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I Like John Mayer?

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

At some point around the release of “Waiting On The World To Change” my viewpoint of John Mayer changed.  I still can’t stand his earlier work, but since then I have steadily enjoyed his latest releases more and more.  No longer do I feel that he qualifies as ‘Dave Matthews Light”.

His latest album, “Born and Raised”, is a pleasant listen.  It harkens to classic laid back Southern California rock.  The songs are not heavy on electric guitar, but instead utilize soothing acoustic sounds.  A few of the songs even have a taste of “Nashville” Dylan.  “Shadow Days” is the first single off the record.  It features a catchy, almost timeless guitar riff.  Other favorites for me include “Queen of California” and “Something Like Olivia”.  Each song on the album is worth a listen.  My opinion may change but upon first listening I highly enjoyed “Born and Raised” as one of the best of the year so far.



Four Birds With One Stone?

The Descendants (film)

I’ll make this short and sweet.  Four movies that I have seen recently; The Guard, The Descendants, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Young Adult.

The Guard is an Irish production that attempts to be a dark comedy.  There are some funny moments, but overall for me, not enough.  It’s fine to watch if you have nothing better to watch.


The Descendants was an Oscar contender for Best Picture of 2011, and in my opinion it should have won.  George Clooney is great as usual, but the star of the movie is Shailene Woodley.  She is excellent as Clooneys’ eldest daughter.  The great thing about The Descendants is that it seems real and plausible.  Each actor does a great job of keeping it real, Beau Bridges impersonation of his brother Jeff as “The Dude” aside, no overacting here.


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is an old school whodunit spy mystery.  Gary Oldman plays a retired British agent challenged to find a Russian double agent planted within the inner workings of British Intelligence.  The movie is slow paced and longer than it should be.  What really disappointed me was the fact that the mole is revealed in the trailer for the movie.  I was begging for a twist to the movie but it never arrived.  Overall good movie, watch it if you have nothing better to do.


Young Adult, written by Diablo Cody, is about an adult woman who has not moved past her high school years.  The main character is wonderfully portrayed by Charlize Theron, supported by Patton Oswalt as an old classmate whom she befriends upon return to her old hometown.  Young Adult is a dark comedy, with not many laughs.  It is heavy on the dark, so if your in the mood for a depressing time check it out.  If you like Cody and her previous work you will probably like Young Adult.



The Ballad of Bobby Z

English: Photo from Bob Dylan's April 28, 2006...The Ballad of Bob Dylan is not only a great recollection of the author’s experiences at Dylan concerts, it is also one of the best biographies I have read on Dylan. The author, Daniel Mark Epstein, is a fan of Dylan, but presents the story of Dylan’s life warts and all. Where many bow to Bob Dylan’s greatness and feel that he can do no wrong, Epstein provides an honest portrait of Dylan. This is a great book for Dylan fans and music lovers alike.


The World According to “Keef”

Keith Richards, Rolling Stones Voodoo Loungue ...

Image via Wikipedia

Life by Keith Richards is much like its author, all over the place, yet falls all in place.  As one might expect anything authored by Keith Richards this autobiography is an amusing ramble through the history of Keith and The Rolling Stones.  Keith does an excellent job of keeping the narrative moving in a somewhat linear fashion with meandering side notes that fit in precisely.  He claims to remember everything.  Which might be true, however, some events are lacking details that might reveal the real “juicy bits.”  Blame it on the fog of heavy drug use?  Keith does open up and reveal some brutal disagreements, arguments, and disappointments that have arisen between himself and other musicians.

I found the discussion of open guitar tunings to be very interesting, in addition to the tales of the Stones in the recording studio.  He is also honest about his ever-changing relationship with Mick Jagger.  Since I’ve always been a “Keef” guy I tend to believe Richards’ side of the tale.  Overall, Life, is an interesting look at the escapades of a rock-n-roll star.


Current listening:  The Rolling Stones – “Honky Tonk Women”  “Brown Sugar”  “Wild Horses”  “Gimme Shelter”     Willie Nelson – Rainbow Connection (children’s album, but great adult music)

Tattoo You

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011 film)David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an must watch thrilling movie.  Fincher has produced a movie that comes much closer to the hardcore edge of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy than the original Swedish production.  Fincher has taken liberties with the story but they advance the story just as well as Larssons’ original narrative.  Without revealing the ending, I was a little disappointed with Fincher’s biggest deviation from the novel.  With that said I did find the ultimate ending of the film to be much more satisfying than the Swedish movie.

Rooney Mara does a remarkable job of presenting Lisbeth Salander, making her a damaged yet very sympathetic character.  Daniel Craig also does a great job of not getting in her way.  Viewers who are used to Craig the action star will see him wisely step back and allow Mara to be the catalyst of action throughout the movie.

The opening credits, to me, were quite enjoyable.  I don’t know if it is the presence of Daniel Craig but the credits remind me of the highly stylized opening credits of the James Bond franchise.  With Trent Reznor and Karen O’s (better than the original) cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” the opening credits prepare the viewer for the coming thrill ride.

I highly recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for readers of the novels as well as newcomers to the series.


Midnight In Paris

Midnight in Paris

I finally had the opportunity to see Woody Allen’s latest movie, Midnight In Paris.  The movie stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard.  Wilson plays a disenchanted Hollywood writer, engaged to McAdam’s character, hoping to find a creative spark for his novel while vacationing in Paris.  Along the way Wilson encounters many of his literary heroes and gains a new perspective on life.  Owen Wilson does an outstanding job of acting “natural” and helps the viewer suspend disbelief as he travels back to the 1920’s.

In the same way that Allen showcased the beauty of Barcelona in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Paris is very much a featured player in the movie.  After watching the movie one wants to visit Paris.  One can only hope upon such an excursion that Marion Cotillard is available as an private guide to the city.  Michael Sheen is excellent in a supporting role as the smarmy villain.  Overall, I really enjoyed Midnight In Paris and highly recommend you watch.

4/5  Midnight In Paris will be released on Blu-ray/DVD December 20, 2011.

Current listening:  Elvis Costello – “Alison” “Good Year for the Roses” “Sulphur to Sugarcane”;  Faces – “Stay With Me” love Ronnie Woods’ guitar on this song

Captain Jack Will Get You High Tonight!

Bacardi 151 Rum

Image by MerlinStoll via Flickr

The Rum Diary is the latest tribute by Johnny Depp to his late friend Hunter S. Thompson.  For me The Rum Diary is a much better movie than 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  The plot and characters are much more likeable and easier to follow.  Rum Diary is a much more heartfelt and overall loving tribute to a departed friend.  The movie is based on the experiences of Thompson during his stay in the Caribbean during the early 1960s.

The movie is quite funny in places but also takes on a serious tone in relation to Thompson and his fight against the “bastards” of corruption.  For me the lack of focus on the corruption is the weakest portion of the movie.  Depp does a great job of paying to homage to Thompson without going over the top.  Richard Jenkins, Aaron Eckhart, and Michael Rispoli all give great supporting performances, while Amber Heard does a great job of looking sultry and beautiful.  Despite showing the seedier side of Puerto Rico, The Rum Diary is a visually striking movie.  The beaches, blue skies, and overall beauty of the island really shine.

The Rum Diary is a film about finding your place and voice in the world, luckily Thompson did just that in Puerto Rico.


Current listening: “Shangri-La” – Mark Knopfler, entire album is great!!