Brando The Cat Is Nobody’s BINGO Prize

Brando The Cat

There’s a cat that lives in the Mid Main area of Houston and can often be spotted hanging around in the parking lot next to The Houston Continental Club.

The story of this cat is an interesting one.

Many years ago, a local lounge act called The El Orbits played the club every Monday night and during their performance hosted a BINGO game. The prizes were odd, to say the least. Old tacky Astroworld souvenirs and other odds and ends that front man David Beebe might find sifting through rummage sales and thrift stores found while travelling about Texas.

At some point a well meaning fan or friend of the band came to the club on BINGO night with two stray cats he thought might make good BINGO prizes. I guess the real hope was to find homes for the animals any way possible.

When the well meaning friend/fan went to his car to collect the cats and present them to the band they proceeded to leap from the car and scurry off. One of the cats was never seen again, but one of them continued to lurk about the area.

The parking lot attendant befriended the cat and though skittish and somewhat ornery in the beginning, the cat eventually settled down and became more friendly.

Cynthia took a shine to the cat and now buys cans of cat food to send with me when I visit the club. I give the food to the new parking lot guy and he uses it to feed the cat.

Cynthia has also named the cat. She calls him “Brando”

I don’t know if anyone else has adopted the name, but the cat responds when I show up with food and will come to me when I call out his name.

From the looks of things, the cat is not hurting for food. He’s been there for many years and is quite handsome and has become mostly tame.

Brando is NOBODY’S BINGO prize.

Garland Jeffreys

Garland Jeffreys - 4

My good friend Nick Gaitan of Nick Gaitain and The Umbrella Man called me Friday afternoon to ask me if I was planning to go see Garland Jeffreys at The Houston Continental Club that evening. I told him I had not planned on it and he proceeded to tell me a little bit about Garland Jeffreys and how he thought I might be interested in this show based on what he knows about my taste in music as well as my desire to photograph truly unique musical events when they happen in town.

Without going in to too many details, I will just direct you to the Wiki article on Garland. Suffice to say, I became VERY interested in seeing this show and told Nick I would see him there.

It is worth noting that Nick’s band was opening for Garland Jeffreys, but in all the years I have known Nick he has never been one to call me out to a show just because he’s playing it.

Umbrella Man - 3

Of course The Umbrella Man put on a great show, but that night was all about Garland Jeffreys. The show was not well attended. But it was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. I am a music photographer, not a music reviewer, so I will just point you to the Houston Press review of the show for details. I should also note, the review does NOT feature my photographs as The Houston Press had Jason Wotler on call for this one. But I am glad I went and took my camera because ultimately, I shoot for my own archives and this is one I am glad to have captured.

Garland Jeffreys - 1

Garland Jeffreys - 2

All shot with the Sony A77 using the Carl Zeiss 85 f/1.4 and the Sigma 10mm Fisheye.

Bald Heretic Photo Show

I was invited by Thomas @ Sig’s Lagoon to have my own photo show at his shop. We decided to feature only pictures I have taken over the years at The Houston Continental Club which gave me a lot to choose from…

Photo Show - 1

Photo Show - 2

He even commissioned local Houston poster artist Carlos Hernandez to do the promo posters

jayposter

The show is still hanging at Sig’s and should be there through the end of September.

Lens Lust

Size Matters

I popped in to my local crack camera dealer just to have a look around. I wasn’t really shopping all that hard. I mean, there are things I am keeping an eye out for, but mostly I like to browse and just be in and amongst the camera equipment and around other photographers. Almost always I leave empty handed. Which is good. I don’t have the budget to spend for every single piece of gear I might want.

While I was there I looked in the case where they keep the used Sony/Minolta gear. Typically, there is usually not much there. Of course there’s always plenty of second hand Nikon and Canon gear, but when it comes to high end of the Sony/Minolta equipment it is usually slim pickin’s.

But there in case was the legendary Sony 70-400mm G Lens. And not only that, it was being sold for a price that was dramatically lower than you can buy it new and significantly lower than what I’ve seen it go for used, when/if they even show up.

Initially, I dismissed it. I don’t tend to shoot in this focal range. I knew it was a good deal, I just couldn’t justify it for my type of shooting. I already had the Sony 70-300 G and the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 so really, what’s the point? So I left, empty handed.

As I was driving around, running some errands, I kept thinking about that lens. I had read the reviews and seen all the praise. The sony 70-400 G is not just a good lens, it is (by all accounts) one of the best lenses ever made in its class. As I mulled it over more and more I decided that I should buy the lens and, if nothing else, resell if for a profit or use it as trading fodder for another lens via the photography forums I belong to. With this brilliant justification in mind I made my way back to the camera store and bought the lens. They even reduced the price a little more so it was an even better deal.

Once I had it in hand and started playing with it I started falling in love. For a lens of that range it is surprisingly light. It’s beast, but it’s a manageable beast. And the image quality has a “WOW” factor that can only be described by using sample shots. Unlike so many long zoom lenses, the 70-400 G is sharp from 70mm all the way out to 400mm. It is simply wonderful.

These are from my first workout with the lens at The Houston Zoo. All shot using this lens attached to my A850. The entire gallery can be seen by clicking here. If you chase the links back to their respective Flickr pages you can view EXIF info and look at the full sized image files which REALLY give you a sense of the sharpness and quality.

Needless to say, I’m keeping the lens. I’ve been selling some of my unused glass on Ebay to recoup the expense.

Southern ground hornbill

Chimp

Poodle Duck

Ostrich

Yawning Tiger

Arc Attack

The main thing I wanted to see at the Gloworama event was one of the performances by Arc Attack. Imagine two custom engineered hand built Tesla Coils that throw out electrical arcs up to twelve feet long, each one acting as an instrument with a sound reminiscent of the early days of the synthesizer. Each “arc” of electricity carries the sound of the music. During the show, the MC engages both the crowd and the Tesla Coils by walking through ½ Million Volt sparks wearing a chainmail Faraday suit. Spectacular!

Arc Attack

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Arc Attack

Arc Attack

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Arc Attack

Arc Attack

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Arc Attack

And if that’s not enough, after the MC does his thing a guy in another Farady suit comes out with a modified electric guitar that plays through the singing Tesla Coils

Arc Attack

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Arc Attack

Arc Attack

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Arc Attack

This was a challenge to photograph. I used my vintage Minolta 35/2 lens to capture the action and I am pretty pleased with the results.