Friday, September 18, 2009 One-Star Customer Reviews: The Beatles Remastered

Below are excerpts from dozens of actual Amazon Customer Reviews of the recently remastered Beatles CD's.

In each, dissatisfied customers ascribe a lowly One Star to music widely regarded as deserving Five-Star status. They also back up their rating with very specific reasons for their dissatisfaction.

In almost all cases, the syntax and spelling of the original review has been carefully preserved throughout. One-Star Reviews - Part 1: Books One-Star Reviews - Part 2: Music One-Star Reviews - Part 3: Movies

The Beatles Remastered

Sounds like polished turds.

Sadly exposes just how far the Beatles were behind the times.

This is not music.

Minus fifty stars.

Ever heard of a word called "Porduction", lads?

Each and every song put me to sleep in about 55 seconds.

There's a reason you never hear of these guys any more. They're probably all living in a shack trying to live on their little checks for "Norwegian" Wood.

The masterful Michele is impossible to listen to, it is missing that incredible Parisian atmosphere that is in the original.

You only have to listen to almost any track made in stereo across the past forty years to know it just sounds nicer when the singer's voice is coming from the center.

In Mono the Beatles guitar is magic, now it sounds like an afterthought.

I doubt if it will receive much play in my home system, because it is just too obnoxious for higher-end gear.

I'm not buying another copy of the White Album, no matter how good it sounds.

On Abbey Road, I don't know when one song ends and the other stops. They have different lead singers for every song!

I Want You(Shes So Heavy) is Lennon singing the title over and over again for about an hour.

I saw Paul Mcartney live last year and he was better than Abbey Road, and the other Beatles weren't even there.

The Technicians that created the CD version of Abbey Road should have been fired & sent back to working as shelf stackers at the local supermarket.

All I want is the Beatles, not the middlemen.

Marketing hype probably not seen since Geraldo's upcoming look into Al Capone's vault.

Remember that wonderful Paul vocal flourish at the end of the Sgt. Pepper reprise? It's back in all it's glory--but you have to shell out $230 to $300 for it.

I just plunked down $200 for some nifty packaging.

What is this? The Thatcher/Reagan/Bush approach to music?

Can't afford it. I will continue to get my Beatles out of the public library and dub them on cassette.

The Beatles rip offs never end. What about another boxset in 3 years time, maybe a fabulous release of the butcher album cover?

When will we be expected to buy the "re-mixed" re-released collection of the Beatles catalog? In 2017 when more than half of the original Beatles fan base have already died?

Sgt. Pepper's is an inferior piece of music representing an inferior generation.

I don't think normal folks are really gonna care.

Beneath the attention of an adult intellect.

I am glad the Stones are not sell outs like the Beatles.

The Beatles are NOT the best band ever. Cry baby cry.

Rich guys puttering! Who needs it?

Who would buy this when you have Pink? Get her new album instead. One-Star Reviews - Part 1: Books One-Star Reviews - Part 2: Music One-Star Reviews - Part 3: Movies

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 One-Star Reviews - Part 3: Movies

This is the third installment in a three-part series on One-Star Customer Reviews at (hat tip Johnny Dee).

Below are excerpts from dozens of Customer Reviews of noteworthy films. In each critique, the author ascribes a lowly One Star to a movie that normally maintains Five-Star status in the artistic canon. It's worth noting that most of these critical non-professionals would have eagerly awarded zero stars if given the opportunity.

Without question, each of these critics has their reasons, and objectivity is trumped by taste at every turn.

In almost all cases, the syntax and spelling of the original review has been carefully preserved throughout. One-Star Reviews - Part 1: Books One-Star Reviews - Part 2: Music One-Star Reviews: The Beatles Remastered


Now I know it's old but it's not based on the Civil War. It's during World War II. A lot of people, including blacks, got killed so the studios could make this awfulness.

This movie steals tons of catch phrases: "Play it again", "This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship," etc. It even has a whole speech of nothing but catch phrases. Hire a screenwriter next time.

Ingrid Bergman is no Maryland Monroe.

I'm pretty sure I will enjoy it a lot more when Warner Bros finally gets around to releasing the colorized version.

Gone With The Wind
We don't need reviews on how good or bad the movie was. It's been around since 1939. People have made up their minds about it.

The movie is basically about two alcoholic, money filled, greedy, rascist brats falling in love during a war which they totally portrayed wrong.

I'm more sorry that it doesn't come with a warning label reading "Racist fantasy enclosed".

Olivia de Havilland's exceptionally bland performance of a 'saint' makes her character appear mentally retarded.

If this is what The Old South was really like, then thank God those damn Yankees won.

At no point in this movie does anyone's head explode in flames. This movie clearly fails to understand the emotional resonance a burning head can create.

This film is comparable to any "Ernest" movie, that is, without the laughs.

Lawrence of Arabia
Easily the most boring movie of all time.

"I shall be in Aqaba. That IS written". There you've just had all that's worth watching in this most protracted piece of utterly useless celluloid.


To my horror, I saw that film came complete with those horrific black bars at the top and bottom of my screen, which obscured about half of the picture. I've seen those bars on the "artsy" videos, but this is a classic work of art! You don't try to make it "hip" and "relevant" with modern touches. It's like adding a moustache to the Mona Lisa.

The Godfather
When's an editor when you need one? This movie is so long that I played it on my TV, drove across the state, and when I came back, it was still playing.

This movie is as boring as a trip to the doctor's. No good violence, no hot sex scenes, and furthermore, it stereotypes Italians.

Finally saw this movie with my family and after an half hour I was thinking of running out in the middle of rush hour traffic. That would have been more exciting than watching this all the way through.

I did indeed sit through all 57 hours of the Godfather and not only is it one of the most boring movies ever made it's completely pointless garbage.

"The Godfather" has an ugly consciousness and a mean spirit. I see no justification for it, thoroughly disliked it, and have tried to forget it.

Annie Hall
I've always resisted watching this movie because it was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture over "Star Wars."

Let me acknowledge Woody's intelligence, but I always felt like slapping the guy.

Diane Keaton won an undeserved oscar for this role. Why? I dont know. It isn't that great.

We eventually decided that BOTH characters tie Jar-Jar Binks for "Most Annoying Screen Persona in History"!

Annie Hall is Allen's attempt to be Groucho Marx.

Star Wars
Star Wars is the biggest fluke in movie history. This movie was never meant to succede, and I don't understand how it got so big.

Star Wars, to quote the neo-marxists, is one truly OFFENSIVE movie against someone's intellect.

Darth Rader (or something) is a born again Adolph Hitler with much wider goals: conquer the UNIVERSE (rather than our forgettable planet) at all costs.

He ripped off Dune.

Let the farce be with you.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial
The movie is very representative of the eighties, that is to say with an American family of the middle class, with a good dog and a great barbecue.

I don't believe in any kind of extra terrestrials. The few that I do believe in don't look like E.T. at all.

There must have some kind of trick photography when they made this because I can't really believe in this at all.

If you found an alien in your backyard, would you secretly keep him and not tell your parents?

This film is clearly made for mass market moronic consumption. Thank-you Mr Spielberg-McDonalds-Global-Industrial-Complex!

The alien looks like my old carpet.

The music is often tearful with a lot of tremolos.

Pulp Fiction
I know there are a lot of technical terms associated with a movie production like screenplay, direction, plot, acting, etc. Unfortunately I don't know the definitions of most of them.

I didn't like how it tried to be too original. I want a movie I can read from cover to cover.

Pulp Garbage would have been a better title.


The tremendously under-talented Bruce Willis made this film difficult for me to watch.

John Travolta is awful. I nicknamed him John Revolta after seeing this.

As for the use of the "N" word, I wonder what Tarantino would do if Spike Lee made a movie where Italians were called nasty names?

This was like Elmore Leonard on an off day.

In closing, Uma Thurman just can't dance...

This movie is quite possibly the worst movie that's ever been made outside of Ed Wood.

My review of this film comes from the heart of my middle finger.

It is not funny, and does not make an effort to be funny beyond presenting a handful of talented actors filling two hours with empty ridicule of the prairie accent.

I'm from North Dakota and we don't talk like that. I have NEVER heard anyone under age 70 say "Darn tootin'."

OK, so you're making a movie ... and you stick your wife in the leading role ... But, there's a problem: She's a dreadful actress ... Solution? Convince the starved American audience the entire thing is "quirky".

I ordered a book off of a Christian category and this movie popped up as being recommended. My husband and I watched it one night while our children were gone. Thank goodness.

What a shame that a Midwesterner (Thomas Edison) invented motion pictures, when this is how Hollywood's spoiled children use his invention to portray his people.

I would rather watch a Jerry Lewis telethon straight through than ever watch this movie again.

LOTR: The Return of the King
This Movie Is horable!!!!!!!

How the hell does a 4 hour movie win best editing?

These clowns have dismantled the Colosseum to build a Wal-Mart.

The filmakers substitue endless, incoherent battle scenes in place of story-telling.

The fab three cant be killed after 5 endings and 10 battles where they are outnumbered 1000-1?

The entire mess is shoulder-deep in god-awful special effects. They are about the furthest thing imaginable from the masterly use of visuals in the Empire Strikes Back.

Could the last part of the movie be longer? The ring is destroyed, the movie fades out, and I'm like oh thank god, it's over. But no, it goes on for another hour.

Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated Bloated OVERACTED

I give it one star because I have to and because by some accident they got Gollum right.

By the way LOTR freaks, there is no Middle Earth!

Lost in Translation
If you have seen the movie and were not impressed by it, do not feel bad. There's nothing wrong with you.

I am convinced the movie was filmed in one day and the rest of the money that was supposed to go toward making it was stolen.

I think the popularity among critics is that it shows an 18 year old who actually has an attraction to a geezer.

I fogot to say that the first thing you see in this movie is the buttocks of Johanson in her panties. What for? When a movie starts like that, can you expect anything good?

Lost in Translation is a new code word amongst friends meaning GET ME OUT OF HERE!

This movie did more to undermine the credibility of the Academy than "The Crying Game".

I would rather have my teeth cleaned then watch this again.

This is worse than an imitation crab-stick.

I've tried to figure out how Bill Murray could have gotten himself involved in a project like this. My conclusion: he lost a bet! One-Star Reviews - Part 1: Books One-Star Reviews - Part 2: Music One-Star Reviews: The Beatles Remastered One-Star Reviews - Part 2: Music

This is the second installment in a three-part series on One-Star Customer Reviews at (hat tip Johnny Dee).

Below are excerpts from dozens of Customer Reviews of noteworthy rock albums. In each critique, the author ascribes a lowly One Star to an album that normally maintains Five-Star status in the artistic canon. It's worth noting that most of these critical non-professionals would have eagerly awarded zero stars if given the opportunity.

Without question, each of these critics has their reasons, and objectivity is trumped by taste at every turn.

In almost all cases, the syntax and spelling of the original review has been carefully preserved throughout. One-Star Reviews - Part 1: Books One-Star Reviews - Part 3: Movies One-Star Reviews: The Beatles Remastered


Rubber Soul
These songs are all available without buying this CD. You can hear these at your dentist's office or in most elevators over the muzak system.

"Drive My Car" is a totally dumb song, Beep, Beep a-beep beep yeah! Sorry. Doesn't work for me.

Think For Yourself: A Goerge Harrison Song. That means it's Rubbish and Horrid.

I prefer Jim Nabors...his voice and styling is superior to the Beatles...and a much better actor.

Revolver is the Beatles' weakest album, worse than Yellow Submarine.

I Want To Tell You - truly horrific peice of mid-sixties nonsense.

Tommorow Never Knows - Space Music. This song might sound good in a telescope.

I hate Revolver with the same passion that I hate Nsync, the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears.

The best thing I can think about The Beatles is that they came from Liverpool. But given that none of them even cared about football, never mind Everton, I won't even say that's a good thing.

A candidate for the worst album of all time by any artist.

This really is elevator music. My ears basically started bleeding.

Revolver does the Beatles' reputation irreparable damage, and it was also their least influential work.

Blonde on Blonde
Dylan's so twisted it's very difficult to tell what he's really saying/meaning.

What kind of music do you make with hair like that?

Vocals that make Keith Richard sound like a opera singer.

This was a 5 star harmonica record. Subtract 1 star for Bob Dylan's drunken-old-man singing (he sounds homeless). Subtract one for this being made so long ago. And subtract one more for the title, which doesn't make any sense.

Anyone want to buy a barely used copy of Blonde on Blonde?

Are You Experienced?
Words cannot describe my intense dislike for Jimi's guitar "skills". This guy is a HACK.

I was surprised that MTV didnt play any videos from this album, I wonder why? Probebly cause the MTV crowd know this music is tired and boring.

How could anyone in their right mind say that this Hendrix guy is good?

His solos are just a bunch of noise and his sound is dated, unlike good bands like Great White and Skid Row.

There's no good music here. He's boring, talentless and he whines.

I would have to go against the grain and proclaim him as the perhaps the worst guitarist that ever lived.

The Doors
The 60's were a whacked-out era, and this piece of solid gold crap is a time-machine to the scene of the crime.

One of the most hilariously overblown, psuedo, pieces of nonsense to come out of a 60's recording studio, and oh boy did it have some competition.

There is no rock here. They're boring. They whine.

The highlight is the howlingly funny The End, it needs a Mike Myers to really do it justice.

"The End" is a mindless rant that wouldn't make the cut on "The Wiggles".

A collectors item for those who have a taste for kitsch.

Velvet Underground and Nico
What's not to love? Well, everything.

Pretentious lyrics, painful melodies, mediocre musicianship, and an album cover that Andy Warhol spent five minutes designing.

This is one of the worst albums I have ever heard in my life. More to the point, it was and is unmusical.

The album starts off with a little toy xylophone. A TOY XYLOPHONE! Come on! How the hell can your name sound like "Velvet Revolver" and you put little tinkly xylophones in there?

The guitars and Nico's and Lou Reed's singing are very, very much out of tune, and no one here knows how to play his instrument.

OK, so they hung out with Andy Warhol who survived getting shot, but he got shot by some lady, it's not the same as when a Gangsta shoots you.

John Cale's violin screeches offer the final proof that this is one album you cannot listen to for pleasure.

If you like this album, you deserve it.

Led Zeppelin IV
I tried eating a grass stalk when I was a kid. It was horrible. I tried getting into this album as well. It was horrible too.

Stairway to Heaven was never that great but it was at least listenable the first oh 700 times.

Anyone who can sit through a whole Led Zeppelin song should pack up and move into the woods and live alone with their dog, using wood for heat and moss and bark for food.

Thank you Led Zep! You, this album, and the bloated "Stairway to Heaven" created the pompous arrogance that gave punk something to rebel against.

Dark Side of the Moon
If you were born after 1965, don't even think of wasting money on this. It's music for old people.

Easily the worst CD in the whole wide world! I'll take Prince's Around the World in a Day or Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits Volume 2 any day!

My first listen was like being splashed with cold lamb fat. My second was like being doused with cold lamb fat. My third was like being drowned in cold lamb fat.

The electric pianos sound like the ones anybody's grandma plays for hootenanny festivities. Sha-la-la, take your partners, that kind of thing.

The Great Gig in the Sky tries to compete with great bands like Tavares and Village People but fails miserably.

This cacophony of commie buzz words and simplistic, condescending communist ideals both offends me as an American, and as a music listener. Should've been called Red Side Of the Moon.

They have their spot reserved in hell for making this music.

I have my dady who is a lowyer sue this peoble whoo havesays this Cd is good. I never have herd sutch bobbycock. -- J.L., Wichita Falls age 6

I don't understand what the big deal is. Kevin Federline owns these guys.

Exile On Main Street
I really wish the Rolling Stones would have polished this album up before releasing it.

This sounds like the type of crap that any garage band can throw together in a few weeks.

I'm putting this one at the bottom of my CD collection and poppin in the latest Mariah Carey album. That's good music.

Listen to some REAL music that actually requires talent - like Nickelback!

Fleetwood Mac were so good in the late '60s, why did Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham have to ruin it??

Stevie Nicks' vocals are so high, he sounds like a girl.

Lindsay Buckingham should find a way to sing with his mouth tightly shut.

Mick Fleetwod looks like he should be panhandling on a street corner somewhere.

Oh, and another thing wrong with this album is that there is no 'U' in 'Rumors.'

The music video of this traumatized me as a child, as well as the movie Annie.

Michael Jackson sound like he mad in most songs. And sometime he sound out of breath. He grunt on songs too.

Songs not making sense. "Baby Be Mine" not about a baby, it about something else.

I couldn't help but laugh at the song "Human Nature". It almost sounded like a song from the 2000s, trying to make fun of the 80s.

Asinine and vapid are the nicest words I can use.

Born in the USA
As soon as I saw the cover of this record, I knew it was going to be bad.

I recently heard the song "I'm Goin' Down" on the radio and I counted the number of times Bruce Springsteen sings the word "down". Quite honestly, I lost count at 70.

"Born in the U.S.A". has to be one of worst songs ever written. It ranks up there with "Feelings".

Without the powerhouse band and ocean of reverberation, perhaps you can now hear what this song should really be called, "Bored in the USA!"

As for the subject matter bein' about somebody dying in a war?... well it don't sound like no sad song to me.

Bruce Springsteen is living proof of P.T. Barnum's quote, "Nobody ever went broke underestemating the intelligence of the American public". One-Star Reviews - Part 1: Books One-Star Reviews - Part 3: Movies One-Star Reviews: The Beatles Remastered One-Star Reviews - Part 1: Books

This is the first installment in a three-part series on One-Star Customer Reviews at

On Aug 15, 2009, culture writer Johnny Dee at The Guardian wrote a funny and provocative piece on withering Customer Reviews at of critically-acclaimed artworks.

Stealing Taking Mr. Dee's idea a step further, this series extends these blue-collar critiques. Below are excerpts from Amazon Customer Reviews of Books, Music and Movies. In each, the author ascribes a lowly One Star to works that normally maintain Five-Star status in the artistic canon. It's worth noting that most of these critical non-professionals would have awarded zero stars if given the opportunity.

Taste trumps Objectivity soundly at every turn, a practice that would have made even Kant blush. Welcome to the democratization of aesthetic criticism.

Note that, in almost all cases, the syntax and spelling of the original review has been carefully preserved throughout. One-Star Reviews - Part 2: Music One-Star Reviews - Part 3: Movies One-Star Reviews: The Beatles Remastered


Fortunately, this is a very short book because if it had even been one page longer I would have had to resort to a slow, painful suicide (which would have been more interesting than "Beowulf").

Everyone's grandmother would be ashamed to know the language they use.

The only part of the story I enjoyed was at the very end when Beowulf gets killed by a fire breathing dragon.

We freed ourselves from the British government through war and struggle. What do we have to do to free ourselves from their literature?

The Odyssey
The Odyssey is a pathetic, lost little child of a poem, obviously written by some eager but mediocre student of Homer's after the poet's death.

Homer remains a mystery to me. What person alive says, "that nonsense coming past your teeth"?

I dont care if Homer was blind or not this book is like 900 pages too long.

Many times I could turn three more pages and still be in the same spot.

I thought this story was very gross and I almost threw up.

Apparantly, it IS possible to go wrong with The Odyssey. Fitzgerald is 100x better.

I don't get where people get the notion from that Othello is realistic. Maybe if you lived inside a box your whole life.

I actually laughed numerous times when the play was supposed to be serious - the book is filled with bathos.

Othello is not unlike Calvin's character in "The Titanic". And the truth is I have more sympathy for Calvin.

The most annoying thing about this play is that except for Iago, all of the characters are major simpletons.

Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is simply a 19th century British version of the Jerry Springer show.

It is a book where they compliment women as being handsome and men as being well...also handsome.

I tried and tried to read it, but it was all nonsensical jibber-jabber.

The book is quite contagious because I find myself helplessly imatitating the language that it was written in.

If you like torture, read book. If you smart, spend money on Beacon Soda.

After finishing the book I ran to a bookstore and traded it for a second-hand copy of 'A House for Mr. Biswas'.

Anna Karenina
This 80000000000000000000 page "book" isn't just boring and depressing, he was trying to convince us that life is boring and dull.

Primarily consists of a guide on how to cut grass, how to hunt bear, and how to abandon your own kid for a gigolo. If I wanted all that stuff I would have read Farmers Almanac.

Make sure you don't let the novel slip from your hands as it would probably break your foot.

I'm glad Tolstoy isn't my next door neighbor.

A pulseless corpse of a book.

Great Expectations
After reading this book, I think Dickens would benifit from very low expectations: a lot of people will be returning this book and giving bad reviews.

I do understand that each chapter was published separately over many months, and therefore Dickens had to make them a good length, but COME ON!

You will like this book if you enjoy a story that never ends and gets old at about page 10.

This book reminds me of algebra, its boring, time-consuming, worthless, and you will never have to use this in your whole life.

I give this book a minus 200 on a scale from 1-5.

For a more thrilling read, try a dictionary or a phone book.

Mary Shelley wrote this book when she was 18 and it really shows.

Mary Shelley is in need of a good editor almost as much as friggin' Frank Norris with his stupid novel McTeague.

It would be a great read on the crapper, but since it is longer than 50 pages, just read the cliffs notes. Otherwise youre wasting your time.

Its amazing that in less than a year, a monster, made from dead criminals can learn to speak better than i have been able to in my entire life.

I know that Mary Shelley had many miscarriages and children's deaths and this book is about that and blah blah blah

This book is totally sketch.


Moby Dick
Moby Dick is, after all, essentially the plot to "Jaws".

It leaves you with that, "I hate myself" feeling you get after accidentally destroying a major city with a hydrogen bomb.

"Call me Ishmael"? Call ME bored.

We must face it 100 years or so ago American literature was reall weak and lagging from the rest of the world. Perhaps now they're starting to catch up with writers like Ann Rice.

Had Melville cut this book down to about 25 pages, it would be bearable. Unfortunatly, he never stopped writing. If he were alive today, he would probably still be adding onto Moby Dick.

Compared to "Moby Dick", "War and Peace" is a light, fun read where your eyes just fly across the page.

Doubt he could get it published today.

Few unread novels have enjoyed as much success.

Ulysses has two great strengths. First, it steals the plot of the Odyssey in its entirety. Second, it is equally incomprehensible to both English and non-English speakers alike.

There is a famous sex scene in this book where the mental thoughts of the individual coming to climax fills many pages. No one I know thinks about anything while climaxing. Totally unrealistic.

I believe he has turned many children away from reading. I think this helps to account for, say, J.K. Rowling's success.

Its only function is to keep blinkered academics busy.

In the words of a *real* writer (H. L. Mencken): it is rumble and dumble, it is flap and doodle, it is balder and dash.

It was later said when Joyce was dead and buried that he had confessed to a close friend that "Uylsses" was a completely fabricated joke that he used to get revenge at the world with.

The Great Gatsby
Gatsby is the 2nd greatest novel of the 20th century? Are you serious? Above Lolita?

It is like a great suspension bridge for which the pillars have been laid but no attention given to putting down the road itself.

"Gatsby" is the work of a bad juggler--it would have been so much better if he'd tried fewer balls.

I would recommend this book only to the person who likes to read about stupid people sleeping with each other just to seem important.

If I wanted to read about lame, rich, full of themself people going to parties, I'd pick up People magazine.
I would rather be reading something written by Issac Asimov.

Oops, sorry about that! I seem to have fallen asleep again.

The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway has made alcoholism into a fine art, because that is basically what all his novels are about.

Here's the first half of the book: "We had dinner and a few drinks. We went to a cafe and talked and had some drinks. We ate dinner and had a few drinks. Dinner. Drinks. More dinner. More drinks. We took a cab and had some drinks, and maybe we danced and flirted and talked sh*t about somebody. More dinner. More drinks. Maybe you should come up to my room, no you can't".

Every page I turn has "drink", "wine", "bottle", "bar", "cafe", "coffee", "breakfast", "lunch", "dinner" or any word related to dipsomania, gastromania (or bulimia perhaps?) written all over it.

If Hemmingway took out every reference to drinking the book would be about 10 pages long.

I kept hoping that the story would end with the ugly Americans and arrogant Brits entering a detox center and becoming the initial success stories of AA.

The sooner Papa Hemingway is forgotten the better American literature will be for it.

The Sound and the Fury
Incontestable Fact: Any book that can't be understood without the aid of the author explaining it is a failure.

I suppose if you want to really study Faulkner so that you can get in on all of his inside jokes and hidden symbolism, then this book is for you. The rest of us have jobs.

Faulkner writes using "Stream of Consciousness". One problem: the first part of the book is about someone who is mentally retarded.

If you buy the book, you will get the joy of reading page after page of text with NO PUNCTUATION WHATSOEVER. No capitalization, no commas, no periods. NOTHING.

I hate it when characters are given the same name, especially when one is male and the other is female.

Do not get on a plane to L.A. with only this book to read.

Of Mice and Men
It would have been a better book if Steinbeck had put more effort into it.

When you read his books you get the feeling that he started out with this great idea, and then got bored and finished the book real quick.

They should re-name this book Retard on a Ranch.

The reason I gave the book one star is because that is as low as I could give it. This book was awful.

The only reason I read it in the first place was because my teacher said read it or fail. Looking back I wish I would have just taken the zero. One-Star Reviews - Part 2: Music One-Star Reviews - Part 3: Movies One-Star Reviews: The Beatles Remastered

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sell in May? A Follow-up

At the beginning of May, I wrote a post questioning the validity of the old trader's axiom of Sell in May. Although it's a widely-held truism, the previous 29 years of market action in May reveal the exact opposite to be true.

With May 2009 in the books, the contradiction has extended itself.

The NASDAQ has now closed higher in May a remarkable 20 out of the past 30 years -- a 66% occurrence rate since 1980. The SPX has done even better, with a positive close in 21 of the past 30 May cycles (70%).

The streak has strengthened in recent years. Since the 2002 bottom, the NASDAQ has climbed in May six of the past seven years. The gains are statistically significant as well. Since 1980, the average May for the NASDAQ is +1.87%; for the SPX it's +1.51%.

However, despite this track record, predictions of May weakness are trotted out each year as part of the established canon of trader wisdom.

Why the discrepancy?

Perhaps the biggest reason is that Sell in May is the opening gambit in a longer seasonal trading strategy known as the Halloween Indicator. Part of trader lore for generations, in July 2001, Sven Bouman and Ben Jacobsen examined the financial markets of 37 countries, some as far back as 1694. They established that, across three centuries and multiple economies, winter has produced better market results than summer.  So, for 300 years, selling in May and buying back in after Halloween has produced better returns.
The point here is that for 30 years dumping stocks in May has reduced these seasonal returns, and it's a fact inexplicably unnoticed by trading mavens, the mainstream press and the blogosphere alike. For example, in Oct 2007 Mark Hulbert -- normally excellent with these types of observations -- considered ways of improving the Halloween Indicator. However, Hulbert focused on MACD confirmations and never mentioned May performance. This year, Hulbert insisted that the Halloween Indicator remains strong, while again neglecting the May anomaly. It will be interesting to see when the investing community finally recognizes that Sell in June is the better rule of thumb.

It's important to understand that, by their own admission, Bouman and Jacobsen could never establish why financial markets outperform in winter. Looking ahead, it's possible that globalization and the 24/7 interconnection of world economies could impact this centuries-old market pattern to an even greater degree.

As I write, the profitable winter season is just three weeks away  -- in Brazil, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa and every other market south of the equator.

Time to sell?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sell in May?

Is May really a good time to sell?

I looked at the past twenty-nine May trading periods on the NASDAQ -- from May 1980 to May 2008. Surprisingly, the NASDAQ closed higher during the month of May a very respectable 19 out 29 times -- a 66% occurrence rate.

Even more interesting, since the Dotcom bottom, the occurrence rate of a positive May close accelerated to 83%. The NASDAQ has posted gains in five of the past six May trading periods.

The result is that in the 29-year sample, the average NASDAQ performance in May was actually a gain of 1.82%.

So much for old wives' tales.

It's worth noting that, up or down, the average moves were statistically significant as well. During the years that the index moved up in May, the average gain was 4.99%. During the years the NASDAQ fell, the average May loss was -4.21%.

The SPX produced similar results. Since 1980, the SPX closed higher in May 20 out of 29 times -- one year better than the NASDAQ! The average SPX performance in May for the past 29 years has been a respectable gain of 1.38%.

The bottom line is that, on average, the market moves higher during most May trading periods. When it does, the moves tend to be a big ones as well. When the market moves lower in May, it's usually a hefty tumble.

Will the stock market close higher in May 2009? It's impossible to know, but a seasonal wives' tale isn't the place to look for answers.

Investing is so complex that there is a natural tendency to try and simplify the process. The problem with simplification is that, by its very nature, it distorts the data. In the case of salty trading yarns, this distortion can produce completely erroneous interpretations.

So maybe it's Sell in June?

The most reliable advice is probably the most useful epithet of them all:

Trade what you see, not what you think.

Good luck trading.



NASDAQ Historical Performance in May
May 1980 -- 7.47%
May 1981 -- 3.11%
May 1982 -- (3.34%)
May 1983 -- 5.35
May 1984 -- (5.91%)
May 1985 -- 3.65%
May 1986 -- 4.41%
May 1987 -- (0.30%)
May 1988 -- (2.34%)
May 1989 -- 4.36%
May 1990 -- 9.26%
May 1991 -- 4.41%
May 1992 -- 1.15%
May 1993 -- 5.91%
May 1994 -- 0.18%
May 1995 -- 2.44%
May 1996 -- 4.44%
May 1997 -- 11.07%
May 1998 -- (4.80%)
May 1999 -- (2.84%)
May 2000 -- (11.91%)
May 2001 -- (0.27%)
May 2002 -- (4.30%)
May 2003 -- 8.99%
May 2004 -- 3.46%
May 2005 -- 7.63%
May 2006 -- (6.19%)
May 2007 -- 3.15%
May 2008 -- 4.55%

29-year avg = +1.82%

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Long-term Potential

Because of an epic workload, this is my first post since August 5, 2008.

Watching eight months of historic market action often from a hotel room 16 time zones away has been an unforgettable experience. Water was boiling in pots I could not always see, and in hindsight this produced a more balanced market perspective than I would have gained otherwise.

Thanks to everyone for the e-mails and PMs along the way. All were much appreciated. Even though my schedule is actually more complicated now than it was last summer, recent market developments are worth a few comments.


Regardless of what the financial news, economic data, political headlines, monetary policy, pundits, bloggers, message boards, co-workers or even your own common sense is telling you, the market itself is saying that an important, long-term bottom is in.

Of course, the spectacular, short-term shenanigans in the market will continue. The global economy has serious problems, and these are complicated by a lack of consensus surrounding both patient and cure. Investors shouldn't expect a smooth ride anytime soon.

Despite the bumpiness, an increasing number of technical indicators suggest that the March 2009 bottom is an event with lasting value. These data imply that the rally – with all its imperfections – will ultimately have legs. A good way to monitor this idea is during periods of market indecisiveness. If the bias of the market has truly changed, low-volume, enigmatic market pauses will resolve upward, instead of lower as they have for the past 18 months.

However, this post concerns more long-term signals, and below are observations on eight of the more noteworthy. When considered together, these indicators provide perspective on a beleaguered market and its longer-term potential. What these indicators say is that for investors with extended time horizons, the conditions are ripe to start applying capital.

1. The Cyclical Bear Market Continues…
It’s wise to start with a word of caution. Historically, until the blue line on the chart below crosses back above the red line, stock ownership is marked by heartbreak and remorse. That said, the black line below is also printing massive positive divergence. When the stock market finally catches up with this divergence, the momentum is likely to be significant.

Image Hosted by

2. VIX
One of the great side stories of this recession is how Robert Whaley’s obscure volatility indicator was catapulted into investing superstardom. Fueled by a populist obsession with “fear”, the VIX’s ascent was matched only by the chronic misunderstandings surrounding its meaning. As always, for maximum clarity, read Bill Luby's Vix and More and Adam Warner's Daily Options Report. Both offer hyper-informed takes on market volatility and all its implications.

The weekly chart below shows that the VIX is printing signs of a pending decline. Rather than “causing the market to go up”, a bearish VIX simply indicates that options strategies are shifting as institutional investors warm to the idea of increased long exposure.

Image Hosted by

3. Bonds
After a 9-week climax run from Oct-Dec 2008, it appears that the historic bull market in long-dated Treasuries may finally be over. Bill Gross has been anticipating this topping event since June 2007, and laid odds it would happen before 2010. It appears he nailed it.

The weekly chart below is bearish for bonds, as institutional investors have begun the long fade out of government debt and into other investments offering better returns. Historically, this redeployment is into equities and corporate debt.

Image Hosted by

4. NASDAQ High-Low Indicator
While not great at picking tops, the NASDAQ High-Low chart is remarkably effective at picking major bottoms. After big, sub-20 dips, crossovers by the 10-week EMA back above 35 marked key bottoms in both 1998 and 2002. After spending 18 months below, the High-Low is finally ready to cross back above 35. This 18-month submersion marks the longest the High-Low indicator has been under 35 in its 20-year history. It’s one of several market signs that sellers have grown exhausted.

Image Hosted by

5. Tech Ratio
Another indicator pointing to seller exhaustion is the Tech Ratio. This metric compares an index of 220 pure technology stocks with the overall NASDAQ. The chart below shows that even though the NASDAQ bottomed in 2002, investors continued to loathe tech stocks long afterwards. In the summer of 2006 -- ironically as the Dow was printing new all-time highs -- the scorned Tech Ratio finally hit bottom (red circle).

But fortunes have changed. As the market imploded in late 2008, many tech stocks avoided the intense declines. As a result, over the past seven months tech has actually outperformed the indexes, and in April 2009 the Tech Ratio broke to a new 6-year high. Technology in a sustained leadership role hasn't happened in 10 years, and this is a welcome positive for the market.

Image Hosted by

6. NDX/SPX Ratio
Another important metric of market-health-through-tech-leadership is the performance of the Nasdaq-100 vs. the S&P500. Historically, the market has always done better when the NDX outpaces the SPX. Like the Tech Ratio, in April 2009 the NDX/SPX Ratio broke to an 8-year high.

Image Hosted by

7. Emerging Market Ratio
Like the rest of the world, emerging markets suffered withering declines in 2008. However, the slumdogs have since mounted an impressive comeback. The Emerging Market Ratio compares emerging markets with all overseas markets (Europe, Australia and Asia). Like the Tech and NDX/SPX Ratios, in April 2009 Emerging Market Ratio ratio also broke to a new all-time high. Investor appetite for the riskiest global assets is yet another encouraging sign.

Image Hosted by

8. Contrarian Indicators
Finally, there are the current extremes in negative investor sentiment. The Investors Intelligence Bull/Bear Ratio is near a 5-year low. However, the most interesting feature of this chart is how unfazed it was by the recent 26% rally. The bulls simply don’t believe it, which is exactly what you want investors to feel after a 26% run-up, especially 18 months into a bear market.

Image Hosted by

Below is a 30-year view of the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey. It’s been 29 years since this survey has recorded sentiment so negative. While the reality of this is unfortunate, it is from such despair that the most durable bottoms are born.

Image Hosted by

These observations provide little insight into short-term market direction. For that, I encourage you to bookmark The dk Report Charts. I keep this chart library current with short-term annotations, even when I'm 16 time zones away.

Soon enough, the current rally will end in an ugly 10-15% correction, probably at the moment of maximum inconvenience. Based on broader plate tectonics, this should be a constructive event, and the odds favor the March lows holding.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your trades. I look forward to posting again when I can.

Until then,