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 (, 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.

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.
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.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Savage Grace - Movie Review

Savage Grace (Not Rated) 97 minutes B-
Love is the drug when incest is best
Starring Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Eddie Redmayne, Unax Ugalde, and Belen Rueda

Barbara (Julianne Moore) married up, she married Brooks Baekeland (Stephen Dillane), the heir to the Bakelite plastic fortune. Barbara adored her pampered lifestyle and social status just as much as she adored her husband.

Barbara and Brooks spawned an androgynous child named Tony (Eddie Redmayne). He describes himself as the steam when hot (his mother) meets cold (his father). But this sexually carnivorous young man is more like gasoline when fire meets more fire. Tony is the product of an overbearing mother and emotionally vacant father, and when the gravity of the situation becomes too much not even a mother's love is enough.

Based on the award winning book by Natalie Robins and Steven Aronson, this true story of incest, murder, and high society is totally engaging, disturbingly erotic, and a little off kilter.

The film spans 40 years and casting Julianne Moore in the lead role was borderline genius. Moore is an alluring and sexy woman whose beauty transcends time. Eddie Redmayne also pulls off a superb performance that's worthy of at least a few accolades come awards season in early 2009.

But Savage Grace reaches it's peak half way through the film, and the second half feels a little over dramatic and unbalanced. Everyone in this film is selfish and starving for love- so much so that the lines between love, lust, and pure insanity becomes blurred. Nevertheless it makes for an interesting film; one that is not for general audiences but recommended for it's disturbing exhibition of appalling real life dysfunction.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hancock - Movie Review

Hancock (PG-13) 92 minutes B-
A superhero film with a twist
Starring Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, and Eddie Marsan

The concept of a reluctant superhero is interesting. Should we assume that anyone with super human powers would always use their powers for good (oppose to evil)? Hancock is a reluctant and underachieving superhero. He fights crime in between hangovers or whenever he's not passed out somewhere. He's rude, crude and curses at little children.

His presence in Los Angeles has kept the crime rate low, but the city and the public have grown tired of his reckless behavior and sloppy crime fighting. So in an effort to clean up his act, Hancock gets an image makeover and tries to become the type of superhero that we all love and respect.

This film is outlandish and over the top, full of explosions, car crashes and general destruction. But it also has heart and a certain humanistic quality that was very appealing to me.

Will Smith flashes some of his star power (and thank god after that awful I Am Legend mess), and Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman turn in nice performances although their both capable of so much more. Hancock feels a little scatterbrained and sensationalized, but it's a decent way to escape the heat and spend an afternoon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Idiot Girl's Book Event

Laurie Notaro at the Tattered Cover - July 15, 2008
Her new book- The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death

I had been looking forward to the Laurie Notaro event at the Tattered Cover for weeks. I arrived early, grabbed a couple of her books to thumb through, and snagged a good seat. The audience was largely made up of women, and when Laurie Notaro walked into the room the enthusiastic crowd cheered and clapped with fervor. It practically demanded an immediate response from the author, and before she could be properly introduced she addressed the audience. From that moment it was evident that she would own the night.

For the next hour she had these women laughing so hard I swear I heard a couple of snorts amongst the merriment. Notaro seems like a talented author, but on this night I simply wasn't buying what she was selling. I think that most people would have found this event very enjoyable. But I felt like it didn't cover any new ground. Her witty, neurotic and self deprecating humor is easy to identify with, but as I sat there and listened to her it all sounded too familiar. Suddenly I had the urge to read a book that was completely different than what Notaro had to offer.

Judging from her fans she is definitely worth reading, and perhaps in December I will get around to reading An Idiot Girl's Christmas (to put me in the holiday spirit). But tonight she just wasn't doing it for me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I was reading an old issue of Time magazine yesterday (December 2007), and it featured the best websites of 2007. At number 5 was --->
a wonderful place for book lovers!

I joined today (it's free, quick, and easy), and I hope that you join too (please oh please). We can share our opinion on books, explore each other's reading lists (as well as everyone else on the world wide web), and even start our own book club. Get real book reviews from real people... like myself. Check it out! You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Icons - Morphine and Brett Favre

Album of the Week
The first Morphine album I ever heard was 1993's Cure for Pain. That album is absolutely brilliant, I fell in love with it instantly. Their follow-up album was Yes, and in my eyes it had a tough act to follow.

But Yes turned out to be equally as distinguished, cool and unprecedented as their previous outing. Morphine was truly a unique band with a unique sound. No one has ever sounded like them and no one ever will. It's too bad that Mark Sandman (their lead singer/slide bass) died in 1999 because this band could have gone on to do great great things.

Brett Favre
I've said from the beginning that I don't think Brett Favre is coming back to the NFL, and I still think he'll stay retired. It's not that I don't want to see Favre play again, but I think he'll look ridiculous if he comes back after his dramatic and emotional departure.

We all have a change of heart sometimes, I understand that... but I don't blame the Packers for wanting to move on (even if Favre is still the best QB in Green Bay). If I were the Packers, I'd trade him... preferably to a team in the AFC (the Chiefs and Bills might be interested). But I definitely wouldn't trade him to Minnesota or Chicago unless they made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

Sending Favre to your NFC rival is like breaking up with a super hot ex-girlfriend and telling her she should go out with your best friend. Awkward! Not to mention a lot of motivation for some devastating revenge.

Things is, the Packers were a fluke last year. Favre thinks he can get them to the Superbowl this upcoming season, but really, he's coming back to a team that probably won't make the playoffs. So it's best that the Packers experience their growing pains with Aaron Rodgers in the fold instead of diminishing (not ruining- he's already a Hall of Famer) Favre's legacy.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Visitor - Movie Review

The Visitor (PG-13) 103 minutes A-
Groove is in the heart
Starring Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Hiam Abbass, and Maggie Moore

If nothing else, this film is a testament that it is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.

There have been times in my life when I thought I might end up like Walter (Richard Jenkins); an aging old man, numb, and stumbling through a life of solitude and introspection. Pretending to be someone, when really, I'm no one at all.

But the beautiful thing about life is that one person can change everything, and sometimes all it takes is that leap of faith to give someone a chance. Those of you that have seen this film (or will see this film) will understand what I'm talking about. The Visitor is a quiet and humanistic film about a broken man who finds the inspiration to live again by marching to the beat of a different drummer.

The less I tell you about The Visitor the better. I encourage many of you to see this film, especially for those of you who enjoy a mature, unassuming, and well done drama. No car chases, explosions, or special effects here. This one is for your heart and our mind.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Best Films of 2008 So Far...

The year is half way over, here is my list of the best films so far... Look for these films in theaters and/or on DVD.

10. In Bruges
9. Baby Mama
8. The Promotion
7. I'm Through With White Girls
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
5. Definitely, Maybe
4. Snow Angels
3. The Bank Job
2. Married Life
1. The Wackness

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm Through With White Girls - Movie Review

I'm Through With White Girls (R) 90 minutes B
How a brotha got his groove back
Starring Anthony Montgomery, Ryan Alosio, Lia Johnson, Lamman Rucker, Kellee Stewart, Lisa Brenner, Johnny Brown, Richard Lawson and Esther Scott.

I'm Through with White Girls (The Inevitable Undoing of Jay Brooks) is a title that jumps out at you. It is also a little deceiving because the film isn't as simple as the title might suggest. Jay Brooks (Anthony Montgomery) is a 30 year old black man that only dates white women. He claims that the sistahs don't dig him because he's not the stereotypical black male; he's into the indie music scene, he likes comic books, sci-fi, graphic novels, and doesn't own a car. In short, he "acts white", a term that is all too familiar and one that I despise.

Jay's failed relationships have nothing to do with white women, his relationships fail because he has issues... and the film does a good job of showing us that. For me, I'm Through With White Girls is less about white girls and more about perception, stereotypes, and cultural identity.

Being black is not about "acting black" or not "acting white", it's about being who you are... and the same applies when your looking for love. You can pick your mate because their black, white, brown or what have you, but you have to love that person for who they truly are regardless of skin color. Otherwise your simply in love (or lust) with an idea of something or someone.

Anyway, the film is very good and definitely worth seeing! It's a romantic comedy, "Spike Lee Lite" is how one person described it... the film has done well on the festival circuit and it's currently making the rounds (in theaters) in limited release. Check it out, and/or look for it on DVD in the coming months.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Random News & Notes

Diddlefinger told me about this last night,
and the website has also spawned a book by the same name (in stores this month).

There is also this blog, featuring REAL personal ads from guys looking for love. This blog is not associated with Eric Schaeffer's entertaining new series on Showtime called, I Can't Believe I'm Still Single From Portland to Portland (hopefully yours truly will be on one of the upcoming episodes).

Shifting gears a bit, I'd like to thank everyone who made my birthday (yesterday) a memorable one. I'm not one to gripe about getting older/having birthdays, but I'm now closer to 40 than I am 30... Luckily 40 is the new 30.

And lastly, author Laurie Notaro is currently on tour pimping her new book The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge. She'll be at the Tattered Cover on Tuesday, July 15th. Mark your calendars! It promises to be one of the best book tours of the summer.