January 31, 2007

Birds: 1st winter LBBG?

Hi all. I was out birding this morning along the river from Phoenix to Oswego. This one gull in Fulton caught my eye. I'm wondering about a 1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull. Obviously too small and slender for Greater Black-backed. Is it too small for a LBBG? In the photo below the mystery bird is on the left, a regular GBBG is on the right.
Any thoughts on this bird? Just a Ring-billed? It had the slender, long-winged look that I always expect from a LBBG. In the photo below the mystery bird is in the center, walking on the ice.
In Oswego I found some close Long-tailed Ducks that were willing to have their pictures taken as well.
Please comment on the gull if you have any ideas. I haven't been able to bird as much this winter so far but hopefully I'll get out more in February. Aren't Long-tailed Ducks beautiful?!

January 30, 2007

Fruit and Sweet Potatoes

This past weekend Sarah turned twenty. Happy Birthday honey! The big 2-0; another decade down; kiss the teens goodbye forever baby. Sarah really likes fruit. A lot. So Saturday night, after sitting through three-quarters of a really gross, depressing and just generally horrid movie, we went to Wegmans and picked out a bunch of the weirdest fruit we could find to cheer us up.
The little, hairy red things are called Rambutans. The green thing on the left is a Cherimoya. The yellow-orange hedgehog-type thing in the middle is a Kiwanos. The monster green beast on the right is a Uniq fruit. Then there's a regular grapefruit, a dounut peach, some red bannanas, goyas, sweet potatoes and pears on the back line. The rambutans were a really weird texture inside but they tasted quite good. The kiwanos basically tasted like a tart banana with seeds. Looked a lot like frog eggs inside. Didn't enjoy that one too much. I don't think we tried the cherimoya or red bananas but the uniq fruit was amazing! It's a lot like a grapefruit inside but much sweeter. My new favorite citrus by far. We had a lot of fun. But if there's one thing Sarah loves more than fruit it's sweet potatoes. Lucky for me I found sweetpotato.org We tried two different sweet potato recipes: Sweet Potato & Pear Soup and Sweet Potato Biscuits. Both were fantastic. The soup was basically like a sweet, festive version of tomato soup and the biscuits were extremely tasty as well. So that pretty much wraps it up I guess. I'm getting kind of hungry...

January 22, 2007

Highland Forest

Yesterday Sarah, Anna, Gretchen and I went for a nice little walk at Highland Forest. It was so beautiful! Here are some pics...

We also did a bit of sledding this weekend, which was equally fun and painful. But that reminds me, check out this website LineRider.com I can sympathize with the little guy. Okay, I have lots of other things I should be doing so that's all for now.

January 20, 2007

Mixing, and other such myths

Last week Noah and I were back at Electric Wilburland (aka Willie's House of Innuendo) in Newfield, NY mixing our new album. It's really starting to come together. Pete Sutherland once again lent his superb ear and aura of wisdom and rationality to this process. He's been involved with mixing on both of our most recent projects. Basically, we listen through all the takes of all the instruments on all the songs, more or less one by one; compiling, editing, fine-tuning, adjusting, etc. It can get a little tedious. We'd often spend three or four hours on a single song. But it's also the first time we get to hear our music start to take shape. There was also an abundant supply of humor to go around (although the quality was occasionally questionable). At some point during the week, Pete showed me this incredible video. It's a duet/duel between this incredible blues-rock shamisen (Japenese banjo-type thing) player and three amazing tap dancers. You don't see stuff like that everyday! But now that I'm back I have other things on my mind... namely catching up on the SEASON PREMIER of 24! That is an addictive show. I've been a fan since the first season and I'll admit, there have been ups and downs as far as story plot and characters (Kim's encounter with the mountain lion being the lowest point I can think of). But there's just no other show on TV that is so consistently great. One more fairly unrelated thing to throw in this post: Little Miss Sunshine is a fantastic movie. Sarah and I watched it with Kim and Dan last weekend. It's about this little girl and her horrifically dysfunctional family and their road trip to California. Parts of it are like a slightly more comical version of another one of my favorite movies, The Royal Tenenbaums. Anyway, great acting, very funny, totally worth watching. That's all for now.

January 09, 2007

Just some flowers and stuff

Yup, not too much special to yak about today. Although I did find this cool video. The guy's name is Jake Shimabukuro and he's actually playing a ukulele (not a mandolin). Absolutely amazing. It's gotten a bit colder the past few days; today we even have a little bit of snow. If it's going to be 60 degrees and sunny in January than I won't complain but if it's going to be cold and gray than we better at least have some snow to play around in. Oh, I just got my first North American Birds: A Quarterly Journal Of Ornithological Record Published By The American Birding Association. I love reading stuff like that. Okay, since it's kind of nasty outside I'll post some pictures of flowers I took last year. I don't know much about flowers but what the heck, why not?

January 06, 2007

Birds: Surf Scoter

This morning I went up to the lake looking for a King Eider that was reported yesterday. No luck with the eider but I did have three BLACK SCOTERS and what I believe was a female SURF SCOTER. Pretty crumby photos unfortunately. These are the Blacks...

And this is the Surf...

I've never seen a female Surf Scoter before so if I botched the ID let me know. But the bird is obviously a scoter, certainly not a Black and had absolutely no white in the wing. Also the head shape, size and white on the face didn't look quite right for White-winged. Here's another pic...

My 2007 Year List is currently at 50 even. Still missing easy stuff like Goldfinch, Junco, both Nuthatches and Creeper. One more view of the Scoter. Comments welcome!

January 02, 2007

Music: Altronica - Vol. 4

Hello everyone and welcome to 2007. I thought I'd start off the New Year with the latest music mix I've put together. Like the previous Altronicas, this is a collection of some of my favorite Alternative, Electronic, Rock and Contemporary Folk tunes. I think all of the songs are available for downloading on iTunes. Enjoy!

The Flaming Lips – The Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Song (With All Your Power)
To me, the Lips will always reign supreme in the world of wacky Alt-rock. That said; their new album is far from their best. That said; this is still a really great song… ‘What would you do?’
Electric President – We Were Never Built To Last
I absolutely love this band. It’s a wonderful mix of electronic and acoustic instruments and noises with lots of editing and reverse tracks. I wrote a blog about them a couple months ago. I think he was feeling just a little depressed when this song got written.
My Brightest Diamond – Dragonfly
Shara Worden mixes opera and alt-rock for a very unique and grandiose sound. This is a hauntingly beautiful song; truly out of the ordinary.
O.K. Go – Oh Lately It’s So Quiet
This is the band from the infamous treadmill video. These guys can really rock but don’t ever seem to quite take themselves seriously, which is a nice change. Lots of fun.
Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Daft Punk are masters of weird vocal effects. By the end of this song you’re head will be spinning.
Stars – Elevator Love Letter
I honestly have no idea what this song is about but Stars have a knack for getting you so emotionally involved in their music that it doesn’t even matter what they’re saying. ‘Elevator, take me home.’
Death Cab For Cutie – The New Year
Yet another incredible song off of DCfC's 2003 release Transatlanticism. The whole album is phenomenal but then again, almost everything this band does is phenomenal.
Ivy – Four In The Morning
This song has a perfect groove for both melancholy late night musings and lonely early morning thoughts. Sad and sexy at the same time.
Annie Lennox – The Saddest Song (I’ve Got)
I realize this runs the risk of being overly dramatic but Annie Lennox has such an amazing voice I think she pulls it off quite nicely.
Delays – Nearer Than Heaven
Okay, so you should know that the lead singer in this band is a guy. As in - not a girl. Male. So get over it. I mean, that’s pretty incredible singing for (and let me repeat) a GUY.
The Books – Tokyo
This is a cool, semi-acoustic track. I have a feeling that The Books spend a lot more time sitting in front of computer screens than they do playing music. Sounds neat though.
The Cranberries – Analyse
The Cranberries were a good band. Straight forward but different too. I kind of missed out on them in the nineties but they had a great sound. I like this song a lot.
Sufjan Stevens – The Dress Looks Nice On You
Stevens always manages to set the mood just right. He says so much with so little; extremely gifted with both melodies and lyrics.
Tally Hall – Good Day
You all know by now that Tally Hall is the greatest band ever so I don’t have to tell you how amazing they are or how everyone in the world needs to go out and buy their album Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum immediatly!
Lady Sovereign – Hoodie
Here’s what you need to know about Sov: she’s British, she’s short and has an ego bigger than Kanye West's. Yes, she is a bit juvenile but hey, I like her.
Queen – Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon
Why not?
Electric President – Snow On Dead Neighborhood
Another awesome song. Their album (I think it’s self-titled but it could also be called ‘s/+’ I’m not sure) isn’t like anything else I’ve ever heard. Check them out!
Stars – Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
What a breathtaking song! Beautiful vocals, horn arrangements, everything. Stars are one of my favorite bands; they find an achingly romantic niche on the very brink of hopelessness.