Saturday, July 04, 2009

Finally The Fourth

Just a few quick pictures of the fireworks over Sarasota this evening. I think I got some great shots this evening, thanks to a combination of luck, my new tripod, a remote shutter release and, well, more luck. If I get a chance, I'll share some more of these with you tomorrow, but right now it's late and I'm going to bed. Took forever to get back home across that bridge...


OK, I'm no big Michael Jackson fan, but when he died on my birthday and I was in Cleveland, the home of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, I had to go see the fuss. Sure enough, they've got a big guitar dedicated to Michael right in the lobby (where it's always been, by the way), and it was surrounded by all sorts of small, home-made, heartfelt tributes. But, for every fan who was there to remember his legacy, there was a TV camera there to exploit it. I wasn't carrying a vinyl copy of Thriller or wearing one white glove, so they didn't want to interview me. I guess I should have gotten some pictures of the many TV crews while I was there, but I didn't think about it. Michael Jackson made some good music in his lifetime, but he certainly went off the rails at some point later on. Shame.


Since today is July 4th, I'm sure there are many people gathered at Nathan's Famous in Coney Island, New York, for their annual hot dog eating contest. When I was there last September, the place was fairly deserted. Timing is everything, I guess.

Christmas In July 2009-Day The Fourth

Happy Fourth Of July to all of you out there, especially those of you in the good old U. S. Of A. I'm sure the farthest things from most of your minds is Christmas, so today's selections all focus on ways for you to cool off. I've got songs that talk about snow or winter, and I think that will help to get you in the Christmas spirit. It might also help if you wait to download these until after the fireworks. Then you'll really appreciate the chill these tunes put in the air. Oh, and as a special tribute to the Fourth of July, I've got a bonus track for you. First up, two songs, both called Lonely Winter, but not the same song. Version one is by Ralph Marterie And His Marlboro Men from the LP Marvelous Marterie (Mercury Wing SRW 12511, 1958). Did I share this with you before? Yes, looks like I did, but in mono. Well, here's a stereo copy. The second song of the same title is from Earl Grant, and his LP Yes Sirree! (Decca DL 74405, 1963). I think this one is actually new to the blog, I hope. While I'm here, I've also included The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, also by Grant and from the same LP. My other winter track is one that I tried to record three or four years ago, but the record kept skipping. I finally found another copy this past year, so here is Winter Won't Come This Year by Bill Medley (You know, from The Righteous Brothers) and the album Soft And Soulful (MGM SE-4603, 1969). I think it was worth the wait. One more chilly track for you this evening. It's Snow Time In Vienna by Irving Fields And His Trio from Melody Cruise To Vienna (Oceanic OCP 515). Are you feeling a little chill in the air yet? Oh, I mentioned a bonus track. Since it's July 4th, how about a track called Christmas In America by Tony Martin With Henri Rene's Orchestra And Chorus? This is the flipside of Christmas In Rio (RCA Victor 7" 45 RPM 47-6317 "Record Prevue"), one of the tracks I shared with you back on Christmas And A Half. I think it's appropriate for today. So there's the list, and here's the link. Help your self to six more tracks of Christmas goodness. This brings our total to 40!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Here Comes The Sun

I mentioned in my last post that the grasshopper was munching on some sunflowers at Mom and Dad's house. Well, in case you were curious, here's one of the actual blooms on one of those sunflowers. Pretty cool, eh?

Out Of The Grass

I shot this grasshopper the other day at Mom and Dad's house. He was making a meal out of a sunflower leaf, so after I got his picture, I made sure he wasn't able to do that anymore.

The Day Before

As is usual around here, we get two fireworks shows for the Fourth of July, one the day before, and one on the real Fourth. That always gives me a chance to practice, and here are some of my practice shots for you to peruse. I had to send back my fancy rented lens today, so these shots are going back to the old kit lens that came with my camera. I don't know if the fancy lens would have helped me much in this situation, but maybe. Some of these look a bit blurry to me, and I think maybe I should have stopped the lens down a bit more. I'll get it right someday. Tomorrow, perhaps.

Christmas In July 2009-Day The Third

Hooray, it's day 3 of my little Christmas in July celebration. Five more good Christmas tunes for you today, consisting of three variations on Jingle Bells, and a couple of folkies about the Virgin Mary.

Let's start with the Jingle Bells variations. The first version is just a straight recording, but it happens to be by Mr. Jack Daniel's Original Silver Coronet Band! Yep, this comes all the way from Lynchburg, Tennessee, to you from the album Hometown Almanac (Spring Branch Productions SB-2, 1977). This is a pretty good album, and I'll have another track from it for you later in the month. Version two is a polka, creatively entitled Jingle Bells-Polka, From Johnny Dyno and his LP Go Dyno Go-Johnny Dyno And His New Dynamic Sound (Jody Records LP 1801). If you like polka music, then you'll like this. If not, then maybe you should skip on ahead to the next song. And the next song is a bit of a ringer. It's Swingin' Them Jingle Bells by Fats Waller And His Rhythm from the compilation LP A Treasury Of Immortal Performances-"Fats" Waller Plays And Sings (RCA Victor LPT 1001, originally recorded November 29, 1936). I know this one is available plenty of places, but you won't mistake my scratchy copy for a CD version.

What are the two folk songs? The first is The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy, from the album Where Have All The Flowers Gone (Liberty LST-7316, 1963). The artist is The George Mitchell Choir, but it should come as no surprise to you that they are conducted by Robert DeCormier. DeCormier made a sort of cottage industry around this song, recording it quite a few times. It's still a good song, though, don't get me wrong. The other track is Mary Had A Baby from the various artists LP The Original Hootenanny-Volume 2 (Crestview (Elektra) CRV-807) as performed by Glenn Yarbrough & Marilyn Child. I know Glenn Yarbrough from The Limelighters, but I don't know who Marilyn Child is.

There you have it, five songs for day three, bringing the total so far to 34 tracks. That's a whole CDs worth already! Here's the download link, please be my guest.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

206 Years

Here's the story as I heard it. For their 200th anniversary in 2003, the state of Ohio commissioned an artist to go around and paint a commemorative logo on the side of one barn in each county in the state, for a total of 88 barns. Well, such a project took a number of years, but the artist started early and got one barn done in each county before the actual anniversary. Unfortunately, one barn was destroyed by a tornado after being painted but before the anniversary. He later went back and painted a second barn in that county, but none of that really matters. I just wanted to show you a picture of one of those barns. I spotted this on the side of SR 4, a few miles north of Marysville in Union County. It took me quite a bit of searching to find out exactly where I was when I took this picture, actually. I saw one other of the barns, but it was from the interstate, and I was going to fast to safely stop and take a picture. Maybe next time. I know there are a couple not to far from where I stay when I visit Ohio, so Maybe I'll make it a point of shooting some others when I go next time.


It's just a fun name to say. Sapsucker! Here are a couple of shots of a sapsucker from Mom and Dad's house a few weeks ago. He was high in a maple tree, looking for something to eat on a dead limb. These guys act a lot like woodpeckers, but they don't look like them. I should do some more research, I guess.

Attack Of The Killer Bee

This is a shot I tried to share with you a couple of weeks ago, but Blogger wouldn't cooperate for some reason. But I remembered it today, and here it is. Nothing special, just a bee coming out of a flower, but I thought it was neat. Click on it, and you can marvel at the detail in the big version of the picture.

Fawn (Not Hall)

The first day I was in Ohio, I'm walking down this path through a field. I stop to take a picture of a flower, and I hear a squeaking noise beside me. I look down into the foot-high grass and I see something brown. I lean over to get a better look, and this fawn jumps up and takes off for the nearby treeline. I squeeze off a few frames, but the little thing is moving so fast and I'm so surprised that I don't get anything really good. These three shots are the best ones of my close encounter of the deer kind. You never know what you're going to run into.

Christmas In July 2009-Day The Second

Here we are at day two already. Fourteen of you have downloaded the tunes from day one, and I hope you enjoyed them. We don't have quite the same quantity of tunes on tap for today, but I think the quality is certainly there. Today's theme is toys, which I think is quite appropriate for Christmas. Most days aren't going to have themes, unfortunately, but at this early date, I have lots of tracks to pick from and I can try to make sure there's some commonality between tracks. Anyhow, let's see what's on tap for tonight.

Our first track is, predictably, Toyland, as performed by Al Goodman And His Orchestra from Relax With Victor Herbert (RCA Victor LPM 1023, 1954). Nice silky strings on this one.

Track two is also predictable, March Of The Toys by Pride Of The '48 on the budget label LP A Hi-Fi Band Concert (Somerset P-6500). Not much I can say about this one. At least it fits in well with my little theme.

Departing from the predictable tracks, number three is The Marvelous Toy by Jane Morgan from her LP A Jane Morgan Happening (ABC ABC/S-632, 1968). I don't think this song specifically mentions Christmas or the holiday season, but I've seen it show up on a couple of Christmas albums, and it's story of a great toy that a parent gives to a child is certainly fitting for the holiday season.

Track four is a John Klein original, featuring Leo Addeo, Toy Train, from the LP you first heard from yesterday, Bells In Toyland (RCA Victor LSP-3832, 1967). I almost didn't record this one, but I'm glad I did. It's instrumental, but it has the air of holiday happiness about it, or at least I think so.

The fifth and final track is one I've searched for for a few years now. Blog reader Pete sent it to me some years ago as the flip side of a single on Command. The single A-side was a track from the LP Merry Christmas From The Command Family Of Recording Stars. We thought the flip side was specially recorded for the single, but I discovered otherwise. From the LP Songs For Lonesome Lovers (Command RS 874 SD, 1964) by The Ray Charles Singers, the song is A Toy For A Boy. Again, not something that specifically mentions the big holiday at the end of the year, but it has that feel about it. I'm happy to be able to finally share this track with you, and thanks to Peter for bringing it to my attention all those years ago. (Pete also shared a Three Suns Christmas single with me, which I also shared out with you, so you should thank him for that, too.)

There you have it. Only five songs, but they're good ones. Here's the download link, have at it. See you again tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-channel!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Tale Of Two F-Stops

Here's a short lesson in photography for you. Both of these pictures were taken with the same camera, one right after the other. The only setting I changed in between the two shots was the f-stop. The one above was shot through a really small opening, something like f/22. The one below is wide open, f/4 I think. Notice that in both cases the mushroom is in focus, but the picture above has more of the leaves around the mushroom in focus, while the picture below has out-of-focus leaves. That's depth-of-field. The rocks in the background are in a stream maybe 20-25 feet below the mushroom, and they are almost in focus above, but you'd have a hard time telling what they were in the picture below. Cool, eh? Problem is, to get the wide depth of field (the small f-stop or larger number), you need a longer exposure. I was using my new tripod, and the exposure probably took 20-30 seconds. There's always a trade-off.

Shiny Dimes

Another of the many, many places I visited in Ohio was Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. This huge cemetery features thousands of graves, some of them more famous than others. I think I showed you President Garfield's coffin last year, and this year you get the headstone on John D. Rockefeller's grave. As you can see in the picture, people leave coins on it, I guess in tribute to his giving dimes to young children back when a dime was real money. I made sure to leave a dime there myself, just in case.

Christmas In July 2009-Day The First

Well, here it is. The moment I've been waiting for since at least last week. It's the first day of Christmas in July 2009, and I hope you're as excited about it as I am. As I've done for the past three years now, I'm going to be sharing with you Christmas and holiday songs that you might not otherwise know about because they come from non-holiday albums. Have you ever been listening to a record and one of the songs seems like it doesn't belong? It may talk about Santa Claus or reindeer or Christmas, yet it's right there in the middle of non-holiday music. Well, those are the songs I try to collect up here during the month of July. I used to record these for myself, then save them for Christmas time, but now I collect them and share them with you. All the songs I'm sharing are ripped by me from my own vinyl. You won't find any music here from CDs, it's all scratchy vinyl. I also pride myself on making sure the files I share with you are properly tagged, so when you play it, you can tell what it is. Unfortunately, the files don't come with artwork. That would just be way more work than I want to do for a single track at a time. Anyhow, come back each day of the month, and you'll be able to download a new package of music that you may or may not have ever heard before. Now, on to the sharing!

I didn't know what to start the month off with, but when I found a record featuring Andre Kostelanetz and Peter Ustinov performing The Nutcracker Suite together, I knew I had a winner. And to round things out, I threw in nine more songs from that same suite, as performed by seven more artists. So you get a total of 24 tracks today, which I dare say is more than you're going to get on any other day this month. Never say that I don't start things out with a bang!

Now, the first 15 tracks in the Zip file are the aforementioned Kostelanetz-Ustinov Nutcracker. I'm pretty sure the two artists recorded their bits independently, as I was able to cut them into tracks quite easily. The spoken bits by Peter Ustinov are writtenby Ogden Nash, and, unfortunately, I don't think they're as good as the versions I shared by Mr. Nash himself last year. But you'll probably enjoy them. The LP these are from is Carnival Of Marriage/Nutcracker Suite (Columbia Masterworks M 30677) and here are the tracks:

Andre: Miniature Overture, March, Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy, Russian Dance, Arabian Dance, Chinese Dance, Dance Of The Flutes and Waltz Of The Flowers.

Peter: Nutcracker Suite, Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy, Russian Dance, Arabian Dance, Chinese Dance, Dance Of The Flutes and Waltz Of The Flowers.

Next up in the ballet is Sammy Nestico With Leon Breeden And The North Texas State Lab Band doing Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy from their LP The "Swingphonic Sound" Of Sammy Nestico With Leon Breeden And The North Texas State Lab Band (Mark Educational Recordings-Ensemble Series MES 32244). No idea where this comes from, but it's a nice version.

Thirdly we have a great version of almost the whole suite in miniature from Spike Jones And His City Slickers entitled Nutcracker Suite (Russian Dance [Trepak]; Dance Of The Flutes; Arabian Dance; Chinese Dance; Miniature Overture-March) from the compilation Spike Jones Is Murdering The Classics (RCA Red Seal LSC-3235(e), 1971). Yes, I know it's in fake stereo, but it's not like I can request to find specific records when I'm trolling the thrift stores... This is probably my favorite version after the Fred Waring one. They sort of remind me of each other, actually.

Fourth is two tracks from Xavier Cugat And His Orchestra from the great Living Stereo LP The King Plays Some Aces (RCA Victor LSP-1882, 1958). The two tracks are Danse Arabe and Danse Des Mirlitons. I've been wondering for a while if Xavier did any Christmas music through his long career, and I think these two count. If you'd like the whole LP, I believe it's still shared out here at Stax o' Wax.

Where was I? Oh, fifth is blog favorite John Klein, ably assited by Leo Addeo (not doing Hawaiian music for a change) on a medley called Sweet Nutcracker! from the LP Bells In Toyland (RCA Victor LSP-3832, 1967). You will hear more tracks from this one later in the month, guaranteed.

Number six is two tracks from conductor Antal Dorati Conducting The London Symphony Orchestra. They are Waltz Of The Flowers and the rarely-heard Waltz Of The Snowflakes from the LP Antal Dorati Conducts Waltzes By Tchaikovsky (Mercury Living Presence SR90395). Good stuff.

Seven is E. Power Biggs & His Pedal Harpsichord performing Russian Dance (Trepak) from his album Holiday For Harpsichord: Fun-Filled Favorites From E. Power Biggs & His Pedal Harpsichord (Columbia Masterworks MS 6878). You haven't enjoyed the harpsichord this much since The Addams Family last aired.

And last (for now) we have Camarata Conducting The Kingsway Symphony Orchestra, with another performance of Trepak, from the LP The Heart Of Tchaikovsky (London Phase 4 SPC 21027). Short, but sweet. I actually recorded this one from a very scratchy LP, only to find a much cleaner copy further down the stack of LPs I have set aside for recording, so I had to do it all over again. I need to pay more attention to such things, I guess.

So there you have it, 24 tracks for you enjoyment. More than an hour of Tchaikovsky. Good luck sitting through that. Here's the download link, have at it. See you all tomorrow!

If that's not enough nutcracker for you, I can highly recommend Waltz Of The Flowers and Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy by Hal Mooney from Day 14 of last year's Christmas In July. They're great! That same day also featured other Tchaikovsky tracks as well, so don't be afraid to grab the whole thing. Still not enough? Day 32 (?) & Day 26 last year and Day 15 from 2007 are also filled with Nutcracker goodness. Did I miss any? Maybe.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Down Under

I'll be leaving Ohio here in a few hours, but before I go, here's a picture from about 110 feet below the surface. I toured Ohio Caverns yesterday and shot this forest of stalactites and stalagmites. I gotta tell you it was an impressive sight, seeing this sort of thing deep underground, with nothing on the surface to indicate what there might be below.