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Rob Paulsen with Michael Fleeman, Voice Lessons November 7, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Health, Media, Music, Personal, TV, Video.
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Posing with Rob Paulsen (right) and Michael Fleeman (left) after they discussed Voice Lessons at Strand Bookstore

Four weeks ago today, I attended a discussion and signing at Strand Bookstore for voice actor Rob Paulsen‘s memoir (with Michael Fleeman), Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life. Two weeks passed before I began simultaneously reading the book and listening to the “read by the author” audiobook.

On the afternoon of October 24, I read the front and back covers, Rob and Mike’s signatures, and the “Praise for Voice Lessons.” Then, I opened the Audible app on my iPhone and began the simulcast. I read and listened to the dedication, foreword (written and read by Rob’s son Ash), introduction, and the first chapter. I took care of the rest of the book, including photos and the “about the authors” page, over nine of the next thirteen days. It was a quite a literary journey.

Voice Lessons recalls key moments in Rob Paulsen’s life and career, including growing up in Michigan, leading a cover band, moving to California to pursue acting, his biggest roles, and winning an Emmy Award.

The last 40% of the memoir covers the harrowing journey through Rob’s throat cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. I felt like I was there and I sympathized. I cheered inside as his recovery progressed. I remember listening to the first Talkin’ Toons podcast Rob did after his recovery, which he cited in the last chapter. His lead sentence even served as the chapter title: “faith, kindness, passion, humor…and Cheez-Its.”

There is also a heartwarming story about Chad Gozzola, a Duchenne muscular dystrophy patient whom Rob first met at a charity hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and remained in touch with – along with his family – over the rest of his life.

The book concludes with the return of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, which will premiere next year on Hulu. Rob also announced that at the book discussion.

This humble review only scratches the surface. Voice Lessons is about 200 pages long and worth reading. The audiobook is seven hours and seven minutes long and worth listening to. I recommend both at the same time, although you’ll occasionally notice differences in phrasing.

I’ll leave you with a photo of my copy and my log:

I kept in Strand’s Post-It note, indicating I’m in signing group 1, as a reminder of my experience last month. As for the log, I tracked the content I read and how many pages it was. For example:

11/1/19: Chapter 7 (27)

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Ryan and Mike at LIU Post, Teddy and Abe on exhibit October 30, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Art, Education, History, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, Travel, TV, Video.
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I concluded my Monday post this way:

With a pair of loose ends successfully tied up, it’s on to the next post, whenever that may come.

It turns out you only had to wait two days for the next post. The focus this time is another trip to LIU Post, including a stroll down memory lane as I recall my undergrad years.

I walked the campus with my friend, Ryan Grabow, who graduated with me in 2004:

I also had a chance encounter with another friend of mine, LIU Post artist-in-residence Dan Christoffel, leading to a tour of his latest art exhibit. More on that later.

For many years after graduating, Ryan Grabow had been living in Fort Myers, Florida, where he directed newscasts for two TV stations owned by Waterman Broadcasting. This year, he decided to look for the same position upstate in Orlando. He now directs the morning newscast at WOFL-TV, FOX 35 Orlando.

My trip back to LIU Post with Ryan, one week removed from Homecoming Weekend, was arranged in a text message conversation we struck up during Instrumental Invasion on Friday, October 18, after I played a song by the Rippingtons. As I wrote in my comprehensive recap:

… [M]y friend Ryan Grabow texted me after I played “Silver Arrows” by the Rippingtons. When he would appear on The Mike Chimeri Show 15 years ago, he’d always say “a ripping good time” whenever I played a Ripps song. Coincidentally, the next song I played was “Dear Friend” by Patrick Bradley, a fitting title.

You can watch the airchecks here:

Ryan told me he was driving up to New York for a week-long vacation and chose Monday the 28th as our day to hang out. He would pick me up at 10AM.

This was our first time at Post together in two years. I brought along my Nikon D5500 camera and the two CDs I made to alternate between for my show. As we listened to the music on the ride to Brookville, we told one another what we’d been up to lately and I provided commentary on what was happening in my show as each song played on the CDs.

Once we arrived on campus, Ryan acknowledged the change in color on the signs, which I had first seen ten days earlier and photographed a day later. Case in point:

He quipped that the speed bumps hadn’t changed. The reference was a running gag that originated with a TV production project: “Speed control: good idea or just plain nuts?”:

Naturally, our first stop after parking was WCWP, where we spoke to receptionist Janine Celauro, my mother Lisa’s bowling teammate, and Dan Cox, Director of Broadcasting.

Ryan’s next task was going to the bursar to update his alumni contact information. So, we walked north to Kumble Hall, passing signs with alumni names on them. One of them was Fred Gaudelli:

Fred is the executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and was inducted into the WCWP Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Another was Brian Kilmeade:

Brian, a Massapequa native, co-hosts Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel, hosts The Brian Kilmeade Show on Fox News Radio, and has authored a handful of books about American history. His latest is called Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History.

Passing Brian’s name reminded Ryan that he helps set up remote guests for Fox & Friends and other national Fox broadcasts for the aforementioned Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Sports 1.

I photographed Kumble’s exterior before we walked inside:

Kumble was a place I visited when meeting with my academic advisor each semester. My aunt Robin Rose was an advisor in the 1990s and early 2000s, which is how I ended up at what was then C.W. Post. Her presence was invaluable. It helped that she knew so many faculty, which made things easier for me in my first two years. It turned out the place I had the most success, WCWP, didn’t require her connections.

The bursar’s office directed us to the Alumni & Employer Engagement building, which housed the campus bookstore while Ryan and I were students.

On the way, we stopped in the Crafts Center, home to ceramics:

Professor Frank Olt was among the faculty that was connected with Aunt Robin and she recommended one of his courses to me in my second semester when I switched out of photography. I couldn’t handle film development or manually setting aperture and F-stop. It was overwhelming. I thrived in ceramics, sculpting many works that semester. I would sculpt more works in the spring of 2002, after switching out of an intimidating journalism course, and fall of 2003, the only time the course was my first choice. Via grainy digital camera photos from 2003, here are a few of my works:

I don’t know what happened to those, but here is what I was able to find in my house this morning, starting with the first thing I ever made in 2000:

I called it “Hertz Fieldhouse” because I was inspired by Conseco Fieldhouse, the recently-opened arena in Indianapolis. Since I made an outdoor stadium, I should have just called “Hertz Field.”

Lastly, a piece I photographed on film in April 2000:

I hadn’t visited Frank Olt in years – he wasn’t there when Ryan and I walked the campus in 2017 – so we were both happy to see each other. I told him about the jazz shows I had been to recently: the aforementioned Rippingtons in March, David Benoit in June, and the Bob James Trio last November. I forgot to tell him about seeing John Scofield two weeks after Bob.

Frank and I posed for a picture as he sat at a pottery wheel:

I’m so glad to know Frank, and to have known his colleague Linda Marbach while she was a professor.

This was Linda in April 2000 with graduate student Ji-Hyun:

Frank directed me and Ryan to the back room where Dan Christoffel was situated. I hadn’t seen him since he attended his friend and fellow artist Charlie Fillizola’s exhibit at Wantagh Public Library in 2013; six years and two days before Monday, in fact. Dan told us that he was about to present his latest exhibit in the Steinberg Museum of Art on the lower level of the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library. Ryan would have to wait before updating his alumni contact info. Luckily, he didn’t mind.

Dan spoke to an audience of LIU Post art majors (at least, I think that’s what they were):

Shortly after Ryan and I came in, Dan had us introduce ourselves.

Here are some of Dan’s works, starting with Now He Belongs to the Ages on the Abraham Lincoln wing of the exhibit:

Unfortunately, I can’t make out the title on the left, but the painting on the right is Thinking Beyond:

Justice, a trompe-l’œil (deceive the eye) painting:

Two paintings of Walt Whitman: Oh captain, my Captain, inspired by Whitman’s poem after Lincoln’s assassination:

Walt Whitman in His Prime:

On to the Theodore Roosevelt wing:

In his deepest hour:

Colonel Roosevelt:

Sagamore Hill:

Nobel Prize:

Rough Rider:

At the Elk Horn Ranch, Dakota Territory:

1901 – A Very Young President:

A Young Assemblyman:

Fighting the Good Fight:

A portrait of Booker T. Washington to mark a milestone occasion: First Black Man to Have Dinner at the White House:

His Love of Reading:

Little Texas:

T.R. – His Wife and Mother Died on the Same Day; He Went out West to Deal with His Deep Grief:

The exhibit concluded with Taking the Bull by the Horns:

A Newsday article on Dan’s artistry:

A picture with Dan before departing:

Thank you, Dan, for inviting us to your exhibit. It was wonderful. I highly recommend the exhibit if you, the reader, will be at LIU Post in the near future.

Ryan and I made our way east to the Alumni & Employer Engagement building:

Leftover from Homecoming:

Ryan was given a notepad to write down his new contact information and that was that.

We took the scenic route back to Hillwood Commons:

Ryan stopped in the Arboretum Walk so I could photograph him with his iPhone for a Facebook post. I also took a photo with my camera:

Ryan has been inside The Doll House, but I never have:

Post Hall:

As an undergrad, the southwest corner of the building was home to the Academic Resource Center. It was my home away from home. I made many friends in the form of fellow students, directors, learning assistants, and annual social work interns. I remain in touch with some of them.

The northeast corner of Hillwood:

Before going up the stairs to the current campus bookstore, which was once home to the museum, we passed a sign that explained the presence of Dan Christoffel’s exhibit:

Once in the bookstore, I planned on buying a sky blue polo shirt that said “Long Island University,” convinced to buy one after seeing Jeff Kroll (right) and Neil Marks (left) sporting them during the Homecoming game:

I was hoping for a shirt that said “LIU,” but when I initially visited the bookstore ahead of my radio show, it seemed only shirts emblazoned with the full name were available. But seeing Jeff and Neil in the shirts convinced me to buy upon my return with Ryan. On this day, I searched the rack where the shirts hung to look for my size: medium. Once I saw the letter M, I blindly reached for the shirt, and was surprised to find the holy grail: an “LIU” shirt!

Meanwhile, Ryan bought a windbreaker that said “Long Island University,” something to wear on cool winter mornings in Orlando. I’m proudly wearing my “LIU” shirt as I write this post, and it will be part of my warm/hot weather rotation.

We made one more stop at WCWP to say goodbye to Dan Cox and Janine Celauro. I had Janine take our picture:

Coincidentally, our friend Bernie Bernard was on the display behind us.

Ryan planned on stopping at Wendy’s on Glen Cove Road in Greenvale, but it was closed for renovations. So, we proceeded to our next stop – Micro Center in Westbury – looking for a place to eat on the way. We settled on Applebee’s in Roosevelt Raceway Center. Inside, besides eating our entrees, we talked about Ryan’s job at FOX 35 Orlando, about former WCWP Director of Operations Joe Manfredi (now at SUNY Old Westbury where he serves as station manager for OWWR), and other things. We walked around Micro Center for 45 minutes, browsing but not buying. Ryan didn’t leave empty-handed, though, buying a few mouse pads.

Ryan was nice enough to take me grocery shopping at the Levittown Stop & Shop, then we hung out at my house for an hour. After talking about a few YouTube channels in the car, he recommended the channel Technology Connections. I chose a couple of videos to watch on the CED (Capacitance Electronic Disc). (A third video on the subject was released yesterday with a fourth still to come.)

After that, we said our goodbyes until his next visit. It was enjoyable 7 1/2 hours.

It’s always great to see you, Ryan. As I said on the air, you’re a dear friend. I hope you don’t mind that I dipped into the archives with the speed bump video.

Loose ends from earlier in 2019 October 28, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Education, History, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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There were a couple of events in my life this year that I posted about on social media at the time, but neglected to share on this site until now.

The first came back on April 17, on the eve of spring break, at the Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport. I had been a guest reader at Giblyn on National Read Across America Day for the previous four years, but couldn’t make it this year. I was in South Florida for my cousin David’s wedding. Before I left, teacher Meghan Carney provided an opportunity to make up for my absence. I chose the Wednesday before Easter, April 17, as my day to read to her class. The books I read were Fly Guy Presents Garbage & Recycling by Tedd Arnold, Love the World by Todd Parr, and a pair of Dr. Seuss books: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and The Lorax. Like last year, I based my delivery for The Lorax on the 1972 CBS special featuring Bob Holt’s voice characterizations.

Mrs. Carney photographed me as I read. For this post, I made a collage of some of her shots:

As I said in April, thank you, Meghan, for the opportunity. I hope to be back at Giblyn on Read Across America Day next March to read to your class and many others.

12 weeks later, on July 10, Lori Downing, another friend from Giblyn, invited me to spend part of the afternoon walking through Old Westbury Gardens. It was our fourth excursion together, having previously gone to Fire Island Lighthouse, to the Louis Armstrong House and Museum, and to Tilles Center for saxophonist Dave Koz’s 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour.

Despite the heat and humidity, I enjoyed seeing the plants, wildlife, art, and architecture. Here are photographs from that afternoon in Old Westbury:

With a pair of loose ends successfully tied up, it’s on to the next post, whenever that may come.

2019 LIU Post & WCWP Homecoming Weekend October 21, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Football, History, Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Military, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, Video, Weather.
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Other recaps: 20082009WCWP 50th Anniversary (2011)20122013201420152016, 2017, 2018

Another WCWP Homecoming Weekend has come and gone at LIU Post. This is a recap of all three days of the campus radio station’s alumni-hosted block of programming, including coverage of the LIU Sharks‘ Homecoming game against the Saint Francis Red Flash.

Before the proper recap, an explanation about what’s changed since last year. Starting with the fall 2019 semester, Long Island University athletics for the Brooklyn and Post campuses have merged, which means one color set, one team name, and one big move to NCAA Division I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds and LIU Post Pioneers are now, collectively, the LIU Sharks. Now, the recap.

Two days in advance, I scheduled an Uber pickup at my house on Friday at 10AM. The driver was prompt, parking at the curb. With my equipment in tow, I hopped in the backseat and the drive began. I was dropped off at the Abrams Communications Building, home to WCWP, at 10:28. I set down my equipment and set up my laptop in studio 3 on one of the computer tables. After visiting the campus bookstore in Hillwood Commons, I returned to the station and set up the tripod, camcorder, and shotgun mic in studio 4. I was going to record the first show of Homecoming Weekend: Art Beltrone’s PostScripts talk show. Back by my laptop, I connected a portable radio tuned to 88.1 FM to an audio recorder and began recording at 11:50. Then, I walked into studio 4 and waited for PostScripts to begin.

To my left was this banner:

The Long Island University colors are blue for Brooklyn and gold for Post. As you’ll see in the Saturday pictures, the campus’s green signs were all painted sky blue.

Show time:

Art’s first guest was Joan Yonke, the LIU Post Campus Director of Employer and Alumni Engagement (I accidentally left out the “Employer and” part in the show video):

Art’s next guests were Jeff Kroll, who engineered the show…:

…and his wife Pat, who coordinated the guests:

After playing the Krolls’ (and the Yonkes’) wedding song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli, a milestone was acknowledged:

Exactly 58 years ago – October 18, 1961, at 12:15 PM – WCWP signed on as an AM carrier current station. Art Beltrone was the first student voice ever heard on its air. In honor of the occasion, the sign-on was played at 12:15 in 2019.

Art listened fondly:

When the first non-student voice, Dennis Sullivan, tossed back to Art on the tape, Jeff cued Art in the present:

Following “Hello, Dolly!” by Louis Armstrong, Bill Mozer dropped by:

Jeff Kroll joined in the conversation:

For the last hour, Art spoke to fellow alumni and Vietnam Veterans, Jack Cassidy and Mike Padula:

Jack Cassidy:

Mike Padula:

Art, Jack, and Mike also spoke to guests over the phone, including John LiBretto, Jim Harley, and Ron Zappardino. I had to leave studio 4 at 1:30 to set up for my show, Instrumental Invasion with Mike Chimeri, in studio 2.

Here are portions of PostScripts, some of which were photographed above:

When 2PM came, Art handed off to me, I played a legal ID, and began my show. I thanked Art and all of his guests, then played my first song: “Flash Back Friday” by bassist Julian Vaughn, guitarist Nick Colionne‘s nephew.

As the song played, I went back into studio 4 to take a picture of Jack Cassidy, Jeff Kroll, Art Beltrone, and Mike Padula:

While my second song, “Illuminate” by Steve Oliver, was playing, Pat Kroll took the obligatory photo of me at the board in studio 2:

There was also time for Art’s friend Ed Keller to take our picture:

The show proceeded from there with little to no hiccups. Here were my surroundings:

During my show, Bill Mozer moved the livestream webcam from studio 4 to 2. We spoke while I was off mic. One of the liners I played was of Dan Ingram, legendary New York DJ and commercial voice talent, while visiting the station in 1968. Back then, the university was known as C.W. Post College. The liner went like this:

Hi there, Kemosabe. This is Big Dan Ingram. Whenever I’m on the Merriweather campus, and my bosses in New York don’t know about it, I always listen to WCWP, at 88.1, in Brookville, New York. Love it.

“Merriweather” referred to Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Bill, who worked with Dan at WABC, remarked that he was never “on the Merriweather campus” – besides that day – so he therefore never listened to the station. I replied that he was humoring the students that recorded him.

Bobby Guthenberg, a.k.a. Bobby G., complimented my playlist on Facebook, and my friend Ryan Grabow texted me after I played “Silver Arrows” by the Rippingtons. When he would appear on The Mike Chimeri Show 15 years ago, he’d always say “a ripping good time” whenever I played a Ripps song. Coincidentally, the next song I played was “Dear Friend” by Patrick Bradley, a fitting title.

Before I knew it, I was signing off and playing my last song: “Nu Som” by Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber Fusion.

Here are the show airchecks…:

Direct link

…transitions, with the aforementioned Dan Ingram liner…:

Direct link

the playlist in PDF form

…and the video:

 

 

Jeff Jensen was next at 4PM:

Here are a couple of his airchecks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I headed home just before 5:00 and was home half an hour later. After editing the airchecks that you heard above, day 1 was complete.

I started my Saturday by editing videos, synced with the aircheck audio, and photos. Then, I got ready to return to LIU Post. While waiting to turn onto Northern Boulevard, I took out my camera so I could photograph what once was green and now is blue.

It was 1:05 when I turned into the campus’s east gate:

MyWCWP, which was WebRadio WCWP when I was a student, was renamed The Wave:

The Wave is also the name of a Southern California radio station that used to play smooth jazz: 94.7 The Wave. Since I’m not on this Wave, there’s no smooth or contemporary jazz to be found.

During the second quarter of the Sharks’ Homecoming game against Saint Francis, I walked over to Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium to take in some of the action:

I was given media access, which allowed me to go up to the press box…at least at first. Saint Francis did not bring a crew to broadcast the game, but LIU did, from the roof. To get there, you had to climb this ladder:

Jeff Kroll (right) and Neil Marks (left) called the game:

A view from the top:

Considering the Sharks were winless coming into the game and were unlikely to score while I was on the roof, I left after I took the above pictures. Before I left, I had Pat Kroll take a photo of me:

2:25 PM UPDATE: Jeff informed that the NEC (Northeastern Conference) had a room in the press box for the video feed and conference announcers. He added:

The video equipment is also used for all play reviews. Cameras manned by WCWP students! Ours was the only radio broadcast of the game.

The walk back to WCWP:

Pioneer Lane is now Shark Street:

The Sharks fell to 0-6, blown out by the Saint Francis Red Flash 30-0. It was 9-0 after three quarters, but SFU exploded for 21 points in the first six minutes of the fourth. Factoring in the Pioneers past, this was the team’s first loss on Homecoming since 2011. It was also the first loss Jeff and Neil called since the Pioneers lost to the Iona College Gaels 9-2 in 1989.

Air traffic was moderate and a couple of planes were low enough for me to get high resolution crops. This is a DHL plane:

I think this might be Alitalia:

After the dust had settled on the Sharks’ loss, studio host John Zoni ran the “highlights”…:

…and listed the scores elsewhere in the NEC:

Due to a lung infection early in the week, Bernie Bernard was unable to make it up from Florida. Bobby G. and Mike Riccio expanded their show to fill in for her. Due to the short length of the football game, the show began at 3:45, 45 minutes early.

Bobby flew solo while Mike was in transit:

Hanging out in the studio were Jay and Arlene Elzweig…:

…and Jett Lightning, who I wanted to get a picture with:

I would pose for more pictures later.

Mike Riccio arrived in time for Bernie Bernard to call in:

Wanting to be a part of the call, I got on my knees by Bobby’s mic, holding up a Rick Wakeman CD at one point:

Once Mike was at the controls, the playlist turned to artists that appeared at Woodstock:

I came on at one point to promote the rest of the weekend, including my second Instrumental Invasion that would air at 2AM:

The big WCWP Hall of Fame announcement was set for 6:00. Before then, I went outside to the barbecue for a burger and hot dog, and some cookies for dessert.

Then, I got to meet fellow alumni Joel Mahan and Jerry Reilly, posing here with Bill Mozer:

I was so glad to see M.J. Lonardo and K.J. Mills:

M.J. complimented me on my running, which I had been writing about on Facebook, with a few milestone posts on Twitter and Instagram.

2019 WCWP Hall of Fame inductee Pete Bellotti made the announcement:

Here’s how things looked on the livestream webcam during this segment (courtesy of Ted David):

The 2020 inductees are…:

Alan Seltzer and Christina Kay!

I stood in front of the camcorder and applauded the inductees:

With the announcement complete, I began to pack up for home, but not before taking the obligatory shot of Mike and Bobby:

John Zoni’s postgame and the segments from Mike and Bobby’s show can all be seen here:

 

Me with John Zoni:

Dan Cox:

I owe my career in radio to Dan. He was my Broadcasting 4 professor in the spring of 2001 and recommended me to then-station manager Judy Cramer the following semester. A few weeks later, on October 5, I was on the air for the first time.

Bill Mozer:

…and Pete Bellotti:

Joel Mahan wanted a photo with Pete, as well:

The last pic of the weekend for me was Bill Mozer and Alan Boritz, who followed Mike and Bobby at 10PM:

Bill photographed the weekend with his own DSLR camera. Via the WCWP Alumni Association Facebook group, here are his photos – with “no film in the camera” – starting with John Zoni during his 6PM show on Friday:

Jay Mirabile and Pete Bellotti during Friday’s 10PM DFK Show:

The picture was taken with Jay’s phone, but Bill cropped it.

On Saturday, it’s Art Beltrone and Jay Elzweig:

Grandfather Rock Chris MacIntosh:

Pat Kroll and Lew Scharfberg:

And at the mic for his 10PM show, Alan Boritz:

From midnight to 4AM, WCWP had the one-two punch of Strictly Jazz with Hank Neimark, John LiBretto, and Rita Sands – which they recorded in late August – and the second Instrumental Invasion with Mike Chimeri – which I recorded at home back on September 26. It was chocolate and peanut butter back to back. In SiriusXM parlance, they were Real Jazz, I was Watercolors. Hank told the aforementioned Facebook group he was listening to the station, including his own show, from Greece, expressing what a thrill it was.

Here are the airchecks from Strictly Jazz

Direct link

…and Instrumental Invasion:

Direct link

And of course, the latter show’s transitions…:

Direct link

and playlist.

I try to work in as many of the notes I write on my playlists as I can, but some notes stay on the paper.

Unfortunately, Magick Mike Hendryx’s show didn’t run, making for the second year in a row where that’s happened to a file designated for Sunday at 4AM. Strictly Jazz reran at 6AM as scheduled.

I spent Sunday working on this post and periodically listening to WCWP. Like last year, Jay LaPrise (“la-PREE”) had the first live show of the day at 8AM. Here are his last two airchecks:

Direct link

The ladies of Prison Break Radio, Jamie Mazzo and Sara Dorchak, were next at 10AM. Here are their first four airchecks:

Direct link

Billy the Kid (Billy Houst) followed at noon. He was later joined by Joey C. (Joe Conte) and Big L Lou (Lou Raio). Here are airchecks from Billy’s first hour:

Direct link

Bill Mozer photographed Billy…:

…Joey C. …:

…and Lou Raio:

Billy the Kid was followed at 2PM by Joe the Honerkamp. Here are five airchecks from his show:

Direct link

And one picture of him by Bill Mozer:

That is his index finger, not the other one.

The last three photos in this post were taken by Pat Kroll.

At 4PM, Lew Scharfberg:

Direct link

Jeff Kroll ran the board:

6PM had a Homecoming Weekend edition of Rock ‘N’ Soul Gospel with Grandfather Rock Chris MacIntosh:

Direct link

Next to last was Alana at 8PM with The Rockin’ Sunday Show, following an introduction by Jeff Kroll:

Direct link

And turning out the lights on the 60-hour block was Jeff himself from 10PM to midnight, following Alana’s lead-in:

Direct link

I was singled out in Jeff’s credits:

Mike Chimeri! Oh, Mike, a great jazz show; in fact, two of them this weekend. And always with the pictures and the videos. Thanks so much, Mike.

Thank you, Jeff. This is a labor of love for me as I know putting together Homecoming Weekend each year is for you and Pat. If it means I have restless nights as my brain contemplates what tasks I have left to do, so be it. The fruits of my labor make it all worthwhile.

It was great catching up with my fellow alumni throughout the weekend. It warms my heart to be among you.

Thank you to those that stayed with this recap to the end. I leave with Jeff’s last words last night:

Thanks to all here at WCWP. It’s been a wonderful 2019 Homecoming Weekend. We’ll get the schedules together and see what happens a year from now. And it’ll be a new decade: 2020! Thanks for tuning in to the WCWP Homecoming Weekend.

And for posterity, the schedule:

Rob Paulsen at Strand Bookstore October 13, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Health, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, TV, Weather.
3 comments

I traveled to the borough of Manhattan for the second Thursday in a row. This time, my destination was the Strand Bookstore in the East Village to see voice actor Rob Paulsen discuss his new memoir, Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life. He was joined by his co-author Michael Fleeman, and later by Randy Rogel, the brilliant mind behind many great songs and episodes from Animaniacs and Histeria!, among other credits, and animation writer, including for Batman: The Animated Series, which I began watching on the DC Universe app and website on September 27 and will complete today.

The trip to Strand Bookstore marked my first time on the east side of Greenwich Village after a few years traveling to the West Village for performances at Blue Note. My most recent trip there was for John Scofield’s Combo 66 last November.

A nor’easter had been churning offshore since Wednesday and was supposed to push back west, giving the region rain and wind until Friday or Saturday. I woke up Thursday morning to unexpected sunshine. It turns out the rain wasn’t going to start until the afternoon. I regularly run for exercise, so I took the opportunity to get in 10.4 miles, an outdoor personal best that I would break by .1 miles only two days later.

The sun held out much longer than I thought it would and I was able to walk to the Wantagh LIRR station without needing to take Uber to avoid walking in the rain. I only had to contend with light rain for the last quarter-mile and for ten minutes on the platform. As the train proceeded west toward Penn Station, away from the nor’easter, the skies cleared. The ride was uneventful except for the sight of a Southwest Airlines plane approaching LaGuardia Airport. If only I had my camera out of my backpack.

After arriving at Penn Station, I proceeded up West 34th Street to 6th Avenue, where I went down to 34th Street-Herald Square Station and took the Q train to 14th Street-Union Square Station.

These are the sites I took in as I walked through Union Square and down to Strand:

It was 5:58 when I walked into Strand. Rob’s discussion was on the 3rd floor, the Rare Old Books floor. I walked up the stairs where a few people waited by the door until we were allowed in at 6:30. The line grew over the next half hour, but before long, the door opened and those of us that were on the guest list checked in. We were given a copy of Voice Lessons with a Post-It that had a number written on it. Mine had the number 1, which meant I was in group 1, the first to get books signed by Rob Paulsen and Michael Fleeman.

I sat in the front row, right next to Rob and Mike’s chairs. To my right, a laptop was connected to a TV for slides and a couple of videos that would be shown during the discussion:

Rob and Mike entered the room at 7:09 and the discussion began.

Rob’s brother Mike was in attendance, along with his high school friend, his agent, and a few others. Randy Rogel sat with them until the musical portion of the event. The rest of the attendees were, like me, hardcore Rob Paulsen fans.

Here are select close-ups of Rob Paulsen:

…and Michael Fleeman:

Rob and Mike discussed the structure of the book and went over its highlights.

They also talked about Rob’s signature characters, starting with Raphael from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Donatello from the 2012 series:

Carl Wheezer from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius:

Yakko Warner on Animaniacs:

Genetically-enhanced lab mouse Pinky of Pinky and the Brain, which began as shorts on Animaniacs and were spun off into their own series:

This portion led to a reading of the book’s introduction: “Pinky Gets Bad News”:

Then, Mike introduced a pair of commercials Rob appeared in:

The first was his first role: a 1979 ad for west coast fast food chain Jack in the Box during their Fring (french fry/onion ring) campaign:

Here is that ad:

The second was the infamous “Aaron Burr” Got Milk? ad where a radio call-in contestant fails to coherently recite the correct answer because he doesn’t have milk to wash down his peanut butter sandwich:

You know the one: “Awwin Buww!” Rob voiced the radio personality, Sean Whalen played the unfortunate caller, and Michael Bay – yes, that one – was the director! Watch:

The discussion inevitably turned to Rob’s throat cancer, which he thankfully survived (knock on wood):

The stage then turned to Randy Rogel:

Referring to the sign behind him, he quipped: “I like how this is ’18 miles of books,’ and now it’s 18 miles and one inch.”

Rob explained how Randy got into showbiz:

Randy talked about when Rob told him he had cancer:

“…but the truth is, the doctor said to Rob, ‘Rob, you have a very rare form of cancer. It’s called The Rob Paulsen Cancer. And he said, ‘why me?!'”

Jokes aside, Rob and Randy were part of Animaniacs LIVE! at Joe’s Pub the night before. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the event and did not attend. For those of us that couldn’t make it, and even for some that did, we were treated to a few songs.

To the Joe’s Pub attendees, “if I had known you were gonna be here tonight, I’d have written a new song”:

Rob replied, “Not too far from the truth.”

The first song was “When You’re Traveling from Nantucket,” from Animaniacs episode 87, which focused on the concept of time:

“… The international date line’s an imaginary cleft. Today is on the right side and tomorrow’s on the left. …”

“… that it was mildly amusing, but then totally confusing, and we bet you wish we hadn’t sung at all!”

Next was a song from Histeria! episode 32, “Writers of the Purple Prose.” Chronicling the works of William Shakespeare, it’s “That’s the Story That’s Told by the Bard”:

It was a duet:

Singing of MacBeth: “… Then he kills others, it’s really quite vicious, Until in the end, he gets stabbed in the duff!”

“No, that’s wrong. By MacDuff.”

The third and final song was Randy’s first: “Yakko’s World“:

“United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru…”

“… Tunisia, Morocco, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Djibouti, Botswana-aaaaa, …”

“…Crete, Mauritania, then Transylvania, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Malta, and Palestine, Fiji, Australia, Sudan!”

Michael Fleeman returned for Q&A:

Rob and Mike fielded four questions:

And that was it!

“Thank you, guys. Randy! Mike Fleeman!”

With the discussion complete, it was time to sign. While waiting in the group 1, I passed by a Remington Standard 10 typewriter:

I had Andrew, a Strand employee, take a picture of me with Rob and Mike:

Both of them signed my copy, Mike first and Rob second. Thinking ahead, Mike wrote:

To Mike,
What he said
(arrow pointing up)
Mike

Rob signed with a variant on Yakko’s “Helloooo, Nurse!” catchphrase:

Hellooo, Mike!
Rob Paulsen

I told Rob we were friends on Facebook and that I’d met him two years ago at New York Comic Con. He instantly remembered.

I said my goodbyes and went back to my chair, but before I packed up and headed back to Penn Station, I got to meet Randy Rogel:

I told him I loved his music and his Emmy-winning writing work for Batman. He liked that, looking back fondly.

Within ten minutes, I was at 14th Street-Union Square Station and back aboard the Q for 34th Street-Herald Square. Unfortunately, power disruptions on the Broadway corridor delayed the ride. We were stuck on the center track at 23rd Street Station for about five minutes, though it felt longer. At Penn Station, I bought a frozen yogurt to eat on the ride back to Wantagh. Since I missed the 8:56 Babylon branch train, I’d have to wait until 9:31. But as I stood by a timetable waiting for a track number for the 9:31, I noticed there was a 9:13 Babylon train. It didn’t stop at Wantagh, but did stop one hamlet west in Bellmore. So, I took that and was picked up in Bellmore. The forecast of rain didn’t pan out. That light rain I encountered earlier in the day was the extent of it. Once I was home, I unpacked and went to sleep.

It was a great night at Strand, and a pleasure to see Rob Paulsen again, and meet Michael Fleeman and Randy Rogel for the first time. In the days ahead, I will read Voice Lessons and simultaneously listen to the “read by the author” audiobook. I have done this in years. When I finish, I’ll write a review. Until then, thanks for reading this post.

NOTE: Strand recorded the event to add to their YouTube channel. Once added, I will update this post with their video.

10/14 UPDATE: The video is up. I’m in it, taking and checking pictures, and otherwise listening intently. Watch:

10/22 UPDATE: The day after appearing at Strand, Rob appeared on Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman‘s eponymous podcast, Everyone Talks to Liz Claman. The episode went up a week later. You can listen to it here.

Listen for me on WCWP next weekend October 12, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Education, Football, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Radio, Sports.
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All times are Eastern.

We’re a week away from Homecoming Weekend on 88.1 FM and WCWP.org. As usual, the annual programming block begins at noon next Friday and ends at midnight on Sunday night.

Once again, I’m the second host of the weekend. Art Beltrone, the first voice heard on WCWP 58 years ago to the day, kicks things off Friday at noon. I’ll be following him at 2PM with Instrumental Invasion with Mike Chimeri. You’ll hear music by Julian Vaughn, Keiko Matsui, Cindy Bradley, David Benoit, Elan Trotman, and many more.

My second Instrumental Invasion show, which I recorded over a few hours at home on September 26, will air Sunday at 2AM. It’s the usual 50-year musical journey, starting in 1969 and working in five-year increments to 2019. Along the journey, you’ll hear artists like Herb Alpert (with and without the Tijuana Brass), David Benoit and Russ Freeman (separately and together), Joyce Cooling, and even Bernie Williams. The show is the second leg of the Jazz Block early Sunday morning, preceded by Strictly Jazz, hosted by Rita Sands, Hank Neimark, and John LiBretto.

All shows can be heard at 88.1 FM, if you’re close enough to the signal, at WCWP.org, or on the WCWP app for iOS and Android.

Between Friday’s live show and Sunday’s pre-recorded show, I’ll be at LIU Post Homecoming on Saturday afternoon and evening. I’ll mostly be inside and out of the Abrams Communications Building, where WCWP is based, but I will stop by Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium to watch the LIU Sharks host the Saint Francis University Red Flash. As I type on the morning of October 11, the Sharks’ inaugural season in the Northeast Conference of NCAA Division I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) has been rough. They’re 0-4 and could be 0-5 by Homecoming.

Last year, there was no WCWP Hall of Fame announcement during Bernie Bernard’s show after the game, but I believe there will be this year.

I hope you’ll be listening to WCWP during as much of Homecoming Weekend as you can. Jeff Kroll closes out the weekend with his 10PM show on Sunday.

10/15 UPDATE: The Sharks fell to 0-5 on Saturday and that’s their record going into Homecoming.

10/18 UPDATE: Shortly after my previous update, Bernie Bernard informed the WCWP Alumni Association’s Facebook group that she can’t make it this year due to a lung infection. Bobby Guthenberg, a.k.a. Bobby G., will fill in for her.

My experience at Day 1 of 2019 New York Comic Con October 5, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Blu-ray, Broadway, Comedy, DVD, Internet, Media, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 22014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1, 2018 Day 1

Thursday marked my fifth time at New York Comic Con, and third year in a row. It’s become tradition to attend, meet actors, and tour the show floor. NYCC is held annually inside the Javits Center in Midtown West.

I waited by my computer for about two hours back on May 5 to buy my Thursday badge. I didn’t know what guests would attend, but I found out a month later. The ones I was interested in meeting were Paul Reubens, James Arnold Taylor, Laraine Newman, Jennifer Hale, and Tom Kenny. Once again, this was my sole reason for attending because there weren’t any panels worth seeing.

One day removed from record heat, the weather that greeted me when I left my Wantagh home at 8:30 was cool and cloudy. As I stood on the LIRR station platform waiting for the 8:47 train, I briefly wished I brought gloves. Keeping with my train travel routine, I chose to sit in the first car. There were a few people seated ahead of me that were also on their way to New York Comic Con, but I didn’t want to bother them. I just listened to David Benoit and Friends and ate my protein bar with a can of orange seltzer.

The ride to Penn Station took about 45 minutes. When I exited at 8th Avenue and West 33rd Street, I greeted by persistent drizzle. It followed me all the way to the Javits Center. It took a while for the massive throng of attendees to get through security, but my search was quick and scold-less. After I was checked, I walked toward the entrance and then zipped my backpack compartments back up.

Once inside, I made my way to the autographing area:

It turns out there were two autographing areas: 1C and 1E. I was looking for Paul Reubens’ table in 1C, but he was actually in 1E. So, I walked toward there and waited in line at his table. Thank you to the staff members who aided me.

Like most 1980s children, I grew up watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse. I didn’t realize Pee-wee Herman was a character created and portrayed by Paul Reubens until the mid ’90s. That was the first time I saw Paul out of that character, on Murphy Brown.

I rediscovered Pee-wee’s Playhouse on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim in 2006, then rediscovered it again ten years later on Netflix. Watching it there wasn’t enough. I had to buy the series on Blu-ray, especially for the bonus features. I sometimes find myself quoting not just Pee-wee, but other series characters like Globey, Mr. Window (particularly when I see Lynne Marie Stewart [Miss Yvonne] on TV), Jambi, Pterri, Conky, Randy, and occasionally Clocky.

So, it was a thrill to meet Paul, albeit briefly, on Thursday morning. I told him I met Phil LaMarr last year. Phil played Cowboy Curtis in the Broadway run of The Pee-wee Herman Show. I had noticed Paul was making a surprised face while posing with attendees ahead of me, so I tried to do the same:

I look more shocked than surprised, but I still like it.

I returned to 1C to meet four voice actors:

First up was James Arnold Taylor:

I discovered James through Johnny Test, but learned more about his illustrious career through his website, JAT Vlogs on his YouTube channel, and appearance on the podcast Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen. I told him I liked how for his Fred Flintstone voice, he combined Alan Reed’s original portrayal with Henry Corden’s subsequent version. I also expressed my love as the voice of Fox’s Sunday primetime promos, to which he said he recorded the latest set of promos in his hotel room the night before. There was one thing I neglected to discuss. I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game, but I am aware of an infamous cutscene he voiced as Tidus in Final Fantasy X. In the cutscene, Tidus let out a loud, wooden, staccato laugh: “haaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha!” James explained that scene in a March 2016 JAT Vlog:

I chose a character collage at his table to sign, and he wrote:

Mike – You’re awesome!!
James Arnold Taylor

5:05 PM UPDATE: James recorded another promo from his hotel room yesterday, as he shared on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

More promos in my makeshift padded room in my hotel while at @newyorkcomiccon

A post shared by James Arnold Taylor (@jatactor) on

After James, I moved one table to the right (his left) and spoke to Laraine Newman:

You may know Laraine from her days on Saturday Night Live, and I’ve seen a handful of sketches from that time, but I’m more familiar with her voice over work. She was Queen Jipjorulac, Mark Chang’s mother on The Fairly OddParents. Mark Chang was voiced by Rob Paulsen as an energetic surfer dude with awkward syntax (pronouncing assistance “ah-sis-TAHN-say,” for example). When Rob interviewed Laraine for Talkin’ Toons, she mentioned Histeria!, the Warner Bros. edutainment animated series they co-starred in. I was not aware of the series when it originally aired, but my curiosity was piqued after that interview. Unfortunately, unlike the other ’90s WB series, Histeria! was not yet on DVD. When it was finally released years later, I bought it, watching for the first time over the 2017 Christmas vacation. I loved it! So, it was that DVD that I brought to NYCC for Laraine to sign. She was thrilled. I told her how much I loved the show and loved her characters: Miss Information, a bubbly Southern tour guide with a penchant for getting things wrong, and Charity Bazaar, a sad girl who frequently lamented, “I’m not happy.” I said I sometimes find myself saying that in certain situations.

Laraine signed the following on my DVD:

To Mike (Heart)
Laraine Newman

Laraine and the aforementioned Paul Reubens, Lynne Stewart, and Phil LaMarr are all alumni of The Groundlings improv and sketch comedy troupe. It’s where Paul created Pee-wee Herman.

Jennifer Hale was next:

Jennifer has a wealth of video game credits, but I know her mostly for her work as Ms. Keane on The Powerpuff Girls, various characters on Johnny Bravo, and T.U.F.F. Puppy. Someday, I will play some of the games she appeared in.

As with James, I chose a collage for her to sign:

To Mike!
Jennifer Hale

And finally, Tom Kenny:

Of course, Tom is the titular character on SpongeBob SquarePants. I love that show, but also love Futurama, where Tom’s credits include the all-purpose commissioner Abner Doubledeal and Leela’s bland eye doctor boyfriend Adlai Atkins, and the aforementioned Johnny Bravo, where he played Johnny’s (Jeff Bennett) nerdy friend Carl Chryniszzswics (“cruh-SIN-uh-wits”). He was glad to hear Carl get some love at the convention, as one attendee ahead of me had a drawing of Carl. We talked about his co-star, the late Larry Drake, who voiced Pops. I even imitated Pops (“Hey, Johnny!”). Tom told me about Larry’s horror film background, which I wasn’t aware of but glad to learn. Prior to Johnny Bravo, I only knew him from L.A. Law.

I thanked Tom for taking the time to meet with everyone in line, as the line extended down to one of the panel “chutes,” requiring security to let people know which side was the panel chute and which was the line for Tom (or “SpongeBob,” as the guard said). I brought my copy of the eighth season of SpongeBob SquarePants for him to sign:

10-3-19
Mike Ahoy!
Best fishes from “SpongeBob”
Tom Kenny

Thank you to Paul, James, Laraine, Jennifer, and Tom. It was a pleasure to meet all of you. Thanks, as well, to Anissa and her eldest son James, who I met in Tom’s line. It was nice to meet you, too, and I hope we can stay in touch.

After nearly four hours in autograph land, I was ready to head for home, but not before touring parts of the show floor:

Within 20 minutes of walking the show floor, I exited the Javits Center:

25 minutes after that, I was back in Penn Station where I boarded the 3:03 Babylon-bound train, which was packed with commuters. The crowd thinned a little at Jamaica, then further at Rockville Centre, but a handful of passengers exited with me at Wantagh one hour later. I was once again in the first car, which meant that I was on the east end and exited above Beech Street. (The first car westbound is just west of Wantagh Avenue.) After walking 20 minutes in the mist, I was home.

Once inside, I unpacked and photographed my autographed merchandise and my badge (with the codes blurred out):

I hope to be back at New York Comic Con next year. In the meantime, thank you for viewing this post.

Art & Lee Beltrone, Vietnam Graffiti: Messages from a Forgotten Troopship September 24, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Books, History, Radio.
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Posing with Vietnam Graffiti while writing this post

Last October, early in my Homecoming Weekend radio show on WCWP, fellow alumnus Art Beltrone, who hosted the show before mine, gave me a copy of a book he published in 2004 with his wife Lee. The book is called Vietnam Graffiti: Messages from a Forgotten Troopship.

It took nearly a year to read the book, but I finally did over three days last week.

One morning in February 1997, Art and Lee Beltrone traveled with Jack Fisk – their Keswick, Virginia, neighbor – to the James River Reserve Fleet near Fort Eustis. They assisted Fisk in research for the upcoming World War II movie The Thin Red Line. Among the ships they toured in the fleet was the General Nelson M. Walker.

The Walker dated back to the end of World War II, when it went by the Admiral H.T. Mayo. But touring the ship revealed it was a time capsule to the Vietnam era. Machinery, utensils, cleaning supplies, tables, chairs, and bunks were among the artifacts aboard, mostly intact. Soldiers bound for Vietnam wrote graffiti on the bunk canvases, including sketches, poetry, names, and personal messages.

The discovery led to a traveling exhibit called “Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam,” which has traveled for 15 years to 35 states and over 70 venues. The exhibit will open at the National WWI (World War I) Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, and will open this November 8 and end May 31 next year. Beltrone’s exhibit is part of the New York Historical Society‘s exhibit called “The Vietnam War: 1945-1975.”

Vietnam Graffiti consists of Art’s written recollections of the Walker tour and Lee’s photographs of the fleet, the ship, and artifacts therein. There are also profiles of a few surviving veterans. I won’t spoil this post with excerpts. You’ll have to read and see for yourself. It sells for $25.

The book is 88 pages worth reading and viewing. I should have read it sooner. Thank you, Art, for blessing me with a copy, and thank you to all the soldiers who served aboard the Mayo/Walker.

In the years since the book’s publication, the Vietnam Graffiti Project was formed. On their behalf, during his show last October (1960s Post Scripts), Art presented Dan Cox, WCWP’s director of broadcasting, with one of the bunk canvases found on the Walker:

Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library September 13, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Books, DVD, Internet, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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A cropped photo of my copy after returning from day 1 of this year’s Long Island Retro Gaming Expo

Pat Contri was a name I’d heard of since I started regularly watching YouTube channels a few years ago, but I’d never seen his videos, listened to his podcasts, or bought his merchandise. My only exposure to him was the Angry Video Game Nerd episode he appeared in, which he wrote with series creator and star James Rolfe. My unfamiliarity dissolved after visiting Pat’s table last month at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. I got to meet him and his friend and colleague Ian Ferguson…:

…and I bought early episodes of the Pat the NES Punk YouTube series on DVD along with Pat’s comprehensive 2016 book: Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library.

As with Leonard Herman’s Phoenix IV last year, I vowed to read the Guide to the NES Library after the expo. After reading a couple of preface pages on the Uber ride home on August 10, I held off on the rest of the book until 12 days later, August 22. I had another day of the expo, photos to edit, a recap to write, cousins to hang out with while they visited for a few days, and a photo editing project for a friend. In my downtime, I worked my way through the three sets of DVDs. As I neared the end of the third set, my photo editing project was complete, which meant I could finally commit to Pat’s guide.

Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library is as big as an educational textbook and just as heavy. It’s 437 glossy pages long, but the last five pages are a list of the book’s financial backers. So, I read two more preface pages, then moved on to the main 432.

The book chronicles each and every game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, from the numbered titles like 1942 and 8 Eyes to Zoda’s Revenge and Zombie Nation.

Pat is not alone in reviewing each game, as he is joined by Ian Ferguson, Asheton “Ashi” Phinney, Brett Weiss, Jim Evans, Joe Pingree, Karen Niemla, and Joey “Roo” DeSena.

Most pages are devoted to two games. An image from one of the two games is in the background while four images from each game are on the bottom. The top of the page shows the games’ cartridge designs and lists their genre, release date, developer, publisher, number of players, special features, whether the game is licensed or unlicensed, availability (from “very common” to “extremely rare”), and star rating. There are 11 ratings ranging from bomb (“awful and/or broken”) to 2 1/2 stars (“average”) to 5 stars (“classic”). Below that is the review, which can be a few short sentences in medium type or several paragraphs in small type. Then the reviewer, identified by their initials (i.e. PC, IF, JD), will add their “reflections.”

The landmark titles get their own pages with additional images. Such titles include the three Super Mario Bros. games, The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II, the unlicensed Tengen version of Tetris, and Tecmo Super Bowl.

Following 387 pages of North American releases, the book concludes with PAL exclusive games, HES (Home Entertainment Suppliers) games, special and promo cartridges (i.e. Nintendo World Championships 1990), test cartridges, label variants, the NES console and its major accessories, supplemental articles, and images of unreleased games.

It took me 21 days to read 432 pages of Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library. Along the way, I kept a journal of how many pages I read each day. I started with 12, then 14, 18, 20, 24, and 50 and 53 pages on two of my last three days. For some games, I imagined certain public figures in my head reading in their voice. I thought of Bob Costas for baseball games, Mike “Doc” Emrick for hockey games, Ahmad Rashad for basketball ones, Jim Lampley for boxing, Liev Schreiber for football, David Feherty for golf, and even Matt Ezero for some games he evaluated in his LJN Defender videos. For reflections, in the case of Pat, Ian, and Roo, I imagined them reading for themselves.

When I wasn’t reading on the first 11 days, I finished Pat Contri’s DVDs, watched all ten episodes of The Video Game Years on Amazon Prime, and caught up on most of Pat’s non-podcast videos from 2012 to the present. That included all later Pat the NES Punk and Flea Market Madness episodes.

It was neat to read about games that I previously saw in Punk episodes, like Baseball Stars, Dance Aerobics, Sqoon, and Wall Street Kid. It was also satisfying to know that some games in my collection were uncommon, such as Wario’s Woods.

The tone of the book’s reviews range from clinical to overly critical. I was satisfied with all but three reviews: Tetris 2, Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White, and Yoshi’s Cookie. I liked those games growing up, getting plenty of mileage out of them. I treated Tetris 2 and Yoshi’s Cookie as endurance tests, playing until a game over. For Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White, I played solo, hitting select during the puzzle selection each round until I finally got a big one. That meant more money to win on the wheel. In …Guide to the NES Library, Tetris 2 and Yoshi’s Cookie were dismissed as lousy cash-ins. Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White was considered a step down from the Rare-developed games that preceded it. “Pat Sajak would not be pleased,” wrote Pat Contri in the reflections.

There were sporadic typos or word omissions, and (counting Console Wars author Blake Harris’s foreword) six instances of my pet peeve phrase “at the end of the day” (thank goodness there weren’t more), but ultimately, the book was a great read.

If you grew up with the Nintendo Entertainment System, are collecting for it, or you just want to learn about the console that revived the video game industry, buy this book, available for $59.99. You’ll love it. And when you’re finished with that, be sure to pre-order Pat’s next book, a Guide to the SNES Library, which will focus on the Super Nintendo’s games. It’s also available for $59.99, or you can buy the special edition for $79.99.

Lastly, there’s a $4.99 app called Ultimate Game Guide – on Android and iOS – which contains all NES games from all regions, as well as accessories and console variants. If you select a game, it includes the statistics and review from the book, though not the reflections. You can even keep track of the games you have in your collection, and go to Amazon or eBay to check listings for the ones you don’t.

11/13 UPDATE: The special edition of Pat’s Guide to the SNES Library arrived on my front porch yesterday. I will begin reading today and will dedicate a post to it when I’m finished, likely sometime next month.

Ladies and gentlemen, David Benoit and Friends! August 26, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Books, Jazz, Music, Personal, TV.
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My scan of the cover

I am a big fan of jazz pianist, composer, and conductor David Benoit for over 20 years, but have been aware of his music for over 30 years, dating back to songs from his catalog getting airplay during local forecasts on The Weather Channel. I have been fortunate enough to see him perform ten times since 2003 and I’m proud to call him a friend.

Friday marked the release of David’s latest album: David Benoit and Friends. I’ve been looking forward to the album for months, especially within the last two months since he played two songs from it in June at My Father’s Place.

Every track is superb, but my favorites are:

  • Sienna Step – a fast-paced bossa nova workout, this was one of the two songs David performed in June
  • 96-132 Revisited – a new take on a song from his debut album Heavier Than Yesterday (1977); 96-132 refers to the song’s tempos: 96 BPM (beats per minute) at the beginning and end, and 132 BPM in the middle; until reading the liner notes, I thought the title referred to a zip code, and I incorrectly read it as “9-6-1-3-2”
  • Sly Fox – an organ-heavy tune that David composed with Jeff Lorber, but unlike the two songs they wrote for Full Circle (2006), Jeff did not appear on it
  • Dave G. – a tribute to Dave Grusin that features Vincent Ingala on soprano sax; drummer John “JR” Robinson posted video of one of his recording session takes to Facebook back in May:
  • The Ballad of Jane Hawk – an uplifting orchestral tribute to David’s friend Dean Koontz’s book series; featuring Peter White on acoustic guitar and Tim Weisberg on flute
  • Feel It Still – a Portugal the Man cover a la Les McCann
  • Make It Real – the lone vocal track, featuring vocals and lyrics by Lindsey Webster; the bossa nova refrain is addictive

My favorites make up most of the album. I like it that much.

As you saw in the cover art at the top, other “friends” on the album are saxophonist Dave Koz, guitarist Marc Antoine, and trumpeter Rick Braun. The liner notes reveal still another “friend”: cellist Justin Cheung.

Backing David up throughout the album are the aforementioned JR Robinson on drums, Ken Wild on bass, percussion by Luis Conte, and the guitar stylings of Pat Kelley. The horn section is made up of Mike Cottone and Jamey Havorka on trumpet with trombone by Erm Navarro.

I highly recommend David Benoit and Friends. Buy it now; you won’t be disappointed. Here is the full track list:

  1. The Ballad of Jane Hawk (featuring Peter White and Tim Weisberg)
  2. Make It Real (featuring Lindsey Webster)
  3. Vernazza (this is the second song David performed in June) (featuring Dave Koz)
  4. Moon and Sand (Chet Baker cover, based on Kenny Burrell’s cover) (featuring Marc Antoine)
  5. Sly Fox
  6. How Deep is the Ocean (Irving Berlin standard) (featuring Rick Braun)
  7. Dave G. (featuring Vincent Ingala)
  8. Sienna Step
  9. Feel It Still (Portugal the Man cover)
  10. 96-132 Revisited
  11. Viva La Vida (Coldplay cover) (featuring Justin Cheung)

P.S. The title of this post refers to the late Gary Owens’s introduction to the Garfield and Friends theme song: “Ladies and gentlemen, Garfield and Friends!” The intro leads into two versions of the theme: “Friends are There” for the first two seasons and “Ready to Party” in subsequent seasons. David Benoit composed the music for two Garfield specials: Garfield’s Feline Fantasies and Garfield Gets a Life. Ed Bogas wrote music for Garfield and Friends.