Happy First Contact Day 2014!

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In just a mere 49 years, we will make First Contact with the Vulcans, so let's party like it's 2063!

Record Store Day 2014

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I feel inspired.

I was just on the phone with my very good friend Christopher from Atlanta, and as we often do, we discussed many things, and one thing that happened to come up today, was vinyl. No, not the stuff that your kinky friends wear to parties, but those round spinning things with grooves that we once used to listen to music. Yep, vinyl records.

Christopher mentioned wanting to have some of his music released on vinyl, and I mentioned that I had recently had a very similar conversation a few months ago, about the very same thing. I was talking to another audio engineer friend, and I talked about the first time I had heard some music that I had engineered, on the radio. That was a big day for me. The next big event for me was hearing a bigger record that I had worked on, on the radio, and seeing the CD in stores all over the place. And finally, one thing I would like to accomplish in life, is to get my boutique record-label going, and to release some of the music on vinyl.

That led to us talking about how vinyl is making a small resurgence, and how we used to enjoy listening to records with our friends. Yes. Listening to music used to be a social thing, when we were younger. We would get together, get some pizzas, and play records. It's what we did, and it was fun. Today, the internet and technology has made much of what we do more isolating. Sure, they call it Social Media, but most people are sitting at home alone, staring at their screens, waiting for their 'friends' to comment on their updates. The same thing happened to music with the advent of the Walkman. Listening to music became an ISOLATING experience. We put on music, and listen with small headphones, or with ear-buds. The modern iTunes/MP3 Player/Phone thing is just an extension of that. Music is no longer a social thing, and it should be!

What Christopher and I decided, was that by Record Store Day, April 19, 2014, we are both going to re-incorporate turntables into our home stereo systems, get together with friends, order some pizzas, and listen to records... like back in the day. Between now and then we are also going to drop in on our local vinyl stores, and pick up some new records, for the big day in April, and we hope you do, as well.

Now, I am not one of those people who thinks that vinyl is magic, and sounds 'warmer' and 'better' than CDs do. In fact, for critical listening, give me digital playback ten out of ten times. But there is something cool about taking the record out of the jacket in the company of friends, checking out the bigger album graphics, putting it on the turntable, listening, and being social.

And yes, vinyl is making a comeback, and I think it's for many of those same reasons. Kids today think music is a file on their computer. At home they probably use their laptops to listen, and when they are out and about, they use their portable MP3 player. Having something tangible, something they can touch, is a new tactile experience, and probably makes the whole music-listening experience seem more real and more immersive, and they seem to be enjoying it.

So, I hope you all will make the pledge along with Christopher and me, and break out the turntable, and the dusty old records, and get together with friends, break some bread, and make music-listening a social experience, once again. 

AMC Is Doing Reality TV??!

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Seriously American Movie Classics? Your ridiculous arm-wrestling reality-show is called GAME OF ARMS? What's the matter, you didn't think of LORD OF THE ARMS first? Or ARM WARS? ARM TREK? BATTLESTAR ARMS?

In a world where you are about the only channel creating cool, innovative programming, I am shocked and stunned that you are lowering yourself into the reality TV cesspool.

I feel dirty.

Should we be worried?

Happy New Year 2014!

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Happy New Year!

Happy Kwanzaa 2013!

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Happy Kwanzaa!

December 25th, 2013

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May this overcapitalized blot on the calendar, roughly coincident with the nadir of the photo-period, itself an artifact of the obliquity of the ecliptic, find you neither sullen, nor wanting, because those things suck.

Axial tilt.

It's the reason for the season.

Happy Festivus 2013!

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Happy Festivus!

Happy Solstice 2013!

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Happy Solstice!

Happy Saturnalia 2013!

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Happy Saturnalia!

Happy Hanukkah 2013!

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Happy Hanukkah!

Bon Hiver 2013!

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For the most part, I think crowd sourcing is a good thing. When I first heard about Kickstarter, I thought it was a great solution to many of the problems that regular people have with funding their projects. Lately I have been seeing other types of crowd-sourcing sites popping up that I am less excited about. Recently I saw a site that deals with graphic design. A client in need of a logo goes there, registers, briefly describes what they want, decides on a prize amount, and then any of the registered designers (this site claimed over 200,000 of them) can go to work designing logos, and the client ultimately chooses one, and that person wins the allotted prize money.

Today I heard of one of these types of sites for audio work. Mixing, and mastering. The sort of stuff I do. It is basically identical to the model of the graphic design site I just talked about. A friend told me about this site today and we ended up having quite a discussion about it. My friend was shocked to learn that I wouldn't be signing up on that site, so I gave him this example. I asked him if he would sign up for a job where the boss said "Hey, come in and do some 8 hour work days and maybe you will get paid, but more likely than not, you won't. You'll get some good experience, and even though you won't be making money, I will." I mean seriously, who would sign up for that? I see little difference between that example and those sites.

In general, I oppose these types of sites for many reasons. They duplicate effort, they require people to exploit themselves (doing what could amount to many projects and not seeing dime one), they cheapen the profession, regardless of what that profession is, and they cheapen the product.

In the case of what I do (and many others, I am sure), making a record is a partnership that is more akin to a conversation between engineer/producer and artist, than anything else. The final product, the record, is the outcome of that conversation, and it's not a commodity that can be bought and sold on an exchange. Not if you really care about the product.

What say you all?
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I recently returned from attending the Convergence Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention, in Bloomington, MN. This was my second time attending that Con, and it was fantastic.

This year's theme was "The British Invasion," specifically referencing the 50th anniversary of the iconic BBC Science Fiction series, Dr. Who, but the Con was celebrating all British Science Fiction.

This year, I made a point of looking through the Convergence online schedule, and making notes about what panels and events I wanted to attend, in advance. That made things go much more smoothly. One thing that caught my attention was that Melinda Snodgrass was one of this year's 'Guests of Honor' and would be featured on a few panels. She wrote several Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, and I was looking forward to asking her some questions that I'd had for many years. I ended up being able to ask her those questions on a panel that was specifically about the episode The Measure of a Man, wherein Commander Data was given person-hood, establishing a legal precedent. 

The panel list was bigger this year than last, and I found many interesting panels to attend. Some of the panels of note that I attended this year included Sheldon Aspergers and You, Downton Abbey (not Sci-Fi, but British), Time Travel in Film, Gerry Anderson Retrospective, War of the Worlds 75th Anniversary, From Phlox to Pulaski an Evaluation of Star Trek Doctors, Faking It: Psychoacoustics and Sound Design for Audio, Films That Get the Science Right, Podcasting 101, Guilty Pleasure Film, The Obama Era Space Program: Second Term, Big Bang Theory vs Community, and more.

As usual, panels can be somewhat hit or miss, depending on how good the panelists are. Last year I attended a few panels where the panelists needed an espresso, or something. This year was no different.

One panel that sounded amazing to me, was the panel called From Phlox to Pulaski an Evaluation of Star Trek Doctors. I have enjoyed most of the doctors on Star Trek, and and was curious to hear what other people thought. The problem with this particular panel was that one of the panelists dominated the panel, talking endlessly about their favorite doctor, who is generally considered the worst of all Trek doctors. This particular character, Dr. Pulaski, was on exactly one season of ST:TNG, but this panelist ended up taking about Pulaski for at least 20 minutes.

Oy.

When you get a bunch of geeks together in one place, and when one or two of the panelists want to talk endlessly about what they know, it becomes a problem for me. Everyone in the crowd is a geek who knows a lot about the subject matter, and they would like to participate in the panel, as well.

If you read my post about last year's Convergence you will remember me lamenting that I was not on the Crash Course On Podcasting panel. This year I made an effort to get on the Podcasting 101 panel, and even suggested a panel called Sheldon, Aspergers, and You, and they included it in the schedule. I sat on that panel, as well.

I wanted to be on the Podcasting panel because I found that last year's panel was unable to answer the really technical questions asked of them. I thought that might be something I could help with this year. It was a fun panel to be on, but we needed a moderator to keep the panel better organized.

The Aspergers panel was something I suggested for personal reasons. I came to realize that I was on the spectrum about five or six years ago, and where there are geeks, there are Aspies, so I thought that a panel about Aspergers at a Con might allow a few people to have the same illuminating experience that I had when I figured it out. For me, the name of the panel was a big part of my thinking, as well. The Big Bang Theory is the number one sitcom on TV today, and it occurred to me that there are probably a lot of people on the planet who relate to Sheldon (definitely an Aspie), but don't know why. I was hoping we could lure a few of them into the panel, and they might figure a few things out about themselves as well. The panel met my expectations in every way and was a pleasure to be on. It was very well attended considering it was the first panel on the first day of Con, and there were hundreds, if not thousands of people who could not attend, because they were stuck in line waiting to get their Badges. If you're interested in hearing the audio from that panel, you are in luck. A friend recorded it on his phone and I did my audio thing, sweetened it, and made it better, and you can listen to it and/or download it here.

The only negative for me about the Aspergers panel was that the powers-that-be scheduled it at the same time as the Big Bang Theory panel. That for me was a big fail because I was hoping to attract those people who might relate to Sheldon, to the Aspergers panel. But when confronted with our panel or an actual Big Bang panel at the same time, I bet many ended up choosing Big Bang. With luck we will do another Aspergers panel next year, and make it so it does not conflict with with the Big Bang panel.

One panel highlight (or low-light, depending on your perspective!) was a panel called the "Pun-el," and It's exactly what you're imagining. Someone starts out with a phrase of a pun, and then anyone on the panel, or in the crowd can yell out the best, or more often, worst pun they can think of, and you either groan, or laugh. I was only able to tolerate the abuse for about twenty minutes, and had to leave. The puns were getting really bad, and it was unbearably hot in the room. I will say this for the Pun-el... I wish my friend Tracy were alive to witness it. He loved a bad pun, and took every opportunity to regale you with them when you were in his presence. He would have loved it!

The party night-life was terrific, and I spent a little time in the USS Nokomis party room, and the Ghostbusters party room. I spent a lot less time in the party rooms this year, because my hosts are such teetotalers!   :-)

As always, the costumes were amazing as well. Everywhere you looked there were people in super-realistic costumes doing their thing. One of the highlights for me this year was a guy dressed as Edward Straker from the Gerry Anderson television show, UFO. This was the show he produced prior to Space: 1999, the show that introduced me to his work. Every Con has lots of Stormtroopers and Han Solos, but I bet you don't often see a Straker!

Because it was my second Convergence experience, I had a much better idea of how to plan out my Con, in advance, and use my time a bit more efficiently, but just as I found last year, there was simply more to do at Convergence than you were able to do, or WOULD be able to do. Time flies, and doing to all of the things you want to do, while finding time to eat, drink, sleep, and get to and from the hotel, means having to improvise and change your schedule accordingly. At the end of four days it can be overwhelming, but it's very much worth it.

Thanks again to Todd and Kate for letting me stay in their home, and for being great hosts. I am looking forward to 2014 Convergence, already!
This is un-fucking-real. For those who see this who are not in Central NY, the flooding is off the charts. I have lived here most of my life and I have never seen anything like this. I am fine and so is my family, but I have many friends who are literally under water right now. And people STILL don't want to believe that the climate is changing?????!
Sib Hashian and Reggie Watts: Separated at birth??
By the way, and for the record, if everyone was as incensed about corporate crime as they were about a crazy lady with a bakery in Arizona, the world would be a better place.
What ever happened to the great Hollywood films? You know, films about romance set to the backdrop of the Civil War? Films about media moguls who seemingly have it all, but dream of nothing but their favorite childhood toys? Films about truckers who own orangutans, and who roam the west, getting in bare-knuckle brawls with buffoonish motorcycle gangs??
Feature 1: Three Days of the Condor

Feature 2: Syriana
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BloodyVeg episode #0218 went live today for your listening pleasure. Paul and I discuss our mysterious absences, and what caused them (hint, it was Paul's fault). This includes news of a big mixing gig Rich had, and how much pie Paul has been eating, of late. We also have a fantastic tune by Jenny Katz.

Download and enjoy!

A Crazy Three Weeks

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Wow. These last three weeks or so have been pretty busy.

I spent two of them mixing a fairly involved and complicated Rock Opera, and then I mastered it as well. Mixing it was quite the undertaking, because the client sent me some sessions that had fifty or sixty tracks, with dozens of background vocals. Getting the mixes to a point where I thought they were close, and then sending him an MP3  and waiting for his approval, started taking too much time, so the client suggested that he just come here, and crash at my place until we were done. I agreed. As I said above, the mixing process took two weeks, he was here for every moment of it, and we powered through and got them done. I'm pretty proud of these tracks because the client isn't exactly very good at recording (this was his first venture, and he started it six years ago), and I had to massage them quite a  bit to get them to sound like something. I think I succeeded. You can decide that for yourself, when the Suite is released. I will post the link as soon as it is available.

In that time I also ignored BloodyVeg. My co-host, Paul, lost his job the week we recorded our last show, and we were not able to do a show the following week for scheduling reasons. Mixing the Rock Opera kept me from recording the next two or three weeks, and today I just didn't feel like it. I need to get with Paul and plan a new show so we can let our listeners know what's going on.

Right now I am pretty spent from mixing ten or twelve hours a day, and I need a little break from audio work. This mix is officially the longest mix for a single record with which I have ever been involved. My longest mix prior to this was when I was assistant engineer on the S.O.D. record, Bigger Than The Devil. That took eleven days.

Not much else to report at the moment. Maybe I will write about the mix, in more depth, when I have processed it a little more.


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