Thursday, December 29, 2005


A heartwarming story of love between species.

No, it's not Tom and Katie. It's Owen and Mzee, a baby hippo and 130 year old tortoise, who met after Owen moved into Haller Park Sanctuary in Kenya after being separated from his hippo family by the Indian Ocean tsunami. They've been together for a year and are inseparable.

Owen will soon be introduced to a female hippo named Cleo, and we all know what the zookeepers are hoping for. Zookeepers are obsessed with getting animals to do the dirty.

I just hope the tortoise doesn't get jealous. You ever seen a love triangle between two hippos and a tortoise? Not pretty.


Used the two C1's last night as overheads for drums.

Large diaphragm condensors for overheads = sweet!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


This sucks.

Have I stayed at a Marriot lately? I don't remember.


Tonight we'll be working with our old friend Koichi. I hope I'm spelling that right.

We first met Koichi several years ago when he was a fresh faced 15 year old with a Strat and a band. They were all 15, in high school, and had come to the studio (this was before the name "Smoke and Mirrors" was dreamt up in a cloud of blue fumes) via a cousin of our old bandmate Rob.

The band was called the Naked Basics, and their music was bluesy rock, certainly much more sophisticated that anything I was playing at 15 (learning the keyboard riff to "The Final Countdown" just doesn't cut it). They were very good, and for a while their tune "South of the Border" was up on the old Smoke and Mirrors site, mostly to make older musicians feel bad about themselves. People used to reference the Naked Basics all the time when they came in to do sessions; I think Mikedot or the Misanthrope may have commented on them back in the day.

We did 4 or 5 tunes with them before bedtime, which was pretty late since they were all native New Yorkers. For them it was back to High School and for us it was back to whatever we were doing, probably arguing over snare EQ's until the band broke up.

Well, Koichi graduated and took his Strat to college, where he's still playing and undoubtedly doing well with the ladies. Tonight we'll meet his new band (I don't know their name) and try to do four songs in two nights. I guess winter break is shorter now than it was in my college days, when we basked in a full month of down time, but never recorded a damn thing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I think my boss just told me to go and get him some paper, as his printer is out.

Are you kidding me?


As the mastering of Brain Shivers' "Santiago Love Songs" approaches the finish line (feeling much like a long distance running crapping themselves during the home stretch), some questions about credits are swirling around.

George sent an email around and told us to "BLOG ABOUT THIS FREELY YOU BLOG HEADS."

So here goes.


BRAIN SHIVERS "Santiago Love Songs"

Brain Shivers Is:
Chris Smith - Laboratory Instrumention and Lead Vocals
Ted Smith - Laboratory Instrumention and Lead Vocals("Killing Me")
George Smith - Laboratory Instrumention and Measurement Devices
Rob Smith P.H.D. - Synthetic Animal Skins Stretched on Wooden Frames and Beaten with Sticks
Gordon Smith - Cello, Poetry


Mike "Dot" Ingenthron - bass on "Road Lag"
Glauco "What's his last name again?" - drums on "Road Lag"

Produced by Brain Shivers
Recorded at Smoke and Mirrors, Brooklyn
Engineered by Chris Pace, George Vitray, and Ted Wilson
Mixed and mastered at Skyway Studio by George Vitray
All songs written by Pace/Wilson/Machold/Vitray

A Very Special Thank You to Those Loveable Charactors at "Special" Delivery

He then added:

'PS: I LOVE THESE CREDITS AND THINK THAT THEY ARE FUCKING COOL. You PAnseys can cry about not having the "proper credits" but a lot of cool bands have done shit like this and I dont think it changes anything about the legal status of the record so lets DO IT GUYS!'

Next up: some responses


We all know the best part of Christmas is... the presents.

Sunday was spent at my sister's home, with her two little daughters, and the sheer quantity of gifts was overwhelming. For about an hour we were trapped by mounds of Barbies, blocks, books, and shredded paper. I don't think the individual presents even registered with the little ones.

By the end, we - my mom, myself, Annie, and my niece Emily - were playing catch with a balled up piece of tissue paper. This ended up being the most popular toy of the day.

Anyhow, now it's Hanukah (insert your favorite spelling here), which means eight nights of... presents!

In honor of the Holiday, Annie and I took a little ride to Toys R Us last night to do a little last minute shopping. For ourselves.

I got it.

Yes, after nearly twenty years, I have a new Millenium Falcon.

It's pretty impressive. They've used the same molds as the original, so the overall feel of the ship is the same, although the plastic is different.

The satellite dish, the gun and gunner's chair, and the little false floor (for hiding from the Imperial Troops) are all the same. The supports for the hatch are slightly different - the originals were very fragile - as is the "glass" for the gun. They've also changed the way the cockpit door opens - it used to open to the side, with a little "hinge" that never worked very well. Now the hatch opens straight up, taking the instrument panel with it.

Missing is the little ball Luke can use to practice his lightsaber skills. Choking hazard, perhaps? Or is Luke sufficiently practiced after all these years?

The original Falcon made one noise, kind of an engine revving up, but the new model has three. Once I get the batteries put in I'll let you know how they are. But it does flybys, engines starting, and cannons firing. There are light up cannons on the ship itself (were these in a movie? I don't know) and it has headlights! Very cool for when you accidently fly into the mouth of a giant space creature while hiding from TIE fighters in an asteroid belt. There's also a missile that fires from between the "mandibles" at the front. Was this in "Return of the Jedi?" Again, I don't remember. But I don't like having the missile in there - it's just not true to the original. So mine is out.

The engines at the rear of the ship are totally different. What used to be three sections with stickers (if I remember correctly) is now one big bluish piece of clear plastic, much closer to the movie version.

It also has an entirely new paint scheme - everything that used to be blue (like the cockpit seats) is now brown, and there is a lot more detail on the body, as well as some space dust and battle damage.

I'm setting up a small Rebel Base on the coffee table.

All in all, very very cool. I took it for a spin around the apartment last night and both Annie and Buck just shook their heads.

Friday, December 23, 2005


It's "The Holidays" again.

This morning I heard a useless "Your Health" report on 1010 WINS (the most listened to station in the nation) telling me that Holiday stress isn't good for you. Thanks Doc.

I like to give people gifts, but storing it all up for one stressful day is no fun. Inevitably I sit uncomfortably while my family opens what I gave them, then I sit uncomfortably and open my presents. The whole thing feels like a bad first date.

I'd rather email my gifts as MP3's periodically throughout the year. "Here's a mix of 'Hell Disaster' with scratch vocals and the high end on the guitars cranked up. Merry Christmas, Mom!"

Thursday, December 22, 2005



Astronomers have found more rings around Uranus.

Insert funny Uranus joke here.

That Hubble sure is powerful!


Well, the TWU has agreed that its workers should be preparing to return to work while a deal is being finalized. But the same article says it will take 12 hours or more to get the system running once a deal is finalized.

What does this mean?

I guess it means that, until there's a deal, the strike is still on. And once there's a deal, we'll still be walking for a while.

Damn terrorists.


I walked from home, over the Williamsburg Bridge, and ended up getting a cab up to 30th street.

Last time I crossed that bridge I was tripping on Mushrooms. This time I was drinking tea and smoking a butt.

New Yorkers walk everywhere, so it's no big deal. Ridiculous that I have to walk to get to a job that's done entirely with email, but whatever.

Any ill will I felt toward the TWU was instantly dissolved when I bought the Post. Columnist Andrea Peyser: "The 9/11 terror attacks couldn't kill his business. No, the villians threatening to rob Jay Park of his livelihood are far more treacherous, selfish, and insane. 'It's dead - dead!' Park moaned from behind the counter of the ordinarily bustling Here and Now deli in Greenwich Village."

Is she fucking insane? Oh yeah, she's a conservative columnist for the biggest rag this fine city has to offer. This is why I can't stand the conservative agenda.

Is the TWU worse than the 9/11 hijackers? I guess so. Maybe GW should swoop in and bomb the hell out of NYC.

Fuck Andrea Peyser and fuck Jay Park and the Here and Now Deli. What, did everyone move out of Greenwich Village in the last two days? Are you really telling me that a neighborhood deli is being killed by a strike that keeps people at home? Is this a joke?

No, it's Andrea Peyser, conservative. Living in an alternate universe.

The deli across the street from my job told me they are busier than usual. Every cabbie and car service driver is working hard.

Is there a huge economic impact? Sure there is. Are companies losing money? Yes.

Is the TWU worse than Al Qaeda?

Is conservatism a big joke? Yeah, but the punchline sucks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Have you seen that "March of the Penguins?" This one will cheer you up. It's a good holiday movie for you and yours if your plans include group suicide.

Don't get me wrong - it's also highly uplifting and beautiful, only it's a tragic beauty, in the sense of:

Middle English tragedie, from Middle French, from Latin tragoedia, from Greek tragOidia, from tragos goat (akin to Greek trOgein to gnaw) + aeidein to sing --

... meaning it's really all about singing goats.

That's beside the point. If you want to talk about Intelligent Design, then I want to talk to the Designer and ask what he's got against penguins. Seriously, the guy's a sadist.

"The truth, Opus, is that you look more like a puffin than a penguin." -Berke Breathed

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


He was a funny guy.


Here's Jeff from Strikes Again! doing some guitar tracks at Smoke and Mirrors last night.

John from Strikes Again! plays the Red Junior:

...and works on a vocal.

When my finger unswells I'll write all about the magic that was the session.

Monday, December 19, 2005


The suspense is killing me.

We'll know as of midnight.


As Dave has mentioned, Friday night was good fun.

The stage at Fontana's was just big enough to contain the rock and roll, although I realized too late (about three songs into the set) that my massive keyboard rack was blocking the only vocal monitor on my side of the stage. Now I know how hard it is to be Rick Wakeman. Bummer. Once again, I sang to the echoes of my voice returning to me from the walls of the bar, complete with a little 100ms or so delay. It's fun 'cause you get to hear how out of tune you were a note ago. I am very fearful of my intonation, but fortunately we didn't record the set so I'll never know.

Spent Saturday recovering and listening to the tracks I'm working on with Strikes Again! I keep pulling the drums apart and putting them back together. Drums... must... be... bigger.

Yesterday Ted and I worked on mixes for his solo record and moved the old G3 Blue and White to a new location where it will serve as a video monitor for the live room, courtesy of a little Logitech web cam. Of course we instantly wanted to make videos. Fortunately the G3's hard drive is completely full so the shoot was short.

The highlight of the weekend, however, was walking my little dog Buck home from the studio last night. He was nice and excited, and at the corner of Metropolitan and Meeker he lunged at a biker who was passing by. I grabbed at his collar to keep him from darting to certain death and managed to fuck up my right hand good. My ring finger is bruised and really swollen, so my typing is suffering a bit. The mouse hurts. I can bend my finger (I don't think it's broken) but OUCH.

The things we do for our dogs. To top it all off he farted in bed as we went to sleep.

What a good boy!

Friday, December 16, 2005


No transit strike - unless you use one of two private bus lines in Queens. Then you're screwed.

The MTA and TWU now have the whole weekend to work this thing out.

I've never much loved the MTA. I think they're a bit shady. They never seem to know how much money they have - sometimes it's a surplus, sometimes it's a deficit. (Yes, it's the same article.)

It's like they've got somebody like me overseeing their books.

Thursday, December 15, 2005



Yes, lots of excitement in store for the next 24 hours.

First up, of course, is the imminent Transit Strike in NYC. I actually look forward to the kind of chaos this would create, because I like chaos. Chaos leads to fractals, which are pretty.

If the strike goes down, I will work from home. As much of my day is spent reading and responding to emails, this isn't such a crazy idea. I'll tell what I'm NOT going to do:

-walk over any bridge
-ride a bike over any bridge
-spend $10-$15 to take a taxi to work
-spend $10-$15 to take a taxi home from work

Now, as exciting as the strike promises to be, it will probably have some kind of effect on THE BIG VIA SKYWAY / MICRODOT SHOW tomorrow night.

George Vitray sent out the email below. (I've done some copyediting)

Time: 9PM Sharp
Date: FRIDAY DECEMBER 16, 2005
Place: Downstairs @Fontana's 151 Eldridge Street (Btw Grand and Broome)

1.ROB MACHOLD(DRUMS): Rob is a Monster Drummer and GENETIC ENGINEER PHD who has played with Trickside, Moneyshot, Microdot and numerous other Bands. He plays drums like Jim Keltnor mixed with Animal from the muppets. STAY AWAY FROM HIS KIT WHEN HE IS PLAYING YOU MIGHT GET HURT!

2. MIKE INGENTHRON(BASS/VOX): Mike is a Natural Musician equally comfortable on Drums Guitar, Bass or Keys. He currently plays with Strikes Again! and Microdot and Is a great Lead singer also. Mike Holds everything together and he needs half as much rehearsal as the normal musician. HE IS JUST IS THAT GOOD! MIKE PLAYS IN SO MANY BANDS HIS FEET HURT FROM WALKING TO AND FRO BETWEEN REHEARSAL STUDIOS!

3. DAVE CAVALIER(LEADGTR): Dave is a BILLIONAIRE Venture capitalist and CLASSICALLY TRAINED CONCERT GUITARIST. He is equally comfortable playing a Bach concerto or "Fairwell to Kings" by Rush(not just the Song, the whole record!). He Plays Guitar Like John Maclaughlin meets Segovia!

4. CHRIS PACE(KEYS/VOX) Chris Pace is a MultiTalented MULTIMEDIA GURU! Mr Pace is equally comfortable behind the console in his studio or behind any instrument he can find. He wont touch a keyboard made after 1983 as he says "ALL KEYBOARDS MADE AFTER 1983 SUCK" His massive synthesizer stack includes such classics as a roland JUNO and YAMAHA DX7. IF you are wondering what is making the wall of sound while we are playing chances are Chris's Keys are responsible.

5. GEORGE VITRAY(GTR/VOX): George is the weak link in the band but he wrote most of the songs so the other guys just put up with him. He barely plays guitar and can be found noodling the wrong song in the middle of another song. Somehow George miraculously leads the band through meandering arrangements with no form or direction. He sings OK though.

The Club is a Brand New Spot in china town with 3 Floors and 3 bars. It is part owned by Deanie Wheeler. Deanie Keeps all the hoodlums in line even though she is 90 pounds. (She is a MASTER OF KUNG-FU) In case you can't find her whe is the Woman who is HOT AS HELL! She is looking to Book Bands so Bring all your Band Nerd Friends and we will get them a GIG."

Via Skyway will be followed by MICRODOT, which = 2/5 of Via Skyway + 1/1 of JoeDot.

Will the transit strike affect this show? Probably. I recommend:

-walking to the show
-biking to the show
-spending $10-$15 to take a taxi to the gig
-spending $10-$15 to take a taxi home from the gig

I mean, it's not work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


We've been talking about the guitars Ace Frehley used in the studio (see some random post below, I think it's the "Factual Snapple" one), and I found a fun interview with Ace here.

My favorite part is this:

"Everybody was using a wang bar, so I felt there was a couple of effects that I wanted to get. From my fan mail, a lot of kids got pissed off that I bastardized a Les Paul to put that wang bar on. To be honest with you, I actually didn't have to bastardize it. They make a plate that goes around the bar that holds the strings. You screw the wang onto the plate, so you really don't have to do any reaming of the wood."

Who knew that Ace put a wang bar on his Les Pauls?

Monday, December 12, 2005


Many of you may have already seen this, but just in case, I thought I'd post it since there are some good holiday gifts for music lovers on this site.

Enjoy! And remember, Strom Thurmond always called a microphone "The Machine."


Saturday was a nice, long Strikes Again! session.

We're working on 5 tunes and got quite a bit done on 4 of them. For guitars we've used a little Rivera 55 watt head into the HiWatt cab and the Hot Rod Deluxe (still a workhorse). Jeff, the guitarist, played his '72 Tele Custom, which is another fantastic Japanese reissue. I was very impressed with the playability of this guitar - it felt more like an America reissue. Highly recommended - if I were in the market for another guitar this would be my first choice.

Our big goal is to get as much down before Christmas as possible, as Jeff will be leaving town for a while. Drum sounds came fairly quickly, and we'll be going for a big, roomy sound when all is said and done. Lots of compression. We now have some spiffy new software compressors to try out, so this should be fun.

Bass guitars were cut for several of the tunes, and I went with the 3 channel option - direct bass, bass trough a Line 6 Bass Pod, and Hartke amp. All three channels are discreet, so we can blend them to get the tone we want as guitars are added. Sometimes the bass seems like it's perfect when it's cut against the drums, then you lay a few guitars over it and wish you had more bite. We have the option of bringing in the amp track or even reamping the direct track. Endless tonal options, right up until the very end!

Digital Performer was having some hiccups on playback, but I did some diagnostics yesterday and found the problem. Arrggghhh. It was set to analyze incoming audio (for things like pitch and time shifting, etc.) as soon as it was recorded, which usually meant it was doing analysis as we were playing back, hence the hiccups.

The best part of Saturday was the sheer goodwill that eminated from these musicians. The guys were completely egoless, friendly, and very appreciative, and it made the session a real pleasure. When we start feeding off of each other's good will and good vibes it can really be a blast. I myself, want to do this every day.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Rather than running the country, which they were elected to do, the Republicans have instead been spending their time on crap like this.

Come on, guys. You're better than that. Right?


Today I am tired and somewhat hungover.

That's what happens when you lead a life like mine. It's a neverending party.

First up last night was my Better Half's Holiday Shindig, where we ate lots of meat and I made the mistake of ordering a couple of vodka martinis. I'm not much of a martini drinker, and now I remember why.

Mariah Carey was at the restaurant as well. She got a round of applause when she passed by the bar on the way out, I suppose for her recent Grammy nominations, although it might have been for her boobs.

I was outside smoking a butt when she walked out. I said "Congratulations Mariah" and she turned and said "thank you." Wow!!!

After that it was time for Strikes Again! (note the puncuation) live at CBGB.

CB's is fun. It somehow seems cleaner than it used to be, but that was probably just the martinis.

Strikes Again! (that name must be hell for a Grammar Check Droid) was very good. Mike Ingenthron, drums, banged the hell out of the kit. At the end of the set I was standing at the side of the stage and noticed that his top hi hat cymbal was lying on the floor a few feet away from me. "That's odd," I thought, as Mike continued to slam the upside down bottom hi hat cymbal. I suppose it launched off its stand at some point. I'm glad no one was hurt, but I'm sorry I missed its flight.

Anyhow, they were fun. They did play the songs we'll be working on tomorrow - it's always nice to see the band play the stuff you're going to record before they get into the studio. It's also good to get a look at their gear and see how they play it. They had a ton of energy, particulary the singer, who whirled around and sweated a lot. That's what I want from my rock and roll, especially at CB's.

We'll try to digitize it all tomorrow.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Good news for the elderly, like Ted and Dave.


I like fun facts.

I also like Snapple (Peach Iced Tea).

So it's always exciting to open up a bottle of Snapple and read the "Real Facts" (as they call them) on the underside of the cap.

Problem is, they need to write more. Today is the second day in a row that I've learned that "At birth, a Dalmation is always pure white." Interesting, to be sure, but I've seen this one already.

So I'm preparing to send a whole new list of Fun Facts to Snapple. Let them rename them "Real Facts" and print them on their caps. I don't need any credit. I just want to make Snapple breaks better for all.

First up:

In humans, the ratio of males to females conceived is around 140:100
At birth, it's more like 107:100

Snapple may need to make bigger caps.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


George Lucas, that is.

My anger at him for selling out my childhood by soiling the good "Star Wars" name has softened somewhat because of this.

The fact is, if it took making three crappy movies to make this product available again - and to finally fulfill my fantasy of having a mint Falcon, updated with a cool new paint job but still faithful to the original - then it's OK. My original Falcon is missing several pieces and is in pretty sad shape. Of course, I was probably 4 or 5 when I got it, so this is my second chance.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Pronunciation: 'bü-E, 'boi
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English boye, probably from Middle Dutch boeye; akin to Old High German bouhhan sign
1 : FLOAT; especially : a floating object moored to the bottom to mark a channel or something (as a shoal) lying under the water

BUOY is also the name of a new project being recorded at Smoke and Mirrors.

Chris, Rob, and George play the instruments. The idea is to create live rhythm tracks with 2 or 3 instruments playing together, then go and replace the drums, bass, guitars, and synths, one at a time, using these initial rhythm tracks. The live feel is therefore retained although we get much more control over the sound in the end.

Synthesizers are generally used for bass sounds.

The core of BUOY is the three piece rhythm section, which will be embellished with horn sections of various sizes live.

Please enjoy some BUOY here.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I am pleased to announce to my readers (most of whom already know this, as they are in the band) that VIA SKYWAY will be reuniting for a gig on Friday, Dec 16 at Fontana's, a hip new club on the Lower East Side.

Although the band had vowed never to appear in public again, George Vitray (lead vocals, guitar) assured them that it wouldn't really be "public" since the band will serve as peformers and comprise the majority of the audience.

Mike Ingenthron (bass, vocals) has promised to quit the band once again, likely citing "creative differences."

Guitarist Dave Cavalier will play guitar, probably very well. Chris Pace (keyboards, vocals) will have the unique role of being the only member who needs to rehearse.

Rob Machold (drums) summed up the impending performance: "Watch out below!"

Via Skyway - LIVE
Thursday Dec 16 2005
105 Eldridge
between Grande and Broom


This is what our 2nd in command spends his time thinking about:

There are no longer any insurgents in Iraq.

I think most Iraqis feel safer already.

Note - the Peter Pace referred to in the article is in no way related to me. My family, being classic European immigrants, changed their names (on both sides) to eliminate any sense of heritage I might have had. So now I have an Italian last name.


I don't hate Republicans.

But I don't like GW Bush.

I think he's arrogant, ill informed, and slow. And this ain't just a knee jerk liberal reaction. I've met the guy and he seems slowwwww.

That being said, there are Republicans I'd vote for.

Bob Dole - smart, very well educated, tons and tons of experience. This guy knows his shit. Plus, he's incredibly personable, really funny (seriously), thoughtful. And he brings his dog to work. Fell off a stage during last presidential run.

John McCain - pragmatic in a crazy way. Controversial. Also thoughtful. No BS. Willing to work with Dems or Republicans if he thinks it's for the right reason. Friendly. The kind of guy who could stand up to the world audience and be taken seriously. Former POW, so you don't have to worry about him freaking out when shit goes down.

Liddy Dole - yep, Bob's Better Half. Nice resume. Also smart. Can work a crowd.

Rudy Giuliani - Principled. Handled a big city in a tough time. Took care of the Squeegee Men (but I'd still vote for him.) More fun than Mike Bloomberg. Experienced a lot of crap. Very defensive, but in a "I know I'm right" way vs. a "I know you are but what am I" way.

Dave Cavalier - smart. Good with money. Can play "La Villa Strangiato" all the way through. Not likely to get too deep in bed with Big Tobacco, although he will bum a smoke. Has some experience with drugs. Shares home with two dogs.

Granted, it's a short list. There're probably more, but that would mean doing research.