Audiobooking December 2, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Baseball, Basketball, Broadway, Comedy, Commentary, Film, Health, Media, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Sports, Theatre, TV.
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While I may have indefinitely suspended photo album picture scanning, one constant since June has been audiobooks. What I’ve usually done is listen to a whole chapter while working out in the morning or on my portable elliptical machine in the afternoon. I only buy nonfiction and prefer that they are read by the author. I want to hear their words in their voice, not someone else’s, even if the author’s delivery is subpar.
This isn’t the first time I’ve listened to audiobooks. That goes back to a road trip with my parents and sister in January 1997, as we drove back from Florida. To show you how long ago that was, the audiobook was on cassettes. That book, The Hobbit, was the only time I’ve listened to fiction. It’s been all nonfiction since.
Between December 1997 – when I listened to The Big Show: A Tribute to ESPN’s SportsCenter – and June 2014, I would get an audiobook here and there, but I wasn’t a regular buyer. I didn’t exercise in the morning, either. That began in late March. It’s always best to get tough tasks out of the way early because your willpower drops as the day progresses. It helps to have something interesting to listen to while you’re working out, not something aggravating like politics and sports debate and discussion.
With all that in mind, I’ve listened to the following audiobooks, on CD or through Audible, since June:
- President Me: The America That’s In My Head by Adam Carolla (via CD) – an outline of all the things Adam would do to improve the United States if he were president
- Not Quite the Classics by Colin Mochrie (via Audible) – improvised stories based on the first and last lines of select novels and poems
- I’ll Be Back Right After This: My Memoir by Pat O’Brien (via Audible) – Pat’s memoir chronicled his early life, television career, and struggle with addiction. Knock on wood, Pat has been sober for six years and counting.
- Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (via CD) – This is the latest in Bill and Martin’s “Killing” series that factually recounts the events of historical figures leading up to their tragic deaths. Their previous books focused on Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus of Nazareth, respectively.
- Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal (via Audible) – Billy’s memoir ran the gamut of emotions, from funny to heartbreaking, recalling major events in each decade of his life as of publication last year. I learned things I never knew and recalled fond memories of what I already knew. The only downside to the book is that Billy peppered his liberal ideology throughout it, outlining his liberal points of view and maligning right-leaning personalities and media. I’m not a lockstep conservative, but I do tend to take criticism of or jokes about people, places, and things that I like personally. But I didn’t let that completely ruin the listening experience.
- Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large by William Shatner with Chris Regan (via CD) – When I was searching for the next audiobook to listen to, as Still Foolin’ ‘Em was winding down, I recalled William Shatner had a memoir out called Up Till Now: The Autobiography. But then I noticed that Shatner Rules had come out later than Up Till Now. So, I opted for Shatner Rules instead. The big message I took from the book was to say “yes” to as many things as possible. “‘No’ closes doors,” William said. “‘Yes’ kicks them wide open.” Shatner briefly drifted into politics, too, but the environmental kind. His doomsday scenarios were frightening. I didn’t let that completely ruin the listening experience. (ding) Rule: I highly recommend Shatner Rules as either the written book or spoken audiobook.
- Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks by Dick Cavett (via Audible) – It was here that I did let politics completely ruin the listening experience. This is not a memoir. It is a compilation of Dick’s columns at The New York Times’ Opiniator blog. That structure is similar to that for Things That Matter, a compilation of Charles Krauthammer’s columns over his 30-year career to date. Charles is Dick’s polar opposite. But I didn’t know any of that until my second day of listening. And it was this rant of a column that Dick read for Brief Encounters - combined with frustration that the book was not what I expected – that led me to request a refund from Audible. Thankfully, they granted it. I did learn a few things, though, about Dick’s days writing for The Tonight Show. I also learned that Arthur Godfrey preferred to address only one member of the listening or viewing audience (“you”), not the entire audience (“everybody”).
- Scribe: My Life in Sports by Bob Ryan (via Audible) – I bought this in place of Brief Encounters. I’ve been listening for nearly a week and I’m enjoying it.
There will be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead as I continue to try to keep myself in shape.
Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk September 29, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Fire, Health, Internet, Military, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Police, Travel, TV.
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I was in New York City yesterday for the annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk. I signed up back in May after my dad recommended it to me. He was impressed by all the running I had done, and at such a fast pace. The fast pace back then occurred on the treadmill, but that has extended to the outdoors since I signed up. September alone was a landmark month for me, as I routinely ran 3.6 miles in about 38 minutes. Conditioning like that prepared me for yesterday.
The day began dark and early at 4:30 AM when my alarm clock woke me up. I tried to go to sleep early and get a decent amount of hours in, but I was only able to get about three hours of sleep. I spent about an hour getting ready and was out the door with my dad at 5:30.
We traveled to Point Lookout with eleven others from Dad’s firehouse, Freeport Excelsior Hook and Ladder Co. 1. There, we joined a bigger team from Point Lookout Lido Fire Department’s 2nd Battalion.
I didn’t bring my Nikon D5100, settling on my iPhone 5 for all pictures seen in this recap.
Three buses took us to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Our Freeport team boarded first of those three.
We arrived in Red Hook shortly before 9:00.
20 minutes later, we began the long stop-and-go walk to the starting line.
Along the way, we passed Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church:
Their bell rang as we passed by.
And away we went!
I didn’t think I’d be able to run because of the amount of people participating. But once we crossed the starting line, I did run, though not for the entire 5K.
As I ran and walked through the tunnel, music was pumped in through speakers and various runners yelled patriotic chants. It was surreal, but I enjoyed it.
The tunnel seemed to go on forever. While 1.73 miles is a mere two minutes by car, in light traffic, I was in there for 25 minutes on foot.
My official time, listed here (search chimeri), was 0:50:36.
On my way back, there were two early buses and one late bus. The early buses were full, so I and most of the Freeport team had to wait for the late bus. While we waited, we had lunch at Greenwich Street Tavern in TriBeCa.
We were finished eating just in time to board the late bus back. It took nearly two hours to return to Point Lookout due to heavy traffic, and a half hour to return home to Wantagh.
The Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk was an amazing and awesome (in the literal sense) experience. If you haven’t signed up for it before, I recommend you try it at least once.
9/30 UPDATE: The full text results can be seen here.
June 17, 1994 June 17, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Basketball, Education, Golf, Hockey, Media, News, Personal, Sports, TV, Video.
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I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the white Bronco in the room (as opposed to an elephant). Many things occurred 20 years ago today, as the June 17, 1994 ESPN 30 for 30 film – which is not affiliated with this post – documented:
- The New York Rangers’ ticker tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes and ceremony at New York City Hall, three nights after winning the Stanley Cup
- Arnold Palmer’s last round at a U.S. Open, held that year at Oakmont Country Club (the last U.S. Open carried by ABC; covered that day by ESPN)
- Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals, in which the New York Knicks defeated the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden to take a 3-2 series lead (they went on to lose the last two games in Houston)
O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings in a slow-speed police chase in O.J.’s white Ford Bronco
Also that day was:
5. One final exam for me at Wantagh Middle School (I’m not sure what subject; probably Social Studies)
For more on #4, I refer to video of ABC News’ coverage of the chase and a retrospective report from Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith Reporting.
This concludes my obligatory acknowledgement.
2014 WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony April 12, 2014Posted by Mike C. in DVD, Interviews, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, TV, Video.
Last Saturday, the WCWP Hall of Fame welcomed four new inductees in a ceremony in the Goldsmith Atrium at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s inductees were Rita Sands, Frank D’Elia, Ted David, and the late Bill Epperhart.
You can see videos of the ceremony at the end, but first, the pictures:
Then, reflections of Bill Epperhart began. Dan shared his memories first, then Frank, Bill Mozer, and Jeff joined in.
Ceremony Part 1:
Ceremony Part 2:
As you can see, this year’s WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony ended up running for a little over two hours. Memories were shared and praise was heaped. It was a day I won’t soon forget. Congratulations to Rita Sands, Frank D’Elia, Ted David, and Bill Epperhart.
One year with iPhone April 11, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Health, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, Travel, TV.
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A year ago yesterday, I boarded the iPhone bandwagon by switching from an LG enV3, which I had for 3 1/2 years, to an iPhone 5. When I’m not texting or making a phone call, it’s a great alternative for internet access. My workouts with the Nike Running app have gone further than I was going in my first iPhone post last July. I’ve gone as far as 5.35 miles in one workout and broke 100 miles for the month of March.
When I need to comparison shop, I use shopping apps. When I want to listen to the radio, I have the TuneIn app. I’ve downloaded apps for several networks, network affiliates, and cable channels.
But I still wish the internal hard drive was bigger; maybe with the next iPhone.
Ken Navarro, “Ruby Lane” March 10, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, News, Personal.
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Reminiscent of his debut album, The River Flows, Ken wears many instrumental hats on Ruby Lane, playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, and keyboards. And if my instinct is correct, he also handled bass, drums, and percussion under the anagrammed pseudonyms Evan Rorkan and Karen Voran.
1. Can I Make It Last (Or Will It Just Be Over) (5:10) – This is a Boz Scaggs cover. Ken’s piano solo was inspired the late Joachim Young, who played piano on Boz’s original version.
2. Running Toward the Sun (4:54)
3. Kings and Queens (7:08) – Ken dedicated this to Coretta Scott King and Ethel Kennedy, who were left to raise their children on their own. Tragically, their husbands – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy – were assassinated in 1968.
4. Westbound and Rolling (5:31) – This is a guitar extravaganza as Ken played 11 guitar parts all layered together. It brought to mind riding the LIRR westbound to Penn Station.
5. When the Spirit Speaks (6:41) – Features The Scheinbar String Quartet
6. A Gentle Man (5:14)
7. Higher Ground (6:56) – This is the best cover of Stevie Wonder’s song I’ve heard yet.
8. Ruby Lane (5:09) – Ken’s 40th anniversary gift to his wife Kristin
9. Fortunate Son (4:45) – A new take on a song originally recorded for The Labor of Love (1992); it’s Ken’s thank you to his parents
Ruby Lane is another Ken Navarro masterpiece. I like it so much that I’ve heard all tracks at least five times so far; I stopped counting after a while.
I’ll leave you with the Ruby Lane preview video, which contains track excerpts:
The track order differs from the order on the CD I bought.
4/30 UPDATE: Ken previewed Ruby Lane in this podcast.
6/12 UPDATE: Ken demonstrates how “Running Toward the Sun” was mixed:
Jeff Kashiwa at Houndstooth Pub February 19, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Travel, Weather.
By night, I was at Houndstooth Pub in Manhattan to see saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa perform. I almost didn’t go because of the snow that had developed late in the afternoon. I was afraid to venture out because I thought we were in for up six inches of snow. Instead, we only got two. So, after much deliberation, including a declaration that I wouldn’t go, I decided I would go.
There was nearly an inch snow on the ground when my mother drove me down to Wantagh LIRR station at 5:15. The station platform looked like a pretzel as it was covered in rock salt. The result was a slushy coating that I trudged through as I walked in the light snow to the far end of the platform where only one person was standing. Everyone else huddled by the stairs and escalator. It was a quiet ride inside my railcar, but sparks flashed outside as the train rode the snow-covered rails. I had 40 minutes to kill before Houndstooth’s lower bar was open, so I stopped at Famous Famiglia two blocks south for a slice of pizza. With five minutes to go, I resumed the walk up to Houndstooth and made my way inside. I ordered chicken fingers and steak fries, then waited for the show to start.
Jay Rowe was on keyboards:
The set list featured six songs, a break, and six more songs:
1. Givin’ In
Originally heard on: “Walk A Mile,” 1997
2. Blue Jeans
Originally heard on: “Play,” 2007
3. Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (The Spinners cover)
Originally heard on: “Remember Catalina,” 1995
4. When It Feels Good
Originally heard on: “Back in the Day,” 2009
5. A Quiet Goodbye (preceded by Jay Rowe’s intro)
Originally heard on: “Simple Truth,” 2002
6. Hot Tin Roof
Originally heard on: “Let It Ride,” 2012
7. Let It Ride
Originally heard on: “Let It Ride,” 2012
Played with multiple loops on Jeff’s iPhone app
8. Well, You Needn’t (Thelonious Monk cover)
9. Once Again
Originally heard on: “Play,” 2007
10. Canon in D (Johann Pachelbel)
Jeff’s iPhone app was used again for an echo effect
11. Movin’ Up
Originally heard on: “Play,” 2007
12. Hyde Park (The “Ah, Oooh” Song)
Originally heard on: “Another Door Opens,” 2000
Jeff played tenor sax on #1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12; alto sax on #3, 4, 5, and 8; and EWI on #10 and part of #11.
The “ah, oooh” part came from the audience, as Jeff’s direction indicates.
…and that was it.
I wasn’t able to catch up with Dave until after the show. I told him that I almost didn’t come to the show, but once I knew that he, Trever, and Jay would be back Jeff up, I had to go. He really appreciated that.
I made the right decision to brave the snow and come to the show. Thank you to Jeff, Jay, Dave, Trever, manager Steve Butler, and father-and-son engineers Neal and Dale Newman for a wonderful night of music.
My trip up Super Bowl Boulevard February 14, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Broadway, Football, Media, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Last Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Seattle Seahawks resoundingly defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII by the score of 43-8. It was the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
Two days before the Big Game, I headed to nearby Manhattan to walk the NFL’s Super Bowl Boulevard Engineered by GMC. The “Boulevard” spanned Broadway between West 34th and West 47th Streets. It was open to the public between Wednesday, January 29, and Saturday, February 1, the day after I was there. I had my Nikon D5100 (and two lenses) along for the walk to take pictures with.
The pictures in this post were taken outside the remote studios of ESPN, NFL Network, and FOX Sports; inside the Xbox One tent; by the Super Bowl Toboggan Run; by Extra Points, where fans could kick footballs through a goalpost; and a few other landmarks along the way.
On the second floor, there was a massive array of tubes that contained milk chocolate, peanut, peanut butter, and pretzel M&Ms in a variety of colors. Two of the tubes had milk chocolate M&Ms in the team colors of the Seahawks and Broncos. I filled a bag of all kinds of M&Ms in all colors; 2.87 pounds worth. It took me three days to eat it all.
Once inside, I bought a Super Bowl XLVIII polo shirt, cap (second from the left above), full size football with the Seahawks and Broncos logos on it, and program.
Despite the massive crowds and back stiffness that set in after an hour and a half, I had a great time walking Super Bowl Boulevard.
Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on winning Super Bowl XLVIII two nights later.
January 21-22 snowstorm pictures January 26, 2014Posted by Mike C. in News, Personal, Photography, Weather.
I said in my previous snow-related post that I expected more snow this season, and if there was another big storm, I’d have pictures to share. It only took ten days from that post, nearly three weeks since the blizzard, for that to happen.
I was not expecting a snowstorm anytime soon, but the specter of such a storm was dropped into my lap on the morning of Monday, January 20, when I saw that a winter storm watch had been issued for Long Island. Four to eight inches of snow was expected. By mid-afternoon, that was upgraded to a winter storm warning and the snowfall amount prediction increased to six to ten inches. By evening, it went up again to eight to twelve inches (one foot). Then, I vowed not to check the weather again until the following morning. I checked and the amount prediction grew a third time: ten to fourteen inches. On top of that, the snow started earlier than expected. This meant I would have a very busy Wednesday shoveling all that snow up.
The difference between this snowstorm (winter storm) and the blizzard at the beginning of January is weaker wind. It was still gusty, but not as strong as with the blizzard.
My sister took these pictures from the front porch.
40 minutes later, I felt the need to re-shovel the area I shoveled earlier. I brought a standard ruler outside with me and stuck it where I hadn’t shoveled. The snow only covered 6 1/2 inches, much less than I was expecting. Like earlier, I was only outside for 20 minutes. Back at my computer, I checked The Weather Channel desktop app and saw snow dissipating on recent radar echoes. Perhaps, I thought, we wouldn’t be getting much more snow.
I woke up at 8:30 Wednesday morning as skies were in the process of clearing.
30 minutes later, I got dressed for what I expected to be another three hours of shoveling.
Next, I took a final measurement in the driveway: still 6 1/2 inches. Meanwhile, a trained spotter for the National Weather Service recorded 9.2 inches for Wantagh close to midnight. Either there was less snow where I was or there was drifting in my driveway.
I was finished shoveling in only two hours. I shoveled the driveway, curb, a path around the house, the sidewalk, and a path from the driveway to the sidewalk. The air temperature barely cracked the teens while I was outside. I wore two layers of shirts and pants in addition to the coat, hat, scarf, and gloves.
I was back inside within 20 minutes, the same length as my Tuesday night shoveling shifts.
The temperature climbed through the teens on Friday night and reached the low 30s by Saturday afternoon. Temps fell back into the 20s as a band of moderate to heavy snow came through. Only an inch fell, but I still had to shovel it, which I did at around 7PM. I shoveled all the spots I shoveled on Wednesday and Thursday, retracing the paths I created to the sidewalk and backyard.
Until the next major storm, thanks for reading.
Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall January 17, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Football, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
Previous Lisa Hilton recap: June 2011
Last night marked the second time I saw jazz pianist Lisa Hilton perform. The first time was about 2 1/2 years ago in Greenwich Village (see link above). This time, I was uptown at Carnegie Hall‘s Weill Recital Hall. It was my first time ever at Carnegie.
My journey began at around 4PM, when I left home to walk to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station for a 4:27 Penn Station-bound train. I would have taken a later train, but I wanted to be safe in case any delays popped during my walk to the station. That’s what happened the day before when I had to take a train to Rockville Centre. But even though there were delays earlier in the day, there were none when I arrived. My trip to Penn Station was smooth sailing. No one sat near me after Freeport. It was a peaceful journey as I took in the sights while listening to my iPod, not a noisy one where I’m surrounded by chatter from people of varying ages. (The ride back was somewhat crowded, but not too noisy. And it helps to have studio headphones.)
I was in a railcar near the back of the train, which meant I needed to walk a little extra from the train to the LIRR Terminal. Once there, I had dinner at TGI Friday’s. Then, I walked up to the subway terminal and took the E train uptown to 7th Avenue and West 53rd Street. The second I emerged from the seemingly endless flights of stairs, I saw the Ed Sullivan Theater, home to the CBS late night talk show, The Late Show with David Letterman. I whipped out my Nikon D5100 and took a picture:
I was fortunate enough to attend a taping with my father back in December 2004, but that’s another story.
Thinking that the time when the doors to the hall are opened was the time to go inside, I waited outside the Weill Recital Hall entrance for 15 minutes. Two couples went inside while I was waiting. Finally, I opened the door and asked if I was allowed to come in. Of course, I was. I got my ticket, went up to the lounge adjacent to the hall, and waited for the hall doors to open.
According to my watch, I took my seat at 7:42. The Weill Recital Hall was not what I was expecting. It was an intimate hall with one row of orchestra seats, where I sat, and a balcony behind them. There were three chandeliers on the ceiling; my seat was between two of them.
The hall was completely acoustic. There were no speakers, no engineer, no amplification, nothing of the kind. I was in for a unique experience.
Lisa entered at 8:06, joined by Ben Street on upright acoustic bass and Billy Hart on drums. Lisa played a Steinway & Sons piano.
The set primarily featured music from her upcoming album, Kaleidoscope. Here’s what the set looked like:
2. Whispered Confessions – This one was my favorite.
3. Midnight Mania
4. Bach/Basie/Bird: Boogie Blues Bop
5. Sunny Side Up
6. Blue Horizon
7. Stepping Into Paradise – This was a solo piano piece. Ben and Billy left the stage and took a break. They returned for the rest of the set.
8. Getaway – This was another favorite.
10. When It Rains
11. Evening Song
12. So This Is Love
“Getaway” and “Evening Song” are from Getaway (2013). “Subway” and “When It Rains” are from American Impressions (2012). “So This Is Love” is from My Favorite Things (2005).
“Getaway” was first performed in a slightly slower tempo on In the Mood for Jazz (2003). “Stepping Into Paradise” originated on Getaway.
My original plan for returning to Penn Station involving taking the M7 MTA New York City Bus back to 34th Street and walking to the LIRR Terminal from there. But when I got to the bus stop, I had a clear view of Times Square. I could see the Jumbotron, which still had up the “2014” sign, complete with the New Year’s ball frozen in place above it. Forget the bus, I thought. I’m walking back and taking pictures. And I did:
I initially boarded the wrong train: an express that didn’t stop at Wantagh. Luckily, I was able to grab all my belongings quickly and exit the train (thanks to the doors not closing right away). I quickly found the right train on a different track and barely boarded that one in time. I was bound for home, capping a memorable night. I opened my eyes and ears to a new experience and I enjoyed it. Thank you, Lisa, Ben, and Billy.