Monday, December 31, 2012

The Sessions - Movie Review

The Sessions (R) 94 minutes B+
Helen Hunt and Positive Sex 

Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, Adam Arkin, Rhea Perlman, W. Earl Brown and Robin Weigart

The Sessions is based on the real life story of Mark O'Brien (Hawkes), a San Francisco poet who contracted polio as a young boy and spent the majority of his life in an iron lung.  At 38 years-old O'Brien decided that he wanted to lose his virginity. He employed a sex surrogate, Cheryl Cohen Greene (Hunt), who specialized in helping physically disabled patients rediscover their sexuality.  It was an occupation that may not have been uncommon in Berkeley, California circa 1988.

This film is inspired by the essay, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate," written by O'Brien and published in 1990.  O'Brien's life was also the subject of an Oscar winning documentary short in 1997 called Breathing Lessons The Sessions is inspiring and uplifting without being weepy and cheesy.  It is amazing what the real Mark O'Brien accomplished in his life, feats that many of us (able bodied people) have not.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

This is 40 - Movie Review

This is 40 (R) 133 minutes B
40 is the new 30

Starring John Lithgow, Lena Dunham, Chris O'Dowd, Megan Fox, Charlyne Yi, Albert Brooks,  Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann

This is 40 is a funny, manic and slightly annoying film about turning 40. It's typical Judd Apatow, so if you like his brand of humor drop what you're doing and go see this film NOW.  Oh, and if you are 40, was 40, or about to turn 40, you'll probably get a kick out of this as well.  As for everyone else, unless you like whiny, miserable, beautiful yuppies, you might want to wait for this one to arrive on DVD/home video.
Bonus DVD/Home Rental Review
Bachelorette (R) 87 Minutes D-
Completely Forgettable

Theatrical release September 2012
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, Adam Scott, James Marsden

Riding the coattails of Bridesmaids and The Hangover, this film was utterly stupid and disappointing.  Don't waste your time.     

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Flight - Movie Review

Flight (R) 138 minutes  A
A high flying emotional acrobat

Starring Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Nadine Velazquez, Melissa Leo, Tamara Tunie, Brian Geraghty

No one plays cool like Denzel Washington.  Flight might be the biggest thrill ride I've had at the movies all year!  It has everything I love about cinema- grit, emotion, sex, suspense, darkness, and an absorbing character that transcends the big screen.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away), Flight manages to be the perfect "popcorn movie," while demonstrating an everyman type melancholy and fallibility.  Roger Ebert called the film, "nearly flawless."  I call it one of the best films you'll see in 2012.

Highly recommended.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Might as well jump! (Book Review)

Publication: June 2005
Long Way Down - Nick Hornby B+

In A Long Way Down, four strangers- Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ contemplate suicide. This novel is an entertaining and interesting look at self-loathing and self-destruction. At times, these characters seemed a bit absurd, but ultimately I didn't want to see them go.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lincoln - Movie Review

Lincoln (PG-13) 150 minutes B
Lincoln's quest to abolish slavery

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, Lee Pace, Michael Stuhlbarg and Jared Harris

I liked this film, but didn't love it.  It's nicely adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 book, Team of Rivals, however; I agree with film critic Peter Deruge who described Lincoln as, "a respectable but waxy re-creation that feels somehow awe-inspiring yet chillingly lifeless to behold." 

Daniel Day-Lewis is as good as advertised, James Spader is an unsung scene stealer, and everyone else is generally hit or miss.  The political history is intriguing, as is Lincoln's family dynamic.  But, the film tends to be a little laborsome with a running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.  

Recommended for those who like historical biopics.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook - Movie Review

Silver Linings Playbook (R) 122 minutes B
Love, Football & Mental Illness

Starring Anupam Kher, Bradley Cooper, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Stiles and Robert De Niro

It's hard to make a romantic dramedy these days that's smart, funny and serious.  Silver Lining Playbook manages to accomplish all three aspects, despite an ending that surprises no one.  The film is solid, and has a good cast.  But, it's more of a feel good film than an impactful film.  Directed by David O Russell (The Fighter, I Heart Huckabees), Silver Linings Playbook is a safe bet this holiday season.  It may not rock your world, but it's worth the price of admission.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Animal, Life, Mind & Sky (Music Reviews)

First Impression Music Reviews

Soundgarden - King Animal B
This is Soundgarden's first batch of new music in 16 years.  King Animal doesn't possess the same urgency of their earlier material, but it's solid nonetheless.  

Nas - Life is Good B-
Yet, another hip hop album that would benefit from more weeding.  Sometimes less is more.   

Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind C
The songs "Sky High" & "Away When You Were Here" jumped out at me right way... and I'm still figuring out the rest. 

Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On Sky B
DJ isn't usually a slow burn for me, but this one is... and it's getting better with each listen. 

Dinosaur Jr - I Bet On Sky Album Cover


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Light-hearted fun at Swallow Hill (Concert Review)

Jill Sobule w/ Megan Burtt @ Swallow Hill November 24, 12  B-
Sobule, one of my favorite live acts, delivered a playfully entertaining set at Swallow Hill tonight.  Folk/pop songstress Megan Burtt provided an impressive opening set.  Overall, this was a solid show, but nothing memorable.    

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Starz Denver Film Festival Reviews

Due to my busy schedule I only saw three films at this year's festival.   Here's a brief rundown: 

Supporting Characters A-
Directed by Daniel Schechter
Two friends attempted to balance work, love and life in a film that feels very authentic. 

Struck By Lightening B-
Directed by Brian Dannelly
An impressive outing for Chris Colfer (Glee), who wrote the script and stars in the film.  Struck By Lightening recounts the miserable life of a teenager whose only goal in life was to be a writer. 
Video on Demand - Late December, Theatrical Release - Mid January

The Shape of Error D+
Directed by Abigail Child
This is a dramatization of the life of Mary Shelley.  Shelley herself is an interesting figure, but this film is too busy and ultimately too frustrating to care about.    

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The most interesting man in the literary world (Literature Event Review)

Inside the Writers Studio with Junot Diaz @ Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center November 10, 2012 A+

I did not know what to expect when I bought a ticket to see Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Junot Diaz.  At the very least, I figured I'd pick up a few tips on how to improve my craft while being inspired by his rise to literary prominence.

The Su Teatro was packed on this cold and rainy night.  I, along with my trusty companion, a steaming hot cup of coffee, managed to snag one of the few remaining seats available.  After a lengthy introduction, Diaz walked onto the stage and proceeded to look over the crowd as if he was lost and looking for a familiar face.  This peculiar move kicked off one of the most memorable and intriguing literary conversations I have ever been apart of.  The free flowing, unscripted talk meandered from politics, to the legalization of marijuana, to writers who don't read.

Diaz does not strike me as your typical Pulitzer Prize winner (ironically, I've met a few), he radiates an everyman appeal combined with wicked intelligence and street smarts.  I could have listened to him all night.  He also read from his latest, This is How You Lose Her, a 2012 National Book Award finalist.  Tonight's book event will go down as one of my favorites of all-time, I left this event educated, inspired, caffeinated, and thoroughly entertained!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Argo - Movie Review

Argo (R) 120 Minutes B+
I love it when a plan comes together

Starring Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Victor Garber

Argo is a gripping thriller that somehow manages to be totally suspenseful despite knowing the outcome.  Based on the real-life events of the Iranian hostage crisis, 1979 - 1981, this film has Oscar nomination written all over it. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Return of the Gentlemen - Concert Review

The Afghan Whigs @ the Ogden Theatre
10/30/2012 B+

I don't have much to say, except that I am glad I got to see Greg Dulli and company on this reunion tour tonight (Thanks DiddleFinger for the ticket).  The show was blistering, raw, and above all else, rockin! They played plenty from their seminal album, Gentleman, along with a little Prince (Purple Rain), The Beatles (She Loves You), Frank Ocean (Love Crimes) and tracks from their other albums.  My favorite, without of doubt, was "Fountain and Fairfax," perhaps my favorite Afghan Whigs song of all time.    <-----For your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cloud Atlas - Movie Review

Cloud Atlas (R) 172 minutes B+ 
Faces of Breadth

Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon.

Cloud Atlas is probably the biggest surprise I've had at the movies this year.  The trailer looked less than appealing, the running time of nearly three hours was a turn-off, and frankly, some of the get-ups I initially saw Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in looked cheesy and cheap.  But, I should know better than to judge a film by its' cover (I also thought Braveheart and A Beautiful Mind looked less than spectacular at first).

Based on the novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas explores the notion that all of our actions as human beings have interconnected consequences- from the beginning of time until now, and from now until forever.  The film is "deep," for lack of a better term, and I couldn't help but shed a tear at the end.

Lovely, in a weird way. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Liberal Arts - Movie Review

Liberal Arts (NR) 97 minutes A-
Because we all feel younger than we are

Starring Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Zac Efron

Chances are, most of you reading this review will not or did not love this film as much as I did... and that's okay.  I think this film appealed to me because it's timely (considering where I am in my life), and because it's smart.  Liberal Arts is all about books, love, college and getting older.  Ironically, all of which I have romanticized, and all of which are bittersweet. 

Highly recommended for people like me. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Uneven Edges & Pilgrims - Book Reviews

Uneven Edges: Poems - Phoebe Sophocles B-

Publication: 2000
This collection of poems is unsuspecting, deeply personal and surprisingly consistent. These poems will occasionally strike a chord, but promise not to disturb the peace. My favorites include: "Find Me A Child," "Growing Beautiful" and "My Name Means Shining."

Publication: 1997
Pilgrims - Elizabeth Gilbert C+

Pilgrims, Gilbert's first short story collection is a mixed bag. However, I really loved "The Many Things That Denny Brown Did Not Know (Age Fifteen)." That story alone makes the collection worthwhile.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

2 Days in New York - Movie Review

2 Days in New York (R) 96 Minutes B
Neurotic in New York

Starring Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Nahon, Dylan Baker, Kate Burton, Daniel Bruhl and Emily Wagner.
2 Days in New York is the follow-up to 2007's 2 Days in Paris, in which Julie Delpy starred opposite Adam Goldberg.  In the latest installment, Jack (Goldberg) is gone and Mingus (Chris Rock) is the new beau. 

The film has been called Woody Allen-esque, and that it is.  But, even more appealing is Delpy's off-beat charm and neurotic beauty.  Her lunacy works surprisingly well with Rock's perfectly tempered performance.  This film is not easy to digest, but it's a good time in an odd sorta way.      

Thursday, September 13, 2012

For a Good Time, Call... - Movie Review

For a Good Time, Call... (R) 86 minutes  C
Beating a dead horse

Starring Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Justin Long, Mark Webber, James Wolk, Nia Vardalos, Mimi Rogers and Don McManus

For a Good Time, Call... was enjoyable, but nothing to brag about.  This female odd couple/opposites attract comedy is mostly predictable but contains sexual energy to keep you interested. Lauren (Lauren Miller) is the straight-laced brunette who needs a place to stay.  Katie (Ari Graynor) is the bubbly blond with an infinity for "sexercizing," and has a spacious apartment in Gramercy Park that she can't afford on her own.  Thus, the two former college enemies are brought together by their mutual and squirrelly friend, Jesse (Justin Long). 

The title, 2 Broke Girls was already taken, otherwise that might have been a better title for this sitcom-ish film.  After their awkward re-introduction, the new besties decide to start a phone sex line.  The sex thing provides a few laughs, I liked the bra-mance (that provides a nice amount of sexual tension) between two heterosexual friends.  But still, the film ultimately feels like it is dry humping my cinematic intelligence.

Wait for this one to make an appearance on Skinemax, HBO or whatever.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PSB - Elysium & The xx - Coexist (Music Reviews)

First Impression Music Reviews 
Released September 2012
Pet Shop Boys - Elysium B

On this, their eleventh studio album, the boys are still in fine form.  Elysium is allegedly their first album recorded in the US, and the first with Kanye West producer Andrew Dawson.  However, this is not a beat heavy dance album (PSB have been nominated for 5 Grammys in various dance categories).  This one is reminiscent of the duo's 1990 classic, Behavior. It is tranquil, pensive, snappy and as described in one interview- "happy-sad."  

Favorite tracks - A Face Like That, Invisible, Your Early Stuff
Released September 2012
The xx - Coexist C-

This was an impulse buy.  Coexist is the second album by this London trio and it's generating a lot of buzz. I never listened to their much-hyped debut album from 2009, but since then producer/band member Jamie Smith (also known as Jamie xx) has lent his talents to the likes of Adele, Gil Scott-Heron and Drake.  I was intrigued and curious to hear this album because I thought this would be a moody, atmospheric meditation on cohabitation.  Plus, I liked what I heard of them on NPR.  Yet, when I got this one home, tore off the plastic and popped it in my CD player... It was more or less disappoint me from the start.   

I've listen to Coexist about 3 or 4 times now.  It's not as lame as I initially thought, but it's an album that sounds safe, pretty, and boring.  There's probably a couple of cool top 40 singles here, and maybe a pulsating club groove that will sound great under multi-colored strobe lights with a fluorescent colored cocktail in hand.  But, ultimately Coexist is commingling with mediocrity.  Where is Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt when you need them? 

Favorite track - Sunset

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

R.I.P. Monty - Coolest Cat Ever!

Monty this seems strange to me

The movies had that movie thing,

But nonsense has a welcome ring

And heroes don't come easy

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The NFL Answer Key 2012/2013

AFC East
1. New England    10-6
2. Buffalo              9-7 *
3. N.Y. Jets           8-8
4. Miami               3-13

AFC South
1. Houston          11-5
2. Tennessee       7-9
3. Indianapolis    5-11
4. Jacksonville    4-12

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

AFC West
1. Denver          10-6
2. San Diego      9-7 *
3. Oakland         8-8
4. Kansas City   7-9

(*Wildcard Teams)

Wildcard Round
Denver over Buffalo /  San Diego over New England
Divisional Round
Houston over Denver  /  Baltimore over San Diego
Championship Game
Baltimore over Houston

NFC East
1. Dallas            10-6
2. Philadelphia   9-7 *
3. N.Y. Giants    8-8
4. Washington    6-10

NFC South
1. Atlanta            12-4
2. New Orleans   10-6 *
3. Tampa Bay      8-8
4. Carolina           7-9

NFC North
1. Green Bay   10-6
2. Detroit          9-7
3. Chicago        8-8   
4. Minnesota    4-12

NFC West
1. San Francisco     9-7
2. Seattle                7-9
3. St. Louis Rams  6-10
4. Arizona              3-13

(*Wildcard Teams)

Wildcard Round
Green Bay over San Francisco /  Philadelphia over New Orleans
Divisonal Round
Dallas over Green Bay / Atlanta over Philadelphia
Championship Game
Atlanta over Dallas

Super Bowl XLVII
Baltimore 23
Atlanta 16

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Take A Bite (Music Review)

Released June 2012
First Impression Music Review
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel... A-

There's something oddly fascinating about this album, and it gets better and better with each spin.  Clocking in at 42 minutes I love how concise and focused this album sounds (despite its 23 word title).  The Idler Wheel is classy, mature and vital- a sure-fire candidate for best album of the year. 

Favorite Tracks - Anything We Want, Every Single Night, Jonathan,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Frank Ocean's Sex, Drugs, & Money (Music Review)

Released July 2012 
First Impression Music Review
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange B+

Those of you who follow this blog might remember that Frank Ocean's 2011 mix tape, nostalgia ULTRA was My Gray Morning's album of the year for 2011.  I was anxious and a little nervous to hear Channel Orange because the bar was set high.  But the album is a vulnerable, catchy and satisfying effort by hip hop's newest sensation. 

Favorite tracks- Forrest Gump, Thinkin Bout You, Super Rich Kids, Sweet Life, Monks

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Loner's Revenge (Music Review)

Released January 2012 
First Impression Music Review
Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes B+

I really dig this album.  It might be a hard listen for those unfamiliar with Finn.  But, the dude exudes an everyman appeal that makes everything he says believable. Clear Heart Full Eyes is a desolate and confessional record that paints a bleak picture through first-rate narration. 

Favorite Tracks - Western Pier, Apollo Baby, No Future, Balcony   

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - Movie Review

The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13) 165 minutes B+
Eye of the Tiger

Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Matthew Modine

The Dark Knight Rises was epic, exciting and a very good film.  It wrapped everything up nice and neat.  But, as good as the last three Batman films were, coming back for more would be a mistake.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom - Movie Review

Moonrise Kingdom (PG-13) 94 minutes B+
The Kids are Alright

Starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton

Moonrise Kingdom was a bit of a surprise.  An island of cute kids and strange adults makes for a fantastical journey that is totally satisfying.  Directed by Wes Anderson.  

Believe the Hype (A Book Review)

The Discomfort Zone - Jonathan Franzen B+
Publication: September 2006

Despite the criticisms, controversies and perceptions that he is a pretentious ass, Jonathan Franzen intrigues me.  As a matter of fact, from what little I know about him so far, he seems a little iconic.  The Discomfort Zone is an entertaining account of some of his personal history- parents, academic years, marriage, and birds.  I was hooked right away, and I look forward to reading more from Franzen.               

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dark Horse - Movie Review

Dark Horse (NR) 84 minutes C+
Life doesn't come with a receipt

Starring Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Jordan Gelber, Zachary Booth, Justin Bartha, Christopher Walken and Aasif Mandvi

It was Friday afternoon. I rushed home to let the dog out, and rushed to the theatre to catch the last matinee showing of Dark Horse. In my haste, I forgot that it was a Todd Solondz film. Forty minutes into it I wasn't sure if I was going to like the film. Abe (Gelber), the main character, was annoying, as was the music.  I couldn't figure out if Abe was supposed to be mentally challenged, or just an underachieving 35-year old slacker who collected action figures and lived at home with his parents. His arrested development was further compounded by his lack of social skills and piss-poor attitude.  Yet, in a strange twist of fate Abe found an attractive (but horribly depressed) woman to marry him. She had her own set of issues, and a deadly secret.

Married or not, Abe has no intentions of moving out of his parent's house. His life began to unravel.  Through numerous dream sequences he began to understand the harsh realities of life. Once the film ended and the credits rolled I remembered, "Oh yeah, this is a Todd Solondz film." His work is always a little unpleasant, unorthodox and darkly humanistic. There's a certain intriguing dullness to Dark Horse; however, the message is powerful and lasting. It 's a decent film that requires a little patience.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pretty Young Thing (A Book Review)

Publication: November 2007 
Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds A-

A delicious graphic novel that is hard not to devour in one sitting. The characters are rich, the illustrations are spot-on, and the story is cleverly scandalous without being cheesy. It is based on Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, and centers around Tamara Drewe, a young temptress who moves back to her family's countryside estate. Her arrival gives the locals plenty to talk about. An entertaining read that adapted nicely to the big screen in 2010.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Queen of Versailles - Movie Review

The Queen of Versailles (PG) 100 minutes A-
There is no limit to what money can do for and to a man

Starring David Siegel and Jackie Siegel

When it comes to this documentary, you will probably hear it described as a "riches to rags" story.  Yet, more importantly, this film teaches us two things:  1) Money can buy you love, albeit, love that is addicted to spending.  2) Always have a plan B.  

The Queen of Versailles is what film critic Noel Murray so brilliantly described as a "gawk-doc."  I couldn't stop gawking at the embarrassment of riches (among other things).  David Siegel was a man of extraordinary wealth and power.  His curvy wife, a 43 year-old former beauty queen (he is 74 years-old), and their 8 children live in an Orlando mansion that spans 26,000 square feet, with 17 bathrooms, countless pets, an army of maids/nannies, and lots of chaos.  The film documents their fall from grace, and you almost feel sorry for them... almost.  

Director Lauren Greenfield won the Documentary Directing Award for this film at Sundance last January.  Highly recommended. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Poet's Life (A Book Review)

Hot Teen Slut: Poems by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz B-

Publication: April 2011
Hot Teen Slut is the second collection of poems by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. The book was originally published in 2001 and re-released in April of 2011 by Write Bloody Publishing. HTS is memoir-in-verse, a style that seemed a little awkward and dry initially. But, as the biographical story unfolded the poems grew increasingly engaging. At its core, HTS is more than a successful fusion of poetry and porn. It is an intriguing account of a young woman trying to make ends meet while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the adult entertainment industry.

Fresh out of college, Aptowicz took a job writing and editing copy for a business. That business turned out to be pornography.  That experience spawned this collection. Her story is unique; more unique than the poems themselves. Nevertheless, here are a few of my favorites moments: Keeping It In Neutral, Signs Of A Daughter, The Box, The Christmas Party, Morning Date and On Getting An Email From A High School Girl Telling Me She Loves My Writing.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed - Movie Review

Safety Not Guaranteed (R) 86 minutes B+
The little indie that could

Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere and Kristen Bell

In this clever and funny independent film, a jaded magazine writer and two interns go in search of the person who placed a classified ad seeking a partner for time traveling.   What ensues is a story about growing up, growing old and becoming who you are.

The film won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) at Sundance earlier this year.  I recommend catching this little gem if you can. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Rising Star at the Walnut ( A Concert Review)

Sarah Jarosz w/ Patrick Dethlefs @ The Walnut Room, July 25th 2012  B

A couple of friends, whose musical taste I trust, turned me on to Sarah Jarosz.  After seeing her live, I didn't have that overwhelming urge to rush out and buy her CD.  However, I was highly impressed and thoroughly entertained by her musical prowess.  The Grammy nominated 21 year-old plays a variety of instruments that include; banjo, guitar, octave mandolin and mandolin.  I expect to hear her name a lot in the coming years.  

As for her opener, Patrick Dethlef, he had a solid set.  With just his witty stage presence and an acoustic guitar, Dethlef sang pretty songs that the crowd loved, but were too safe for my liking.  Nevertheless, he too put on a good show, and is worth checking out if you get a chance.      

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ruby Sparks - Movie Review

Ruby Sparks (R) 104 minutes B+
Letting the Sparks Fly

Starring Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Chris Messina

Once I got past the whimsical premise of a writer falling in love with his own fictional creation, and that fictional creation coming to life in his apartment, I really liked this film.  It felt original and creative.  I usually like films about struggling writers who find their muse, but this film provides a whole new spin on that theme.  By the end, I found myself completely immersed in Ruby Sparks.  It is amazing how love can be so magical (in the beginning), yet derail so easily. 

I can see this becoming a minor sensation at the box office.  It reminded me of two other films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich.  I actually liked this film more than the former, but less than the latter.  Ruby Sparks is an impressive script written by 28 year-old Zoe Kazan, who plays Ruby opposite her real life beau, Paul Dano.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

To Rome With Love - Movie Review

To Rome With Love (R) 112 minutes B-
Postcards From the Edge

Starring Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Ornella Muti, Alison Pill, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig and Woody Allen

Last year's Midnight in Paris may have excited Woody Allen fans, and brought new ones into the fold.  But with To Rome with Love, Allen is back to his old tricks.  This is one will be easily forgotten a few years from now, yet it does have a certain charm and light-hearted appeal that makes it a wonderful summer excursion.

The film follows four stories with Rome acting as the centerpiece. The best of the bunch involves Sally (Gerwig), Jack (Eisenberg), Monica (Page) and John (Baldwin), in a familiar tale of "the heart wants what the heart wants," or so we think.  Sally and Jack have a solid relationship until Sally's friend Monica comes to Rome for a visit.  Monica is irresistible to Jack, while John tries to be the voice of reason.  

The other three stories include a sexy Penélope Cruz as a hooker.  Roberto Benigni famous for being famous, and Woody Allen, as Jerry, a retired opera director who discovers the the next big opera sensation.  Without giving too much else away, let's just say that ridiculous fun ensues.  To Rome with Love is a nicer film than some of his lesser appreciated current films- You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Whatever Works, and Melinda and Melinda, but it also lacks the edger moments of said films.  In his latest, I miss that little twinge of darkness lurking under the surface.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Wanting More From Marriage (A Book Review)

Publication Date: April 2012
An Amateur Marriage by Jessie Carty C

I really liked The Wait of Atom, Carty's 2009 poetry chapbook.  I love the cover of An Amateur Marriage, and I am intrigued by domestic poetry and fiction. But many of these poems just didn't evoke the level of emotion I was hoping for. That being said, my favorites were; "To the Boy in the Lobster Sweater," "Ars Poetica" and "First House, First Summer."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - Movie Review

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (R) 101 minutes C+
The end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Gillian Jacobs, Melanie Lynskey, Connie Britton, T.J. Miller, Rob Corddry and Derek Luke

Keira Knightley is a nice actress, but she just doesn't do it for me.  By this I mean, I have never seen her in a film in which she resonates above the material (your recommendations are welcomed).  She stars in one of my favorite films, 2003's Love Actually, but even there I tend to forget about her among all of the talented actors and actresses.  However, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World does boost her up a notch on the likability scale.  Here she is terminally cute and whimsical, the perfect remedy for a depressed Steve Carell, whose wife has recently left him. 

This film was a little different than I expected, the first quarter of it felt a little hokey.  But it got better, and the ending was strong.  Carell is very high on my likability scale.  This is not his best work, but he is good enough.  Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, this romantic dramedy is worth seeing.  Though, I recommend renting it, or catching it at your local second-run (discount) movie theater.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Your Sister's Sister - Movie Review

Your Sister's Sister (R) 90 minutes A-
Wanna get away

Starring Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt

The premise of this film might sound cliche - boy loves girl, girl loves boy, boy bonks girl's sister.  Yet, this quiet film speaks volumes.  It is tremendously real and heartfelt.  One of the year's best offerings. Seek it out & enjoy.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Prometheus - Movie Review

Prometheus (R) 124 minutes C
Hallo Space boy

Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Sean Harris and Rafe Spall     

Prometheus is a so-so fantastic voyage. Initially, it was meant to be a prequel to Alien, circa 1979, but director Ridley Scott decided that this latest reincarnation was strong enough to stand on its own. It’s not as good as the aforementioned Alien film, but it does have some interesting (if not fantastical) meditations on theology.

The first half of the film felt pedestrian, yet sufficient enough to keep me curious. The second half was more engaging, due in large part to Michael Fassbender. He was absolutely magnificent as the unemotional android.

Prometheus might be worthwhile for sci-fi fans, but everyone else should proceed with caution.
Bonus DVD Review

Red State (R) 88 minutes C
On with the body count

Release Date: October 2011
Starring Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kerry Bishe, Nicholas Braun, Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kevin Pollak, Stephen Root and Cooper Thornton

Red State is an intriguing film and departure from the norm for writer/director Kevin Smith.  But the film has an uneven feel.  Some of the scenes tend to drag on much longer than necessary.  The story follows three horny teenage boys who are kidnapped and torched by a religious cult.  File under Tarantino-lite.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rock of Ages - Movie Review

Rock of Ages (PG-13) 123 minutes D
Aside from a few toe tappers, forget about it

Starring Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Bryan Cranston, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Will Forte, Erica Frene and Angelo Valderrama

Believe me, I really wanted to like this film.  But, this piece of over-produced fluff is gag worthy.  Hey, I got nothing against the hair bands of the 80s, some of that music plays like the soundtrack to my middle school years.  Yet, Rock of Ages is like a bad SNL skit set to music.  Film critic Rex Reed called it the worse film he has seen since "Battlefield Earth and Howard the Duck," and he went on to say that Rock of Ages is so bad it makes Burlesque look like an under appreciated masterpiece."  Maybe I should've paid $8.50 to read Rex Reed's review, it was much more entertaining than the film.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crooked Arrows - Movie Review

Crooked Arrows (PG-13) 105 mins C-
Straight & Narrow: Exploring heritage through lacrosse

Starring Brandon Routh, Gil Birmingham, Crystal Allen, Chelsea Ricketts

Native Americans and lacrosse are two things we rarely see featured on the big screen, let alone together.  Joe Logan (Routh) is a mix blooded Native American and former high school lacrosse star who has become a fancy pants entrepreneur.  In order to close his latest blockbuster business deal, the native son must win the approval of the reservation's tribal council.  The only way that is going to happen is by coaching the reservation's high school lacrosse team- a ragtag bunch of underwhelming underdogs.  Naturally, turning this team around will also restore pride and help him rediscover his roots.

The film is uplifting, in an after school special sort of way.  It's very family friendly; however, it is predictable, cheesy and cliche.  It would be better suited as a television movie, rather than a full length feature film.

Friday, June 8, 2012

King of Laurel Canyon (Music Review)

First Impression Music Review
John Mayer - Born and Raised B+
Released May 2012 

A friend recently asked me, "is the new John Mayer a covers album?"  It is not, but it does have a certain familiarity.  On Born and Raised Mayer channels his inner CSNY with a dash of Ryan Adams.  The album is produced by music vet Don Was, and is full of catchy folk-rock that sounds honest and heartfelt.

His public screw-ups make this album all the more interesting because of its confessional nature.  Some of the juicy bits suggest that "Shadow Days" is a response to Taylor Swift, the "Queen of California" is about Jennifer Aniston, and the title track is about his parents divorce.  Regardless what/who the songs are about, Mayer has constructed an impressive piece of Americana.  The album isn't perfect, but it speaks to me.  It has been a fixture in my compact disc player since I got it.
Favorite tracks - Shadow Days, Born and Raised, Queen of California, Walt Grace's Submarine Test January 1967

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Dictator - Movie Review

The Dictator (R) 83 minutes D-
A candidate for worst film of the year 

Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley and Jason Mantzoukas

Jason Mantzoukas is the only reason I didn't give this an F.  The Dictator is disastrously unfunny and stupid.  I walked out of the theatre feeling like, "I could do that!"  A complete waste of time.              

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Movie Review

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (PG-13) 111 minutes B-
Fishes with Feelings

Starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas

This is a slow moving film that is worth sticking around to the end if you like romantic drama.  It was a little hard to give a damn about the sheik with a heart of gold, his passion for salmon fishing, blah blah blah...  All I really want to know is, will Emily Blunt and the sour-faced Ewan McGregor ever get together?  She has a war hero boyfriend, he has a business driven wife and lifeless marriage.  The film keeps you guessing a little, and I have to admit that it won me over in the end.  Salmon Fishing also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, who I usually cannot get enough of.  But here she is used for comic relief, and I was not impressed.  Based on a novel by Paul Torday. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Art of Noise (Concert Review)

Xiu Xiu @ the Bluebird 5/23/12 w/ Father Murphy and Dirty Beaches B-
via my cell phone

Tonight's show was not for everyone, as evident by the 100 people (give or take a few) who attended.  The show opened with the Italian trio, Father Murphy, who performed their horror film inspired songs to a crowd of about 30.  Followed by Dirty Beaches, who wowed the sparse audience with an intriguing noise filled set that featured lead singer Alex Hungtai's Elvis style crooning amongst a sea of distortion and feedback... it was quite beautiful.  Finally, the experimental art-rock band from San Jose, Xiu Xiu, took the stage and played a blistering set of about 12 to 13 songs.  The duo (Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo) didn't cracked a smile all night, and Stewart seemed to be suffering from a slight illness.  Between songs he was sure to take a swig of water, and at one point he fell and left the stage.  Upon his return, he uttered something about dying and thanked the crowd for coming.  Despite the aforementioned mishap, Xiu Xiu still put on a great set, albeit, one that was too short for my liking.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stranger Danger & the God Lovin' Man (Book Review)

The Stranger by Albert Camus B
Publication Date: January 1942

I really wanted to like Meursault (the protagonist), but eventually I realized that he was fatally flawed. I had to read this book for an existential film and literature class, and I am so glad I did.     

Original Publication Date: 1843 
Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard D-

Had I known a little more about Kierkegaard before reading this book I would've had a different perspective. As it was, I thought it was preachy and repetitive…I hated it. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

For A Good Time... (Concert Review)

Katie Herzig @ the Bluebird Theatre 5/16/2012 w/ Matthew Perryman Jones B

I have seen Katie Herzig and her talented band three times, at three different venues around Denver.  The locales include: pizza bar, dive bar, and most recently, the Bluebird Theatre.  The thing I like most about Herzig is that where ever she performs she sounds phenomenal. My girlfriend is the real fan here, but whenever I go to a Katie Herzig show I can always count on some good clean fun.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Family Ties (Book Review)

The Mistress's Daughter by A.M. Homes B
Publication Date: April 2007

This book surprised me. I knew it was about adoption, but I was also hoping it was about her writing life. Having little knowledge of the adoption process, I didn't expect that aspect to interest me as much. But, to my surprise, the journey of finding her biological parents was totally strange, heartfelt and intriguing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tiger Balm (Book Review)

Publication Date: May 2010
Tiger: The Real Story by Steve Helling B-

There's not much here that the casual golf fan doesn't already know. Yet, I found parts of Tiger: The Real Story very captivating. The book is fairly tame, and I question how much of it is the "real story". Nevertheless, it's light summer reading that makes me want to dust off the clubs and play.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Art of Suffering (Book Review)

The Death of Ivan Illych by Leo Tolstoy D+
Original Publication Date: 1886

This story holds a lot of meaning; however, it's a tough read despite a few flashes of brilliance. Tolstoy has a way of drawing me into the darkness (which I like), but this one was a very slow starter.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Darkness & The Light (Music Reviews)

First Impression Music Reviews

Xiu Xiu - Always B
Released March 2012

Tennis - Young & Old B+ 
I like Xiu Xiu, and I like their music.  But with each album comes an abrasiveness that always takes a little getting use too ("I Luv Abortion").  Nevertheless, the songs eventually win me over and I can't wait until the next release.  Xiu Xiu is one of the most interesting and intriguing acts in music.  Always is one of their more accessible albums, featuring a few songs that could be radio hits if they ever saw the light of day.   Favorite Tracks - Hi, Smear the Queen, Honey-Suckle, The Oldness      
February 2012
Young and Old came as a bit of a surprise.  I happen to hear it streaming for free around the time of its release, it caught me ear and never let go.  This is one of my favorite albums of 2012 so far.  It's sugar sweet pop that's infectious, dreamy and groovy- a near perfect summer soundtrack.  Favorite Tracks - It All Feels the Same, Petition, Vegas (Bonus Track)         

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jeff Who Lives At Home - Movie Review

Jeff Who Lives At Home (R) 83 minutes B
Lonely people show signs of life

Starring Rae Dawn Chong, Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer

This unsuspecting film follows Jeff (Segel) as he sets out to run a simple errand.  What ensues is a comical, sad, and heroic adventure that will change his life forever.  Jeff Who Lives At Home isn't for everyone, but many will be pleasantly surprised by how much this one stays with you.
Bonus DVD Review
Margot at the Wedding (R) 91 minutes A-
Strange but true

DVD Release February 2008
Starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black, Flora Cross and John Turturro

I am a big fan of Noah Baumbach (Squid and the Whale, Greenberg).  All of the characters in Margot at the Wedding are wonderfully flawed and oddly realistic.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Friends With Kids - Movie Review

Friends with Kids (R) 109 minutes C-
Friends with few benefits

Starring Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Edward Burns and Megan Fox.

Friends With Kids has its moments and features an interesting cast.  But, ultimately it is a trendy, contrived, romantic comedy that is all too predictable.    
Bonus DVD Review
Jack Goes Boating (R) 89 minutes B-
Odd, but intriguing

DVD Release January 2011
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega

Jack Goes Boating is a low-key affair about two outcasts seeking love while attempting to balance their fragile lives and psyches.  Jack (Hoffman) is a reggae-obsessed, New York City limo driver, and Connie (Ryan) is on the edge of a nervous breakdown at the funeral home where she works.  The two are set up on a blind date by mutual friends Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), a couple with major problems of their own.  Between the four of them, we explore the birth of new love, the death of old love, and what happens when you add marijuana and cocaine to the mix. This film was originally an off-Broadway play, and is Hoffman's feature film directorial debut.  JGB is humanistic, a little awkward, but strangely appealing. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Was Only Chocking (Book Review)

Choke - Chuck Palahniuk B+   
Publication Date: June 2002 

I listened to Choke during a road trip to Nebraska, and it stuck with me for days afterwards. Our protagonist, Victor Mancini, is a sex addicted, med-school dropout turned con-artist with a heart of gold.  This is one of those stories where it's hard not to root for the bad guy.  Choke is a profoundly dark comedy with a slightly odd/slightly humorous twist.  It begs the question, "what would Jesus not do?"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Catch and Release - First Impression Music Review

Sinead O'Connor - How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? B+
Release Date - February 2012 

Fresh from the tabloid hell, Sinead O'Connor is back!  How About I Be Me finds the infamous singer hopeful, angry and introspective.  Musically, the album doesn't break any new ground, but lyrically it's on point.  It plays like a living, breathing, piece of art that imitates O'Connor's recent past (I love the confessional self-exploration), and one that is more of a rebirth than a comeback.  It's easily one of my favorite albums of 2012 so far.  My favorite tracks include: Reason With Me, The Wolf is Getting Married, V.I.P and the John Grant cover Queen of Denmark.   

Lyle Lovett - Release Me C
Release Date - February 2012 
Lovett is a musical icon, and a personal favorite. But, Release Me, with its 12 covers and 2 originals, sounds a little phoned in.  Apparently, it's the last album of his contractual obligation with with Curb Records (see album title and cover art).  The album isn't without some outstanding moments- Girl With The Holiday Smile is among his catchiest ditties ever.  While, his cover of John Grimaudo and Saylor White's Dress of Laces is achingly beautiful, it stood me still the first time I heard it.  Yet, Release Me is more filler than substance.  To quote Josh Langhoff of PopMatters, "This album isn't good, but it has good intentions.  My favorites include the two aforementioned tracks, and Night's Lullaby.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action) - Movie Review

Pentecost  B+
This film is set in Ireland, 1977.  Young Damien, gets a second chance at being an alter boy; but, decides to punt away the opportunity.  Written and directed by Peter McDonald.  11 minutes

Raju A
A German couple loses their adopted son, and finds a dirty little secret. Written by Max Zähle and Florian Kuhn, directed by Max Zähle.  24 minutes (My pick to win the Oscar)

The Shore A-
Old friends attempt to reconcile the past after 25 years.  Set in Northern Ireland, this film is written and directed by Terry George.  31 minutes     

Time Freak A-
A young inventor tries to go back in time, but gets stuck in yesterday.  Written and directed by Andrew Bowler.  11 minutes   

Tuba Atlantic B
This dark comedy follows 70-year-old Oskar, who has six days to live and a lot of birds to kill.  Written by Linn-Jeanethe Kyed, and directed by Hallvar Witzø.  25 minutes
Bonus DVD Review
Dirty Girl (R) 90 min C- 
Who's your Daddy? Tim McGraw... 

DVD Release: Date January 2012
Starring Jeremy Dozier, Juno Temple, Mary Steenburgen, Tim McGraw, William H. Macy, Dwight Yoakam and Milla Jovovich

Danielle (Juno Temple) is a sassy, immature teenager.  She and a friend escape Oklahoma for California in search of the father she has never known.  Juno Temple is a star in the making, but Dirty Girl is not a film that will help her cause.  File under - silly but watchable when nothing else worthwhile is on TV.      

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who Stole the Soul? (Book Review)

The Last Season: A Team In Search of Its Soul - Phil Jackson A
Publication Date: October 2004

In the shadow of Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Rick Fox and Derek Fisher, I'd forgotten about guys like Devean George and Kareen Rush. After finishing The Last Season I immediately googled George and Rush to see whatever became of them.  This book was an intriguing flashback to the 2003-04 NBA season.  I was completely captive by this L.A. story, and unaware that Phil Jackson and Kobe had such a tumultuous relationship.  The Last Season is a must-read for NBA fans.           

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Gray Morning's Sundance Wrap-Up

* Sundance Award Winner

*The Law In These Parts 101 minutes D
Apparently, I didn't understand this award winning doc about Israel, Palestinians and the occupied territories post war 1967. It was over my head (and frankly, a little boring). But congratulations to these courageous documentarians nonetheless.

Payback 82 minutes C
A documentary about social inequality, based on the book by Margaret Atwood.  I liked the idea, but hated the execution of this documentary.  The information and images are presented in a way that's confusing and slow building.

*Young and Wild 90 minutes A
Loved this film! A young nympho comes of age and enjoys bacon and tofu.   

Corpo Celeste 98 minutes C+
RW had to explain parts of this one, because I know nothing about catechism and Catholics.  Good acting by a young actor.  Slow start, strong ending. 

Red Hook Summer 130 min C-
Spike Lee's new, overlong, sprawling mess... But it was a great Q & A afterwards.

V/H/S 104 minutes  B-
Normally, horror flicks aren't my cup of tea, but I have to admit that this one had me on the edge of my seat!  Annoying, intriguing, and if you have a weak stomach, eat afterwards and not before.

The Pursuit of Loneliness 96 minutes B-
A slow black and white film about loneliness and death.  Not for everyone, but oddly likable. 

Shorts Program III

DOL (First Birthday) 12 minutes A-
A gay couple in the closet, but the kids are alright  

The Fort  12 minutes B
About a weird kid in the woods

Frozen Stories 26 minutes B-
At this point I was really tired...

L Train 11 minutes A  
and I cried...

Rolling On the Floor Laughing 19 minutes  A-
A family gathering that goes horribly wrong.

Surveillant 17 minutes B-
I kept waiting for something dramatic to happen... it never did.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Gray Morning's Best of Film & Music 2011

The best in films and music (i.e. my favorites) based on what I saw and heard last year.  Enjoy!

10. The Big Year
9. Bridesmaids
8. Higher Ground
7. Young Adult
6. The Off Hours
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
4. The Future
3. 50/50
2. The Ides of March
1. Another Earth
Honorable mentioned: Beginners, Horrible Bosses, Swell Season, Beats, Rhymes & Life, Midnight in Paris 

5. Wilco - The Whole Love 
4. Drake - Take Care
3. Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committe Part 2
2. REM - Collapse Into Now   
1. Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, Ultra.
Honorable Mentioned: Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire, Wild Flag - Wild Flag, James Blake - James Blake

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Impression Music Reviews - Kathleen Edwards, Wilco & the Indigo Girls

Released January 2012 
Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur B+
I absolutely can't get enough of the book-end tracks on this album.  It opens with an Empty Threat, and ends with a declaration that, For the Record, "I only wanted to sings songs."  After one listen I was ready to declare this (her fourth album) the best yet, but that would have been premature.  It is however, the best album of 2012, so far... Favorite Tracks- Empty Threat, Change the Sheets, For the Record.

Released September 2011
Wilco - The Whole Love B+ 
Intially, I had a hard time wrapping my head around this one, despite some undeniable hooks and the eclectic sounds.  Truth be told, I've lost a little love for Wilco and I don't know why.  Once, I considered them one of the most vital acts in music, now I feel like they have outgrown me.  Their welcoming the whole love with open arms, and without the trepidation I've come to know and love.  Nonetheless,  The Whole Love gets better and better each time I spin it. Perhaps, this old flame is worth rekindling. Favorite Tracks- I Love My Label, Art of AlmostOne Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)

Released October 2011
Indigo Girls - Beauty Queen Sister B-
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the Indigo Girls are one of the most underrated acts in music history.  Last October, critic Bill Clifford wrote that they can "certainly be considered along side the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Hall & Oates and the Everly Brothers," and I couldn't agree more.  It's been almost 25 years since the independent release of Strange Fire, their first album.  These ladies are still making music that moves me, and telling stories that need to be told. Favorite Tracks- Feed and Water the Horses, We Get to Feel it All, Birthday Song.