Megan and me with Rob at the Brian Wilson show last November.

After hearing the song “Energy” on the last Apples in Stereo album, I thought to myself “man, Robert Schneider could easily follow in the footsteps of They Might Be Giants and make children’s educational albums.” Well, turns out he’s doing just that. Billboard reports that he’s started a side project called “Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine,” and released a self-titled album last week through kiddie label Little Monster. I have a feeling the songs will still be enjoyable to us grown-ups, just like the TMBG kids’ songs are.
Another little tidbit from Billboard- that big Jonas Brothers 3D movie event that was supposed to be huge, turned out to be a bit of a flop… Ha. Ha ha.

& I took a picture of u & U took a picture of me. He really should turn this into a short film or something. I would hope it would come out feeling a bit like an SNL skit… but maybe with the irony a little less obvious.

The Strobist is a great blog for photographers. The guy knows lighting very well, and if you’re even remotely interested in photography I highly recommend checking it out. Today I had complete jealous-gasm when I saw his post about traveling to the Large Hadron Collider to do some photos of the engineers and scientists there. I can’t even imagine what it was like to get to shoot in there. Just to be inside it…. I would probably just freeze up in utter awe & amazement.

Back in those good ole days of cinema, they used an optical track on the side of film to record the sound. It was literally an optical representation of the waveform, painted in a black stripe alongside the picture. Nowadays that analog waveform has been replaced by either DTS or Dolby Digital. In the case of DTS it’s a timecode of dots and dashes to sync up with a separate CD containing the audio. In the case of Dolby Digital it’s a gray area between the sprocket holes that, when magnified, shows millions of tiny dots in a pattern, which is read by a digital optical sensor, converted into a digital signal of 1’s (represtented by a dot) and 0’s (represented by a clear space), representing the actual audio. This is a very simplified explanation, and I’m also recalling all this from my Audio for Media class waaaaay back in 2000, so if you’re reading this and you know I’ve mis-stated something, please leave a comment correcting me! Anyway… this all leads to the following video from 1951 showing film artist Norman McLaren, who literally draws sound by painting a series of dashes and shapes on the film, then running it through and optical audio reader. I’d love to try this sometime… it would be fascinating…. Via Clusterflock.

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.