Saturday, February 17, 2007

Here There Be Dragons

It wouldn't have been a festival in Florida if it didn't have an arts and craft area. I didn't spend a whole lot of time there, because I think sometimes the art there isn't so crafty, but I did spot this dragon while walking through. I'm sure there are a few dragon fans out there who might appreciate it.

Cortez Heritage

OK, as promised, here're a bunch of pictures from my day at the Cortez Heritage Festival. I've deliberately not shared any pictures of the horrible crowds with you, since I don't think you want to see those. Actually, whenever there were crowds, I just didn't take pictures, it was much easier that way. Cortez is a small fishing village on the landside of the bridge heading out to Bradenton Beach. It's been there since the late 1800's, but was nearly destroyed recently, not by the weather, but by government. In order to protect dwindling supplies of seafood from overfishing, the Florida Legislature outlawed fishing with certain types of nets. Within three weeks, four of the five fishhouses in Cortez had closed their doors. The community today survives on the few types of commercial fishing that are still allowed, and tourism. This once a year festival celebrates both. Hopefully the photos I'm sharing here demonstrate the quaint and quirky nature of the area.
Everything in Cortez has to be decorated with a nautical theme. Everything. You're not anything if you don't have a boat in your yard. Well, that's not entirely true. That's actually an antique shop in the picture above. But trust me, some of the houses are every bit as decorated.
Way back in 1912, this was the school. It's now being rebuilt to use as a museum. I thought it was supposed to be done by now, but it didn't seem done. They are probably rebuilding it on Cortez-time, which means whenever they don't have anything else to do, like fish.
One of the highlights of my visit was a chance to get a short boat ride and see Cortez from the water. For only $5, you got a 15 minute trip with Captain Kathe (There was no First Mate Pup-Pup when I was on board though...), a fourth generation resident of Cortez. She seemed to know everyone and everything about the village, which only makes sense, as she was born and raised here. I was the only other person on the boat from the great state of Florida, but I was just a lowly landlubber.
I enjoyed the boat trip so much, I went back out for a second trip. This time, some of Captain Kathe's family were on the boat, so we went in a different direction, and got a slightly longer ride. Because I asked nicely, she made a quick loop around this local landmark for me. Back in the day, there were dozens and dozens of these little stilt houses in the area, which the fishermen used for different things, including drying and storing their nets in the days before rot-resistant plastic. I'd seen this little shack for years from the mainland, but it was nice to be able to finally see and shoot it from the water.
Walking around the village, there are lots of things to see. The big gate and sign above advertise a surfer's house. I don't know where they surf around here, though. Three foot swells are considered big, so it's not quite North Shore stuff...
Ha-ha. Coconuts. That's not even a coconut palm.
Just another bright green house for you. Is that enough pictures for today? I think I took less than 700 during the day, so it wasn't like I was all that busy. If I weren't so lazy, I'd go back tomorrow...

Pelicans, Both White And Brown

Here's some birds you don't see too often here in Florida. These white pelicans are visitors from up north, where they tend to live in fresh water, not salt. But I guess they make an exception when they winter in Florida. I found these guys on a mud flat off the shore of Cortez, while I was on a little pontoon boat taking a tour today. (More on the tour boat later...) There were also lots of plain brown pelicans hanging out near the fish processing plant. I'm sure they get more than enough to eat around there.

(Not A) Shark!

At first glance, especially if you've seen Jaws lately, you might think this was a shark in the waters of Sarasota Bay today. But it's just a playful dolphin, spending a little quality time on the surface. But cue the spooky music anyway, just to scare the tourists.

K Is For Kestrel

Those of you who've been reading the blog for a while know how much I love these American Kestrels. They're nearly impossible to find in the wild, but there is a pair that lives in a giant dead oak behind my parents house. They're skittish, so whenever I try to get close, they fly off. Being so small, you have to get close to get a good picture. This bird you see here injured a wing and is now unable to live in the wild. So I was able to get some good shots of him at the Cortez Heritage Festival today. I only wish he'd been out in the sun instead of under a tent, but I'm still pretty happy with these pictures. Look at the markings on this guy! He's beautiful!

Oh, Owls!

One of the things I always like about going to these little local festivals is that they sometimes have booths from the local animal rescue people. In the case of today's Cortez Heritage shin-dig, there was a booth from the bird people. Two of the birds on display were these owls. Above is a little tiny screech owl, not much bigger than a large blue jay, but still a fierce hunter. The much larger guy below is a barred owl. He's about the size of a, well, about the size you expect for an owl. They had a couple of others birds that weren't as exciting that I didn't get decent pictures of, and one other one that I thought was so great, I'm giving him his own post. So stay tuned for that.

Skunk Love

I have a million pictures from today that I want to share with you, and these two were the first that came together. Above and below are a couple of pet skunks I shot at the Cortez Heritage Festival in the village of Cortez near Bradenton. I'll have plenty more to show you that more directly relates to the festival, but I wanted to show you these friendly fellows. The one above is an albino, so you might not recognize it as a skunk, but trust me on this. Look at those claws, too. Who knew that if the stink didn't get you, they could claw your eyes out! Maybe I should trade my cat in on one of these. A de-scented one, of course.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Oodles Of Doodles CCXV

It's been a while since I brought you both a doodle and an RCA tag at the same time, so here you go. Both of these images hail from Larry Elgart And His Orchestra-New Sounds At The Roosevelt (RCA Victor LSP-2045, 1959). There's a great doodle with a couple of couples dancing in the foreground, and some performing heads in the background representing the "And His Orchestra" bit. The front of the LP brings us this tagline, "Ballroom At Home". And I just noticed that the liner notes were penned by none other than Hugh Hefner! Wow, you really get the whole package with this record. By the way, there's an Aston-Martin on the cover (two years before James Bond!), and the Roosevelt of the title is a "prominent New York hotel", as Mr. Hefner puts it in his liner notes. No sign of Larry's brother Les on this release. Did they do much stuff apart? Most of the LPs I see are by the two of them together.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This Week In 1958

I know that a lot of you are sitting around on this Valentine's Day asking yourself "What songs were on the charts in Chicago this week back in 1958?", and surprisingly enough, I've got the answer for you. I found the piece of paper above inside a record at a Goodwill store and I've been waiting until this week to share it with you. It had actually fallen out of a record when I found it, so I can't tell you which record it actually came from. I doubt if it was any of the ones on the list. I guess this was a weekly list compiled by WJJD that you could pick up at your local record store. It's serialized, so I guess you won something if they called out your number on the radio. So what was the top tune in Chi-town this week way back when? The Silhouettes-Get A Job. What a time this must have been. Elvis is on the list right alongside Sinatra. Ricky Nelson, Patti Page, The McGuire Sisters, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, The Platters... Well, maybe not the absolute best time, since the Beatles were still half a decade away. There are some records and artists on here that I haven't heard of. Who are Billie & Lillie? Johnnie Pate? Betty Johnson? And some of the songs that have escaped me for all these years, She's Neat, Henrietta, Little Blue Man, Bad Motorcycle? Somebody needs to hook me up with some of these songs. Click on the image above to see a larger version. Anybody know all of these tracks? I know there are some real record hounds out there. Show me your chops!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oodles Of Doodles CCXIV

While looking for some Western music for tonight's Two For Tuesday, I came across an LP called TV Western Themes by Slim Boyd & His Range Riders (Coronet CXS 175). I decided not to share any of the music from it, but these Western doodles were too good to pass by. The one above, from the front of the record sleeve) is cool to me just because of the rather complex looking TV antenna. You don't see too many of those these days. And putting the horse and rider on there makes me think of some sitcom where they went around and pulled down all the TV aerials in town for some reason. What show was that??? And the doodle below from the back of the LP is just strange. It's a scene that combines some obvious Western symbolism with some rather uncharacteristic furniture. I mean, aren't those Hawaiian chairs? Something you might find on a Webley Edwards LP cover? Anyhow, I thought it was interesting enough to merit scanning and sharing. Hope you enjoy it. (I've shared doodles from Western themed LPs a couple, three times before. Have a look-see.)
Is this the same Slim Boyd as I shared out here doing Christmas music? Probably supposed to be, but I don't think there really is such a person. It's probably just old recordings by nameless folks that were endlessly recycled by budget labels like Coronet, Premiere, etc. The artist name isn't even on the record sleeve. I had to look on the record to find a credit.

Two For Tuesday, Lucky Number Seven

It's Tuesday already, so I'm sharing out a couple of tracks with you, just to make sure I stay busy. The theme today is western music by artists you don't usually think of when you think western. The first track is Riders In The Sky by Morton Gould And His Orchestra from Wagon Wheels (Columbia Masterworks ML 4858, 1955 or 1956). You expect to hear The Sons Of The Pioneers doing this track, but not Morton Gould. Most of his repertoire is classical. Similarly out of his comfort zone is Lawrence Welk doing the theme to the old TV show Wagon Train, called, appropriately enough, (Roll Along) Wagon Train from TV Western Theme Songs (Coral CRL 757267). I don't remember the show, but the theme seems catchy enough. Here's the link for these two tracks. Hope you enjoy 'em!

Monday, February 12, 2007

February Mid-Month

Another another week, another weekly calendar page, or two. The shot above was a great sunset I was watching while driving home one night. It finally just got to be too awesome not to stop, so I pulled over to the side of the road and squeezed off a few shots. I think this was on University Parkway here in Sarasota. The shot below is a pair of water lillies in a pond at Mote Marine, also here in Sarasota. Cool, aren't they?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Volume 7 For Hi-Fi Living

Right on time, here's the seventh installment of Hi-Fi Living, tonight featuring a band leader we haven't heard from yet. I have no idea who Jack Say is, but at least one reference I found on the web claims that it's actually someone names Jacques Ysaye, which really doesn't tell me anything. Hopefully, I got all the tracks in the right order tonight, unlike last week (which will be fixed shortly). In the meantime, why don't you download and listen to Jack Say And His orchestra-These Foolish Things-Vol. 7 For Hi-Fi Living (RCA Custom RAL-1007, 1957). Not to be off-putting, but I think this is the most boring volume yet... Sorry.