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Steve Ramm "Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"" RSS Feed (Phila, PA USA)
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AMIRA Natural Basmati Rice, 1 Pound
AMIRA Natural Basmati Rice, 1 Pound
Price: $8.43
2 used & new from $8.43

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm more of a pasta lover but this was good and fairly easy to prepare, August 1, 2015
Though I generally review entertainment products on Amazon I do occasionally review food products and after returned from the Fancy Food Show in New York , this product was sent to me by the manufacturer for an objective review.

I received a few of the Amira brand rices and each was different in both flavor and texture and how long you needed to prepare it. This one was one of the easiest as it too less time. All their rices - except one had instructions for stove top, microwave or with an electric rice cooker. (one did not provide instructions for stove top).

Some of the rices The Natural Thai Jasmine Brown takes as long as 40 minutes in a microwave.

All of the rices require soaking of 30-60 minutes to remove the startch. So we are not talking about "fast meals here". But good things sometimes take time and that's the case here.

Based on other reviews (of folks who probably eat more rice than me), this rice was only available before in large packages. These are the right size. I also like how you open it and can then easily reseal the package with a "zipper type" slider that really works.

As I said, I'm not abig fan of rice in general but I can tell from the few times I've cooked it so far, that it is of high quality.

Another note. The expiration dates were long expiring in 2016 and 2017.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


A Place to Call Home, Season 2
A Place to Call Home, Season 2
DVD ~ Marta Dusseldorp
Price: $39.59
11 used & new from $35.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Note that there are THREE discs in this package - not four, as Amazon lists in description, July 31, 2015
There are plenty of other reviews here about the quality of this series and details on it.

What I want to point out is that - though Amazon lists this release as "4 discs", there are only THREE discs in it. Yiu can actually see that this is the correct number if yiu look at the package image that Amazon shows. Look in lower right hand corner.

I hope you found this info helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Live at Jazz Fest 2014
Live at Jazz Fest 2014
Price: $16.99
15 used & new from $14.25

5.0 out of 5 stars The “Dukes” continue to carry on the tradition of their name and still move into the 21st centur, July 30, 2015
This review is from: Live at Jazz Fest 2014 (Audio CD)
The Dukes of Dixieland is not a static group. Though the “name” has been around for over 40 years, the members change and so does the sound. Music executive, John Shoup, owns the name and has final decision on hiring (and retiring) members. He strives for the best evocation of New Orleans music as possible, keeping the tradition but – like the other long time New Orleans music group, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Shoup has endeavored to bring the band’s sound into the 21st century. I had a chance to see the band play live on the Riverboat Natchez in New Orleans – where they play SIX NIGHTS a week (and have been for the last 20 years) – and they were great.

This CD is one of the series of “live” recordings made each year by Munck Music as part of their “Jazz Fest Live” series. They record direct from the soundboard and you get the feeling that you are there at the end of April or early May (but without the heat and humidity). There’s a whole series of NOLA artists but most are not on Amazon (but this one is) and only available direct from their website.

The Dukes and Preservation Hall are two of New Orleans legendary bands and complement each other, rather than compete.

NPR often streams (or archives) performances from Jazz Fest but you’ll only find the Dukes’ performances on these “Live at Jazz Fest” CDs.

The CD comes packaged in a soft vinyl case with a track list but no other text or info.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Rick Sebak's Summer Fun
Rick Sebak's Summer Fun
DVD ~ Rick Sebak
Price: $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Four PBS travel shows from the 1990s reissued as one DVD. Still fun to see them again., July 30, 2015
This review is from: Rick Sebak's Summer Fun (DVD)
I'm not sure why PBS home video chose to wait till August (8/4/15 actually) to release this DVD. By the time people can get it, the summer is more than half over. But it's still fun to watch. (By the way, I received an advance screener for review from PBS.)

The DVD is a compilation of four (almost) hour-long shows that were produced by WQED (Pittsburgh) in 1996 and 1999 and were shown on mostly local stations. I remember seeing at least the hot dog episode and the ice cream one too. I think they may have been offered as pledge-time premiums by PBS stations but this is the first time that all four are combined in one package.

Because two of the shows are nearly 20 years old some of the places no longer exist so I'd suggest googling them before you head out to find them. And there is a bit of irony in "the Ice Cream Show" when the amiable host Rick Sebak visits The Creamery at Penn State University and learns that their "biggest selling flavor" is "Peachy Paterno", named after the late Joe Paterno - PSU's legendary football coach. The university removed the statue of Paterno after the child-sex scandal, so I'm guessing the flavor is now gone too!

If you remember these shows, you'll enjoy seeing them again (I know I did). Just know the production dates of shows though. (They are noted in fine print on the back of the DVD).

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Kern & Hammerstein: Show Boat [Blu-ray]
Kern & Hammerstein: Show Boat [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ San Francisco Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Price: $29.89
21 used & new from $24.56

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TEN stars for the production and video and sound quality BUT the Bluray needs to be reformatted with "resume" function, July 30, 2015
UPDATE to my review posted yesterday: As you will see 11 of the 12 reviews posted here are of the Bluray version (including mine). I jusr learned from someone who has the cheaper DVD version that the resume-play feature works on that format.

Now on to the review I posted yesterday.

After watching this amazing performance captured on Bluray with great sound and image, but before posting this review, I see that my fellow reviewers had the same problem and concerns that I had with the manufacture of this Bluray released by the Euroarts label. And these concerns are valid and I hope will be addressed by the folks at the San Francisco Opera Company, who mounted this landmark 21st century version of the classic 1927 musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein. This is a production that anyone who loves Broadway will want to see. Yes, it's being mounted by an "opera" company, but many in the cast are Broadway veterans and the dance numbers are Tony Award worthy. Had this production made it's way to New York, it surely would have won multiple Tonys.

As you will learn in the bonus interviews with all the leading cast members as well as the production team (totaling about 33 minutes), there were songs from the original production that were added back ("Misery") and new ones added. And the direction and camera work is great too! I'll let you read some other reviews of the production and comment (as others have) on the technical aspects of the BD.

Simply stated the Bluray has no memory or "resume play" feature. When you stop the disc you will find that it will start up the next time with the copyright notice and the main menu. The production is 2 hours and 24 minutes ling (The first act is about 1 hour and 22 minutes), and it is divided into chapters. But you would need to know how far you watched before hitting stop button to find your place.
I found another "memory" issue too. There are many songs in the score sung by a chorus. They are great, but I challenge anyone to decipher the lyrics. Luckily the BD has subtitles option for English as well as other languages. And I highly recommend that anyone watching this use that option. BUT, you need to choose that option BEFORE pressing "Play". And, if you stop the BD and return to it, not only do you need to scan to where you left off BUT you need to choose the English subtitles AGAIN from the main menu! The BD does not remember that you wanted it.

I can only hope that someone with the power to make it happen can go back to Euroarts and request that they re-do the BD with the resume function (which can't be hard and nearly every BD that I review, has that feature.) . It would surely help them sell the BD and this IS an important production that needs to be seen!

I don't think that anyone else has mentioned that (like most Euroarts releases) there is a 28-page color booklet enclosed in the package. It provides production credits and list of the 22 chapter stops (and the songs you'll find in each- though some chapters are 8-11 minutes in length so it's still frustrating. There is a 4 page synopsis of each chapter (repeated in various languages), plus short essays by the director and musical director.

The production goes well beyond 5 stars but the frustration trying to watch it ( I did in two sessions) makes me have to deduct one star.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Gourmet Popcorn 8oz. Bag
Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Gourmet Popcorn 8oz. Bag

4.0 out of 5 stars Chocolate lovers will enjoy this but it does stick to your teeth more that most caramel corn. Guess it has more sugar., July 29, 2015
Though I generally review entertainment products on Amazon I do occasionally review food products and after returned from the Fancy Food Show in New York , this product was sent to me by the manufacturer for an objective review. I had so many different food groups to taste that trying it at the show was not a good choice.

This is one of the variety of "caramel corns" that the company makes (and offers on Amazon". Since I'm a chocoholic this was the flavor I most wanted to try. It's really a caramel corn using sea salt (supposed to be healthier for you) which then has small dark chocolate chunks added while warm so the chocolate adhears to the corn pieces but doesn't melt. And that I liked. I found the caramel to be a bit "sticker" than most (think Cracker Jack) and it stuck to my teeth quite a bit. But later I tried some while having a hot beverage in hand and was able to have it stick less.

The product is not what one might consider "natural" (even the chocolate has "artificial vanilla flavor" in it and there is fructose in it as well. But there is real butter and cream too and cocoa.

I did like it but I'm sure it's not low in fat or calories so it's a nice "treat" in small quantities. The packaging is attractive.

The package says that, unopened, the product's shelf life is a year.

I hope you found this review both helpful and informative.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Brix Chocolate Extra Dark - 8oz
Brix Chocolate Extra Dark - 8oz
Offered by Fantastic Day
Price: $19.95
2 used & new from $19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the "medium dark" variety - It really does make our house wine taste better. A nice find., July 28, 2015
This review is from: Brix Chocolate Extra Dark - 8oz
Though I generally review entertainment products on Amazon I do occasionally review food products and after returned from the Fancy Food Show in New York , this product was sent to me by the manufacturer for an objective review. At the show I s visited their booth and the rep explained how their chocolates are paired with wines to bring out the best of both flavors. Of course, I had tasted so many products that a fair taste test would not be possible at the show. The manufacturer sent me a sample package to do a serious taste test at home (where I provided my own wine). Here are my comments.

First off, it really does work with wines. I started on the first BAR which was the Medium Dark (not the Dark one that is here on Amazon' It does come in the variety pack of four flavors - I got full size , 8oz, bars of three of the flavors.). The package said it was made to go with Merlot, Shiraz, Chianti and Zinfandel. Our house wine is Merlot so that was the tasting product. The package (boxes) contains one 80z solid "bar". As per the instructions inside the box, you are to use a pointed knife to break off small pieces to eat. It is a real SOLID piece of chocolate so you won't get little neat squares. (Think of it as you would cut a chunk of hard parmesan cheese.). You'll get small "chunks" and flakes. (This is not the neatest product to consume but - heck, who cares - it's chocolate!). The nutrition facts reveal that a serving is 1 oz. But I found that by eating the small "chunks" I was plenty happy with probably a half ounce. So, even being "piggy" you get 8 servings and the calorie content per serving is a surprising 14 calories and 10 g fat.

The instructions also suggest that you serve at room temperature and DO NOT REFRIGERATE.

As the chocolate melted (very slowly) in my mouth and I sipped the glass of merlot, I was in pure chocolate heaven. I'm not a big fan of milk chocolate and, though there is milk fat included it was not prominent. And I was surprised to find out that sugar was the first ingredient (followed by "chocolate liquor processed with alkali - often called "ditching" which actually makes the chocolate healthier for you) , cocoa butter milk fat, lecithin and (a word that always astounds me) "natural flavors". Even though sugar is prominent, the bar was not "sweet", just intensely "chocolaty".

If you are a true chocolate lover who goes beyond Hershey's and even Lindt, I think you'll like this. And it is so intense, I think we will need a week (and a few more bottles of Merlot) to finish it off so we can try the other varieties.

BTW, the packaging is nice too - in case you want to give as a gift to wine (or chocolate) friends.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


A John Williams Celebration [Blu-ray]
A John Williams Celebration [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Gustavo Dudamel
Price: $23.99
23 used & new from $18.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the "usual" Williams' music - and a few rarely heard pieces - with superb image and sound., July 28, 2015
This is a wonderful document of a unique evening in Los Angeles last September 2014 (I think it was September) when the Los Angeles Philharmonic opened its 2014/15 season at Disney Hall with an 85 minute concert featuring the music of John Williams. With LAP Music Director Gustavo Dudamel on the podium and Itzhak Perlman guesting to play three pieces from the score of "Schindler's List" (plus the US Army Herald Trumpets and the L.A. Children's Chorus) the concert may have aired live on PBS (it was co-produced by New York's WNET), but it wasn't a US company that released this wonderful Bluray disc. It was the German TV network WDR and a German import label - Major.

One reviewer here complained that this was not a concert of Williams' "hits". No it isn't when you think of recordings. But that's what makes it special. There are at least a dozen videos of concerts (usually "pops" orchestras) playing "Star Wars" (and subsequent films, "E.T.", "Lincoln" and more. Yes, we get a piece of "Star wars" here but we also get three segments from the Tom Hanks film "Catch Me If You Can". I don't think I've ever heard that before (other than seeing the film). We get a piece from the African-American history film "Armistad" (cue the Children's chorus!), and even the opening titles from "Fiddler on the Roof" (I didn't know it was not by Jerry Bock, and many others didn't either). The most unique piece (and - honestly - the least "commercial" is "Soundings", a single movement 15-minute composition that Williams wrote specifically for the LAP and Disney Hall. I don't mean the folks who managed the Hall; I mean the physical venue itself. It is a "conversation between the musicians playing and the sonics of the inside of the building.

The camera work is superb - and there is a large screen on stage to introduce each piece. And even on my $400 HD TV the BD looked and sounded great!
As a bonus feature there is a 13 minute "conversation" with Williams and Dudamel about Williams's career as well as each piece performed in the concert. It's very insightful.

I should point out that the concert recording was not edited so you will have to sit through several long standing ovations and applause.

Like many other music DVDs from Germany there is a 20-page booklet of photos, track list, list of ALL the musicians and a 2 ½ page essay (in three languages) enclosed.

If you want to see the breadth of Williams' compositions - and not hear the (though great) "same old - same old" selections, I think you'll love this BD. I certainly did/.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Palladium Circles
Palladium Circles
Price: $11.99
51 used & new from $8.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No it's not authorized nor is it hi-fi but the music is great and there is lots of it., July 28, 2015
This review is from: Palladium Circles (Audio CD)
There seems to be a divided camp in the reviews posted for this new CD (one of a series of LIVE radio concerts that are coming out on the Iconograph label. Some folks - the completists - love it while others complain about the sound and that it's a "bootleg".

Obviously it is not a release that the members of the Band are involved in. But it was an important concert - just shortly before the filming of "The Last Waltz". This time the concert is not cluttered with "guests" and they aren't playing to a film camera. The band is loose and it sounds like they just want to jam. I love the instrumental break - "The Genetic Method".

As another reviewer said (or commented), this was recorded from an FM radio broadcast in 1976 - BEFORE Digital HD radio. Yes, the sound isn't sharp but it played fine for me.

Let me also add here that this is a 75 minute (!) concert (17 songs -mostly the hits). And you get a lot of entertainment for your money. And where else are you going to hear this performance?

So if you only want a few albums of the band, this one may not be for you. But at lreast it's out there and I'm pretty sure that the Band members are not going to release it on their own.

No one else mentioned it yet - so I will - but the 4 panel insert has maybe 6 sentences about the recording. Some of the other releases on the Iconograph label provide a bit more info on the CD contents.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Takeya Flash Chill® Tea Maker (2 Quarts Avocado)
Takeya Flash Chill® Tea Maker (2 Quarts Avocado)
Price: $25.21
7 used & new from $24.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really tasty ice tea. Easy to use but here are a few additional tips for us, July 25, 2015
Though I generally review entertainment products on Amazon I do occasionally review food products and after returned from the Fancy Food Show in New York , this product was sent to me by the manufacturer for an objective review. At the show I saw the iced tea brewer and had a brief taste. I was delicious but I wanted to try it at home, The manufactures sent me a review unit and some sample teas. Here are my comments.

The tea varieties I've tried so far (the mint one and the green tea) are both fresh tasting and refreshing. But I'm not reviewing teas here (you can actually use any tea or tea bags), but rather the maker itself. I found by trial and error that a little be of extra prep - not mentioned in the instructions - will make the process smoother.

The package says you can brew the tea in 10 minutes and that's a pretty good estimate.

You boil a quart of water (for the 2 quart unit) and let it sit for a minute to cool. Then you put it in the clear plastic unit. While waiting for the water to boil you open TWO packets of the loose tea (1 packet if using the 1 qt maker), and pour into the tea infuser and screw on lid.
After the HOT water is in the unit you immerse the infuser and let it "brew" for 3 minutes. Then you remove the infuser and fill the unit all the way with ice cubes. THIS is the "gotcha" moment. Assuming you don't have a bag of ice in the freezer (or have a refrigeration that has ice cube unit in the door) you will need to have two full ice cube trays ready. (I did). Just know that going in.

Next you twist on the lid and "shake for 30 seconds". This is the next "gotcha". Have a pot holder or towel handy. Remember that you put in ice cubes but the water you put in first was boiling and it will still be hot. But a towel will do it. Then you are ready to drink it. But, remember you used your two ice cube trays (well I did) so you can't pour over ice just yet. But it will be plenty cold to drink.

Now comes cleanup. Yes, you can put in dishwasher but you need to get the tea leaves out of the infuser unit first. That isn't always easy. The small leaves stick to the inside of the screen in the infuser. It can be done. It's just a bit tricky and uses lots of running water.

So, yes, I'm pleased with the unit and really like the taste of the tea. Whether this is any easier than adding boiling water to tea bags, then adding ice and shaking it is any harder, I can't say. But I do also like the fact that the lid screws tight enough so you can lay horizontally in the fridge.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


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