March 14 winter storm pictures March 15, 2017Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography, Weather.
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It was a quiet 29 days following last month’s blizzard. Despite that, I kept snow shovels on the front porch just in case there was at least one more storm before spring. As it turns out, there were two. The first storm, which came through last Friday, delivered a few inches of wet snow which barely accumulated on pavement. I only had to shovel one strip of the driveway where wet snow did accumulate and wouldn’t melt in the warm March sun.
The second storm was to come yesterday and it was expected to be a massive blizzard that would drop a foot or more of snow amid strong gusty winds. As impact approached, the forecast track shifted west. Sleet was expected to mix with the snow, limiting accumulation to a foot at most. Some computer models were expecting a change to rain, which would limit snowfall even more. That’s what ended up happening.
I woke up at around 7AM to the sound of sleet pelting my east-facing window. The changeover had happened after only a few inches of snow accumulated. In the next hour, sleet began to mix with, and change to, rain. The rain turned the snowfall to slush, but didn’t wash it away. That’s where I came in. I went outside just before 9:00 and shoveled the driveway except for its edge in case snow plows came through again. I wouldn’t want my work to be undone in that area.
It was grueling. Shoveling a few inches of slush is much tougher than shoveling a foot of powdery snow. Plus, in spite of gloves, my fingers were cold. After an hour of laborious shoveling, they were numb and my outer layers of clothes were soaked. Running warm water on my fingers when I got back inside turned the numbness into painful prickling for several seconds. It wore off after a minute.
Luckily, the rain never changed back to snow and the snow plows didn’t return. So, I shoveled the edge of the driveway around 3:30 while temperatures were still above freezing. There was a brief snow shower early in the evening, but it merely coated a few spots.
Watching YouTube and playing video games March 8, 2017Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, History, Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Technology, TV, Video Games.
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After about a year of watching TV shows, movies, documentaries, and comedy specials on Netflix in my downtime, I nearly ran out of things to watch. As a result, I turned my attention to YouTube. I watched several episodes of Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Game Sack, and Gaming Historian on there last year. But in the last month, I’ve re-watched Game Sack and Gaming Historian episodes, and binge watched The 8-Bit Guy/8-Bit Keys and My Life in Gaming. This post is about how I discovered the channels I frequent.
I discovered Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show last year while looking for interviews of Kevin on YouTube. I was listening to his book, How I Slept My Way to the Middle, on Audible last March, and was completely unaware of his chat show, which he’s had since 2009. In the two months that followed, I watched episodes with guests who I was familiar with or whom I didn’t expect to express their political beliefs. Once I was caught up, I would watch new archived episodes two days after they streamed live. I tried watching one episode live, but I focused more on the chat room discussion than the interview. For a few months, the KPCS YouTube channel was down; all videos were gone. Eventually, they were restored and I resumed watching new episodes.
I found Gaming Historian while looking for longplay video game videos like they have at World of Longplays. What I got instead was informative historical documentaries on video game franchises, consoles, companies, and industry executives. Norman Caruso does a great job.
I discovered Game Sack, a channel run by Joe Redifer who co-hosts with his friend Dave White, via suggested videos after watching some Gaming Historian episodes. Each episode features playthroughs and critiques by Joe and Dave of the same categories I listed for Gaming Historian, as well as video game genres. The videos are entertaining, informative, humorous, and well-spoken; a perfect blend.
David Murray is the 8-Bit Guy. His videos focus on retro technology such as computers, digital cameras, and the aforementioned video game consoles. A video about video game music in the 8-bit era was suggested to me after a Game Sack episode. That video inspired David to start the 8-Bit Keys channel, which focuses on synthesizers and keyboards. I binged watched those videos a few weeks ago while recovering from an upper respiratory infection.
I support the latter three YouTubers on Patreon. Searching for other YouTubers to support on that site led me to My Life in Gaming. I watched an episode or two and became hooked. It’s hosted by two friends named Coury Carlson and Marc Duddleson (aka Try4ce). Their videos range from masterclasses on video game consoles and hardware for capturing gameplay to live streams of gameplay. Similar to Gaming Historian and Game Sack, they also have videos devoted to video games and VG developers. They even had a series of “How to Beat” videos which parodied 1990s VHS tips videos. Here’s one of them.
All these videos inspired me to buy NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), Game Boy, Super NES, and Sega Genesis video games to add to my collection. I even bought a refurbished Xbox 360 with a wireless controller a couple of weeks ago. Once it arrived, I bought several pre-owned games at a nearby Gamestop. They include puzzle games, quiz games, racing games, kart racers, and platformers. The game I’ve played the most thus far is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. I bought the Xbox 360 because it’s backward compatible with most Xbox games which I plan on eventually getting. I also have in mind the Playstation 3 because of its backward compatibility with PS1 and PS2. If only the PS4 and Xbox One were backward compatible with all their predecessors.
Getting back to YouTube, there are two more channels I’d like to discuss. For a couple of years, I’ve been subscribed to a channel called Prager University. It was created by talk radio host Dennis Prager as “an online video resource promoting knowledge and clarity on life’s biggest and most interesting topics.” The channel “gather[s] some of the world’s best thinkers and distill[s] their best ideas into free, 5-minute videos on things ranging from history and economics to science and happiness.” One video led me to another channel. It was by Dave Rubin, a former left-wing ideologue who is now a free-thinking, open-minded classical liberal. After watching that video, YouTube suggested another video from Dave’s channel, The Rubin Report. Now, I’m hooked on that, too. I haven’t binge watched videos, but I have seen his commentaries and most recent interviews. Not only is Dave a political commentator, but he’s also a gamer. He played through Contra on the NES in his latest live stream video.
If you like video games and/or politics, I recommend you give these channels a try. They’ve given me hours of information and enjoyment. Thank you all.
Guest reading at my old elementary school a third time March 6, 2017Posted by Mike C. in Books, Education, Personal, Photography.
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I was back at Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport last Thursday to read Dr. Seuss books on the week of his birthday for the third year in a row. But that wasn’t all. I also helped with the morning announcements by reading a Dr. Seuss-inspired poem/quiz. My delivery style received praise from teachers and students alike.
I read a variety of books this year. The book I read to most classes was The Cat in the Hat. I also read Horton Hatches an Egg; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; My Many Colored Days; and Gerald McBoing Boing, the first book I read two years ago.
As usual, I incorporated voice acting into my reading, which led to cartoon character requests afterward. I even got requests for presidential impressions.
My sister Lauren told me on Friday that the school was still buzzing about me a day later. That made me beam with pride, just as I was beaming when I was there on Thursday.
9PM UPDATE: This afternoon, I received a gift bag of food from Trader Joe’s with a card that read as follows:
Thank you so much for all your help on each and every Dr. Seuss/Read Across America Day at Giblyn. Thank you especially this year! ♥ You were really the star of the day. Your talent in reading, voices, and photography ensures a successful day!
–The Giblyn Reading Dept.
February 9 blizzard pictures February 10, 2017Posted by Mike C. in Health, Personal, Photography, Video, Weather.
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This is my 400th post!
After the January 7 snowstorm, I was prepared for a bombardment of similar storms, or even blizzards. But outside of light snow the following Saturday and last Tuesday, the rest of January was relatively quiet. The only heavy precipitation to affect Wantagh was rain. There was the potential for a snowstorm on Super Bowl Sunday, but it never materialized. Relieved, I let my guard down. Last Friday, I told my friend Rob that I didn’t expect anymore big storms the rest of the season.
I was wrong.
On Monday, I learned that there was another storm on the horizon, and this one would not miss us. And as usual, the forecast for yesterday’s storm, ironically on the heels of unseasonably warm conditions on Wednesday, worsened as it approached. 6 inches of snow was the max in Monday’s forecast, rising to 10 inches, and then 14. Also, the winter storm warning was upgraded to a blizzard warning because the wind forecast increased. (Coincidentally, there was a blizzard four years ago yesterday.)
As snow fell yesterday, I went about my daily routine inside, including running on the treadmill for the first time in two years. At around 12:30, it seemed like the snow was about to end, but the radar filled up with more snow while I was on the treadmill. Snow didn’t end until around 4:00. 20 minutes later, my sister Lauren and I shoveled the driveway.
I brought an 18-inch ruler outside with me to measure snow in the middle of the driveway. I was surprised to only measure 8 inches of snow. Assuming that wasn’t the resulting of drifting, we were lucky. Nearby North Massapequa received a foot. Shoveling took about an hour. Thank you, Lauren, for your help.
This brings us to a photographic timeline that begins early in the blizzard and ends after shoveling:
And here’s a video timeline:
Light snow with less than an inch of accumulation is forecast for tonight and rain is expected on Sunday. High temperatures will be above freezing every day for the next week. That should speed up the melting process.
I’ve learned my lesson: I’m not declaring in the middle of the season that we’ve had our last snow of the season. In fact, I expect at least two more snowstorms before spring. After they strike, I’ll post about them here.
January 7 snowstorm & January 8 aftermath pictures January 10, 2017Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography, Weather.
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The first significant snowfall of the season came on Saturday when Wantagh received about 9 inches of snow. The initial forecast that I saw on Thursday called for a third of that, but as with most winter storms, the forecast track moved closer and closer with each run. I was prepared for up to a foot, but we were a few inches short. This is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to forecasting winter storms and snow accumulation. Either the forecast starts high and goes down or it starts low and goes up and up and up. That’s what happened here, and I doubt it will be the last time that happens this season.
Nonetheless, I felt I needed to photograph the storm and its aftermath for posterity. Below is a photographic timeline from the latter half of the storm to the day after:
Snow was tapering off, but still accumulating. I chose to shovel anyway and shovel new accumulation in the morning.
As I type, milder temperatures are forecast for the next few days with rain coming tonight into tomorrow; perfect melting weather. Until the next snowstorm…
10 years of weight loss and maintenance January 2, 2017Posted by Mike C. in Food, Health, Personal.
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The mid-2000s were an unhealthy period of my life. I repeatedly indulged in desserts and dinners. I went from normal weight to overweight to obese. I surpassed 200 pounds late in 2004 and climbed all the way to 233.4 when I stepped on the scale on the morning of January 2, 2007, ten years ago today. By then, even my size 42 pants were too small. Enough was enough. I vowed to go on a diet. My goal was 160 pounds.
This diet required a lot of discipline, going for long periods between meals, and limiting myself to under 2,000 calories. I had a little over 2,000 calories on January 2, but the days that followed saw my daily calories drop to 1,600. A typical day began at noon with an Atkins bar, which was 240 calories at the time. A few hours later, I would eat a can of Progresso soup, either Hearty Chicken and Rotini or Homestyle Chicken. At the time, both were 200 calories. An hour or two after that, I ate two cups of Ronzoni Ziti Rigati with 1/2 cup of Ragu Traditional or Meat Sauce and four teaspoons of Kraft Parmesan Cheese. For dessert, which came after another hour or two, I ate three 100 calorie packs of Pringles or Sun Chips. Eventually, those would be phased out in favor of either Special K vanilla or chocolate bars that were 90 calories each, and then Quaker Chewy Granola Bars that were 100 calories each.
Besides eating, I also made an effort to walk daily with the aid of a step counter that I attached to my belt. In my hour-long walks, I averaged around 6,000 steps.
While on my diet, I skipped Easter and Passover dinners, adhering to my routine. When I was in Florida in March to see the PGA Tour’s PODS Championship (now, the Valspar Championship) at Innisbrook Resort, where my grandparents lived, I stuck to my eating routine. My grandpa Carmen was nice enough to buy the foods that I ate daily for the four days I was down there. A few days before the trip, I fell below 200 pounds. By March 30, I broke 190. On April 27, I broke 180. I was below 170 on May 18.
I reached my goal of 160 pounds on June 16, and my body fat was below 20%, but I was not ready to stop. I continued my diet, falling below 150 pounds on July 24 and breaking 140 on September 7. I had lost 93 pounds in eight months!
I added calories to my daily intake, remaining below 2,000 per day until October 10.
In the following months, my weight hovered in the mid-to-upper 130s. My lowest weight was 134 on April 25, 2008, a day which also saw my lowest body fat: 11.7%. My body fat would hover within 12% (varying tenths of a point), occasionally breaking 13%.
Throughout my diet, I took selfies, though not in the common way, to document my progress. Here are those selfies, all from 2007:
I was still able to maintain my weight for the first half of 2009, but my body fat was regularly within 13% by this time.
Unfortunately, the second half of 2009 marked the beginning of my regain. At first, I was able to keep my weight in the low 140s, occasionally reaching the upper 130s. But by the summer of 2010, I was averaging mid-to-upper 140s. By late 2011, I was averaging the low-to-mid 150s.
After Hurricane Sandy, I had reached the upper 160s to low 170s, where I remained until August 27, 2013. That day, I weighed 173.2 pounds and vowed to begin a new diet. The weight loss was slow at first, but I was down 12 pounds on December 23. Unfortunately, Christmastime dinners and desserts followed. Eventually, I was able to find an under-2,000-calorie routine and stick with it most of the time. There were days where I faltered, but not many. I had broken 160 pounds a few times between January and March 2014, but always came back above 160. That changed after March 16. I have not been 160 or above since. I haven’t been 150 or above since June 29, 2014. I fell through the 140s thereafter. I went below 140 pounds several days between September and December, but no lower than 138.8 on two days in October. I otherwise hovered in the low 140s, except for two days after Thanksgiving when I topped out at 146.
I remained below 140 pounds between June 2015 and January 2016, even breaking 130 several times in October and November. After peaking at 144 pounds in early June 2016, I fell back below 140 by mid-June. I was able to hover in the low 130s starting in mid-July, with body fat staying within 11%, but Christmastime eating has put me in the mid-130s and increased my body fat to around 13%. That’s where I stand as of this post.
What helped me lose my weight the second time around time was running, rather than walking the first time, with the help of the Nike+ Running (now Nike+ Run Club) app on my iPhone. Between May 2013 and May 2015, I opted to run and walk. But then, I challenged myself to only run. If I needed to rest, I would stop, and the app would pause. My early runs were around three miles, then four, then five. Nowadays, I’ll run up around 7 1/2 miles, running above eight miles on a few occasions. My average pace has gone from around 15 minutes a mile, when I started, to between 7:30 and 8 minutes per mile today. From spring to fall, I ran outdoors, but I opted for the treadmill in the winter. So far this winter, I’ve continued to run outdoors. In April 2016, I began stretching before each run, something I should have done all along. I seldom experience stiffness thanks to those stretches. Friends say I should run in a 5K, 10K, or higher, but for now, I feel more comfortable running on my own, setting and achieving goals. In the early days, my goal was 80 miles a month. These days, I like to run at least 100 miles a month. It’s even more satisfying when I reach 130 or 140 miles. My first month above 130 miles was September 2015. In September 2016, I broke 140 miles. And just last month, I broke 150 miles. That’s high enough for me; I don’t want to overdo it.
Since August, my eating routine consists of a protein bar, almonds, Progresso soup, pasta, and six graham crackers. That’s around 2,000 calories. There are days when I’ll break that routine, which I hope will be few and far between in the months ahead.
…and an after picture from October 2016 during my live WCWP Homecoming Weekend radio show:
Audiobooking 3 December 23, 2016Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Film, History, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Pets, Politics, Radio, Sports, Technology, Theatre, TV, Video.
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Here is a list of the audiobooks I’ve listened to on Audible in the 13 months since my previous “audiobooking” post:
- Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America by Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes
- Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner by Rush Limbaugh and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh (read by Rush)
- Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian by Bob Saget
- David Spade is Almost Interesting: The Memoir by David Spade
- My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller
- How I Slept My Way to the Middle: Secrets and Stories from Stage, Screen, and Interwebs by Kevin Pollak with Alan Goldscher (read by Kevin)
- So That Happened: A Memoir by Jon Cryer
- Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier (read by Jonathan Yen)
- I Know What I’m Doing – and Other Lies I Tell Myself: Dispatches from a Life Under Construction* by Jen Kirkman
- Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway
- My Happy Days in Hollywood: A Memoir by Garry Marshall (1934-2016) with Lori Marshall (read by Garry; foreword read by Hector Elizondo)
- This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett
- I Remember Me* by Carl Reiner
- I Just Remembered* by Carl Reiner
- Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (read by Robert Petkoff, except for intro and chapter on Bill’s father)
- Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life by Melissa Joan Hart
- Settle for More by Megyn Kelly
- Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV by Joe Buck
- Let Me Tell You About Jasper…: How My Best Friend Became America’s Dog by Dana Perino (a few chapters read by Peter McMahon, Dana’s husband)
- In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett
* – Left-wing viewpoint occasionally expressed
As I noted in my previous post, these books get me through workouts, bedtime, and boredom, but mostly the first two. As long as there are audiobooks read by my favorite public figures, I will continue to listen on Audible and chronicle those books on this site. Until next time…
Smooth Jazz for Scholars 2017 dates/lineup December 22, 2016Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal.
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Keyboardist Jay Rowe has announced the dates and lineup for his 2017 Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert series. The announcement came earlier this week on Facebook:
… reserved seating tickets are on sale now for the 15th annual Smooth Jazz For Scholars benefit concerts to be held on 5/5/17 and 5/6/17. Tickets cost $40 each for 1 night and $70 for 2 nights. The artist line up for 5/5/17 is Rick Braun, Nick Colionne, Jeff Kashiwa and Will Donato. The line up for 5/6/17 is Steve Oliver, Steve Cole, Chieli Minucci and Nelson Rangell. The show will be held at the Parson’s Complex 70 West River Street Milford, CT. 06460. Doors open at 7pm showtime at 8pm. Send check or money order payable to Smooth Jazz For Scholars Inc. P.O. Box 3723 Milford, CT. 06460. Call 203-874-4150 for additional assistance and questions if needed. Thanks.
Yes, Smooth Jazz for Scholars is in its 15th year. It will be my 11th year in attendance; my 10th anniversary. This will be the first time SJFS is held in May since 2012, the last year the event was only one night.
It’s the first time at SJFS for trumpeter/flugelhorn player Rick Braun and saxophonist Will Donato. Can we expect Rick and Will to play through the audience on songs like “Cadillac Slim” (Rick) and “New Life” (Will)? What whistle song does Nelson Rangell have in mind? Why have I made a habit of asking questions in these lineup posts? Two out of three questions and more will be answered in early May. And I’m happy to report that SJFS will not conflict with the 2017 WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony. That will be held on April 1; no foolin’.
Friday, May 5
Saturday, May 6
70 W. River St.
Milford, CT 06460
Tickets: $40 for one night, $70 for two nights
Reserved seating tickets can be purchased by check (like I will) or money order payable to:
Smooth Jazz for Scholars, Inc.
P.O. Box 3723
Milford, CT 06460
For questions or additional assistance, call:
Acoustic Alchemy at Iridium on my 35th birthday November 20, 2016Posted by Mike C. in Food, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel, Weather.
11/24 UPDATE: I forgot to note that this trip to see Acoustic Alchemy at the Iridium came ten years to the date after seeing Yellowjackets at Birdland on my 25th birthday. I referenced that trip back in April.
Thursday night, on my 35th birthday, I took a trip to the Iridium in Manhattan’s Theater District to see British contemporary jazz band Acoustic Alchemy perform. It was my first time back at the venue since October 2012, one week before Hurricane Sandy.
Following Chieli Minucci and Special EFX at the Long Beach Jazz Festival in September, I learned through fellow audience members that Acoustic Alchemy would be playing at the Iridium two months later, on November 17 and 18, to close out their U.S. tour. My birthday falls on the 17th, so I bought a ticket for that night. There were two shows each night, at 8:30 and 10:30. As usual, I chose the early show.
Since I would be on my own at the Iridium, birthday dinner and ice cream cake with my family was moved up to Wednesday night. My parents, sister, and I ate dinner at Margarita’s Cafe, a Mexican restaurant in North Wantagh:
I spent much of my 35th birthday afternoon responding to “Happy Birthday” wishes on Facebook. One of my friends, radio personality Don Tandler, quipped in his wish that I’m no longer in the young demographic, which is 18 to 34. I got a chuckle out of that.
At about 4:10, I took an extended walk from my Wantagh Woods home, to make up for not running, to the Wantagh LIRR station and bought an off peak round trip ticket for Penn Station. I boarded the 4:59 train and arrived an hour later. I responded to more birthday wishes on the train.
I was told the Iridium door wasn’t opened until 7:30, which meant I had a lot of time to kill. Rather than take the 1 Subway train to West 50th Street, I walked all the way from Penn Station to the club.
The walk took twenty minutes. I stood outside for about ten minutes before figuring out I could wait inside at the bottom of the stairwell.
I was first in line.
Once staff began letting ticket holders in, a few minutes before 7:30, I chose a seat at a center table right by the stage.
8:30 arrived and the show began. The image below was posted to Acoustic Alchemy’s Facebook page a few minutes in:
You can see me, camera in hand, right by the stage. You’ll also notice the stage has been renovated since my last visit.
Filling in for Greg Carmichael was Nate Najar – a native of St. Petersburg, Florida – on acoustic guitar:
There were ten songs on the set list:
Originally heard on: Reference Point, 1990; Arcanum, 1996; Live in London, 2014
2. Overnight Sleeper
Originally heard on: Natural Elements, 1988; Live in London, 2014
3. Mr. Chow
Originally heard on: Red Dust & Spanish Lace, 1987; Arcanum, 1996
4. The Detroit Shuffle
Originally heard on: American/English, 2005
5. One for Shorty
Originally heard on: Roseland, 2011; Live in London, 2014
6. Clear Air for Miles
Originally heard on: Back on the Case, 1991
Originally heard on: Blue Chip, 1989; Live in London, 2014
8. The Beautiful Game
Originally heard on: The Beautiful Game, 2000; Sounds of St. Lucia, 2003; Live in London, 2014
9. Catalina Kiss
Originally heard on: Blue Chip, 1989; Arcanum, 1996
10 (Finale). Kidstuff
Originally heard on: The Beautiful Game, 2000
There was a meet-and-greet after the show. I let Fred White know on Facebook, in the days leading up to Thursday, that I was coming, so he was happy to see me. The feeling was mutual. It was also nice to see Gary Grainger, who I first discovered through his appearances – and Greg’s, as well – on many Ken Navarro albums. I had a female audience member take our picture:
My camera’s lens focused on the wall rather than us, which happened in a few attempts at a picture the night before at Margarita’s. Since time was short, I didn’t have that audience member take us again. I told Fred, “I’ll get it in editing.”
Thank you to Miles, Nate, Gary, Greg, and Fred for their musical 35th birthday present. I had a blast.
And thank you to everyone that passed along birthday wishes the day before, on, the day after, two days after, and even three days after my birthday.
Jeff Dunham at Carnegie Hall October 22, 2016Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Hockey, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Politics, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
Tags: Achmed, Bubba J, Carnegie Hall, Jeff Dunham, Peanut, Walter
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(10/26 UPDATE: I have censored the few curse words that were in the recap.)
(10/23 NOTE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Jeff’s show ran “about 70 minutes.” I have corrected that to read “2 hours and 13 minutes.”)
I was in Manhattan for the second night in a row yesterday. Thursday, I was down in Greenwich Village to see the Chick Corea Elektric Band. Yesterday, I was uptown at Carnegie Hall to see ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Dunham. Pictures weren’t allowed during the show, which was part of Jeff’s Perfectly Unbalanced Tour, but I took my plenty before and after. I had to use my iPhone 6 because mobile devices were all that were allowed.
This was my fourth time at Carnegie Hall, but the first time in the Stern Auditorium. My previous three trips were to see pianist Lisa Hilton in the intimate Weill Recital Hall.
Jeff Dunham and his crew made their way to Carnegie at around 4:30. Jeff posted live video of the walk to Facebook:
About an hour after that streaming video, I left the house for the Wantagh LIRR station. It was the last day of a warm and humid air mass. Nonetheless, like Thursday night, I wore my green spring squall jacket in case of rain. There was nary a drop; only fog and mist when I returned six hours later. There had been rain earlier in the day, but while I waited for the 5:59 train for Penn Station, Wantagh was in between rain bands. The band to the east must have been intense because there were impressive cumulonimbus clouds:
Low cumulus clouds set in starting in Queens, appearing dark against the setting sun.
There were New York Islanders fans on the train through Jamaica. They changed there for the Atlantic Terminal train to Barclays Center where the Islanders went on to beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2.
The train arrived at Penn Station at 6:55. From there, I took the E train to West 53rd Street and walked four blocks to Carnegie Hall.
Once there, the crowd had to wait until 7:30 for the Stern Auditorium doors to open. After getting a bottle of water, I got to my balcony seat. Trivia, social media posts, and pictures were shown on the monitor:
There was a welcome announcement at 8:03 following by three intro videos at 8:06. Since they’re from Jeff’s YouTube channel, I’ve included them below:
After an auto-tune montage, the show officially began at 8:16. The voice of Achmed the Dead Terrorist announced Jeff and he walked on stage. I looked at him on the monitor most of the time since I was so high up.
I took ten pages of notes in a 7 x 5 notebook. Below are some of those notes. I’ll try not to give too much away.
Jeff’s opening act:
- Informal election vote: Hillary – cheers, Donald – more cheers
- Why he’s a ventriloquist
- Family – daughters, Audrey, twin boys
- How Jeff and Audrey found out they were having twins, Jack and James
- The twins’ birth
- Changing diapers in NICU
- Baby pictures – meme photo (“I CAME OUT OF YOUR WHAT???”), then actual photos: their first birthday, Jeff holding them like dumbbells, at Disneyland
- Left stage, came back
- Videotaping show to include message to sons when they’re older
After the opening act, it was time to open the boxes and bring out the characters. Walter came first:
- “Oh, shut the hell up! (mocking laugh)”
- Joke about New Jersey
- How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “Uber.”
- Joke about auditorium appearance
- Sick of election garbage – doesn’t like either candidate – like going in for colonoscopy
- Cut to a video:
- Plug for Jeff’s YouTube channel – about to reach one million subscribers
- Another video:
- “You know, folks tell me that I should run for president”
- Life after death
- “If Trump becomes president, José’ll be out of the show” (a reference to José Jalapeño on a Stick)
- Being an older parent
- “Say good night, Walter.” “Thanks, everybody!”
Before bringing out the next character, Jeff announced that his next special will be taped in Dublin, Ireland, in May for Netflix. It will debut in August. The theme will be family. Jeff found out he is of Irish descent. To that end, a new character he tried out at Carnegie Hall was an Irish baby he was trying to get adopted:
- Big head
- Adult voice with brogue
- Influenced by the other characters (“I keel you” from Achmed)
- Much smarter than apparent age
- Cursing (from Peanut)
- Mother gave him up for adoption
- Vaccination/shots – “Gin, rum, vodka”
- Can’t walk, but can pub crawl
- “All the drunks just think I’m a leprechaun”
- “And that’s the new baby!”
- “I’m doin’ pretty good!”
- “…watchin’ NASCAR and drinkin’ beer”
- Running for president
- “Press the flesh”
- Debate/da bait, defense/da fence, Syria/Siri
- Fracking: “Me and the wife are down to once a month”
- “Say good night, Bubba J”
- “Dat’s goooooooooood!”
- (singing): “New York…..”
- “Two infants at your age, how the hell did that happen?!”
- Running gags (toward Jeff, into mic): “’cause you’re old”, “’cause you’re an a**h***”, “’cause I’m an a**h***”
- Porn riff (“chicka-chicka-wow-wow”) – baby-related dirty talk
- Caffeine zaniness – “It’s great!”, “Yes!”
- Coffee enema
- Lost a shoe – “No, dude, I found one”
- Peanut fell off and his mouth was stuck open – after a few minutes of incoherent speech (“ahh***”), Jeff closed it
- Spoke to two men in the front row
- Hearing aid joke (pretending to cut out)
Achmed the Dead Terrorist:
- “Most beloved terrorist throughout the world”
- Achmed’s origin story – tried out Dead Osama a year after 9/11, six blocks from Ground Zero – crowd loved act – retooled as Achmed starting in Spark of Insanity
- “Greetings, American infidels!”
- Usama Bin Laden is “dead dead”
- “Do you know me, infidels?!” – cheers – “Thank you, I keel you (2x)”
- “It’s not funny!”
- “Silence! I keel you!” – cheers – “Thank you, I keel you”
- Achmed’s many kids: “…and Steve”
- Life story: “Once upon a time, (boom!). The end.”
- Presidential election
- “Oh! Bomb! Ah!”
- Questions: “Dear Achmed…” – by my count, 19 questions – Favorite breakfast cereal: “Life” – Hugh Jorgen (huge organ): “I can’t believe you fell for that!” – Legs fell off, then arms, then ribcage
After one last joke, that was it. Since it was over, I resumed photography. There was one last bit of business for Jeff: a crowd selfie with his wife Audrey.
Here’s how that selfie looked:
As you can see, balcony members weren’t in the picture, but I don’t mind.
In all, Jeff was on stage for 2 hours and 13 minutes, leaving the stage at 10:29.
Rather than walk back to West 53rd Street to take the E train again, I walked to 59th Street-Columbus Circle station.
I would have taken the 11:08 LIRR train to Wantagh, but there happened to be an 11:01 express train that didn’t make local stops until Wantagh. So, I boarded that one. There were some passengers that didn’t realize it was an express and had to change at Jamaica for the later, entirely-local train. It only took 43 minutes to get to Wantagh! Now that’s what I call express! I wouldn’t have arrived until 20 minutes later had I taken 11:08 train.
Thus ended my six-hour adventure. Jeff was hilarious, as always. I wish the show was available on video so I could watch it again and again. My notes and memories will have to do until then.
While I slept, Jeff was live on Facebook as his YouTube channel surpassed one million subscribers!
Congratulations, Jeff, and thank you to fans like me for getting the channel to a million and beyond.