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.
My experience at Day 1 of 2014 New York Comic Con October 10, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Books, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous New York Comic Con recap: 2012 Day 2
Yesterday marked my second trip to New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in the Midtown West portion of Manhattan. This time, I went with my girlfriend Kelly. We met each other at Penn Station, going our own ways to get there. I came from Wantagh, she came from Wallingford, Connecticut.
My way to her began at around 12:15 when I walked two blocks to a bus stop for the southbound NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) n73. The bus arrived at 12:28, two minutes ahead of schedule. That ensured I would arrive at the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station in time to board a 12:32 train, an earlier train than I had planned for. If I hadn’t bought my round trip ticket the day before, I’d have to wait for the 12:57. 50 minutes later, I was at Penn Station. I met up with Kelly and we began the half-hour walk to the Javits Center.
We entered at West 38th Street, tapping our badges before going inside. Conventioneers were greeted by giant inflated Teen Titans – and, by extension, Teen Titans Go! – characters.
Time to head inside…
My first plan was to meet voice actor Billy West, whom I interviewed back in 2005 at WCWP. Since autographing was involved, and not knowing offhand where Booth 1280 was, despite going to NYCC two years ago, I headed downstairs.
A fellow conventioneer informed me that Booth 1280 was on the show floor. So, Kelly and I headed there.
We searched the aisle numbers and headed for the 1200s. It was there that we found Billy West.
He signed the cover this way:
…Zoidberg could eat…
It was the highlight of my afternoon. But there was more to do. Kelly and I walked the floor back to a downward escalator.
It was for the latest (and upcoming) Transformers TV series, Transformers: Robots in Disguise. The panel began at 4:00, but we got in line at 3:00.
The line was small when we arrived and we ended up near the front. It pays to show up early. After 50 minutes in line, the door was opened. We ended up sitting front row center. It was fantastic.
Transformers: Robots in Disguise premieres in early 2015 on Cartoon Network. I can’t wait. I’m so glad I chose this panel.
We didn’t go right home, though. We walked down 11th Avenue to West 35th Street, taking that to 8th. We stopped in Trattoria Bianca for an early dinner. An hour later, we boarded an express LIRR train back to Wantagh, which also took an hour.
And unbeknownst to me, because I didn’t look at the NYCC schedule beyond Thursday, there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel yesterday. Bam! Smack! Pow! has a recap of that, while IGN’s Scott Collura interviewed Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), and executive producers Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman.
If tickets for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday hadn’t sold out so fast, I would have gone either of those days. But I’m glad I went when I did. As I noted in the original recap, I got to meet Billy West in person and to whet my appetite for Transformers: Robots in Disguise, sitting front row center for their panel in the process.
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.
20 years since my first home video recording July 25, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Media, Personal, TV, Video, Weather, Wrestling.
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On July 25, 1994, my father came home with a brand new JVC VHS-C camcorder; or “Palmcorder.” It was intended for him, but I ended up using it more often. After nine years of appearing in front of Dad’s previous camcorder – a VHS one – as an awkward child with a still-unnamed disorder – Asperger syndrome – I finally had control behind the camera. Most early video was regimented and experimental, recording the same areas and rapidly zooming in and out constantly.
Here are the first 48 seconds I recorded 20 years ago today at twilight, shortly after a thunderstorm came through Wantagh:
This was followed by close-ups of license plates on my mom’s, dad’s, and aunt’s cars. Then, my sister Lauren had her turn with the Palmcorder, recording our cousin Rebecca watching WWF (as it was known back then) Monday Night Raw on TV with her in her bedroom. But she didn’t stop there, heading to the den during a commercial break to record our parents and great-grandparents, with a rerun of Murphy Brown blasting on the TV. Becca was also in the den, making a funny expression with her hands on her hips.
A side note: Thanks to a shot of the TV included in Lauren’s recording, I noticed Tom Poston was in the Murphy Brown episode. A trip to IMDB confirmed that the rerun episode was “Crime Story,” which originally aired five months earlier.
On the two humid mornings that followed, until the 31-minute VHS-C cassette reached its end, I walked around the house, panning around nearly every room and every corner of the front yard, back yard, and driveway. I even experimented with flipping the Palmcorder upside down and flipping it back to the correct way. I did that a few more times between then and September.
In the years that followed, my video recording skills gradually improved. Including the first camcorder, I went through three different JVC VHS-C camcorders, each one more technologically advanced than their predecessor. I captured over 70 hours of material and dubbed them onto a combined 30 VHS tapes. I still have some of the master VHS-Cs. I converted the videos to AVI computer files back in 2010.
In October 2000, I went digital with a JVC MiniDV camcorder. And in June 2003, I was given a Canon GL2 MiniDV camcorder to use for my college senior project. I recorded here and there with the two camcorders, logging another 13 hours of video – not counting the senior project – until my last recording on July 25, 2007. Since then, I’ve only recorded special events. I converted the MiniDV tapes to the computer, as well.
When the GL2 broke down in 2011, I switched to a JVC Everio AVCHD camcorder with internal memory and an SD memory card. And that brings us to the present.
I hope someday soon to get a professional HD camcorder with an internal hard drive. Until then, I’ll stick with the Everio.
4:35 PM UPDATE: Five hours ahead of the time I recorded 20 years ago, I went outside with the Everio and retraced some of my steps from the original recording.
Unfortunately, the skies were devoid of airplanes, which meant I couldn’t retrace that step. Meanwhile, there’s a plane flying overhead as I type this last sentence.
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.
I suggest a Triple Crown retool June 8, 2014Posted by Mike C. in Horse Racing, Media, Music, Personal, Sports, Thoroughbred, TV.
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After what transpired at yesterday’s Belmont Stakes, next year will mark 37 years since the last Triple Crown winner – Affirmed. Since then, thoroughbred racing has had close call after close call after close call, as three-year-old horses will win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but fall short at Belmont. It doesn’t happen every year, but it’s still heartbreaking and frustrating. I suggest the Triple Crown format be retooled. Before I explain how, there is a backstory.
I first became aware of the Triple Crown races in 1997. That year, Silver Charm was the unlucky horse to lose at Belmont Park in Elmont. Then there was Real Quiet a year later. He barely lost to Victory Gallop. The year after that, Charismatic fell short. Three years later, there was another three-year stretch of horses to win the first two legs and fall short: War Emblem, Funny Cide, and Smarty Jones. In 2008, there was Big Brown. He came up far short at Belmont. In 2012, I’ll Have Another was scratched the day before the race!
That brings us to this year and California Chrome. I was at a second birthday party and watched the Kentucky Derby on TV, like I always do. His win gave me an opportunity to allude to the Mamas and the Papas hit, “California Dreamin’.” The announcers on TV did the same. Two weeks later, I was in an Italian restaurant as the Preakness Stakes was run. The sound was off on the TV ahead of my booth, but the closed-captioning was on. When California Chrome won that, I knew we were in for another three weeks of hype that would only be followed by heartbreak. When you see the same thing play out over many years, you know what to expect.
On Facebook, I floated a ridiculous idea:
If California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes, thereby winning the Triple Crown, NBC should send a check for $36 to each Nielsen household tuned to them during the race. That would be one dollar for each year since the last Triple Crown winner: Affirmed in 1978.
In the comment thread, I amended that to $3.60, but perhaps 36 cents would have made even more sense.
I floated that idea because I knew California Chrome would lose. I would have loved for him to win, which turned into thinking he actually would win. So, as I watched the Belmont Stakes on my iPhone yesterday at another restaurant, I closed the NBC Sports Live Extra app in frustration after Larry Collmus said in the home stretch that there wouldn’t be a Triple Crown winner this year. I don’t even know who won and don’t care.
Now for my suggestion: Horses that win the Kentucky Derby should not be allowed to run the Preakness Stakes. That will avoid future heartbreaking Belmont Stakes. If they can’t run in the Preakness, they can’t possibly win it to set up Triple Crown talk.
It’s another ridiculous suggestion, I’m sure, and one that is born out of sour grapes, but I would love to see it happen. The days of Triple Crown winners ended in 1978. I don’t see it ever happening again.
6/9 UPDATE: A rebuttal by Jeff Kroll:
These ideas for change are generally coming from the generation that has not seen a “Triple Crown” win. Those of us who were around in the ’70s and saw 3 of them know it’s special, and that it can happen. It will take a very special horse and a lot of luck. The winning time yesterday on a fast track was still 4 1/2 seconds slower than Secratariat’s world-record 2.24 Flat in 1973. This group of horses is just not that “special.”
They’re certainly special enough to win two legs, but unfortunately not all three. I wish I was alive to see Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed win. Archived video is all I’ve had to go on, particularly of Secretariat’s dominant Belmont win that Jeff mentioned.
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.
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.
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.
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 up 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 on Seduction (1997) and in a slightly slower tempo on In the Mood for Jazz (2003). “Evening Song” also debuted on Seduction. “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.