan are sufficiently professional to catch on--Kenny Washington and Al Foster paint rhythmic pictures with their telepathic brush work; Elvin Jones sounds like a completely different drummer from the musician renowned for his polyrhythmic thunder in the John Coltrane Quartet. With Tommy, Elvin is the essence of purity and good taste--whether on a Flanagan recording from the '50s or one made 30 years later. Only Elvin's vocal grunting gives him away.

In short, the title doesn't lie. Some listeners may react negatively just as many did with the trios of Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal. "Cocktail music," "easy listening" were some of the pejorative epithets heaped upon either player. Tommy certainly goes down "might easy," but if you want to make it hard--which is the position any serious student of art should take--Flanagan's music can be as challenging to explain as a polymath musician such as Art Tatum. Either way, you can't lose with a session like this--but give it more than one or two listens.

Lastly, Tommy is not some sort of quasi-professional, occasionally amateurish-sounding minimalist like, for example, Mal Waldron (I could mention many others who seemed to think they were following the eccentric Thelonious Monk, who actually came out of the demanding stride piano tradition of James P. and Fats Waller--unlike Thelonious, who occasionally wore the Emperor's New Clothes, they wore them out). Flanagan is at all times a professional, a musician's musician, a pianist's pianist, who couldl teach us all more than a thing or two about piano playing and playing effectively with bass and drums. He's the equal of Oscar Peterson--without the thunder and downpour of many notes.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2014 2:36 PM PDT

Kaytee My First Home and Fiesta Complete Starter Kit for Guinea Pigs
Kaytee My First Home and Fiesta Complete Starter Kit for Guinea Pigs
Price: $49.40
15 used & new from $39.95

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good starter--but not quite complete, October 7, 2014
I was in Petco when I saw Sparky, a guinea pig with a hole in his ear. He was all by himself--as if his torn ear made him look undesirable to the store's other colorful and petite chunky monkeys. Not to me, however. And when I put my finger in his aquarium he moved toward iit (most G.P.'s will run away from such a predatory threat).

I was inclined to make the purchase, until I realized I was in a hurry and had no supplies or accommodations. Then I saw this All-in-One starter kit. Problem solved, Within 5 minutes, I was out the door and driving home, with Sparky alongside me in the front seat.

The cage is impressive, especially when compared to the small enclosures I remember using as a kid (probably the reason that very few of my hamsters and gerbils lived beyond a couple of months). After reading up on guinea pigs, their needs, cravings, limitations, it's clear that even a cage this large does not offer a guinea pig enough room to exercise, roam, explore so that it can fulfill its natural instincts and be the rodent-type creature it was meant to be. So while you might be able to share years of companionship with a single piggy in this cage, your little roommate will be happier if you can let it run around (actually they "waddle") outside the cage as much as possible--like daily work-outs in the kitchen (cat-free, of course) or outside in the back-yard (untreated by fertilizers).

Your pet will require at least two additional necessities: 1. Timothy hay--which they must have at all times (they can't eat too much of it). You can simply throw it in their cage, though I've noticed that Sparky prefers to pull it down from the small hay rack I've installed at the top of his cage (it's almost comical to see this porky little guy, with receding mouth placed where my Adam's Apple would be, attempting to pull out a stalk of hay from between the wooden slats); 2. Vitamin C--which Guinea Pigs can't manufacture but which is no less essential to their healthy and well-being.

Optionals (if not necessities):

1. His very own "pad." Since this starter package pretty much comes down to the cage alone, I'm hesitant to give it 5 stars much less call it a bargain. Your pig will feel lost without his own house-within-his house, or a hut to retreat to and "regroup." I passed up the lightweight translucent plastic ones in favor of a strong, heavy and relatively large house (which Petco let me have for $5.

2. A bette, more stabler feeding dish. The one that comes with this kit is both too deep and tipsy, spilling more food than it serves up. The ergonomic ceramic one available from Amazon did the trick.

3. A slatted-hay rack for the Timothy grass (and try to find hay that isn't hard, brittle, completely dried up).

4. A more "visible" water bottle. The included one "works" well, even though the advertised "mount" is nothing more than a single piece of wire. But the color of the bottle is blue, and most of the time I have no way of seeing how much (if any) remains in the bottle. You'll probably want to replace it with a plain glass bottle.

The directions say that the food pellets are essential to the animal for its protein. Since devouring (in a single night) the included package of food, Sparky has treated with disdain the most popular Guinea Pig pellets on Amazon. He appears to be subsisting on treats and Timothy hay alone! Look for the protein pellets that are colorful enough to be appetizing to a human.

Back to the cage. It's easy to clean, and it's strong, both cage and Sparky having lived through the trauma of our big black cat knocking the entire construction off a cupboard and on to the kitchen floor. Twice now, my contortionist feline has even managed to get through the small door and find herself inside of Sparky's cage, tempting me to have them switch places permanently. Sparky could then roam freely and without fear. Moreover, he'd have enough room to keep us entertained with his frequent "popcorning" feats. (If you don't soon notice this phenomenon in your new guinea pig, the animal is unhappy about something. A guinea pig is content when it routinely jumps up in the air, clicking its heels while whistling and doing a complete 360 before landing.)

Price: $9.79
42 used & new from $4.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-flight Flanagan and exemplary jazz trio playing despite a somewhat dated (but improved) audio capture., October 5, 2014
This review is from: Overseas (Audio CD)
[Although I'm giving this classic date the rating it deserves, there's a late Flanagan date that's sort of a reprise of the program of "Overseas" and, at least in some respects, an "improvement" upon the seemingly untouchable (unless, of course, you're T. F.) 1956 session. The title of the date is Sea Changes, and it's state of the art Tommy Flanagan at the ripe and wise age of 67 with two younger, "killer" musicians--Peter Washington (b) and Lewis Nash (d). The recorded sound, moreover, is as true to the actual pianoforte as any recording by this amazing artist--fresh, flowing, exhibiting the resourcefulness of the leader who, like the sea, controls the tensions comprising the forces of life and death. And, despite the title, Tommy Flanagan is an artist too true to himself and therefore too true to his muse to pursue less vibrant tributaries. Almost half a century later he's still the impeccable pianist that the impecccable J. J. Johnson placed first and foremost.]

Tommy Flanagan is an artist of impeccable taste and of scale, never forcing a note or attempting to "play up" to the sonic level of his ensembles but tempering his trios to accommodate his own light but vibrant, breathing, dynamically contoured lines. This 1956 date, originally on Prestige, finds him in prime form with Wilbur Little (b) and a young Elvin Jones (d). On this recent remasteriing, Elvin's drums have been boosted to ensure we'll hear his supportive brushwork as clearly as Tommy did on the original date. Wilbur Little's bass is mixed "just right" (a few later dates, esp. with Ron Carter, overemphasize the sound of amplified, non-decaying acoustic bass), and the piano is good by Prestige standards, especially at this time. But it's not as resonant, natural, and faithful to the source as many of Tommy's later recordings with bassist George Mraz.

If you're new to Flanagan, or have discovered him through his work with J.J. Johnson or John Coltrane (or Tony Bennett or Ella Fitzgerald), to name just a few of his employers, I would start with an album like "Jazz Poet," on which the combination of Flanagan's pure melodicism, the chemistry of the trio, and the ensemble imaging by the engineers is nothing short of perfection. (The same could be said of any of the dates featuring Tommy with Mraz plus Al Foster or Kenny Washington or Elvin Jones (who recorded more with Tommy than with his elder brother, Hank).

Tommy is frequently classified as a "hard bop" pianist. If so, he certainly softened (without smoothing) the hardness. He's the least caculated, formulaic or forced pianist of them all--a pure, "blowing" player whose fount of melodic ideas is inexhaustible. In fact, I know he was bemused to be placed in any "school" or category of jazz improvisation. He was simply beyond category.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 30, 2015 8:51 AM PST

Rayshop - JBM MJ-800 High-Performance Stereo In-Ear Earphones (Assorted Colors) ( Color : Black )
Rayshop - JBM MJ-800 High-Performance Stereo In-Ear Earphones (Assorted Colors) ( Color : Black )
Offered by RayShop
Price: $26.59
2 used & new from $26.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing product in all respects--and always a value--potentially., October 5, 2014
I had heard the rumors and read some of the glowing (albeit "veiled") reviews about some of the new exotic brands of headphones flooding the Western markets. As a result, I've done my own emprical investigation of several models in this line of headphones. By now, it's probably wiser for any beneficiary of these phones to say something like "Contain your expectations" instead of all the hyperbolic froth that they've stirred up among enthusiasts who have never had an opportunity to advance beyond a JVC Gummy Bear set of phoines (actually, better-sounding than some other five-dollar phones once you disentangle their cables that more closely resemble "threads").

I'll say that I have yet to hear a bad JBM set of earphones--none that from the first recorded chord of a piano compells you to pitch them. All of them are impressive in terms of their accuracy of reproduction as well as both clarity and realistic ambiance. These phones have not acquired a swelling underground reputation as a result of tricked-up or gimmick sound (in fact, some users insist they're more "faithful to the original source" (i.e. show a greater degree of high faithfulness, or fidelity) than the trendy Beats phones that Apple spent 4 billion dollars to acquire.

But all of these enconiums must be tempered with a consideration of price. At the price I'm seeing for these MJ-800's (the 700s, 800s, and 900s are equally good) they would not appear to be a "screaming value," the equal of phones at 10 to 30 times the price. Such hyperbolic expressions begin to apply only when the cost of the product to the customer is in the single digits.

All with sound is the question of durability and even, in the minds of some audiophiles, of legality? Why do at least 4 of these new brands tend to look and sound so much alike, differentiated only by names, colors, etc. Why are the boxes always thin, lightweight paper with information that frequently is plain wrong. (JBM is constantly advertizing its "right-angled plug" which is, in actuallity, a plain straight plug.

Welcome to the alluring, often mysterious, always subjective world of miniature headphones ("earphone," or "earbud," is a pejorative term in the minds of audiophiles who treasure their best Ultimate Ears, Etymologics, Shures, etc. as much as the most expensive headphones used by studio engineers.

jBM MJ800 In-ear 3.5mm Plug Earphone Headphones Perfect Precise Sound-Black
jBM MJ800 In-ear 3.5mm Plug Earphone Headphones Perfect Precise Sound-Black
2 used & new from $21.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The newest thing--an unknown who takes on the champions and dethrones them., October 5, 2014
This newly emergent company produces high quality phones that are the sonic equivalent of familiar name brands costing 4 to 8 times the price. I ordered the jBM MJ800 in gold instead of black. The downsides of this color were that it included no original packing and no distinction between left and right channels (I see in the picture of these black phones that the L ear is clearly distinguished from the R ear). From what I've heard, you can't go wrong with these phones.

Price: $19.45
8 used & new from $16.33

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the right drummer OR bass player, October 4, 2014
This review is from: Trio (Audio CD)
Tommy Flanagan spent much of his career as an accompanist (Tony Bennett, Ella) and "side man" (J. J. Johnson, Coltrane). But like fellow Detroiter Hank Jones he would emerge as a formidable leader of his own trio in the company of "young tigers" like Ron Carter and Tony Williams. But three all-star musicians is not always the best chemistry for an empathetic trio, especially in the case of a pianist as unforced and responsive to touch and tone as Tommy Flanagan.

On this session Ron Carter plays acoustic bass at full volume (electric basses can be loud, but they don't have the "volume" of the acoustic). In recent years I've attended concerts by jazz vocalists whose voice was being covered up by an acoustic bass that was over-amplified and overly dependent on an ultra-sensitive pick-up with no decay. The sound was especially trendy in the '70s, and Carter was one of the most notable offenders--"Thwang-Thwang -Thwang-Twhang"--is not how walking bass should ever sound, certainly not with the carefully scaled dynamics and light but inerrant touch of Tommy Flanagan. (Carter plays in the same fashion on a late session with Red Garland, to the same detrimental result.)

Similarly, Tony Williams' driving, aggressive ride cymbal is counterproductive to the "reactive" creations of one of the all-time greats of the modern jazz piano. Flanagan is best heard with players like George Mraz and Al Foster, both of whom understand and contribute to his uniquely unpretentious, unforced creations of dynamic scale. Flanagan's is an art of scale, demanding musicians capable of accommodating their playing to the light yet incisive, nuanced touch that's essential to his inexhaustible melodicism. There's good playing on this recording, but the Flanagan magic isn't there.

Giant Steps
Giant Steps
Price: $14.49
5 used & new from $9.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magician but not by sleight of hand, October 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Giant Steps (Audio CD)
There's a back-story behind this album that, as if Flanagan's playing weren't enough, should make it all the more indispensable. After Cedar Walton had been overwhelmed by the rapid and unconventional chord progression of "Giant Steps," John Coltrane next went to Tommy Flanagan. The results weren't dramatically different, but Flanagan, in Coltrane's estimate, came closer to implementing his daring new concept than Walton and, as a result, is the pianist on Coltrane's most important, seminal album.

Both pianists regretted their first performances and re-recorded "Giant Steps" after they had gotten the tune under their fingers. But no pianist's approach to the tune has been more successful in purely musical terms than Flanagan's, assisted by his favorite team of George Mraz (b) and Al Foster (d). As on all of the other tunes on this collection, "Giant Steps" soars under Tommy's talented fingers, sounding flowing, effortless, and vibrantly fresh with each passing measure. His phrases, as usual, breathe, live and sing with a vibrant beauty that argues for his pre-eminence among the "holy Trinity" of Detroit pianists (Hank Jones and Barry Harris were the other two members) and perhaps the entire school of pianists whose primary inspiration was the music of Bud Powell.

Flanagan never played a bad note--even on the Coltrane recording he gets the nod because of the bad notes he "could have" but elects NOT to play. As accompanist (for Tony and Ella), as sideman (for J.J. Johnson, for whom he was always the first choice), and finally as leader of his own trios, Flanagan was the understated giant of modern pianists. He required no pre-rehearsed phrases, no tricks, no trendy reharmonizations, no unusual voicings of chords, no clever quotations from other tunes. Nothing but the inventions of his own imagination and the near-simultaneous implementation of those momentary inspirations were sufficient to place him above the field of all modern jazz pianists.

He was also the master of "scale," reducing ever tune, every solo, every phrase to a playing field of carefully controlled dynamic extremes, one that permits the slightest trace of extra finger pressure susceptible to his expressive dynamic contouring. It's only when one musician is playing at a level outside of Tommy's carefully controlled dynamics--e.g. Lockjaw Davis' overly excited tenor sax or the sound of Ron Carter's overly amplified, non-decaying walking bass ("thwang-thwang-thwang-thwang")--that Tommy's magic deserts him. Players who don't listen to him and instantly adjust to his dynamics bring credit neither to themselves and certainly do no justice by this extraordinary musician.

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