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North and South (BBC)
North and South (BBC)
DVD ~ Daniela Denby-ashe
Price: $16.03
35 used & new from $10.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Watch it. You'll be glad you did., March 29, 2016
This review is from: North and South (BBC) (DVD)
This show is really good and definitely worth watching. In a way, it's Pride and Prejudice set in an industrial town in 1850, but it's more grim than P&P; people do die and suffer, even children, which is heartbreaking, but the last episode is phenomenal in its portrayal of restoration, understanding, spiritual growth, and love. There's something incredibly powerful and inspiring in showing all this spiritual growth in a story. And the last five minutes of the last episode are as romantic as can be. I loved the acting, the cinematography, and the music as well. One of the best. Watch it.

War Room
War Room
DVD ~ T.C. Stallings
Price: $13.49
27 used & new from $12.90

4.0 out of 5 stars The Kendrick brothers are getting better at making movies., March 3, 2016
This review is from: War Room (DVD)
This is their best effort yet. It is preachy at times, but the family struggles feel realistic, and I choked up at all the right spots. The acting is also quite good. Nothing amazing, but very acceptable and believable. I also enjoyed the extra features about their cinematography, color grading, and training the next generation of Christian filmmakers. Worth watching.

Pride & Prejudice
Pride & Prejudice
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece: visceral, passionate, immensely enjoyable, magical., February 24, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pride & Prejudice (Amazon Video)
Three weeks ago I was 40-year old Pride & Prejudice virgin; I hadn't read the book, or seen any of its screen adaptations. I didn't even know anything about the plot.

I must have been one of the ten people in the Western hemisphere in such a sad situation.

Then it happened.

I finished a big project at work that had me working even on weekends, and decided to reward myself by watching a movie on Netflix. Since my beloved wife was with me, and since we both like period movies, I picked this one.

Boy, am I glad I did.

PLOT: it’s the ultimate romantic narrative. Viewers are already drawn to a love story when one of the parties is interested and the other isn’t. But when both of them fight their attraction because of, well, pride and prejudice? You can’t rest till they kiss.

This movie hits all the right notes: lots of misunderstandings and misread signals? Check. Both lovers willing to sacrifice their happiness together for noble ideals of family and decorum? Check. Lots of romanic tension without vulgarity? Check.

Add the beautiful cinematography, the lovely musical score, plenty of art-house symbolism, visual and aural symmetry, and scenes that are arranged like classical paintings, and the artist in me is hooked.

ACTING: In one word, phenomenal. At first I was a little hesitant to choose this movie because I was prejudiced against Keira Knightley; I had seen the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie in the theater in 2003 and was not impressed with either the movie or her acting performance, but her performance in Pride and Prejudice floored me.

She was 19 when she shot this movie. 19. How could she act so well at 19? What the heck was I doing when I was 19?

I see why the movie poster places her in the foreground; she is the pride of this movie. I’ve since read that when the extremely talented director Joe Wright was looking for the female lead for P&P, the producer Tim Bevan told him to talk to Keira. If she was in, he had the movie.

Was Tim ever right. This girl can take control of a scene and dominate a movie like a star. She does not just play Elizabeth Bennet. She inhabits her. She is at times playful, at times tempestuous, and at times vulnerable. And she speaks every line of dialogue with conviction. She portrays that perfect balance between witty self-reliance and feminine vulnerability that is irresistible to men.

Wright was a little skeptical at first, thinking Keira too pretty to play Elizabeth; when he met her an saw her tomboyish look, however, he reportedly said, “Oh no, you’re fine.”

The rest of the cast was also excellent; my wife and I laughed every time Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander) was on screen. He was great.

Judi Dench was also great. I bet she could kill a person at 100 yards with a stare if she wanted to.

The interaction between the Bennet family members was great. It felt as if they were a real family.

POST-MOVIE: This movie was so good that it led me to read the novel, research Jane Austen, her book, and the culture of her time; this is the greatest compliment you can pay to a movie.

Since then I’ve learned about all the differences between this movie and the novel it’s based on, which made appreciate them both all the more.

MOVIE CREATIVE LICENSES: I love the creative licenses taken by the director: the idea to move the story back to 1797-98 (from 1813-14) to avoid the ugly empire-line style dresses was genius. The idea to add “shade” to the lightness of the book by making the Bennets more shabby-genteel, down-to-earth country folks was great. The Meryton dance scene was a thing of beauty in its portrayal of realistic, sweaty people having a ton of fun. Heck, I wanted to be there with my wife and dance with them. The single take at the Netherfield ball was reminiscent of Luchino Visconti’s Leopard movie.

I love how the movie trimmed all the fat from the novel to narrow its focus on the main story, and used actors that were the right age for their role.

ART HOUSE FEATURES: I also love the subtle use of visual and aural symbolism to add a layer to the story; for example, every time something is about to happen to Elizabeth, we can hear blackbirds chirping in the background; frequently, Darcy’s hand highlights his emotional state and ultimately symbolizes the idea that Elizabeth is winning his hand in marriage.
A few of the scenes are seen through windows (the window of perception and prejudice). The Pemberley art gallery scene was also highly symbolic, showing Elizabeth gazing at the statue of the blind virgin (herself), then wounded Achilles (Darcy), and finally Darcy’s bust itself.

There’s a lot more symbolism and parallelism in the movie, like the fact that it starts in the morning with Elizabeth reading a love story and ends with Darcy walking the same path towards her also in the morning so they can live their love story. You have to watch the movie more than once to appreciate it all.

This movie is also a warmer, more emotional experience than the novel — less stately and abstruse. In fact, found at the core of this big art-house movie is the most relatable thing imaginable: the feelings of love and trust that must bind a man and a woman for their union to be a happy one.

Much more could be said, but the best one can do is just watch it, ideally on Blu-Ray on a big TV with great surround sound, and with no interruptions.

If you happen to be like me, at the end you’ll be moved by what Darcy does for Elizabeth, and you’ll have the most unreasonable grin on your face.

Echo Park Paper Company The Story of Fall Collection Kit
Echo Park Paper Company The Story of Fall Collection Kit
Price: $14.45
7 used & new from $10.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars but I am very disappointed in how much you are actually getting, October 9, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was so excited to find this product. I didn't see a description of how many papers came in this kit, and I assumed (oops...big mistake) that this was a typical book of scrapbook paper, such as the ones I have purchased before. The ones I have purchased in the past have come with at least 150 scrapbook papers, stickers, and little quote cut outs...I just received this product, and it is really cute. BUT, it comes with 12 sheets of scrapbook paper. Each one is double sided, so you really get 24 prints, but you will only really get to use 12 of them. Unless, of course you are working on a small project, then you might be able to use both sides of the paper. It also comes with 2 pages of stickers. All in all, this is a REALLY CUTE set, but I am very disappointed in how much you are actually getting, for such a high price.

Uni Jetstream Alpha-Gel Grip, Silver, 0.7mm Black Ink (SXN1000071P26)
Uni Jetstream Alpha-Gel Grip, Silver, 0.7mm Black Ink (SXN1000071P26)
Offered by TOYOTA
Price: $10.10
140 used & new from $8.50

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Grip and Flow, but Smudgy, May 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was very excited to try this pen, considering the glowing reviews on Amazon and on bloggers' web sites (there are people that blog and review pens, love it). Unfortunately I got a little disappointed.

As soon as I received this pen, I tested this $15 Jestsatream along with a cheap $5 Parker Jotter Retractable Ballpoint Pen, Medium, Stainless Steel with barrel, Colors May Vary (78033) pen and with a $1 Paper Mate Profile Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Black, Box of 12 (89465) All of them are ballpoint pens. I also tested a disposable fountain pen, 3 each Pilot Varsity Disposable Fountain Pens, Black Ink 90010 that I use mostly at the office.

1. Jetstream:its chubby silicone grip makes it a pleasure to hold. Wish the soft grip would extend a bit more toward the tip
2. Papermate: not as chubby or soft as the Jetstream, but nice to hold
3. Pilot fountain pen: hard plastic, but reasonably thick
4. Parker: too thin and slippery. Works, but not very comfortable to hold.

Ink flow;
1. Jetstream: by far the best. This pen glides on paper like a hovercraft
2. Papermate: if I hadn't tried the Jetstream, I would have said you could not beat the way the ink of this pen
3. Parker: more friction, but not in an unpleasant way. Not scratchy, just slower than the other two
4. Pilot fountain pen: works and flows nicely; nothing wrong with it, but makes a scratchy sound

Even ink distribution:
1. Parker: impeccable performance. Very even distribution, the best by far, and ink dries on paper instantly
2. Jetstream: a bit disappointed here, as rave reviews praise its quick drying time and perfect ink distribution. Not my experience; some letters are blotchy and take one or two seconds to dry. Most are fine, though.
3. Papermate: takes the longest to dry among the ballpoint pens. Some letters are blotchy, plus the ink is thicker (1.4 vs Jetstream 0.7 and Parker 1); when I run my finger over them three or four seconds later, they still smudge
4. Pilot fountain pen: smudgy

I like this Jetstream, but I don't think I would splurge for this premier version unless I wrote novels longhand and needed the chubby grip. Most people should probably stick with the regular $3 version uni-ball Jetstream RT Fine Point Retractable Roller Ball Pens, 3 Black Ink Pens (70877), or with the other pens.

I ended up using the Parker for its impeccable ink flow performance and complete lack of smudginess. I'll have to look for a more comfortable version to hold.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2014 10:27 AM PDT

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Random House Large Print)
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Random House Large Print)
by Laura Hillenbrand
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.88
215 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Just Read It, May 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If this were a work of fiction, readers would say the story of the main character is so larger than life that it's too implausible. The fact that it's a true story staggers the mind.

I listened to the Audible audiobook version of the story, and the reader does an excellent job at making this well-written story come to life.

This is one of those books that you want in your reading bucket list, then pass it along to your teenage children to teach them what really matters about life, and love, and resilience, and forgiveness.

Sometimes a book comes out that captures the richness and intricacies of life in a way that just makes you sit back and say "wow, I didn't know that was even possible."

Inspiring and overwhelmingly emotional.

Read it.

Fujifilm X-E1 16.3 MP Compact System Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD and 18-55mm Lens (Black)
Fujifilm X-E1 16.3 MP Compact System Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD and 18-55mm Lens (Black)
9 used & new from $499.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not perfect, January 6, 2014
- Excellent skin tone rendition
- Excellent meter
- Great feel
- Lightweight
- Great kit lens

- Low flash sync speed (1/180). Should be 1/500 or better
- Mediocre fill flash performance (not as good as Nikon)
- Flash changes skin tone rendition
- No built-in ND filter
- No pitch tilt indication on screen
- AF speed just ok (improved with every firmware upgrade)

Wish list for X-E3:
- Faster flash sync speed (at least 1/500)
- Nikon-grade fill flash performance
- Smart flash (like iPhone 5s, which automatically adapts to different lighting conditions)
- Real Velvia 50 look
- 16-55 f2.8 kit lens

Suing The Devil
Suing The Devil
Price: $4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to Write Home About, July 21, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Suing The Devil (Amazon Video)
A friend told me this movie is creating a stir in the Christian community; some say it's the best Christian movie ever made. If that is true, Christians have problems. The movie is shallow, presents Satan as a caricature, and speaks volumes on the low spiritual state of today's evangelical culture.

If you want to watch great Christian movies, forget the ones made by shallow Evangelicals. Watch movies about (real) Christians, like The Blind Side, The Hiding Place, or Amazing Grace.

The Paper Bag Princess (Classic Munsch)
The Paper Bag Princess (Classic Munsch)
Price: $1.89

0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars what?, June 15, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My 7-year old daughter wasn't impressed. Neither was I. Who wrote this, a feminist? Short, inconsequential, boring. Bring on the classics.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2013 3:56 PM PDT

Nikon D7000 DSLR (Body Only)
Nikon D7000 DSLR (Body Only)
Offered by Jersey Cameras
Price: $449.00
88 used & new from $344.77

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Camera. One Caveat (and Fix) for People Pictures., December 10, 2012
Love this camera. If you are an enthusiast, this camera is a worthy upgrade from a D3100 or D5100; lots of buttons and dials for quick changes, two custom modes, tight and quiet shutter, viewfinder grid and virtual horizon, built-in flash commander mode, dual card slots, bright 100% viewfinder, and more. Love it. Love Nikon ergonomics.

Only one problem that almost made me return it: skin tones were terrible, especially compared to the king of skin tones, my trusty Fuji S5 Pro. With the same lens (the Nikon 17-55), I took some raw and jpeg pictures (raw ones processed in Lightroom 4 and Dxo 7.5) and compared them to the raw and jpeg ones from the Fuji. The D7000 jpeg were shot in the Portrait and Standard picture modes. The Standard mode was downright wrong: too contrasty and saturated (I used it for a couple of shots, just to test it since it's the default one). The Portrait mode was also bad: skin tones were a horrid combination of green, orange, and yellow. No pink. This is where I almost returned the camera.

Yet, I couldn't do it. I loved everything else about it. Did some online research and found out others were complaining about the same issue. One photographer recommended customizing the Neutral picture mode by shifting Hue to -1. That was good advice.

After much testing with wife and children as test subjects, I came up with a custom picture mode that gives me skin tones that I like (don't tell anyone, but I might like them even better than the Fuji ones, well, almost. My non-photographer wife still likes the Fuji colors better).

First, I use an ExpoImaging ExpoDisc 77mm Digital White Balance Filter - Neutral to get the perfect white balance for my jpegs (I also tried the Expodisc Portrait, but it's too warm for my taste). I know I could shoot raw and not have to worry about white balance for every shot, and I do shoot raw for income shots, but for family and friends shots, I shoot jpeg, and the Expodisc helps me nail the white balance every time (and it's really quick to set up on Nikon DSLRs). The Expodisc is expensive, but I'm a price maven and like to get my stuff used at a discount :-). You may also play with a cheaper alternative (ColorRight) or use auto white balance; the D7000 gets the white balance right most of the time, especially outdoor.

Okay, so here it is.

Custom Neutral picture mode (saved as Neutral1 because I have lots of imagination):
:: +5 sharpening (D7000 is soft by default). This can be changed to +4 or +6 depending on taste;
:: +1 saturation (D7000 skin tones are on the pale side by default);
:: -1 hue
:: -1 contrast
:: ADL auto (some recommend switching ADL off, but I didn't notice any color shift in skin tones with ADL off)
:: EV (exposure compensation) either on 0 (indoor) or 0 to -3 (outdoor). D7000 tends to overexpose outdoor sometimes.

Voilà. Now I get the skin tones I like. Try it out. See if it works for you.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2014 6:43 PM PST

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