Saturday, December 27, 2008

I've Loved You So Long - Movie Review

I've Loved You So Long (PG-13) 115 minutes C+
Less than Strangers

Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Laurent Grévill, Elsa Zylberstein, and Frédéric Pierrot

I've Loved You So Long is a French film written and directed by Philippe Claudel. It has been nominated for two Golden Globes- Best Foreign Film and Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama -Kristin Scott Thomas (speculation/industry buzz also has her earning an Oscar nomination as well).

Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) has spent the last 15 years in prison for an unthinkable crime, now she tries to reconnect with a long lost sister and make sense of a strange world that has no idea of the pain and heartache she has suffered for so long.

The film is formulaic and a little slow at times, but Claudel adds a lot of nice touches that makes the film feel very humanistic. I especially liked the dynamic of the two men who are romantically interested in Juliette, it's very subtle but there's a lot of longing in their eyes.
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First Impression Music Review

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!!Lazarus Dig!!! A

This album is pure genius and I'm convinced that with this recording they are one of the seminal bands of all time. Perhaps that was established long ago, but it wasn't until I listened to this album that the light bulb popped on- "these guys are f*cking brilliant!"

There is something so perversely creepy, yet cool about Nick Cave... Whether he's rocking out and/or singing a piano ballad about god, either way he evokes passion in my soul.

This album sounds like the soundtrack to a life I could have had in another life, in another city, in another time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Doubt - Movie Review

Doubt (PG-13) 104 minutes B
Trying to break my own heart

Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis

John Patrick Shanley's Doubt was a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and now he has adapted it for the big screen. After winning an Oscar (screenwriting) in the late 80's for Moonstruck, and making his directorial debut in 1990- Joe Versus the Volcano, Doubt could be considered a "comeback" for Shanley.

I had a hard time coming up with a final grade for this movie because the acting is so superb, but as Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris said, "it never managed to boil my blood or break my heart."

Set in 1964 at a Bronx, NY Catholic school, Father Flynn (Hoffman), a young, idealistic priest is suspected of having an inappropriate relationship with the school's first African American student. Sister Aloysius (Streep), the school's principle and head nun appears to have a heart of steel; her old fashion traditions are outdated and insolent. She is suspicious of Father Flynn and it is never revealed exactly why, but it's an obvious clash of new school versus old school. Several things in the film are vague, but that's part of what makes it so good.

If you have a catholic school past, this film is sure to unlock some bittersweet memories. I think the ending is especially great because it sums up the state of faith and devotion.

Meryl Streep is a goddess, she will be nominated for an Oscar (I have my certainty!), Viola Davis is very strong in a small role, Philip Seymour Hoffman is always brilliant, and Amy Adams is steady, cute and likable if not underwhelming.

I would consider this a successful comeback for Shanley, even though he failed to break my heart.
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Bonus DVD Review - DVD release date October 31, 2008

Born on the Fourth of July (R) 145 minutes B-
History repeats itself

Starring Tom Cruise, Kyra Sedgwick, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Tom Sizemore, William Baldwin, Vivica A. Fox, and Lili Taylor

A star-studded cast and what many consider Tom Cruise's best acting performance. But there's something about Oliver Stone films that don't sit right with me. This is a good film, not Cruise's best work, and not a film I'd care to see again. A little drawn out and over done, but effective and powerful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Too Drunk to Dream: A Ryan Adams Top 10

My Ryan Adams top 10 ( solo, Whiskeytown, and w/ the Cardinals)

10. Easy Tiger
9. Gold
8. Jacksonville City Nights
7. Cold Roses
6. Rock N Roll
5. Demolition
4. Love is Hell (part 1)
3. Heartbreaker
2. Faithless Street
1. Strangers Almanac

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Role Models - Movie Review

Role Models (R) 99 minutes B
You white, then you Ben Affleck

Starring Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jane Lynch, Bobb'e J.Thompson, and Elizabeth Banks.

I was pleasantly surprised by the film Role Models, it was fresher and more entertaining than I thought it would be. Going in it wasn't hard to figure out what was going to happen... two underachieving guys find themselves facing jail time or 150 hours of community service mentoring kids. Of course the kids are hell on earth, and after some trails and tribulation... well, you can pretty much guess the rest.

But as telepathic as it maybe, Seann Williams Scott and Paul Rudd compliment each other well. The comedic duo kept the film well-balanced and funny without relying on over-the-top slapstick and silly gags. Well worth seeing.
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Furnace Room Lullaby (this week's album of the week) is a remarkable album, and easily my favorite Neko offering. Every time I hear her sing "leave me the check/I'll pay with the rest of my life" from Twist the Knife it breaks my heart a little.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nothing Like the Holidays - Movie Review

Nothing Like the Holidays (PG-13) 99 minutes C
Dysfunction junction what's your function

Starring John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, Freddy Rodriguez, Vanessa Ferlito, Luis Guzman, Jay Hernandez, Alfred Molina, and Elizabeth Pena

Nothing Like the Holidays is an entertaining film but it's nothing we haven't seen before. The Rodriguez family is gathering in Chicago for the Christmas holiday and this year is extra special because they're welcoming home their youngest son, Jesse, from Iraq. But of course there's plenty of drama to go around and lots of family baggage to be rehashed.

I never saw The Family Stone or This Christmas, but I've read that this film is basically the Latino version of those films... Nevertheless, Nothing Like the Holidays is not bad, but it's also not original.

---------------------------------Bonus DVD Review------------------

Breaking and Entering (R) 120 minutes C+
Emotional Larceny

DVD Release Date - May 2007
Starring Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Robin Wright Penn, Martin Freeman, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, and Rafi Gavron

This is a film that I had very very high hopes for. I hoped that it would be a mature film about love, lust, and complicated hearts... and indeed it is. It's directed by the late Anthony Minghella, who also directed Cold Mountain, The English Patient, and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Breaking and Entering is a slow developing film about crime and passion; stealing possessions as well as emotions. It didn't quite live up to my expectations, but the last quarter of the film did have me on the edge of my seat and the acting is very effective.

It's important to note that this was the first original film Minghella had written since 1990's Truly Madly Deeply, so perhaps that might explain the film's introspection which both helped and hampered the outcome of this romance/drama.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Terence Trent D'Arby's Monasteryo


This week's album of the week goes back to 1993, Terence Trent D'Arby's Symphony or Damn (subtitled- Exploring the tension inside the sweetness). This is arguably TTD's best album... yes, even better than his popular debut album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby that spawned the hits Sign Your Name and Wishing Well. After his debut album, supposedly TTD became a raving egomaniac and pissed off several people at the record label. He followed up Hardline with the very disappointing Neither Fish Nor Flesh, and by the time Symphony or Damn arrived it was overlooked and under appreciated (and it's too bad because it's a really good album).

So whatever happen to Terence Trent D'Arby? Well, in October 2001, Terence Trent D'Arby was laid to rest... he legally changed his name to Sananda Maitreya. Currently he lives in Italy (according to the web), and he is still making music http://www.sanandamaitreya.com/

I've always wondered why someone like TTD never really found his niche here in the states. I read something on his website about being too R&B for Rock and too Rock for R&B early in his career. Nevertheless, in this day and age of American Idol, and all this fly-by-night mindless music we could use more artists like TTD (or should I say Sananda Maitreya). Besides, if Prince/the Symbol can make a comeback like he did several years ago, why can't TTD/Sananda Maitreya...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

First Impression Music Reviews

Coldplay - Prospekt's March B
This EP is not all that different from Viva La Vida. At 27 minutes and 8 songs long it breezes by and promises not to disturb the peace. Standouts include Glass of Water, a track that would've been right at home on Viva La Vida and the quiet heartbreaker, Prospekt's March/Poppyfields. The track featuring Jay-Z (Lost) is a little disappointing, but not horrible.

Jay-Z - American Gangster C+
This album came out in November of 2007, I hesitated buying this album because when I heard that jigga was inspired by the film (American Gangster) I thought he was just capitalizing on what was sure to be a blockbuster film. But lately I've been in the mood for Jay-Z, and my curiosity got the best of me (this has been tauted as one of his best outings). This album didn't totally grab me at first listen, it struck me as an album of straps with some fancy, bouncy, retro beats. The album is soulful and I can see the appeal, but it feels like an album aiming for the mainstream. That being said, the album has the potential to grow on me after repeated listens. I love the audio clips from the film, and the standout tracks include the title track American Gangster and Success. This one is gonna sound great in the car stereo on the open road.

Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak B
I'm a sucker for break up albums and/or album that derive from some sort of tragedy... some of the best art is born this way. Kanye is definitely one of the most talented musicians around, albeit a little overexposed. 808s and Heartbreak is done in a mostly auto-tuned voice, which was kind of annoying at first listen. I know it's done this way to convey a certain ambiance but one can only imagine how much better (or worse) these tracks could have been. The lyrics are pretty good and what you'd expect from someone going through a sea change. The album is interesting and intriguing, only time will tell if it has the ability to completely hook me. I commend Mr. West for stepping outside the box and taking a musical risk. Standout tracks are Love Lockdown and Paranoid.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Me versus Me

Morrissey has released details about his forthcoming album, Years of Refusal. The album hits stores in February 2009 (I can't wait!).

So it's been a busy week. school, school, school! What a pain in the ass, but I suppose it's a necessary evil. I seem to always run out of steam near the end of semesters, and this semester is no different. I've been working on my mental toughness, but I seem to psychologically self destruct, then crank out work/ideas/solutions when the pressure is on. Problem is, those last minute fixes can be either a work of art or total disaster. Guess I'm still a work in progress...

Grammy nominations came out this past week. I use to care, now I just glance at the nominees to see if anyone cool is up for anything, and to see whose been nominated in categories like the best traditional Folk and best traditional Blues albums. NIN is nominated for best instrumental album (or something like that), Heavy D is up for best Reggae album, and Radiohead, Beck, and Coldplay are also nominated for awards. I miss the days when Michael Jackson was always nominated for something, and we watched the Grammy's with curious anticipation.

Finally, this week's album of the week is a delightful soundtrack and one that has sounded really great during the last few days. If you have this album, I'd recommend you dust it off and give it a spin. As for the film itself... It wasn't bad. I wonder how it would hold up now since I haven't seen it in several years. I remember that it wasn't as good as The Brothers McMullen, and if I remember correctly, She's the One was sort of a sequel to that one...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bolt - Movie Review

Bolt (PG) 96 minutes B
The Last Action Hero

Starring John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Diedrich Bader, Malcolm McDowell, and Nick Swardson

I'm 36 years old, no children, and I don't have much desire to see Disney films. But Bolt is an entertaining film for all ages. Bolt is an adorable doggy who believes that he is the superhero he portrays on television, but when he finds himself off the set of his hit TV show for the first time he's introduced to the harsh reality that he's just an ordinary dog... or is he?

The film also features some excellent supporting roles by wise-cracking birds, Rhino the hamster, and the scene stealer - Mittens the cat. The film appears to break no new ground stylistically, but it effectively entertains and even tugs on the heart strings a little.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Milk - Movie Review

Milk (R) 128 minutes B
My Milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

Starring Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Victor Garber, and Denis O'Hare, Stephen Spinella

As a film, Milk has more substance than Slumdog Millionaire (my previous review), but it didn't captivate me quite as much as Slumdog did. That's probably because I already knew how Milk would end. The film is based on Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in America. After several failed candidacies and being on the front lines in the fight for gay rights, Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

Milk is not only entertaining, but for me, it was educational. I discovered an inspirational figure who I probably wouldn't have known about otherwise. He was courageous, charismatic, and enhanced the lives of many (not just the gay community). Sean Penn (plays Harvey Milk) is as good as advertised, and he definitely gives an Oscar-caliber performance.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire - Movie Review

Slumdog Millionaire (R) 120 minutes B+
Rich in Love

Starring Dev Patel, Madhur Mittal, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, and Irrfan Khan

There was a lot of buzz surrounding this film before its release... Roger Ebert claimed that "it could land a best picture Oscar nomination", while New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick says it "may be the most entertaining movie I've ever labeled a masterpiece."

I thought to myself, how good could it be? An orphan from the slums of Mumbai goes on India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to win the heart of a long lost love...? It sounded kind of cheesy, but it works brilliantly! Director Danny Boyle adds a unique twist and refreshing look at a somewhat familiar formula.

There's some cutesy kid stuff in the beginning I could've done without, but other than that, this is a winning film! Definitely worth a trip to the movie theater.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"First Impression" Music Reviews


TV on the Radio - Dear Science A-
This albums has hooks! Almost every song has an undeniable appeal that pulls you in with diverse instrumentation and interesting lyrics. Dear Science reminds me of many of the great albums of the late 80's and early 90's in which each song stands on its own and any track could be a single.

I like this album much more than Return to Cookie Mountain (which wasn't a bad album at all), and although Diddlefinger loves the album's first track - Halfway Home, my "repeat" track (at least right now) is Dancing Choose which reminds me of a sweat trenched Tunde Adebimpe (nothing gay about that).



Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - Cardinology B-
When Easy Tiger came out last year I was quick to claim it as one of the best albums of the year. But shortly thereafter I shelved the album because of premature burnout on the album.

When I first listened to Cardinology I thought it was more of the same... Easy Tiger 2. But after a few repeated listens this album is growing on me more and more and I think it might have the opposite effect that Easy Tiger had. The more I listen to this one the more certain songs stand out. Magick is easily the first track that jumps out at you, but some of the deeper cuts are real heartbreakers and seem to be slowly burning into my soul (like the last track on the album called Stop).


Tracy Chapman - Our Bright Future C+
Tracy Chapman is one of my all time favorite musical artist. Her second album, Crossroads still has the ability to make me weep like a 4 year girl (and that's a good thing). But Tracy's latest starts strong and then fades into a safe, warm, and comfortable place.

The first half of the album is fairly strong, Tracy has always sang with such sincerity and her music always feels very organic. But what's missing here is the spice. Those adventurous moments that encapsulates her best works. I almost feel like she might have phoned it in on some of these tracks.

But nevertheless it's still a very listenable album that I hope well grow on me more with additional listening.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy-Go-Lucky - Movie Review

Happy-Go-Lucky (R) 118 minutes C+
A happy girl in a cruel world

Starring Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Andrea Riseborough, Samuel Roukin, Sinead Matthews, Kate O'Flynn, Sarah Niles, and Eddie Marsan

Mike Leigh has been nominated for 5 Oscars and has won numerous film awards throughout his illustrious career. His latest film, Happy-Go-Lucky has been well-received by critics and has done very well on the festival circuit this year (chalking up wins at the Hollywood Film Festival, the Norwegian International Film Festival, and the Pula Film Festival).

The lead character and main focus of the film is 30 year-old Poppy (Sally Hawkins), a London schoolteacher and chronic optimist. She is indeed happy-go-lucky, so much so that she almost seems a little retarded. Throughout the film I asked myself this question- "Could I be friends with someone like Poppy?" She's a great person, but she's so damn cheery it might drive me crazy.

That being said, she is undeniably adorable, and her character is one that the audience can wrap their hearts around. But despite the character's appeal and a great performance by Sally Hawkins. I thought the film was a little slow in the beginning. I felt that Leigh spent too much time convincing us (the audience) that Poppy was a wise-cracking free spirit. I kept waiting for something to happen, and when it finally did the momentum was thrown off by a strange scene (involving a homeless man) that seemed oddly out of place.

The second half of the film is a home run. Totally absorbing and infectiously entertaining. This is a film worth seeing but it may require a little patience.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Depression Never Sounded So Beautiful


This week's album of the week is Morrissey's Kill Uncle. It sounds as good today as it did in 1991 when it was truly the soundtrack to my life. The song Driving Your Girlfriend Home was essentially my existence in a nutshell, and the rest of Kill Uncle is best described as an introspective and moody masterpiece. It's not for everyone, and it's probably Morrissey's most panned album, but it remains one of my favorites. I guess misery loves company.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Contenders/Pretenders & My Writing Life

NFL Contenders & Pretenders

Contenders
N.Y. Giants - I picked this team to finish last in their division, but Eli Manning is the real deal. This team impresses me every week.

Tennessee - Each week I think they will fall, and last weekend they made a statement.

Carolina - When your QB completes less than 30% of his passes, throws 4 interceptions, and you still win... that's a sign that things are gonna go your way.

Pittsburgh - (My preseason AFC Superbowl pick) This team is a contender provided they can pass the IF test. IF they can survive a very tough schedule, IF big Ben can stay healthy, and IF they can win their division (and possible first round bye). Watch the f*ck out!

Pretenders
The AFC East - I basically like all these teams except the Pats. But whomever wins this division has a good chance of being embarrassed in the first round of the playoffs. If I had to choose I'd love to see Miami win the division, but look for the Bills or possibly the Jets to be the great pretender.

Baltimore - Ray Lewis is one of, if not the best defensive player of my lifetime and Flacco has impressed the hell out of me. But ultimately, Lewis is getting too old and Flacco is too young.

Minnesota - They have one of the greatest RB's in the game, but that's all they have.

Denver - If they win the division (at 8-8) the season won't be a total loss. But if they miss the playoffs (at 8-8) will they/should they fire Shannahan?

In Other News
I've been published! But not in the traditional sense of having a byline, etc... I wrote a small article about someone who is near and dear to me... a long time friend and companion.

Some of you will be receiving (hard) copies of the article, but I'm still trying to convince my partner to autograph those copies. I apologize that I am currently unable to post the article here, but I do have scanned electronic copies that I can send at your request.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Zack and Miri Make a Porno - Movie Review

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (R) 102 minutes C-
A limp effort by Kevin Smith

Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Traci Lords, Katie Morgan, Ricky Mabe, Jeff Anderson, and Jason Mewes

I've always felt that most Kevin Smith films possess a certain style and uniqueness. I loved Chasing Amy back in 1997, and I'm one of the few who liked 2004's Jersey Girl. But Zack and Miri is trying too hard to be a "shocking-vulgar-slacker comedy". Seth Rogen and numerous scenes of nudity keeps the film entertaining, but overall this effort is really forced and contrived. Watch a real porno instead.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Trent Slips It In


Nine Inch Nails - The Slip A-

This past January Trent Reznor accomplished the rare feat of landing two NIN albums onto my year-end "Best of" list for 2007 with Year Zero and Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D (a remixed version of Yero Zero).

This coming January it appears that he'll break my top 10 once again with The Slip. An album that Spin magazine called "primo death funk". I'd be lying if I said that this album was a departure from his previous efforts, but somehow he keeps reinventing his anger and self loathing into funky masterpieces of digital brilliance.

This album was released as a free download back in May and now it's available in stores for $25 (or so) as a limited addition CD+DVD. The Slip is also one of my favorite album covers of 2008 so far.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Was a Lover Before This War


TV on the Radio and The Dirtbombs at the Ogden Theatre
I'm too tired and do a proper concert review, but let me say that this show rocked! This is the second time this year I've seen The Dirtbombs and they did not disappoint! Their live show is not to be missed! As for the headliner, TV on the Radio, they were sensational! Completely and totally engaging. Their set tonight was very cathartic, and the crowd was really into it which made the whole experience very unifying. Rock on!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rachel Getting Married - Movie Review

Rachel Getting Married (R) 114 minutes C+
Rachel marries the guy from TV on the Radio

Starring Anne Hathaway, Tunde Adebimpe, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Debra Winger

Director Jonathan Demme somewhat successfully captures the humanistic essence of his characters in his latest film Rachel Getting Married. There are times during the film when he masterfully captures real emotion within a realistic family dynamic. But during other times the film is hollow and a little contrived. Perhaps there are one too many musical scenes, and the hippy dippy, ethnic jambalaya theme feels like he's trying too hard.

That being said, I do like the interracial aspect of the film, and Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Sydney's (Tunde Adebimpe) relationship is one that I found myself admiring throughout. But this film is all about Kym (Anne Hathaway), she has been in and out of rehab for the last 10 years and she's home on a day pass or weekend pass (it's not real clear) to attend her sister's wedding.

The family is on edge because Kym is a loose cannon, and she also brings the unforgotten/unforgiven baggage of accidentally killing her little brother during a drugged out haze (pre-rehab). At times I thought that Kym's family was being too hard on her, after all, she carries the burden of guilt as well as being considered the "f*cked up daughter". But then again, living with someone like Kym who has lied time and time again to get what she wants/attention has to be very emotionally taxing.

I applaud the film for cleverly melding sad introspection with the promise of happiness and hope, but ultimately the film feels slightly unsatisfying because no one and nothing really changes from the beginning to the end. I sensed that if there is a sequel (Rachel Getting Divorced), this would be the same exact film with less music.
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Bonus DVD Review
27 Dresses (PG-13) 107 minutes C
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride

(DVD Release Date - April 29, 2008)
Starring Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman, Ed Burns, Melora Hardin, and Judy Greer

I don't expect much from films like this, but sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised. The only surprising thing about this film is that there are actually some funny moments. The film is very very predictable, but fairly entertaining. Don't waste your money renting this film, pop some popcorn, fetch a frosty beverage, and watch this one on cable.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Dream It's Over

The Cure - 4:13 Dream B-

The Cure is back! It's been four long years, but the new album, 4:13 Dream is in stores today.

Now, some of you who know me well know that the Cure is my all time favorite band. Back in the late 80's I found religion in the form of Robert Smith. He became my god, and Disintegration was my bible. That album forever changed my life. Now, almost 20 years after Disintegration, Robert Smith and the boys are still relevant, still making important music, and they still move me.

4:13 Dream is bouncy and the overall mood feels happier than their last two albums, Bloodflowers and The Cure. But that's not to say it's without their signature gloom and doom. On the track "The Reasons Why" Smith sings "I won't try to bring you down about my suicide" and promises not to "hang you up about my love life". While the album's closing track, "It's Over", Smith frantically proclaims, "every inch of me is raw and it's always f*cking over!".

The Cure has been around a long time (since 1977), many reviewers like to provide a cross reference to what each new album sounds like and this review is no different. 4:13 Dream definitely sounds like an offspring of Wish (1992), with hints of their previous (self titled) album, The Cure (2004). Rumor has it that the band recorded 30+ songs (this initially was suppose to be a double album), so hopefully another Cure album will be coming out soon.

My top 10 favorite Cure albums (in order)
*Box set
10. Bloodflowers (2000)
9. Faith (1981)
8. Wish (1992)
7. Join the Dots: B-sides and Rarities, 1978-2001 (2004)*
6. The Head on the Door (1985)
5. Standing on a Beach/Staring at the Sea: The Singles (1990)
4. Seventeen Seconds (1980)
3. Pornography (1982)
2. Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me (1987)
1. Disintegration (1989)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

W. - Movie Review

W. (PG-13) 129 minutes C

Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Scott Glenn, and Ioan Gruffudd

Based on the Oliver Stone films I've seen, I always thought he was a little overrated. Here's a few Highlights and Lowlights:

World Trade Center - sucked!
Natural Born Killers - soundtrack was better than the film.
U Turn - a flop if not for (a sexy) Jennifer Lopez.
Born on the Fourth of July & Platoon - Never saw them.
The Doors - disappointing, probably because I wasn't stoned.
Alexander - the previews looked really lame.

W. (directed by Oliver Stone) is boring. When I look at my watch during a film that's usually not a good sign. The only saving grace is that this is an interesting look at W's inner circle of cronies.
For example, I had no idea he and Carl Rove were so tight for so long. The Carl Rove character was actually kind of cute in a squirrelly kinda way.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Iver Survive Her


Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago A-

Bon Iver (real name Justin Justin Vernon) breaks up with his girlfriend (let's assume she's heartbreakingly beautiful), and breaks up the band (let's assume "artistic differences"), heads to the mountains to grow a beard, get weird, and find himself... and the result is an achingly exquisite, atmospheric record called For Emma, Forever Ago.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Religulous - Movie Review

Religulous (R) 101 minutes A-
Almost everyone I know believes in god...

Starring Bill Maher, Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda, Steve Berg, and Andrew Newberg

Growing up, I went to church every Sunday with my family. I didn't always like it, but much like going to the gym, I felt better about myself after I went.

Nowadays I'm cynical when it comes to religion, I often tell people that I am more spiritual than religious. I believe in god (because that's the way I was raised), but after watching this documentary it further confirms my skepticism about faith, what people believe and why.

Religulous is a documentary film about Maher's search for religious substance. Raised by a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, Maher sincerely seeks answers to the mysteries of theology. I found the film to be completely intriguing and highly entertaining, but I sense that some will see this as a "Michael Moore style documentary" and anti-religion propaganda. Personally, I think anyone/everyone can benefit from the questions being raised.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - Movie Review

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (PG-13) 90 Minutes B
Love is a mix CD

Starring Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Ari Graynor, Jay Baruchel, Rafi Gavron, and Aaron Yoo

First off, let me say that I am about 15 to 18 years above the targeted age group for this film. But nevertheless, I loved it! And truth be told... it almost made me cry (I'm so lame).

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is a light hearted, loosey-goosey, romantic comedy- full of charm and innocence. The kind of innocence one possess their senior year in high school with an entire life ahead of them. The kind of innocence where your world hinges on a kiss and a smile... where the possibilities are endless!

The two main characters (Nick and Norah) are extremely likable and charming, set to the soundtrack of their lives with New York city as their back drop. Nick & Norah is infectious like that song on the radio you can't get out of your head.

The plot isn't complex, and you pretty much know what's going to happen before it even begins. But this infinite playlist is one that's worth listening to... if only to remember the innocence you once had.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Shoppers Who Won't Settle For Less

Here is my overdue review of Wifeshopping by Steven Wingate

I had the pleasure of meeting Steven Wingate a couple of months ago. I discovered him on Goodreads.com, visited his website, and read several intriguing online reviews of his new book, Wifeshopping. A few weeks later RW and I attended his reading at the Tattered Cover bookstore. He was very cool, down-to-earth, and engaging; Mr.Wingate has a genuine passion for fiction that made me want to rush home and start writing. I felt inspired to explore my most neurotic, vulnerable and darkest romantic longings.

Wifeshopping is an award winning collection of stories that is completely captivating and totally devastating. Devastating because so many of the protagonist here are guys I've known or guys I relate with. All the stories are top notch, and Wingate does an amazing job of capturing the uncertainty and inner workings of relationships without being cheesy or predictable. The endings of his stories are not always wrapped up neatly, he adventurously leaves the readers and characters with room to breathe (but not in a way that seems incomplete).

It's hard to say which of these stories I liked best, but Me and Paul stands out, as does Faster and In Flagstaff. These stories made me feel happy, sad, aggravated... they filled my head with countless visions of beauty and daydreams of romantic yearnings, but most of all it made me want to write and find more books like this that inspire and excite.

A great read and highly recommended!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Free Books!

<-------- This is Jessica Brody. She was born in Los Angeles, but grow up in Colorado. She's the author of the bestselling novel- The Fidelity Files, and founder of a cool website called Free Book Friday.

So go to http://www.freebookfriday.com/ and sign up to win a free book! It's free dammit!

Every Friday she's giving away free books! And while you're at it, check out her website http://www.thefidelityfiles.com/


Friday, October 3, 2008

Sister I'm A Poet

Here's a poem I originally wrote 7 or 8 months ago...

Kate
by C. Pierce

I lied.
No one knew that I was such an addict.
She was invisible, I was transparent.
Her black hair smelled like night.

Tattoos, smokes, condoms, and gum
All for free.
The air tasted like her when she moved.
Drive! She said, lets go!

My hands gripped the steering wheel
Tight; palms sweaty.
Neon light, broken beer bottles;
Vacancy, sinners welcomed.

Black men like me and not like me.
His tented windows and white sneakers
Said something I couldn’t understand.
3 a.m. I sat there raw and naked.

Evening fire smoldered in morning sheets,
Strung out, scattered and morally unrestrained.
I questioned the empty closet,
Then looked at her and made a wish.

Soon I will be myself again,
She will be a film that plays repeatedly.
My reintroduction to guilt, shame, and remorse.
A secret life of crime and passion.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The VP Debate (a field goal battle/defensive struggle)

So I thought that tonight's debate was like a low scoring football game with lots of running plays, short passes, and defense.

Palin looked like a rookie quarterback who memorized an abbreviated playbook. She ran a vanilla offense with lots of short screen passes and five yard outs. She initally appeared timid and nervous but seemed more relaxed as the game progressed. She didn't turn the ball over, nor did she throw any touchdown passes. She lead her team down the field and they converted 4 field goals.

Biden on the other hand looked like an old veteran quarterback who also didn't display much of a passing attack, but he was able to manage the game like a veteran quarterback should. He didn't turn the ball over, didn't pass for a score, but he successfully converted a key 4th down which led to his team's 5th field goal.

All in all, neither quarterback was impressed or unimpressed considering all of the great defense. Palin has a lot to learn and I don't think she is ready to be a starter in the NFL.

With Biden you pretty much know what to expect because of his years in the NFL. He may have lost a step or two, but he knows how to read defenses and check down to his second or third receiver when he needs too.

Biden 15
Palin 12

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Burn After Reading - Movie Review

Burn After Reading (R) 96 minutes A-
Great performances and another great film from the Coen brothers
Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and J.K. Simmons

Last year the Coen Brothers brought us No Country For Old Men, one of the most talked about films of the year. Their latest film, Burn After Reading once again delivers, and proves to be one of the best films of 2008 thus far.

When ex-CIA analyst Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) loses a disc that contains drafts from his tell-all memoir, things begin to spiral out of control and numerous people get burned.

Happy-go-lucky doofus Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), and his desperate co-worker Linda Litzke (Frances MCDormand) are at the heart of this comedy thriller when they find the aforementioned disc and attempt to blackmail Cox. Meanwhile Cox's wife (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair with oversexed U.S. Marshal Harry Pfarrar (George Clooney).

All of these characters are somehow interconnected but don't know it. Needless to say things get pretty hairy and lives are at stake if you end up at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Burn After Reading is an offbeat story about desperate, horny, bitter, stupid, and self-absorbed people... who happen to be kinda lovable in their own pathetic way.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Man on the Moon




Tom Moon at the Tattered Cover, September 26th, 2008

Last night I had the privilege of meeting award winning music journalist Tom Moon at the Tattered Cover bookstore. He was pimping his new book 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die.

In addition to being a great writer, Moon is truly passionate about music. I had the opportunity to speak with him about the current state of music journalism, and his advice was extremely valuable to a budding music critic like myself. The future doesn't look particularly lucrative for anyone wanting to write music, film, and book reviews for a living, but I still felt inspired by Mr. Moon.

Here is Tom Moon's top 10 cds of 2007 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17129779

10. KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic
9. The Sea and Cake - Everybody
8. Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy - Cornell 1964
7. M.I.A. - Kala
6. Robert Plant/Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
5. Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall 1971
4. Floratone - Floratone
3. The National - Boxer
2. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
1. Radiohead – In Rainbows

Friday, September 26, 2008

Walking Away With Dignity

Juliana Hatfield - How To Walk Away B

At first listen I missed the old Juliana... the angst, the guitars, the self loathing. Replaced by Sheryl Crow type melodies and a gentler (perhaps more mature) vibe, Hatfield explores the nature of loving, leaving, and stagnation. Check out these lyrics from the song My Baby,
"He used to look into my eyes and talk to me/now we just have sex and watch TV /and when he touches my body/there's something off with the chemistry"

Some of the best tracks on this album sound like the greatest songs Sheryl Crow never wrote (see Just Lust and Now I'm Gone). Hatfield doesn't always sound like herself here, but relationships, life, and love sometimes changes a person... we walk away a different person than we started out being.

Currently my favorite tracks are --> My Baby and Such A Beautiful Girl

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Holly's still a Hoodrat & I Stay Positive

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive A-
One of the best albums of 2008, Stay Positive is an impressive follow up to Boys and Girls in America. The lyrics are sharp, witty and beautifully f*cked up. Currently my favorite tracks are: Stay Positive, Navy Sheets, Lord Im Discouraged, and Sequestered in Memphis.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hootie Goes Country

Darius Rucker - Learn to Live C
I bought Hootie's first solo album, 2002's Back to Then. That album sucked! And if he attempted to make another neo-soul, hip hop album I might vomit... or at least dry heave.

So when I heard that his second solo album would be on the other end of the spectrum- "country", I must admit that it seemed like a more logical choice even though I'm not really a fan of country music.

Learn to Live
is receiving decent reviews, most critics are calling it a "pleasant listen"or an "enjoyable album". I could stand for a little more "alt" country, oppose to this straight-up stab at the genre. But he does a nice job that's guaranteed not to disturb the neighbors.

I dig the first single, Don't Think I Don't Think About It, but there are several songs I can do without. I'm hoping Learn to Live learns to grow on me more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hey Babe

This picture is from a Boston Globe article written last month (by Joan Anderman). Good article, cool picture.

Juliana's new album is pretty good (my First Impression review is coming soon), and I'm anxiously awaiting her memoir (in stores next week, not this week like I previously reported).

Find the Boston Globe article online at http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2008/08/23/with_new_cd_memoir_and_outlook_juliana_hatfield_charts_progress/


The new album is called How to Walk Away, and the new book is entitled When I Grow Up: A Memior.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lakeview Terrace - Movie Review

Lakeview Terrace (PG-13) 110 minutes C+
Fear, Loathing and Jungle Fever
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Eva La Rue, and Bitsie Tulloch

A racist cop (Samuel L Jackson) harasses the young interracial couple that moves in next door. This is a decent film by one of the best filmmakers around- Neil LaBute. But unfortunately the film doesn't live up to the standard of his earlier more provocative work.

Lakeview Terrace has shades of LaBute's misogynistic style but ultimately plays out like most films in the suspense/thriller genre. Samuel L. Jackson is fantastic, Kerry Washington is beautiful and Patrick Wilson is solid as always.

By no means is this a bad film, but there is nothing new or surprising. I recommend checking out some of LaBute's earlier films which are much more tantalizing and astute (see In The Company of Men or The Shape of Things).

This is definitely worth renting or seeing at your local second run/discount movieplex. Critic Roger Ebert loved this film, claiming that "it's a challenging journey LaBute takes us on. Some will find it exciting. Some will find it an opportunity for an examination of conscience. Some will leave feeling vaguely uneasy."

I found it entertaining but fairly mediocre...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Disenchanted in the Lone Star State

RW & her conspiracy theories at the grass knoll in Dallas.

When I travel to new places I usually get a sense of whether or not I could ever live there. Fort Worth, TX is among the places I could never see myself living. Two weeks isn't enough time to determine the worth (pun intended) of any city, but I was a little underwhelmed with Fort Worth- the 17th largest city in the United States (larger than Denver, Seattle, Boston, and more).

But instead of dwelling on the negative, I've decided to compose a list of the best things I discovered during the last two weeks.

1. Half-Priced Books
Used Books, DVD's, Vinyl, CDs, Magzines- A chain store with a Indie vibe.
2. World Burrito
Like Chipotle & Qdoba but with healthier & tasty alternatives.
3. Genghis Grill
Yummy, healthy Mongolian stir fry- only one location in Colorado...?
4. Jalapeno poppers
Not very healthy, but oh so delicious!
5. Plums
I never met a plum I didn't like in Texas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Righteous Kill - Movie Review

Righteous Kill (R) 100 minutes C
Copland
Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Curtis Jackson, Donnie Wahlberg, and Carla Gugino

I hate to sound like a broken record, but here is yet another entertaining film that's not bad... but it's also not that good.

Here you'll find two great actors (De Niro and Pacino) reprising bits and pieces from their past tough guy films. Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) plays a thuggish drug dealer -a major stretch for him (wink wink), and Donnie Walberg plays a cop (the same role he has played in 3 or 4 other films and/or television shows).

That being said, the aforementioned actors played their characters well. But the one standout here is Carla Gugino. Granted, she's the "eye candy factor" in the film, but she plays the role nicely and steals nearly every scene she's in.

This might be worth renting if you've seen everything else... otherwise, it's just your average "dirty cop" film.

Three to see at the Tattered Cover


Talented author Chuck Klosterman will be at the Tattered Cover (LoDo) on Thursday, September 18th. He'll be pimping his debut novel, Downtown Owl. The book is receiving a lot of good buzz.

Some of you may have heard about a little show called Sex in the City... Candace Bushnell aka the real "Carrie Bradshaw", will be at the Tattered Cover (Highland Ranch) on Thursday, September 25th. She will be reading and signing copies of her latest creation, One Fifth Avenue.

And award-winning music journalist Tom Moon will be at the Tattered Cover (Colfax) on Friday, September 26th. He'll be promoting 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fort Worth, TX

Currently I am blogging from Texas. Home of Erykah Badu (Dallas), Daniel Johnston (Waller), Lyle Lovett (somewhere north of Houston), and many, many more.

I've been here 5 days so far and it has rained 3 out of the 5 days. Hurricane Ike touched down along the Texas gulf coast earlier this morning, the latest reports on the local news say that 3 million are without power and the death toll is somewhere around 20. Here in Fort Worth there were heavy periods of rain and gusty winds. God bless all the people affected by the storm...

Today RW and I went to Half-Price Books, an awesome used bookstore that also sells used cd's, vinyl, DVDs, and magazines. It's a chain store with the look and feel of an independent bookstore. We also cruised up to Dallas and visited the JFK Museum (called Sixth Floor Museum). I'm not much of a history buff, but the museum was an interesting and educational experience for me.

Unfortunately I haven't had much time to explore the city due to my work schedule and lots of homework, but I'm enjoying being in a new city and getting away from the office for a few weeks.

RW bought (from Half-Price Books)
Bachelor Girl: 100 Years of Breaking the Rules, a Social History of Living Single - Betsy Israel
Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 - Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins

Curtis bought (from Half-Price Books)
I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You've Ever Heard - Tom Reynolds
Woody Allen at Work: The Photographs of Brian Hamill - Charles Champlin and Derrick Tseng

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Traitor - Movie Review

Traitor (PG-13) 113 minutes C+
Know Your Enemy
Starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Jeff Daniels, Neal McDonough, Archie Panjabi, Alyy Kahn, and Said Taghmaoui

I had no idea what Traitor was about before I walked into the movie theater. I just knew that Don Cheadle was in it and anything he does is usually pretty good. Traitor is a who's zoomin who espionage flick with a touch of Syriana and a hint of Jason Bourne... but not as good.

A good quarter of the film is complete ho-hum genre crap, but it eventually heats up and turns into a good edge-of-your-seat action thriller.

The ending doesn't feel natural and the film is full of holes, but Cheadle is good, as is Guy Pearce. This is recommended for fans of post 9/11, action thriller, and FBI/CIA films. For everyone else- it's a decent popcorn movie with an interesting perspective on Muslims and their faith. I don't know if it's necessarily a good, bad or fair perspective... But it will make you think twice about the people (who they are and what they look like) making sacrifices for their beliefs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Feelin' Massachusetts



Juliana's new memoir, When I Grow Up will be in stores on September 22.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tropic Thunder - Movie Review

Tropic Thunder (R) 107 minutes C+
Fun...but wildly uneven
Starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Jay Baruchel, Matt Levin, Andrea De Oliveira, Reggie Lee, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Cruise

Watching Tropic Thunder was like watching an all-star game- lots of star power and a plethora of talent; but mostly show and not a lot of chemistry and/or substance.

Rarely do we remember the score or who won the NFL Pro Bowl or the NBA All-Star game after their over, but it's fun to watch when it's happening. Well, that's Tropic Thunder in a nutshell.

Outside of Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr, I probably won't remember much about this film two weeks from now. Yes, I was entertained, but this is not the type of film I'll think about after leaving the theater. Some of the comedy is pretty funny, while some of it is pretty stupid... but then again, it's suppose to be stupid (it's a satire on Hollywood).

I must say, it's one of the most original comedies I've seen all year and one stop shopping for fans of Ben Stiller comedies, satire, and action films.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Curtis's NFL Answer Key 2008

My Annual NFL Predictions

AFC East
1. New England 10-6
2. Buffalo 8-8
3. NY Jets 8-8
4. Miami 6-10

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh 10-6
2. Cleveland 8-8
3. Cincy 7-9
4. Baltimore 5-11

AFC South
1. Jacksonville 11-5
2. Indy 10-6 *wildcard
3. Houston 9-7 *wildcard
4. Tenneesee 6-10

AFC West
1. San Diego 11-5
2. Denver 8-8
3. Oakland 6-10
4. Kansas City 5-11

Wildcard round
(3)New England over (6) Houston
(4)Pittsburgh over (5) Indy
Divisional round
(4)Pittsburgh over (1) San Diego
(2)Jacksonville over (3) New England
Conference Championship
(4)Pittsburgh over (2)Jacksonville

----------------------------------------

NFC East
1. Dallas 11-5
2. Philly 9-7 *wildcard
3. Washington 8-8
4. NY Giants 8-8

NFC North
1. Minnesota 10-6
2. Detroit 8-8
3. Green Bay 8-8
4. Chicago 6-10

NFC South
1. Carolina 9-7
2. New Orleans 9-7 *wildcard
3. Tampa Bay 7-9
4. Atlanta 3-13

NFC West
1. Arizona 9-7
2. Seattle 9-7
3. St. Louis 6-10
4. San Francisco 4-12

Wildcard round
(3) Carolina over (6) New Orleans
(5) Philly over (4) Arizona
Divisional round
(1)Dallas over (5) Philly
(3)Carolina over (2)Minnesota
Conference championship
(1)Dallas over (3)Carolina

-----------------------------------
SUPERBOWL= Dallas 30 Pittsburgh 14


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Change, Hope, & the DNC

<---- Chris Matthews (Hardball)

I am proud to say that I was a part of history tonight at Invesco Field. The hours of standing in line, roasting in the hot sun, and the traffic nightmares was all worth it.

I'm also glad that the 2008 DNC came to my city this year. I've truly enjoyed being apart of this experience, and in November I hope to be apart of another experience- electing Barack Obama for President.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Easy Lover

First Impression Music Review
Amy Ray - Didn't it Feel Kinder B-
I have not listened to Amy Ray's previous solo albums, but I've heard that they are a departure from the traditional Indigo Girls sound/vibe. So when I read that her latest was more introspective than her previous outings (Prom and Stag), I figured I'd get some acoustic stuff, mixed with Amy's tenacity and edginess.

I really dig the Indigo Girls, but subconsciously I think that I prefer Emily over Amy. Perhaps it's because I felt like I identified with Emily more...? I think this preference started to take shape around Swamp Ophelia.

I've never had anything against Amy, although I did view her as the "scrappy one" and still a little "80s". But, Didn't It Feels Kinder is a pleasant surprise, and I love the title because it's sensitive and conjures up images of someone who has just made love after years of unfulfilling sex... didn't it feel kinder?

Some of the songs here are a little cheesy but in a catchy kinda way. For example, I like the track Cold Shoulder- I love the line "she might be straight tonight but last night she let me hold her". Yet, (on the same track) I don't like the line "I hang with the deviants and the tranny nation". That line feels unnecessary- as if she's trying too hard to show us that she's an outsider.

The track SLC Radio is very catchy, and I was immediately drawn to it because I think that Salt Lake City is an interesting place- especially for people outside of the Mormon mainstream. This album reminds me a little of Shaming the Sun... one of my favorite Indigo Girls album.

In other news - Supersize me, Disgust me
Today I spent my lunch hour running errands. I was really hungry and only had time for fast food drive thru, so I figured I'd go to Good Times and get a burger.

I pulled up to the drive thru window and heard the young girl working the window say something you never want to hear at a fast food joint. She calmly said, "Don't spit in that", then turned around and noticed I had pulled up to the window.

She was talking to a young man who appeared to be preparing the food. I drove up to the window at the tale end of this conversation and hopefully it had nothing to do with the food I had just ordered.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lies and Guilt (music reviews)

First Impression Music Reviews

Matthew Sweet - Sunshine Lies C+
Matthew Sweet ruled the first half of the 90's, during that stretch he released the seminal alt-pop masterpiece, Girlfriend, the underrated Altered Beast (and Son of Altered Beast), as well as the hook-laden 100% Fun.

After those albums he seemed to fade from the spotlight a little and experimented with other projects- most notably the supergroup The Thorns (Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge, and Shawn Mullins)

On Sunshine Lies, his 10th studio album, Sweet delivers a mixed bag upon first listen. There are definite reminders of why he was once crowned the prince of power pop, and than their are moments where it seems like he's just rockin out and phoning it in.

I miss the dark lyrics from the early 90's but I can't expect him to keep putting out rehashed versions of Girlfriend and Altered Beast. The days of being "superdeformed" maybe gone forever, but Sweet can still kick out the jams. I expect this one to grow on me after repeated listens

Beck - Modern Guilt B
Beck is great. But I mainly bought this album because I read that it was more like Sea Change than some of his more recent albums. To my disappointment it's not really like Sea Change, but it's still a good album. I'm not sure if Beck is capable of making an uninteresting album.

My first impression of Modern Guilt is that it has a bit of a throw-back (retro) feel. It's snappy, catchy, and bouncy. It feels like summer... but not in a "rumpshaker" or "it's gettin hot in here" type of way... more of a sensible, micro brew, sun tan lotion, beach ball kind of way. There's nothing here to feel guilty about at all.

This is actually a striking album upon first listen (clocking in at just under 35 minutes), but my fear is that I might tire of this album quickly like I did with Guero... Although, I think this is a more complete and solid album than Guero.

(Album of the Week) Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet
It just seems appropriate with the DNC, Barack Obama, and PE being in town this week. This is one of the most influential and essential albums ever made- "a counterattack on world supremacy".

Monday, August 18, 2008

Where the Light Is

Tabloid Mess/Musical Genius makes uneven live record
I bought John Mayer - Where the Light Is, Live in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago after hearing his acoustic version of (Tom Petty's) Free Fallin'. Even though Mayer didn't really "make the song his own" so to speak, I still thought his version was worthwhile.

This two cd set is divided into three parts- acoustic, John Mayer Trio, and Mayer with a full band. I love the acoustic stuff (except for that f*ckin Daughters song)- In Your Atmosphere, Stop This Train, and Free Fallin' are almost worth my $15 bucks alone.

The John Mayer Trio stuff is ok... I prefer the acoustic arrangements but this side of Mayer really shows off his range of talent.

Mayer with a full band is a little disappointing. It's not bad I guess, but after one listen I was bored. It reminds me of a very talented musician whose playing it a little too safe and conservative.

Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos
One of my favorite groups of all time is playing a free show during the DNC! Public Enemy is taking over Civic Center Park on Tuesday, August 26th. The catch is- their playing at 2pm! Sh*t! Some of us have to work during normal business hours!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Random Thoughts & Natural Born Killers

Out of the Closet
Why do I buy clothes? I have so many clothes in my closet that I don't wear (and several things I can't bring myself to get rid of). Thing is, I have a lot of mediocre clothes and not a lot of show stoppers in my wardrobe. But, I don't have many occasions to dress up and the only person I really have to please is me (my harshest critic).

There once was a time when I took pride in the way I dressed, but to borrow a phrase from George Michael- "sometimes the clothes does not make the man". Every now and then that well-dressed, stylish guy will make an appearance, but for the most part he has been replaced by a guy who tries... but then says - f*ck it!

August 28, 2008
Thanks to RW we got credentials. We will be part of one of the most historical moments in history- Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco. But is anything really historic any more? Everyone knows that this is a historic moment so will that diminish its impact? When I read about historical moments in history they almost seem magical and unaware of their importance at the time. Is this MLK historic... or just trivia pursuit historic? In my world it's a pretty big deal, but what about for those people who don't look like me, think like me, or vote like me? Is it less historic for those people?

Natural Born Thrilla
The album of the week is the Natural Born Killers Soundtrack. I'm in a funky mindset tonight, and this album is really setting the tone for the week. This compilation is dark, gritty, and at times haunting. But it always brings a smile to my face- especially the sound clips from the film. It's funny sh*t!

The soundtrack features music by NIN, Leonard Cohen, L7, Patti Smith, Dr Dre, Tha Dogg Pound, Bob Dylan, Cowboy Junkies, and more.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Movie Review

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (PG-13) 96 minutes A-
Three babes and Javier Bardem

Starring Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Chris Messina, Patricia Clarkson, and Kevin Dunn

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are best friends. Vicky is a sensible and structured grad student finishing her master's thesis on Catalan culture. Cristina... well, Cristina is just smokin hot.

The two friends have decided to spend the summer in Barcelona, and shortly after their arrival they are befriended by a rugged yet sexy Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Within minutes of meeting the women he suggests that the three of them take a trip together and make love all weekend. Vicky is admittedly opposed for numerous reasons (one of which she's engaged to be married), while Cristina is intrigued by his unconventional offer and his five o'clock shadow.

When Cristina succumbs to illness, Vicky is forced to hang out with Juan. With Cristina out of sight and out of mind, Vicky changes her tune about Juan. But when Cristina is well, Vicky takes a backseat to her friend despite her new found feelings for the charming Spaniard.

Cristina and Juan blossom into a very compatible pair, but their union is quickly turned upside down when Juan's crazy ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) comes back into his life.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a terrific film that shows remarkable artistic restraint on behalf of writer, director Woody Allen. This film could have easily derailed many times, but Allen does a brilliant job of balancing drama, comedy and intrigue without sensationalizing his characters or the plot. The film has a certain quiet charm and mature sadness; it speaks the truth about love, fear and certain types of relationships. It's just another example of why Woody Allen is the greatest filmmaker of all time... no doubt about it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Don't Think I Don't Think About It


When Hootie and the Blowfish first burst on the scene back in 1994 I hated them and I hated their popularity. It wasn't until I heard the single- Tucker's Town from Fairweather Johnson, that I gave them a chance. Soon after hearing that single I read a review that compared them to the Counting Crows, I love the Counting Crows so I decided to buy Fairweather Johnson. Instantly I fell in love with the album and immediately went out and bought Cracked Rear View. Eventually the songs Let Her Cry, Time, and Only Wanna Be With You all grew on me. But the signature song on that album was Hannah Jane. Oh, how I loved Hannah Jane.

After FJ, came Musical Chairs, probably my favorite and their most diverse album. They followed that with Mark Bryan's surprisingly catchy solo album aptly titled 30 on the rail, and the rarities/cover album Scattered, Smothered and Covered. Scattered... was their last good album as far as I'm concerned. Everything after that has been a disappointment, including the Darius Rucker's R&B solo album.

So just as I was about to lose faith (a year or so ago) , I heard that Darius was working on a country album. I'm not a country music fan, but this change of pace is just what the doctor ordered for Hootie nation. Frankly, the "ultimate bar band" label was played out years ago, yet I feared that's what they had become. I hope and pray that Hootie (as a band) has some darkness and depth left in their musical bag of tricks. Just because your getting older and becoming better golfers doesn't mean your music has to suck.

Anyway, the first single from Darius Rucker's new country album is out, and it doesn't suck. Matter of fact, I like it a lot. Check out the new single and video right here http://new.music.yahoo.com/videos/DariusRucker/Dont-Think-I-Dont-Think-About-It--184510648

Monday, August 11, 2008

Peace, Love and Literary Understanding


All The Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen
The novel follows three men (Keith, Sam and Mark) as they try and achieve their dreams of becoming literary giants. The three protagonists are well-rounded, well-educated, and well-read young men approaching the landmark age of 30. They're unhappy with the political climate, unhappy with their Google ranking, and generally indecisive about love.
Three men, three stories- yet I would have preferred more disparity between these anti-heroes (I had to keep back tracking to remind myself who was who). Gessen has moments of brilliance and the characters are very believable, but the historical references that Gessen is so fond of just didn't connect with me. One critic suggested that Sad Young Literary Men is essentially "sex in the city for men". I can see the similarities (three lads looking for love in New York), but something darker, more pensive, and intellectual lurks within these three characters.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pineapple Express - Movie Reivew

Pineapple Express (R) 107 minutes D+
Skunk Weed

Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Danny R. McBride, Amber Heard, and James Remar

Underachieving stoner Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) witnesses a murder by a dirty cop and a drug lord. After leaving his roach at the crime scene, the bad guys quickly trace the rare strain of pot (called Pineapple Express) back to Denton's drug dealer and eventually Denton.

This film is part buddy comedy, part action comedy, part crap. There are some funny moments, but overall I thought the film grew redundant, tiresome, and silly. Depending on your sense of humor, some of you might laugh your ass off. But if you want to see a stoner based film that's well worth the price of admission, seek out a film called The Wackness... it's far superior bud.

"When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth."
- George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My news and notes

What the hell is Brett Favre doing here?
Are you tired of this story yet? Frankly, I think it's good for the NFL. It keeps the league in the spotlight, it's a nice distraction during preseason, and where ever he lands will result into must-see TV. Whether it's the Bucs or Jets, it's a slap in the face for which ever QB he replaces.

Paris Hilton - That's Hot!
By now, many of you have probably seen the Paris Hilton video response to John McCain. It's her best performance since "One Night in Paris". Check out the video here http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/64ad536a6d

A month of root canals
Today was part two of my root canal. I thought I'd get my crown today but apparently I have to wait until part three for that. (Knock-on-wood) So far my dentist has done a great job and I'm very happy with the work he has done; but I'm not out of the woods yet. After he finishes the root canal, god knows what else he'll find wrong (hopefully nothing). It's like taking my car in for repairs. I nervously wait for the word... is it serious? costly? Should I get a second opinion?

Curtis's new novel (RW- in case you didn't know)
Curtis Sittenfeld has a new novel, American Wife, in stores 9/2/08.

Check my head
My head has been all messed up lately. I'm in one of those head spaces where everything feels chaotic and I can't seem to gather my composure and make sense of things. Tonight- I think I need to make a to do list, and curl up with a good book or some magazines.

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
-Tallulah Bankhead

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Dark Knight - Movie Review

The Dark Knight (PG-13) 152 minutes B
The Dark Knight faces his darkest days

Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman

First things first, Heath Ledger is as good as advertised- believe the hype! Ledger is the best Joker since Cesar Romero (from the Batman TV Series circa 1966), and overall The Dark Knight is easily the best Batman film of all time.

Adam West will always be my favorite caped crusader, but Christian Bale has proved that he's worthy of the crown in this post 9/11 world. Despite the moody tone, the heavy handed ethical dilemma, and all of his self doubt... Batman still reigns supreme while sporting the coolest gadgets and heavy machinery of any superhero.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wifeshopping at the Tattered Cover

Steven Wingate at the Tattered Cover (Lodo)
If I were single, the Tattered Cover would be a great place to go "wife shopping"... then again, I probably wouldn't have the nerve to walk up to a beautiful woman cold turkey. She'd have to give me a sign, some sort of verbal or nonverbal hint- and even then I'd probably say the wrong thing.

But that's neither here nor there because I'm not perusing bookstores for women. I was at the Tattered Cover tonight to see my friend (I feel like I can call him that now) Steven Wingate. He was promoting his new book, a collection of short stories called Wifeshopping.

I bought the book a week or so ago, but I haven't read it yet because I'm still reading All The Sad Young Literary Men (which I'm almost done with). As a rule, I usually try to read one fiction novel at a time simply because I want to devote all my attention to that one book and its characters.

But after tonight's reading at TC, I am super anxious to dive into Wifeshopping. Meeting a writer like Steven not only inspires me, but makes me fall in love even more with the art of writing/storytelling.

He's cool, down-to-earth, and I highly recommend catching him in Colorado Springs next month, Boulder in September, and/or a town near you (http://www.stevenwingate.com/), I guarantee you'll be hooked!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Free Books! Free Books! Join Now.


Ever wonder what to do with those old paperbacks (and/or hardcovers) that aren't worth much? Donate them? Recycle them? Why not share them with someone who would really appreciate them...
I read about Paperback Swap months ago but I never got around to checking it out until recently. It seems like a cool idea so I'm going to sign up and I think you should too.
http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php

And yes- I actually bought You'll Never Make Love In This Town Again many years ago. I never read it (although I intended to), so don't be surprised to find it (a NY Times bestseller) on the trading block.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rub 'Til It Bleeds

Album of the Week
I remember when I first heard PJ Harvey's 4-Track Demos back in 1993, it blew me away! It's an astonishing album of raw, razor sharp emotion that is completely organic and honest. It bleeds with unfiltered purity.

These demos, 8 of which are from the Rid of Me album and 6 unreleased tracks, rivals only Springsteen's Nebraska in the realm of intimate stripped down recordings. Nebraska was recorded on a 4-track recorder and is solely acoustic. Where as 4-Track Demos is plugged in and rockin!

On the opening track Rid Of Me, Harvey assures us that "your not rid of me, I'll make you lick my injuries", and on the third track, Reeling, she exercises her passion and independence- "I wanna bathe in milk, eat grapes, Robert Deniro sit on my face".

Harvey fills the album with her feminine wilds, subversive and scratchy guitar licks, and a touch of hothouse blues. The end result is one hell of an album. PJ Harvey is completely original and undoubtedly one of the most innovative musicians of my lifetime.

And check out the album cover... very Twin Peaks meets mysteriously sexy femme fatal.

First Impression Reviews (Music that I have recently bought or burnt)

Paris - Sonic Jihad B-
An all out assault on the Bush administration. Shades of Public Enemy here... anyone and everyone associated with the administration is fair game. The beats are pretty decent, the lyrics are sharp, witty, and political for the most part... and Paris definitely hits more than misses. The enemy strikes black!

R.E.M - Accelerate B-
This one might grow on me more in the months to come. I love a good rock out as much as anyone, but I can't help but long for a more pensive R.E.M. If only they had mixed in a little more sad sap with their electric rock star record... What's the frequency Kenneth?

Cassandra Wilson - Loverly B-
This is a nice little record, and at the risk of sounding redundant... it might grow on me more with repeated listenings. Some of the songs stood out right away, while others seemed fairly forgettable. I must admit, Wilson set the bar really high with New Moon Daughter (the only other album of hers that I own). I've gotta stop comparing everything to that one... but it's so damn wonderfulerly.

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme B
I'm not a big jazz guy, and I thought this was going to be more triumphant... but nevertheless it's still pretty f*cking good. I can thank Bono (U2) for turning me on to this Coltrane album... how sad is that...

Henry Rollins - Interview Disc A
I bought my first interview disc this past weekend (used). It's an cd that contains a one hour conversation between Henry Rollins and writer Chris Morris regarding 1997's Come In and Burn album. This conversation was recorded at Rollins' home prior to the release of the album. I've only had a chance to listen to 30 minutes of the disc so far, but I already LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sex and the City - Movie Review

Sex and the City: The Movie (R) 135 minutes C+
The thrill is gone, but the memory remains
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, Jennifer Hudson, and Lynn Cohen

Many of you have already seen this film, and many more will see it on DVD. So better late than never...

If Sex and the City was a band, the film version would be their major label (album) debut. The HBO years (from 1998 to 2004) would be them as a popular indie band paying their dues, building a loyal following, and buzzing into the mainstream as "the next big thing" and pop culture icons.

Switching to a major label almost certainly means selling your soul and sacrificing your art (to a certain degree). Like many major label debuts, Sex and the City: The Movie is glossy, overproduced and filled with fluff. Yes, it has its moments, and your sure to find a couple of gems that rivals their best work. But something is missing... the intimacy? the personal connection you once felt? the 1 hour episodes?

It's like that best friend you haven't seen in years, and now that their back- you've grown, they've grown... but in different directions. You'll always remember the good times, but now in 2008 neither one of you are the same person.

Ditto for Sex and the City: The Movie.
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Illness (it makes me sad and pensive)

When people say "live life to the fullest", or "live everyday like it's your last", I know what their saying... but I think it's corny. If I lived everyday like it was my last, I'd probably be dead, homeless, or in jail.

For me, maybe living life to the fullest is blogging, going to movies, concerts, reading, watching football, eating, etc...

Am I living life to the fullest? Or am I just existing? Sometimes it's hard to tell.

I recently got the news that someone I love very much is ill. Of course my thoughts and prayers are with her, and I hope she will be ok... but the news made me reevaluate the whole living life to the fullest thing. What if I died before I ever published a book or accomplished something substantial and relevant.

What if? What if?

It scares me when death gets this close. I'm paralyzed with fear and drowned by my own stagnation. It's like those dreams when your running as fast as you can but your barely moving at all.

I can only hope that this is a false alarm- an overreaction? Maybe this is god's reminder that life is precious. Live life to the fullest- but within reason...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Top 10 Tattered Cover Book Events

This is a list of my favorite book signing events and the books that were being promoted. All of these events took place at a former or existing Tattered Cover location.

1. Jennifer Weiner - Little Earthquakes
This event inspired me to become a writer, Weiner has an undeniable star quality.

2. Eric Schaeffer - I Can't Believe I'm Still Single
On this night at the Colfax TC, Schaeffer was funny, charming and completely down-to-earth. It was a night I will never forget.

3. Julie Powell - Julie and Julia
She's an inspiration to government employees everywhere who want to become writers... and who can forget those black knee high boots she wore.

4. Curtis Sittenfeld - Prep
With a name like Curtis, what's not to like. I learned a lot about book covers on this night... who knew that authors don't always get to pick their covers.

5. Beth Lisick - Helping Me Help Myself
Lisick is one of the coolest authors ever to appear at the TC. She's in a rock band and she's been known to rock at banana custom from time to time.

6. Stewart O'Nan - Last Night at the Lobster
This guy has a great voice, and when he reads the characters jump off the page and into real life.

7. Lisa Daily - Fifteen Minutes of Shame
Lisa may be a debutante, but she was super nice, genuine, and very engaging. She demanded that I call myself a writer, not a "wannabe writer" (which is how I introduced myself).

8. JR Moehringer - The Tender Bar
This guy was like a rock star! The women swooned and the men wanted to be him.

9. Carleen Brice - Orange Mint and Honey
As an African American and a local author, I find her very inspiring. Plus, I've seen her around town frequenting some of my favorite places (TC & Mead Street Station)

10. (tie) Joyce Carol Oates - The Gravedigger's Daughter
Oates is a legend; she was poised and elegant. It's too bad I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say when she was signing my book.

10 (tie) Melissa Bank - The Wonder Spot
Bank seemed nervous and a little unpolished compared to some of the other authors on this list. But I actually liked that about her.