Saturday, July 21, 2007

Down Under

I didn't know that aircraft were allowed to fly under the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, I guess I was wrong. I saw this guy do it while I was at Fort Point under the bridge.

Wave Your Organ

No, this hasn't turned into a rated X blog. I just wanted to show you some pictures of a pretty unique site in San Francisco that a lot of people don't know about called the Wave Organ. At the end of a curving breakwater that provides some sheltered anchorage for the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco Bay, there lies a small structure built of old tombstones and other decorative granite rescued from cemeteries that were moved out of San Francisco many years ago. Scattered among the stone benches and markers are horns attached to tubes, the ends of which are below water level. As the waves force water in and out of the tubes, low notes are emitted from the horns. The notes blend in to the sounds of the waves, the birds, and the other sounds drifting around the bay. It's a neat little place that was almost totally deserted when I visited. To give you a sense of where this is, you can see the Palace Of Fine Arts in the background of the picture above, and the shot below shows Alcatraz in the background. I'm sure you could see the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown SF from this spot as well, but it didn't show up in any of the pictures I liked.

Looking Up

Before I went to California this past June, I threw up a bunch of my favorite pictures from my previous trip four years ago. One of my favorite from that trip is the version shown below. The picture above is from my more recent trip. I don't think either picture is better than the other, they both have their strengths and weaknesses. I don't know why I have this tendency to take the same picture over and over again, even when I think I've gotten a good one. Just so you know, what you are looking at is a set of four cables that links the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge to the main support cables, many feet in the air. I used to think there was only one cable until I had the chance to ride across the bridge way back in 1983 with my dad. We didn't stop, but he drove slow enough that I was able to tell it was four cables and not one. Now you know, and you can save yourself a trip.

Oodles Of Doodles CCLVIII-Christmas In July 2007

Here is an interesting, if rather primitive, doodle for this, the twenty-first day of July. This detail view of a Christmas tree hails from the back of The Joy Of Christmas by The Bison Glee Club Of Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma, Warren Angell, Director (Word W 3092-LP). I suspect this doodle was drawn by a student at the school as well. To my eyes, it looks like something done by a student, someone who hasn't had a lot of experience, yet obviously has talent. I hope you enjoy it. Looks like you might be able to order a CD copy of this recording here. No sign of the doodle or the original LP cover on that release, though.

Christmas In July 2007-Day 21

To cap off the third week of my Christmas in July celebration, here are three tracks that are, for the most part, spoken word. That is, they aren't songs. One of them is performed over some music, one of them is about a song, and the last one is nothing but words. So, let's begin. Track one is the one about a song. Michael Flanders and Donald Swann tell the story of Greensleeves on the album At The Drop Of A Hat (Parlophone PMC 1033, 1957). They don't talk about the Christmas version of the song at all, but you'll still appreciate it. Track two is the one that features talking over some music. The music is provided by the one and only Henry Mancini and the talking is done by Melina Mercouri. The track is Christmas Eve On Skid Row, from the soundtrack to Gaily, Gaily (United Artists UAS 5202, 1969). No, I've never heard of this movie either. The third and last track, entirely lacking in music, is the great Victor Borge reciting The Little Match Girl, a story by Hans Christian Anderson, from the album Victor Borge Presents His Own Enchanted Version Of Hans Christian Anderson (Decca Records Custom Department For Eastern Airlines DL7-34406, 1966). Eastern isn't around anymore, so I don't think you'll be seeing a reissue of this one on CD anytime soon. Well, wait, there does seem to be a DVD, but it appears to be from much later in his career. Here's the link to all three tracks, enjoy!

This day in July last year featured four versions Snowfall. I know you'll want to go get those. I think I've had at least four versions of Snowfall this year, if not more.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Oodles Of Doodles CCLVII-Christmas In July 2007

Nothing too fancy for you tonight, just a simple Christmas bell. Well, I have to assume it's a Christmas bell, since it shows up on the back side of a Christmas record. The record in question is The Favorite Songs Of Christmas (Capitol ST 2176), a various artists collection featuring at least a couple of otherwise unreleased tracks by artists such as Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Christmas In July 2007-Day 20

Here we go, Day 20! Shares one and two today are polka tunes by The Emeralds from the LP Bird Dance (K-Tel NC547, 1982). Yep, that's right, I finally shared out something on the K-Tel label. Can you dig it? The two titles are Holiday Schottische and Snow Waltz. Track three is a great version of Jingle Bells entitled Xmas It Ain't by Ron Goodwin, from the nearly forgotten movie Those Daring Young Men In Their Jaunty Jalopies (Paramount PAS 5006, 1969). Pretty cool track, if I do say so myself. Here's the link, be my guest.

This day last year featured three different and distinct Christmas tunes you've never heard.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oodles Of Doodles CCLVI-Christmas In July 2007

Here's the doodle of the day for the 19th of July. Not too Christmassy, is it? Well, they can't all be winners. This is actually a B&W detail of a color drawing on the cover of the record. That drawing is a little kid dressed as a drummer boy, walking among some Christmas trees. I'm not sure why his hat has all these kids on it. The cover is actually signed Milton Glaser, I think. The big question here is the title of the album. It's listed on the front of the sleeve, the back of the sleeve and on the vinyl, and each time it says something different. At least all three agree that the artist is The Do-Re-Mi Children's Chorus and the label is Kapp, catalog number is KS-3368. The front cover claims the title to be Do You Hear What I Hear?-Little Drummer Boy, And More Of The Christmas Songs Children Love To Sing. The back cover refers to the LP as The Do-Re-Mi Children's Chorus In The Wonderful Wonderland Of Christmas. And the vinyl itself says More Of The Christmas Songs Children Love To Sing. You can take your pick I guess.
Wait a minute? Could this be the same Milton Glaser? This guy is famous...

Christmas In July 2007-Day 19

Ready for some more Christmas In July music? I thought so, otherwise, you wouldn't be here, now would you? Today I've got some organ for you, stuff that I don't think you're going to get at any of those swankier blogs. The first song is from the well-known Virgil Fox, the track is Ave Maria from the album Songs At Sunset (Capitol SP 8587). There's a pretty good chance that some of you out there might have that album, but I'm going to ease myself out on a limb with these next two tracks and say that none of you have these albums. Apparently, in the early- to mid-sixties, there was a club for pipe organ fans. Once a month or so, they'd send you a new recording by a well-known organist playing a well-known organ. (Keep in mind that well-known is a relative term, because I'm not familiar with either of the artists represented here today.) Some months ago I stumbled across about a dozen of these records, bought the whole stack, and happened to find two Christmassy tracks that I'm sharing with you today. Track one is Chestnuts On The Open Fire (which you probably know as The Christmas Song, don't know why the title is so horribly butchered here) by Dick Schrum from the album So Rare (Concert Recordings CR-0119). The famous organ in this case is the Robert Morton Pipe Organ from the Music Hall Theatre in Seattle, Washington. Track two is a medley of Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers and I Love A Parade (well, it's not really a medley since she plays one song and then the other...) by Ann Leaf from Concert Echoes With Ann Leaf At The Los Angeles Theatre (Concert Recordings CR-0083, 1963). Inside of this album's jacket was a yellowed section of The Los Angeles Times from 12 October 1979, featuring an article on the impending closing of the Wiltern Theatre on Wilshire, home to the second largest pipe organ in the world. The two accompanying pictures show the organ being played in it's final concert by, you guessed it, Ann Leaf. Oh, and the sleeve may or may not be autographed. Right under her name on the front cover, someone has written in her name in a very near cursive script. Too neat to be a kid trying to copy the name, not messy enough to be an artist signing one of a hundred records after a concert. But there's no note that often accompanies an inscription on a record, so who knows. If you know any more about this organ record club, please drop me a line, I'm curious about it now. Here's the link to the music, hope you enjoy it.

This day last year featured two tracks each from two different artists, The Harmonicats and Norma Zimmer. How's that for diversity?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ernie ala Ansel

Speaking of Ansel Adams, I figured I should show you my best shot from Yosemite that I felt followed a little bit in his footsteps. Late in the afternoon, I noticed that a half-moon had risen. Unfortunately, I didn't notice it until it was quite high in the sky, so I had a real hard time getting it in the same frame with the mountains I was seeing at the time. I was able to get a couple of shots that I liked, though, and this is my favorite one. I shot it in color, of course, and did the B&W conversion in Photoshop. What you see is just the red channel information in 255 shades of gray. I thought that brought out the most detail in the rock spire and the moon, while it made the sky almost black, since there was very little red information in the blue sky. Clicking on the picture should take you to a larger, higher resolution version, where I think it looks much better than in the little preview. Hope you like it.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I enjoyed the day I spent in Yosemite Valley last month. I hiked around with my camera most of the day, maybe walking five or six miles, plus taking the tram to wherever I didn't want to walk. I wasn't the only guy taking pictures though. I spotted the guy above using some much more interesting equipment than the Rebel XT I was toting around. I suppose he was trying to follow in the steps of Ansel Adams or something, shuffling glass plates in and out of a big wooden box with a lens on it. I couldn't resist peeking over his shoulder and shooting the same shot he was after. Turns out he had a great view of Half Dome, as you can see below.

Oodles Of Doodles CCLV-Christmas In July 2007

The doodle of the day is this great collection of Christmas-themed doodles from the front cover of The Bravo Singers & Instrumentalists-Christmas Sing-Along (Bravo KX-3). Yes, they may be from the front of the LP instead of the more usual doodle location on the back, but I thought these were too nice to pass up. They are scattered all over the front, interspersed among the song titles, so I took the liberty of rearranging them into something a little tighter, I hope you don't mind. Most of these are spiritual symbols of the holiday season, but you do get one secular reminder in there in the form of a reindeer in front of a Christmas tree. How do you suppose the reindeer got down the chimney? I thought only Santa could do that? Oh, maybe it's an outdoor scene. That could be, since most of the other doodles here are outdoor scenes. And there are some more angels in there, too, for those of you who haven't already gotten enough angels this month.

Christmas In July 2007-Day 18

It just occured to me that I'm finally over the hump and it's all downhill until August. Of course, then I get to start recording full albums with cover scans for sharing near Christmas, and that's going to be a lot more work than just a few tracks a day. But I'm trying not to think about that now. What I am trying to think about are the three tracks for today. They are all from the same artist and all from the same LP, The Seasons Of Love With Malcolm Lockyer And His Orchestra (Mercury MG 20205). You might remember Malcolm from his contributions (Vol. 8 & Vol. 12) to the Hi-Fi Living series I shared earlier this year. These tracks are very similar to those, and I'm guessing they are from about the same time period, but on a different label. The three tracks in question are Snowfall, I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm and June In January. Here's the download link, now go get 'em.

Don't forget to go get the tracks from last year in case you missed 'em when they were new. This day last year saw five different versions of My Favorite Things. I bet I can top that this year!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lower Yosemite Falls, The Short One

In Yosemite Valley, there is an easily accessible path to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. Anyone can walk or ride up to the base of the falls, and get a great view of the drop. You can even wander out onto the boulders that have fallen from the sheer cliff face if you dare, and get almost directly under the spray. I'm sharing a series of four shots with you, each one with the camera zoomed out just a little bit farther to give you a slight sense of how big even this small section of the waterfall is. Keep your eye on the people on the rocks at the base of the falls. I believe the total drop of just this section of the falls is a little over 300 feet! The water appears to be moving in slow motion because it takes so long to fall.

Half Mile High And Falling

I haven't posted much from the little side trip to Yosemite Valley I made during my California visit. We got up early one morning, drove four hours out, spent about 6 hours in the park, then drove the four hours home. You can barely hit even the high spots in that short amount of time, but it was still an awe-inspiring trip. The vistas in the valley are so large, I couldn't take it all in with my lens. I wanted to take pictures of mountains that literally wouldn't fit in the lens. If I get to make a future trip, I'm going to invest in a super-wide angle lens. Just as a for-instance, the waterfall above, Yosemite Falls, from the top of the mountain to stream level (the stream was at the end of that wooden walkway), falls over half a mile. (The visible part above is Upper Yosemite Falls. It continues in a second stage, Lower Yosemite Falls, just below the tips of the trees you see, but I think that's included in the half-mile.) And notice that you can't see the mountain to the left or right of the falls, they're just too big! I've got lots more pictures to share from this day trip, so stay tuned!

Oodles Of Doodles CCLIV-Christmas In July 2007

Nothing will get you in the Christmas spirit faster than a nice Christmas tree. And here's one that comes complete with an array of gifts and some really small people around it. Maybe those are supposed to be elves or something. But I don't see any elfin qualities... Hmmmm, very curious. Anyhow, this fine tree comes from the backside of David Rose-Little Drummer Boy (Formerly titled The David Rose Christmas Album) (Capitol ST-290). For more David Rose, try here.

Christmas In July 2007-Day 17

I posted three versions of Snowfall the other day to help cool you down, so today I have to post three versions of I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm to help heat you up. And these really are great versions, each one better than the last. We start with the great pianist Erroll Garner who brings a jazzy touch to the song in his instrumental version. This comes from the album Erroll Garner Plays For Dancing (Columbia CL 667, 1956). Version two is a great group vocal rendition by The Ames Brothers With Sid Ramin And His Orchestra from The Ames Brothers Sing The Best Of The Bands (RCA Victor LSP-2273, 1960). Those Ames Brothers really had it together in the harmony vocal department. The last, and perhaps best version here is the he-said, she-said version by Sarah Vaughn & Billy Eckstine from The Best Of Irving Berlin (Mercury MG 20316, 1957). I found this version early this year, and I must have listened to it 50 times since. It never gets old. Go get these tracks now so you can get maximum listening pleasure.

The shares on this day last year were all privately released songs, which means someone thought highly enough of their own singing to record it and share it with the world. If that sounds like something you can live without, then don't go get it. Otherwise, please be my guest.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Muir Beach

I just couldn't get over how much different the Pacific beaches are from the Gulf of Mexico beaches I'm used to. Giant rocks, for one thing, are never found here. We have pure white sand. And the water is never too cold to enter. But it's still picturesque. This small strip of sand is Muir Beach, just down the road from Muir Woods.

Mail Call

I'm not sure why, but I thought this long line of mailboxes was picturesque. It was right across the street from The Pelican Inn near Sausalito in Marin County. I wasn't the only person who was photographing it at the time, by the way.

Nothing Muir About It

Another of the places we hit in California was Muir Woods. This redwood grove is in a valley near the coast in Marin Country, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. It was amazing to walk through a dense grove of trees that grew taller than most of the buildings I've ever been in. I found it next to impossible to get any pictures that imparted the majesty of these trees, but I hope maybe these shots will give you some sense of what it's like down at ground level. The shot above is a typical Ernie shot, looking straight up into the canopy, over 200 feet up. These trees are truly monsters.

The shot above is just the needles on the redwoods, but this time on a small tree that hadn't erupted out of sight yet. Somehow this branch had found a patch of sunlight in the eternal twilight amongst the redwoods.

Most of the vegetation in the shadows of the giants is adapted to very little light. Here some ferns mix in with what I think are fennels. I could be wrong about that.

At the base of some of the redwoods, young trees start to emerge from the burls on the trunks. Someday, when the conditions permit, these sprouts will take off and grow like wildfire (and perhaps because of wildfire), racing to claim their piece of the light far above.

Deer Season

I don't think I've mentioned the deer that I spotted in California. I had hoped to spot a bear or two, but I got deer instead. I'm not complaining, mind you. I spotted the spotted fawn above and the two does below in Muir Woods. They were obviously used to humans, since I was less than six feet away in both cases. It was amazing to be able to walk so close to these seldom seen creatures. The doe at the bottom was in a field in Yosemite. As we were driving out, I had just mentioned that it was the time of day you might see deer emerging from the woods to feed, and sure enough, there she was. There were some other yahoos in the field trying to chase her down for whatever reason, so I never got very close.

Oodles Of Doodles CCLIII-Christmas In July 2007

Yep, you guessed it, more angels! This time from the back side of Virgil Fox, Organist-Hark! The Herald Angels (Capitol P8531). This are fairly accurate sketches of two sculpted angels that appear on the front cover of this record. And for the time being, these are the last angel doodles in the pile of shares. At least until later this week...

Christmas In July 2007-Day 16

Hooray! It's finally the half-way point of our giant Christmas In July celebration! I think it's been a lot of fun so far, with some really great music shared out that might otherwise be lost to the dustbin of history. OK, well, maybe it's not that bad, but you get the picture. Great stuff today that I'm really excited to share. Track one is the excellent Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Cha Cha from the great Hugo Winterhalter And His Orchestra. I found this on an Italian version of the LP Hugo Winterhalter Goes...Latin (RCA Italiana LPM-10036, 1958). The Brazilian release of this same LP (RCA Victor LSP-1677) does not feature this track, instead featuring the track Isabel's Dream. (Don't ask me how I wound up with the Italian and Brazilian pressings of this LP...) I've no idea why, but at least now I get to hear and share this great track. (There's a lot more Hugo Winterhalter to download (1, 2, 3) from last Christmas, if you're interested...) In keeping with the cha-cha-cha, track two is Toyland Cha Cha Cha by Fred Sateriale's Big Band from the LP Cha, Cha, Chas-Merengues-Mambos-Broadway Latin American Party (Spin-O-Rama MK 3038). It may be a budget label, but I still love this track. The last track, unfortunately, is just filler. I'm afraid couldn't find a third cha-cha-cha song for you. So it's another version of Toyland, this time by Tony Cabot And His Silver Strings from Romance In Hi-Fi-The Music Of Victor Herbert (Promenade 2053). This is from yet another budget-label release, but I'm not really in love with this one. Sorry. I think the first two tracks more than make up for whatever this third track may lack. Here's the link, enjoy the tunes!

July 16th last year was an all-Mancini day, so if you missed it then, be sure you don't miss it now.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Third Week Of July

What do you get for a calendar this week? How about this huge sculpture called Unconditional Surrender? Ahhh, love, it's a wonderful thing. But something tells me love had very little to do with what was taking place when the picture was snapped that this statue is based on. By the way, this was just a temporary display of the statue. It's now gone, but there are rumors about that it might be returning. We'll just have to wait and see.

Oodles Of Doodles CCLII-Christmas In July 2007

This should get me all caught up on my doodles, at least until tomorrow. These ornate ornaments come from the flip side of Music City Choral And Orchestra-White Christmas And Other Holiday Favorites (Modern Sound MS 4). Well, actually the label is pretty vague on whose record this actually is. The credit I cited above is only specifically given for the title track. I think this Modern Sound label pulled a lot of hanky panky like that. But at least you get to look at the doodle. I was pretty close to posting this other doodle, in keeping with the theme of green and white, until I realized that I had shared it with you two years ago. I knew there was something familiar about it when I scanned it, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Wow, that was almost two hundred doodles ago. Time flies when you're having fun.

Oodles Of Doodles CCLI-Christmas In July 2007

I think I'm a couple of days behind on my Christmas In July doodles, so here's another one to try and catch up a little. This elegant rendition of Kris Kringle in front of the Christmas tree is from the back cover of The Magic Fingers Of Merlin On The Pipe Organ & Jonathan Wilson On Bethlehem Chimes-Christmas Organ & Chimes (Design DLPX-10). Yes, it may be a budget label release, but it still has a nice color doodle on it. There's always something good to find if you look hard enough.

Oodles Of Doodles CCL-Christmas In July 2007

I wanted to do something a little bit special for this, my 250th doodle. So I dug up this pair of doodles that I thought were kinda nice. The first one is a very intricate yet delicate snowflake, the second is a wreath encircling the skyline of New York City. The first doodle is from Christmas In New York (RCA Victor PRS-257, 1967), while the second one is from, you guessed it, Christmas In New York, Volume 2 (RCA Victor PRS-270, 1968). Both albums are various artist collections put together by RCA for the holiday season. I don't think these were tied in with any particular store or gas station, unlike so many of the others.

Christmas In July 2007-Day 15

You may recall that early last week I missed a day of posting, and I promised to make it up to you this weekend. Well, here's the make-up post, and I hope it was worth the wait. I wanted to do a little something different for you, since you had to wait so long, so here are two half albums, both featuring versions of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. The first version is by Ira Wright And His Orchestra from the album The Nutcracker Suite/Johann Strauss Waltzes (Rondo-lette SA 44, 1959). It's five tracks worth of the original, with slightly wonky sound, but hopefully you can still enjoy it. Version two is by The Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, Conducted by Felix Slatkin, and the LP is Nutcracker Suite/A Midsummer Night's Dream (Capitol SP 8404). This is a much longer take on the ballet, this time running through 8 tracks. (If you like Felix Slatkin, you can download a full Christmas LP from him here.) Please be my guest and download these two half-albums. I have to admit that I don't like either of these versions as much as I do the version from Fred Waring that I shared out last Christmas.

This day last year was a real hodge-podge of tracks. Three songs conducted by Frederick Fennel, and a folk song from The 3-D's.

Christmas In July 2007-Day 14

I just came in from lunch, and it must be 95 outside. So that makes me think of snow, naturally. Why not a few versions of the Claude Thornhill classic, Snowfall, for you today? Here are three different renditions from three different folks. Version one is from former Tonight Show bandleader Skitch Henderson from his LP More Skitch Tonight! (Columbia CS 9250). Back at Christmas time, I shared out half an LP of Skitch Christmas music, plus a bonus track. This now makes two bonus tracks. Maybe in a couple of years we'll have gathered up a full LP worth of holiday tunes from Mr. Henderson. Version two is by LeRoy Holmes And His Orchestra from the album Candlelight And Wine (MGM E3288, 1955). And version three is by organist extraordinaire Earl Grant, from his album Fly Me To The Moon (Decca DL 4454, 1963). Not a bad set at all today, don't ya think? Hope this helps cool you off a little. Here's the download, now go get it!

So what was on the old Christmas In July sharelist on this date last year? Three tracks from Percy Faith, all big winners in my book.