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Shelly Peiken, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter March 28, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Football, Music, Personal.
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Posing with Confessions of a Serial Songwriter after I finished reading it

NOTE: This is more of a recounting of my experience leading up to buying the book, and then reading the book, than a review of it. I didn’t want to give too much away.

A few years ago, I added a friend on Facebook via mutual friends. Her name was Shelly Peiken (“PIE-kin”), and she was a native of Freeport, New York. Her mutual friends included my aunts, Randy and Robin, and a few other family friends from Freeport, where I spent much of the first 11 1/2 years of my life. Little did I know that Shelly was an established songwriter, having written “Bitch” for Meredith Brooks and “What a Girl Wants” for Christina Aguilera, among countless others. I mostly listen to instrumentals, having fallen in love with them during the local forecasts on The Weather Channel, but I was as tuned in to mainstream music as the next person.

I first heard – or rather, I saw – “Bitch” sometime in 1997 on a weekly late night NBC show, which aired after Late Night, called Friday Night Videos. Another memory of that song came later that year when my friend Joey sang the chorus as we walked through Splish Splash water park in Riverhead on Labor Day Weekend.

“What a Girl Wants” came to my attention when I was a freshman in college at LIU Post (then C.W. Post). I vividly remember having the bridge to that song in my head during the 1999-2000 NFC Championship Game, as the Buccaneers were driving (unsuccessfully) to regain the lead over the Rams late in the 4th quarter.

I knew Shelly was working on an autobiography, but didn’t know the title, or if it was out, until I noticed a post of hers in my Facebook news feed last Monday. The book is called Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. I headed to Amazon to see the book’s listing (which I linked to in the previous sentence). I contemplated whether or not I should buy it throughout the morning and into the afternoon. I twice watched a video on the listing page where Shelly explained how the book came to be. I didn’t realize until typing this now and searching YouTube that the video was posted over a year and a half ago. For you prospective buyers, here’s the video:

Sold! I bought Confessions… after watching a second time. Since it was Prime eligible, I figured I would have the book by Wednesday, but it didn’t arrive until Friday. Little did I know that my father Bill had also purchased the book. His copy arrived the next day. It sat on the kitchen table, tempting me. Do I dare read his copy before I get mine?

I didn’t succumb to temptation…until Friday morning. I whizzed through 46 pages before putting it back where I found it. By afternoon, my copy had arrived. I read another 19 pages in the afternoon and another 21 pages in the evening. 86 pages in one day! I’ve never read that fast! It helped that I imagined Kevin Pollak narrating the book as I read. He was in my head because I’d been listening to his autobiography on Audible. It’s called How I Slept My Way to the Middle: Secrets and Stories from Stage, Screen, and Interwebs. Plus, I had discovered his long-running chat show, simply titled Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show.

Saturday was another busy reading day. I read 48 pages in the morning, 36 pages in the afternoon, and 16 pages in the evening. Another 98 pages down. Even though it was only 8:06 PM when I completed page 185, I felt tired and went to sleep.

I woke up at sunrise. After watching Kevin Pollak’s interview with Drew Carey, I resumed reading Confessions… I read 42 pages before stopping to craft the first draft of the post you’re reading now. By mid-afternoon, I finished the book! In under 54 hours, I had read all 276 pages, including thank yous, the glossary, the song index, credits, and “about the author.” What an adventure!

There’s more to Shelly than “Bitch” and “What a Girl Wants.” And there’s more to the book than all the songs Shelly wrote. She also goes into the business side of songwriting and the changes it’s undergone in the last 15 years. I highly recommend Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. You won’t be disappointed. Order your copy today.

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The rest of winter March 27, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography, Weather.
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Other than that big blizzard on January 23, it was a relatively quiet winter. Thanks, El Niño.

Now that spring is upon us and the last wet snowflake has melted, let’s look at pictures from three of the last six snow events of the winter.

February 5, nearly a foot of wet snow:
9:05 AM:
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10:20 AM:
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11:30 AM:
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1:31 PM, before shoveling:
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2:26 PM, after shoveling:
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Unfortunately, the wind shook the wet snow off the trees and bushes, undoing part of the shoveling my sister and I had done.

The last time I had to shovel in the winter was a few days later after an inch of snow fell. Mother nature did the work for me the following Monday night and Tuesday. A few inches of snow that had fallen on President’s Day afternoon was washed away by rain and mild temperatures.

March 4, a coating of wet snow:
9:26 AM:
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March 21, two inches of wet snow:
7:42 AM:
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All the snow in those two pictures melted away by afternoon. Until late fall…

Display settings issue resolved March 4, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Internet.
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Since November, unbeknownst to me, pictures that I uploaded to WordPress did not automatically include a media file link to click on when those pictures are inserted into posts. All this time, the medium size preview images could not be clicked on. Those images are only have a width or height of 300 pixels, depending on a picture’s alignment. I noticed the problem yesterday when I viewed my latest post. Last night, I fixed the problem by highlighting pictures in the affected posts, clicking the “edit” icon to view “image details,” and selecting “media file” in the “link to” section of “display settings.”

Here are the fixed posts:
Guest reading at my old elementary school again
January 23 blizzard pictures & video
Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall: 2016 edition
The Jeff Lorber Fusion at Birdland
Expanding my Christmas album collection again
Fourplay at the Blue Note
Matt Marshak at Houndstooth Pub: 2015 edition

I apologize for the inconvenience of low resolution photos for the last four months. I’ll make sure to link to the media files after I insert pictures into future posts.

Guest reading at my old elementary school again March 3, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Education, Personal, Photography.
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It’s the week of Dr. Seuss‘s birthday, which can only mean one thing: Dr. Seuss Spirit Week at Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport. Tuesday was the only day devoted to guest readers this year, and I was honored to be invited back after the fun I had last year.

I chose My Many Colored Days as my book, which I read to a few classes, but I was coaxed into reading Gerald McBoing Boing again. I did, reprising all the voices I used last year. I also read I Am Not Going to Get Up Today to an after-school class.

Like last year, I ended up fielding many cartoon character voice requests, plus a few Full/Fuller House characters. My throat was sore by day’s end, but it was worth it to entertain the kids.

When I wasn’t reading and doing impressions, I photographed a few other guest readers.

I’m already looking forward to next year. Until then, I’ll leave with this collage of candid shots taken while I read:
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