Archive for the ‘UFOs’ Category


Glenn Miller disappeared just before Christmas on December 15, 1944. His Orchestra, in the too-short run under his personal leadership, had officially recorded only one Christmas song (“Jingle Bells”, October 20, 1941).

Year later, the orchestra has recorded three Christmas albums.

A list of desirable players was compiled. There were a few requisites — musicians had to be working currently; only alumni of the Glenn Miller Orchestra would be recruited; each individual had to have recognized and outstanding talent; each veteran had to be able to take a leave-of-absence from his current “gig”; and, of course, be available to come to New York City to record.  The average age of this band is about 50. The length of time each player performed with the Glenn Miller Orchestra ranges from as little as 6 months to well over 10 years. The cumulative experience of this band recreating the authentic Miller “sound” is well over 100 years!

The first recording, “In The Christmas Mood”, was released in 1991. It was so successful that a second recording, “In The Christmas Mood II,” was produced and later released in 1993.

Almost all of the musicians performing on all three of these recordings, are the same. The only differences are the pianist for the first recording, and trombonist, Larry O’Brien, the then leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, was unable to make the second recording due to being on tour. Larry is noticeably back on this recording as evidenced by his beautiful trombone solo on Toyland.

My parents loved Glenn Miller and I grew up listening to him.  So when I saw this, I knew I had to get it–combining Glenn and the Nutcracker!

“Miniature Overture” a fun overture that puts the swing in things.
“March” I don’t know if Brian Setzer put the swing into this song before they did, but it has Glenn all over it.
“Dance of the Fairy Dragee” doesn’t differ too much for the original at least until the middle when the jazzy drums kick in.  The end totally swings.
“Russian Dance”  fast and peppy and wonderful with a big band flourish at the end.
“Arabian Dance” I love that the more Arabian sound comes from a muted trumpet.
“Chinese Dance” There’s some extra big band solos thrown into this one–cheating a bit I think.
“Dance of the Mirlitons” Some nice swinging in this dance too of course.
“Waltz of the Flowers”  This song is usually pretty sedate, but they big up the band.   The main part is still a pretty waltz, though.

“Jolly Old St. Nicholas”  The band’s singers enter on this song.  I have to admit I never really liked the Miller songs with words.  But this sounds pretty accurate to me.
“Toyland” A slow romantic ballad that I don;t recognize from elsewhere.  I could see Lawrence Welk and his bubbles doing this song.
“Ode to Joy”  You don’t hear jazzy versions of this too often, but they have the Glenn Miller sound perfectly for this swinging Classic.

“A String of Carols; Here We Come a-Caroling, Up On the House Top, a Child Is Born in Bethlehem, Deck the Halls”  The swingers are back with this nice medley of carols.

“Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” I love that they threw in a few bars of In the Mood into this song.
“Old Fashioned Christmas Tree” and “March of the Toys” I’m not sure if they are from something or just goo old swinging fun.
“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” returns the vocals to the end of the disc.  I fitting end for the Christmas holiday.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra:
Saxes: Ralph Olson Lead Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Flute; Lee Lachman Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Piccolo; Mark Vinci Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone; Frank Perowsky Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone; Richy Barz Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Trumpets: Tom Snelson; Ken Brader; John Hoffman; Dale Thompson
Trombones: Larry O’Brien; Eric Culver; Randy Purcell; Dennis Good
Piano: Tony Monte
Bass: Lanny Fields
Guitar: Jay Patten
Drums: Danny D’Imperio
The Moonlight Serenaders: Annette Sanders, Arlene Martell, Al Dana, Paul Evans, Kevin DiSimone

[READ: April 25, 2017] The Art of Wordless Storytelling

This book is a companion to an exhibition of Wiesner’s art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Wiesner has created some of the most beautiful children’s pictures books ever.  And most of them have no words at all.  His books include Free Fall (1988), Hurricane (1992), Tuesday (1991), June 29, 1999 (1992), Sector 7 (1999), The Three Pigs (2001), Flotsam (2006), Art & Max (2010), Mr Wuffles! (2013) and Fish Girl (2016).

This book taught me that all of his art is done in watercolor and done in such a way that he adds layer upon layer of color to create intense depth of color and shade–I’d always known his art was great but had no idea why.  But then I read that when most books are created they print all of the colors at the same time, effectively muting his work.  So all of the subtlety in his work is lost when it comes out in book form.  His original drawings and paintings sound breathtaking.

In addition to seventy some plates of paintings, this book contains a few essays and Q&A with Wiesner. (more…)

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boomSOUNDTRACK: RATBOY JR.-“Champion of the Universe” (2013).

ratboyRatboy Jr was also in the Top Ten of WXPNs 2013 Kids Corner countdown (and was also on the Kids Corner CD).  This is a fun song told in a story.  It opens slowly with acoustic guitars and tells the story of a young boy with a very big head who wants to be a luchador.

When the chorus comes around, it kicks into full Mexican style swing with horns and flamenco style guitars.  Young Santos goes to a store where he gets a beautiful red wrestling mask.  And we all sing “La Cabeza Grande, champion of the universe!” in full chanting chorus (complete with yips and yee hees!).

I actually wish the songs was about five minutes longer.  But at just under 4 minutes it tells a good story and is super catchy.

[READ: January 2, 2014] Boom

I’ve read one adult book by Mark Haddon (but not his famous Curious Incident…).  I didn’t know that he wrote kids books at all.  But when this came out I learned that this was originally published in 1992 under the title Gridzbi Spudvetch! (and yes it was in English).  He says in the Foreword that kids and teachers loved it, if they were able to pronounce it (and that with a title like that he was lucky that 23 people bought it).

So it went out of print.  But fans said he should get it back in print.  So he decided to rename it a more reasonable name.  He also says the technology in the book was horribly out of date (which shouldn’t really matter, but if you’re going to update it, you might as well do it all).  And as since he was updating, he decided to rewrite, as he puts it, “every sentence.”  So I gather the story is the same, but it’s a very different book (and me being me, I’m very curious to read the original).

But now with the simple name of Boom, we get this fast paced and very enjoyable story.  (And yes, gridzbi spudvetch is still in the book). (more…)

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jetpackSOUNDTRACK: WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS-“Quiet Little Voices” (2009).

jetpacksWhen you have a book with “Jetpack” in the title, the appropriate band is We Were Promised Jetpacks, no?  I’ve heard a lot of good things these guys.  But all I knew for certain was that they were Scottish.

I listened to their debut EP, The Last Place You’ll Look, which I liked a little.  But I didn’t care for the sound of the EP itself, it was rather flat.  A few listens got me enjoying the melodies and such but it never grabbed me.  Especially when I compared it to “Quiet Little Voices,” the lead single from their debut full length, These Four Walls.

The vocals are a bit stronger, the guitars and bass are both more clear.  The overall feeling is just brighter.  Now this may be a sign of selling out (is that something bands still do?), but really I think it’s just a better production for this song.  Which has a big chorus (and good backing vocals).

I listened to a few more tracks from These Four Walls and they are all good too.  I guess start with the albums and save the EP until after you’ve absorbed the band.

[READ: July 5, 2013] You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack

Gauld makes comics like no one else I know.  Most of his people are silhouetted or are the most rudimentary designs–simple triangle-shaped clothes, circle heads with dots for eyes and little else–maybe a nose if it’s profile. (Okay, there’s a bit of Chris Ware, but more like a much more relaxed Chris Ware).  And the wonderful thing is just how much he can convey with these painstakingly simple drawings.

The content of his comics is usually quite clever and often literary.  While I admit there were some I didn’t get (Like the Eric Gill cartoon–shame on me?–Aha: “[Gill’s] personal diaries describe his sexual activity in great detail including the fact that he sexually abused his own children, had an incestuous relationship with his sister and performed sexual acts on his dog.”  Geez, now the comic is very funny.).  There were some in which I liked the set up but would have preferred something funnier (like the Tom Waits comic–shame on him?)

But overall this collection was really enjoyable.  And I laughed a lot. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: March 11, 2013] The Get Rich Quick Club


I grabbed this audio book because I knew we were taking a longish trip and I wanted something for the kids to listen to.  It’s hard to find a book that both a 7-year-old boy and  5-year-old girl will enjoy (although truth be told, T. and C. are up for just about any story as long as the language isn’t too hard–nevertheless, I try to find stuff that’s age appropriate.  (Which means that the stories I’m excited for them to enjoy are about two years off yet) .  The library has a great online resource (Listen NJ) but the search features are awful–it’s really hard to search by age and it’s also hard to find stories that are a good length (2 hours or so). There’s so many that are 8 hours or 8 minutes.

But anyhow, I knew that Dan Gutman was a fun author (C. loves the whole My Weird School series) but I didn’t know this story.  And it turned out to be great.

The story is set in Maine.  It’s about five kids.   Gina Tumolois the leader.  She says right out that she always wanted to be rich.  Her hero is Bill Gates and she wants to be a millionaire before she is a teenager (she’s 11).  She is unabashed about her love of money.  And she is very bummed that she has none.

The summer starts and she is bored.  Because she has no money.  So she and her friend Robert , who hang out in the branches of the tree in the park behind their house start talking about what to do for the summer.  Then their friend Quincy comes over.  Quincy is my favorite character because she is from Australia and she speaks in Australian slang (which is very helpfully translated every time she speaks–you can learn a lot of great funny slang including some very finny words for “idiot” from this book).  There’s also the Boggle twins, 8 year old boys who are a pain–and unstoppable liars. (more…)

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