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Steven I. Ramm "Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"" RSS Feed (Phila, PA USA)
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The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening
The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening
by Chris Raschka
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.51
65 used & new from $5.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Colorful bio aimed at children of the founder of ”intergalactic jazz”., August 21, 2014
I have lived in Philadelphia long enough to have actually “experienced” a live concert by Sun Ra and his Arkestra (actually there were many names for the group of musicians but the word Arkestra was in all of them). That performance – as atonal was it was – and the costumes worn by the leader and members of the musical aggregation were unlike any I had seen before (or since), and the same can be said for the music.

To honor the Centenary of Ra’s birth in 1914, children’s book illustrator Chris Raschka has not only filled this slim 40-page hardbound children’s book summarizing the facts of Ra’s life and comparing Ra’s feeling that he was from Saturn with being an African American in America before civil rights legislation.

The illustrations will appeal to children as Rashka’s work is colorful but they may be confused some of the text. This is a book that a parent probably needs to read to a child and then discuss the issues raised. Both race issues and musical styles are prime for discussion.

Of course any adult fan of Ra and his music will probably want this book too to place alongside the many vinyl record albums that Ra recorded – always on independent labels – since 1956. Ra died in 1993 two days short of his 79th birthday.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Historic Philadelphia 2015 Calendar
Historic Philadelphia 2015 Calendar
by Historic Pictoric
Edition: Calendar
Price: $13.49
13 used & new from $9.33

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice sharp black and white photos but home info on each image would have been useful., August 21, 2014
Though this large wall calendar of my hometown, Philadelphia, contains spaces to enter events for 16 months – there are only 12 months’ worth of photographs. The first page shows small images of the 13 photos totally unrelated to Philly space to enter info for August – December 2014.

The 12 photos of Philly are large and sharp. Some – like the Girard Trust Bank Building c1907 (Now the lobby and restaurant portion of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel) and the obvious choices of Independence Hall c1910 and Carpenters’ Hall c1900, the other photos are less exact in their location. There is a great shot titled “Looking Down North Broad Street” , but none of the buildings are identified and – having collected many photos of Philly over the years, I’m still not able to identify it. A similar thing happens with the one titled “Chestnut Street with the old Post Office” there are many historic buildings on Chestnut Street still surviving but none is the photo was recognizable. There is no info on the source if these images and – in my opinion – the publisher should have provided a bit more narrative about each image.

Yes, it looks okay on a wall but – other than knowing the dates of each month, there is little info included.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


William Shatner's Get a Life!
William Shatner's Get a Life!
DVD ~ William Shatner
Price: $15.98
8 used & new from $9.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Review of DVD and Special Bonus Features - Worth a watch even if you’ve never seen Star Trek, August 21, 2014
First off, I’ll admit that I’m not a Trekie. In fact I’ve never seen the TV series, but did see the FIRST Star Wars movie. But I enjoy learning about pop culture and I found this 58 minute film (plus bonuses – more in them in a minute) fun and entertaining. Yes, I’d edit out a few interviews which are, basically, the same interview comments from a guy on different days of the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention that forms the background for this film by star William Shatner. He was going to the convention anyway – to make big $$$ from signing things and meeting fans – and used the non-signing time to make the film about what is so important about the TV/film series that attracts such a wide range (and large group) of people.

Some are silly but there are two attendees whose stories will bring a tear or more to your eye. (Have a box of Kleenex handy).

There are many segments – away from the convention – where Shatner sits by a fireplace with Robert Walker, the President of the Joseph Campbell Foundation to discuss the psychology of the Star Trek fandom. It’s a nice balance for the fans' comments.

The DVD has six bonus features which total 23 minutes; the longest is the Shatner/Walker outtake about “The Hero” as a fictional character. There is a promo trailer for the film, a psychiatrist who is a “trekie” along with his son, some outtakes of the Jue Family, another heart wrenching story (cue the Kleenex again) and, finally three minutes of raw footage of Shatner signing autographs and meeting with fans.

If you are a trekie (sorry, it may be trekkie) then you’ll want to see this DVD. If, like me, you are fascinated by pop culture devotion, I can also recommend it. It’s not long and worth a watch.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Laurie's Kitchen Buffalo Chicken Chili Mix, 9 Ounce
Laurie's Kitchen Buffalo Chicken Chili Mix, 9 Ounce
Price: $6.99
2 used & new from $6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to make tasty product – but be aware of the “hidden spices” if you have allergies to pepper, August 21, 2014
Laurie’s Kitchen makes a variety of mixes to which you add meat and maybe another ingredient. This was the first product of theirs I tried. It is easy to prepare and was tasty but the ingredients list is somewhat misleading – enough to drop a star from my rating.

First I might I cannot tolerate “Spicy” foods. When I received this product was I concerned – after all most chili mixes are spicy. I make chili with Bush’s Chili Magic and it is not spicy. So, I looked at the ingredients on the package and noted that “pepper” was not listed. Corn starch and salt are there along with vinegar powder and sugar but no pepper. Between the Garlic and the Sea Salt is the word “spices”. There is a comment on package that “can add hot sauce”.

The only thing you need to add is diced pre-cooked chicken and a small can of diced tomatoes. The prep was REALLY simple and I liked the texture. Then I tasted it. My mouth started burning. There was something here that was spicy. Well – with a glass of beer in hand I was able to cut some of the heat and ate the rest.

I was curious about the “burn” and wrote to the company asking if there was chili powder in the mix. And I also asked what the “spices” were (after all salt and sugar and vinegar powder were already detailed. They replied that there is no Chili Powder in the mix and the “spices consist of white pepper, cumin, and red pepper”. So why couldn’t they just say that? I suggested that they add that in the future and they said that they would. Many folks are sensitive to certain spices (especially pepper!) and so I want any buyers to be aware of these “unlisted” ingredients.

If you don’t have a problem with spicy products then I can recommend this for a quick and easy dinner. Just add a small salad and you’ve got a meal.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Appetite for Construction
Appetite for Construction
Price: $11.98
12 used & new from $7.48

5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked the They Might Be Giants” kids albums you’ll love this, August 21, 2014
I’m a big fan of the albums that the band They Might Be Giants have produced to teach things to children while entertaining their parent – and any adult for that matter – with clever lyrics and melodies that won’t leave your head.
When someone sent me the link to the YouTube video for the song “All The Shapes”, I was hooked on The Pop Ups. (Check out the video – especially if you have a subway in your city!).

The two guys who are The Pop Ups obviously grew up on music of the 1980s ‘cause That’s the style they use most. If you didn’t know these songs were composed in 2014, you’d think this was an 80s pop album you didn’t know about. Everyone will have their favorite track – mine, after “Shapes”, is “Bug Out”. Try some samples and you’ll be hooked.

The Cd comes in a digipak with the guest musicians listed on the left inside and a photo of Jason and Jacob (the Pop Ups) on the right. Too bad they didn’t include the lyrics so you could sing along. (Maybe they are on their website – I haven’t looked.)

I’m a “mature adult” with no kids but I’ve been playing this Cd all week. I can’t imagine there isn’t a child (from age2 or 3 up!) who won’t flip over this album. And – what’s great is that the music won’t bore the parents!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“anything Phonographic”


Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Original Scent, Blue, 24 Ounce
Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Original Scent, Blue, 24 Ounce
Offered by Southgate Marketing
Price: $8.97
23 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Works at least as well as standard dawn; my issue is the bottle too big., August 13, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
While I usually review CDs and DVDs as well as entertainment related books here on Amazon, in my daily life I do wash dishes (doesn’t everyone?) so when this “new” version of Dawn dish detergent was offered to me from Amazon in its Vine Reviewer Program, it peaked my interest. I usually by one of the major brands – whether Palmolive or Dawn depending on what’s on sale at CVS or Rite Aid that week. Both clean my dishes pretty well and never noticed much of a difference except the fragrance. I want a dish detergent that doesn’t smell. It is supposed to just clean!

Well the two pack of these large size bottles arrived and I’ve used for two days. Yes, the detergent cleaned well and didn’t have a fragrance (thank goodness). The package says it was “more bubbles”. It does but is this an indication of cleaning ability? I’m not a chemist so I can’t say, but sometimes you need to rinse more because of the bubbles.

So yes I like it and would recommend it – again at a fair price. But I could only give THIS size Dawn four stars because of the size of the bottle. This is 24 oz vs the small 10 ounce ones I have bought in the past. The full bottle is HEAVY and, as it empties you still have a large bottle sitting on the sink counter. I know I’ll be saving my 10oz bottle and refilling it from these. An extra step but sure makes it easier to use.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Live at the Cactus Cafe
Live at the Cactus Cafe
Price: $14.99
9 used & new from $11.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Import CD of an hour with Louden The Third – good sound and few songs performed before commercially released., August 12, 2014
This review is from: Live at the Cactus Cafe (Audio CD)
As I write this review, I see that there is one posted already from back in 2013 from a customer in London. That is because the CD was produced by a UK company and is just now seeing release in the US as an import. As noted in the other review, this 58 minute “concert” was recorded at a small club in Austin TX in 1990 for airing on the non-commercial radio station KUT-FM. The quality of the recording is excellent though by its packaging it is obviously not authorized by Wainwright. The two page booklet enclosed has a nice essay but it is uncredited.

Wainwright sings his big “hit” – “Dead Skunk” and a few others that had been released by the time of this performance but you also get to hear songs that were later waxed before they had been finalized. Wainwright’s humor is always off-kilter (which makes him so special). Many songs are based on his own life experiences including being a travelling musician, having marital issues and even finding that music clubs nearly always misspell his name (both first and last).

Wainwright interacts with the audience – including a young girl who he says might know him from “Dead Skunk” or Baby Beluga” (he performs the former but not the latter) and he tells her about his daughter (who was nine at the time).

Wainwright completists will want this CD – though all the songs have been recorded in the studio on other albums. I’m sure there are copies of the radio broadcast out there on the internet among fans but here it is on CD Yes, Wainwright will not get any $ from sales but, then again, no one in the US has made this available to hear. And it is an entertaining hour.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Poor Man's Diamonds
Poor Man's Diamonds
10 used & new from $4.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For his 11th album this true "singer-songwriter" stays on course - and gets great support from his "friends" in performance., August 10, 2014
This review is from: Poor Man's Diamonds (Audio CD)
John Flynn is the true image of the term singer-songwriter. Not only does he craft fine songs (some of which other artists have covered) but is constantly performing or touring clubs and festivals. This month alone I expect to see him perform at both the Philly Folk Festival (where he sings in both workshops and the big stage) and among the legends of bluegrass at the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival. Flynn participates in both Phil Ochs song nights and kid's concerts (where his song "A Manatee Sneezed on Me" is - rightfully so- his most requested song from the next generation of folk music fans.

This album is Flynn's 11th and pretty much follows the other "adult" titles. The 13 tracks on the 45-minute CD range from tributes to Woody Guthrie to traveling songs and there's always a political song as well. And - as usual - some of Flynn's well-known friends contribute their talents. Kris Kristofferson, Pat Wictor, Reggie Harris and the multi-talented David Amram are along to support Flynn.

The fact that he's talented to fill an album with 13 songs which he was composed shows the artist in him.
The CD comes packed in a digipak with one panel listing all the musicians and the other the requisite "thank you"s . I'm guessing the lyrics are on his web site.

If you know - and enjoyed -Flynn's previous albums you should like this. There are a few earlier ones I love better but there's certainly enough here to recommend it.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Angelo Pietro Original Dressing, 9.3-Ounce
Angelo Pietro Original Dressing, 9.3-Ounce
Price: $6.93
5 used & new from $6.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It’s addictive –a little goes a LONG way so use just a little each time (read on for more info), August 10, 2014
Though most of my reviews on Amazon are of CDs, DVDs and books, I do eat (big grin) and this is a product I discovered at a food show about 10 years ago and have been using on and off for years. I recently got a bottle of the current formulation and I’m thrilled to say that it no longer has MSG! (How many Asian products can you say that about?)

The way I discovered it – as said it was at a food show – was when the sales person put 2 DROPS of this “Original Dressing (Shoyu)” version on a piece of fresh lettuce and gave me it to taste. WAOW! My taste buds snapped. The dressing brought out flavor in the lettuce – even iceberg – that I never tasted before. So I became “hooked” on the stuff – and I’ve tried other varieties too.

I should make you aware of some nutritional info so that you don’t “over use” the dressing. The calorie content is high at 140 calories per tsp. And so is the fat content – 15g for that teaspoon! But, you don’t need a teaspoonful for one salad. The dressing is concentrated and the dispenser top lets you actually pour a drop or two at a time. So, especially the first time, use it sparingly! And by doing that, the bottle will last a LOT longer than other dressings.

Diabetics should also know that there is both sugar and maltrose syrup in this dressing. I’m not sure that other reviews mentioned it.

I know I had a real hard time finding the product in stores and was buying a case at a time direct from the company. Amazon now carries it that’s a great convenience.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Almondina Almonduo, 4-Ounce (Pack of 12)
Almondina Almonduo, 4-Ounce (Pack of 12)
Offered by Nutricity
Price: $61.73

5.0 out of 5 stars “ Two, Two, Two Nuts in one” thin and addictive cookie – The Almonduo, August 9, 2014
Though most of my reviews on Amazon are of CDs, DVDs and books, I do eat (big grin) and Amazon has been sending me food items to review over the past year. Because I previously had a gift basket business, I attend the huge annual Fancy Food Show every year. At this year’s FFS a number of companies who are now selling on Amazon asked if I would review their product. I accepted some of those offers and let the company know that it would be an honest review.

I’ve seen Almondina brand “cookies” at the show – and in stores – for many years. They are the original brand and, this year alone, I saw four other “copy cats”. Honestly, I had only been buying the “original flavor” – Almond – which is where the name of the company came from. But one of the samples I received this month was this “combo” with both almonds and pistachios. And I love the taste! They are all natural. Basically (in this order) Nuts, flour, sugar and egg whites (plus “Natural flavor”) and they appear to be “shelf-stable” since my package in August 2014 had a “best used by” date of March 2015.

The calorie content is 135 but you get 4 cookies for that and much of the calorie content (and fat 4.5 g for 4 cookies.) comes from the “healthy” – in moderation, of course –nuts. Each 4 oz package holds 14 cookies (I prefer to call them wafers). They are really nice to add a bit of a “treat” to your mid-morning or after dinner coffee (when I have always used them).

As another reviewer posted out elsewhere on Amazon, the wafers are thin and subject to breakage. A few of the packages I’ve bought – via Amazon as well as stores – have wafers that have broken into (usually) two pieces. This doesn’t affect the flavor by any means (and this happened with their competitors too) but you need to treat the packages also as gently as a bag of potato chips.

If you like the other flavors I can certainly recommend the Almonduos and if you’ve never tried any, this is a good place to start. Just make sure you like pistachios. After all they are the second ingredient –after almonds!
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


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