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Caponsacchi RSS Feed (Kenosha,, WI United States)

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Cats Meow Yellow Undercover Fabric Moving Mouse Cat Play Cat's Toy As Seen on Tv
Cats Meow Yellow Undercover Fabric Moving Mouse Cat Play Cat's Toy As Seen on Tv
Offered by icydeals
Price: $14.99
12 used & new from $14.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the Go Cat Teaser Wand (especially when your arm is tired), June 29, 2015
I would never have put out 20 for yet another cat toy misfire, but when I saw this thing going for half price ($10) on clearance at Walgreen's, I thought: What's not to lose? After all of the Amazon hi-rated toys, balls, rails, wands, catnip, etc. that I've showered upon the world's two most apathetic felines, this one was a slam dunk when, on a quick trip for a prescription, I encountered the contraption without time to give it a second thought (previously, the almost universally negative reviews discouraged purchase).

I used it for the first time 30 minutes ago--and for a good 25 minutes it had both cats pouncing, bobble-heading, clutching, looking beneath and above--and the best part was that I wasn't holding some stick up overhead, feeling the blood drain from my arm and almost hoping they'd lose interest and go away.

Sure, I may be premature in my evaluation, but I've easily gotten my ten bucks' worth out of this toy already. (Have you noticed how quickly those pricey wands are broken?)

Even with the thing clicked to "Off" both cats are glued to the immobile contraption, waiting for it to come back to life. I'm enjoying just watching them get ready for the kill.

P.S. You'll need to provide the batteries (C).

Toshiko Akiyoshi at Maybeck (Maybeck Recital Hall Series, Volume 36)
Toshiko Akiyoshi at Maybeck (Maybeck Recital Hall Series, Volume 36)
18 used & new from $5.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Toshiko--and the rest of us--deserve better, June 26, 2015
I'm sorry, but as a pianist myself I'm ever so sensitive to the problems that can lead to a "bad day." Nevertheless, I learn as much from other pianists' mistakes as from their accomplishments. Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s Toshiko Akiyoshi's big band was a musical oasis in the midst of Fender Rhodes keyboards and then Yamaha DX7 synthesizers while electronic con-"fusion" music drowned out the sounds of mainstream jazz artists. No band--including the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra--was as consistently exciting and creative as the band of Toshiko (with Lew Tabackin sharing, and probably deserving, co-billing). Their catalog of RCA albums, alone, is sufficient testimony to Toshiko's all-around brilliance (it's available in box set from Mosaic Records).

Toshiko gave up much when she left her homeland to attend Berklee School of Jazz in Boston, where she studied music as a direct descendant in the lineageo of the great Bud Powell and soon became, along with Marian McPartland, virtually the ONLY female jazz pianist who mattered throughout the 1950s. The previous review is right in proclaiming the present solo piano outing something less than Toshiko's shining hour--but there are reasons for that, ranging from her attention to composing and arranging for her large ensemble to her responsibilities to her original homeland, to her marriage and personal life in the U.S. I'm frankly surprised she agreed to the Maybeck assignment but am grateful that she did--and moreover that she did not attempt to block release of a recording not representative of her best.

What I'm hearing on the recording admittedly makes me miss her big band and her role in it. Had she the financial resources, that ensemble would still be heralded as the best American jazz band under the leadership of anyone, male or female, American or Japanese. Unfortunately, America's priorities in art and music--and, above all, its funding of award recipients--i.e. the big money and grants from private donors--recently overlooked Toshiko in favor of 3 less pianists: 1. the composer of "Watermelon Man"; 2. the pianist who recently released a tribute to Fats Waller without so much as a hint of Fats in a banal, immediately forgettable, "smooth jazz" recording; and finally the "Down Beat" 5-Category winner who has hypnotized critics and musicians alike by claiming to build new bridges in history, international relations and music through the combination of a Michael Jackson tune with the Fibonacci Series (an ancient rudimentary formula so common as to be a regular tool for selecting stocks on Yahoo's Financial pages).

None of these three suddenly-rich jazz keyboard "phee-noms" can be heard on the Maybeck Recital series, and frankly it's just as well: none would equal Toshiko's playing. And, sadly, none has contributed greatly toward a wider, or certainly better, understanding of what was once a vital American art form. Perhaps it's to be expected. We regularly see millions given to the presidential campaigns of those whose only program is "to win, at any cost." Expected or not, it's still a deplorably out-of-tune approach to building a democratic country.

Part of the misunderstanding comes from poorly informed critics who insist on defining jazz as an African-American, or marginalized people's, art form, which in their minds excludes from consideration a woman artist who is Japanese-American. But jazz is as much a "Jewish-American" as an African-American art form. Without the music of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Jimmy Van Heusen, Harry Warren, Jule Styne, etc., it's doubtful whether the music could have evolved into an art form--just as there could have been no American popular song without the influence of jazz. The two are inseparable, symbiotic, one and the same. Ken Burns would do the public a favor by making for PBS a history of American popular song comparable with his history of jazz. Not only should he have little trouble in funding it, but its sponsors would stand to be the biggest benefactors.

Just as the word "swing" has died out in terms of its reference to music, the term "jazz" is on the verge of dying out, along with the music it refers to, due to neglect--but also to ignorance. We are a nation of rich and poor--and of scandalous waste. The well-intentioned but ill-considered throwing of large sums of money at a few favored musicians is, unfortunately, counter-productive. It merely rewards a new tiny minority while serving to destroy a nation's artistic heritage.

Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 16
Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 16
Price: $10.99
40 used & new from $2.25

5.0 out of 5 stars The best pianist for the job, June 26, 2015
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Although my favorite Hank Jones is his brilliant playing on the blues changes behind Coleman Hawkins on a British date (with bassist Ray Brown and a drummer whose name escapes me), entitled "The High-Flying Hawk," Hank may be even more impressive in his mastery of the art which Bill Evans acknowledged as the highest calling of a jazz pianist--solo jazz piano. The reason for Bill's respect comes down to the modern pianist's challenge of maintaining a swing (walking-bass or stride) feeling in the left hand while simultaneously improvising in the right. It was not until the 1940s that the accoustic bass was sufficiently developed in the hands of Blanton, Pettiford, Brown and Mingus to appropriate that task onto itself, allowing pianists to concentrate exclusively on "blowing" Bird-like lines with their right hands.

At the same time that Bill announced his priority he confessed his own inadequacies. He was simply not practiced in the art of two-handed piano playing to make solo piano his strongest game. However, this did not prevent him from making two strong solo piano albums on which he implies, rather that explicitly states, the rhythms that pianists had once delegated to the left hand. In the latter regard the strongest of all solo pianists in jazz was Art Tatum, followed by Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Earl Fatha Hines, Erroll Garner, and some of the younger pianists whose precocious work with early left-hand styles left them at a disadvantage in creating the right-handed melodies of Bud Powell and his followers.

Hank Jones--the pianist who preceded Oscar as regular pianist for the annual Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts sponsored by impressario Norman Granz (Hank was preceded by Nat King Cole, who was pianist for the very first JATP concert in 1944)--may be the best pianist to "bridge" the gap between stride and modern jazz piano. In his early years he excelled at playing in the manner of Art Tatum (minus Art's prodigious technique), and only after the age of 60 did he form a jazz piano trio (with Tony Williams on drums) in the manner of Bud, Oscar, Gene Harris and Monty Alexander.

Consequently, he comes closest (at least to my ears) to satisfying both roles--that of the left-handed, stride pianist and that of the right-handed, solo artist--of sll the performers recorded in this Maybeck series. (I find it of great interest to compare his treatments of the standards here with his playing of the same tunes behind vocalist Roberta Gambarini on her 2007 release, "You Are There." Like Art Tatum, he keeps a good riff rather than toss it away in favor of another, potentially inferior, one.)

Live At Maybeck Recital Hall, Volume 9
Live At Maybeck Recital Hall, Volume 9
Price: $9.99
59 used & new from $0.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Of special interest to erstwhile jazz pianists (other listeners may wish to pick up a few of Marian's trio albums first), June 22, 2015
My favorite Marian McPartland Jazz Piano show on NPR (she guested the series for well over 30 years) is her exchange with Bill Evans in 1978, just prior to his launching his 3rd, and final, trio with Marc Johnson and Joe Labarbera--a jazz piano ensemble that would play right up to Bill's death (Sept. 15, 1980) and arguably rivas Bill's first trio with master bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Motian.

On this occasion, Bill makes no reference to the Maybeck Recital Hall series but still manages to explain the challenge to practically each of the pianists who performed for the series. "Playing solo piano," he asserts to Marian's surprise, "is the highest form of jazz piano" but one he freely admits to being "beyond his competencies." Obviously, he's referring to the problem of the modern jazz pianist's relatively inactive left hand which, unlike the virtuoso approach of the great stride pianists (Tatum, Waller, James P. Johnson, Hines, etc.), has not been required to maintain a constant rhythmic pattern, thanks to Duke Ellington's introduction, in 1940, of Jimmy Blanton, the first great "walking bass" player.

Bill then proceeds to demonstrate how he compensates for the bass player's absence through "anticipatory prhasing," shifting the accents in a manner that makes the meter feel like it's ahead of itself, whether by a single beat or several measures. Marian then admits that she had been influenced by Bill's approach to try much the same. Not only Marian's but every pianist's degree of success can be measured on practically all of the volumes in Concord's Maybeck Series. Surprisingly, Concord asked very few of the remaining stride pianists to "do what comes naturally" to them. The result is a series of recordings of much value to pianists who, like Marian and all of the others, have come to depend upon solid walking bass players for their rhythmic support. To the degree that the pianist can make the listener forget about the bass player's absence, the performer succeeds--and the listener stands to profit, especially if he or she plays jazz piano.

Marian's session is especially valuable because the programming is practically 100% jazz "standards," including her own "Twilight World." She was the most recorded and popular jazz pianist throughout the 1950s, which saw the introduction of the 33rpm album. Yet Marian's bridging the worlds of the 78rpm and the 33rpm LP actually works to her advantage, since her awareness of the 3-minute time-limit of the earlier format required her to "say the most with the least," or to play each jazz improvisation with an economy that does not waste the listener's time.

Brubeck's "The Duke" is pretty much "by the book," or exactly as Brubeck wrote it for "Brubeck Plays Brubeck." The other improvisations are strictly Marian's, each showing equal respect to the melodic structure and harmonic ideas of the original composition. I didn't find the audience applause distracting (a complaint of some reviewers) since my first exposure to jazz piano was the mid-'50s Columbia Dave Brubeck album, "Jazz Goes to College," on which loud applause and high-frequency whistling can be heard throughout. (I only wish young people had such enthusiasm about instrumental music in the new millennium.)

F7C008 AC Charger
F7C008 AC Charger
9 used & new from $13.52

5.0 out of 5 stars The butler did it, and continues to do it--an indispensable accessory for the iPod / iPhone collector., June 21, 2015
This review is from: F7C008 AC Charger (Electronics)
Simply put, this is the best accessory since the invention of the iPod. It enables me to have three older iPods ready to go every morning as well as any additional, 4th device (Kindle, phone, battery) I might attach to the charging port on the right side.

Yes, it's slow, but that's of no matter if the user remembers to push the big white charging button every night (thereby activating a green light). . By morning all 4 devices will be completely charged.

This not only saves space but uses the extra space to great advantage. You will know where your devices are as well as those cables that otherwise seem to be lost, misplaced, or broken whenever they're needed. Simply remember to push the button and to use durable cables, and your personal Valet will repay your small investment. It's the perfect product for the right user.

2 used & new from $22.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, versatile, dependable and durable (unless you have a butler, this ingenious accessory is the next best thing)., June 21, 2015
From my perspective, the Belkin Valet is one of the most useful, versatile and durable accessories since the invention of the iPod and iPhone. It enables me to place three iPods on its flat top (the valet itself is next to my bed, on top of a Tivoli Stereo System) and to attach a Kindle, smartphone, or charging battery to the charging port on the device's right side.

Were it not for this product, my three "older," dock-connecter iPods would be up in the attic, languishing at the bottom of a box full of forgotten gadgets and outdated electronic paraphernalia. Thanks to the Belkin Valet, those 3 iPods are ready to go for each new visit by my granddaughters, and my external pocket charger is ready to come to the rescue whenever an iPod loses its charge. An additional benefit of this product is that it saves me from continually misplacing and losing the cables needed to charge a particular device (I count at least 6 different cable connectors).

As for some users' dissatisfaction with the Valet, yes, it is not a powerful, rapid charger. But if you remember to push the white button that activates a green light, all 4 of your devices will be fully charged by morning. The device is simple and failsafe but not "fool-proof." To receive the full value of this product, Belkin is asking you to do the following: 1. Push the big white button that activates the shiny green light; 2. Use sturdy cables that will not break after the frequent connection, disconnection, and reconnection of various devices.

If you do your part, the Belkin Valet should serve you (and your grandchildren) for many years to come. Mine has held up for 3 years--occasionally serving to charge a device using a Lightning or Mini connector (presently I'm using 3 "dock-connector" cables and one "mcroi-connector" cable.

When I purchased this product 3 years ago, the going price was $30-35 (I got it on sale for $20). Frankly, I don't see more than $35 worth of materials in the Belkin Valet. Nevertheless, its practical value to me would probably lead me to purchase the Valet for $100 (or more, if necessary). On the other hand, this device is made to work with any 4 devices that come with a rechargeable battery. Belkin wouldn't need to spend a dime on improvements or updates. By simply reissuing the product as is, the company could have a winner on its hands--if the consumer, now overburdened with too many gadgets, has finally "wised up" to the practical necessity of a device made with such elegant simplicity. This is the kind of product that instills consumer goodwill toward the product's maker. I have yet to find anything comparable with the Belkin Valet.

Omron 7 Series Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor
Omron 7 Series Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor
Price: $43.99
119 used & new from $43.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good deal!, June 19, 2015
I think the blood pressure medication that I'm taking is sapping my daytime energy--making me too lethargic to bother with the somewhat elaborate arm cuff monitor that I've recently bequeathed to my wife. When I saw this Omron 7 Wrist Monitor at Walgreen's listed at a "$45 discount to the regular price," I thought "Why not? This time the store price certainly must beat Amazon's low price."

Imagine my dismay (not hard--it wasn't much--$8 worth, to be exact) when I saw the unit going at a lower price on Amazon (I paid $55 for the monitor, which Walgreen's claimed had a list price of $100). As usual I learned that you simply can't beat Amazon's prices and service.

As for the monitor, I doubt you'll find a better one if you plan to go with a wrist model. It may be slightly less accurate that the same manufacturer's arm cuff but not enough to forfeit the convenience and speed (not to mention the space-saving size) of the wrist model. If you're still not sure, take reviewers' ratings very seriously. This one has received the reviews of more people than the combined population of two different towns that I've lived in. When a product receives that number of reviews and still manages to maintain a 4 1/2 star rating, there's no point to consider a cuff averaging a 4 star rating from far fewer reviewers--even at half the price.

As usual, Omron--which makes the best pedometer at the most affordable price--has a hands-down winner with a wrist cuff that's as accurate as most arm cuffs. The unit "requires" you to be connected and in the right posture before it will activate. If you want a no-brainer gadget that's fool-proof and that you'll actually use, this is the one to buy.

Jazz Piano Masterclass: The Drop 2 Book
Jazz Piano Masterclass: The Drop 2 Book
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A requisite after hearing Bill solo on "On Green Dolphin Street" (or Monty on the "The Good Life" and "Come Fly with Me"), June 17, 2015
Recently I heard that Diana Krall had arranged to take a few lessons with über-accompanist Mike Renzi (Mel Tormé, Jack Jones, Tony Bennett). Since I can't afford Renzi (or the equally gifted Frank Collett, who coaxed Sarah to better her best), I thought I'd try finding some of the same wisdom in book form. So far, Levine's relatively brief (for him) but spot-on "Masterclass" looks the one to own.

After reading the sample from Chapter 1, I'm beginning to think I purchased the wrong two books by the author--"Complete Jazz Theory" and "Complete Jazz Piano." Both are impressive but daunting books that someone who prefers playing tunes to practicing them may quickly lose patience with. But "Jazz Piano Masterclass" is immediately engaging and, moreover, practical. It begins with a tune that's more frequently played than "Satin Doll" on the ever-less-frequent extemporaneous meetings among musicians--Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa." And for a piano player it's an immediate "pay-off" to see (while mentally hearing) the voicing of the melody in two similar formats, one basic and the other advanced, both more complex than my usual approaches (playing the melody with single notes, or octaves, or 6ths in my right hand.

The author brings his approach into sharp focus through immediately accessible illustrations (e.g. play this scale using only your 5th little finger), and he refreshes the out-dated, handcuffing "diminished chord" but redefining it.

Conclusion: I wish I'd purchased this instead of the first book that appeared upon entering "Voicings for jazz piano" in Amazon Search. I'll be buying this as soon as I've made my peace with the aforementioned 3 volumes.

Cruising (Deluxe Edition)
Cruising (Deluxe Edition)
DVD ~ Al Pacino
Offered by Outlet Promotions
Price: $23.97
12 used & new from $15.45

4.0 out of 5 stars No "Chinatown" but tense, engaging and provocative as a contemporary example of "film noir", June 15, 2015
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This review is from: Cruising (Deluxe Edition) (DVD)
This was definitely an "edgy" film, likely to disturb if not offend several different audiences at the time of its release. Viewers with a gay orientation might be offended by the film's exclusive focus on a promiscuous sub-culture that, while stereotyping, was not necessarily inaccurate in its portrayal of sexual attitudes and practices--both straight and gay--prior to the first appearance of HIV symptoms in 1980. Straight viewers of the movie would be more likely to be shocked than offended (assuming they have enough background to make sense of actions that are "suggested" by dir. William Friedkin's camera rather than filmed explicitly or made graphic). Al Pacino fans might be upset that an enormously popular movie star would not only play the role of a "practicing" homosexual but arrive at a point where his character becomes confused about his sexual identity. (Some of the confusion expressed in reviews of the film actually reflects the conflict in the character's own mind--is he gay or straight or both?)

If the character ultimately can't decide whether he's gay or straight, it's not surprising that some spectators appear to be dismissive or even in denial about this film and its star. At one level, the film is a conventional "film noir" detective story in the same tradition as the best Dashiell Hammett/Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler/Phillip Marlowe films of the 1940s. But it's at the same time an example of a contemporary "film noir" movie, deserving comparison with Polanski's masterwork, "Chinatown" (1974) and Clint Eastwood's adept hand at the genre in "Tightrope" (1985). "Cruising" resembles the former work in its avoidance of a "happy," or even, clear-cut ending, and it begs comparison with the latter in the character's ambivalence about his own identity (Eastwood's detective visits the same massage parlors as the serial killer, with whom he momentarily identifies).

Given all of the foregoing, it's not surprising that the film was not a commercial success and received very mixed reviews from critics. In fact, the film may have been doomed from the outset. As a fellow at NYU during the on-location filming of "Cruising," I recall loud protests and demonstrations against the film's making by the gay community and less vocal disapproval by faculty and students. In some instances, such "free publicity" might only serve to ensure the success of the project--at least at the box office. Whether "unwholesome" or not, it was the aforementioned ambiguities that condemned the film to obscurity among the general American public, while the widely-publicized denunciations of the film in the streets along with the reviews of "newly-sensitized" critics sparked a virtual boycott of the film in a post-Stonewall world.

It retrospect, it seems regrettable if the failure of this film led to the premature end of a promising director's career (Friedkin's "The Exorcist" was readily proclaimed the greatest horror film in the genre). Seen today, "Crusing" is more likely to disappoint than to offend. Although it falls far short of "Chinatown," the film is still capable of engaging if not riveting the senses of viewers who are fans of the genre of "film noir" and who can accept Al Pacino playing the role of an unconventional detective in a socially-unacceptable world. It still must rank as more provocative than Eastwood's rather conventional treatment of the genre in "Tightrope."

HouseOfToners Remanufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for Canon PG-240XL & CL-241XL (1 Black & 1 Color, 2-Pack)
HouseOfToners Remanufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for Canon PG-240XL & CL-241XL (1 Black & 1 Color, 2-Pack)
Offered by HouseOfToners
Price: $28.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth it for a Canon Pixma MG3520, June 14, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The black cartridge was not read by my Canon Pixma MG3520 printer, and I can find no quick fixes or work-arounds on the internet for making a filled but misread cartridge work for this printer. The cartridge printed exactly 2 pages (no indication of fading or a low supply). Then the machine simply told me to replace the black cartridge and refused to print a 3rd sheet. Game over.

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