Phil's Newsletter #42

Collaborating with Adversarial Networks

Previously on Phil’s Newsletter: We debuted a new audio-visual project, learned about releasing indie music in 2021 from Brad Sucks, and started soldering a guitar pedal.

You can pay for this newsletter to get some perks and directly support me. If newsletters ain’t your bag, I’ve got a Patreon you can join for $1. Phil’s Newsletter is brought to you by paid subscribers Jessica Nelson, Jeff Powers, Vikas Reddy, David Demchuk, Ian Scott, Adam Rodnitzky, and Kat Angus. You are each, individually, the best.

In this week’s issue we learn about life, the universe, and everything. Not really- but I did score another guest post! Among the usual music and borderline-miserable rambling, my sister-in-law Jessica Nelson (who is a Beatles aficionado and has her own newsletter which you should subscribe to) is going to critique my favorite Beatles songs. Let’s go!

Open Computer Vision Artificial Intelligence Competition Twenty Twenty One

This week OpenCV Weekly Webinar is taking a break- after 20 episodes we just couldn’t pull one together in time this week. The good news is we’re booked solid for the next 6 weeks!

The deadline for OpenCV AI Competition 2021 passed this Monday, and I’ve been knee deep in the dead some genuinely amazing projects. The high quality of submissions this year is staggering, especially when you consider the extreme circumstances of the ongoing pandemic. I highly, highly, recommend you browse the submissions on YouTube.

Don’t You Wonder Sometimes… About Sound & Vision?

My Patrons get free, high quality, downloads of everything I make, including my ongoing audio-visual project THE MONSTER ASSOCIATION. You can join there for just $1, support me directly, and get cool stuff. It’s win win.

I’ve been playing around with VQGAN+CLIP, a method of collaborating with an artificial intelligence network to generate images based on a prompt and/or a target image. The pic at the top of this section was created using imagenet, with the prompt “a meeting of the monster association under a full moon” and it is surely that. Here’s another one, with the prompt “a golden bathroom designed by David Lynch”

There are a ton of different ways to do this- and the results are really dependent upon a few different variables: The source images used, the number of iterations the AI runs, any target images you specify, and the text prompt. It’s fun to subtly tweak the parameters and see the results change around them.

Try it yourself, free, on Google Colab:

I used this method to generate the cover art for today’s newsletter, with the prompt “phil's newsletter issue 42|august 12, 2021|high fantasy” — the pipes “|” denote multiple inputs. The AI mixes these different texts together.

Oh, and there’s a new Monster Association video out— see Meeting #4.

Sponsor: Fonts For Instagram Stories

This week’s issue is brought to you by Fonts for Instagram Stories, an iPhone app that I am helping out with. I’ve been using it to create Instagram posts every day for the last two weeks. It’s a free app, with unlockable premium features. With it, you get dozens and dozens of unique fonts and sticker sets, with more being added all the time. The included content and tools really make your stories pop, and help you stand out from the crowd.

If you’re reading this and you have > 5k Instagram or TikTok followers, hit me up. We may have business to discuss.

If you’d like to sponsor Phil’s Newsletter, for the low low price of just $20 an issue, send exactly one email to

Jessica Nelson Critiques A Couple of Phil’s Favorite Beatles Songs, Pt. 1 of ??

Jessica Nelson is my sister-in-law, mother to my dear nephews Henry and Ev, practitioner of Pilates, and has a newsletter. Go subscribe to it. I asked her to use her Beatles fandom to critique some of my favorites. The following are her unedited words.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as a bad Beatles song. Don’t argue with me here. I’m right, you’re wrong. Let’s just move past this, mkay? Are some better than others? Duh doy! For your consideration this fine Thursday, we’ll look at Phil’s favs: “Baby You Can Drive My Car” and “Blackbird”. To set the record straight first – I’m not a professional music critic. I’m just a lifelong Beatles fanatic and when Phil asks, “Can you critique my favorite Beatles songs for the newsletter?” a true fan must oblige. 

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised with the first one. Didn’t see that coming from Phil. Again, no such thing as a bad Beatles song, but this one is not in my top 25. The lyrics are a little uninspiring for me. But that tambourine? Hell yeah! That’s where it’s at. Listening to it as I type this, I’m warming to it a bit more. But still not climbing into my top 10 Beatles songs. Though I love the “Beep beep, beep beep, yeahs” at the end. 

As for “Blackbird”, totally in the top 10 for me. This one is also my niece, Hannah’s favorite. Both Phil and Hannah are beautiful souls who feel the world intensely, so it’s not surprising that Blackbird is a fav. It is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Lyrics are mysteriously vague, to be interpreted by the listener however they need to feel at any given moment. Very inspiring. Very uplifting. I mean, if you don’t feel empowered after hearing Sir Paul McCartney tell you, “Take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive,” then I suspect you may not be human. Is the Gom Jobbar in order? Alas, I digress... But damn. I’m tearing up. That’s some powerful shit right there. You can’t listen to this song and not feel better by the last beautiful chirp.

And honorable mention to the dark horse candidates in Phil’s list: “I Am The Walrus” (Can we all take some LSD together right now and enjoy?), “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (I love George Harrison. Again, with that tambourine. Phil are you seeing the pattern here?), and finally “Get Back” (One of the most rockin’ Beatles songs. One of the first Beatles songs my youngest, Ev, felt compelled to sing out loud.)

Well, shit. You’ll have to excuse me folks. Listening to these few songs only aroused my desire for more Beatles tambourine action. Now I’ve gotta go spin some records to scour the catalogue for more. Fuck “more cowbell!” We need more tambourine!

Thanks, Jess!

Seeking Guests for A New Audio Project

I’m working on a new audio project, which I’m keeping the lid on a little bit publicly, but if you’ve read this far and you’re a fan of pro wrestling (in the past or present!) and would like to talk about your personal relationship with the One True Sport, send an email to and I’ll clue you in. Thanks!

Phil’s Good Links

We’re light on links this week. I guess nothing cool happened.

I’ve got a lot of work to do to get these competition entries ready for the judges. Maybe I’ll tell you a bit about it next week. Until then, be good to yourselves and each other.

— Phil

Wizard Tower Gamma, South of Market, San Francisco, California, United States of America, Earth