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Red Xala "~23~" (L'Etoile du Nord)

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CafePress Marx Not Santa Light T-Shirt - 2XL Ash Grey
CafePress Marx Not Santa Light T-Shirt - 2XL Ash Grey
Offered by CafePressUK
Price: £22.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Communism and Christmas all rolled into one t-shirt -- Finally!, 6 Jun. 2015
It has not been easy balancing both my indefatigable struggle against the bourgeoise, and my unabashed love for the ostentatious trappings of Christmas...
However, thanks to my "THIS IS NOT SANTA" t-shirt, I can now have the best of both worlds! As ol' Karl was wont to say at many a Yuletide soirée, "Christmas is the eggnog of the masses! Yes, another glass, please... And one more piece of that rum-slathered fruitcake, if you don't mind... Quite delectable, indeed!"
It's a great shirt; I look forward to wearing it at my next "Xmas in July" proletariat hootenanny. (Poor Mr. Marx is probably rolling over in his grave at Highgate right now)!


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars C'mon, who doesn't want to eat weird flavoured PEZ candies out of C3PO's neck?, 22 May 2014
Tiny, pink candy bricks dispensed out of C3PO's neck as I tilt his golden cyborg head back - What else would I want? Plus, as an added bonus, my C3PO dispenser claims to have been made in Hungary. So, rather than being made in a Chinese sweat shop, my little golden, ambrosia dispenser was made in a Hungarian one. How wonderfully global is that! Fortunately, since my protocol droid PEZ dispenser is fluent in "over 6 million forms of communication," he should be able to tell the Hungarian PEZ factory workers just how wonderful and fulfilling their work really is! (Now if only he could tell Lucas that he needs to do something about that disturbing, fleshy monstrosity around his neck)!


Star Wars Darth Maul Double Bladed Ultimate FX Lightsaber
Star Wars Darth Maul Double Bladed Ultimate FX Lightsaber

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift for any Star Wars fan - 4.5 stars, 27 Oct. 2013
Very recently, my 6 year old son became obsessed with all things associated with Star Wars. After continual, none too subtle requests for a lightsaber for his birthday, I finally capitulated and bought this top-of-the-line product from a well-known toy store. Granted, there are more expensive lightsabers on the market. However, if you're actually looking for a toy that can be played with, and not just admired like some trophy on a wall, these Fx style lightsabers are your best choice.

The Darth Maul dual lightsaber can be used as either two separate lightsabers, or connected to form a single, dual blade unit. Additionally, the sound and lighting effects of these sabers are very good, thus further enhancing the dueling experience. (I should add that for best lighting results, these sabers should either be used in darker rooms, or during the dusk and evening hours; you can't really see the lighting effect outside on a bright, sunny day). Finally, these lightsabers are built to withstand a reasonable amount of striking force; I wouldn't recommend swinging them like you were trying to hit a cricket ball, but they definitely are built to absorb moderate blows.

The only complaint that I have so far with this toy is that the connection to form the single saber isn't as solid as I would like it to be. However, this is a very minor issue that does not seriously effect the use of this toy.

As previously stated, if you're looking for a gift for a Star Wars fanatic, you won't go wrong with this purchase. I highly recommend it.


Boxer Gifts Weener Kleener Soap
Boxer Gifts Weener Kleener Soap
Offered by Upsticks
Price: £5.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This product ruined our family reunion picnic!, 13 Aug. 2013
With all of the horror stories in the news these days about E. coli and other bacterial food contaminants, I was a bit concerned about all of the burgers, brats, and hot dogs that were going to be consumed at our upcoming family reunion.

When I came across the "Weener Kleener" soap ring, I said to myself "Hey, that's not a bad idea!  One can never be too careful with meat these days..."

The night before the big cookout, I sanitized several dozen bratwursts and wieners with the "Weener Kleener" (I tried to wash the ground beef too, but pushing the meat through the soap ring proved to be a rather messy ordeal).

That night I slept soundly knowing that I had taken extra precautions to protect my family from food related illnesses.

The following day was picture perfect:  beautiful blue skies, just a slight breeze, no bugs, and an optimum temperature.  The children were happily playing throughout the park; the adults were having genial, lively conversations.  It was one the best family reunions in recent memory.

That is, until it was time to eat...

A few minutes after the food was served, I began to hear a handful of incoherent complaints.  Assuming that it was just the children complaining about Grandma Gertrude's "beets and marshmallow casserole," I shrugged it off and continued grilling more meat.  However, the chorus of complaining grew exponentially -- culminating with muffled gagging, and the unmistakable wet, splattering sound of emesis.

It was the hot dogs and brats -- they all tasted like soap! 

I've now officially been barred from grilling at family events; the humiliation that I feel is nearly unbearable...

Looking again at the packaging, I do not see any certification that the "Weener Kleener" is a food-grade sanitizer; in retrospect, I should have been more cautious about purchasing something from a company that spells "wiener" and "cleaner" incorrectly.  I will definitely be writing a letter to the FDA to inform them about this dubious product.

In spite of the name of this product, I do NOT recommend using it for washing wieners (or any other meat items for that matter).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2013 9:18 PM GMT


Back in Black
Back in Black
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An audio weapon against insipid co-workers..., 29 July 2013
This review is from: Back in Black (MP3 Download)
For many years I have worked with sycophants, narcs, dullards, cronies, nepotists, golden boys, and cup cake suburbanites. Occasionally, I verp a little bit in my mouth when I think about how much I've compromised my integrity for sub-standard pay and minimal benefits.

At any rate, my baked potato of a boss, who cares about nothing more than the monthly bottom line of the company, made the none-too-subtle suggestion that I assist the lazy-@ssed floor managers with warehouse duties. "Oh great," I thought to myself, "basically, I'm going to do all of the work, and they're going to sit around and play with their @$&? i-Phones..."

My powers of prognostication were correct; as I answered phone calls and filled order after order, they sat around talking about trucks, ice-fishing, and football, while they ogled at female co-workers who passed by. All the while, Rush Limbaugh's incendiary rhetoric blared out of the warehouse radio.

I couldn't take it! Something had to be done...

Go postal? As tempting as this was, I didn't like the idea of prison.

My only feasible option was to hit 'em where it hurts -- right in the ear!

Thank God for Wing sings AC/DC!

Initially, upon hearing Wing sing "Back in Black," my vapid co-workers sniggered. This was then followed with disparaging remarks, and the general question "What the Hell is this?" Proudly, I answered "This is Wing. Originally, she was a nurse in New Zealand who sang to geriatric patients while wiping their butts. Now she's an international star!"

Their collective response was like a needle off the record; everone was silent for about 15 seconds.

Finally, the leader of the simian gang spoke up and said "you're a @$&?ing weirdo! Come on guys, let's go to the Chinese buffet. Have fun listening to your crappy music..."
As the lemmings filed out, I mockingly called after them "hey, where you guys goin'? Come baaack... Bring me back some spring rolls!"

After a solid week of playing Wing's music in the warehouse, everyone stayed away from the area like the plague; I may be the most unpopular person at work, but at least I get to work in peace!

The music of Wing is the audio equivalent of bug repellant:

---Got a bar full of drunks who refuse to leave at closing time? Play Wing!

---Trying to wind down a house party, but a few stragglers just won't take the hint? Play Wing!

---Got a one night stand who wants to linger at your cramped efficiency apartment all through the next day? Play Wing!

---Tired of your Ex calling, just to verbally abuse you? Put the phone up to the stereo and... Play Wing!!

Thank you Wing, for being just plain awful!

I look forward to spreading a little less "comfort and joy" with Wing's Xmas album this upcoming holiday season!


Wing Sings Ac/Dc
Wing Sings Ac/Dc
Price: £14.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An audio weapon against insipid co-workers..., 29 July 2013
This review is from: Wing Sings Ac/Dc (Audio CD)
For many years I have worked with sycophants, narcs, dullards, cronies, nepotists, golden boys, and cup cake suburbanites. Occasionally, I verp a little bit in my mouth when I think about how much I've compromised my integrity for sub-standard pay and minimal benefits.

At any rate, my baked potato of a boss, who cares about nothing more than the monthly bottom line of the company, made the none-too-subtle suggestion that I assist the lazy-@ssed floor managers with warehouse duties. "Oh great," I thought to myself, "basically, I'm going to do all of the work, and they're going to sit around and play with their @$&? i-Phones..."

My powers of prognostication were correct; as I answered phone calls and filled order after order, they sat around talking about trucks, ice-fishing, and football, while they ogled at female co-workers who passed by. All the while, Rush Limbaugh's incendiary rhetoric blared out of the warehouse radio.

I couldn't take it! Something had to be done...

Go postal? As tempting as this was, I didn't like the idea of prison.

My only feasible option was to hit 'em where it hurts -- right in the ear!

Thank God for Wing sings AC/DC!

Initially, upon hearing Wing sing "Back in Black," my vapid co-workers sniggered. This was then followed with disparaging remarks, and the general question "What the Hell is this?" Proudly, I answered "This is Wing. Originally, she was a nurse in New Zealand who sang to geriatric patients while wiping their butts. Now she's an international star!"

Their collective response was like a needle off the record; everone was silent for about 15 seconds.

Finally, the leader of the simian gang spoke up and said "you're a @$&?ing weirdo! Come on guys, let's go to the Chinese buffet. Have fun listening to your crappy music..."
As the lemmings filed out, I mockingly called after them "hey, where you guys goin'? Come baaack... Bring me back some spring rolls!"

After a solid week of playing Wing's music in the warehouse, everyone stayed away from the area like the plague; I may be the most unpopular person at work, but at least I get to work in peace!

The music of Wing is the audio equivalent of bug repellant:

---Got a bar full of drunks who refuse to leave at closing time? Play Wing!

---Trying to wind down a house party, but a few stragglers just won't take the hint? Play Wing!

---Got a one night stand who wants to linger at your cramped efficiency apartment all through the next day? Play Wing!

---Tired of your Ex calling, just to verbally abuse you? Put the phone up to the stereo and... Play Wing!!

Thank you Wing, for being just plain awful!

I look forward to spreading a little less "comfort and joy" with Wing's Xmas album this upcoming holiday season!


Thomas & Friends - Day of the Diesels  [DVD] [2011]
Thomas & Friends - Day of the Diesels [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Ben Small
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £4.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Diesel Ten is a great villain!, 19 May 2013
My 5 year old son and I watch many children's shows and movies together.  As I've said in previous reviews, I'm generally impressed when I come across a children's DVD that is entertaining for both adults and children alike.

DAY OF THE DIESELS fits the bill!  

Synopsis:  The threat of fires on the island of Sodor has prompted Sir Topham Hatt to have two new firefighting steam engines brought to the island:  Belle and Flynn.  Thomas' best friend Percy feels dejected after Thomas befriends the new engines; Percy no longer feels "special."  In turn, Percy decides to accept a dubious invitation from Diesel to visit him and his friends at the Dieselworks - a place that, according to Thomas, should never be visited by the steam engines because, in his own words, "diesels can be devious."   Arriving at the Dieselworks, Percy is surprised to discover that the facility is badly run down, dirty, and falling apart; it is the antithesis of the beautiful, clean, and shiny Steamworks facility.  At the  Dieselworks, Percy is greeted by Diesel Ten, the intimidating leader of the diesel engines.  Diesel Ten tricks Percy into believing that he and the diesels are his new best friends; Percy is then duped into assisting Diesel Ten with his devious plan to take over the Steamworks while all of the steam engines are away from the facility.  After the takeover, Percy realizes the error of his ways; he mobilizes the steamies with the intent to take the Steamworks back from the diesels, and a showdown ensues.  However, a last minute intervention on the part of Sir Topham Hatt resolutely resolves the matter, both putting Diesel Ten in his place and acknowledging the need for a new Dieselworks.  In the end, the steamies and the diesels work together to build a new Dieselworks (evoking a rare, benevolent smile from Diesel Ten), and Thomas and Percy resolve their conflict, reaffirming their "best friends" status.

Interestingly, a sub-set of critical reviews on the U.S. Amazon site, (that have garnered significant voter approval), state that this movie is too scary for younger children, and that Diesel Ten is too malevolent a character.  Some of the people that wrote these reviewers even criticize the firefighting scenes as being too graphic for their children.
Admittedly, with his snapping hydraulic claw, large scowling face, and mischievous vocal intonations, there is no doubt concerning the villainous status of Diesel Ten.  However, it is these same qualities that also make him a memorable and unique character within the Thomas and Friends milieu.  
For the record, my 5 year old son was NOT scared by this film; he absolutely loved the firefighting scenes, and stated that Diesel Ten is his favorite character in the movie! He also really liked the film's eponymous closing rock song (quite a radical musical change from the British children's chorus of the stop-motion era).  He periodically sang the song's chorus throughout the rest of the weekend. 

As a final note, I'm also a little bit puzzled by the handful of U.S. Amazon site reviews insinuating that DAY OF THE DIESELS is somehow promoting a "wrong message" to children.  I see this film as one that identifies a myriad of all too common human foibles/transgressions, effectively demonstrating to children the inappropriateness of these behaviors, and ultimately promoting the values of teamwork, honesty, and fairness -- We may deplore the general behavior of Diesel Ten, but via this character we are given a vessel in which we can discuss with our children the fact that not everyone does what is right; some people lie and manipulate others for their own means. Moreover, identifying such behaviors is NOT tantamount to promoting them; to the contrary I believe that DAY OF THE DIESELS effectively communicates that Diesel Ten's behavoir and actions are morally and socially wrong, and justice is ultimately served through the admonitions of Sir Topham Hatt.  Likewise, as adults we may find that Percy's emotional vacillations between self pity, jealousy, and anger over Thomas' new found friendships border on hyperbole.  Yet, again, all human beings experience these emotions at various points in their lives; the lesson taught through the exaggerated example of Percy is that overindulgence in such emotions can cloud our judgement, and lead us to potentially make poor or irrational choices.
While it may not be a particularly enjoyable task to discuss such things as conflict, lying, bullying, negative emotions, etc. with our children, the fact remains that these are ubiquitous realities that all children will eventually face; DAY OF THE DIESELS provides a platform for adults to discuss these issues with young children.

DAY OF THE DIESELS was a fun movie; my son very much enjoyed it, and I intend to purchase a copy of the DVD.  That being said, I also understand that every child is different; what frightens one child may have an opposite effect on another.  If your child has a tendency toward being very easily frightened, you may want to consider getting a copy of this film from your local library and sitting down with your child for an initial viewing.


BANANA BREAD BEER 5.2ABV 500ML
BANANA BREAD BEER 5.2ABV 500ML
Offered by a2zdrinks Express Delivery
Price: £2.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Meh..., 27 April 2013
At the urging of a couple of co-workers, I decided to give BANANA BREAD BEER a try.

For all intents and purposes, it's a gimmick beer.

It has an average ABV of 5.2%, it pours rather effervescent (like a cheap American macro-brew), it has the general color of thin tea, and it has a faint smell of bananas. As for the taste, my best description would be a benign, macro-brew flavor with a slight banana aftertaste.

It's not horrible, but it's not great either. I won't be going out of my way to purchase this product again.
 Comment | Permalink


Death in the Grizzly Maze: The Timothy Treadwell Story
Death in the Grizzly Maze: The Timothy Treadwell Story
by Michael Lapinski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay as a supplemental resource..., 23 April 2013
After watching Werner Herzog's documentary GRIZZLY MAN, I was interested in reading more in-depth information about the Timothy Treadwell saga, so I went to the library and picked up a copy of DEATH IN THE GRIZZLY MAZE by Mike Lapinski.  

It was a fast paced read with some interesting angles that hadn't been explored in Herzog's documentary (e.g., scientific community interviews, in-depth park service personnel interviews/details).  However, much of Lapinski's analysis of Treadwell is based on conjecture, supposition, and speculation, with minimal citation at best.  Moreover, there is also a fair amount of ancillary filler that pads the book (e.g., detailed information about the use of bear pepper spray, synopses of Grizzly Adams and other famous "bear people" that came before Treadwell).  

Admittedly, some of this extraneous information is interesting in its own right.  However, I can't help but consider the possibility that some of this "filler" became necessary when Jewel Palovak and other close associates of Treadwell stonewalled against being interviewed by Lapinski.  Unlike Herzog (who was allowed to interview Palovak extensively), Lapinski seems to have been viewed as a potential threat by a number of Treadwell's former friends/associates, and was denied direct access to their personal anecdotes and recollections about Treadwell.  

Hindsight would prove Palovak's assumption about Lapinski to be valid; the image that he portrays of Treadwell is much less neutral than that given by Herzog.  Although he doesn't come out and directly say it, Lapinski seems to promote the idea that Treadwell was potentially a con artist whose bear activities were motivated out of self interest, rather than any real sense of stewardship for the bears of Katmai park.

Highlights of Lapinski's critical points include:

1) Skeptism toward Treadwell's self promoted claims of past alcohol and drug addictions -- the implication being that Treadwell had preconceived the idea that transcending chemical addictions and finding a calling as an "eco-warrior" protecting the Katmai brown bears would serve as a compelling story that would be lauded by the public.

2) Claim that the Grizzly People foundation (which Treadwell co-founded with Jewel Palovak) was primarily a front created to fund Treadwell's expeditions.  (According to Lapinski, Hollywood stars, such Leonardo DiCaprio, donated significant sums of money to the organization).

3) Insinuation that Tredwell was aware that his claims of grizzly poaching in Katmai were false, but that he continued to promote this idea to maintain his status.  In spite of an extensive amount of evidence that refuted Treadwell's claim, he continued to promote this idea in his public speaking, insisting that his main objective in Ketmai was to protect the bears from the continual threat of poaching. 

4) Claim that Treadwell had opportunities to become involved in legitimate bear research activities, but ultimately preferred wildlife celebrity status vs. true agency for the brown bears of Katmai.

5) Theory that Treadwell suffered from Bi-Polar disorder, and that the "adrenaline rush" of being dangerously close to the bears served as a therapeutic process for Treadwell - helping him persevere through the "rock bottom" instances of depression that one experiences with this disorder.

Finally, Lapinski promotes the theory that Treadwell and his companion Amie Huguenard were actually killed by a juvenile bear, weighing approximately 300  pounds.  After the killings, the juvenile bear was then chased away by the 1000 pound adult male grizzly, whose necropsy revealed it to be the primary consumer of Treadwell and Huguenard.  Lapinski bases his theory on the 6+ minute audio recording of the attack, in which (at Treadwell's pleading) Huguenard is heard striking the bear on the head with a frying pan.  According to Lapinski, had it been the large adult bear that had initiated the attack and done the killings, the process would have been finished quickly; it would not have dragged on for several minutes.  While I find Lapinski's theory interesting, I feel the need to again give the caveat that there are large amounts of speculation in his deductions; he even goes so far as to present a detailed, story-like re-enactment that requires a serious "suspension-of-disbelief" on the part of the reader.  I found this portion of the book to be a bit much...

However, I do applaud the choice by Lapanski to dedicate a full chapter to the life of Amie Huguenard.  Unlike Herzog (who, after being denied an interview with Huguenard's parents, gives her only cursory coverage), Lapinski attempts to cobble together a portrait of her life.  As Lapinski correctly points out, Huguenard's death is very often overshadowed by the plethora of coverage given to Treadwell; his chapter about Amie is, for all intents and purposes, a heart-felt eulogy that is worthy of praise.

Overall, in spite of its flaws, DEATH IN THE GRIZZLY MAZE wasn't a bad read; it definitely convinced me of the necessity to carry bear pepper spray in grizzly/black bear country!  If I see a copy of at a rummage sale, I'll probably add it to my collection.  However, I wouldn't pay retail price for the book.


Chimay Blue 24x33cl
Chimay Blue 24x33cl
Offered by therealalecompanycouk
Price: £89.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By aficionado standards, this is the best of the Chimay Trappist ales, 19 April 2013
This review is from: Chimay Blue 24x33cl (Wine)
Today is April 18, 2013. For most communities across the U.S., the klaxon call of spring has brought flowers into bloom, birds are singing their joyous songs, and people have emerged from their winter hibernation to engage in fun outdoor activities. Well... In the greater Twin Cities area, we are currently under a winter storm advisory, several inches of wet snow have already covered the landscape, and at least one local radio station has been playing Christmas music throughout the day!

It's days like these when I say "Oh, the Hell with it! I live in a crazy part of the world, and I'm going to treat myself to a Chimay Blue!"

Weighing in at 9% ABV, Chimay Blue is the most "regal" offering of the Chimay repoitre. Introduced in the 1940's, Chimay Blue was originally a seasonal Christmas ale. However, due to it's popularity, it soon became available year round.

Being an extreme advocate of Belgian ales, I have to say that this is one of the best on the market today. It has a slightly sweet/floral bouquet; it is somewhere between ruby-dark brown to obsidian in color; there is a slight sweetness to the flavor, with notes of pepper, and a clean finish.

It may sound a little bit silly, but every time I embibe the Blue Chimay, I go into a little reverie in which I become philosophical; truly not all alcohols are the same!

Chimay Trappist ales are a one-of-a-kind ambrosia; I've been a fan of their ales for over 15 years, and I highly recommend them.


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