Archive for October, 2009

Halloween Is Nigh

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 by johnbuckley100

M9, Summilux 50.


Philly Rock Gods Drink Up Buttercup Check Into DC’s Rock’n’Roll Hotel

Posted in Music with tags on October 26, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Jeez, it’s not enough that the Phillies are in the World Series, now they actually export good rock bands?  No fair!  Go see Drink Up Buttercup, freshly signed to Yep Roc so you know they’re good, at the Rock N Roll Hotel on the H Street Corridor on Thursday the 29th.  At which point, you may as well start celebrating Halloween.

King of The Road

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 25, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9, 35mm Summilux, ISO 160, f/1.4 @1/4000ths1-4

The Beatles In Mono: Depth, Not Width

Posted in Music with tags , on October 23, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Tulip Frenzy  took up a collection around the office, looked under sofa cushions for change,  and returned all the 5-cent deposit bottles that had collected in corners in order to buy The Beatles In Mono.  We did so because numerous published sources had declared the mono mix of each of the albums from Please Please Me to The Beatles (White Album) were superior to the stereo mixes we’ve been listening to on CDs since the late 1980s.

It seemed counterintuitive but intriguingly possible that the claims were correct. Though weird, we have to say, to think that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band might sound better in a mix made for one speaker than two.  How could it be possible that, say, “Tomorrow Never Knows” would sound better in mono than stereo?

The truth is, it doesn’t.  Or not quite. Just because more care went into mixing in mono than stereo, and just because the state of the pop music art as George Martin knew it at the time was aimed at optimizing the sound on dashboard AM radios, it does not follow that it actually sounds better to listen to a mid-period and later Beatles song in mono than stereo.

When listening to, say, “Baby You Can Drive My Car” in the mono mix, and then immediately following it with the 1965-stereo mix included here as well, it’s clear that by not separating the drums in the left channel from the piano in the right channel, the song has more punch.

Yet the human head has two ears, one on the right, the other on the left. While “Taxman” on Revolver may take the entire middle part of your face off when you listen to the mono version loudly on your stereo; while the backwards guitars on “TNK” may scramble your cerebellum just the way it was intended, the mono versions are deeper, not wider in sound.  They may take off the top of your head, but they don’t conform to the exigencies of the human anatomy.

Listening to the mono and stereo versions of mid-period Beatles back to back, you can tell Martin was a little lost in how to separate instruments and tracks from one another.  The mono versions are more coherent, more consistent.  They build from bottom to top, and don’t get lost plugging instruments in from side to side.

And yes, for the earlier works, songs like “I Want To Hold Your Hand” sounds pretty great in mono.  But once the Beatles had shared a few spliffs and were thinking of “the studio as an instrument,” it just fails to reason that the version mixed for a single speaker is “better.”  It may be more authentic, and it may capture better the way the Beatles were thinking — the mix as they heard them — but it isn’t necessarily more pleasing.  It’s like listening to two different Dylan takes at the same song; each is interesting, and tells you something about the artist, but let’s listen to all of them, and not have to choose.

The entire gang at Tulip Frenzy admires the reasoning behind the effort — and the completists among us appreciate the offering in this expensive box of not only the mono mixes of all non-album tracks (think “Rain” and “Paperback Writer”) but the original stereo mixes of Help and Rubber Soul, which heretofore have never been available on CD.   We could have stood not to have the hype that says the mono mixes are superior to the stereo mixes.  We’re awfully happy to have them — though now our iPod library is groaning, and the thought does occur to us that Apple Corps Ltd might be in cahoots with Apple Computer to drive us to one of those new iMacs with their 2 Terrabyte hard drives.

The Beatles were great enough as is.  No need to hype the mono versions of their albums as even greater than they were.

An Update On The Black Ryder’s Album

Posted in Music on October 22, 2009 by johnbuckley100

The Black Ryder (hey, they refer to themselves on their MySpace page with capital letters, so we can too now, we guess) have updated info on the release of their first album (Update From the black ryder (or is it The Black Ryder?) Kudos are sent to Peter Hayes of BRMC, who is on the album.  Remember, kids: TBR are an offshoot of The Morning After Girls, and they kill.

Sounds like it’s out Down Under by mid-November, with no update on when it will be available here.

They nicely quote from Tulip Frenzy on their MySpace page:

TULIP FRENZY: : All we can say is Wow. “Burn and Fade” sounds like the glorious offspring of a marriage between Spacemen 3 and Luna, with Mazzy Star doing the officiating.

And we stick by what we said!


Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9, 21mm Summilux

For a gallery of images from Dumbarton Oaks Cemetery, go here: Leica M9 At Dumbarton Oaks Cemetery


John Cale Races Elevators, Upwards

Posted in Music on October 21, 2009 by johnbuckley100

And is now on the injured reserve list:

John Cale Event Canceled At MoMA

After The Rain, In Front Of The White House

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 18, 2009 by johnbuckley100

For a gallery of Leica M9 images, go here: Leica M9 Images

Meantime, here’s what DC looked like this morning, after 4 days and 4 nights of rain:

Leica M9, Summilux 35mm, ISO 160, f/1.4, 1/2800th


XRite Color Checker Passport Fixes Things

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 18, 2009 by johnbuckley100

A plug: after having worked with the M9 for just under a month, one thing that was not working perfectly was correctly managing the color output.  Kindly folk on the Leica M9 User Forum suggested using the XRite Color Checker Passport to fix color profiles for the M9.  Works like a charm, and is very easy to use.  See if images posted above this don’t seem more true-to-life in the color department.

See here: XRite Color Checker

A Little Bokeh of Flowers?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Sorry, you Leica the pun?  M9, 35mm Summilux wide open, in the rain.


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