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Hope you didn’t miss me yesterday. I just didn’t really have anything to blog about. But today I bring you this:

Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault

Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault

Yes, that is space shuttle Atlantis, and the tiny dot just below it is Hubble, just before the shuttle’s robotic arm grappled it yesterday. This is the first time the space shuttle AND Hubble have been photographed transiting the sun. It’s really an awesome achievement. Yesterday the astronauts successfully installed a new camera into Hubble, and today they will tackle the task of replacing all 6 of Hubble’s gyroscopes and installing new batteries. While we’re talking about astronauts and space and whatnot, I might as well show you this TOTALLY AWESOME airstream astrovan in which they ride to the launch pad to board the shuttle. How cool is that? They get to ride in a vintage airstream!

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

In other NASA news, Obama is expected to appoint former astronaut Charles Bolden as the new NASA chief administrator on Monday. FINALLY. I agree with Phil Plait (of Bad Astronomy) that he took way too long to make this decision. But with the economic issues, the war issues, and having to fight the GOP tooth & nail to achieve any of his goals, I can understand how this kinda got put on the back-burner.

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has posted a collection of stunningly beautiful aerial photographs by photographer Jason Hawkes. Go have yourself an eye-gasm.

We still don’t have any concrete plans for this weekend, but I’m hoping to include Shoot The Mountain’s EP release show at the Basement Saturday. I highly recommend it, as the Protomen and Totally Snake are also on the bill. This will indeed be one EPIC show. Then there’s also Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele with Kindercastle and the Winter Sounds tonight at Mercy Lounge.

One more quick link- Pitchfork did an interview with Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. Only 12 more days till their Mercy Lounge show!

Have a great weekend!

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Today Theory 8 Records released the new self-titled EP from Shoot the Mountain. So far I’ve only listened the 1st track “Invitation,” and so far so good. Actually, so far so AWESOME. I can’t wait to have time to check out the rest of it. Head on over to their Bandcamp page and purchase it for a measley $5. Yet another Nashville indie rock gem recorded and produced by Jeremy Ferguson at Battletapes.

In other release news, Those Darlins have announced the release date and album art for their debut self-titled full-length album. The vinyl version hits shelves on June 23rd, followed by those “other” formats on July 7th. They’ll be celebrating the album release on June 27th at Mercy Lounge with….. the Black Lips. Fuck yes. More details at We Own This Town.

Thank you to everyone who came out to my 8 off 8th last night. It was most definitely a success, at least as good as the last one I did. All the bands played great sets, and I was especially happy to hear some new stuff from The Nobility and Carter Administration. Mean Tambos killed it, and Ryan was really getting crazy on stage because my friend/bandmate/videographer Seth was taping the performance for their EPK. Hopefully I’ll do another one late summer/early fall. And who knows? Maybe I’ll book a full-on show.

It was really nice to have today off from work at Vandy. When you host an 8 off 8th you gotta stay till the end, and even a little after, so it was nice to be able to sleep in today. I’ve been sitting around with the doors open listening to the Lovin’ Spoonful and The Association on vinyl. It also gave me a chance to take the new kittens to the vet, where we discovered that Sebastian is actually a Sebina. But they’re in pretty good health, main concern was a little bit conjunctivitis in Sebina’s eye, which should be easy taken care of with some meds.

EcoGeek reported on an amazing new company that aims to create a Second Life-esque “video game” interface that will allow homeowners to control every energy-consuming device through a 3D animated program. The “game” uses avatars to control lights/AC/etc… So you would login and make your avatar turn down the AC, and in real-life your AC would be turned down by a computer that controls your house. Whatever you do, just don’t name your house’s computer H.A.L….

Space Shuttle Atlantis is now on its way to Hubble. They’ve completed the heat shield inspection with the shuttle’s robotic arm. There were a few dings found, but the initial opinion is that they’re very minor and not a threat. Detailed analysis is underway, however, to be certain. I’ll keep you updated daily. In the meantime, watch this kickass HD video of yesterday’s launch. If you have your computer hooked up to a sound system, I highly suggest turning the volume and bass waaaay up.

I hope everyone enjoyed yesterday’s tomfoolery. Everyone seems to hate April Fool’s but I enjoy all the jokes. I always look forward to what kind of ridiculousness Google will cook up each year. Here’s the Wikipedia page with a history of their pranks.

Photo by Steve Cross

Photo by Steve Cross

Shoot the Mountain have been getting a lot of buzz lately and playing a lot of shows, but everyone’s been wondering when their first release would happen. Well, it’s finally happening on May 16th on Theory 8 Records, and it’s an EP (presumably self-titled?). A release show will happen on that date at the Basement with Totally Snake (WTF?!?) opening. They’re also playing on April 9th at the End opening for Appleseed Cast.

The Features just released details of their upcoming tour with The Dexateens. They’ll be hitting clubs all over the southeast, northeast, and midwest later this month and into May. Oh, and they’ll also be featured in the July issue of Nylon Magazine.

More comprehensive local music news coverage can be found at We Own This Town and Out The Other.

Four Russian cosmonauts and two European astronauts volunteered to be locked up together in a simulation of a spacecraft for 105 days. This is part of an experiment to study the psychological and physical effects of being stuck with 5 other people for an extended period of time in cramped quarters. The experiment will help scientists and engineers plan for an eventual manned-mission to Mars. This will be very interesting to monitor.

I’ve been reading a few different posts and articles over the last week or so regarding a recent vote on science standards for the Texas Board of Education. The board held a vote on several standards for science education and it was mostly a travesty, the biggest of which was the deletion of the statement that the universe is “roughly 14 billion years old.” Sure, there are several different numbers out there that vary by a few million years, but everyone in the entire scientific community agrees that it’s pretty damn close to 14 billion years. A variance of a few million years is NIL when you look at the big picture, and is definitely covered by term “roughly.” There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest otherwise! One faint glimmer of hope is that the board voted down a proposed change that would allow the teaching of “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. If this had passed, it would’ve been just one more way for Creationism to creep its ugly way into the scientific classroom. This article on the NewScientist blog sums it all up very well. I suggest reading it. I cannot get over the quote of board chairman Dr. Don McLeroy, who is quoted as saying, “I disagree with these experts. Someone has got to stand up to experts.” HA! Yea, you tell ’em Dr. McLeroy! Tell those experts that they don’t know what they’re talking about! Afterall, they’ve spent the majority of their lives studying REAL science, FACTS and EVIDENCE… how could they possibly know what they’re talking about? I find it amazing that this man (a dentist) was able to get through medical school with such anti-scientific beliefs. I sure as hell wouldn’t want someone that dumb working on my teeth.

Ok enough ire for one day. I’ll leave you with this hilarious video clip from a 50’s sci-fi movie. I really hope this is how they dance in the future.

Blue Eyed Blacks are a new project from Nashville’s hardest-working musician/promoter Jason Moon Wilkins. He’s most known for being the co-creator (along with Movement Nashville’s Ethan Opelt) of Next Big Nashville. BEB’s debut album Black Eyed Soul is an emotional ride through Wilkins’ career as a musician. The songs seem to be mostly narratives of his experiences in bands, as well as other ups and downs involved with trying to make a living playing music. It’s a well-rounded album that should please a variety of palettes. Perhaps the album’s best moment comes at the end with the bipolar combination of the last two tracks, The First To Fall and It Ain’t Over. The former being a painful slow burner about the loss of a loved one, the latter being an upbeat, optimistic, banjo-laden jangle about pushing on through tough times.

Mp3s:
The First To Fall
It Ain’t Over

This coming weekend is shaping up to be quite awesome in terms of shows. Thursday everyone’s favorite locals The Features are playing at the Rutledge. I’m really glad to finally see a band I really love playing there. For some reason they’ve been booking everything BUT the genres/bands that I’m interested in, thus I’ve only been there a couple of times to cover stuff for the Scene. It’s a great venue, though- the seating is near perfect, with the tables/chairs in the back elevated above the standing crowd, and the sound guy Frank Sass is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Friday we have another house show put on by Ryan Bruce of the Deli Nashville featuring Shoot the Mountain, the Biv, and the Ettes, with DJ Hippopotamus throwing down some beats in between bands. Their address is 3609 Pilcher Ave. (in the Sylvan Park neighborhood of west Nashville). They kindly ask that you park on 36th Ave to avoid congestion on their tiny street. Hopefully the cold will keep everyone inside, thus decreasing the chances of having the cops called. The other show woth mentioning is the continuation of the Winter of Dreamz at Mercy Lounge this Saturday the 13th with the Protomen, How I Became the Bomb, and Jensen Sportag. Need I say more?

Next year’s Leonid meteor shower could turn out to be a “minor storm,” with up to 500 meteors per hour. I’ll never forget the 2001 Leonids- the weather was pefectly clear AND it was a new moon, and that year happened to be a fairly heavy one for the shower. Normally the metoer shower is fairly low-key, but some years it can flare up and be awesome. Read the NASA article for further explanation.

The real meanings of several popular songs condensed into one sentence. My fav- Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire”– I did it with you, and now it hurts when I pee.

Matt Mahaffey plays a solo benefit show for his late brother Mikes kids at Capones in Johnson City, TN.

Matt Mahaffey plays a solo benefit show for his late brother Mike's kids at Capone's in Johnson City, TN. Copyright 2008 Steve Cross.

I should’ve posted this a long time ago, but here’s a link to my flickr photo set of the Matt Mahaffey solo show from Thanksgiving weekend in Johnson City. Like an idiot, I left my video camera in Nashville that weekend, but I did tape a little bit of the show he played at the Boro on Mon. the 24th. I will get those uploaded to YouTube as soon as I have time to sit down and transfer/edit the footage. I just found out last night that Matt & Rebecca’s dog Pongo died Sunday morning. He was one of two beautiful Dalmations owned by the Mahaffey’s, and he suffered from encephalitis. Thankfully their other dog Purdita is still with them. I think she may have been Pongo’s sister… but don’t quote me on that. They posted a blog with several photos of him here. I know they loved their dogs more than anything and they have my deepest sympathy.

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