NFL Picks, Week 9
Published on October 31, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my week 9 NFL picks.

Click here to see what they are.

Five Songs
Published on October 31, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I list five songs I'm totally enjoying at the moment.

Click here to see what they are.

Watching the World Series
Published on October 29, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about watching the World Series.

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NFL Picks, Week 8
Published on October 24, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my week 8 NFL picks.

Click here to read them.

Watching "Don Jon"
Published on October 23, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new romantic comedy "Don Jon."

Here's an excerpt:

“'Don Jon'” is one of the better romantic comedies I’ve seen in a while, though it’s probably worth pointing out that this is a pretty dreary genre, and that the bar is not set particularly high. In fact, one of “Don Jon’s” selling points is that it pokes fun at romantic comedies, and even features scenes from a fake romantic comedy starring Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway. Much has been made of this film’s focus on porn, but it might be at its best when it deconstructs the gender stereotyping typical of the Hollywood romantic comedy.

'Don Jon' is the directing debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of my favorite young actors. He also plays the lead, a shallow New Jersey boy whose prowess at picking up women has earned him the nickname Don Jon. But Don Jon has a secret: As much as he likes having sex with real women, he likes masturbating to porn even better, because the women in porn will do anything, and real women will not. Several scenes show him sneaking out of bed as his latest conquests sleeps, booting up his computer and getting off to a pornographic video. In addition to sex and porn, Don Jon is a clean freak who works out compulsively and never misses confession at his local parish. For the most part, he’s an incredibly boring person with little in the way of thoughts, ideas or an inner life; one of Gordon-Levitt’s feats is making Don Jon a character we feel like watching for 90 minutes."

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A Perfect Weekend
Published on October 23, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about how hiking and the Red Sox mae for a perfect weekend.

Here's an excerpt:

I have two baseball caps that I like to wear when I’m hiking: a Red Sox 2004 World Series champions cap, and a Red Sox 2007 World Series champions cap. And with the Red Sox headed to the World Series, I’m hoping to add a third cap to my collection.

On Saturday morning I donned my 2007 cap for a hike up Rocky Peak Ridge, one of the Adirondack high peaks. A friend and I attempted this hike about a month ago, but from a less traveled, fairly difficult trail that starts in New Russia. We hiked and hiked, but ended up turning back before reaching the summit due to the late hour, dropping temperatures and ominous clouds. Despite failing to meet our goal, we had a fantastic time: Much of the hike takes place on bare, open rock, which makes for outstanding views. And we didn’t see any other hikers, which was nice. We felt like we had the forest and mountains to ourselves.

Last weekend we decided to return to the high peaks and hike Rocky Peak from the west. This is a more popular route, because it is shorter and takes hikers past Giant Mountain, quite possibly my favorite high peak. We started off surrounded by other hikers, but quickly got away from them. It wasn’t long before we were above the trees, marching over steep, open rock and taking in the stunning scenery. We could see the surrounding peaks, Chapel Pond and the fading yellow leaves of the poplars. The weather was on the cool side, but nice: I wore wind pants, a long-sleeved shirt and, at one point, gloves. When we lunched on the summit, I took off my baseball cap and put on a knit cap. But I warmed up quickly once we got moving again.

Click here to read the whole thing.

NFL Picks, Week 7
Published on October 17, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my week 7 NFL picks.

Click here to read them.

Watching "Gravity"
Published on October 16, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new sci-fi film "Gravity."

Here's an excerpt:

"I tried to ignore all the hype about the new film 'Gravity,' because I didn’t want the film, which I was desperate to see, to fall short of expectations.

But that’s exactly what happened, despite my best efforts.

All the breathless chatter about how 'Gravity' is one of the best sci-fi films ever made, up there with '2001' and 'Solaris,' had an impact: By the end of the film, I was scratching my head, wondering how anybody could make such a claim. 'Gravity' is a pretty good movie, but a great one? Maybe I’ll feel differently once all the hype has died down, but right now I’d have to say no.

From a technical standpoint, 'Gravity' is fantastic. I paid $18 to see it at the IMAX at Crossgates Mall, and it was money well spent. So if you’re going to see this film, you really owe it to yourself to see it on the biggest, most sophisticated screen possible. Because here’s what this film does well: It makes you feel like you are floating in space. I don’t know how you can recreate that experience in 2D, or at home on your TV."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Favorite Underrated Albums of the 1990s
Published on October 15, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about my favorite underrated albums of the 1990s, such as "God Fodder" by Ned's Atomic Dustbin and "Star" by Belly.

Click here to read more.

NFL Picks, Week 6
Published on October 10, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my week 6 NFL picks.

Click here to read them.

Watching "Rush"
Published on October 8, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new movie "Rush."

Here's an excerpt:

Do you care about Formula One racing? No? Well, neither do I. But I loved the new Ron Howard movie 'Rush,' which tells the story of the 1976 Formula One World Championship, and the rival drivers who made it so exciting.

'Rush' is something rare: a sports film that also works as a character study, and a fairly nuanced one at that. The rival drivers are British playboy James Hunt (who supposedly slept with 5,000 women before dying of a heart attack at age 45) and Austrian native Niki Lauda, whose seriousness and relentless determination made him hard to take. Although I liked Lauda (Daniel Brühl) quite a bit. He is the film’s true hero, which makes 'Rush' unusual: The typical sports film celebrates colorful, quirky characters who refuse to play by the rules, but 'Rush' has us cheering for an athlete with almost zero charisma. If most sports films are about Rocky or the Bad News Bears, 'Rush' focuses on the humorless opposition. Of course, 'Rush' is about two men, and Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is also an interesting character. By the end of the film, I was rooting for both of them.

Click here to read more.

Recent Viewing: Films
Published on October 7, 2013 by Sara Foss

Illuminata (1998) ***

Love Story (1970) ***1/2

The Act of Killing (2013) ***1/2

Lumiere and Company (1995) ***1/2

The Grandmaster (2013) ***

Antichrist (2009) ***

Fallen Angels (1995) **

The Spectacular Now (2013) ***1/2

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) **1/2

Northern Lights (1978) ***1/2

As Tears Go By (1998) ***1/2

Lady Vengeance (2005) ***

Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) ***1/2

Film (1964) ****

Fair Game (2010) ***

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) ***

Burden of Dreams (1982) ***1/2

A Primer in Sky Socialism (2013) ***1/2

Rush (2013) ***1/2

It's All About the Journey
Published on October 7, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about all the crazy twists and turns life can sometimes take.

Here's an excerpt:

About six months ago, I received an email from the mother of an old friend.

“You are one of the few people I know who are doing what they said they wanted to do, at a young age,” she wrote.

I frowned when I read this.

Was my friend’s mother right? Was I doing what I’d always wanted to do? Was I living the dream?

Sure, I’d always wanted to be a writer and work at a newspaper. But I never imagined that I’d end up in upstate New York. And I never thought I’d stay so long once I got here. When I arrived in late 2001, I’m sure I thought of the Capital Region as just another stop on life’s journey — one of many possible stops. After all, I could have gone some place else.

But then I wouldn’t have met all the great people I’ve met here, and done all of the interesting things I’ve done.

Of course, I tend to meet interesting people and do interesting things wherever I go.

The other night I spoke with a friend who recently moved to Charleston, S.C., and by the end of the conversation I was ready to plan a trip there. Charleston sounds fascinating — rich in history, with beautiful architecture, a vibrant arts scene and a pleasant climate. Could I live in Charleston? Absolutely. Will I ever live there? Probably not. Although life is full of possibilities, and you never know.

Perhaps this mentality explains why I recently announced to my editor that I never want to read the sentence 'It couldn’t have ended any other way' ever again in my life. This sentence pops up frequently, and I’m convinced it’s never true. Things can always end differently. Plans frequently change. You set out to do one thing, and you wind up doing another.

Click here to read more.

NFL Picks, Week 5
Published on October 3, 2013 by Sara Foss

Oer at the DG, I make my week 5 NFL picks.

Click here to read them.

Watching "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
Published on October 2, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new film "The Butler," which I liked way better than I expected.

Here's an excerpt:

"'I’m going to see ‘The Butler’ on Monday,' I told a friend. 'Feel free to join me.'

'I don’t really want to see that movie,' my friend said.

'Well, I don’t really want to see it, either,' I said.

'Then why are you going?' my friend asked.

I explained my position: The film has received mostly positive reviews, it’s almost sure to be nominated for Oscars and I was curious — people are watching it and enjoying it and talking about it, and I want to be in on the discussion. And there was also the possibility that 'The Butler' might surprise me — that I might actually like the film.

And I did like the film! This is an emotionally involving, powerful film, a message movie that is never too preachy and is almost always entertaining. It’s melodramatic and sentimental, but not in a bad way — 'The Butler' is the type of grand and epic film that Hollywood used to make, a touchingly earnest drama filled with laughter and tears.

Director Lee Daniels ('Precious') is a skilled craftsman, and he’s aided immeasurably by a gifted cast that includes Forest Whitaker as butler Cecil Gaines. and Oprah Winfrey as his wife, Gloria Gaines. The supporting roles are also extremely well-cast: Cuba Gooding Jr. reminds everyone that, yes, he’s a very good actor as Gaines’ friend and fellow butler, David Oyelowo does fine work as Louis, Gaines’ rebellious son and Terrence Howard makes the most of his scenes as the Gaines’ ne’er-do-well neighbor. Even the stunt casting mostly works — I especially enjoyed Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan and James Marsden as John F. Kennedy."

Click here to read the whole thing.

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