The Nashville Scene/Cream is sponsoring all the 8 off 8th Mondays during July, and each week the 8 bands will all perform covers from a specific decade- the 60’s through the 90’s. Tonight is 60’s night and the bands are:

Matt Friction and the Cheap Shots
Roman Candle
Eureka Gold
The Clutters
Kindergarten Circus
Ole Mossy Face
Jacob Jones
Millionaire Magicians

Tigers Con Queso will be on the lineup for 90’s night on July 27th. More info at Nashville Cream. I’ll be there tonight taking pics, so come on out. It’ll be fun.

Hipster Runoff posted the new single Got Nuffin from Spoon today. It’s a good song, so go grab it.

I’ve got a lot of science to dump on you today, so here we go…

Astronomers have been a little puzzled by our Sun recently because it’s been unusually quiet. We reached solar minimum, the lowest part of the 11-year cycle of sunspot activity, in 2008. Normally we’d be seeing some sunspots appearing, marking the beginning of the next cycle, but for some reason the Sun has been strangely quiet this year, and no one really understands why. This weekend marked the first real appearance of sunspots for the new cycle, breaking the stretch of puzzling silence. Space.com has more.

I’ve always loved the large-scale, long-term predictions and statements that Dr. Stephen Hawking is known for. One of his latest predictions/statements is truly fascinating. He proposes that we take a much broader view of the term “evolution” and include not only genetic information (internal), but also external information. Because we now have the ability to communicate external information we are now in a different stage of evolution. Just like so many of his broad ideas, this one really makes you think almost on a totally different level. Read more at the Daily Galaxy article.

Even though communication with NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander ceased last fall, scientists are still evaluating the data collected while it was in operation. The scientists used a specialized instrument on the lander to detect water ice clouds and even snow falling to the martian ground. Yes, I said snow. On Mars. How effin’ cool is that? Learn more about this phenomenon by reading the Universe Today article.

Also from Universe Today- a more substantiated version of the blurb I posted a couple weeks ago regarding the possible back-up to NASA’s new Constellation program. A video clip from the presentation made to an external review committee by shuttle program manager John Shannon has been posted on YouTube. Apparently NASA is taking this proposal pretty seriously and everyone there is waiting on the final word by an executive session as to whether they’ll keep charging ahead with the current plans for the Ares rockets or try this new plan to retrofit the existing external fuel tank/solid rocket booster system to work with the new Orion Crew Vehicle. Watch the video below. As Universe Today points out, this system would be MUCH cheaper and faster to implement. Honestly, I think there’s a decent possibility that they’ll end up going for this and scrapping the Ares rockets. Only time will tell. Full article here.

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So the Brian Wilson record signing at Grimey’s was a bit anti-climatic, but it should be expected, I guess. We stood in line outside in the cold for about an hour to get in. To my dismay they’d just sold out of his new album on vinyl, so I had to get it on CD. (The deal was that you had to buy a copy of his new album there at Grimey’s in order to get him to sign it, and you could also bring 1 other item.) My other item was the awesome original mono version that Megan got me for Christmas last year. Mr. Wilson was robotic in his signing, to put it lightly. He didn’t even make eye contact with anyone.
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But the man is lucky to be alive after going through all that he has- his father’s treatment of him, drug abuse, mental illness, losing his brothers, the tension between him and Mike Love… the list goes on and on. All that, and yet he still managed to be one of most profound and influential musicians/producers/composers of modern times. He is indeed the “Mozart of rock” as he was introduced on the stage monday night. This leads into my next item of interest- we ran into none than Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo at the actual Brian Wilson show at the Ryman monday night. I saw him from behind and before I knew it, had blurted out “Robert Schneider!” He turned around and was very cool and friendly. I mentioned that I’d seen him perform as Marbles at the End opening for Of Montreal once and he was very appreciative. He seems to be in that sweet zone of moderate fame, where not too many people recognize him, but the ones that do aren’t obsessive about it, and it happens seldom enough that he’s appreciative and always willing to talk/take photos/etc… We took a photo with him and went on our separate ways. The show was nothing short of amazing, and from what I’ve heard from people who’d seen Brian before, it was actually better than other recent appearances. His band the Wondermints are absolutely phenomenal, and nailed every single note of the complex harmonies involved with both the Beach Boys material and Brian’s solo stuff. They recreated the sounds in the recordings (yes even the complex Pet Sounds material) with stunning aural accuracy, and the sound mix was almost flawless. I feel like it was worth every penny, and I got to photograph it for the Scene as well, which made it even better.
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Frankly I’m a bit surprised this is public information, but as the article mentions, presedential codenames are a bit obsolete and unnecessary, given the strict security and hi-tech communications used by the secret service.
Barack Obama: Renegade
Michelle Obama: Renaissance
Malia: Radiance
Sasha: Rosebud

Diamonds made from tequila? Yes, indeed. If you told me that before I read this article I’d say you were full of shit, but it’s true.

The Phoenix Lander mission is officially over. They haven’t been able to communicate with it for a couple of days now, and the sunlight will only get dimmer and dimmer as the Martian winter sets in. This article seems to indicate that, while unlikely, the possibility does exist for Phoenix to re-awaken in October of 2009 when the Martian spring begins.

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