January 28, 2008

Dance Off

I got a bunch of traffic on the East Coast throughout the day from Google searches for "Dance War". I wanted to set the record straight that I did not blog about (what I found in doing some research) a TV show on ABC. In fact, you can go to the Fine Films site and watch a trailer for War/Dance to see some of the beauty, insight, and unspoken call to action mentioned in my previous post. You can also read up about the movement coming out of the film.

January 26, 2008


A friend of mine has an exciting job. Among other things, she's working with some filmmakers on a documentary. When she first told me about the project, she was really excited about one of the other films the filmmakers made. It had done well at Sundance last year; winning Best Directing for Documentary and nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary. Pretty impressive stuff. She was so excited about their previous film that she sent me a copy. It was so impulsive, that she sent it to an old address. She sent a second copy and I got a chance to finally watch it. The movie is War/Dance or War Dance. And it happens to have been nominated for an Academy Award earlier this week for Best Documentary. I absolutely love the movie and here is a short summary and three points that merit it's nomination.

Uganda is having it's National Music Festival and filmmakers Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine follow three members of a refugee camp school as they train for and compete in the competition. They are the only team coming out of the war zone to compete.

Beauty: The film is insanely beautiful. All aspects from the dance, the colors, the landscapes of Uganda and the sounds. The visuals, stories, and sounds help to create images that don't leave your consciousness very quickly.

Insight: Whether the team won anything or not, the subject was found in the bush of Uganda and pursued. It shows incredible insight into the heart of the story; these amazing kids who won't let the terrible hand they've been dealt in life to affect their attitudes and their outlook. The selfless adults that work with these children are also so amazing.

Unspoken Call to Action: Never in the film do they try to tell us something. The innocently show us a story unfold and let us react. There is no celebrity who tells you how you can help these children. There's no connection to an organization to donate money to. There is no call to action. The filmmakers leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. Many people will be able to watch this movie without letting themselves be changed by the story or the exposure to the world, many other people will hear the unspoken call to make a difference in their world.I can't comment on the next project from Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, but I trust their vision, insight and ability to expose the world to us in the form of Documentary film. I'll be rooting for them come Oscar time. It will be released on DVD officially on April 15.

January 20, 2008

Memes: Who Starts These Things, Anyway?!?

They used to be part of the repertoire of those who sent lots of forwarded emails. Now it happens more with Myspace bulletins and blogs. So where do they come from? Who writes the jokes, the stories, the urban legends, or the lists of favorites? I wouldn't be surprised if they all originated with Nigerian princes. Anyway, I've been thinking about a thread on the old forum on the BLB website. Long since lost and likely forgotten, at the time it provided hours of entertainment. It consisted of everyone involved with the BLB project listing 20 things about themselves that people didn't know. It got creative, funny, and also educational too. So, if you feel like beating me to the punch, (I'm contemplating starting the meme) type up 20 things about yourself on your blog and include a link to this post so I see it. If nothing else, you'll get a link from me.

The Layman at SFMOMA

While in the Bay Area over Christmas, I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. What an interesting and beautiful place. While I only spent a couple of hours there and didn't see anywhere near everything there is to see. I went through the Joseph Cornell exhibit, the Olafur Eliasson exhibit, and the Mattisse and Beyond exhibit. Art museums are wonderful places. There's no way that you can't walk away without being inspired. I stood and looked at the Picasso painting above (Scene De Rue). Pablo Picasso painted it when he was just 19 and it was actually "lost" but found behind another painting. While Picasso may have thought of it as a lesser work or even scratch paper, it captivated me. The little jpg doesn't do it justice. And because it's generally considered a lesser work, I've yet to find a shop selling a print.
Whether you "get it" or not, there is so much value in experiencing art in a museum or gallery setting and I highly recommend SFMOMA. Just don't loose your parking garage ticket.
If you live in a town that has an art museum or a modern art museum, do yourself a favor and don't take it for granted.

January 14, 2008

Future Posts: Some From You, Some From Me

I have a lot of friends who don't blog themselves, but in some ways, blog vicariously through me. I'm fine with that. While I'd love to read their thoughts as they come through Google Reader, I've come to terms with it. But occasionally I'll tell a story or have a conversation offline and then I get an email asking why it didn't show up on mkinmotion.com. Well, as you can tell, I don't blog very regularly anymore so every conversation, every story or every great point I make doesn't make it onto the blog. But with numerous requests and a few recent ideas, here are some future posts you can look forward to in the coming days.

- My Return to College
- My Ride Along with Anchorage Police Department (this might be the most requested I've ever had)
- My thoughts on MOMA (I may just have to add a blurb about tiger attacks)
- My thoughts on The Beat Museum
- The state of College Football
- Odd similarities between air travel and laundromats

And in light of adding #1 to an already busy schedule, I'll have to pencil these in over the next week. If you've got any last minute requests for me to add to the list, you can comment or email.

January 9, 2008

New Roles and New Opportunites in a New Age

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope...”

- Robert F. Kennedy

There have been times in the world’s history where great men and women have stepped into these roles with the sole motivation to make a difference and change the world as much as they could. Names like Benjamin Franklin, Mother Teresa, Susan B. Anthony, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, and many other people throughout time. None of them were Presidents or Kings or Queens, but all of them have shifted the world we live in today.
As I watch coverage of the 2008 election, I think of all the quality people who are seeking the highest office in America. Only one of them will win in November, so what happens with the rest of them? Likely they will go back to being Senators, Representatives, and some of them will just stay candidates for the next time it comes around. I think what this country and this world need now are more people who are willing to use their ideas, their “power” and their abilities to step into the roles of world-changers. I think we live in a cynical time where we distrust a celebrity or politician who wants to use their voice to speak for others. That’s an us problem and shouldn’t deter great people from stepping up. I’m sure the cynics were rough on Susan B. Anthony and we know how they treated MLK.
Immediately I think of people like Al Gore, Bill Gates, Bono, even George Clooney. They seem to be using what influence they have whether it is money, celebrity or political clout to take on their issues. Al Gore has been outspoken in his crusade to improve our environment, you may not agree with everything he says, but you can respect his effort. Bono has been outspoken against many things in his career, but lately his focus has been on AIDS, hunger and poverty in Africa. Bill Gates is walking away from Microsoft later this year to go full time with his foundation that ambitiously is going after the issue of world health. George Clooney has been trying for years to get America to listen to Darfur’s cries. And these 4 guys are just a few that come to mind immediately. With the grassroots support we’ve seen in this election for a Ron Paul or Barack Obama or John Edwards, they have an incredible chance to take on a role in history if they aren’t selected to represent their party or their country. I believe we live in a time that needs more people and less government stepping in to fight against hunger, world health, intolerance, human rights, liberty (whether democratic or not) and squabbles between countries that lead to war. So my challenge to these candidates and the question I would ask if given the chance: If you don’t win the nomination or the presidency, how will you continue to change the world? I think the answers would not only pave the way for a great post election lifestyle, but also give you a pretty good idea of what they would be like as a president.

January 4, 2008

Promises Promises: More Best of 2007

As mentioned, previously, here are my best tracks of 2007. I think above anything else, 2007 was the year for light and poppy hooks for me. You can search for demos of the songs on Hype Machine or follow the links to iTunes.

Again, no particular order and in no way inclusive:

Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
I'm From Barcelona - We're From Barcelona
M.I.A. - Paper Planes
The National - Fake Empire
Travis - My Eyes (youtube)
Josh Ritter - (tie) Right Moves & Rumors
Feist - (tie) 1,2,3,4 & My Moon, My Man (youtube) & (youtube)
Okkervil River - Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe
Bloc Party - I Still Remember
Derek Webb - I Wanna Marry You All Over Again
Coconut Records - West Coast
Dan Wilson - Easy Silence (originally written by Wilson for the Dixie Chicks, but wonderfully done by him)
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
Ryan Adams - Halloweenhead
Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights
Kings of Leon - On Call
Elvis Perkins - Emile's Vietnam in the Sky
The Arcade Fire - Keep the Car Running
Josh Rouse - Hollywood Bass Player
Andrew Bird - Imitosis
Wilco - Impossible Germany
The New Pornographers - Myriad Harbour
Paul McCartney - Dance Tonight (youtube, still not a horn playing prairie dog)
Peter Bjorn & John - Young Folks (youtube) For the record, this is my ringtone
The Shins - Sleeping Lessons
[In honor of Heather from I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS] The Swimmers - Heaven (not available on iTunes, but on their myspace page)

Somedays the Internet is Extra-Awesome

Heather from I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS was a guest on NPR's World Cafe to talk about the best albums of 2007. Give it a listen (she has a link on her blog). If you remember we were in the same room for Josh Ritter's show in San Francisco back in March, though I did not recognize her. Many of her favorites fall in line with mine. And it's a great intro to music blogs and their impact on music.

That same post about Josh Ritter included a quick two sentence review of Nicki Chambly (now Bluhm). I recently noticed some traffic coming from NickiChambly.fuzz.com and followed the link back to the press tab of her profile where that article is listed. Thanks Nicki, and/or your people.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only fan of Matthew Ryan because I never see him getting press despite being amazing, engaged with his fans, and critically heralded. Well, this morning while reading through my feeds, I came to an article about his home recordings Dissent from the Living Room and Hopeless to Hopeful being posted. The first thing Riche ever trusted the internet enough to buy online was Dissent and I remember being really impressed with the fact that Matthew Ryan would number and sign each copy (and I was impressed that my copy of These are Field Recordings was also signed). Since then I've become a huge fan, but Hopeless has always eluded me. So I followed the link and downloaded it. As Heather discussed in the interview above, sometimes artists are supportive and sometimes they're apprehensive about having their stuff posted for free. Here's what Matthew Ryan posted on his MySpace page about the albums being posted:
"After I left A&M Records I started working on my 4track. This was only a handful of years ago, the internet was just getting warmer. I'm still not sure how Napster took off with all that dial-up going on. But I started releasing some DIYs on my soon to be relaunched website (matthewryanonline.com). Dissent From The Living Room and Hopeless To Hopeful are very raw home-recordings. Some of these songs went on to be part of future records when they were "properly" recorded. So, I was burning the discs and making the artwork and trying to keep up. I didn't think I sell more than 40 or 50 CDs. It was amazing, because it was the first time I realized we were all out here looking for each other. There were humans across all those wires. The truth is, these DIY records were the first time that I made any real income from releases. The submarine word of mouth was very inspiring. And it was a very large part of why I'm still doing this. They went on to sell so well and consistently that I took them down because I couldn't keep up. And I genuinely felt bad when CDs took to long to arrive or, and I'll admit it now, I sometimes forgot to mail them!

So if you don't have these, go on ahead and grab them. I'm glad they're available at this blogspot. Plus, I don't have to grab scissors and lick stamps.

Share the link with anyone you know that might be looking for these songs."