Saturday, July 08, 2006

Christmas In July-Part 8

Today's share is two versions of Ave Maria (The Schubert one, I believe), and just to lighten things up a little, a great track from The Four Freshmen called Santa Claus Is Flat Gonna Come To Town, from their second live album The Four Freshmen In Person, Volume 2 (Capitol ST 1860, 1963). It's a jazzed-up version of the well-known tune Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and I think you'll enjoy it. As for the two versions of Ave Maria, one is by Johnny Mathis from Good Night, Dear Lord (Columbia CS 8012, 1958), which I just picked up today for a dime! The other is, in my opinion, much better, but less traditional. It's by Mario Ruiz Armengol And His Orchestra from 29 Strings And Then Some (RCA Victor LPM-1457, 1957). When that organ kicks in, I love it! So download and enjoy today's trio of tracks.

Looking Up

You can't tell from this shot just how tall the tower is, but trust me, it's a long way up there.

Mountains In The Distance

The city of Las Vegas sits in a valley between a couple of mountain ranges. I wish I had more time to explore the natural beauty of the area, but maybe next time... This is the view to the west from the top of the Stratosphere Tower. Living in Florida my whole life, I consider any natural land mass over 10 feet high to be mountainous, so the sight of mountains like this ringing the city were pretty impressive to me.

Taken From The Top, Part 1

My first night in Las Vegas, I stayed at The Stratosphere. By staying there, I got free admission to the Stratosphere Tower the next morning. It's the tallest structure west of the Mississippi, and the view from the top is incredible. The shot above is looking south by south-west, along Las Vegas Boulevard, aka The Strip. It was a bit hazy, so the mountains (and California) in the distance are obscured. But if you look closely, you can pick out all of the major hotels and casinos. The shot below is looking north, and you can see downtown Las Vegas, in it's slightly-faded glory. The most obvious landmark in this shot is the cylindrical roof over Fremont Street.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Christmas In July-Part 7

Today's share rounds out the first week of my little Christmas in July Share-a-bration. I hope everybody is enjoying the music. Sorry it's coming out in such little chunks. We're back to two songs today, both from 5 Guitars, 50 Fingers-Directed By Mark White (Richmond Series RPS 39011). This label was entirely new to me when I came across five LPs on the same label in the same day, four in one store, and one at another. Don't ask me why I would buy several records I had never heard of for no reason other than I'd never heard of them. I can't answer that question... The internet hasn't provided much in the way of help with either the label or the various artists there-in, so if you know anything, I'd appreciate some info. They are marked "A Product of London Records", which is not a small label, but why create a sub-label like this? The music on all the records is interesting stuff in the stereo percussion vein so thoroughly mined by Command Records in the late 50's and 60's. Anyhow, that's beside the point. The two tracks aren't really Christmassy at all, but they have great names, Hot Toddy & Swingin' Shepherd Blues. Please download and enjoy!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Water Water Everywhere

Even though, or perhaps, because Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, they love to show off water. This fountain was in front of Paris Las Vegas, and like many I saw, it had a small plaque attached stating that it was operated in accordance with the water conservation rules. Sure it was. Pay enough money and anything is in compliance, I'm sure. But it looks nice, doesn't it?

Hark, The Herald Angels Hoot

What else can I show you from my few days in Vegas? How about these trumpeting archangels from Caesar's Palace? I thought they made a neat picture, all lined up and playing the blues on their horns.

Christmas In July-Part 6

What's that you say? You want more Christmas music here in July? OK, if you insist. Tonight you get three tracks, all from the organist extraordinaire Ethel Smith. Two tracks from the LP Bright and Breezy (Decca DL 8799), and one track from Seated One Day At The Organ (Decca DL 8902). I don't know if these albums were even available in stereo (stereo catalog numbers aren't listed on the sleeves), so these tracks are mono. Anybody got Ethel's Christmas records? I think there was one 10" record (later reissued on 12") and a later 12". And according to the liner notes on one of the LPs I recorded, she covers Sleigh Ride on one of her non-holiday LPs. Anybody got any of those tracks and want to share? I'd love to hear more of her Christmas stuff. (I think I shared one or two of these tracks out of FaLaLaLaLa last summer, so if they sound familiar, that's why.)

Oh, the three tracks in the download are March Of The Toys, Parade of The Wooden Soldiers and Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring. All good stuff for the holidays. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Other Side Of Las Vegas

Here's something you don't see every day, and it's presence here should come as absolutely no shock to regular readers of Ernie (Not Bert). This is the flip side of the famous "Welcome To Las Vegas" sign. Nobody ever takes a picture of this side. Well, nobody but me. And how about the electric meter for it? Well, look below. You also get the address so you don't have to be like me and wonder where the famous sign is. The meter reading was 31332 KwH, and it was daytime so it wasn't spinning too quickly.

Star Trekkin'

Have I told you about Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton? It's a whole casino dressed up like the Trek universe, including a restaurant, gift shop, memorabilia exhibit and two rides. We went whole hog, eating the food and riding the rides. I gotta say, they did a pretty good job with it, even though we had to wait in line for an awful long time for such a small crowd. They had Ferengi, Borg and other aliens wandering around, and the ride actually featured video appearances by folks from the various Trek series. Probably the geekiest things I saw in Vegas, but also the most fun!

Christmas In July-Part 5

Today's Christmas blast comes from Dick Schory, who I also shared yesterday for one track, but today you get two. The first track is Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers from Holiday For Percussion (RCA Victor LSA-2485, 1962), another entry in the Stereo Action series ("The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow"). Track two is Holiday In A Hurry from Music For Bang Baa-Room And Harp (RCA Victor LSP-1866, 1958). This second track isn't really a Christmas track, but you could probably throw it in with some of the other stuff I'm sharing, and no one would be the wiser. So go get it, and enjoy! Maybe it will take the edge off of this 100 degree heat wave.

More to come!


What else did I take pictures of in Las Vegas? How about the world's largest gold nugget? Yep, this was at The Golden Nugget. Well, the sign says 'formerly' the world's largest nugget. I guess they found a bigger one in a ditch somewhere. Still, at almost 190 ounces, that's a lotta gold!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

And On The Fourth Day

I've got to say I'm pretty happy with the fireworks pictures I got tonight. Most of the time I try to shoot fireworks, I try to get as close as possible to the launch pad. This time, I chose a spot over a mile away, and tried to get some of the Sarasota skyline in the shot. And I think it makes for a much more interesting picture. So Happy Fourth Of July, 2006, from Sarasota, Florida. It was almost worth sitting for 40 minutes on the bridge stuck in traffic on the way home.

Why I Almost Missed The Fireworks Tonight

This was the scene as I staked out my spot to shoot the fireworks this evening in Sarasota. Some dark clouds, but no rain. I decided this might not be the best spot, so I walked back to the car and drove five more minutes down the road.

When I arrived at my second destination, remember, only five minutes later, this was the view. And of course, that shower had to blow right over top of me. But as quickly as it started, it ended, and twenty minutes later, it was all over with.

Famous Place?

While in Vegas, someone told me this hotel, The Plaza, was used in both Back To The Future II and The Stand. I don't remember it, but maybe you do... I recognized plenty of other locations in town, or at least I thought I did. Watching the movies again, I realized that I was wrong on most of my locations. Oh, well.

Finally, A Launch

In honor of the shuttle finally making it up to orbit today, here's a little something I shot in Vegas. This is part of the show at The Fremont Street Experience. It's a giant display erected over the entire Fremont Street, and once an hour they put on a show. This show was all about flight, starting with the Wright Brothers and ending with the space shuttle. To tell the truth, it wasn't all that impressive of a show. I caught a second one later with dancing girls and lots of fire, and it was much better. I tried to see the shuttle launch Saturday, drove all the way over to the east coast and was within 10 miles or so of the launch pad when they scrubbed it. It's usually only a three hour trip but it took 4 and a half to get there and more than 5 to get back, due to all the tourists out for the launch and the vacationers at the beach. I was sorely disappointed. But third time was the charm, and they finally got her into space today. Hopefully the landing will not be a problem.

Christmas In July-Part 4

Here we are at the 4th of July already, how time flies when you don't have to go to work every day! Today you get another set of matched tracks, this time there are two versions of Greensleeves. Some people don't consider this a Christmas song, but you don't really hear it any other time of year, do you? Well, maybe at some Renaissance Faire or something... Anyhow, the first artist is the Stanley-Johnson Orchestra, which just happens to be the fourth harp artist I alluded to yesterday. The LP is called Have Harp, Can't Travel (Liberty LST 7118), and features a truly inspired cover that I wish I could share with you. Track two is from percussion star extraordinaire Dick Schory and his classic Stereo Action LP Runnin' Wild (RCA Victor LSA-2306, 1961). (There was a small commotion in the blogosphere recently as several blogs got together and re-released the entire Stereo Action series on MP3. You can follow the links here. But that's really got nothing to do with Christmas.) So, please download these two tracks, and let me know what you think.

Just a quick little note-All of the tracks I'm sharing were ripped from my own vinyl. I don't like to share out stuff that I got from other folks. So even though some of this stuff may have been shared elsewhere, like the Dick Schory, I recorded my own LP. So it may be a better or a worse copy, but at least it's mine. I don't want anybody to think I'm stepping on their toes or not giving credit where credit is due.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Third Day Of July

From the fireworks show on Anna Maria Island here in Sunny Florida, Happy 3rd of July!

Old Vegas

They say that Vegas is a different place today than it was twenty years ago, and I don't doubt that. Much of it has been cleaned up, sanitized and homogenized. Much of the history is gone, bulldozed or dynamited to make way for the next big thing. However, down at the end of Fremont Street, there is a small collection of the classic neon that used to light the night in Sin City. This lamp was from the old Aladdin Hotel, which is still there, but is about to be renovated and renamed by Planet Hollywood. It's a shame that all the history of the town is being relegated to books, movies and museums.

Christmas In July-Part 3

It's day 3 of my July spectacular, and I'm already finding it hard to contain myself. I need to ration things out to make it to the end of the month, but I just can't help it. Instead of the usual two songs per day, today you get 5 tracks. Of course, nothing is as easy as it seems, and all five tracks are different versions of the same track, I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm. The first version features vocalist Dinah Washington from her LP September In The Rain. She changes the lyrics just a little bit to reflect some of the recent men in her life, but you'll still like it. From there it's onwards to the Command label head honcho Enoch Light from Enoch Light And His Orchestra At Carnegie Hall Play Irving Berlin. I don't know why this one features Enoch's orchestra and not The Light Brigade, but does it really matter? Version three is from someone named Machito with his orchestra, from an album called Irving Berlin In Latin America. Not the worst, not the best... Creed Taylor pops in for a percussion take on our song of the day from Ping Pang Pong: The Swinging Ball. Unfortunately, my LP was mono, so you don't get the whole swinging ball action here. Who else? Oh, Robert Maxwell, His Harp And Orchestra from A Song For All Seasons. Robert is probably one of my top three harpists, with Bianco and Harpo being the other two. Actually, those three are the only three I can think of. Well, I can think of one other, but I'm saving that track for another day. Stay tuned!

Oh, I guess it would be nice if I stuck the link in here somewhere. Enjoy!


They're holding the annual Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix down here this weekend. Really fast boats racing around a course that is just barely out of range of the swimmers. I went out there, shot a couple of pictures, then had to sprint back to the car to 1. get out of the thousand degree heat, and 2. get away from the giant thunderstorm that dumped an inch of rain in the next hour. You couldn't tell any of that from the pictures, though. I thought the choppers were there strictly for shooting video and photos, but closer examination reveals there are suited up divers in some of them, ready to drop into the water in the event of trouble.

Desert Flower

I almost made it out of Las Vegas without shooting any flowers, but I found this giant thistle flower of some sort in the gardens in front of Ceaser's Palace. I have no idea what sort of flower it is, but I thought it was pretty neat. I doubt if something that big came up on it's own, but it was the only thing there that looked like it might have been a native resident.


I brought you the real lions from inside the MGM Grand earlier, but here is the giant statue of Leo from out front of the resort. Trust me when I tell you it's big! I need to find an overall shot of him so you can judge for yourself just how huge this statue is. There, look at the shot below. That's one big cat!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lady Liberty

Here's a nice patriotic picture for you from my few days in Las Vegas. The Statue of Liberty is normally found on Ellis Island in NYC, but this recreation is found in front of New York, New York, yet another casino on the Strip in Vegas. The base of this statue is decorated with firefighter memorabilia from actual NYC firehouses. I don't know if it was there prior to 9/11, but it's there now.

Christmas In July-Part 2

Here's a second post for today, just to get my shares back in line with the date. It's July 2nd, so today should be the second share, right? So here are a couple of tracks by Six Fat Dutchmen. I don't claim that either of these are Christmas tunes, but they at least have names that might make you think of that time of year, and put in the right context, I think these should work well. The first track is Winter Snow Waltz, from Six Fat Dutchmen (RCA Victor LPM-1769, 1958) and the second track is Sleigh Bell from Schottisches (RCA Victor LPM-1957, 1959). Please download these two and give them a listen, I think you'll like 'em.

Christmas In July-Part 1

It's the second day of July, and I'm finally ready to kick off my little Christmas In July celebration here at Ernie (Not Bert). I meant to do this yesterday, but I made an impromptu trip to the east coast to watch the shuttle launch, which it didn't, so I spent $50 in vain for gas. But that's all beside the point. The point is that for the month of July, I want to share a bunch of Christmas music with you. This is going to be a little different from what I did back in December, though. I've got a whole stack of tracks here from non-seasonal LPs that struck me as being Christmassy, or actual seasonal tracks that for whatever reason got stuck on a regular LP. My scanner is on the fritz, so most of the posts are going to be without the covers, but I think you'll live. The first share today is two tracks by Leroy Holmes from the soundtrack to The Devil's Brigade from 1968. These are the bona-fide Christmas tunes Good King Wenceslas and Joy To The World. Please download them and enjoy. By the end of the month, you should have a pretty nice collection of tunes to play when December rolls around. The RCA Victor tag I posted above is from The Sound Of Children At Christmas by Hugo & Luigi With Their Children's Chorus (RCA Victor LSP-2254, 1960). I used to post lots of these little tags, but I haven't done so in a while. I give you this one now to wish you a Merry Christmas, and also as the first time I've seen them duplicate a message in their tag. If you go visit 317X, you'll see that there is another tag that says Merry Christmas. I wish I had that LP...

Showbirds Of Vegas

There are still plenty of shots I want to bring you from my Vegas trip, I just keep running out of hours in the day. When I first started telling folks I was going to Vegas, one sharp wit asked why, since they didn't have any birds out there for me to shoot. Well, the joke's on her, because I did find a couple of birds to shoot. The fellow above is some sort of crane whose name escapes me, and the guy below is a flamingo. Where did I find these feathered friends? Why at The Flamingo, of course. They had a small aviary out by the pool with plenty of ducks and ibis and, of course, flamingos. You could also get your picture taken with a large number of colorful parrots. I felt like I was back in Florida for a few minutes.

The Week With The 4th Of July

OK, so the picture for this week may be a tad predictable, but it's still good. This was the fireworks display last year for the 4th of July. Hopefully, I'll get more shots like this before the weekend is out.