Friday, July 18, 2008

Moon Over Sarasota

Guess what came up tonight like clockwork? Yep, that's right, the full moon. Well, actually, it's just past full moon, but it's close enough for the sake of argument. I've got a couple of different shots to share with you because I wanted to see what the new camera and new lens could do. The shot below is through a 300mm EF lens (film eqivalent of about 485mm) with IS. The IS means image stabilization. (It's got little gyroscopes inside the lens that keep the image stable in case your hands are shaking a bit.) The shot above is through my old 400mm film lens, with an additional 1.5X teleconverter thrown into the mix. Doing the math, including the film-to-digital frame conversion, means this one is about 945, so almost twice the magnification of the other one. So you should be able to see more detail in the shot above, and that's visible if I switch back and forth rapidly between the two pictures. (They're also slightly rotated with respect to one another, so don't let that throw you. I adjusted most of it out, but not all.) Both pictures are from my 12MP Canon Digital Rebel XSi which I have had for just under two months now. Gotta love it. I also tweaked the pictures a bit in PhotoShop to make them close to the same size, and I compressed the B&W levels to increase the range in the surface textures. Or, if you prefer, I tweaked it so I thought it looked better. Now run outside and see if it really looks like this.

Not So Noble

Can I just take a second here to be fanboy and tell you how much I hate Donna Noble, the Doctor's latest companion on Dr. Who? She's always whining about something. What's up with that? What's her name in real life? Catherine Tate? Isn't she some sort of comedian? I don't think she's very funny. The best episode so far this season was last week, and that was because she was only in it for a few seconds at the beginning and the end. I'm actually hoping that she goes away tonight, since it's an episode where Rose Tyler returns. We'll see. It's on right now, in fact, I hope my TiVo is getting it.

Christmas In July 2008-Day 17

Once again, I've missed a day. But at least it's not two days this time. No particular reason, other than I didn't really feel like posting anything last night. I don't know if I'll catch up tonight or not, I may have to wait until Sunday. Tomorrow is my class reunion. My 20 year class reunion, so that's going to keep me from doing very much tomorrow. But we've got tonight, so let's get right into the music.

I'm starting off with four different versions of the Mel Torme-Robert Wells classic, The Christmas Song (Chesnuts Roasting On An Open Fire). This was a hugely popular song, and it's been covered by everyone and their brother. And as you'll see, it's frequently shown up on non-Christmas albums, too. Version number one is by Jeffrey Staton from Nat King Cole-A Portrait (Galaxy GAL122). This is a similar LP to the Bing Crosby tribute I shared a track from earlier this month. I thought they were both by the same artist, but I was mistaken. Version two is from The Hollyridge Strings and their album The Nat King Cole Song Book (Capitol ST 2310). This is also on their Christmas album, but I don't know if this pre- or post-dates that one. Probably the exact same recording, though. Number three is from guitarist Tony Mottola and his LP Close To You-A Guitar For Lovers (Project 3 PR 5050SD, 1970). No idea how this slipped in there, but I found it for you. Add this one to that ever-growing stack of Enoch Light-related Christmas tracks. Version four is by the great Sammy Davis, Jr. and it's one of the few Christmas songs he recorded in his career. I found this in two places in the past year, actually. The one I'm sharing is a stereo version from The Nat King Cole Song Book (Reprise RS-6164, 1965), but I first discovered it on a mono copy of Sammy Davis Jr. Sings Mel Torme's California Suite (Reprise R-6126, 1964). They are the same recording, and it looks like this one came first, but I wanted to share the stereo version I had with you.

The next two tracks are both I'll Be Home For Christmas. Version one is an organ rendition by Artie Dunn from an album called Artie Dunn At The Organ Plays Buck Ram (Strand SL 1087). And version two is a barbershop quartet rendition by The Four Rascals from their eponymous album (Chord OBW 6425).

Wrapping this up tonight is a seventh track, also a little bit of barbershop, The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot. It's by The Sun Tones from A Touch Of Gold (Sunrise LP 2309). The first time I heard this song (although not this version), was in the movie Pink Floyd-The Wall. Odd...

And there you have it, another seven tracks for your Christmas in July enjoyment. Here's the download link, please be my guest. And in case you somehow missed them, here are the links to my 2006 and 2007 Christmas in July shares. Enjoy!

Live At The Cleveland Zoo-Polar Bears

If I'd ever seen polar bears before this trip to the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, I don't remember it. These big white bears were pretty impressive, even if they didn't do much. The one above pretty much just laid there the whole time, watching the people watch him and trying not to nod off. The other one paced back and forth, occasionally making an odd face like the one I captured below.

As I mentioned, one of the bears spent the whole time I watched him people-watching. So I figured it only made sense to show you the people he was watching.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Ghosts Of Christmas In July Past

Hopefully you folks are all enjoying the shares from the sixteen days so far of Christmas in July 2008. But maybe you are the type who doesn't like to have to download something every day, you'd rather just get all the best tracks in one handy-dandy package. Well, I can't offer you any relief in that area for this year, but I can offer you a best-of collection from Christmas in July 2007. Click this little link right here, and you can download the collection you see above, featuring all the tracks you see below (each of which is linked to the original post from 2007).

1. Nickelodeon-Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
2. Ashtabula High School A Cappella Choir-Carol Of The Bells
3. Joanne Wheatley & Hal Kanner-Baby, It's Cold Outside
4. IBM 7090 Computer-Joy To The World
5. Ron Goodwin-Xmas It Ain't
6. Fred Sateriale's Big Band-Toyland Cha Cha Cha
7. Hugo Winterhalter-Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Cha Cha
8. Earl Grant-Snowfall
9. Ferrante & Teicher-Happy Sleigh Ride
10. Bing Crosby-The Secret Of Christmas
11. Count Basie & The Mills Brothers-December
12. Connee Boswell-White Christmas
13. Andre Previn & David Rose-Blue Holiday
14. Waldorf "Punch & Judy" Orchestra-Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers
15. University Singers-Go Where I Send Thee
16. Sunshine-The Very First Christmas Day
17. Stan Wolowic-Happy Holiday
18. Sarah Vaughn & Billy Eckstine-I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
19. Al Melgard-Jolly Coppersmith
20. Alfred Apaka-It's Snowing In Hawaii
21. Lawrence Welk-Holiday
22. The Klokken Ringers-Silver Bells
23. Ray Conniff-An Improvisation On "Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy"
24. The Robert de Cormier Folk Singers-The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy
25. The 'Promises, Promises' Cast-Christmas Day
26. Glenn Miller-It Happened In Sun Valley
27. Martin Denny-Snowflakes In Summer
28. Ruby Murray-Christmastime In Ireland
29. The Robin Hood Orchestra-Silent Night
30. John Gary-Let There Be Peace On Earth (Let It Begin With Me)
31. Gordon Jenkins-Happy New Year

And what's that you say? Not enough for you? How about this: That's right, there was a best-of from 2006 as well. You can get it here. And I suppose you want a track list, too. Let's see...

1. Clebanoff-Bobsled
2. Ted Heath/Edmundo Ros-Baby It's Cold Outside
3. Lionel Hampton-Gin For Christmas
4. Marty Gold-High On A Windy Hill
5. Eastman-Rochester Pops-Brazilian Sleigh Bells
6. Dinah Washington-I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
7. Henry Mancini-Latin Snowfall
8. Yuji Takizawa & His Blue Bones Orchestra-White X-mas
9. Will Glahé-The Skater's Waltz
10. Esquivel-Sun Valley Ski Run
11. Billy Vaughn-The Chipmunk Song
12. Percy Faith-Little Bells And Big Bells (Glocke Und Glockchen)
13. Lawrence Welk-The Merry Christmas Polka
14. Jerry Murad's Electronic Harmonicats-March Of The Toys
15. Richard Hayman & His Harmonica Orchestra-Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers
16. Ian Fraser & His Orchestra-Sleigh Ride
17. Eddie Layton-Winter Wonderland
18. The Smothers Brothers-Swiss Christmas
19. David Rose-Christmas Tree
20. Eydie Gormé-Winter Night
21. Bernie Green With The Stereo Mad-Men-The Skater And His Dog
22. Enoch Light & The Brass Menagerie-My Favorite Things
23. The Four Freshmen-Santa Claus Is Flat Gonna Come To Town
24. David Carroll-The Ski Song (Slalom)
25. The Monterey Brass-We Need A Little Christmas
26. The Three Suns-Busy Holiday
27. Six Fat Dutchmen-Sleigh Bell
28. Billy May-Snowfall Cha-Cha
29. Dick Schory's New Percussion Ensemble-Holiday In A Hurry
30. Armengol-Ave Maria
31. The Crew-Cuts-Auld Lang Syne

Sorry, but I don't have links to the original posts for this one, and I'm too lazy to look them all up right now. Maybe next year. But there you have it. Go get these two great collections of tunes.

Christmas In July 2008-Day 16

Halfway through! Congratulations, you made it! It's all downhill after today's share, so let's get right to it.

I'm starting out with three more versions of Snowfall, the Claude Thornhill classic. I shared quite a few versions of this track with you earlier in the month, but I've got plenty more. Version one is by Leroy Holmes And His Orchestra, Piano Solo by Dick Hyman from the album Theme Songs Of The Great Swingin' Bands (MGM E3708). Version two is by Glen Gray And And The Casa Loma Orchestra and their double LP One More Time (Capitol Record Club SOBO-91595). Version number three is by Billy Vaughn And His Orchestra from Look For A Star (Dot DLP 25322). I have to admit that all of these versions sound pretty similar. I guess I need to work harder to find versions that are more out-there.

Track four is a little number by Michel Legrand called Snowbird Serenade, and it's from his LP The Concert Legrand (RCA BGL1-1028). I don't know how Christmassy this is, but it fits the theme of snow quite well.

Number five is another not-so-Christmassy track, Snow Deer from Ada Jones And Billy Murray. This is originally from an old Edison cylinder, but I got it from the LP Edison In Stereo (Recorded Publication Company 502, Musical Wonder House, Wiscasset, Maine). I don't know why they felt it so important to record an old cylinder into stereo, but here you have it.

Number six is an odd track sung in Russian called Little Snowball Tree (Oi, Ty Kalinushka) by the Soviet Army Chorus & Band from Soviet Army Chorus & Band, Vol. 4 (Monitor MP 542). Definitely something different.

And last but not least, and the only track not about snow this evening, you get Alpine Boogie, a nice little number from Ted Heath And His Music, the album is Big Band Beat (Richmond B 20034).

There you have it, seven more tracks, bringing the total shared for the first half of the month to 93! That's not too shabby. Here's the download link, so get goin'. And as usual, 2006 & 2007, blah, blah, blah.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


So, if the daddy bird is called a peacock, and the mommy bird is called a peahen, then the kiddies must be called peababies, right? I thought so. I spotted these baby peafowl (or whatever you call them) at Big Cat Rescue on Saturday. Everybody else is busy looking at lions and cougars and pumas and binturongs and who knows what else (civets, anyone?), but I'm busy shooting the goofy noisy birds that live there without even being invited. But that's how I get good pictures sometimes, I shoot things that other people don't even see.

No, these two adults aren't headless, they're just busy preening for the camera. They just don't know when to stop...

Christmas In July 2008-Day 15

Day 15, almost halfway through Christmas in July. Today just happens to be Victor Herbert Day. I didn't know it either until I was looking to see what I could share tonight, and I noticed a group of Victor Herbert tracks, all ready to go, just waiting to be grouped together and shared. So here we go!

Track one is Toyland (Babes In Toyland) as performed by The Roger Wagner Chorale on their album Victor Herbert On Stage (Capitol ST1707). Pretty much every LP out there that says something about Victor Herbert on the cover will have either this track or our other big share today, March Of The Toys. And both tracks come from the Victor Herbert play, Babes In Toyland.

Track two is a medley of the two tracks in today's share, Toyland-March Of The Toys, and it's by David Teig. You heard another track from this LP, Children's Introduction To A World Of Good Music (Valiant V-4903), yesterday. It's a great piece for teaching kids the power of the orchestra, I guess.

Track three is the great Vaughn Monroe And His Orchestra singing Toyland from the LP Dance With Me (RCA Camden CAL 329). It may not be Let It Snow, but it's still a good song from Mr. Monroe.

Track four is yet another great selection from Ballet With A Beat (Mercury Perfect Presence Sound Series PPS 6017, 1961), March Of The Toys, by Hal Mooney And His Orchestra. Same as the tracks yesterday from this album, this is probably my favorite of the day.

Tracks five and six are, of course, Toyland and March Of The Toys, both by Charles Rand and both from the album The Music Of Victor Herbert (Coronet CXS-127). These are from a really cheap label LP, so the surface noise is terrible. I apologize in advance for this if it hurts your ears too much.

There you have it, six Victor Herbert tracks for the price of none. Here's the download link, but be sure you've put all your toys away before you go get it. As always, you can go to this day back in 2006 or 2007 for more great Christmas in July tracks.

Live At The Cleveland Zoo-Bald Eagle

There was a time not so long ago when I had never gotten a picture of a bald eagle. Never in the wild, never in a zoo, never in a bird sanctuary, never. But now, I've shot them in all sorts of places, so finding one at the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo was no big deal. He wasn't even a particularly attractive eagle. As you can see in these two shots, his feathers were quite rumpled. But I wanted to share these shots with you anyway. You'd have a hard time getting these in the wild, rumpled feathers or not.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Never Look A Gift Tiger In The Mouth

I told you I visited Big Cat Rescue this past Saturday. Apparently, my visit kept one of the tigers up past his bedtime. He just kept yawning and yawning and yawning as I watched him. I'm glad I was on the other side of the fence, the massive intake of air might have sucked me in. Plus I started yawning myself and nearly fell asleep on the way to my car. And yes, the photo above is not in focus. Well, it is, but it's focused on the wire, not the throat of the tiger. You have to take what you get when it comes to yawning cat pictures (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Or a bird, if you prefer.

Just for the record, the alternate title for this post was 'Tiger Tiger Yawning Bright'.

Live At The Cleveland Zoo-Rhinos

Of all the creatures at the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, the ones that looked most like living dinosaurs were the black rhinos. They looked like something out of the first Jurassic Park movie, only they were real. The big attraction was the baby of the group, shown above and at the bottom, playing with his many enrichment toys in both pictures. I guess the more enrichment items they have, the happier they are. They aren't all that different from people in that respect, now are they? The picture below is mommy rhino and below that is, I think, daddy rhino, but it may have been older sister rhino. I know that mommy rhino is mommy rhino because there was some udder-work going on when I first arrived. But I don't know if daddy is a guy or a gal...

Christmas In July 2008-Day 14

G'day, mates! Welcome to day 14 of my little Christmas in July shindig! What better way to celebrate the 14th day of this share-a-thon than with a collection of 8 different tracks from Tchaikovsky's immortal Nutcracker Suite. Some of these are just various bits from the score, and some of these are the whole thing crammed into a single track. There's some really good stuff here, so let's get down to it.

Track one is Waltz Of The Flowers and track two is Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy. Both of these are by Hal Mooney And His Orchestra from the LP Ballet With A Beat (Mercury Perfect Presence Sound Series PPS 6017, 1961). I found this LP just this past weekend. I pulled it out of a huge pile of stuff, stared at it for a minute and saw that it had some stuff on there I could share. But the more I looked at it, the more I knew I'd seen it somewhere before. Turns out that the King of Jing-A-Ling over at FaLaLaLaLa had shared a track off of this with us on last year's ADVENTure In Carols. I think he had a mono copy (actually, it looks like he got a copy from BasicHip some years ago...), so this is going to sound great to you in stereo. These may well be my favorite tracks in today's sharity. No, these may be my favorite tracks in all of July! They are both really out there, and unlike anything else you've heard from me this year.

Track three is just plain Nutcracker Suite by those boys with the harmonicas, Jerry Murad's Harmonicats. This is from their LP Harmonica Rhapsody (CBS (UK) SS 62837). I wish these guys had put out a decent Christmas LP at the peak of their career.

Track four is another just-plain Nutcracker Suite, this time by two unknown pianists Bill Jordan and Gina Valente from an unknown album Pianorama-Bill Jordan And His Twin Pianos (Bar Of Music BOM-14). I just love when they try to cram so much into so short a space. It just cracks me up.

Track five, where art thou? Oh, there it is. Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy by Al Bollington from the LP Presenting Al Bollington At The Conn Organ (Decca DL 74223). It just wouldn't be a Christmas share without some nice organ music.

Track six, Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies, narrated by David Teig from the LP Children's Introduction To A World Of Good Music (Valiant V-4903). This is one of those records that introduces children to all the instruments of the orchestra, then uses music like this to illustrate the different moods that the orchestra can create with those instruments. Pretty good stuff, and we'll hear more from this record later on in the month.

Track seven is another of my favorite finds of the past year. This is The Orchestra In A Nutcracker Shell by Robert Russell Bennett Conducting Members Of The NBC Symphony Orchestra from the LP An Adventure In High Fidelity-A "New Orthophonic" High Fidelity Recording (RCA Victor Red Seal LM-1802, 1954). This is another song where each instrument is played in turn, but this one wasn't for the kiddies. This one was from the early to mid-fifties and was meant to showcase the new high-fidelity recording techniques at RCA Victor Records. It's impressive to me even in this day and age of digital music. But then I'm easy to impress. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Track eight is a ringer, another song that you can find on the Christmas Cocktails CDs. It's Les Brown And His Band Of Renown performing the Nutcracker Suite from Concert Modern (Capitol T959). This is just such a great version that I couldn't resist.

There you have it, a record-breaking eight tracks in one day, and all good music. I think this gets me up to 80 tracks so far this month, and the goodies just keep coming. Here's the download link, now slip those feet into some ballet slippers and get en pointe! Please go visit this day in 2006 and 2007 for more Christmas cookies from the archives.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Christmas In July 2008-Day 13

Here's your Christmas In July for Sunday the 13th. It's a large collection of songs that come from the more sacred side of the holiday. Seven songs is the most I've crammed into a share this year, and I think that's the most ever for a single day in Christmas in July. So let's get started.

Tracks one and two are both from John Raitt and his album Under Open Skies (Capitol ST1058). I'd only seen original soundtrack albums from John Raitt before this one, so I was excited about seeing it and then finding out there were Christmas related tracks on it to share. The two songs are Sweet Little Jesus Boy and I Wonder As I Wander.

Track three is a medley of Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring and Silent Night from a private label album called Keyboard Keepsakes (Pinebrook PB1607) by Rose Marie Lehmann. I don't know anything more about artist or album, I'm afraid. But it is autographed!

Track four is the well-known Hallelujah Chorus, performed here by members of The Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra Choir under the direction of Robert Shaw. It's from the double album Yours Is My Heart Alone/All-Time Favorites (RCA Victor Red Seal VCS-7023 (2xLP), 1963).

Track five is another version of Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring by the great duo Ferrante & Teicher. This is from one of their very early albums, Ferrante And Teicher (Westminster XWN 18786), but as the back of the album points out, it's not an album of prepared piano music.

Track six is a different song called Ave Maria (different from all the versions I shared earlier, that is). This one is by the Franciscan Choir of Mt. Alvernia, NY, and the album The Sons Of St. Francis Sing (ABC-Paramount ABC-206). That earlier share of all the different versions of Ave Maria is my least-downloaded share this season. It's been up for a while, but it has fewer downloads than the stuff I shared yesterday. I guess no one likes it.

Track seven is, oh look, it's another version of Ave Maria. Sorry. This one is by David Nadien And His Violin from his album Humoresque (Kapp KL-1342). At least if I share it out with other tracks, maybe it'll actually get some downloads.

There you go, here's the download link. Don't neglect the past, go download the shares from this day in 2006 and 2007. There's some good stuff there in the archives!

Live At The Cleveland Zoo-Zebra

Look! It's donkeys with racing stripes! No, not really, just some zebras at the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo. I gotta say they weren't all that interesting to watch. They just walked around and ate, staying way at the back of their small field. I guess they weren't interested in me because I didn't have any food. Oh, well, I'll get to some more interesting animals later.

Snow Leopard...In Florida?

I made a post last week about getting to see snow leopards at the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo but never seeing them at Big Cat Rescue just an hour away in Tampa. I even got a comment from the directory of the sanctuary, mentioning that she never sees them herself, except at feeding time. After I got that comment, I decided it had been a while since I'd been to Big Cat Rescue, so I got up early Saturday morning and went. The weather was nasty, a thick overcast that turned into rain not long after I left, and it was thick enough while I was there that I felt I was shooting in the dark sometimes. Even with the clouds, it was still hot and muggy, which kept most of the cats in the shadows or in their dens. But much to my surprise, the surprise of everyone on my tour, and even the tour guide herself, who should come out as we pass but one of the big snow leopards! For almost ten minutes, this guy paced back and forth, spreading his scent over all of the outdoor areas of his enclosure. I wish the light had been better, and I would have gotten some great shots. But I'll be satisfied with these for a while.

I guess the biggest difference for me as a photographer between a sanctuary and a zoo is the fact that I can't seem to get a shot in the sanctuary without wire between me and the animal. I guess it's not too big of a deal.

For a second or two, this great cat even got into the lockout area of his pen. This is the area where they feed the cats, and it has a drop-down door they can close to confine the cats briefly in case they need to do some maintenance in the main cage.