Monday, April 14, 2014

CombatCritic Victim of Felony Theft ... Hooligans Steal Golf Cart, Clubs, and iPhone During Inaugural Round At Alvamar Country Club

C.T. Sorrentino, CombatCritic, Victim of Felony Theft ... Hooligans Steal Golf Cart, Clubs, and iPhone During Inaugural Round At Alvamar Country Club


Key Words: C.T. Sorrentino, CT, Sorrentino, CombatCritic, Victim, Felony Theft, Hooligans, Steal, Golf, Cart, Clubs, iPhone, Inaugural, Round, Alvamar, Alvamar Golf and Country Club, 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës ... A Review by Elisa Fierro

A Review of

Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës

By Elisa Fierro

“Reader, I did not marry him.” This is the arresting beginning of Vanessa Gebbie’s Chapter XXXVIII – Conclusion (and a little bit of added cookery) with abject apologies to Charlotte Brontë, one of the short stories in the new collection Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës (ISBN 978-0-9572897-3-4).

Red Room, edited by A. J. Ashworth and published in paperback by Unthank Books in 2013, is comprised of twelve short stories and a poem, written by some of Britain’s best contemporary writers to celebrate the Brontë sisters and their unexhausted modernism. According to the editor, part of the profits of the book will be donated to the Brontë Birthplace Trust to help spread awareness of both the village and the building where the three sisters and their brother, Branwell, were born.

The Brontë Birthplace, located at  72/74 Market Street, Thornton, England (West Yorkshire) and was a museum until 2007 thanks to the passion of the late novelist Barbara Whitehead. After being sold, it has recently become a café. At the time of the sale, the Brontë Birthplace Trust was raising the necessary funds to acquire the building, and their mission now to try to secure it at a future date for Brontë lovers worldwide.

This collection of short stories, Red Room shows, is a continued commitment of Unthank Books towards contemporary short fiction and classic literature. The contributors – all writers of remarkable standing in contemporary British literature and winners of prestigious awards such as the BBC National Short Story Award - have all waived their fees. Their generosity is shared by Unthank Books, as mentioned earlier, to help the Trust give the Brontë birthplace its deserved position among the most important literary locations in the world.

The Brontës and their work inspire all of the carefully crafted stories in Red Room, but a previous knowledge of the sisters’ novels, although certainly auspicious, is not absolutely necessary in order to enjoy the book.  Everybody can find something to his or her taste. The authors deal with a variety of themes (from child abuse to the loss of a parent), write in different styles, and set their stories in the past as well as in the present, showing how human traits and situations described by the three Brontë sisters transcend time and place.

The previously mentioned Chapter XXXVIII – Conclusion (and a little bit of added cookery) with abject apologies to Charlotte Brontë, by Vanessa Gebbie, offers a humorously alternative ending to Jane Eyre where Jane and Rochester do not marry but live as companions while Rochester develops an interest in cooking with a penchant for oddly mixed ingredients (after all, he is blind!). The author’s (never random) good humor, through Jane’s first person narrative, does not spare any character of the novel, including St. John Rivers, whose fate is described in a way highly appropriate for him: “St. John is unmarried: he never will marry now (Who would marry him, reader? Look at the verbiage up with which one would have to put)”.

Modern values are the theme of Rowena Macdonald’s short story A Child of Pleasure. Inspired by the relationship between Lucy Snow and Ginevra Fanshawe in Villette, the story is about Liza Frost, a teacher giving private lessons, and Jemima Fenchurch, her student. Jemima is not in the least interested in passing her exam and often tries to demean Liza by pointing out her plain appearance, her solitary life, and her lack of wealth. Jemima is “about as sensitive as a brick”, has been indulged all her life, is self-centered, and only believes in beauty and money. However, at the end of the story, Liz and the reader are left wondering if, after all, Jemima was right. “I had been wrong: she was nobody’s appendage” – don’t we all want to be a celebrity like her, without a care in this world and sure that we will “suffer as little as any human being I have ever known”?

Heart-rending is the atmosphere of Carys Davies’ story Bonnet.  The headwear of the title is one that Charlotte, on her way to meet her publisher George Smith in London, has embellished with a new lining, “a lustrous, pearly pink like the interior of a shell”. Smith has written Charlotte a letter telling her about his recent engagement, a letter that she had not yet received when she embarked on her trip. In reality, the trip never took place, because at the time Charlotte had stopped going to London to see her publisher. However, there has always been much speculation about the feelings that Charlotte might have entertained for the young, charming George. They were certainly friends and it is possible that she, bereft and alone after the death of all her siblings, might have hoped to have him as a life companion. Throughout the story, Charlotte is acutely aware of her plain appearance and clothing, especially during the meeting: “…  it is the worst imaginable thing for her to sit and feel the bright new silk around her face, like a shout, and see how embarrassed he is, how he can’t look at it.” In Victorian England, like today in our modern, multicultural, open-minded society (sarcasm intended), there is an incredible amount of pressure for women to be physically attractive. It takes a lot of self-esteem not to feel, as Charlotte did, “always, always acutely and painfully conscious” of the way we look as opposed to the way we are expected to look. I am sure that many women can relate to that, I for one certainly do.

I have chosen to use these three stories to illustrate how varied and multifaceted the collection Red Room actually is and the fact that it is a totally subjective choice. I do not doubt that every reader will find his or her favorites, as the rest of the stories combine elements of fiction, realism, fantasy, even fairy-tale, and are filled with characters whom, while based on the Brontë works, are strong in their own right.

In My Dear Miss … Zoë King imagines an epistolary exchange between Jane Eyre and Emma Woodhouse, where the latter, faithful to her character, tries to set Jane up with “a certain young clergyman, Mr. Elton, a handsome and intelligent addition to our circle.”

Contrasting with the playfulness of that work are Sarah Dobbs’ Behind all the Closed Doors, dealing with the loss of a parent at a very early age, and Alison Moore’s Stonecrop, where an abusive stepfather gets what he deserves from his young victim.

On the other hand, stories like The Curate’s Wife, by Felicity Skelton, will appeal to lovers of historical fiction and romance, for its depiction of a fortuitous meeting between Charlotte and a well-known historical character, with very interesting consequences.

Subsequently, Ashton and Elaine, by David Constantine, is a fairy-tale version of Heathcliff and Catherine’s story in which an adopted child finds a loving family and a supportive teacher in order that we can all be hopeful for him and his future.

Although the stories show a variety of subjects, one element ties them all together: their authors’ captivating imaginations and their desire to bring the Brontë sisters to a wide modern audience, an audience who might or might not have a good literary background knowledge. At the end of the book, actually, the reader with less familiarity with the Brontës will find help with understanding the context of each story in the final section entitled Inspirations, where every author explains how he or she came to write their particular piece of short fiction.

Being a Brontë lover myself, I am always an avid reader of anything related to the sisters and am sometimes disappointed by what is published, but this collection did not disappoint! The works in this book show how modern the Brontës will always be, how they can still inspire good literature, how the characters they created can and shall hook a contemporary reader, and make him or her reflect on the human condition. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are alive and well and they are waiting for you in the Red Room.

Read the original review on CombatCritic's Book Review Blog

Key Words: Elisa Fierro, Elisa, Fierro, Bronte, Brontë, sisters, Charlotte Brontë, Ann Brontë, Emily Brontë, writer, author, book, England, UK, United Kingdom, parsonage, BBC, Thornton, Yorkshire, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Copyright 2014 - Elisa Fierro and 3rd Wave Media Publications - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Natural Goal "#1 Premium Oregano Oil" ... Great Product, Excellent Value, Carry-On Size


Natural Goal "#1 Premium Oregano Oil" (natural origanum vulgare - 1oz/30ml - $22.95) is the only PURE Oil of Oregano I could find in stores or on the internet (Amazon). Health stores and natural grocers sell HIGHLY DILUTED oil of oregano for the same price or more. The diluted oil sold in stores and online equates to $100 an ounce and up, making this oil an excellent value. As a consumer, I highly recommend it!

Oil of Oregano has so many uses and because of the 1 ounce size, it can even be carried on an airplane! With uses from aromatherapy to skin applications and beyond, its reported antibiotic properties could be invaluable on a trip, particularly in a foreign country where language and medical services could be a challenge.

WARNING: Make sure that you read the label and about proper use of the product, checking with your healthcare provider before using this or any "natural" product as it is highly concentrated, not regulated by the FDA, and can cause severe symptoms, particularly if ingested.

CombatCritic Gives Natural Goal "#1 Premium Oregano Oil" 9 Bombs Out of 10 ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!




Key Words: Natural Goal #1 Premium Oregano Oil, natural, goal, premium, oregano, oil, origanum vulgare, origanum, vulgare, Dr Oz, Dr. Oz, Dr, Oz, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, combat, critic

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kansas City Yelp Elite '14 Event: Yelp Oughta Be In The Pictures

The Palace Cinema is on the second floor of an indoor mall on the Country Club Plaza. There are several theaters showing a variety of films, but this event was in the "VIP" theater, an appropriated place for yelp's Elite '14!

I was finally able to meet Matt E., our Kansas City Yelp Community Manager, and he was very welcoming. Unable to attend the three previous events since becoming an Elite '14 due to travel and illnesses, I was very pleased to be able to attend this event and meet some of the wonderful folks I have only known by name and photo.

The VIP Lounge was small, but comfortable with a full bar (soft/mixed drinks available at an extra cost - my wife's Coke was $4.99) and COMPLIMENTARY beer, red wine, and treats (mini-popcorn balls dipped in chocolate, M&Ms, Gummy Bears, and cherry Twizzlers).There was also a gift bag available for all, containing a yelp super ball, peppermints, and chapstick in addition to a coupon for a free small popcorn and a ticket for free entry to one Kansas City Film Festival film.

The film, "Doomsdays" (a pre-ecliptic comedy following "the misadventures of Dirty Fred (Justin Rice) and Bruho (Leo Fitzpatrick), a pair of free-wheeling squatters with a taste for unoccupied vacation homes in the Catskills". Their commitment to the lifestyle is challenged, however, when a runaway teen and an aimless young woman join their ranks") started promptly at 6:30PM with an intro by Matt E.

The seats in the VIP theater were big and comfy with a small table between every other two to stow our sweets, drinks, and popcorn. Seating only 80 or so Yelpers,it was an intimate affair. The movie was interesting, an "Indie" film and winner of a couple small film festival awards, and entertaining.

We had a great time and the event was well worth the 50 minute drive from Lawrence! I hope to attend more Elite Events in the future, POSSIBLY ONE IN LAWRENCE IN UPCOMING MONTHS!

CombatCritic Gives "Elite Event: Yelp Oughta Be In The Pictures" and "Matt E." 10 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT!


Key Words; yelp, elite, event, kansas city, Missouri, country, club, plaza, Palace Cinema, palace, cinema, theater, VIP, lounge, Doomsdays, film, Kansas City Film Festival, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ad Astra Acupuncture ... Excellent Value, Professional Services

Focusing on value, it does not get much better than Ad Astra Acupuncture, just off  Mass on 12th Street across from South Park.


Treatments are $15-$35 (suggested donation) ... You decide! There is no pressure to pay the max as employees pay no attention to the amount, tossing the bills into a drawer without counting. Honor System ... WHAT A CONCEPT! 


Needles are sterile and not reused. There are a number of recliners in each of two "group" rooms and there is no disrobing for the introverts out there. All you do is show up, pay, and grab a recliner. When the therapist enters, they ask how you are doing, then place needles in your arms, legs, hands, feet, and head. After 30-60 minutes (or more if you like), Nick or Ann, who are both wonderful, remove the needles and send you in your way.


I have been going for about 6 weeks, I am feeling much better, and my back pain has almost entirely disappeared! There is little if any pain involved and only when needles are inserted. The slight sting disappears quickly and you can then focus on relaxing, a wonderful byproduct of the treatment.


CombatCritic Gives AD ASTRA ACUPUNCTURE a nearly perfect 9 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GREAT!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator(Model # MSD2576VEM)

Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator (Model # MSD2576VEM)
You may not think a refrigerator has much to do with travel or value, but in-fact, when we go away on vacation, we leave several hundreds of dollars worth of food in our refrigerator and freezer. If either fail while we are away, as ours did recently, the costs can be staggering.

We purchased a $1600 Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator (Model # MSD2576VEM) through Home Depot's website (www.HomeDepot.com) on November 26, 2011, just over two years ago. It is now a 250 pound door stop!

A $1600 refrigerator should last more than two years and 120 days, but this one died last week when the condenser failed, an $863.46 repair. 

When I called Home Depot to see if they stood behind the faulty products they sell, I was told "we're so sorry for your troubles, let me connect you with Maytag". I told the individual that the Maytag warranty was for 12 months, parts and labor, and that my MasterCard extended warranty added an additional 12 months to the warranty, expiring less than 4 months ago. I asked again "are you going to stand behind this product" and was told "I'm sorry, but you'll have to contact Maytag" … WRONG ANSWER!

How can a $1600 appliance fail after just two years? Because it is garbage. Why will Home Depot and Maytag NOT stand behind their products? Because they can! These companies could care less that one of their products failed just as Apple Inc. could care less that their products are junk, and only because individual consumers just do not count. If I do not buy another Maytag or Home Depot product, which I will not do, it means nothing to their bottom line. They only care about large losses and knowing that people care only about themselves, they know all too well that we will not unite and boycott their products and services, so they blow us off. Being the owner of two homes, one a rental property, I spend several thousand dollars each year at Home Depot. As a Home Depot, Inc. and Maytag Corporation shareholder (large cap mutual funds), I have serious concerns when the companies I am part owner of fail customers with faulty products and poor support. You should too!

I refuse to spend another penny, much less $863.46, to repair a two-year old Maytag refrigerator which should last at least 10-15 years. This is not the first problem I have had with Home Depot and have only continued as a customer because the nearest Lowe's is over 30 miles away. This was my first Maytag appliance, even though I had heard terrible things about their products prior to purchase, AND MY LAST.

I hope I can save at least one person the same grief and expense we have suffered at the hands of Home Depot and Maytag by writing this review. Hopefully, enough people will read it and Home Depot and Maytag will get the message, but I am not counting on it because THEY DON'T CARE, THEY DON'T HAVE TO!

No surprise, BOTH REVIEWS (Home Depot and Maytag) WERE REJECTED! "Your opinion is very important to us, but ...". Give me a break! Here are the emails I received:
From: Maytag <noreply@messages.maytag.com>
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 1:33 PM
To: Chris Sorrentino <combatcritic@gmail.com>
Subject: Your Review has been Rejected


maytag

Hello CombatCritic,

Your opinion is very important to us and the Maytag community. We appreciate you taking the time to write a review on Side-By-Side Refrigerator with Beverage Chillerâ≥¢ Compartment. Unfortunately your review did not meet ourguidelines for posting on our site for the following reason(s):
  • To protect your privacy, our publication guidelines do not permit the mention of such personal information as your name, phone number, email address, or postal address. Also, it does not permit the use of derogatory comments or profanity.
We encourage you to review our guidelines and resubmit your review on Side-By-Side Refrigerator with Beverage Chillerâ≥¢ Compartment.

Thanks for being an active member of the maytag community.
Sincerely,
Team Maytag


From: The Home Depot <HomeDepotCustomerCare@email.homedepot.com>
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 8:34 AM
To: Chris Sorrentino <combatcritic@gmail.com>
Subject: Your review has been rejected


Your community engagement helps other customers get the right products for their projects
Please add HomeDepotCustomerCare@email.homedepot.com to your address book. Learn how.
Home Depot

Hello CombatCritic,

Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback about 25.3 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator in Monochromatic Stainless Steel. Your insight is very important to us and the other Home Depot customers who will read about your product experience. Unfortunately, your review did not meet our guidelines to be eligible for publication on our site. We want to post your review, so please remember to omit references to other websites and do not include URL links.
We encourage you to look over our guidelines below and resubmit your review regarding 25.3 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator in Monochromatic Stainless Steel.

Writing Guidelines
We want to publish your review, so please follow these writing guidelines:
  • Focus on the product
  • Avoid writing about customer service issues - instead, contact us to discuss your concerns
  • Do not mention competitors or the specific price you paid
  • Do not include any personally identifiable information such as your full name or address
Thanks for being an active member of The Home Depot community.
Sincerely,
The Home Depot Team
If you have questions regarding the submission and approval process, please call us at 1-800-466-3337 (1-800-HOME-DEPOT).
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"I am sorry to inform you Maytag and Home Depot, but" ... 
CombatCritic Gives the Maytag MSD2576VEM Refrigerator, Home Depot, and Maytag Corporation 1 Out of 10 Bombs … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!









Key Words: Home Depot, home, depot, Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator Model # MSD2576VEM, Maytag, Side-by-Side, Stainless, Steel, Refrigerator, Model, MSD2576VEM, CombatCritic, combat, critic

Monday, March 24, 2014

"El Sol" Is Not A New "Shining Star" In The Lawrence Restaurant Scene

    El Sol Mexican Restaurant
    1520 Wakarusa
    Lawrence, KS 66047

    (785) 331-2663

    Price: $$$$$

    Another closed El Mezcal location in a shopping center on the corner of Wakarusa and Bob Billings Parkway (now called "El Sol"), I had read in El Sol's inaugural review that they were a "Tex-Mex" restaurant. My fellow Elite '14 member had high praise for their food, service, and ambience, so we had to give them a try. Our experience was once again very average in a town not well town for outstanding cuisine and I found not a single Tex-Mex item on the menu. In fact, when I asked the waiter if they were a Tex-Mex restaurant, he stated "definitely not".
    As mentioned in recent reviews, I am a Mexican food snob, having grown up in LA where Mexican restaurants outnumber Bentleys and spending three years in San Antonio, Texas during my first Air Force assignment. Not changing my modus operandi,  I stuck with the basics, tacos and enchiladas, during my first visit to see if they can get them right before moving on to more complex dishes.
    Taco and Enchilada Combination Plate
    The restaurant's decor is very colorful with natural wood tables, bright tones, and reminiscent of  a traditional Mexican cantina. The service was very attentive, friendly, and fast. Our server, Rafael, was extremely polite and amenable to answering my many questions. We ordered the guacamole ($3.99) and the white cheese dip (queso blanco - medium - $2.99). The guacamole was small, made with avocado and SMALL PIECES OF TOMATO, but tasty. The queso blanco was warm and well seasoned, adhering to the pre-fab chips, another disappointment and a dead giveaway of a sub-par restaurant in my experience. I had the 27 ounce margarita (on the rocks - $6.99) which was decent, not very strong, and priced $2 more than El Mezcal. My wife had the horchata, a Mexican rice-based drink which was better than El Mezcal's various versions.
    Cheese Quesadilla with Guacamole and Pico di Gallo
    My wife ordered the cheese quesadilla, coming with a small dab of guacamole and pico di gallo ($4.99) and a cheese and onion enchilada with queso blanco instead of red sauce (ala carte - $1.99), coming with refried beans. It is difficult to mess-up a quesadilla and El Sol was again no exception. She liked the enchilada, but queso blanco was a bit too spicy for her Itialan tastebuds (the spiciest dish in Italy is penne arribiatta).
    Cheese and Onion Enchilada with Queso Blanco
    I decided to forego the rice and get down to brass tacks, ordering two shredded beef tacos and a cheese and onion enchilada ($8.49) combo plate (all beans). The tacos came in pre-fab corn tortillas and the beef, although skimpy, was well seasoned and topped with a little lettuce, white cheese, and chopped tomato. I saved some of the guacamole for my tacos, borrowed my wife's pico de gallo, and added their salsa, which was not bad. The tacos were not great. The enchilada sauce was a bit too watery and lacked taste, the enchilada cool, not even lukewarm, another disappointment. True Tex-Mex enchiladas are smothered in chili con carne and topped with cheese, but this bore no resemblance to any Tex-Mex I have eaten and was one of the worst enchiladas I have had.
    Pre-Fab Taco Shells
    Again, not my favorite Mexican restaurant in Lawrence by any stretch and we will likely not return given the distance from our home and the fact that there are at least four better Mexican eateries in closer proximity.





    CombatCritic Gives El Sol 5 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!

    El Sol Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon










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    Key Words: 66044, burrito, CombatCritic, eat, el, El Sol, el, sol, enchilada, food, guacamole, Kansas, Lawrence, margarita, Mexican, mezcal, restaurant, taco, travel, TravelValue, value