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Stardust Melodies
Stardust Melodies
by Will Friedwald
Edition: Hardcover
54 used & new from $0.39

2.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity, April 12, 2013
This review is from: Stardust Melodies (Hardcover)
What I liked: The author has a deep knowledge of jazz--its repertoire, history, personnel, and theory. He also seems to have access to a lot of rare recordings. Although he tends to revere jazz legends and disdain pop performers, he does show an open mind via his willingness to appraise (or even praise) performers such as Tiny Tim. For each of the 12 songs he discusses, he rounds up some history that might otherwise be inconvenient for the reader to track down. He led me to investigate many renditions and artists I was not yet familiar with.

What I didn't like: There is no index. The full lyrics of each song are never presented. The discussion wavers wildly between overly vague (parody: "Sinatra's performance is unparalleled because it is so great") and overly specific (parody: "Instead of the composer's C-B-G on the word 'wonderful,' Ella swoops from E to C sharp to a G flat in the basement of her range as she elongates the syllable 'won'--or, in her case, 'woh-hoh-hon'--into a swinging exercise in tone color, while the altos move from V to an unexpected augmented ii on the syllable 'der'").

I wanted to like this book but finished it only out of a sense of duty to the songs. Don't bother with it if you aren't already in love with the songs and able to recite the lyrics from memory. You'll definitely want to read it alongside some access to YouTube. The idea of the book is a good idea, but the execution was lacking. It would work better as a blog with full lyrics, a section about the writing of the song, an analysis of the words and music, and an annotated list of hyperlinks to notable performances.


By Request: The Best of Karrin Allyson
By Request: The Best of Karrin Allyson
Price: $10.99
33 used & new from $4.73

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Respect the lyrics, please, August 8, 2012
Karrin Allyson's "Sous le ciel de Paris" adopts a frisky jazz-waltz rhythm that freshens the song, but she deletes nearly half the lyrics so that the end no longer makes any sense. She skips over the most interesting step of the lyrics (you know, the part where we find out something about le ciel de Paris) and wanders backs in with "Mais le ciel de Paris n'est pas longtemps cruel" -- what? Well, who said it WAS? She cuts out the heart of the whole song. An instrumentalist could get away with this but a singer ought to maintain at least the illusion that she might mean the words she's saying. (It's like singing "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and skipping directly from "They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games" to "Then how the reindeer loved him ...")


Prepara Ice Balls, Lemon, Lime, Raspberry and Tangerine, Set of 4
Prepara Ice Balls, Lemon, Lime, Raspberry and Tangerine, Set of 4
Offered by KitchensKitchens
Price: $8.49
11 used & new from $2.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than another product I tried, June 14, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought these to replace another manufacturer's ice-ball product. With the first kind I tried (Muji), there was a mold that made three balls in one two-part tray. After about three months, the trays cracked and leaked (I had bought two sets, and they both did this). The Prepara molds shown here make smaller balls, but they are easier to fill, easier to unmold, and more flexible with regard to where you can put them in the freezer, since they're individual units instead of a ganged tray.


Progressive International Onion Chopper (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Progressive International Onion Chopper (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by Gatzies
Price: $17.49
23 used & new from $9.59

1.0 out of 5 stars Breaks easily, December 1, 2009
These are poorly designed. The angled action means all the force concentrates on two cheap plastic knobs on the corners, which break. Plus, the top's underside is hard to clean, and the blades can bend. I've had two of these because I do love the results when they work -- nice, evenly sized bits of onion -- but they just breaks too easily. Back to chopping by hand.


Stacy Adams Men's Bahama Huarache Slip-on,Brown,9.5 M
Stacy Adams Men's Bahama Huarache Slip-on,Brown,9.5 M

5.0 out of 5 stars perfect shoes/lousy administration, May 27, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Stacy Adams Men's Bahama (Apparel)
This is the fourth set of these sandals I've had -- they're very comfortable and they look great with shorts or with long pants. You could wear them to a nice restaurant. I go the whole summer without socks and wear these pretty much all day every day.

However, I ordered brown and it seems that Amazon told the vendor I wanted black -- had to send them back, and the merchant tried to charge me for shipping, since they thought it was my fault I got the wrong color. They credited me when I showed them Amazon's order confirmation stating that I wanted brown. The vendor had no brown in stock in my size, so I ordered from Stacy Adams Web site. More expensive, but these are ideal for me.


Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie: The Renowned Hero's Most Famous Adventure
Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie: The Renowned Hero's Most Famous Adventure
by Mabel Barr
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from $20.95

157 of 160 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Funny coincidence, February 18, 2006
All but one of the four- and five-star reviews of this 7.5-page "book" come from towns within 10 miles of the author's residence.

I am surprised that Amazon is falling for this hack's shameful attempt to cash in on someone else's creativity.


Annie Get Your Gun
Annie Get Your Gun
DVD ~ Betty Hutton
Offered by Lights Camera Action DVD
Price: $69.99
23 used & new from $6.70

8 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There's no person like this person, January 14, 2005
This review is from: Annie Get Your Gun (DVD)
Betty Hutton has a colossal amount of energy. She seems to be doing everything she possibly can to be entertaining. She's a good sport about a funny but unflattering getup in her early hayseed numbers. Her voice is sturdy, durable, indestructible.

But oh my God, her acting choices ... She and the Indians are stampeding around with performances far too broad for the medium of film (whereas Buffalo Bill, allegedly a larger-than-life character, looks like a corpse by comparison, and Howard Keel, in only his second film, must manage to act like these are human beings he's relating to).

Take a look at Betty Hutton's reaction upon seeing Howard Keel for the first time -- the mugging would be considered "a bit much" if seen from the back row of an amphitheater. At best, her performance is clownlike; at worst, it's apelike. Little of her performance overlaps with what we know as humanity. It's a magnificent effort, and a stunning testimony to her desire to please, but her comedy has no reality, no nuance, no connection to any sincere emotion. She seizes on "hick" and drives that into the ground, then she plays nothing but "infatuated" for a while before toggling to "resentful" and so forth ... It's a series of masks and set pieces, but it's not a character. Judy Garland was in sad shape at that point in her life, but even then she would have been able to find the vulnerability flickering behind Annie's rootin'-tootinest moments, and she wouldn't have neglected Annie's grit even in the melting sentimental scenes. Nobody can do vulnerability like Judy, and yet few are identified so strongly as survivors -- both qualities that would serve this character. Annie could be a wonderful character, a great self-conflicted mess of strength, longing, guts, femininity, skill, naivete and worldiness, all trying to cohere into a woman who can win her man -- but instead Betty Hutton makes her a pop-eyed, crude cartoon with the subtlety of an iron skillet. I am surprised that Hutton didn't insist on doing the role with a couple of teeth blacked out. Maybe they just wouldn't let her. The scenes where she tries to read out loud are compelling for the way they illustrate someone playing for a cheap laugh, oblivious to any further potential the character and situation might provide.

I kept replaying scenes over and over in awe before moving on, and the memory of Betty Hutton's performance is branded on my brain, but it's because this performance seems like it's following the traditions of some other culture, some other world. It's like going to a sideshow.

That said, the tunes are a non-stop parade of hits -- there probably isn't any other show in which the composer so successfully nails so many numbers one after another, in wildly different styles, with effective melodies worth remembering. The classic tunes just keep coming. The movie works as spectacle and songfest, and as a startling specimen of what audiences would swallow in the days before political correctness. But if you're looking for a portrayal of a woman with genuine feelings and motivations, you might be distracted by the gorgeous blonde chimpanzee who steals all her scenes.


Barney's C Is For Christmas
Barney's C Is For Christmas
by Publishing Lyrick
Edition: Board book
49 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unimaginative and tone-deaf, October 10, 2001
Undemanding children will be appeased by the images of Barney and dazzled by the illustrations' gaudy foil accents, but nothing in the text of this board book will awaken any appreciation of words or nourish a child's creativity.
In a couplet for each letter of the word "Christmas," the text trots out a parade of cliches, presented with a scattershot attention to rhythm. A child's delight in meter and poetry will be deferred, not encouraged, by the reading of this book. Example: "I is for ice skating on cold, icy lakes, A winter wonderland of dazzling snowflakes." Other books of verse for children include rollicking, rolling rhymes with easily discernable cadences, but these klunky, confusing lines sound awkward and stumbling.
There is no magic or spark in this flat, listless piece of work.


The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook
by David Borgenicht
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.46
1034 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating -- in the abstract, December 17, 2000
At last: A "how-to" book whose authors specifically tell you NOT to do any of the things they are telling you how to do. There's a legal notice absolving them of liability. Some of the information is potentially dangerous (I'm not sure it's a good idea to be giving amateurs the idea that just anybody can perform a tracheotomy). And some is obvious (If killer bees attack you, run). But it's all compelling and clearly presented. Once I started reading, I found myself thinking that I "ought" to know this stuff. One interesting angle on the book is that, although the topics are usually deadly serious, the repeated extreme drama quickly makes it start to read like comedy. A good gift, especially for macho types, armchair quarterbacks, Rambo wannabes and other people who might be hard to buy for.


A Little Night Music (1975 Original London Cast)
A Little Night Music (1975 Original London Cast)
24 used & new from $4.69

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Delicious moments, December 8, 2000
I bought this CD because I wanted to avoid the hoarse croaking of Glynis Johns in the Broadway version. Jean Simmons's voice is a step up, though it is also obviously that of a woman who is past her prime. Like so many Desirees, she gets by on her acting. (She never quite gets the rhythms of the tra la la's in "Glamorous Life.") I found Joss Ackland to be a less virile Frederick than others I've heard, but his weakness suits the part, and is actually rather touching. The Anne is somewhat thin and shrill at times. I've always loved the character of Charlotte (including the original in the Bergman film, and Diana Rigg in the movie musical) but this Charlotte is my favorite -- so pungent and incisive. I bet you'll really enjoy the Henrik -- he does a wonderful thing with his voice at the end of "Later," a very expressive, neurasthenic vibrato that is the vocal equivalent of the cello he plays; what a great theater moment. Hermione Gingold's "Liaisons" is divinely frail and worldly, and the actress suffuses it with the attitude of someone who really is acquainted with the Old World aristocracy; though I also enjoyed the sturdiness and bite of Regina Resnik's performance in a different production, I think Hermione's is truer to the character. I find the diction on this recording to be superior -- which is important, given that Sondheim's lyrics are the real star. I would prefer a less-creaky Desiree and a creamier Anne, but this recording offers many delicious moments. (Wait until Anne sings "It's only polite that we should" and Charlotee intones "Good" -- what a magnificent syllable.)
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