Saturday, August 31, 2013

Talking Back

As more and more members of Diatomaceous Earth get better and better headphones, we're stuck with an ironic problem in rehearsals. Although we can hear one another's instruments better while playing, we can't hear one another talk.
Now I realize that for most bands, not hearing what the idiot horn player has to say is a plus. But for us it really would be nice to know when someone calls out chord changes and the like. Or even discuss the way we're supposed to come up to the coda. Or what-have-you. Sometimes jokes.
The JamHub we've got works great for us. And there are inputs for microphones. Now, if we all had headset microphones and cough switches we could have usable full-duplex talkback between all the musicians.

So thing: I own two pair of Sennheiser HD280's. And Ethan just got himself a pair. They are great, cheap, isolating headphones. But personally I don't find them that comfortable. And the low end sounds a tad "boxy" to me. And when you add a boom microphone (like the link above) you're spending around about $265 on them (with the appropriate connectors).
Okay, so that's over $1250 just to cover each member of the band. Ah. But we're not done. Because we would each need an on/off "cough" switch.  Think another $50.
Plus, you know, cabling. We're essentially doubling the amount of cabling we carry when adding a talkback system like that. 
Now one might think "Hey, start slow, just get yourself one headset mic and go from there." Yeah. About that.
The person with the headset mic gains a lot of control over the band. Right now the band has no clear leader. I like it that way.
Now that I say that out loud I realize I'm making a hierarchical unilateral decision which systematically maintains a democracy. Uh. Yeah. So there's that.
What if we put a switch in the middle of the floor and a single omnidirectional microphone somewhere near it? That's good for everyone but the drummer, right? Well, it's not quite as practical as I'd like as it's difficult for us to all get to the center of the floor. And yes, it's impossible for the drummer to get to.
That brings me back to just thinking I should get myself a headset microphone and a single switch. Because, you know, ME. That would violate some of my earlier terms herein but I could also use the headset for recording commentary tracks.
I don't know. This is an issue only in that it's a bit of a pain to flip off headphones in order to hear what someone is saying or to hear someone say "You take the solo here" or whatever. Personally it means that I make more dramatic motions coming up on a change and I yell "hea!" a lot.
The other thing which just occurred to me is that when someone opens the contact on a microphone for talkback the drums will likely get loud. Er. Maybe not. Maybe not if the gain is such that you're practically kissing the mic. Uh. Maybe. In my head I imagine the snare becoming much louder in the headphone mix.
So like I said. I dunno.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Now just note this is not an album. No. It's instead an aural mess.
But that's okay. This rehearsal (Greg, Drew, Lou, and Ethan) was in part a proof-of-concept and was also an experiment in how we can work a song.
The process is pretty straightforward. We take a song which was improvised at one point (the melody and the Dm to Em chords). Then we play it some more and somebody suggests the B section. Then somebody suggests the C section. Then somebody suggests new chord changes and we discuss where those chords should go (the last time we come back to the A section, as it turns out.)
Then we learn how we want to interact with one another. Then someone comes up with a descant -- an opposing line to the B section which works really well. And off we go to the races. Plus, somehow, I get to play blues guitar.

In practice this means, er, lots of practice. In this case, two hours playing two chords. I'm going to guess that we'll have done about 20 hours on this one song; working together in the studio. And the song will be about 20 minutes on an album.
That's not too bad actually. Especially if one is happy with the results.

Porcupine Part Dream

Tonight we played two chords for two hours. That's an hour of Dm and another hour of Em.

Still, Lou wanted something he could listen to at home in order to make up a part.
Here is that thing:

We had no Lily tonight as she was a bit tired and under the weather. So this is just Ethan on Stick, Greg and Me on Guitars. The piece "for Lou" has no drums on it. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


So I'll admit I've been watching a lot of Spaced lately, which I hadn't seen before. Stylistically it's really streets ahead of even stuff like Community. Virtually every shot is some sort of genre-inspired transition. That's not actually factual but it feels like it's true.

Back in the olden days we would get yelled at by distributors and trailer editors for not having a moving camera. So by the time we shot Alien Insurrection we'd decided to do as much of the movie handheld as possible. This was a real bear with the HVX2000 and the Letus adapter with a 35mm lens on the front.
Since then I've had a tendency to go for a more "immediate" sort of "you are there" look with shooting handheld. The Firefly TV series might have had a hand in encouraging that tendency in me.
But the thing I realized from watching Spaced is that I never shoot transition shots. 
This is mostly because I have no idea how we'll want to edit a scene when we shoot it. This may in fact be a fairly large whole in my filmmaking methodology. Maybe I should know how we're getting from one scene to the next.
Of course, as a technique it way pull attention to itself. "Ooh! Look how smart we are doing this dolly move which is picked up by the next shot." So yeah, there's that. But I think I'm still in the Firefly style rather than the very formal style with glacially slow camera moves. I think
Our next movie is clearly a handheld and security camera extravaganza. But after that? Do we use a dolly more?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

That being said, I got my certification today

My SCUBA instructor grabs me at about 20 feet and has me ascend with him while the rest of the class stays below. After we get to the surface this exchange occurs:

Me: "Hey. Whatssup?"
Him: "There's blood in your mask."
Me: "Awesome."
Him: "Not awesome."

Seems I just gave myself a nosebleed while equalizing. Either that or the nanobots in my bloodstream have received the kill code and are beginning the zombie apocalypse with me as patient zero. Again.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

And the backs of my hands are sunburned

Day one of open water dives.
My instructor, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Ted Raimi (although he points out, rightly, that he usually gets "Harry Connick Jr.") assuaged my one concern which was to let me go really slowly to depth. It just takes a while for my ears to equalize.
In practice this meant that I went down to the 24' platform with the former company member of the San Francisco Ballet* as she has similar concerns to me. So we go slow.
I certainly have to hydrate better for tomorrow.
Even in the quarry the water was not particularly cold although we may go deeper tomorrow and will need hoods and gloves.
You know that whole thing where I learned how to use dive tables and such? I think we don't do that at all in the PADI Open Water Diver certification. I mean zero. Nothing. Nada.
This morning it occurred to me that I'm doing this solely to impress my friends. I'm lookin' at you, Joe Chapman.

*I say this in order to make my life seem more glamorous. Is it working?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Andrew Bellware

It has been presented to my attention that I need to include my name [Andrew Bellware] any time I blog in order to Andrew Bellware have my name come up (Andrew Bellware) on a Google -- Andrew Bellware -- search for Bellware {Andrew Bellware} first.

I am in desperate and deep competition with cousins of mine for this #Andrew Bellware # contest wherein the victor is awarded one (1) Internet.

Tags: Andrew Bellware. Bellware, Andrew

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rebecca Kush Rises Again

Joe Chapman has discovered that once again people like those pictures of Rebecca Kush.
Here HALO has clearly used her for inspiration.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Robot Cop

We need some powered armor. These images are from Nightmare Armor (which seems to not exist anymore).
We need a full suit of armor for Dead Residents.
Of course I love the robot with red eyes. I wonder how that neck gasket works.
We would have ordered a suit from Nightmare Armor but we can't get their email address or even communicate with them on Facebook. So we'll have to make our own.


Every once in a while I like to remind that my blognitude is multifurbicated. is the "official" blog of Pandora Machine, the film company. is whatever random thing Andrew Bellware is saying (and making his dad complain about because it causes too much email with posts about, you know, whatever I say on here.) is the blog for music and suchly, including the band Diatomaceous Earth

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ed's Message

Are you sure? Are you really sure? You know this can't be undone, right? Do you really want to go through with this? Do you want to think about it first?

Table Dive

So I feel more comfy with my dive shop now that I called them and got the guy who was interested in, you know, helping customers to talk to me about what the open water dive is all about. Because otherwise I was just going to cancel and go through another shop (see comments below).
From what I can tell, the whole thing where I studied how to read dive tables and calculate my pressure group based on how much time I've had in-between dives and such is completely irrelevant to the first level of open water diver. I can't understand why that would be true but apparently it is.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Type Like an Animal

Ed, Todd, Scott, Drew
The single funniest line the entire night was when we got into Scott's Mustang I was laughing too much to say my address into the GPS voice recognition system. Disgustedly Scott took back the GPS and said "I'll just have to type it in like an animal."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Silent Running

I just had the most frustrating customer experience at my local dive shop, PanAqua. I came in to get fitted for and to rent and buy the gear I need for my open water dives. At first I was being helped but then another customer came in so the two people working decided to swap customers.
This meant that the woman helping me decided to take time out to call someone and tell them how incredibly busy she was. You know, rather than actually getting me checked out. So busy. Oh. So busy.

Getting information was like pulling teeth. And it's a real problem when you don't know what you don't know. Meaning, that I realized I didn't know stuff, but I didn't even know in what categories I didn't know stuff. So: the dive computer. Never touched one before. Are we planning dives with this thing? It only has two buttons. The cover is scratched up to the point where it's a tad difficult to read. Is there some sort of manual for it? One I can read? Somewhere? Who knows?
I seriously and fundamentally have no idea what I'm doing next weekend. I mean, is this safe? Should I be looking into another dive shop for my open water dives?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Ides of August

Now then therefore this is the most recent rehearsal of Diatomaceous Earth. Two basses -- both fretless actually. We had a big problem with the level from Ethan's bass. Now that I think about it, if that bass has normal pickups, it SHOULD have been relatively low-level. You know what? Every other signal we're feeding into the JamHub rehearsal headphone distribution system is line-level. So why shouldn't a bass plugged into it not have to be turned up?
Chocotaurus Mouse

The snare at the rehearsal studio got changed out for a metal Ludwig snare. Lou was not impressed. He's more of a wooden snare guy although his favorite is the stupendously expensive Drum Workshop "Edge" snare which has metal rims and wood center.
The sort of grand experiment that is two bass players has much of interest. Still, Ethan has threatened to bring his stick next time and I suspect that will work awesomely.
Overall my focus tends to be on the wheat we create and not the chaff. Sure, there's a lot of chaff but even a few minutes of wheat is a very good ratio. Thing is though, somebody has to sit down and go through the whole thing and say "Okay that moment between 10:42 and 11:35 is good, but cut out every thing until 22:50" etc. 
I tried to not use a "center" microphone for the drums in this recording. I can't say that blows my mind. I think I will go back to having a center mic. Oh, and I put the overheads at the upper-most setting on the boom (the boom is level horizontally). Which is something which you find extremely important.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


My dad takes a mighty fine picture.

Belt, Biz, Boff

The musician's belt. It's actually both a musician's and a mechanic's belt. The point is that it has no buckle to scratch your guitar (or finish on your car).
I don't know that it's honestly possible to play the blues without scratching the back of your guitar. In fact I think that may be the deal you make with the devil in order to play the blues -- your guitar gets scratched. But, you know, it's interesting.

There is much the noise in the world of musicians about various things about the business of music. Indeed, there's is much the Luddite in (ironically) much of the internet chat regarding the nascent horribleness which is ostensibly Spotify. In any case, here's a critique of the argument that vinyl will "save" the music industry.
Lastwise: aargh. My main computer is being very cranky of late. It may be that it does not like to read off of large ExFat drives. I'm hoping it's that.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Uninformed Aardvark

Here's a rehearsal album. I'm always surprised at how well these things come out. Nobody, I mean nobody, had any idea what we were going to do until we were doing it.
We have two bassists and two guitar players. We suffer from having too many good ideas and too much fun. Which is a good thing to suffer from. We could sit down and take (say) one rehearsal and work and edit them all down into single coherent songs (you know, with changes and such which are, er, planned).
But so much of what we do is an experiment. I mean who would have thought two bassists would have worked? But it does. This sort of experimentation is fantastically and critically necessary.
For me, I mean I've been in bands where I pretty much wrote everything and had to have all the arrangements down. And being in a band where we can just experiment with the writing process for... hours... is a hugely euphoric and euphonic experience.
That last song there, A Mere Resplendence,  is only divided up into two parts because when we played it it was over an hour long. So I had to split it in half to get it onto bandcamp.
If you have the willpower, see for yourself how many times one of us tried to play Darkstar by the Grateful Dead. It's gotta be 4.
I'm gonna bet that we're going to think of some specific sections to go to at some point in the many hours of rehearsal we're going to do on Wednesday.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bun Air

The HEED is an emergency air device for helicopter crews.
Scubapro makes a full-face mask for under $600 (without regulator).

Friday, August 09, 2013

Done with the pool

The whole SCUBA process is pretty amazing. They have really made recreational diving about as stupid-proofed as possible. Every part of the gear and the system has been engineered and thought through so that literally a child can do it (PADI minimum age for the basic SCUBA certification is 10 years old.)
I have found a new love in my life. The 2nd-stage regulator. I love the regulator.

I mean, if you don't understand what I'm talking about, let me put it in a way you can understand.
With the regulator you can breathe underwater.
You can breathe. Underwater.
The regulator is simply a brilliant and marvelous invention. But here's the thing. Breathing underwater with a regulator is not actually the weirdest and most whack experience when learning SCUBA. No. Breathing from a free flowing regulator is the most whack thing.
Essentially if your regulator is free-flowing (no longer behaving like a demand regulator but rather just spitting out air like crazy) you can't keep it in your mouth. So you have to drink the air from the regulator. Underwater. Nothing's in your mouth, you're just breathing from a stream of air being cupped in your hand.
That is a counter-intuitive feeling.
You go through a crazy amount of air when you do that. I lost 800lbs of air pressure in my tank from a 30-second free flow. So if you're free-flowing you should be thinking about getting to the surface.
I cannot over-emphasize how good the advice from Joe (below) is. Be the fish God intended you to be.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

"Y" Because We Love You

My Mac keyboard died. Specifically what happened is that I spilled water on it and the "y" key just up and died. Typing emails without the letter "y" became interesting. But I got a new keyboard today. Rejoice.

Here is a by-no-means-complete guide to Theatresource folks who have Fringe shows this year. Fact is that so many people have been through or done shows at Theatresource that you'd be hard-pressed to get a final count.
Coinstar. It's a coin depositing thing in supermarkets. Nominally they charge a fee but they don't charge a fee if you get, for instance, an Amazon gift card in the amount of change you put in. And for me that's pretty much just like getting cash.


Holy cats the sound of that live version of Won't Get Fooled Again off of the movie The Kids Are All Right is even more spectacular than I remembered it watching as an impressionable teenager on late night TV. I remember my dad saying that he didn't think they were so violent. Meaning he didn't like how violent they seemed. I only thought Ha! THIS isn't the Who at their violent!
But looking back, this sound was exuberance. The Who were kings of the power trio. And adding keyboards is something to not be taken lightly. And boy they don't. The sequence (which apparently is just played live on an organ of some sort) freakin ROCKS.
It's funny though. Remember the volume wars? Those volume wars substantially post-date The Who. The Who. I mean those guys had a stage volume that would make dead men wake from their graves.
But on a recording, where you can play back at any volume you desire, they're simply not as loud as a modern bubble-gum pop song. And I'm wondering if the fault lays only partially in multi-band brick wall limiters.

I think the other problem may be how freaking loud we've been mixing drums since sometime in the 1980's.
With The Who you can tell -- yes the drums are loud and being hit hard but they're slightly swamped by the double HiWatt heads driving 4x4 12" cabinets on a guitar with P90's being smashed by a sledgehammer. You can hear the drums, sure, but they're right there next to several hundred watts of guitar amplification that do not mind in the least going into distortion.
Nowadays those drums would be at least 6dB louder in the mix. The snare would smack you in the face every time it came down. And suddenly at that volume it's competing with the vocal (because snare drums have all kinds of sounds which smear right across the vocalist's range -- we can call a snare drum a little band-limited white-noise  generator can't we?)
And once you're fighting with the vocal you're fighting with everything and the answer to making everything loud is to use more compression everywhere. And look! Now we have the ability to use digital multi-band auto-makeup limiters which eliminate pumping and make every part of signal as freaky-deaky loud as we could ever imagine it being.
If we mixed drums quieter this wouldn't be as much an issue. Not that I'm advocating that. I'm just saying. Louder drums = louder everything.
This is just a theory mind you.

Richard Waters, the fellow who invented the Waterphone, passed away on July 4.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Android Insurrection Review

Here's a fair enough review of Android Insurrection. Although I think the acting in it was top notch. And only some, not all, of the visual effects could have... used some more work.
I'm particularly amused by this quote:

This movie could have ending 10 minutes earlier and been a stronger film. I get the feeling the director added in the last few minutes just to get this movie classified as a feature-length film.
You get that feeling? Because that's straight-up what happened. 

GrubHub, you can bite me

If I wanted to perfect my people skills I'd have gone to the grocery.

Diatomaceous Earth's First Album

Diatomaceous Earth: In the Vast Iteration
The new album by Diatomaceous Earth, "In The Vast Iteration" is now available. We recorded this album inadvertently. Ha! I do really like it. It's quite avant weird yet melodic.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Joe Chapman's advice on SCUBA

Don't forget rule numero uno: breathe! Or your head will explode.  Also, when scuba diving, the surface is your enemy - get as far below it as possible.  Let yourself sink, and love the deep. Above all, remain relaxed at all times. Don't fight with bouyancy, especially in a pool - just settle to the bottom, relax for a bit, and then start tapping a little air into your bc to figure it out. And when sinking, GENTLY valsalva - GENTLY! 
Too many people turn learning to dive into a stressful fight - don't!

Be the fish god intended for you to be. As long as that regulator is feeding you air, you're a fish. Flash a thumbs up to the instructor(s) a lot - it makes them feel like you're not dying and they'll leave you alone.  (Yeah, you're gonna want to use the "okay" sign, even though, technically, it should be the sign for "deadly 3 tentacled octopus!") But if you have to pee, use the thumbs up then surface and make your way to the nearest restroom because if you pee in the pool while breathing compressed air then you could explode and as I've stated earlier - big mess that nobody likes.

Also, BREATHE! Or you'll explode, and nobody wants to clean up that mess.

Also, keep your cell phone in your BC pocket, and if you have any questions while you're below, call me.

Ben Thomas

Ben Thomas, who was in Millennium Crisis, Angry Planet, and Clonehunter, in his web series Stay At Home.

Oh! And Beth White is in it too. She was a Theatresource regular back in the day. Go to the link above or click through to Vimeo for a bigger version.
It's very funny, well-acted, and great post-production sound! ;-)

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Ermines of Love

Diatomaceous Earth had a rehearsal last night. Ethan Rosenblatt was there so we had two, count 'em TWO, bass players.
One thing this caused was us playing one jam for over an hour. Seriously folks, we have zero preconceived notions about where these things are going when we start out. You're asking yourself: "What's the difference between The Effortless Ermine and The Enumerated Ermine?"
The difference is that I put a bit heavier compression on Lily's bass in The Enumerated Ermine just to try to bring it out a bit more because I was afraid the two basses were running into one another. They may still be. I can't always tell the difference between the two basses.
I did actually pan Ethan a bit to the right and Lily to the left. Note that my guitar is on the right and Greg's is on the left. Actually, all the panning is as though you're right where I'm standing in rehearsal. It's like I'm emulating me or something. Odd.
So we had an input from Ethan's bass to a Countryman DI and right into the Tascam US 2000 preamp number 4.
Inputs 5 and 6 were kick and snare. Yeah. Using the cheapo Tascam preamps. The mics are Equation Audio.  Now the kick may or may not have been replaced. But the snare actually sounds pretty good.
Greg's guitar (from a Shure SM58) and Lily's bass are also both straight into the Tascam -- Lily actually goes through Ethan's FatMan limiter and into one of the high impedance inputs on the Tascam.
The two toms are now going into the Lindell preamps with a couple Equation tom mics. I think the toms sound pretty dynamite although honestly that's mostly because Lou can make drums sound really good.
The overheads are Ear Trumpet labs Edwina microphones going into Neve 1272's. So yeah, that's signal path is pretty much book.
There's a "center" mic which is a Rode NT1 going into a Neve 1272. This mic just gives a bit more beef to the drum kit overall. It's in front of the kit aimed center and is about as far away as the overheads.
My guitar is the last track -- Shure SM 58 hitting a Neve 1272.

They Will Outlive Us All

Here's a trailer for a new pic Nat Cassidy is in:

They Will Outlive Us All trailer from Jessi Gotta on Vimeo.

you know what's exciting? The "y" ke on m keboard doesn't work. So I have to cop and paste it when I want it. ikes.

Marco Pillow

This is a delightfully bizarre video by Sketkh Williams, who was a zombie in Earthkiller:


Picture taken by my sister this morning.
(Left to right) Dad, Iona, Sir Winston, Meydl.