Bob Pepper by Kyle Vernier

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I just received a copy of Morton Subotnick's album The Wild Bull in the mail. While playing it I was admiring the artwork and reading the information in the back. The cover art was done the artist Bob Pepper. Upon looking him up I realized he was the cover artist for a number of paperback books I own. . Also he did the artwork for my favorite board game of all time, Dark Tower. A game my family played often as I was growing up. Turns out I've been surrounded by the work of Bob Pepper my whole life and I just found out about it today.

Further reading can be found here: 

http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2007/07/12/the-art-of-bob-pepper/

 

Recording Sound by Kyle Vernier

After a few months of trial and error I finally finished my kit guitar. It was a pain, and it still isn't really right, the action is way too high. But whatever, press on. While I was at it a got my old bass guitar back together and sporting a new coat of paint. So, armed with my guitars, my Korg Monotron Due, my PO-12 Pocket Operator drum machine, a small selection of guitar pedals, my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and Garage Band, I made some terrible noise. Eventually I hope to get around to making actual songs and not just recording total noise but for now I'm just getting things all figured out. So, noise it is. 

I used to have this They Might Be Giants t-shirt that said "Music self played is happiness self made." I loved that t-shirt.

Spy Vs Spy by Kyle Vernier

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When I was in elementary school I used to stay over at my friend Tim's house a lot. Tim had two much older brothers and all of their old, cool stuff Tim had just sort of inherited as they grew out of it. This included things like original Star Wars figures and obscure board games. My favorite thing that Tim had were these little collected Spy vs Spy paperbacks. I can't remember how many he had, a few at the least. Everything about them appealed to me.

Both Tim and I were really into the 1960s tv program Get Smart, which had recently started airing on Nick-at-Nite. It also seemed like the 1960s Bond movies were constantly playing on cable TV. Spy stuff was cool.  I also loved the sort of Rube Golderberg style of the Spys' traps for each other, and that so often the Spys would end up destroying each other. That stuff was so funny to me.

I was too young to really understand the comments on nuclear destruction and the cold war. To me they were just this cool, funny thing that my friend had. I don't even think I'd seen an actual Spy vs Spy in Mad magazine. Growing up I was into Cracked magazine, not Mad (because Cracked wasn't as popular as Mad). I remember just pouring over these things all the time at Tim's house while he played Nintendo or did stuff on his Amiga. 

Overtime I've collected five of the paperbacks for myself. I think there are a few later ones I'm missing. I've just picked these up as I've found them at thrift stores and garage sales. 

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Rock and Roll Music by Kyle Vernier

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I'm not a great or even good musician, but I've always liked playing music. In high school I was in a couple of bands, but I haven't really played in one since. Though I always imagine putting an ad on Craigslist.

Mid 30s terrible guitar player seeks equally terrible bass player and drummer to start band. Must enjoy the Ramones, power chords, and not playing too late because I've got to work in the morning and I like my neighbors.

 Over the years I've played around with Garage Band and stuff a couple of times, recording toy instruments and stuff. Lately, I've wanted to get a little more into it. I bought a USB audio interface for my computer and I bought a new (to me) electric guitar. I also bought a guitar kit and I'm working on putting that together. I'm sure I'll get more into that stuff in the future. 

The point of this post is, I booted up Garage Band for the first time in many years and I pulled some of my early experiments off of it. Really it is just me messing around with the built in mic on my computer and whatever instruments I had laying around.  Good musician or not, it is really fun to make music. Maybe one day I'll place that Craigslist ad. 

Cicada Shell by Kyle Vernier

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I saw this Cicada shell on a tree today while walking around the neighborhood. I use to carry my camera everywhere, but I had kind of stopped. It seemed like I hardly used it. Today I grabbed it as I walked out the door and I'm glad I did. Cell phone cameras are great but I still think it is more fun to take a picture with a dedicated camera. I took this with a Fuji X10. Which is sort of a point and shoot with all manual controls that also shoots RAW. 

 

Making Sounds by Kyle Vernier

I've been plugging away at the Make: Electronics book. It has been really fun. I made a lemon battery. But seeing as how the eventual goal of this is to make my own analog synthesizer I was excited that today I made my first circuit that produced a sound. It might just be a buzz but I hope that some day not too far off I'll be making all kinds of buzzing electronic stuff.

 

Steps 1 and 2 by Kyle Vernier

I've been interested in analog synthesizers from the first time I heard The Rentals. That was the first time that I really understood what an analog synthesizer was. And since that time I've always kind of wanted one. Audrey had a Moog Rogue briefly when we were in college and it was fun and cool, when we got it to work. It had to be sold to pay for stuff college students need. I'm guessing rent and pizza. 

Anyhow, now I want to build my own synthesizer. So I'm starting at the beginning. I don't know much about electronics. I mean, I've soldered a few things but nothing big. Mostly just fixing stuff. So I'm going to work my way though the Make: Electronics book and then move on to the Make: Analog Synthesizers book. On a sad note, Ray Wilson the author of Make: Analog Synthesizers passed away sort of recently. His information packed website Music From Outer Space is still up and running and it is a seemingly un-ending resource of information for DIY synthesizer enthusiasts.