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William Sommerwerck "grizzled geezer" RSS Feed (Renton, WA USA)

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Set of 5 - Plastic Squeeze Coin Wallet, Change Pouch, Money Holder Purse with Keychain Ring, Made in USA
Set of 5 - Plastic Squeeze Coin Wallet, Change Pouch, Money Holder Purse with Keychain Ring, Made in USA
Offered by Utensil Pro
Price: $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars one of the greatest "utilitarian" products of all time, April 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It is to loose change what the wheel is to moving things around.

I've been using QuiKoin coin holders for decades. Other than those leather purses with self-sealing flaps, what else is there? Who wants to rummage through a pocket of change, while the people behind you make threatening glances? (The QuiKoin is basically a male product, as women continue to insist on storing their change within a large wallet, which they open only at the last moment.)

"Once upon a time", QuiKoin holders were affixed to a piece of cardboard, and cost 50 cents at K-Mart. The last two I bought were found in a dollar store, leftover promotional samples. Now you're lucky to find one for less than $3. These are $2.40 each, and I had free shipping.

The only thing wrong with the QuiKoin is that it's full of plasticizer to keep the vinyl flexible. After a few years, the plasticizer goes bye-bye, and the QuiKoin becomes a stiff little rock the Hulk would have trouble opening. So buying a few at time at a good price makes sense. Seal the unused ones in an air-tight bag and put it in the freezer. This seems to halt plasticizer migration.

By the way, these are real QuiKoin holders. At least, they have the QuiKoin logo inside.

Urgently recommended, as Jerry Dubins would say.

Music to Suffer By Remastered
Music to Suffer By Remastered
Price: $16.72
27 used & new from $5.72

5.0 out of 5 stars the peak of the pits, April 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Murinophile that I am, I remember purchasing the LP almost 50 years ago, at General Radio & Record on Howard Street in Bal'mer, merely to get "Rats in My Room".

Ms Anderson hardly has (had) the world's worst voice. It was dark and foggy/froggy, but at least she was on-pitch. Her timing/delivery remains impeccable (for this sort of material, anyway).

This is a great record to determine who your real friends are. Anyone who doesn't like "Rats in My Room" or "Limburger Lover" is not a true friend.

DVD ~ Michael Keaton
Price: $9.38
42 used & new from $2.96

4.0 out of 5 stars outstanding Keaton performance, April 2, 2015
This review is from: Multiplicity (DVD)
Until recently, Michael Keaton has been a hard-luck case. Though he had a few successful films ("Mr Mom", "Beetlejuice", the two Batmans), most of his films quickly faded into obscurity. "Birdman" has turned things around, and I eagerly await "Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian" (or whatever).

"Multiplicity" was not well-received by critics, and bombed at the box office. Watching it for the third time last night, I finally realized just how outstanding Keaton's performance is. He's required to play three clones of himself, of varying personality. (#2 is a relaxed version, who understands why he was created, and (mostly) goes along with it; #3 deeply respects women and isn't afraid of his "feminine" side; #4 is a "blurred copy" of #3, who appears to be mentally defective.) Keaton not only keeps the personalities well-defined, but consistently //underplays//, preventing what is actually a farce from degenerating into utter silliness. I can't think of another actor who could do it as well, let alone better.

This is thin material, the humor growing mostly from mistaken identities. But Keaton and MacDowell have marriage problems to work through, which they do with only minor histrionics. As a "serious" look at marriage problems, it's almost believable. And one of the jokes has a punchline that's nearly as good as the infamous one in "The Thin Man".

Recommended for at least one viewing, if only to see Keaton's performance.

12oz Travel Coffee Mug - Camera Lens Thermos Travel Mugs for Men & Women - Model 1:1 Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS USM Lens - Latest Generation Refreshments With Drinking & Quality Stainless Steel Insulated - Best for Morning - Cool Personalized Photo Plastic Mugs with Lid - Lenscup Insulated Tumbler, Vacuum - Cool Dishwasher Safe Customized Cup Holder for Photography - Awesome [12oz]
12oz Travel Coffee Mug - Camera Lens Thermos Travel Mugs for Men & Women - Model 1:1 Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS USM Lens - Latest Generation Refreshments With Drinking & Quality Stainless Steel Insulated - Best for Morning - Cool Personalized Photo Plastic Mugs with Lid - Lenscup Insulated Tumbler, Vacuum - Cool Dishwasher Safe Customized Cup Holder for Photography - Awesome [12oz]
Offered by KitchenXpress
Price: $10.99
9 used & new from $8.14

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars In Chinese, "junk" can be a boat. In English, it's a lousy product., March 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If the Chinese keep turning out products like this one, the US has nothing to fear. This is junk plain and simple. Let's review its multiple problems.

1. I cannot emphasize enough that it IS NOT a real "Thermos". I poured boiling water into it, and within 10 seconds, the upper section was getting warm. Ten minutes later, the whole thing was warm.

The proper name for a Thermos (which is a trademark) is "Dewar flask", (See Wikipedia.) It's a double-walled container (metal or glass) with a vacuum that slows the passage of energy, thus keeping cold stuff cold, and vice-versa. This mug's liner is nothing more than a single layer of stainless steel -- no vacuum.

2. It holds only about 10 ounces. That's barely enough to get you a mile or two down the road.

3. The upper surface of the lid immediately warped from the heat.

4. Tipping the unit produced a lot of spillage.

Cute, yes. A quality product, no way. If it were //free//, it wouldn't be worth the price.

PS: This is an eminently useful review, which several other recent reviews concur with. Yet it has four "not helpful" responses, while most of the recent 5-star reviews are marked as "useful". Why do you think that is? Could it be that the seller doesn't really want the honest review he was asking for? Someone wants you to believe I'm not telling the truth. I am. Trust me.

Cold Mountain [Blu-ray]
Cold Mountain [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Law
Price: $6.37
30 used & new from $2.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Minghella turns a poor novel into a good movie, March 14, 2015
This review is from: Cold Mountain [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)

One often wonders why producers make drastic alterations to perfectly good novels. In this case we have the opposite. Anthony Minghella has taken a poor novel -- one that received unwarranted praise and awards -- and fixed its problems. My review of the novel covers most of these problems, which are beyond stupid.

Minghella's fix consists of removing the preposterous events occurring during Inman's attempt to return to Ada. He makes the Home Guard (here a group of psychopathic torturers and murderers) a continuous presence, so their contacts with Inman aren't the random events they are in the novel. And in the "final showdown", Inman is still killed, but it's plausible -- and he manages to take out the Home Guard in the process. Though tragic, the ending is satisfying and believable (at least within the context of romantic fiction).

The photography and production design are magnificent, the acting less so. Only Rene Zellweger (as Ruby) gives a wholly convincing performance (for which she won an Oscar). Jude Law isn't the passionate suitor one would expect, and Nicole Kidman is (at least at the beginning) rather shallow. (In the novel she comes across more as inexperienced/naïve.)

Those who detested the novel may find themselves liking the film.

PS: Whoever did the makeup couldn't find a way to make Kidman and Zellweger look plausibly unwarshed. Throughout the film, they look as if they had access to a secret stash of Camay.

The Four Symphonies, in the style of the Meiningen performances
The Four Symphonies, in the style of the Meiningen performances
Price: $37.93
54 used & new from $12.93

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where is the Brahmsian darkness?, March 10, 2015
Charles Mackerras is among my least-favorite conductors. I've never forgiven him for his annoyingly "rushed" Mozart symphonies. His Brahms -- which was considered revelatory when it appeared in 1997 -- is another reason not to love him.

I have no problem with Mackerras's generally brisk tempi, or the reduced orchestra (which works beautifully for Dvorak, Schumann, and Beethoven from other conductors). The problem is that his Brahms is too-often tinged in sunnier hues, or merely lacking gravitas.

Brahms was a morbid person who said he (figuratively) heard the sounds of dark birds flapping above his head. He wrote little that could be considered upbeat. Before its premiere, he wondered whether the Fourth Symphony would be too dark for the audience. I am similarly morbid, and expect Brahms to tear me to pieces. (Eat your heart out, Wagner.)

Mackerras doesn't do this. Some movements verge on actually being cheery. This isn't helped by his often legato phrasing. I have many sets of Brahms' orchestral music, and this is the only one that fails to consistently capture Brahms' Schadenlichkeit. (That's not an official German word. I made it up.)

One of the marks of a great performance is that it reveals things we were never aware of. These are the opposite. They remove an element that really ought to be present. Mackerras's is, overall, a not-deeply committed, and profoundly unprofound view of Brahms. I would suggest caution in purchasing this set.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2015 8:46 AM PDT

Snapshot: Power, Sex & Revenge
Snapshot: Power, Sex & Revenge
Price: $5.99

2.0 out of 5 stars clumsy, March 5, 2015
Several weeks ago the author asked me to review "Snapshot". His request came because he liked my review of "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- it wasn't a boilerplate request. His courtesy deserved a response. Unfortunately...

I couldn't get past the first three chapters. It wasn't only that I didn't have the time to read a novel (and there are other things I'd rather read), but the book's opening is so cluttered with clumsily presented detail -- most of which could wait until it's needed -- that I felt I was stumbling over the literary equivalent of rocks.

No reader should have to do this. Mr Cozort needs to present a little of his story at a time, rather than dumping it in the reader's lap. In a complex story, this is not easy. But it's doable, and it makes a novel more accessible.

"Snapshot" might be a great story, but I don't have the patience to work through it to find out.

Brokeback Mountain [Blu-ray]
Brokeback Mountain [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Charles Wuorinen
Price: $33.91
18 used & new from $29.67

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars an opera that's easy to quit, February 28, 2015
I sat through this on the medici site when it premiered. I was hoping for something great -- a work that would become a repertory piece in at least a few American opera companies. Instead, I watched an opera with unappealing music and a libretto with fundamental dramatic flaws.

Charles Wuorinen is an American composer who became well-known for a Nonesuch-commissioned work, "Time's Encomium". (It's an unusual piece -- structured by rhythm, rather than thematic development.) Wuorinen believes Schoenberg got it right, that twelve-tone composition is //the only// way music should be written. * (He's not alone in this.) I've heard several of Wuorinen's pieces on CD, and they sound like watered-down Schoenberg. This might explain why his commissioned works have been generally successful with audiences -- modern, but not unduly modern.

Annie Proulx's libretto changes things a bit, with a suggestion that the ghost of Lureen's father might have arranged Jack's death -- not a bad idea for an opera (qv, "Don Giovanni"). Unfortunately, she makes mistakes anyone knowing the basic principles of writing for stage and screen would have caught. There’s no need for Jack to say “I’m here for you”, when we //see him// “being here” by embracing Ennis. Why does Ennis have to say “You complete me”, when that could — and should — have been said in the music (a simple tonal theme, perhaps)? ** There are places where Wuorinen should have said to Proulx “Take that out — I’ll put it in the music” (qv, Judy’s final transformation to Madeleine in "Vertigo").

One reviewer said that it was a work "hard to love". The one loveable thing is the opening, music suggesting the outdoors and open air -- of a "dark" and threatening environment. Then the piece sinks into atonality (or whatever) and never surfaces. One wonders what Bernard Herrmann would have done with it.

* Schoenberg famously remarked that there was a lot of great music in C major left to be written.
** What if Ennis and Jack's music had been tonal, with the rest of the score unchanged?
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2015 6:26 AM PST

Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 1-4 / Serenades Nos. 1 & 2 / Haydn Variations
Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 1-4 / Serenades Nos. 1 & 2 / Haydn Variations
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $24.31
25 used & new from $19.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly great Brahms, February 20, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Unlike the Beethoven symphonies, which are often poorly performed, Brahms is well-represented on disk. There are plenty of good sets -- and this is one of the very best.

Kertész drowned at the age of 43, but left a lot of wonderful recordings. One of his virtues is spontaneity -- his performances "just happen", without any sense of the music being intellectually overanalyzed. (This is particularly true of his Dvorak cycle.)

I prefer brisk performances (of anything), but am often bothered (speaking very generally) by modern conductors' tendency to race superficially through a work, or play unnaturally slowly on the assumption that slowness automatically evokes profundity. One's initial reaction to Kertész can be that he's a /trifle/ on the slow side. But he uses the extra time for expressive, deeply felt performances devoid of idiosyncrasy or mannerisms. He is alternately thrilling and soul-stirring.

This set includes the Haydn Variations, and jump-out-of-your-seat interpretations of the Serenades.

Kertész is unquestionably one of the great 20th-century conductors. Just about anything he conducted is worth hearing -- and this set is worth owning.

Firefly: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Firefly: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Nathan Fillion
Price: $20.69
74 used & new from $13.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars what "Star Trek" could/should/might have been, February 13, 2015
I'm writing a four-star review because I want to point out a few problems with what should have been a five-star series. Don 't let that keep you from buying it!. "Firefly" is a thoroughly entertaining program. (I was given a copy ten years ago by a late friend, and I've just watched it for a second time.)

"Firefly" is, in broad terms, a Western, so let's take a backward glance at "Gunsmoke". "Gunsmoke" is not merely an iconic Western, but an iconic TV series. It has a startlingly high percentage of good episodes, with the best truly memorable story telling. (Try "Thirty and Month and Found" or "Saturday Night".) Matt Dillon is a conflicted "hero" who beats up people if they don't do what he wants. He loves Miss Kitty (a prostitute), but never actually says "I love you." And he has little desire to get emotionally close to anyone. *

Sound familiar? Malcolm Reynolds is a lot like Marshall Dillon, and it's unlikely the parallel is an accident. (Note Malcolm's unspoken affection for the ship's professional "companion".) The problem is... "Gunsmoke" succeeded, not because of, but in spite of, having an almost-humorless, sometimes brutal, and ultimately rather prickly character in the lead. Fox was unhappy with Reynolds' original darkness/dourness, and pressured Joss Whedon into making him more comic (the 20-year success of "Gunsmoke" notwithstanding). Mal (get it?) became a fount of wisecracks, even in the face of death.

It fails (for this viewer, anyway). Nathan Fillion isn't old enough, or a sufficiently sophisticated actor, nor is the writing disciplined enough, for this to work. I just don't believe the character, especially as he still seems at least damp behind the ears. He's hard-bitten, but lacking the outward manner that should go with it. (One need only glance at Matt Dillon to see he's a dude you don't want to mess with.) Malcolm is such an incoherent mixture of idealism and selfishness that it's hard to believe either. The characters /say/ they don't always like his behavior, but they hang around, nonetheless.

The supporting characters are interesting, especially the mechanic (a young woman) and the doctor (who's not the "crusty" type one expects). But Jayne Cobb is a problem. Why did Malcolm hire someone for whom money is the most-important thing in life, with everything else a distant tenth? By the seventh episode, he's betrayed the crew twice, and Malcolm threatens to toss him out the airlock. Why doesn't he?

Jayne also breaks a storytelling rule -- never have two characters with the same point of view. Malcolm and Jayne are too much alike, the difference being mostly quantitative. Whedon might have done some interesting things with this, but we will never know.

Note that Joss Whedon has no hesitation showing kissing and quasi-sexual relations between women, but declines to show them between men (even though the existence of male prostitutes is acknowledged). Jayne Cobb would have been more interesting as a sly (that's the series' word) man.

One might also gripe that, in armed battles, the crew is invariably victorious, even when facing better-armed people who should be more-skilled fighters. This hurts credulity.

On the technical side... Kudos to Whedon for maintaining silence in the vacuum of space. But his decision to eschew FTL travel leaves us wondering how the Serenity gets around so quickly. Ditto for what appears to be the use of conventional radio (rather than "subspace" communications). In fact, the series gets virtually every "scientific" point wrong.

Regardless, "Firefly" is superior fare, and a good way to fill up those empty hours of our meaningless existences.

"Firefly" has no rating. As most parents don't give a damn what their children watch (and the rest get upset over minor things, such as characters saying "damn"), there seems little point in mentioning that "Firefly" is sometimes brutally violent. It's no more violent than "Gunsmoke", but here we /see/ blood (and sometimes gore). Mal and Petaline (a prostitute) commit murder -- but so do Matt Dillon and Festus Hagen. "Firefly" is a TV-14 series, and some episodes approach TV-MA (such as the one in which Blue Sun employees murder people with a device that ruptures their cranial blood vessels). It is absolutely not for pre-teens.

* Raylan Givens ("Justified") is a successful attempt to recreate Matt Dillon in a modern context.

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