The Edges of Cultures

Topaz ?
Author Topaz ?

A Wooden Pretzel

Since I moved to the United States and gravitated in Chicago Western suburbs, I have become a dedicated online shopper. Overall, I like online shopping for its convenience. Almost throughout the whole country, you are technically (thanks to our smartphones and other wonderful devices!) able to shop from anywhere you are. Once I did very intense shopping on the Metra train heading to Chicago from Western suburbs, though the train was shaky and crowded. I also appreciate the ability to shop globally and order something pretty unique (and unavailable in local stores) from overseas e-tailers. Certainly, I love finding great deals on products that encourage me to shop online more and more!

Together with my passion for buying various items online, I got addicted to reading product reviews. There are two reasons why I read these reviews. First, I have to admit that there is still a child in me awaiting for Christmas and Christmas gifts. Regardless of the number of hours I might have spent browsing, selecting and comparing items on the Internet, a box at my doorstep always gets me thrilled and excited. Even when I’ve seen dozens of the product’s pictures and images, I never know what exactly is inside. I read the reviews beforehand and avoid things with negative reviews to keep the charm of anticipation.

Second, reading reviews is enjoyment. I know there are many bloggers who collect funny reviews, many of which come from Amazon, a monster of e-commerce. Here is a list of some you can read for fun:;

For me, however, every review is a door to the culture I now live in. Perhaps, I can’t but read them due to my Communication background. Indeed, these snippets tell me much more about the people I share time and space with than any other formal accounts. Additionally, as I sporadically review my purchases on Amazon, they give me the sense of community and belonging. Each review is a personal story filled with emotions, every affirms the agency and connects you to others' subjectivities.

Below I share some reviews from my weekly shopping. 

The Zebra coffee table review from Overstock is the story of disappointment and broken charm:

Anxiously awaited this coffee table. After 2 long weeks, it arrived!! No, it was not a coffee was a hideous mask!! But, they keep insisting this is what I got, go figure.....customer service is non-existent these days. And to top it off, they charged me for the TABLE and gave me credit for the hideous MASK!!

I also like exotic items and was looking for an African mask. The reviews of Animal Africa Mask (Amazon) fully confused me: 

This looks a little creepy but in a great way.

Fits beautifully in my conservative living room. Gives it that bit of punch. Reminds of my German Shepherd when she's posing.

And, finally:

Too cute for words.

I don't know why, but I decided to abstain from buying in this case.

Some reviews are virtual reports from the battlefields. They celebrate inventiveness and assertiveness:


I bought the LG OLED TV from Best Buy hoping that they will be able to tell me how to wall mount it (or sell me the HW to do so myself) – instead they did not have a clue and directed me to LG or suggested that I get a third party installer (a $300+ privilege). I called LG and they could only tell me the wall mount part number but I had to buy from one of their accessory resellers who did not carry the part…

After wasting three days calling people who clearly did not know anything about wall-mounting this TV, I ended up buying this wall-mount as the next best alternative. It looks like a picture hanging kit which seems to have been tailored to work with this TV. Note that the TV lays flat on the wall – you can’t angle it any differently as you would with a tilt wall-mount. The step-by-step instructions the seller added makes the job pretty straight-forward, however one needs to be handy to get the wall anchors securely in place as it is the critical step in the process. It took me about 30 minutes to get the TV on the wall and I needed help from a second person a few times as the TV is very delicate. All in all, the wall mount did the job and the TV seems to be securely attached to the wall – three weeks later it is still there.

Some have twists that reveal the reviewers standpoint and values:


A great lamp in spite of bad reviews… If you're not a first timer in DIY stuff, you might shake your head side to side in disgust from the bad reviews. It might reinforce your belief that the whole of society is circling the drain or on its way down the crapper, but stay strong, we'll be alright. We shall prevail…WHATEVER.

And lastly, my favorite of the week, a succinct and overwhelmingly positive critical review of wood (Furring Strip Board, to be exact) from Home Depot:

If your mission is to build a wooden pretzel, then this is the wood for you. 

Keeping up this positive view, I dare claim that you can make your pretzel from whatever you want if you see it as your mission.


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