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June 11, 2007

Kim and I just watched Fellini's Roma. This movie is a work of sheer impressionist genius. The ecclesiastical fashion show (yes... there is one of those) blew my frickin' mind. The obvious intent to simulate a real documentary leaves me wondering how much was staged and how much actually was filmed as it happened. Was it all scripted and staged? Was that whole traffic jam scene a setup? What about the frescoes? I have no idea. Some of the dialogue and situations in the more chatty scenes were so funny that we rewound them and watched them 2 or 3 more times because they were so hilarious.

It's a highly surrealistic movie, juxtaposing the banal and the unbelievable without warning or explanation, so if you require a protagonist and a clear plot and timeline from your films, you'll find it lacking most of those things. But if you think of it more as an uncontextualized assembly of short film reels extracted from the mind of someone who likes to embellish their stories, you'll get it, and probably love it.

June 10, 2007

I am in a band called Tungsten SF. We made a video which you should watch immediately, or maybe listen to mostly and watch some of the time, if you can't commit to 25 solid minutes of undivided attention, watching us rock. [Comma, Jason.]

Today we rehearsed as usual but with a twist: I brought my own rackmounted amp and speakers instead of using the ones at the studio which are adequate but not good. My rack includes a newly purchased power amplifier, which is much more powerful (Bass Amplification, Part 1 and Part 2 explain why power = tone for bass players). I've practiced with a 25 watt Fender Bassman 25 with a live drummer and it was mostly loud enough, but only because the practice space was small and had concrete walls, so sound reflected well. I've practiced with Tungsten SF which is an inherently louder band in a much quieter room (it's a recording studio so there's lots of sound dampening stuff that eats bass and generally makes sound unusually directional). My guess is that the mono amp in the studio, as well as my old power amp (which is stereo), produce around 100-110 watts per channel, though they both claim 400W which is only true in the best of cases. They are loud, but not loud enough for a clear balanced tone with punch and presence. Instead you can have kinda loudish quiet with all that (drowned out by guitar and drums) or a kind of sloppy indistinct roar.

The new amp, which by the same best-case measurement delivers 1450W, is quite a bit louder. (The physics and psychoacoustics work out so that 10x as many watts = perceived as 2x as loud.) In reality it is delivering 400W per channel stereo, into speakers which are fabulous and capable of handling more than that. But 400W stereo into these speakers is still extremely loud, even in a sound-eating studio.

If you bought, say, a Dodge Viper or a Corvette, you probably wouldn't drive it anywhere near top speed on a regular basis. But that first few days... you'd find somewhere to drive it like a maniac, just for 15 minutes or so. And so I turned the mofo up full blast and screwed around with EQ settings and so on. How much boomy bass can I get? How about a typical "good" sound, how loud for that? And how about for the tube distortion angry-bees-on-meth sound?

In the future I will not require eardrum-shattering levels of volume. But the metaphor that came to mind today for maximum volume + maximum distortion was that of the Phalanx naval anti-missile defense system. 50 shots per second of computer targeted spent uranium 20mm armor piercing discarding sabot rounds flying at Mach 2, toward something that's going to be FUBAR in a few seconds. That would be your ears, or mine were I not always wearing earplugs. So like the new sporty car owner I will use moderation and not run the thing at 11 when small children are in the same hemisphere. But like a small child, I needed to test the boundaries to see what I could get away with if I wanted to. Result: amazing clarity at a very hazardous volume level.

One final note: they're not using spent uranium as the armor piercing rounds' heavy metal core anymore. Care to guess what the replacement is?


June 7, 2007

My band made a video which contains 2 songs, totalling 25 minutes of ROCKING. The full-quality one is too huge-mungous (272 MB) for web download so the medium quality one is on Google Video here: Tungsten SF: Mercy II and Houdini.

P.S. if you want the high res one (272 MB, 640x426 30fps MPEG-4, 160Kbps AAC, sounds and looks great) let me know and I'll tell you when I've uploaded it.

June 6, 2007

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Peter Sellers is the man.