Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Different Moon

You're looking at a piece of the Moon. This is a different piece than the one I showed you before. This one was at the Smithsonian Air And Space Museum in Washington, DC. Same deal as the one at KSC though, it's glued down pretty tight and you can barely touch it behind all the plexiglass, but you can touch it. I bring you this just so I can link to some incredible pictures that NASA just released. I've had people ask me before why they can't see the Apollo landing sites on the Moon from Earth-based or space-based telescopes (such as Hubble). (For one thing, Hubble can't focus in on objects that close, but that's another story. Nope, I'm wrong!) Well, the largest object mankind left on the moon was the lunar lander, which is about 12 feet in diameter. Spotting something that small from the Earth would be like trying to tell if the dime you dropped at the summit of Everest landed heads up or tails up, only you're looking back after you've made it home to Florida. It's just too small at too great a distance. Well, guess what? NASA recently launched a new probe to the moon to take some high-resolution surveys for a possible future moon mission. And what have they taken pictures of? Five of the six moon landing spots, that's what, and you can just barely make out the fact that there's something there. The probe is about 70 miles above the lunar surface, and the lunar landers make up about 4 pixels in the pictures. But what really stand out are the shadows being cast when the sun is low on the horizon. The shadows make up many more pixels, and stand out much more sharply. In fact, one site, shot at just the right time of day with near-perfect lighting conditions actually revealed trails blazed by the astronauts as they went back and forth performing experiments. It's only a matter of time before we get some really startling images of these landing sites, proving to all the doubters once and for all that Man has set foot on the Moon. And in fact, he left an awful lot of junk laying around up there. Shame, that

Christmas In July 2009-Day The Fifteenth

Here's one of the days I've been looking forward to this month. All of the songs I'm sharing out today are humorous little Christmas songs, or something similar to Christmas songs. Well, at least they are all meant to be funny. Let's just drop right in, shall we?

Tracks one and two are both from self described "international concert comedienne" (says so right here on the LP sleeve) Anna Russell. Both tracks come from her album A Square Talk On Popular Music (Columbia Masterworks ML 5036). Side one is subtitled The Decline And Fall Of The Popular Song and side two is subtitled Survey Of Singing From Madrigals To Modern Opera. The first track, from side one, is Please Santa Claus. I shared out an edited version of this one (just the music) some years ago on one of my Days Of Christmas collections. I think I also shared the full version elsewhere, but few people saw it. So here it is again, in a fresh new dub from the vinyl. Track two, from side two, is the sorta Christmassy Let Us Hang The Holly. At least you get a few fa-la-la-la-la's in there.

Track three is Fay McKay performing her near-classic Twelve Days Of Christmas from a compilation LP of hers, the only one of hers I've ever seen, actually, A-Live At The Dunes (MLG Records 1021). I first heard of Ms. McKay over at The Christmas Yuleblog, where you can read more about this particular song. I found this record still sealed, I opened it just now to record it for you guys. I think you'll enjoy it. Oddly enough, in small type, at the bottom of the back cover, it says "This album was recorded in Denver, Colorado". Sorta odd for a record titled A-Live At The Dunes. Oh, and the liner notes are written by Liberace!

Track four is from an odd little LP by Kaye Ballard & Arthur Siegel, Music By Fred Karlin, called Good Grief, Charlie Brown! Peanuts (Harmony (Columbia) HS 11230). The song is Snowflakes And Stars, and I think at least the snowflakes part is appropriate to our seasonal celebration here. The cover features a panel from a Peanuts strip by Charles Schulz, and the two leads are supposed to be Lucy Van Pelt and Charlie Brown. I don't know if this was a record-only thing or if it was a play or what. It's a little odd. The music just consists of various noises, like clunks and peeps. You'll see...

Track five has no music at all, it's entirely spoken word, courtesy of Eddie Lawrence, The Old Philosopher, from his album Is That What's Bothering You, Bunkie? (Epic LN 24159, 1964). The track in question here is What Do You Want For Christmas, so you know it's got to have something to do with Christmas, and indeed it does. This was my first exposure to Mr. Lawrence, but I'm going to keep an eye out for him from now on.

There, I think that's it for now. Here's the download link, thanks for visiting!

Christmas In July 2009-Day The Fourteenth

OK, here're the new shares for today, or, technically, the shares for last Tuesday. I'm still playing catch-up from my short illness, so bear with me. I may not get caught up this weekend, but I'm making good progress.

I'm cheating a little bit again today, as all the shares come from the same LP. The record is only Christmas on one side, so I guess I could share it now or at Christmas time, but I choose to share it now. The LP is The Charm Of The Old Music Box (Hacker Music Box Records 13993), and it's 13 Christmas songs as played by ye old timey mechanical music boxes. Not the little cheap ones you may have had as a kid, but mechanical wonders from the days before recorded sound. It might be a bit much to listen to all these tracks in a row, but put them on random play with other Christmas music and you'll find yourself enjoying them every time they pop up. The songs include Silent Night, Star Of The East, Angel's Serenade, Oh How Joyfully (O Sanctissima), Oh Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fidelis), O Tannenbaum, First Noel, Hark The Herald Angels Sing & Ave Maria. The types of music boxes include German Kaliope, Regina, Mira & Polyphon.

Here's the download link. If all goes well, I'll see you later on this evening with another share.

PS-More Christmas on music boxes here, here and here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

RIP Walter Cronkite

I just read about the death of Walter Cronkite this evening. He's one of those folks that you think will never pass away, will always be there, like that uncle you thought was really old back when you were little, but now you're all grown up and that uncle is still there. But Mr. Cronkite is no longer with us. I remember watching films (from a projector!) in class that featured him reporting on historical events, walking into the middle of a raging battle with his microphone and proclaiming You Are There! I only have vague memories of watching his evening news broadcasts at my grandparent's house. I can remember the bare set better than anything else, none of the flashy stuff you see today. And I can remember one night he wasn't there, instead they had some younger guy with big sideburns. I guess that was Dan Rather, or maybe Roger Mudd, not sure. Oh, and Walter used to be the voice of Spaceship Earth at EPCOT. They recently redid that ride, and I don't think it's narrated by him anymore. Oh, well, time marches on.

Christmas In July 2009-Day The Thirteenth

Now, let's see, last time you heard from me was Sunday, and here it is Friday. Sorry about that. Hard to stay focused on Christmas when you're sick. But I'm back and I've got some music to share with you, so let's jump right back in, shall we?

Track one is a nice little ditty called Over The Alps by Jack Shaindlin Conducting The Cinerama Symphony Orchestra from the soundtrack Cinerama Holiday (Mercury MG 20059, 1955). I read that this is from the second Cinerama movie made. Cinerama was one of those ultra-widescreen formats that Hollywood came up with in the fifties to combat the onslaught of television. Didn't really catch on as it was so difficult to produce the films and then project them on three screens. But this soundtrack has a few winter, snow and skiing tracks that I liked, so you'll be hearing some more from it later on. I think I left the tag off of the file, but this track was composed by Morton Gould.

Track two is Sun Valley Polka by Larry Chesky And His Orchestra from their self-titled album (Stella S-LP 913). I don't think this is related to the winter song It Happened In Sun Valley, but for the sake of my having something to share tonight, try to pretend it's the same song, only in the form of a polka!

Track three is from the great Roger Miller, Footprints In The Snow from his self-titled LP (RCA Camden CAS-851, 1964). Someone posted a comment about why I didn't post Old Toy Trains the other day, and that got me to thinking about Roger Miller. I found this track and figured it was a good one. I haven't dug up Old Toy Trains yet, but I'm looking. I know it's around here somewhere.

Track number four is another song by Hollywood Sound Stage Orchestra called Snow Frolic, written by Francis Lai and pulled from the LP Love Story And Other Romantic Film Favorites From Film Sound Track Scores (Stereo Gold Award GA-3 1). Are you feeling chilly yet? I know I am.

The fifth and final track for this day is Winter Nocturne by Buddy Cole from his posthumous LP Buddy Cole Remembered (Doric DO 1421, 1980). I think this song does a nice job of conjuring up a cold winter scene. This LP collected together a number of unreleased recording by Cole after his death.

And there you go, several days late, but I'm finally posting again. Here's your download link, stay tuned for more goodies as I try to get caught up.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No More Sears

I was saddened to read earlier today that the Sears Tower in Chicago is no more. Luckily, it didn't meet the same fate as the towers of the World Trade Center in New York, they just sold the naming rights to someone else. I've got a feeling this new name, Willis Tower, will take a while to catch on. I was surprised to learn that Sears hadn't occupied the building in any capacity since 1992. I was there in March of last year and I just remember it being really, really, really tall.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm Back

Hi gang! Sorry I've been MIA for a few days. I had a little bout with something that made me a little too ill to post, but I'm feeling much better now. I'll get back to the Christmas in July stuff tomorrow, promise! And thanks for the emails and comments. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Christmas In July 2009-Day The Twelfth

Are you ready for a little music here on the twelfth day of Christmas, in July, that is. How do I know these are all Christmas songs? Because they all feature the word Christmas in the title. Piece of cake!

Let's begin with Merle Haggard performing Blue Christmas from his tribute to the then recently deceased Elvis Presley, My Farewell To Elvis (MCA MCA-2314, 1977). Good stuff here, and a fitting tribute to The King.

Track two is a cover of a Francis Lai soundtrack song, The Christmas Trees performed by Hollywood Sound Stage Orchestra from their album Love Story And Other Romantic Film Favorites From Film Sound Track Scores (Stereo Gold Award GA-3 1). Now that I know there's a Christmas song from the soundtrack to Love Story, I'll have to track down the real soundtrack LP. Shouldn't be too hard to find.

The last three tracks are all versions of the same song as written by no less than Andrew Lloyd Webber and featured on the soundtrack to The Odessa File (MCA MCA-2084, 1974). Version one of Christmas Dream is performed by no less than Perry Como With The London Boy Singers. Version two is entitled Christmas Dream (Carousel Version) and it's credited to Anthony Bowles And Alan Doggett. The third and final version is called Christmas Dream (German Band) and it's performed by Adolf Stahuber. All three versions are quite good, but I'm particularly proud of the Perry Como version.

There you have it, Five Christmas songs for the 12th of July. Here's the download link, knock yourselves out.

Ye Olde Town Pump

Time for a little compare and contrast. As I mentioned a while back, I visited some caverns while I was in Ohio. One of them, creatively called Ohio Caverns, featured the odd-shaped formation above, a deformed soda straw called Old Town Pump. I recognized it from the website as soon as we walked by it, except that I didn't realize it was so small. I doubt if the pump part is over two inches tall. Anyhow, I bring it to you tonight so you can decide if it's pump-like or not. Below is a picture of an old pump, taken at a different cavern in Ohio, coincidentally next to a cemetery. Do you see a resemblance?