jump to navigation

Instrumental Invasion, 9/21/22 September 22, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Comedy, Film, Game Shows, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Radio, TV, Video, Western.
add a comment

The September 21 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded on July 24 (third and first segments) and 25 (all the rest) with a pickup on the 26th.

The playlist was created simultaneously with last week’s show on July 17. Annotations followed on the 19th and the talk break script was drafted on the 22nd. I didn’t realize I had put so many blank-and/n-blank songs in the playlist until drafting the script.

I made another cartoon reference this week – to Freakazoid! – while talking up “Primal Scream” by Maynard Ferguson. The “Candle Jack” segment of episode 2 starts with Joe Leahy announcing that the cartoon would be “presented in SCREAM-O-VISION.” The excerpt leading into “Primal Scream” had Jeff Bennett as the prompter – “scream” in deadpan – and Tress MacNeille as the screamer. The day after I recorded that segment, I learned that David Warner, voice of The Lobe, had died of cancer. Paul Rugg – writer, producer, creator, and voice of Freakazoid – reminded his social media followers of The Lobe’s musical turn in episode 14, “Dexter’s Date.” In the spirit of “Hello, Dolly!,” Lobe, Freakazoid (as Louis Armstrong), and ancillary characters (including Jeff Bennett) sang “Bonjour, Lobey“:

Regarding the Dancing with the Stars tangent I went on in the third segment, a premiere date for season 31 hadn’t been announced when this week’s show was recorded. That date ended up being earlier this week – Monday, September 19. It’s their first season on Disney+, and that platform’s first live show. As noted last night, there are two hosts again, but the dynamic has shifted. Tyra Banks remains in the lead host role originally held by Tom Bergeron with Alfonso Ribeiro (season 19 champion) in the secondary role last held by Erin Andrews. Jessy J had a tenor sax solo during one of the dances!

In a similar vein, playing “Treasure Hunt” by Dan Siegel allowed me to refer to the two iterations of the game show Treasure Hunt. The New Treasure Hunt had a great closing theme: a jazzy rendition of Elmer Bernstein‘s “Main Title” piece for True Grit.

For the second week in a row, songs made their return appearance:

In between the two songs, I played “Don’t Stop” by Paul Brown, leading to my early Mike Chimeri Show anecdote. Go to the 2:13 mark in “anecdote” for my “wouldn’t you know it, they stopped” quip. Jay Mirabile also brought it up at the WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony in June.

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below:

For airchecking, I scheduled timer records in Audacity on my computer and the one in the guest room. The loopback recording on my computer was flawless, so I deleted the alternate guest room recording, loaded what I kept into Adobe Audition, and went through the usual post-production process.

Instrumental Invasion, 9/14/22 September 15, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Computer, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Technology, TV.
add a comment

The September 14 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded from July 22 to 24. The fourth segment was recorded on the 22nd because I rightly anticipated it would be the longest. That was followed on the 23rd by all but the last segment, which was recorded on the 24th along with pickups. I started recorded next week’s show later that day.

An additional pickup was recorded on August 26, the day after the untimely death of organist Joey DeFrancesco, who appeared on Lee Ritenour‘s “78th and 3rd” with drummer (and future collaborator) Byron “Wookie” Landham.

The playlist was created simultaneously with next week’s show on July 17 with annotations on the 18th and 19th. The talk break script was drafted on the 20th and 21st.

Three songs made their second appearance, one of which I’ll elaborate on in the next paragraph (two weeks in a row with a false memory):

I played “Angela” in order to correct my January 19 mistake, a mistake I also made in my pre-recorded 2019 Homecoming Weekend show. Listening to Jimmy Burrows‘s memoir on Audible, Directed by James Burrows, set me straight about the “Blind Date” episode of Taxi, featuring the titular character Angela Matusa (Suzanne Kent). (Oh, Suzanne was an original member The Groundlings! No wonder she did Pee-wee’s Playhouse!) Angela wasn’t literally blind; just gruff and cynical, the opposite of her answering service persona. I don’t know where the false memory originated, but I regret the twice-told error.

Nowhere else will you get a reference to SpongeBob SquarePants after playing “Secret Sauce” by Paul Brown (adjacent to the Krabby Patty secret formula that Plankton tries to steal) or to Phineas and Ferb after playing “Candice Dance” by Richard Elliot and a song featuring guitar solos by Perry Hughes (hence, the Perry the Playtpus reference). As noted on the air, Candace Flynn spelled her name differently.

After recording last week’s aircheck on my new PC, I noticed that audio levels were bumped up when certain songs faded out or on vocal pauses in liners and talk breaks. Those bump-ups were replaced with audio from an alternate aircheck on the Dell PC in the guest room. I chalked it up to an audio enhancement setting and thought to have that enhancement off this week. Sadly, the problem was still there this week. I wasted nearly three hours figuring out how to stop that from happening. I now assume it’s related to the motherboard’s “Audio Boost 5” feature.

Finally, at around 2:45 this morning, I came across this webpage. The solution was option 2:

Don’t have a Stereo Mix option? No problem. Audacity has a useful feature that can record the audio coming out of your computer – even without Stereo Mix. In fact, Audacity’s feature may be even better than Stereo Mix, assuming you’re willing to use Audacity to record the audio. This method takes advantage of a feature that Microsoft added in Windows Vista named the Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI) [link added by me]. The feature also functions in Windows 7, 8, and 10, and helps make up for the lack of a Stereo Mix option on modern Windows PCs.

In Audacity, choose the “Windows WASAPI” audio host, and then choose an appropriate loopback device, such as “Speakers (loopback)” or “Headphones (loopback).”

Click the Record button to start recording the audio in Audacity, and then click Stop when you’re done. Because you’re using Audacity, you can easily trim and edit the sound file when you’re done.

How to Record the Sound Coming From Your PC (Even Without Stereo Mix)

It’s ironic that the solution came via free software while a program I paid for years ago – Easy MP3 Recorder 2.0 – and one I pay for monthly – Adobe Audition – are no longer useful on the new build for recording system audio.

The angst caused by the problem is the reason this post wasn’t published until afternoon. I still needed to add these paragraphs and then scope the aircheck.

Click here to download that scoped aircheck or listen below:

The adventure of building my own PC September 10, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Computer, Internet, Personal, Photography, Technology.
add a comment

NOTE: This is a long post.

For 3 1/2 years, my bedroom/home studio desktop computer was a Dell XPS 8930 that I had custom built by Dell. All my PCs since 2011, laptop and desktop, had been customized and bought from either Dell or HP.

My needs have grown over time. Media production requires top-of-the-line parts. A video shouldn’t have a render time that’s triple its running time. Photo editors shouldn’t struggle to load files and apply effects, nor should they flicker when operating. On the audio front, it’s frustrating if the computer freezes while airchecking a radio show. That’s one reason I’ve been recording on my computer and the computer in the neighboring guest room: an HP Envy 750-170se, which was even slower than the XPS 8930. And the most annoying thing about the XPS is how its cooling fan screams during an intense task.

Thus, in July, I began searching for a new computer. I had already planned on buying a mirrorless Nikon Z7 II with IBIS (in-body image stabilization), higher maximum resolution, and lower minimum ISO. I’d get it with an FTZ II lens mount adapter so I could keep using my F-mount Nikkor all-in-one lens. (The vertical grip is enticing.) I eventually learned the Z cameras lack a built-in flash and I’d have to buy a speedlight attachment, as well. Review sites like this one recommend a top-of-the-line model, but Nikon recommends what the review site considers #2.

The potential customizations for Dell and HP PCs (desktop homepages here and here) were expensive, but limited in maximum storage and memory. My friends in the Discord chat servers for Technology Connections and Game Dave recommended building my own PC with individual parts. Newegg lets you create, save, and share custom build lists. I shared my build with the TC Discord and they suggested tweaks, which I made. I thought I’d need to double the RAM (random-access memory) of the XPS, from 64GB (gigabytes) to 128GB, but they said 64GB would be fine with the CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) I had in mind. 128GB would be overkill.

On the morning of August 27, I had an epiphany: buying the camera before the computer was putting the cart before the horse. I should buy a more powerful computer now (that morning), and save the more advanced camera for later (my birthday in November or Christmastime in December). I made final tweaks to the build to cut costs. I still had highly-rated components, but not as flashy. It all cost $2,890.79, with taxes and shipping yielding a grand total of $3,156.96. The shared build list can be viewed here. If you’re not on a smartphone or don’t have the Newegg app installed (iOS, Android), click the center arrow for full descriptions. 12:30 PM UPDATE: I’ve been told the Newegg build list link doesn’t work for some readers. So, here are direct links to each part (with Newegg’s descriptions):

All but one component arrived between August 30 and September 2:

Yes, I made a gargantuan oversight when picking a tower case: I didn’t check the dimensions! It’s 23.27 inches high, 9.84 wide, and 22.24 deep. No wonder it has straps for carrying at the top. Still, my dad told me that cases that big are better because they allow for more maneuverability during assembly.

The lone late arrival was the mechanical gaming keyboard, scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, September 6. Unfortunately, I wasn’t home to sign for it. Everything else arrived in the evening while I was home, but the UPS driver reached my house in the afternoon on a day when I was out. So, I had to pick it up the next day at my local CVS, a UPS Access Point location.

In the meantime, I was willing to use a spare keyboard temporarily and an old Dell wired USB mouse that I found in a basement storage box as the mouse for my build.

I could have started assembly on Friday, September 2, but bought a new FireWire (IEEE 1394) card on Amazon (this one) rather than swap out the one in my Dell XPS 8930. Amazon is also where I bought an ESD (electrostatic discharge) anti-static wrist strap (this one) to wear during assembly (clipped to the case) and two use licenses for Laplink PCmover Professional, my go-to data migration software since getting the XPS in February 2019 and an HP Omen 15t-dc000 laptop that January. The laptop was superseded by a Dell Alienware m15 R3 in December 2020. I mistakenly sprung for Dell Update, which wasn’t as good as PCmover. I held on to the Omen laptop until cleaning it out last week – uninstalling extra software and logging out of my Microsoft account – and donating it to my sister.

Exactly one week after my purchases – the morning of Saturday, September 3 – I prepped my desk’s computer compartment for its much bigger inhabitant. I unscrewed the door hinges (years after taking out the door), took out the drawer above it (uninhabited for about five years) and unscrewed the supports, removed the plank below the desk center, and unscrewed its supports. There was a cardboard backing behind the compartment that had been partially cut open when I first got the desk in 2004. There was clearance for the back of all computer towers until my build. So, I ripped out what was left.

When the FireWire card was delivered in the afternoon, I began assembling the computer on the guest room L-shaped desk. I had no idea what I was in for.

Hours passed as I struggled to decipher the manuals and juggle parts in my lap, falsely assuming it wouldn’t take long to assemble this to that. I had big trouble with the CPU cooler manual, reading the instructions left to right by column rather top to bottom by row. Somehow, the thermal paste held when I finally figured out how to secure it to the motherboard.

I mistakenly assumed I had to unscrew the motherboard’s back panel exterior before attaching it to the case. No! Why else would the screws be so small?! I had to unscrew the motherboard, re-screw the back panel exterior, then re-screw the board to the case.

Inserting the GPU/graphics card required unscrewing and removing a vertical expansion slot compartment, then removing multiple inserts to house the card. It was a pain fitting the card into the PCI Express slot, then re-screwing the open inserts and re-screwing the vertical compartment. I didn’t bother with the included bracket; the card stood up just fine.

The graphics card made RAM insertion tough, having to finesse them in.

I couldn’t properly screw in the SSD. I settled for barely connecting it with mismatched screws.

The easy parts of assembly were unscrewing the disposable parts of the tower case, screwing in the power supply (the first two things I did), inserting the SATA (Serial ATA) HDD, and attaching most connectors to the motherboard, whether for the components or the case’s front panel. The power LED positive and negative connectors were impossible to secure, but somehow I did.

I usually eat dinner around 4 or 5PM, but it wasn’t until 7PM that I paused assembly to cook and eat it. Then, back to work.

Thinking I had assembled everything, I closed the tower case at around 10:30 and prepped for bed.

After some sleep, I woke up Sunday morning, September 4, ready to turn the computer on, install Windows 11, and start migrating data. It wouldn’t turn on. Thankfully, with the help of Ganiman and Filbert from the Game Dave Discord, I attached connections to the power supply that were mislabeled and I thought were incompatible, but by golly, they all fit and the computer turned on! What a relief!

Notice that the BIOS build date is last December 17. It turns out that predates compatibility with Windows 11. My attempt to install yielded an error message. I figured out on my own to update the BIOS by downloading the latest firmware on the Dell, putting it on a flash drive, and loading it to the new build.

That did the trick. I actually had to install Windows 11 twice (another redo). I initially had it on the HDD, but Ganiman said the SSD is the better option for storing the OS.

After that, the long process of data migration began while I relaxed in my room.

After another night of some sleep, I resumed work on Labor Day morning; Monday, September 5. I moved my desk chair out of the way, disconnected and unplugged the Dell and moved it to the guest room. I left it on the floor and lugged the build into my room.

There’s very little space between the back of the desk and my wall, and less maneuverability for connecting cables. The tower case was too wide to turn towards me. The previous ones could be turned, allowing me to see the back panel from my contorted position to the left of the desk. This time, I had to consult the motherboard manual and connect by feel. Before I could do any of that, I considered placing the case outside to the left and moving the items that had been there – power strip, 8mm camcorder (for digitizing home videos), external FireWire converter (for analog video and audio from camcorders and VCRs) – into the compartment along with the external Blu-ray writer. Realizing that would be a waste of space, I put the tower back in and moved the camcorder and converter under the desk below the keyboard stand, where two 4-head Hi-Fi VCRs were situated. The camcorder went to the left of the VHS VCRs and the converter was seated on the right end of the top VCR. A/V cables were moved to the back.

Three hours later…

It was finally time to open PCmover on the HP Envy and Dell XPS (with the second use license) and transfer from one to the other. In order to see what I was doing, I connected the computers to an HDMI switch that I connected to the monitor, and alternated between them. An error message in PCmover on the Dell said there wasn’t enough room to transfer everything, even when I specified what data would go on the small 512GB SSD C: drive and the bigger 2TB (terabytes) HDD D: drive. Attempts to uninstall and pinpoint folders with the most data didn’t help much. Still another hour had passed once I gave up and transferred anyway.

While that was going on, I made up for lost time by eating a late breakfast in my room and heading to the basement for a treadmill run and weightlifting. After a shower, I checked on the transfer. Despite my specifications, data intended for the D: drive still went to the C:. There were only 10GB left on the C: drive, but clearing unnecessary data brought that number back to around 100GB. I cut and pasted the pictures, documents, music, and videos folder contents to the D: drive along with any other storage folders.

Satisfied, I turned off the computers, unplugged them, and disconnected cables. Then, I got an ultimately-time-consuming idea. Why not take the HDD out of the HP and put it in the Dell as a secondary data drive? Opening the two towers and removing the HDD was easy. Getting into the Dell was where time slipped away. I needed to print out pages from the XPS 8930 maintenance manual to figure out how to seat it. Attempts to remove the graphics card bracket failed, meaning I couldn’t took out the drive slot to screw the drive in place. After attaching the built-in power supply connector and using a spare SATA cable from the motherboard assembly kit, I opened the bag of unused zip ties (cable ties) from my tower case assembly kit and tried to secure the HDD to the slot with them. It worked, but I couldn’t put the right-side cover back on. I seated the drive upside down and the cables were in the way. I tried in vain to swap the straight and right-angle ends of the SATA cable. The zip ties had to be cut off. That’s when I gave up. The HDD would sit loosely in the slot, period. Now, the cover fit back in place and closed securely.

I screwed the HP Envy’s right-side cover back on (much easier), prepared for future disposal, and set up the Dell XPS in its place. I formatted the HP’s HDD and it was ready for use. The only problem was I accidentally allowed PCmover to transfer the built-in HP Recovery software and couldn’t remove it from any drive, not even the “new” one after formatting. Oh, well. I can live with that, too.

Ironically, all my hard labor took place over Labor Day Weekend.

Before I get to the aftermath portion, here are the rest of Monday’s photos:

Aftermath

Things seemed fine on my build once I acclimated to it, but I made another oversight that led to another living nightmare.

The first sign of trouble came Monday morning when I tried to change the built-in FireWire driver to a legacy driver I had used on prior computers. I would just disable the driver and make the change. Wrong! Disabling the drive crashed the computer and forced a reset. I did a test video capture with the irremovable driver and there weren’t any capture freezes (where it thinks there’s no signal) or dropped frames. So, I accepted my fate with the new driver.

The next sign of trouble came that evening when a trial version of Topaz Video Enhance AI froze while loading. Ending via the task manager (Control-Alt-Delete) seemed to help as it worked fine upon reloading. I used the program to test video upscaling speed; only slightly faster than on the XPS desktop and Alienware laptop.

The nightmare came on Tuesday, September 6. Apparently, my computers’ desktop folders are tied to my OneDrive account. Program shortcuts in that folder are visible on all computers. If the program isn’t on the computer, the shortcut goes nowhere and has a blank icon. To remedy this, I either deleted shortcuts or installed the software. The one program I thought to install on my build that was on my laptop was the Nox Android emulator for watching the Optimum TV app. I had been using Bluestacks 5, but at some point this year (when the app was still called Altice One), an update was introduced that rendered the app unusable beyond the login screen. A month ago, I looked for other emulators and found Nox. The app works on there. If Nox worked on my laptop, surely it would work on here. Blue screen of death wrong!

My first attempt to load the program caused the computer to lock up, but not prompt a BSoD. So, I simply reset. I immediately tried to load it again after logging back in and this caused a BSoD! I looked online for solutions and one told me to create a code that allows you to open “Windows without Hyper-V” instead of Windows 11, which I blamed for the nightmare. Hyper-V wasn’t even checked, but I put the code in anyway. It seemed promising when the load progress approached 90%, but bam!, another BSoD. I uninstalled Nox and removed the “Windows without Hyper-V” boot option. I shouldn’t have an emulator to watch the Optimum TV app on a computer in the same room as a DVR (digital video recorder).

At any point during assembly when I ran into trouble, hopelessness and self-doubt kicked in. In those moments, I thought I shouldn’t have done this, that I should have just bought from Dell or HP like I always had. I could add expansions once the pro build arrived. Well, when I entered BSoD hell Tuesday evening, the self-doubt and buyer’s remorse came back with a vengeance. My irrational mind screamed that I blew my money on a lemon, or that I’d have to pay a technician clean up my mess.

Someone in the Technology Connections Discord suggested I update the CPU chipset. All that did was lead to faulty audio and a BSoD with a different stop code, one that I remember: KERNEL_MODE_HEAP_CORRUPTION. The same one came seconds after logging in upon restart, and I didn’t even open anything. After that, I repeatedly typed the delete key to prompt the BIOS menu before Windows could boot. Then, I asked the Discord what to do next. While waiting for a response, I turned off the computer. When I turned it back on, the Windows Recovery environment launched. I was able to roll back to Tuesday morning, before I installed any problematic software. Then, I ran the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool. As it ran, the TC Discord – I was chatting on the Dell in the guest room at this point – recommended I download and install drivers for the motherboard and graphics card; yet another oversight. I should have done that on Sunday.

I downloaded the drivers, copied them to a flash drive, and installed them all on my computer once the memory diagnosis was complete and no problems were found. Then, I restarted and didn’t get a BSoD in the 20 minutes I was logged in before one more try at disabling the FireWire driver. That still caused a reset, but no BSoD afterward. I took two screenshots of the audio enhancing software included with the audio drivers and called it a night:

Overnight, I had dreams about BSoD and tweaking the motherboard. I woke up early Wednesday morning, September 7, and turned on my computer. There were no BSoD in the three hours it was on before leaving the house for the day. Topaz Video Enhance AI seemed to freeze, at least somewhat, when I tried it out, so I uninstalled it. If I want to upscale video, I’ll buy DaVinci Resolve 18.

Back at home that evening, the mechanical keyboard felt nice. It will take time to get used to and cut down on typos. The accompanying wrist rest, which attaches magnetically, was too thin and firm for comfort. So, I bought a cushy replacement.

I took a photo of the keyboard once I set it up, and screencapped a typing test:

As with the tower case, the keyboard has RGB backlighting and I chose static red as my color. Even the keyboard needed a firmware update, exemplified by a random disconnect and reconnect when I took my first break from typing. That hasn’t happened since the update. Part of the update is a program that lets you save your color preference and that regulates the backlighting, which turns off after five minutes of inactivity and turns back on next time you type.

The replacement wrist rest arrived yesterday – Friday, September 9. I tested the feel lined up with the keyboard and with the keyboard and rest separated by 3/4 inch. The second test felt better, so I secured it with three pieces of mounting tape; left, center, right.

Here’s the result:

As of today, September 10, my BSoD-free streak is intact (knock on wood), but there was no power to keyboard when I tried to log in after turning on the computer, requiring a disconnect and reconnect before entering my PIN. A minute or so later, neither the keyboard nor mouse functioned properly, and both had to be disconnected and reconnected. Checking Windows Update revealed that a USB driver update was pending. That must have been the culprit.

Here’s hoping my build lasts as long as five years before any replacements are necessary. I will surely replace my desk before then, an open kind with easy access to the tower. (Maybe this one?) Until then, thank you for reading about the week-long adventure of building my own PC and the growing pains that followed.

Instrumental Invasion, 9/7/22: Dan Ingram Tribute September 8, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Game Shows, History, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Pop, Radio, Rock, TV.
add a comment

The September 7 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was a tribute to the late New York radio personality Dan Ingram on what would have been his 88th birthday. The tribute came 18 years after I played my re-creation of his closing theme edit of “Tri-Fi Drums” by Billy May and His Orchestra (from Wild Stereo Drums) to close The Instrumental Invasion that aired on Dan’s 70th. This tribute covered most of the show. The theme was songs that start with a letter in any of the call letters of stations Dan worked for. Talk breaks were supplemented by edits of jingles, led by my mashup of a WCWP jingle with the bell at the end of the WABC Chime Time jingle:

As I said on the air, thanks to Allan Sniffen and Jon Wolfert for their inspiration. I absorbed Big Dan’s lore from repeatedly listening to archives of The Life and Times of Dan Ingram: In His Own Words that Allan produced for Rewound Radio, and Jon’s The History of Musicradio WABC Jingles, also for Rewound Radio.

The show playlist was created on July 5 and annotated on the 6th, followed by the talk break script draft that carried into the 7th.

Unlike previous weeks, the show was mostly recorded sequentially, two segments per day from July 8 to 10. I recorded the last segment before recording the fifth because I anticipated going over or cutting it close. Instead, I was 14 seconds short, increasing my surplus to 22 seconds. The fifth segment dropped the surplus to 12 seconds. In the process of recording pickups on the 10th, with 12 seconds left to make up, I remixed the second and fourth segments that I painstakingly tweaked to run exactly 18 minutes during initial recording. The third talk break of the second segment was originally speed compressed and I cut my quip about most Love Connection contestants going home solo (a false memory, as the linked entry reminds me) – playing off the name of Julian Vaughn‘s album with “Love Connection” on it. I redid the entire talk break at regular speed with the quip included. Thus, that segment went 8 seconds over and the fourth went 4 over, completing the 18-minute average I strive for.

Speaking of “love,” “jeg elsker deg” (pronounced “yale skaday”) means “I love you” in Norwegian and the “I love you” vocal in Nick Colionne‘s cover of “Hurry Up This Way Again” (on Arrival) allowed me to reference Dan Ingram’s on-air affirmation while married to Norway native Anita Strand.

Enough talk. Click here to download the (tele)scoped aircheck MP3 or listen below:

This was my first aircheck (mostly) recorded from a new computer. More about that in an upcoming post.

Bonus material:

Instrumental Invasion, 8/31/22 September 1, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Education, Football, Internet, Jazz, Media, Personal, Radio, Sports, Travel.
2 comments

The August 31 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded over three days: two segments on July 2, three on the 3rd, and one on the 4th before intermittent daytime fireworks began. Pickups were recorded on the 4th and 5th.

The playlist was created on the morning of June 27 before the marathon recording session of the August 17 show and last week’s first segment. Annotations began on June 28, but were delayed until July 1. First, on the 28th, an opportunity arose to record the second hour of last week’s show. I was preoccupied with ripping and editing tracks from two Maynard Ferguson CD album bundles on the 29th. (The bundles contained releases between 1974 and ’79.) On the 30th, new Bluetooth reference monitors arrived and initially worked, but interference led to incessant stuttering. Plus, without a wired connection, I couldn’t record computer audio from “stereo mix.” Installing a virtual cable worked temporarily, but didn’t last. I exchanged the Bluetooth monitors for their cheaper wired equivalent, even though the ones I replaced also had wired connections. Then, I got a 6-foot male-to-male Y-splitter to run from the computer to the input jacks on the left monitor. The computer end is 1/8-inch TRS and the monitor end is dual 1/4-inch TS.

The talk break script was drafted on July 1 and 2.

I recorded the segments wildly out of sequence because I knew that the last talk break would be really long, though not three minutes long! Even by removing ancillary sentences and speed compression, the segment still ended up 57 seconds over! With that in mind, the remaining segments were recorded in order of what I presumed to be shortest. Most anecdotes and callbacks were scrapped from the script, but among those left in were the Penn State allusions: about returning from my sister’s graduation in 2005 and about the legendary 1994 season of Nittany Lions football. Their 2022 football season starts tonight (Thursday night) at Purdue!

As the playlist shows, the other segment recorded July 2 was the fifth segment, making up 13 seconds. On July 3, I worked on the third segment (adding back six seconds), fourth segment (making up 15 seconds), and second segment (making up 21). I was left with a net overage of 14 seconds, but I removed one further anecdote from the last talk break, and that allowed me to break even. All that remained was a tight 18 minutes on the 4th, which I accomplished. Hallelujah. Incidental to that first segment, Fred Wesley, the trombonist on “Theme from Good King Bad” by George Benson, was born on the Fourth of July!

For the third week in a row, I swapped out the second 2017-present segment, this time opting for a second 1985-95.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 8/24/22 August 25, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
add a comment

The August 24 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded in two days: one segment on June 27 (after all of last week’s show) and the other five on June 28, plus a pickup on the 29th. I haven’t recorded two shows in two days since the first two Wednesday night shows ever, back in April 2020 (April 1, April 8), and that was a stretch of six shows recorded in six days. (The talk breaks for the first and fourth show were recorded before producing multitrack segments for each segment.)

The playlist was created on June 22 and annotated on the 23rd (after finishing last week’s annotations) and 24th. The talk break script was drafted on the 26th (a day after last week’s script).

I recorded all the talk breaks for the last two segments before making their multitrack sessions, after doing the same for the first segment of hour two. I did not anticipate running short in the last segment, which required me to retroactively add 25 seconds to the first segment of the show. Thankfully, I didn’t have to record pickups.

For the second week in a row, I swapped out one of the 2017-present segments since I didn’t have much music to play from new albums. I moved the one that remained to the middle of hour 2 and added a 1996-2006 segment. To that end, this was also the second week in a row with a song from Larry Carlton‘s Fingerprints album and second show in the last three with a song from Ken Navarro‘s The Grace of Summer Light. And as it happens, I’d gone exactly 26 months between playing songs from Dan Siegel‘s The Hot Shot and 52 weeks between songs from Nelson Rangell‘s Always.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

2022 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo recap August 21, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Aviation, Books, Education, History, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Podcast, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Previous LI Retro recaps: 2017 (Sunday), 2018, 2019
Spinoff recaps: UPLINK (2020), Festival of Games (2021)

Part 1: Introduction

The Long Island Retro Gaming Expo‘s long-awaited return came on Friday, August 12, after a three-year COVID-caused absence. Yes, the expo was expanded to three days starting this year, running from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. The venue was the same as always: the Cradle of Aviation Museum, situated along Museum Row in East Garden City on the former site of Mitchel Air Force Base.

The purported 2020 edition of LI Retro was announced in February of that year. I immediately bought a weekend pass (still just two days). Little did anyone know that the faraway disease then referred to as the Coronavirus would reach the United States a few weeks later. As COVID-19 spread and a pandemic grew, venues shut down and events were either canceled or postponed. LI Retro’s postponement came that May. 2020 tickets would be honored in ’21. UPLINK, a virtual expo, was scheduled in its place on August 8 and 9. Of course, I attended and wrote a recap.

Even as vaccines were rolled out going into 2021, the organizers felt it was too soon to resume. Thus, they postponed again to ’22; and again, tickets for the postponed years would be honored. Another edition of UPLINK was held virtually in February. I attended, but was overwhelmed by the amount of transcribing and note-taking I’d have to do for the panels I planned on watching. So, I abandoned the recap in favor of continued radio show production.

Last December, LI Retro held its first annual one-day Festival of Games. I was in and out within two hours after a photographic walking tour (similar to the one you’ll see later in this post), arcade game sampling, and buying games from vendors. There was a recap for that.

As August drew closer, a third day of LI Retro was introduced. I considered attending, but opted to stick to the weekend.

With a week to go, I feared I’d compulsively take too many photos, a habit that’s gotten out of hand (i.e. Memorial Day boat ride, June 18 Mets game). I only took 353 photos at another Mets game on August 10, but sure enough, I went overboard at LI Retro. To that end, this is the first post with photo galleries.

The bulk of my photos were shot with my DSLR, but I took supplemental photos with my iPhone.

I arrived at the Cradle of Aviation Museum at 10:06 AM on Saturday:

Within 15 minutes, I was inside. I walked to the box office and handed my ticket to the attendant in exchange for a badge. “Finally,” I told her, “after 2 1/2 years, I get to use this [ticket].” She handed me my badge and my adventure began.

Part 2: Panels

My first panel – after meeting and greeting, and photographing the vendor rooms, was by Brett Weiss. “I Survived the Video Game Crash of 1983” began at 11AM in Panel Room 2. I joined it in progress, grabbing a front row seat, but oddly holding back on photos.

Brett talked about his experiences with arcade games and home video game consoles from the second generation into the third, and how the rise of home computers played a role in the 1983 crash.

During the Q&A session at the end, I relayed (but didn’t ask, so I apologized) my video game experience growing up. I was a home (and school) computer guy, fluent with Apple II, and my sister and I received an NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) in February 1990, as the third home video game console generation gave way to the fourth.

The book in the last photo is the one I bought from Brett afterward.

After snacking on a protein bar, I entered the Main Theatre for Pat Contri and Ian Ferguson’s 12:30 PM panel. I spoke to Pat and Ian during my meet and greet session two hours earlier, reminding them that I met them in 2019 and immersed myself in content from Pat’s YouTube channel after buying (at their merchandise table) the four DVD sets of Pat the NES Punk and the book Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library. I subsequently bought the SNES guide. I wrote reviews of each – NES, SNES. (And you can buy the DVDs and books here.) This year, I bought two stickers and a CU Podcast (Completely Unnecessary Podcast) t-shirt. It was the last large size they had. I said I’d probably get along swimmingly with Frank, Pat’s older friend from New Jersey who settled in San Diego before Pat and Ian made their respective moves there.

Pat and Ian’s panel was a live portion of their next episode of the CU Podcast. Before it started, and while I settled into my front row seat, the volunteer assigned to the theater asked them to “say something into the microphone” as a mic check. Ian jokingly parroted the request: “say something into the microphone.” I amusingly replied, “I knew you were gonna say that.”

Continuing from prior episodes, Pat and Ian criticzed Tommy Tallarico and his vaporware console that would have been (or could still be?) the Intellivision Amico. On display above them was the console’s leaked “fact book.” There will be audio and video, but first, the photos:

You can hear the panel-turned-podcast-episode here. My portion of the Q&A starts at 1:57:08, but I’ve clipped it here:

The word I used to describe Frank was “luddite.” Yes, I stumbled on the title Ancient Aliens, coming out as “ancient alenins.”

And this is a video excerpt from the panel – shot with the iPhone on the table – that was posted to Pat’s YouTube channel:

I was the voice at 16:44 saying that Sean Astin narrated a video game documentary. I was thinking of Video Games: The Movie, but a comment to the video said the fact sheet was referencing the later docuseries called Playing with Power: The Nintendo Story.

I liked Ian’s quaint pronunciation of wanton, “wonton” instead of “wantin’.”

Video of the Q&A portion:

My questions start at 18:26, “Tommy” starts at 25:13.

Theater guests had to exit on the third floor, so I bode my time by taking photos of the few console freeplay tables there. Then, I snapped pics for most of the second floor exhibits prior to the Axinn Air and Space Museum Hall entrance. I saved that for after the 2PM panel back in the theater.

In that 2PM panel, John Blue Riggs performed a live ROM hack of Super Mario Bros. for the NES, the first game I played in February 1990 via the Duck Hunt combo cart. With the right software, John imported tiles from whatever NES game ROMs the audience requested, and he altered the SMB code to altered the colors and text. Let the editing begin!

I spoke to John during the meet and greet, letting him know that like his son, I am on the autism spectrum, specifically with what used to be called Asperger Syndrome. While at his table, I bought a Sega Genesis ROM hack that put Scott Pilgrim from his titular video game in Streets of Rage 2. We posed for a photo, but when I got home, I was dismayed to find that my DSLR’s lens didn’t focus on us when his tablemate Dave took our photo. They graciously allowed a do-over with my iPhone Sunday morning.

Here is John’s aforementioned vlog of his LI Retro experience:

I’m in the vlog at 13:30, going through my DSLR camera roll before John’s panel. At 19:56, he and Dave ate at Friendly’s in nearby East Meadow. I ate there with my girlfriend Kelly during her visit in April.

After the panel, I photographed what I believed to be nearly every other nook and cranny of the freeplay and tournament areas. John saw much more than I did.

The last item on my Saturday agenda was to buy games from vendors. (See the end of part 4.)

The combination of excitement from earlier in the day and a loud block party somewhere south of my house kept me from relaxing and easing into sleep. I probably slept two to four hours, at best.

I arrived at day three of the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo at around 10:30 AM. I met Justin, Marshall, and Kieran from Cinemassacre/Screenwave Media (and bought Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie), got the second chance photo with Riggs, and hung out at Leonard Herman‘s table. I’ve known Lenny (to his friends and family) since meeting him at the 2018 LI Retro and then reviewing his video game history book, Phoenix IV. In 2019, I met his associate Jeff, and this year, I was honored to meet Patrick Wong and Mark W. Baer, the middle child of Dena and Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of videogames (one word). They’re all nice and friendly, and it was my pleasure buying Ralph’s book Videogames in the Beginning, and Kate Hannigan‘s biographical children’s book, Blips on a Screen. I will definitely read that to Leo F. Giblyn School students next March, another annual tradition of mine.

Lenny and Mark’s panel was at 11:30 AM in Panel Room 2. Again, I sat in the front row. Lenny grew to be like a surrogate son to Ralph, and the brotherly love between he and Mark was on display throughout the panel, especially in the first two pics.

I linked to it in the gallery, but here again is Ralph and Bill Harrison’s 1969 Brown Box demo:

Part 3: Meet and greet photos

Lenny Herman and Mark Baer:

Patrick Wong:

Jeff, in his Pac-Man suit:

Brett Weiss:

Pat Contri and Ian Ferguson:

John Riggs:

The Cinemassacre/Screenwave Media crew, Justin and Marshall:

…and I met Kieran while browsing a vendor’s games:

You’ll see merchandise and games in the pickups portion of this recap.

Part 4: Touring the expo

Musical performance: 88bit (a.k.a. Rob Kovacs):

88bit was featured in John Riggs’s vlog.

The other performers were ConSoul, Retro & Chill, and Super Thrash Bros. (also in John’s vlog).

The line ahead of the cosplay contest, held Saturday at 3:30 PM in the Main Theatre:

High score challenges:

Galaga:

Just Dance 4 (to “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley):

Tournaments:

Game Boy Selfie Station with the Game Boy Camera and Printer:

Console freeplay:

Indie and homebrew games:

Arcade freeplay:

PC freeplay:

Before I left for home on Sunday, I tried out some console and arcade freeplay games, but not PC games. Maybe next year. The console games I played were Joust (Atari 7800), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Donkey Kong Country (Super Nintendo), and Virtua Tennis (Sega Dreamcast). The arcade games I attempted were Space Invaders, Arkanoid, NARC, VS. Hogan’s Alley, Ms. Pac-Man, and Mortal Kombat.

I even gave LJN Video Art a try. It was just as finicky as The Angry Video Game Nerd (James Rolfe) made it out to be.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a TV running the WeatherStar 4000 simulator, a tribute to The Weather Channel local forecasts/Local on the 8s in the 1990s (check TWC Classics for examples):

Vendor Room:

Vendor Room annex (“More Vendors”), also home to meet and greets (and the food court):

When I was finished taking photos on Saturday, I began making the rounds in the vendor room to pickup video games. I vowed not to spend more than $25 on a game, and with one exception, I honored my vow. I successfully haggled when necessary, paying $15 for $17 worth of games, $20 for $23 worth, and $30 for $33 worth. Otherwise, one vendor discounted $7 from my $132 total and another had a two for $10 deal if you bought two $6 games. The only game I bought priced above $25 was the Xbox port of The Simpsons: Hit & Run, which was $35. It was my last purchase before leaving on Saturday. My last two purchases on Sunday were Legacy of the Wizard and Rolling Thunder, both for NES.

I was satisfied with my pickups, which brings us to…

Part 5: Pickups

Saturday pickups:

Merchandise:

Non-merchandise in the photo: Leonard Herman and Brett Weiss business cards, Schiffer Publishing and Classic Home Video Games bookmarks

NES (Nintendo Entertainment System):

Sega Master System:

Super NES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System):

Nintendo 64:

Nintendo GameCube:

Microsoft Xbox:

Nintendo Wii:

I’d wanted The Simpsons: Hit & Run ever since it was lauded in the Game Sack video on Simpsons games. (Click here to start at the relevant portion.) Epic Mickey was on my mind after seeing it on Friday in a 2017 Cygnus Destroyer video on his Top 10 Disney Games. I didn’t think to check the condition of the discs before buying, and was disappointed to see their scuffed appearance on Saturday night. You’ll see below that Epic Mickey 2 was one of my Sunday pickups from a vendor that also had the original game. All discs at his booth were in pristine condition. I lamented my mistake from the day before, chalking it up to a lesson learned. This Nintendo link taught me a positive lesson on Sunday night: how to clean discs. Monday night, I took dampened part of a washcloth and wiped Epic Mickey from left to right, line by line, then did the same with a dry part of the washcloth. The game played flawlessly in my Wii U. Tuesday morning, I did the same to Hit & Run and had the same positive result in my Xbox 360. Hit & Run was more fun and intuitive to play than Epic Mickey.

Sunday pickups:

Merchandise:

Non-merchandise in the photo: signed copy of The Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) signed by Justin (brought from home after seeing their booth on Saturday), Ralph Baer commemorative coins (one shown from the front, one from the back), my Game Boy Camera print from the Selfie Station, my weekend badge with Jovia lanyard

I watched the AVGN movie in 2019 on Amazon Prime Video, but it was later delisted. Now, I own a Blu-ray copy. They can’t take that away from me.

NES:

Xbox:

Wii:

It may be a while before I get a Super Scope, but the Saturday after LI Retro, I bought a Wii Balance Board, Wii Fit U, and a Wii Fit U Fit Meter. Now, I can play all the Wii Fit games and track my steps.

Just as AVGN made Ikari Warriors infamous (outtakes), Wii Music’s bad reputation stems from the crazy demo at E3 2008. I almost bought still another infamous NES game, Deadly Towers, on the Saturday of the expo, but relented.

Part 6: Conclusion

All good things must come to an end, and my time at the 2022 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo ended at 2:05 PM on Sunday, August 14. I took two parting shots with my iPhone before riding home:

Thank you for making it to the end of my recap. I know there was a lot to process, and it was a labor of love to draft the post. Patience was required often as WordPress struggled to display the text I typed, presumably because of all the photos and captions.

Thank you to all the guests I met and reacquainted with, to the vendors I bought from, and my fellow attendees, like budding game designer Brandon.

Special thanks to the LI Retro organizers and volunteers, especially Ryan Shapiro. You were all friendly and highly accommodating. I greatly appreciate that.

Until next year, so long.

Instrumental Invasion, 8/17/22 August 18, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Baseball, Comedy, Health, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Radio, Sports, Travel, TV.
add a comment

The August 17 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded entirely on June 27, along with the first segment of next week’s show, the most segments I’ve recorded in one day. Coincidentally, this came five days after the previous show recorded in one day aired. June 22’s show was recorded entirely on April 18, but whereas that was the last show produced before the Smooth Jazz for Scholars hiatus, this was the first show after the WCWP Hall of Fame hiatus.

The playlist was created on June 21 while I was in the early stages of what turned out to be an ear infection. COVID-19 was ruled out by two negative home tests (that day and on the 23rd), and a doctor trip on the 24th showed it was an ear infection rather than my fallback assumption of a cold. Since my voice was compromised, albeit slightly, I chose to start working on next week’s show, annotating and talk break script drafting simultaneously with the intent to record them both once I was better. (I still sounded nasal while recording.) This week’s show was annotated on the 23rd with the first two segments of the next show, and the talk break script was drafted on the 25th.

I continued the new habit of recording segments out of sequence to determine which to shorten, accommodating for ones that run long.

It was the second week in a row with only two songs in the middle segments of each hour. The “Shim Wha” gag came to mind while listening to The Dave Brubeck Quartet‘s Time Changes album on the way back from the Mets’ 3-2 win over the Marlins at Citi Field on June 18. I combined all the photos I took at that game in a slideshow that’s part of this blog post. I hope to have the slideshow of photos from last Wednesday’s game finished before October.

The “Cahla” gag for “Carla” by Peter Horvath had been in mind since watching every episode of Cheers on Netflix over a few weeks in March 2017.

Speaking of 2017, with a lack of music to play from new releases, I replaced the first 2017-present segment with another 1984 and earlier segment.

Click here to download this week’s aircheck MP3 or listen below:

The aircheck includes a new promo I recorded on Tuesday.

9:10 AM UPDATE: It’s been a while since I made a mistake that went unnoticed until after airing, but I made one here. Jay Beckenstein did play soprano sax on “Captain Karma” by Spyro Gyra, but his solo was on alto.

Instrumental Invasion, 8/10/22 August 11, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Aviation, Baseball, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Sports, Travel.
add a comment

The August 10 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP took a week to record. While the first hour was done entirely on June 10, WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony post-production left me little time to record the second hour: one segment per day on June 13, 15, and 16.

The playlist was created alongside last week’s show on June 5 and 6. I worked on each show’s first hour and middle of their second hour on the 5th, and the 2017-present segments on the 6th. Annotations for this week’s show were written on the 7th, and each show’s talk break script was drafted on the 8th.

Once again, I recorded under 18 minutes in a given segment to allow for more time in any that run long. The first hour was recorded out of sequence, with the third segment done first so I knew how short to make the first and second. That third segment was initially 18:33, so I allowed myself to go 25 seconds under in the first and 8 in the second. When I finally mixed down the third segment, I took off a second, meaning I was still one total second under. The total increased to 13 seconds as hour 2’s middle segment was 12 short. The last talk break only had to be shortened slightly to accommodate the extra 13 for the last segment.

As I said in Sunday’s post about the Mets game I went to on June 18, I was back at Citi Field yesterday with my dad and sister. On our way home after the game, while on the Belt Parkway, I saw an Iberia plane on its final approach to JFK Airport. Then, I remembered I played “Iberia” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet in this week’s second segment. It was the second of only two songs in that segment; the other was “The Epic,” a very long Pat Metheny Group tune.

In hour 2, I played Anders Enger Jensen‘s “Yamaha Reface DX and Roland CR-1000 Song.” This is the 8-Bit Keys video he wrote it for:

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

June 18 Mets-Marlins game photo slideshow August 7, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, Video.
add a comment

Back on June 18, I traveled to Citi Field with my dad, his fellow members of Freeport Fire Department’s Truck 1, and their families. We had Promenade level tickets – left field side – to the New York Mets‘ 4:10 game against the Miami Marlins. The Mets won the game 3-2.

I brought my Nikon D5500 and superzoom lens to take photos from start to finish. I compulsively took over 700 photos, whittled down to 524 after several weeks of stop and go editing. (Having a weekly radio show limits my free time.) On top of that, I took eight photos with my iPhone 13 Pro as I walked along the Promenade to get a ReadyCARD prepaid debit card in the team store and use some of that money on a collectible bowl of Mister Softee. (Dad treated me to chicken fingers and fries before the game.) When I got home around 10PM – everyone else wanted to stop for pizza in Howard Beach – I cleaned the bowl with soap and water, soaking it overnight to get out the ice cream smell. I rinsed in the morning and the smell was gone. The bowl became my new pen and marker holder, as seen the morning of Tuesday, June 21:

I couldn’t possibly post all 532 photos I took at Citi Field, so I painstakingly combined them into a video slideshow on Friday and yesterday, complete with planes on their final approach to LaGuardia Airport. It’s 11 minutes and 11 seconds long.

Dad and I head back to Citi Field on Wednesday with my sister for a 1:10 game against the Cincinnati Reds. This time, we’re at field level on the first base side. I hope to take no more than 150 photos.

Without further ado, the June 18 slideshow, set to the live version of “While the World Slowly Turns” by Brian Hughes:

As a bonus for those who made it to the end, here is the featured image (thumbnail):