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

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

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.