January 31, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

I've had Little Miss Sunshine at the top of my Netflix queue for weeks and I finally had a chance to watch it. I had pretty high expectations because it seemed like the type of movie I would enjoy. While I did enjoy it, I was also disappointed. I know the disappointment stems from the high expectations and not from it being a bad movie. It's a good movie. The story is unique and the characters are even more unique. Though each of the other characters try to put themselves in the center of the story, Olive, the seven year old pageant hopeful is the center of not only the plot but the emotional center of the group of misfits. I was surprised at how easily I was able to accept Steve Carell as a suicidal, homosexual former professor. In some reviews I'd read, the reviewers couldn't get past Michael Scott, Andy Stitzer, and Brick Tamland when watching him be sad. Alan Arkin was phenomenal and deserves his Oscar nomination, the scene in the hotel room with Olive is worth the win, especially if he did his own stunts under the sheet. I guess there were only two things that I felt were a let down and thus led me to be disappointed; I was let down by a real lack of development of Toni Collette's character as a wife, sister, and mother and by the scene at the pageant. I'm purposely being vague, as I know many of you might not have seen it yet. I do recommend you see it, because it's a rather beautiful story about how like I said before the youngest member of the family causes change in the rest of the characters. The music by DeVotchka is perfect and helps pace the action as well as set the tone. I'm glad to see Abigail Breslin was nominated for her performance as Olive because I'm sure there was a lot of her in that role.
Netflix, Inc.

The Presidential Voice,Part Two: A Question of Age

I've been developing an idea for a novel for years now wherein the central character wakes up on his 35th birthday with a neurotic borderline psychotic obsession with the idea that he's now eligible to be President of the United States. 35 is the minimum age, though the youngest president to be sworn in was Theodore Roosevelt at 42. It's a common misconception that John Kennedy was the youngest president, but he was the youngest elected president. Teddy was VP and took over office when McKinley was killed. Why is it that anyone 35, or 42 for that matter would be laughed out of the race? Well the average age of a POTUS (President of the United States) sworn in is 54.9 years old, and the average age of a POTUS leaving office is 60, which takes into account the 1 term Presidents and those that left office prematurely for whatever reason. The oldest president to take office was Ronald Reagan who was 70 when he was inaugurated in 1981. The next oldest was William Harrison, who was sworn in at 68, but died a month later. To look at the field of candidates for the 2008 election, something that immediately stands out is that if elected, John McCain would surpass Ronald Reagan as the oldest president to take office. McCain will be 72 on Inauguration day, January 20, 2009. McCain would also become the first president born in the 1930's to become president (the 30's are the only decade between 1810-1819 decade to not produce a president). Does age set him, and perhaps his party, back in the race for the Oval Office? I think it plays a part. Hillary Clinton will be 61 on the next Inauguration day, whereas Barack Obama will be a spry 47 and John Edwards will be right in the median range with 56. On the other side of the aisle, Rudy Guliani will be 65 and Huckabee will be 53. If you're a stickler for averages, your candidate that will battle it out in the 2008 election will be John Edwards and Mike Huckabee. Joseph Biden who just entered the race, is the oldest Democrat in the conversation at this point and would be 66 on that January day in 2009. Someone anonymously commented on my last Presidential Voice post asking about Mitt Romney and why I left him out of my post (I won't reveal where their IP address came from). I'm willing to include him (he'll be 62 in 2009, btw), but I don't think his religious affiliation will play well nationally. The religion question is a big one for Huckabee and Brownback, too. 2004 proved that the religious right still had a big influence on the election, but 2006, though not a Presidential election, showed that there's a shift happening, even in traditionally conservative districts. Religion is a whole big topic that can easily be a separate post, but I will point out that the traditional religious right has pretty strong negative feelings about Hillary, whereas Edwards and Obama have strong connections with the red states.

January 30, 2007

Critic of Critics: Jim Harrington Is At It Again

You might remember the discrepancy between my review of Damien Rice's Oakland performance and the review that Inside Bay Area staff writer Jim Harrington came up with. Well, supposedly he was at the Keane show Saturday night, and he's back with a review that is mostly not about the performance but rather all the things he doesn't like about Keane, but considering the crowd was loud and on their feet screaming along to the songs, I don't know when he left. I know I'm not going to agree with all journalists, nor do I expect them all to give positive reviews, but I think as a professional you are held to a higher standard than a sloppy review where all you do is rip everything about the band and it's members. Hey, Jim, I'll be at the Glen Phillips show on Feb 9, let's compare reviews, shall we? We might actually agree though when the Decemberists come to town in April (he's apparently a fan). He did enjoy Brian Wilson, and Coldplay (sort of), two former Floyds in Roger Waters and David Gilmour, Streisand, and Lionel Richie. I'm sure we can agree to disagree on musical preference, but whether I enjoy a band or not, I would much rather focus on reviewing the music and the performance rather than attacking the performers...especially if my employer were paying for me to attend.

The Mixtape, Part Two: There Are A Lot Of Rules

The following are a few ingredients for an ultimate mixtape. The first thing you need to establish is a theme or a message. Generally it's best to pick whether you are going to have a theme or a message and not try to do both. I prefer to go with a theme, but if the compilation is going to be given to someone, you have to accept that they will look for a message regardless of your intentions.
Ingredients for any good compilation I make will have the following features.

  • Your compilation must have a name. The names I recommend are generally a line from one of the songs that sums up your theme or your message.
  • Sound clips from a movie that are either funny or thought provoking. The shorter the clip, the more recognizable it has to be. Big hits for me have been random lines from Wes Anderson films, Napoleon Dynamite works, even the occasional Buffy the Vampire Slayer clip.
  • An obscure U2 song. All good compilations have a U2 song, but the best have something off of October or a B-Side or a rare track.
  • At least two songs must be fairly recent new releases that will expose your listener(s) to music they haven't heard before.
  • An 80's song.
  • All compilations must have at least one Motown and/or early 60's bubble gum song.
  • A classic rock song.
  • The first song is one of the most important songs. It is appropriate at times to have a movie clip start the compilation, but generally unless it really sets the tone, the first song needs to be a hook. As Rob Gordon (John Cusack) explains in High Fidelity:
    "The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do; it takes ages longer than it might seem. You've got to kick it off with a killer to grab attention. Then you've got to take it up a notch...you've got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules."
  • So your first song is a rocker, it can at the same time fit one of the other requirements, for example, Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" fulfills both Rob Gordon's requirement and also the retro song. I tend to think that the perfect song one for a compilation is also track one on an album. Think "Zoo Station", "Where the Streets...", "Bittersweet Symphony", "Round Here", or "Black Dog."
  • At least one song on the compilation must be something you know your listener is going to cringe at upon their first listen, but it will end up being their favorite song eventually. I have a genre tag in iTunes called Cheese that has songs like Pat Benetar's "We Belong," or Styx "Lady" or anything by Bonnie Tyler. Their guilty pleasures and if they subtly fit your theme or message, they are gold.
  • A jazz or vocal standard song is also a requirement; think Dean Martin or Sinatra, even Judy Collins will do, but again it must fit the theme or the message.
  • A rare cover song of a well-known song is also a requirement.
  • Your last song must bring closure to your message, similarly to the opening track, tracks that close an album work well to close a compilation.
Coming up next, I follow my rules and compose a compilation.

Again from Rob Gordon:
"The making of a compilation tape is a very subtle art; many do's and don'ts. First of all you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing."

January 29, 2007

New Music Tuesday: Delays, Tributes, and Things I Hope You Haven't Forgotten

This week's new releases aren't nearly as exciting as last week's releases from the Shins and Of Montreal. Two albums released in the US this week have been available in the UK and elsewhere for quite some time. Lily Allen is the darling of the internet and she's also playing SaturdayNight Live this weekend, so check her unique style out. Paulo Nutini's album has also been out in the UK and is just now hitting US stores. A tribute to the Band (The band called The Band, I know it can be confusing) is released with contributions from Death Cab For Cutie, Jackie Greene, Gomez, My Morning Jacket and Jack Johnson among others (it isn't available in iTunes at the moment, "various artist" albums generally are harder to get loaded). Norah Jones finally releases another album. Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah were one of the indie darlings of 2005, and this is the follow up to the beloved self titled album. And Harry Connick, Jr., who happens to be a partial answer to a MKinMotion trivia question, releases an important record of songs from New Orleans (Connick's hometown), the proceeds benefiting the continued rebuilding of New Orleans through the Musician's Village. Previews of the Connick album are promising as he has mixed New Orleans jazz with the big band sound that put him in the mainstream back in the 90's.

Lily Allen - Alright, Still (iTunes)
Paulo Nutini - These Streets (iTunes)
Endless Highway - The Music of the Band (Amazon)
Norah Jones - Not Too Late (iTunes)
Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder (iTunes)

Harry Connick, Jr. - Oh, My Nola (iTunes)

January 28, 2007

Called Out

Pat called me out on two things in an email this week. He mentioned that I was falling behind on my resolution to post at least once a day everyday in 2007. He also mentioned Left Arm Tan, my potential podcast. He mentioned them will all tact, so don't get the idea that he was mean spirited, just an aside in some other discussion. As far as the resolution to post once a day, resolutions are always a challenge to uphold and while I don't consider these multiple posts today to be making up for days I was silent, I do have more time today than the average day. I have a number of posts that I've written and haven't published as well as several rattling around in my head, it's all a matter of having time and whether the material ends up here or in other forms. As well as the podcast, I've been having some technical difficulties getting started. I have plenty of topics and I actually have a few people already lined up for interviews, but something is still missing that I don't want to get into too much, not to mention a lack of time. I appreciate the prodding by Pat, though, as it has bumped Left Arm Tan up a bit in priority.

The Presidential Voice,Part One: Disclosure

With all the candidates throwing their hats into the ring of the Presidential Election of 2008, I've been looking a lot at the major candidates and stacking them up against history. I definitely haven't decided on a candidate. To kick off my series on this topic I feel it necessary to make a few disclosures. I've traditionally voted and supported the Republican Party, though I've always considered myself an Oregon Republican in the vein of Mark Hatfield. I'm excited that there isn't a legitimate front runner from either party, and I am open to lending my support to a candidate of either party if their values line up with mine. The title of this series, The Presidential Voice, is in reference to the idea that through their life experiences as well as grooming and coaching, a candidate starts to sound like a President rather than a candidate for President. In my opinion, The Presidential Voice has been missing from this country for many years. Since perhaps Ronald Reagan left office, the presidential elections have ended up being a contest for the lesser of two evils. While I have reverence for the presidents since Reagan, I think both Bushes and Clinton lacked the Presidential voice, even though the term was coined with reference to Clinton's rise in public image from Bubba from Arkansas to a legitimate answer to George H. W. Bush. The candidates that have stepped forward to declare their intentions to seek the presidency will, over the course of the coming months, define themselves and their policies. We will get a better idea of what they stand for and who they stand for. Like I said I don't see a front runner at this stage in the game, but the early favorites are Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), fmr Senator John Edwards (D-NC), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), fmr Mayor Rudolph Guliani (R-NY) and fmr Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR). All 7 of these leading candidates have things they stand for that I can buy into, but they also have things that can hurt their chances to be inaugurated on January 20, 2009. I will explore both the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates in this series. The primaries leading up to the election in 1992, showed that a candidate who wasn't even on the early radar could emerge as the president, when the nationally-unheard-of Clinton gained the nomination of the Democrats over previous national figures of Al Gore, Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, and Bob Casey. So, based on that precedent, our next president might not even be on the radar, but in this new age of information, I imagine one of the 7 candidates I listed above will end up being elected the 44th President of the United States.

The Mixtape

While the technology of cassette tapes has been long gone for years, the idea of the mixtape has never died. Cassettes were the first medium that allowed a normal person to be able to take songs of their choosing and put them together on one tape. In the old days this was done with records, other tapes, and even recording radio broadcasts. I got my first CD burner in 2001; it was an external USB burner that burned at 4X. The CD burner in combination with the evolution of programs like iTunes made making your own CD's brainless. With the age of iPods and other mp3 players, it's now all about playlists. Sharing playlists is the new mixtape.
The Mad Fishicist emailed me recently inquiring about some CD's he stole from Noveau Riche. To make a long story short, he thought they were blank CD's and seeing as Riche wouldn't need blank CD's he decided to take them off of his hands. They weren't marked and because they were burned as standard CD's iTunes can't figure out what songs are on them. It got me thinking about the rules for mixtapes/playlists. I'm working on a playlist right now, so when I complete it, I will post the track listings and the reasons for each song and in doing so will define what makes a great mixtape/playlist.

Apology Accepted: Keane Live in Berkeley

I still have my ticket to Keane's original show for the Bay Area back in October. Ticketmaster was nice enough to automatically refund my money for the show that was canceled, but I kept the ticket. If you're not familiar with the situation, the band canceled their fall tour in order for Tom Chaplin to go through rehab. Something I've found remarkable about the whole situation from the start is how open and transparent the band has been. The announcement was made on the band's website by Tim Rice-Oxley the piano player, and perhaps the musical genius of the band. Last night redemption occurred. The original show for October was scheduled for Berkeley's Greek Theater, which is an outdoor venue, so the rescheduled show was moved to the Berkeley Community Theater. Still a very large room, it provided for what has made Keane one of the better received live acts to come around recently; intimacy. I saw Keane play at ACL in2005, and thought they stole the show. From September 25, 2005:
"The amount of music is somewhat overwhelming. You definately have to just pick a couple people to see and dodge the heat the rest of the time. But we did manage to see Keane play. It was incredible. They are soooo good. Seriously, it's been a long time since I've seen a band pull a crowd that far in...at least a band not named U2. They were tight on their songs and looked like they were having the best time playing together. Can't say enough good stuff about Keane."
When Keane played ACL, it was late enough to be dark, but the heat was still there and the pre-hurricane wind of Hurricane Rita was pushing extremely hot air through the area, so it amounted to 30 mph winds blowing through what felt like a hairdryer blowing in your face. Tom made the comment that from where they come from (the UK) if the weather were to be like this, they'd assume it was the end of the world. The heat didn't bother them then and they were able to energize a crowd that had been battling the heat all day. But back to 2007, before I digress too far.
Last night's show in Berkeley was incredible, but I expected it this time. Not only did the band engage the crowd with their anthemic music and contagious energy, but there were several times when Tom Chaplin discussed their time away from music. At one point he said that he apologized for missing the last show in Berkeley and he said "I raise my hands because..." he held him self responsible. At one point he explained that the three guys in the band grew up together in music and that Tim wrote "Hamburg Song" as a sort of intervention asking Tom where the old Tom was. It was encouraging to see the transparency and I think it may have engaged the crowd even more. But as far as the performance it was top notch. I imagine Keane rarely disappoint.
The analytic side of my has a hypothesis for their success and their amazing shows. But I will spare you that. The show was spectacular and if you're in Portland or Seattle, sell something to get a ticket, you won't regret it. See their site for dates, times, and tickets.
Rocco DeLuca and the Burden opened the show, and while I have a few tracks from their 2006 album I Trust You To Kill Me, their performance has forced me to check out more of their stuff.

Keane recently released a live album on iTunes. And their albums Hopes and Fears and Under the Iron Sea are both must haves.

January 24, 2007

Who's In Your Entourage?

I have a habit of abstaining from watching serial TV shows if I miss the first episodes. But some of my favorite shows have been serial and many of them I've had to figure out how to get engaged to the storyline midway through arcs. I've avoided a few shows because I can't figure out what the larger arcs are. I've mentioned that I've used Netflix to catch up on The Sopranos, but I've also caught on to Entourage too. I remember when the show premiered, but I can't remember why I didn't watch it. Anyone who has HBO knows that it isn't because the time slot conflicted with something else, because they have a habit of over exposure. The first season of Entourage engaged me, but it seemed to go pretty fast. It's not deep stuff, even the Sopranos has several layers to the stories. Entourage is all about is its characters and the cameos. I'm enjoying the second season more than the first because the characters are even more emphasized. You have to love a show in which one episode involves Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute from the Office) playing a geeky blogger and closes with the guys in the audience of a U2 show in which Bono wishes a happy birthday to Johnny Drama. If you're not familiar with the show, it's about a young actor in Hollywood, two childhood friends that fill the roles of his manager and his driver, and his former A-list acting older brother...and his agent played by a longtime MKinMotion favorite, Jeremy Piven. The principal character, Vince Chase, is intriguing because he's equally interested in the craft and art of acting, as well as the inflated lifestyle of a big star. I highly recommend renting the DVD's and starting at the beginning. It's been nominated for Emmy's for casting and writing and this year Jeremy Piven walked away with the supporting actor award, a role he's been nominated for a Golden Globe for 3 years. It's nominated for the ensemble cast Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as another nomination for Jeremy Piven. The show mocks as much as it celebrates in the entertainment industry, and its apparent parallels to Executive Producer Mark Wahlberg's experiences in Hollywood, make it appealing on several levels.

January 23, 2007

New Music Tuesday: The Cover of Paste Magazine; It'll Change Your Life

It's a line, of course, from Garden State when we as an audience are indirectly and Andrew Largeman directly are promised that The Shins "New Slang" would change his and our lives. In a way, I'm sure it made an impact and a step in the right direction for indie music, but I'm certain that cinematic moment changed the lives of the Shins. There's been a lot of hype about Wincing the Night Away for a few months now, and nothing can be better for your career than hype about an album that ultimately lives up to the hype. Playing Saturday Night Live can't hurt your cause. Wincing the Night Away can go ahead and make it's reservations now for Best of 2007 list in December. The Shin's latest release combines the solid indie sound of their previous work with some polish and thoroughly kept my attention on my iPod today. I'm not ready to say "You gotta hear this one song - it'll change your life," but I'm ready to say, you'll regret it if you don't buy this album. The song "Split Needles" is one of the tracks on the lastest Paste CD sampler, but all the songs on the album are worthy of your time and money.

Buy Wincing the Night Away (iTunes)
Buy Garden State (Amazon)

January 19, 2007

For Your Netflix Queue: Blasts From the Past

Netflix is a great product. I think I've made my opinion about them clear in previous posts, but it demands repeating. I've been using my Netflix queue for two main purposes, the first being to catch up on all the recent movies I haven't seen and the second is to re-watch or watch old movies from some of my favorite directors/actors. I figure it's a worthy weekly feature for MKinMotion.com, so I will start to review two movies each week that I've recently experienced via Netflix. Full disclosure, I was a customer before I added them as an incentive link in the sidebar, but I did add them as a "sponsor" because I use their product and enjoy it and have no hesitation telling you that if you don't already have a Netflix account, you're missing out and you can get one through MKinMotion.com. OK, enough disclosure...

This week I've chosen to feature two movies that I hadn't seen until just the last week or two. Their both from directors that I have a lot of respect for and anything that they've released tends to be worthy of a rental. I took 3 quarters of Film classes in college and taking those classes really gave me an appreciation of the art form and also reinforced the idea that some movies are there just to entertain you without making you think at all...and that's okay. They're all art and creative regardless of whether there are explosions, CGI, or brilliant acting. When I was taking these classes at the end of each term there was a project that allowed you to watch 3 movies from one director and do some compare/contrast from different films. While a lot of people went after Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction had just blown up), Steven Spielberg, and the popular film class safe bets of Scorsese, Woody Allen, Coppola, Kubrick, Wells and Hitchcock, I spent the three terms looking at the films of Robert Altman, Wim Wenders, and The Coen Brothers. For Robert Altman I watched MASH (the movie, not the TV show), The Player, and Nashville (and I'd seen Short Cuts and Popeye also). For Wim Wenders, it was Der Himmel ├╝ber Berlin (Wings of Desire), Bis ans Ende der Welt (Until the End of the World), and Im Lauf der Zeit (Kings of the Road). For the Coen Brothers, I watched Raising Arizona, Barton Fink and Miller's Crossing. I could go into some observations of each, but me even listing the three films for each director is already probably tiresome.

This week's features come from Robert Altman and The Coen Brothers. First from Robert Altman comes a movie that I couldn't believe I hadn't seen when I finished it. The Long Goodbye was released in 1974 and teamed Altman with his star of MASH, Elliot Gould (who this generation knows more for Ross and Monica's Dad than his previous leading man work) as Philip Marlowe a private detective, based on the Raymond Chandler novel of the same title. Gould is brilliant and Altman's directorial style shines in this movie. One of the shining moments of the film for me was the opening sequence of Marlowe feeding his cat, I've never seen a cat that well trained and the humor was priceless. The movie came out in 1973 and is set in Los Angeles in 1973. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a brief and silent role in the movie (his second role of his career). It's a mystery and has some good twists, but nothing or no one can outsmart the eccentric Philip Marlowe. I was surprised to see that Elliot Gould wasn't nominated for any awards for his performance as it was dynamic and performed flawlessly. It reinforces my appreciation for Altman's other movies and the loss that the artform experienced in November when he passed away.

The first movie that the Coen Brothers directed was Blood Simple which featured a very young Frances McDormand in her debut (Frances would go on to be in Fargo, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing and The Man Who Wasn't There with her husband Joel Coen) and a pretty solid performance by Dan Hedaya. John Getz shared the lead spotlight with Frances, but his career hasn't been nearly as illustrious as McDormand's. The movie centers around several relationships and focuses on how badly things can go when relationships and communication break down. Dishonesty begets dishonesty, violence begets violence. It's shot well and the acting is very solid.

So, if you're a Netflix customer add them to your queue and if you're not, click the link in the sidebar and check out their pricing plans.
Netflix, Inc.

January 18, 2007

News From Troy: Good Coffee, No Backtalk

Almost a side note in my RSS reader this morning was a post from Troy about an old employer of mine. Apparently several months ago, Starbucks bought Coffee People. I worked for Coffee People between July of 1998 and June of 2000, so I lived through the sale to Diedrich and experienced the backlash of Diedrich thinking it could re-brand the Portland company as "Diedrich Coffee People." AS a former employee and someone who once received a very high compliment from Jim Roberts (founder and former owner of Coffee People) on my barista skills, it truly is a sad day, though inevitable once the company was sold to Gloria Jean's back. The sale to Starbucks apparently didn't include the airport locations because they are independent franchises, so if travel takes you to Portland you can still get a great cup of Joe in the terminal. And an FYI, I worked at the Tanasbourne store for several months before transferring to the Tigard/King City store...though I put in hours at several other locations. Someday, perhaps, I will write an in depth post titled "All I Really Need to Know I Learned While Making Your Coffee," because a lot of principles I still apply to business and personal life were learned in my time at Coffee People.

Hey Troy, remember that time when I saved your life at a Weezer show? That was cool.

January 16, 2007

Random On Blogging

The blogger's block has been infecting me the last few days. I came across an article about blogging that I thought were worth linking to for all the other aspiring bloggers that visit. It comes from gapingvoid, Hugh MacLeod's blog that is usually good for a cartoon and interesting observations. When he mentions A-List bloggers, he usually refers to tech bloggers. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. In the worlds of blogging and podcasting alike (I refuse to use any term that includes "osphere"; it should be everyone's resolution for 2007 to stop using it), it seems like the high profile bloggers and podcasters tend to either have a tech background or a tech focus. In one respect it reminds me that I never posted parts 3 and 4 of my "On Blogging" series. I read tech blogs and listen to tech podcasts daily, but I think there's infinately more in the world to blog about and podcast about, but it seems like there's an impression usually among those that typically get listed as A-List bloggers that if it isn't tech it isn't worth it. What it's created in effect is thousands of sub-standard tech blogs and podcasts that all aspire to be TWiT or Diggnation or Engadget or TechCrunch. I'm not in anyway saying that if you aren't Leo LaPorte or Kevin Rose or Michael Arrington or Dave Winer you should stop doing what you're doing, I'm more in favor of the opposite, but don't feel like you have to blog or podcast about technology in order to matter. The tech slant will fade as blogs and podcasts become more and more widespread, so I encourage you to blog about anything, even tech, but more importantly perhaps, current events, politics (I have feeds from liberal, conservative and moderate blogs and enjoy all of them), sports, music, pop culture, fishing, business, as well as personal blogs that have a unique voice. I'll subscribe to anything that I stumble on that intrigues me, but if I'm not still intrigued after a week, it's just as easy to unsubscribe and forget about it. So I give you this link for a list of ideas to chew on.

New Music Tuesday: America Always Told Me That Bars Are Dark And Lonely

In the early 70's the band America took the world by surprise. Their song "Ventura Highway" is still a common tune to get mixed into my iPod. They enjoyed several hits in the 70's and being produced by Beatles producer George Martin doesn't hurt your cred. They were compared to Crosby Stills Nash and Young. They faded away as the 80's hit, but their back with a new album released today titled Here & Now. Produced partly by former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, the double album contains America with help from some contemporary artists including Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller, members of My Morning Jacket and Nada Surf. The first "disc" is new material including a cover of My Morning Jacket's captivating "Golden." The second "disc" includes old standards from America performed live. When I first heard about this project back in the summer, I didn't know what to expect. The news I heard was about a collaboration between Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Ryan Adams and Ben Kweller and they were calling themselves America. I thought it was a project like The Thorns, but it puzzled me because of the band that already had the name America...like a certain phone. My first experience with My Morning Jacket had me making mental comparisons to America, and now the generations combine. Both "discs" are priced at $9.99 in the iTunes store which means 25 tracks for $9.99. A bargain and a steal. Definately give it a listen. You might hear such songs as "A Horse With No Name," "Muskrat Love," "I Need You" and the aforementioned "Ventura Highway" on your local classic rock or hipster soft rock station.

Buy America - Here & Now

January 13, 2007

Blades of Glory Trailer: Did You Doubt The Potential?

Afterthoughts: More on the iPhone

I know, I know, two posts already this week about a product that isn't even available to purchase for 6 months. But I've been doing a little research trying to figure out what MP3 player to purchase and it got me thinking again.
Since my last post on the topic of the iPhone, Cisco has filed a trademark lawsuit against Apple for using iPhone which not only did Cisco own, but they launched a product just last month called the iPhone. Thoughts on the lawsuit? Based on how long the trademark has been owned and not used, I believe without the hasty launch of the Cisco VOIP iPhone last month, there would be no grounds for the suit. Do I think that Cisco rushed the launch of their iPhone to beat MacWorldExpo? Yes. Cisco, however, will not win a lawsuit that prevents Apple from using the name iPhone for their future phone. Apple has a history of settling for large sums of money and I think Cisco wins for shrewdly taking care of business. I will say it again, though. iPhone is a crappy name for the Apple product. Sure, it makes sense with the whole iPod brand and it is a phone, so why do I think iPhone is lame? Well, Apple has a reputation for being original and not only setting the trend, but creating new ways to exist. There were quite a few MP3 players on the market in 2001 when the iPod launched, but not only did Apple make a superior product, they renamed the market. It took a while to evolve, but now every MP3 player is either referred to as an iPod or instantly compared with an iPod. What I wanted from this launch was that same marketed defining, market renaming POW. What that required was a name that no one outside of Apple could have come up with. A name that people outside of the Cult of Mac would shake their heads and say "what does that even mean?" They did it in 2001 with the iPod and now it's a household name. Nintendo is experiencing the same sort of thing with their Wii. Originally named the Nintendo Revolution, the CEO of Nintendo launched it as the Wii and everyone said "what does that even mean?" And while it's early in its product life, it's quickly become the hot console for children and adults. In the coming months, Wii will become more and more of a staple not only in living/family rooms, but in nomenclature (and jokes).
I think Apple should have gone with a revolutionary name rather than the obvious and not because of Cisco owning the trademark, because I think even if the suit goes to court, Apple has had iPhone buzz much longer than Cisco has had any product named or referred to as iPhone.
The name is not the only thing I'm disappointed in. I'm disappointed that there wasn't a new iPod launched. Although there has been a lot of buzz and demand for an iPod phone, there's been equal buzz and demand for a new generation of iPod. As I cruise the Apple store in my search for my next MP3 player, I'm limited to choose between the too small (capacity and size) Shuffle and Nanos and the 30 GB video, a 30GB U2 video and 80 GB video (make me an 80 GB U2 branded iPod and you might as well ship it today). Although I will most likely ultimately go with an iPod because I love iTunes better than any other software, I feel a little overlooked. What did I want? I wanted an iPod with a bigger screen, with more of an iTunes interface, with the ability to share songs from my desktop to the iPod without having to plug it in either through Wifi or Bluetooth or a similar technology. Although I may think of it as a guilty pleasure, I believe Microsoft is correct in their deduction that there's a place for FM radio in the MP3 player market; in fact throw in AM radio too and you've got a whole new demographic for your product (go to your local consumer electronics store and try to find a portable device that plays AM/FM radio that can fit in a shirt pocket) as sports junkies, top 40 junkies, talk radio junkies, and news junkies suddenly find a need for an MP3 player.
There are other obstacles for the average consumer to jump for the iPhone like price, Cingular, and Windows/Office compatibility that I'm sure will be addressed in the 6 months between now and when you can buy it. I'm not as surprised by the fact that Apple Computer became Apple, Inc. especially considering they didn't launch a new computer, but instead have shown their pulse as a gadget branding factory. As for the iPhone, at this point I'm more interested in the Apple Phone pictured below (Thanks, Gizmodo).

January 11, 2007

Everyday Album Series: Blue Merle, Burning in the Sun

Blue Merle's "Every Ship Must Sail Away" was one of the first iTunes Store free singles of the week back in January of 2005. Blue Merle drew a lot of comparisons to a Nashvillian Coldplay. Their songs are solid and fresh with something for everyone and every mood. I recommend the tracks "Seeing Through You", "Burning in the Sun", and "Bittersweet Memory." Blue Merle split up in 2006, so don't expect a follow-up album anytime soon.

Buy/Sample: Blue Merle - Burning in the Sun

January 9, 2007

Joseph Arthur Makes the List

This blog is listed on Joseph Arthur's website for being listed as one of the best albums of 2006. Off to the right it coincides with an "n/a" for ranking, but let the record show that I ranked Nuclear Daydream as #22. If I ever got around to putting together a best songs of 2006, "You Are Free" would be on any short list.

The World Might Have Changed A Bit Today

No, I'm not going to continue to exhaust the internets with pictures and specs of the iPhone announced today at MacWorld. I think it's a pretty impressive device, and I do think it will revolutionize the industry. I was hoping for an announcement for a new iPod, maybe with a bigger screen or some sort of wireless features, but alas, just the iPhone. I thought of my former colleagues in their CDMA world up in Alaska...no iPhone for you, but considering it doesn't come out until June, I wouldn't put it past Motorola, Samsung, LG or even Nokia to roll out a similar product to go with carriers other than Cingular. Perhaps smart that Jobs and Co. went with Cingular, after all, they are the biggest (58+ million subs). But with Verizon (56+ million subs), Sprint/Nextel (51+), T-Mobile (80 million [worldwide] subs), and the assortment of other carriers both national and regional, the majority of wireless subscribers are not Cingular customers, and carriers other than Cingular want to keep it that way. In fact, there are plenty of exciting phone models being covered down in Vegas at CES, but just none with the buzz of the iPhone. Looks like the other carriers and manufacturers have their work cut out for them in the marketing and competitive strategies. Incidentally, although AAPL shot through the roof today, other manufacturers and carriers were pretty flatlined and unaffected. If Google jumps in the cell world (rumored for a while now), watch out! But enough about a device that won't be out for months...
What's more exciting to me and the original reason for the title is that several leaks have said that the iTunes store will soon sell Beatles music. Although I have every album the Beatles released themselves and a bunch of other stuff, it will make a big splash to have it out there. I recently bought Love, the Beatles remixed and had to wait a few days to receive it. A few days! I highly recommend the album and if you're not convinced or you're a purist and prefer to hear it the way they were originally mixed, do me a favor and listen to NPR's All Songs Considered from December 22nd...it could just change your mind.
And after all that, it's now crunch time for me to decide between the U2 video iPod or the 80GB video iPod to replace my current "dying-a-little-more-everyday-two-plus-year-old" U2 iPod.

January 8, 2007

Cool or Scary?

Visit ip-adress.com (sic), zoom in on the map, and see how close the internet can get to you. When I hit it at home it comes within a block of me. When I visit at work it's off by a few miles, even though the ip address is registered with whois right down to the suite number. How close/accurate is it for you?

Wanted: Someone Smarter Than Me

I'm looking for someone who can answer the following questions.

1. What is the term for a blog taking word-for-word content from your post and reposting it on a blog without giving you credit? I'm not going to give links to the places where this has happened, because all you really get is my posts with lots of adsense surrounding them. They do link back to me but the way they do it is sneaky. They sign the posts with their name, but then the link on the user name is a link to the original post. Someone is definitely trying to cash in on the serendipitous Google juice I've generated with original content about the Zune and believe it or not Erin Andrews and Bret Bielema.

2. Is there a way to detect this?

3. Is there a way to prevent this?

4. Do I have any right to my own content?

If anyone is smart or blog savvy enough to answer, send me an email at matt[at]mkinmotion[dot]com.

Top Story: Apple Cell Phone

Many in the tech community have spent years debating what looks like it will become real tomorrow. Who's my source? Check the Wall Street Journal's top story. Cingular wins, apparently...unless their source is one of the jokers who have called into national talk shows over the last few weeks with "exclusive" info, as the sources seem a little sketchy from my first read. Still no real details, or a name.


Upcoming Music: Can't Hardly Wait

2007 has more than enough potential to be another great year for music. Here are a few releases that have me more than excited for the coming months.

  • The Shins will release Wincing the Night Away on January 23rd.
  • As mentioned a few posts back, The Arcade Fire will be releasing Neon Bible in March.
  • Coldplay are set to release a highly anticipated album late in the year, probably November.
  • Wilco will release a new album in May.
  • Modest Mouse have a new record that is already being passed around the internets with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr on the ticket.
  • Will new albums from Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Rush, Duran Duran, The Eagles, Metallica matter in today's day and age? Will Metallica insist on some crazy DRM to prevent their music from being ripped?
  • Buzz about a 7th Radiohead album are floating around (it's been since 2003 since Hail to the Thief)...if it happens, expect it mid year, and expect it to be their last full length studio album for a long time, if not ever.
  • Alice in Chains will release an album with a new singer (obviously).
  • The Cure are always rumored to release a huge CD, maybe a double disc, maybe utilizing a new media format.
  • Rob Thomas is busy writing new material but no one seem sure (maybe not even himself) if it's for another solo record or for Matchbox Twenty.
  • The Thrills will have a new release this year.
  • Chinese Democracy might finally come out. It's the long rumored release from Gun's 'n Roses (sorta). I saw a firm date of March 5, which is the first time I've seen a firm date in years.
  • Not to be outdone, Velvet Revolver will release their album for sure.
  • Iggy Pop has a record coming out produced by alt.legend Steve Albini.
  • Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, and Stereophonics will make an impact on the scene.
  • Bright Eyes might release a full length album and an EP.
  • Rumors have Howie Day releasing an album in 2nd quarter '07.
  • The Bravery will follow up their self-titled debut with The Sun and The Moon in February.
  • For the indie kids, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah!, Of Montreal, Menomena, Deerhoof, and Air make the list of upcoming releases.

January 6, 2007

Everyday Album Series: Athlete, Tourist (2005)

It's well known that Pitchfork Media has a big influence on this new era of music. They've made some big successes over the years just by hyping particular artists and albums. When Athlete released their sophomore effort in Tourist, Pitchfork didn't bite. They reviewed it poorly. It took me a while to get my hands on it...not based on the reviews, but Athlete wasn't on my radar, despite their first album Vehicles and Animals being a big hit with me. From start to finish Tourist delivers melancholy pop with a distinct brit sound. Highs, lows and plenty of inbetweens make this a perfect album to add to your collection.

Buy/Sample Tourist
Buy/Sample Vehicles and Animals

January 4, 2007

Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection

Thomas Hawk is the CEO of Zooomr (a competitor of Flickr, which I've been meaning to spend more time with), but above that, he's a phenomenal photographer. I discovered him through Robert Scoble's photowalking sessions and dropped his feed into my reader. He usually posts 5 pictures to Flickr everyday. His site is definitely a great place to see amazing pictures of San Francisco, but also to learn about shooting at night, inside in the dark, and he also has some interesting commentary on life behind the lens. Here are a few pictures of San Francisco from his collection, but I highly recommend you check out his site. Please click the photos below to see them in their full size.

January 3, 2007

The Arcade Fire Intervention

One of the biggest bands of 2005, The Arcade Fire seemed to have a much quieter 2006. Funeral is in the short list of albums that get played on my iPod or in iTunes everyday, no matter what (maybe that will be a post in the not to distant future). They're scheduled to release their second full-length album this spring and have released a single on iTunes. Actually, they've released two songs from the upcoming album on iTunes, but only meant to release the one. They released "Intervention", but the file that got sent to iTunes was "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations." The mistake was pretty quickly remedied, but not before it hit the blogs that both songs were available. I ended up with both songs and I have to say, they're both outstanding. It makes me more excited than ever for the new release. You can check out "Intervention" which is the real "Intervention" or their 2004 release Funeral in the iTunes store.

The Arcade Fire - Intervention
Arcade Fire - Intervention - Single

The Arcade Fire - Funeral
Arcade Fire - Funeral

Enough To Constitute a Rumor?

Ever since my Movies in 2007 post where I mentioned Erin Andrews and Bret Bielema in the same sentence, I've been flooded with Google traffic with the two names together. Did I miss something? I did see a post from earlier in the season where someone speculated that Bielema, who is a rare young single Division 1 head football coach as the most intriguing match up of his season. That coming from a mainstream newspaper, it makes you wonder. And yes, I'm fully aware that blogging about Google results that get people here only increases said traffic. I can tell you she uses a Mac.photo via: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
rumor starting newspaper: The Capital Times (Madison, WI)

January 2, 2007

RSS Readers: Forgive or Forget

Forgive me if you read via an RSS reader, you might be getting annoyed with pings from posts. Since switching to the new Blogger and changing my template to white instead of black, I've found lots of posts where particular colors of text were used that just don't work with a white background. So I'm asking for forgiveness in advance as I tinker with some older posts. For a lot of you, I just confused you...for you I offer forgetfulness. You can forget I ever said anything.

More Zune: Hands on Experience

Being the AV guy that I am, I'm often looked to for computer advice, gear advice and consumer electronics advice. A girl in my office got a Zune for Christmas from her boyfriend and didn't know the first thing about it. She doesn't own a computer and our computers at work are merely terminals, so she doesn't have a way to connect it. She doesn't know the first thing about an MP3 or an MP3 player. She asked if I would take it home and charge it and put some songs on. We've talked about music before, so I knew I could come up with some stuff that she likes, stuff she might like, stuff she would like, and stuff she should but wouldn't like to put on there. I have to say I like the packaging. It had the feel of opening a box set of CD's. It's very clean for Microsoft; They usually have pretty busy packaging. I like the feel of it. It's bigger and heavier than my iPod, which I expected, but it also didn't make me think I would break it if I put it in my pocket. I loaded the software and was disappointed that I had to name her Zune, set up a Microsoft passport, and set up a Zune Store account in order to install the software. The thing that attracted me to iTunes was how slick it was and now how much slicker it has become, you aren't required to set up an account unless you want to purchase music from the iTunes store. I see where Microsoft is going with this, but it still reinforced that this isn't for beginners. The market that they seem to be targeting is young, younger than Apple's target, so maybe they hope to wrangle the Xbox360 crowd and teens/tweens that don't already have an iPod. It wasn't intuitive whatsoever for me to add music to the Zune. I had to wait a long time for it to search my hard drives for compatible songs. At current count, I have 101.89 GB of music on my computer so I finally ditched the process and figured I could find something in what had loaded that I could put on her Zune. At some point I unplugged the Zune to see if music had transfered. It hadn't but when I plugged it back in, it needed to upgrade the firmware to v. 1.2. To add music to the Zune, you can't just click a song or a playlist and drag it to the Zune. You add it to a sort of queue and then click sync. It syncs pretty fast, maybe faster than my iPod. I threw a couple of videos on there to see how they did, too. The sound quality is good, the FM radio is great, the video is pretty good. Overall, it's a decent device. I still think the new features (FM and Sharing via wifi) are not enough to put it on the same level as an iPod. I do however have hope that MS will continue to make updates to include new features. The hardware and firmware seem to be pretty easy to make changes to, so there's room for improvement without having to wait for the next generation of Zune. I'm not going to buy one, but I wouldn't be against recommending one to someone if the next update makes it a little easier for a novice or a teen/tween to operate. I also noticed this gem while installing it. I unchecked the box, but the default is a checked box. Who knows what info is transfered if the box is checked?

It also drove me crazy that it required the use of Internet Explorer to view the associated web sites. I've never understood the browser war. I don't understand how Mozilla makes money with Firefox, but I use it and prefer it. I have to use Internet Explorer for Windows updates and the RSS reader I use uses IE, too, but I'd much prefer to not have to. And by the way when I'm not getting traffic via Google for Erin Andrews, DailyMotion.com, and random people and phrases I've blogged; the Google traffic for "Zune Pros Cons" has been pretty steady. I'm listed fourth for that search in my Google. What number am I in your Google? Maybe MKinMotion.com is the alternative to Zune.com which gives an error in Spanish. (Zune.net is the official Zune site.) More, while I was typing this, some one stumbled on my earlier Zune post by searching Google with "Pros Cons Zune" so I did the same search and turned up at the top of the list. Listen up Microsoft!

January 1, 2007

Most Anticipated Movies of 2007

Well it's 2007. Erin Andrews is interviewing Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema. It's time to put looking back at 2006 behind and look forward at 2007. There are a few movies that are coming out in 2007 that I'm looking forward to very much.

Blades of Glory: Will Ferrell + Jon Heder + Jenna Fischer + ice skating comedy

Hot Fuzz: I've mentioned this one before....scroll down for the trailer.

Charlie Wilson's War: Tom Hanks + Philip Seymour Hoffman + Julia Roberts + Amy Adams

Shrek the Third: A successful and clever franchise returns with some new heroes and villains to compliment the regulars.

Zodiac: The director of Se7en, Fight Club, and The Game, David Fincher directs this film about tracking a serial killer in San Francisco. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Goose.

I'm sure more will come along, but these ones stood out today.