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Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
DVD ~ Harrison Ford
Price: $19.96
30 used & new from $14.27

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't buy it, April 21, 2016
This review is from: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DVD)
Since it seems to be fair game to include things like shipping times, packaging issues, and product listing inaccuracies in these reviews, let me say a few words here on my unsuccessful attempt to order this item from Amazon. I wished to order it directly, and not from a Marketplace seller, in order to bump my total up enough to qualify for free shipping. Since I was not allowed to do so, I cancelled the rest of the order instead.

What is this new policy of making popular items available only to Prime members? Sure, plenty of stores have a 'member' card used for special discounts and so on. However, I have never walked into a real store and been told, "You aren't permitted to buy that because you don't have one of our cards." I can't begin to convey how offensive and disgusting that is.... and how old these attempts to force everyone to join the club are becoming.

Listen up, Amazon... a lot of us aren't Prime members because you've offered us absolutely nothing of value for our money. I wonder, do any of your Prime members get a warm, fuzzy feeling as they sit enjoying something that's being denied to the peons? I really doubt it. So why this latest in a series of boneheaded ploys?

The three stars is partly because I've heard the movie is pretty good -- but mostly because of Amazon's customer rep, who handled my initial, puzzled inquiry about the lack of an Add to Cart button with a great deal of grace and composure. Maybe Amazon's finally trying to improve their customer service, and if so, bravo for that.

Second thoughts: Maybe this was a good thing, not being able to order the DVD, as I probably shouldn't buy it at all. After reading through the reviews and seeing the depth of unhappiness with the cheap, no-extras package being offered to DVD buyers, I think I'll wait a few years and see if Disney decides to offer a less insulting option.

Jeez. Disney dumping on DVD buyers... Amazon dumping on non-Prime customers... It's like no one WANTS you to buy from them these days!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2016 6:08 PM PDT


Songs for Christmas
Songs for Christmas
Price: $5.99
18 used & new from $2.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The original Christmas album, but in less than ideal sound, November 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Songs for Christmas (Audio CD)
Yes, this is the original 1961 Christmas album, and it's good to have it on CD at last. However, while the sound is reasonably good, I think someone should mention that Songs for Christmas is dubbed from a vinyl record (not terribly surprising, given that it's an unauthorized, gray market release). Most tracks are okay, with little surface noise audible, but "Little Drummer Boy" is fairly noisy.

I'd hoped to be able to compare the CD to an original copy of the 1961 vinyl album, but was surprised to discover that the only LP I still have is the 1976 revision. Oh well... at least I was able to confirm that the deplorable Razor & Tie CD is, in fact, the Seventies version. That CD is pretty much a mess, so I spent a couple of days "repairing" the tape stretches, incorrect speeds and dull equalizations, using the vinyl copy for comparison and occasionally borrowing a short passage when the CD was unusable. Once that was done, the revised album didn't really sound all that bad. But the original is better!

For the record, it seems that only five songs made it to the 1976 reissue unaltered. These are "Jingle Bell Rock" (the hit single) and the four solo acoustic recordings from side two ("Medley: The Coventry Carol; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", "O Come, All Ye Faithful", "Deck The Halls"). Everything else is changed, with the other three songs from side two being recorded on a different instrument and using very different arrangements. A couple of the electric recordings have a new lead part, while the rest differ in the rhythm guitar, drums, choral accompaniment and so on.

This holiday classic - which I believe is the very first guitar Christmas LP, predating those by The Ventures, Kenny Burrell, The Jokers and John Fahey by several years - deserves better, and one can only continue to hope for a legitimate reissue from RCA, Real Gone, et cetera.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 22, 2015 6:32 PM PST


Twinings Earl Grey Tea, Tea Bags, 50 Count Boxes (Pack of 6)
Twinings Earl Grey Tea, Tea Bags, 50 Count Boxes (Pack of 6)
Price: $31.18
26 used & new from $31.18

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The delicate flavor of soap in a tea bag, November 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been drinking Twinings Earl Grey as my main tea since the 1970s... loved the rich flavor and aroma! A year or two ago I noticed a general weakening in the flavor and wondered if it was me or the tea. Then I found the stories about how Twinings was changing their classic blend. It was still drinkable, but so bland that I found myself not looking forward to drinking a cup.

However, the first tea bag out of the box I just ordered from Amazon is far worse than what I'd been getting lately. It's not only bland, but has a distinctly "soapy" taste... horribly unpeasant!

I'd really wonder if my taste buds were going bad if I hadn't experienced this sudden change - from the last bag out of a previous box to the first out of the most recent order. Twinings Earl Grey has gone from bland to undrinkable. I think the other boxes are going back to Amazon.


The Spanish Guitars Of Laurindo Almeida
The Spanish Guitars Of Laurindo Almeida
Price: $5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid and hope EMI reissues this wonderful recording on CD!, January 30, 2014
The music on this 1960 Grammy-winning (Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist Or Duo - Other Than With Orchestral Accompaniment) album is wonderful, but the sound is a digital disgrace.

As expected with Amazon's digital "product", there is no indication of the source... what label provided the mp3 files, who did the remastering, et cetera... all of the things that allow serious music fans to make an informed decision. Well, feedback is all that's left to us, and I'm sorry to say that this reissue sounds terrible.

The biggest problem is the excessive noise reduction used on every track. This was a terrific-sounding recording, so why all the phasey, wind-tunnel NR artifacts? Was the source taped off a radio broadcast or someone's copy of the vinyl record? The result is unlistenable. There are also digital artifacts galore… 128 kbps is WAY too low a bit rate for acoustic classical music!!!… and most tracks suffer serious distortion, where the sound crackles and breaks up.

Oh, and no notes or cover art, but you already knew that.

I lost my copy of the original album forty years ago and have been hoping for a CD replacement from Angel or Capitol since the dawn of the digital era. Getting this instead is a slap in the face. It will probably be my last download. This isn’t a serious music format.


No Title Available

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What is this - a polo shirt or a tee?, January 17, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It was a tee shirt when I bought it... now that I'd like to order a couple more, it's a polo (although the picture still looks like a tee).

Reviews seem to refer to both polos and tees, so WHICH IS IT ???

Seriously, I've been trying to order these since September, but Amazon's listings are so screwed up, I don't know what's being sold here. Same for their reviews, which combine reviews from so many different products, you don't know what you're actually reading about.

So this is more a review of Amazon's deteriorating website than of the product. Get it together, people!


The Best of Annette
The Best of Annette
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $11.91
67 used & new from $2.69

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why is Amazon playing games with 'on demand' items?, August 1, 2013
This review is from: The Best of Annette (Audio CD)
CDs that turn out to be CD-Rs, unreadable on many players, with cheaply reproduced and minimal graphics...

Generic-looking books on poor-quality paper...

It used to be that Amazon clearly labeled these items in the heading. Now the information is either buried somewhere else, such as in the useless Editorial Reviews, or it's not there at all. These 'on demand' items have a place and are certainly better than nothing, but I'd like to know what I'm getting in advance. That would give me a chance to look for a 'real' copy on eBay first.


Texas Sheiks
Texas Sheiks
Price: $19.48
22 used & new from $7.18

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy words, crazy tunes... and a wonderful exploration of traditional American music, September 27, 2009
This review is from: Texas Sheiks (Audio CD)
About a year before Texas guitarist Stephen Bruton's recent death, he and a few other friends were recruited by Geoff Muldaur to cut a song for a planned Mississippi Sheiks tribute. The group's version of "The World Is Going Wrong" was the first song completed for that project, but they also put a few other Sheiks songs in the can at the time.

Working together proved to be so much fun that "The Texas Sheiks" (which also included Suzy Thompson, Cindy Cashdollar, Johnny Nicholas, Bruce Hughes, and guest Sheik Jim Kweskin) decided to record a full album. This CD is the result. The full track list (along with the artist who was the primary model for the Sheiks' recording) is:

1. The World Is Going Wrong (The Mississippi Sheiks, 1931)
2. All By Myself (Big Bill Broonzy & Washboard Sam, 1953 remake)
3. Poor Boy (Banjo Joe, aka Gus Cannon, 1927)
4. Fan It (Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, 1936)
5. Hard Time Killin' Floor (Skip James, 1931)
6. Sweet To Mama (The Beale Street Sheiks: Frank Stokes & Dan Sane, 1927)
7. Don't Sell It, Don't Give It Away (Oscar "Buddy" Woods, 1937)
8. Cairo (Henry Spaulding, 1929)
9. Under The Chicken Tree (Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug Band, 1927)
10. Please, Baby (The Mississippi Sheiks, 1931)
11. Blues In The Bottle (Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers, 1928)
12. Right Now Blues (Frank Stokes, 1929)
13. Travellin' Riverside (Robert Johnson, 1937)
14. Yellow Dog Blues (Wise String Orchestra, 1929)

Geoff Muldaur sings lead on about half of the songs. The others are split between Jim Kweskin, Johnny Nicholas, and Bruce Hughes, with an instrumental to close the album. Cindy Cashdollar's masterful touch on various kinds of slide guitars is a highlight, as is Suzy Thompson's tasteful (and tasty) fiddle playing. And Stephen Bruton is typically wonderful on a multitude of instruments. There are many styles of music represented here - blues, string bands, Western Swing, jug bands, hokum - but a common factor is that many of the originals featured a fiddle player, which lends the whole program a unity and coherence.

If you have fond memories of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, the old Elektra Blues Project anthology, the Lovin' Spoonful, Dan Hicks, Asleep at the Wheel, or practically any other roots artist, you'll probably enjoy this CD. And if you can't get enough of tongue-in-cheek celebrations of getting your ashes hauled, selling that jelly, or chickens that grow on trees, this collection of songs is certainly for you. Well-recorded, and with a hip, contemporary sensibility, there are few if any better explorations of the amazing traditional music of the 1920s and 1930s.

Notes are by Geoff Muldaur, T-Bone Burnette and Elijah Wald, and noted pop artist Ed Ruscha provided a painting for the album's cover.

Easily my favorite album of 2009, in any genre.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2010 7:22 PM PDT


MX608WT New Balance MX608 Men's Crosstrainer, Size: 10.0, Width: 2E
MX608WT New Balance MX608 Men's Crosstrainer, Size: 10.0, Width: 2E
Offered by APerfectDealer
Price: $69.95

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Used to be a good shoe but now worthless, September 23, 2009
I've worn New Balance shoes for walking since the late '80s or early '90s. They lasted years. Last fall I bought a new pair that started to fall apart within a few months (since I haven't been taking daily walks for almost a year now, this was brought about merely by walking the dog and pushing a lawnmower around the yard). Another pair did the same thing, so I started hassling NB a couple of weeks ago. Told them the shoes looked like they had a bad sunburn, with a thin, rubbery white coating peeling and shedding from the synthetic foam underneath. It's completely gone from the toe and much of the sides. Where's the leather???

After getting several conflicting stories from the girls who answer the phones (and sending one pair of MX608s back to their laboratory for an 'examination'), I finally received the following explanation from someone higher up:

"Thank you for contacting New Balance Consumer Support!

The tip, vamp, entire heel area and the quarters of the MX608 are all leather. It is called split leather because it is "split away" from the top layer, which is called full grain. The 2-3 layers you can split away from that are called split leathers. The surface of the split is treated with a pu coating and painted. Splits are real leather.

The mudguard area of the shoe is a synthetic material. This is the area along the sides directly above the midsole. If this area of the shoe is abrading, then what you are seeing could be the backing of the synthetic material which is made of compressed fibers.

Additionally, very few athletic shoes are made of top grain or full grain leather anymore. It is just too expensive. All of the 608s are made this way, so there should not be a difference among different pairs."

This gave me enough information to start digging into the realities of "split leather" (or "bicast leather" as it is more commonly known). This is from Wikipedia:

"Bicast leather (also known as bycast leather, split leather or PU leather) is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed. Bycast was originally made for the shoe industry and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The resulting product is cheaper than top grain leather and has an artificially consistent texture and is easier to clean and maintain.

The use of the term 'leather' in relation to this bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with genuine leather; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise "improve with age". With constant use the polyurethane layer will crack and split free of its backing.

Modern technology permits up to 3 or 4 horizontal layers being taken from the one hide. The leather used in the backing of bicast is a thin, otherwise worthless, layer remaining after better quality layers have been removed for traditional leather work and contributes nothing to the look and feel of the end product."

Nice.

That's Wikipedia's take, but the conclusions match those of professional leatherworkers as well. New Balance has changed from a durable real leather upper to a bicast "leather", the use of which several countries have already ruled is deliberately misleading.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 4, 2012 2:30 PM PST


No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Used to be a good shoe but now worthless, September 23, 2009
I've worn New Balance shoes for walking since the late '80s or early '90s. They lasted years. Last fall I bought a new pair that started to fall apart within a few months (since I haven't been taking daily walks for almost a year now, this was brought about merely by walking the dog and pushing a lawnmower around the yard). Another pair did the same thing, so I started hassling NB a couple of weeks ago. Told them the shoes looked like they had a bad sunburn, with a thin, rubbery white coating peeling and shedding from the synthetic foam underneath. It's completely gone from the toe and much of the sides. Where's the leather???

After getting several conflicting stories from the girls who answer the phones (and sending one pair of MX608s back to their laboratory for an 'examination'), I finally received the following explanation from someone higher up:

"Thank you for contacting New Balance Consumer Support!

The tip, vamp, entire heel area and the quarters of the MX608 are all leather. It is called split leather because it is "split away" from the top layer, which is called full grain. The 2-3 layers you can split away from that are called split leathers. The surface of the split is treated with a pu coating and painted. Splits are real leather.

The mudguard area of the shoe is a synthetic material. This is the area along the sides directly above the midsole. If this area of the shoe is abrading, then what you are seeing could be the backing of the synthetic material which is made of compressed fibers.

Additionally, very few athletic shoes are made of top grain or full grain leather anymore. It is just too expensive. All of the 608s are made this way, so there should not be a difference among different pairs."

This gave me enough information to start digging into the realities of "split leather" (or "bicast leather" as it is more commonly known). This is from Wikipedia:

"Bicast leather (also known as bycast leather, split leather or PU leather) is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed. Bycast was originally made for the shoe industry and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The resulting product is cheaper than top grain leather and has an artificially consistent texture and is easier to clean and maintain.

The use of the term 'leather' in relation to this bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with genuine leather; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise "improve with age". With constant use the polyurethane layer will crack and split free of its backing.

Modern technology permits up to 3 or 4 horizontal layers being taken from the one hide. The leather used in the backing of bicast is a thin, otherwise worthless, layer remaining after better quality layers have been removed for traditional leather work and contributes nothing to the look and feel of the end product."

Nice.

That's Wikipedia's take, but the conclusions match those of professional leatherworkers as well. New Balance has changed from a durable real leather upper to a bicast "leather", the use of which several countries have already ruled is deliberately misleading.


No Title Available

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Used to be a good shoe but now worthless, September 23, 2009
I've worn New Balance shoes for walking since the late '80s or early '90s. They lasted years. Last fall I bought a new pair that started to fall apart within a few months (since I haven't been taking daily walks for almost a year now, this was brought about merely by walking the dog and pushing a lawnmower around the yard). Another pair did the same thing, so I started hassling NB a couple of weeks ago. Told them the shoes looked like they had a bad sunburn, with a thin, rubbery white coating peeling and shedding from the synthetic foam underneath. It's completely gone from the toe and much of the sides. Where's the leather???

After getting several conflicting stories from the girls who answer the phones (and sending one pair of MX608s back to their laboratory for an 'examination'), I finally received the following explanation from someone higher up:

"Thank you for contacting New Balance Consumer Support!

The tip, vamp, entire heel area and the quarters of the MX608 are all leather. It is called split leather because it is "split away" from the top layer, which is called full grain. The 2-3 layers you can split away from that are called split leathers. The surface of the split is treated with a pu coating and painted. Splits are real leather.

The mudguard area of the shoe is a synthetic material. This is the area along the sides directly above the midsole. If this area of the shoe is abrading, then what you are seeing could be the backing of the synthetic material which is made of compressed fibers.

Additionally, very few athletic shoes are made of top grain or full grain leather anymore. It is just too expensive. All of the 608s are made this way, so there should not be a difference among different pairs."

This gave me enough information to start digging into the realities of "split leather" (or "bicast leather" as it is more commonly known). This is from Wikipedia:

"Bicast leather (also known as bycast leather, split leather or PU leather) is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed. Bycast was originally made for the shoe industry and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The resulting product is cheaper than top grain leather and has an artificially consistent texture and is easier to clean and maintain.

The use of the term 'leather' in relation to this bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with genuine leather; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise "improve with age". With constant use the polyurethane layer will crack and split free of its backing.

Modern technology permits up to 3 or 4 horizontal layers being taken from the one hide. The leather used in the backing of bicast is a thin, otherwise worthless, layer remaining after better quality layers have been removed for traditional leather work and contributes nothing to the look and feel of the end product."

Nice.

That's Wikipedia's take, but the conclusions match those of professional leatherworkers as well. New Balance has changed from a durable real leather upper to a bicast "leather", the use of which several countries have already ruled is deliberately misleading.


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