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Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall: 2019 edition January 12, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Blu-ray, Comedy, DVD, Hockey, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Politics, Sports, Travel, TV, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous Lisa Hilton recaps: June 2011January 2014January 2015January 2016, January 2018

Thursday night, for the fifth time in six years, I made my way to the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to see jazz pianist Lisa Hilton perform.

Unlike last year, I didn’t leave the house early so I could eat dinner before arriving at Weill. I went about my typical Thursday routine, including eating a pasta dinner around 5:00. At 5:40, my mom drove me to the Wantagh LIRR station. It’s a good thing I chose to leave at that time because unbeknownst to me, the 5:59 train was moved up to 5:55 starting on Monday:

The other arrival times are unchanged.

It was cold and windy on the platform, so it’s a good thing I wasn’t there long.

The train arrived two minutes late, at least on clocks set to the official U.S. time:

Just like the snowy night I saw the Bob James Trio at the Blue Note, the Rangers and Islanders were playing each other. Then, the game was at Barclays Center, current home of the Islanders. This time, it was at Madison Square Garden. Thus, Rangers and Islanders fans were prevalent on the train. Ordinarily, I would have stayed on all the way to Penn Station, but getting to Carnegie Hall isn’t as direct as Blue Note. I could have taken the 1 train from Penn to 59th Street-Columbus Circle, but I would have to walk a few blocks south and east from there. In the afternoon, I consulted Google Maps to determine what subway line I should take instead of the 1. They suggested I exit at Woodside and take the 7 train to Queensboro Plaza, then transfer to the N or W trains to 57th Street and 7th Avenue. That’s what I did.

I arrived at Woodside at 6:46 and proceeded to the adjacent subway station:

I lost my sense of direction and stood in position for this Flushing-bound train:

I figured out where I was facing when the doors wouldn’t open on my side.

The correct 7 train arrived at 6:52:

12 minutes later, I stood in Queensboro Plaza:

Google Maps suggested the N train on the way and the W train going back. I ended up doing the opposite. The W train arrived before the N, two minutes after I got off the 7:

By 7:15, I was at 57th Street:

I took the southeast corner stairway:

The stairway faces south, so I had to turn north and then east:

It wasn’t long before I reached my destination:

Foolishly choosing the stairs over the elevator, I (somewhat) breathlessly arrived on the fourth floor and stood in the lobby until the hall doors were opened:

The audience was allowed in at 7:30.

After finding my front row not-quite-center seat, I took a few pictures of the stage, knowing I’d have to put the camera away until afterward:

A security guard reminded me there was no photography during the show, and I assured him I was only taking before and after. I know the rules and willingly play by them. (I didn’t tell him that.)

Lisa and her two bandmates walked on stage at 8:04. Yes, for the first time, this was a trio performance. Luques (“lu-KEZ”) Curtis was once again on acoustic bass with Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. Mark alternated between sticks and brushes depending on the song.

The first nine songs were all from Lisa’s latest album, Oasis, released on December 7. The concept is similar to that of her previous album, Escapism: escaping the craziness of the real world. At the Oasis, you can take your mind off the political turmoil and extreme weather dominating the news. A case of extreme weather is the Woolsey fire in Southern California, which forced Lisa to evacuate her Malibu home. She eventually returned home to no damage, but others weren’t as fortunate.

I’m right-of-center politically, but I can’t stand politics’ insane tribalism. It’s our way or the highway, whether “our” is Republicans or Democrats. And don’t get me started on the politics of personal destruction. One wrong move will destroy your life. I also have a pessimistic view of my party’s chances in elections and I take hyperbole from left-leaning politicians and pundits personally.

Since late September, I have paid little attention to the news. I know what happened on November 6, and that my left-wing friends gloated triumphantly, but that’s mostly it. Some news comes to my attention by overhearing what someone is watching in another room, from newspapers on display at the supermarket if I fail to avert my gaze, or reading Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards at the end of episodes of his sitcoms. I keep my head buried in music, sports (but not sports debate or news magazines), documentaries, cartoons, sitcoms, tech reviews, and video game or console reviews and retrospectives. Ignorance is bliss.

I used to occasionally post political links or videos, such as for Prager University, on Facebook, but I stopped a year ago. Now, I don’t talk politics at all on any of my social media (I seldom did on Twitter since my account is public) or with family and friends, unless we agree. I’m a people-pleaser; I want to be everyone’s friend. I don’t want politics to come between us.

Lisa promised that the songs we were about to hear would be uplifting. There wouldn’t be any songs with titles like “F U Donald,” as John Scofield had with Combo 66 in November.

The set ran about 70 minutes. Here’s what Lisa Hilton’s trio played:
1.
Adventure Lands
This made me think of the times I went to the Adventureland amusement park in Farmingdale when I was growing up.

2. Oasis
Mark Whitfield Jr. provided a swing beat at times. At one point, I followed Luques Curtis’s fingers on the bass.

3. Twists of Fate
Lisa credited Count Basie and Thelonious Monk among her inspirations for this song.

4. Watercolor World

5. Vapors & Shadows (also on Horizons, 2015)
In a quiet moment, Mark lightly clacked the drums. Lisa and I seemed to lock eyes briefly.

6. Lazy Daisy
This brought to mind a hippie daisy floating downstream or lying in an inner tube in a water park lazy river, like the one at Splish Splash in Riverhead. That was another park I frequented growing up, but I haven’t been there in almost 20 years.

7. Just for Fun (also on In the Mood for Jazz, 2003; Nuance, 2010; and Getaway, 2013)
Lisa’s gliding up and down the keys made me laugh.

8. Sunshine States
There was a Latin flavor befitting the two Sunshine States, California (officially the Golden State) and Florida. It was reminiscent of Chick Corea, and the end felt like “Tequila” by The Champs, just as “Hot Summer Samba” did last year.

9. Sunday Morning (also on Midnight in Manhattan, 2006)

10. Waterfall (from Cocktails at Eight, 2000)

11. Meltdown (from Sunny Day Theory, 2008; later on Nuance, 2010; and Escapism, 2017)
This song is a comment on a hectic life, being driven to a meltdown or breakdown. It had a frantic, heavy metal-like pace, and also brought to mind boss music in a video game. There were occasionally staccato Morse Code-like notes.

12 (Encore). Zero Gravity (from Escapism, 2017)
Coincidentally, earlier in the day, I watched the fourth Futurama film, Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009), on Blu-ray. One of the special features involved series executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen talking about their recent Zero G flight. They and their fellow passengers, including Matt’s son Will, experienced periods of weightlessness.

As it turned out, no one else was seated in the front row, not even in the handicap seats. I could have moved, but chose not to.

1/18 UPDATE: Lisa posted a picture from the set (taken by photographer Ryan Nava) to Facebook, her website, and her newsletter last night:

Here’s the Facebook post, which ends with a link to her web post:

1/29 UPDATE: Lisa posted two more of Ryan Nava’s pictures to social media yesterday:

When the house lights went back up in Weill Recital Hall, and the audience began to leave, I said aloud, to no one in particular, that was a great show. Steve, who was seated one row behind me, agreed. I told him it was my fifth time, he said it was his first. We spoke a little more, then went our separate ways. I proceeded to the lobby to meet and greet Lisa and Luques. I didn’t see Mark, though. As I let other audience members talk to them for a while, I shared my enthusiasm with Adam and Vicki. Adam was seated a row or two behind me and told me he noticed that I was taking notes. I let him know it was for the recap you’re reading right now, and shared some of the notes with him. He was nice enough to take a picture of Lisa and me before I left:

I rightly took the elevator back down to the first floor.

By 9:46, I was back in the 57th Street subway station:

My N train for Queensboro Plaza arrived at 9:54:

Ten minutes later, I was among a massive throng of passengers (whom I didn’t photograph out of privacy) waiting to board the 7 train:

It took another ten minutes for that 7 train to arrive, and a couple more minutes before the doors were opened. I barely fit into the cramped car I walked into. There was little relief between stops as few people got off. Flushing was likely the majority destination.

The late arrival of the 7 train at Woodside meant I missed my LIRR train for Wantagh.

The good news is I would only have to wait about 20 minutes for the next Babylon-bound train:

The bad news is it was an express train that only stopped at Woodside, Jamaica, Valley Stream, and Freeport, with no other stops before Babylon. My dad was nice enough to drive 15 minutes out to Freeport to pick me up because I wasn’t about to wait until about 11:15 for a train that would stop at Wantagh.

After waiting upstairs out of the wind for 15 minutes, I proceeded to the track 4 platform and waited for my train:

Brrr! Each gust was tough to endure.

I was relieved to board the warm train at 10:47:

Once again, there were Rangers and Islanders fans aboard. And once again, the Islanders won. This time, 4-3. As a Rangers fan, this has been a tough season. (8:20 PM UPDATE: The game was part of a home-and-home. The Rangers won 2-1 at Barclays Center earlier today.)

The train was scheduled to arrive at Freeport by 11:15. Instead, it was there at 11:23. My railcar was a few blocks from where Dad was. Once inside his car, the drive back to Wantagh took 15 minutes, the same length it took to get to Freeport. Home sweet home.

Thank you to Lisa Hilton, Luques Curtis, and Mark Whitfield Jr. for the fifth great night of music in six years. (I couldn’t make it in 2017.) Thanks, as well, to Steve, Adam, and Vicki from the audience; and of course, to my parents for transportation to and from the train stations.

My experience at Day 1 of 2018 New York Comic Con October 5, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Audiobooks, Baseball, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Sports, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 22014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1

Yesterday marked my fourth time at New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in Midtown West. It was also my second consecutive year at NYCC.

I’d been looking forward to going ever since I bought my badge in June. Grey DeLisle (a.k.a. Grey Griffin), Phil LaMarr, and Richard Horvitz were among the voice actors that would be signing autographs, recording video or audio messages, and taking pictures with fans like me. Like last year, this was my sole reason for attending. None of the panels interested me.

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. I spent the next three hours watching the American League Wild Card Game on DVR (the Yankees won handily), a couple of episodes of season six of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In on Amazon Prime, working out, and of course, getting ready to leave for the day.

My mother drive me to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station at 8:30 for an 8:47 westbound train. When I went there last Saturday on the way to see Chieli Minucci & Special EFX at The Cutting Room, the elevated track platform was partially closed off while the west half of it was being renovated. Little did I realize that renovation would complete two days later. Finally, after two years, when boarding a Babylon-bound LIRR train at Penn Station, you no longer have to ask if you’re in one of the six cars that lets out at Wantagh. When the east half was being renovated, only the last six cars could exit. When the west half was under renovation, you had to be in one of the first six cars.

I didn’t feel like taking out my DSLR until I got to the Javits Center, so I used my iPhone to take pictures on the platform:

It felt good to sit in the first car again.

The train ride to Penn Station took nearly an hour. Upon exiting, I walked up West 33rd Street to 10th Avenue, then north to West 35th to enter the Javits Center’s south side:

I endured a quick bag search (including emptying my pants pockets and holding up the contents) and tapped my badge in. Unfortunately, I was scolded for not moving beyond the area where the badge was tapped when I replenished my pants pockets. I felt like a fool, but felt better when I got inside and relayed my situation to an empathetic staff member when she asked if I needed help finding something.

Off to the autographing area:

I was third in line to meet Grey DeLisle at Table 1 after waiting about 45 minutes before her scheduled arrival.

As she and Richard Horvitz arrived, they spoke to each other in their respective voices on The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Richard was Billy and Grey was Mandy.

Grey was very nice. In my brief time with her, I told her I’d been a fan of hers since Clifford the Big Red Dog and three Butch Hartman cartoons – The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, and T.U.F.F. Puppy. She did the voices of Emily Elizabeth (Clifford) and Vicky (FOP) for me, which led me to respond as Mark Chang, voiced by Rob Paulsen, whom I met last year. Then, we posed:

After we said our goodbyes as Vicky and Mark, I headed to Table 6 for Phil LaMarr:

I let him know how the chronological order in which I’d seen his work: FuturamaFamily Guy, MADtv reruns on Comedy Central, and Butch Hartman’s Bunsen Is a Beast. He was complimentary of Bunsen, and I lamented that it was a shame the show was canceled after only one season.

I concluded at Table 3 with Richard Horvitz:

We didn’t have time to chat, but I’m still glad to have met him. Shortly before our picture, I saw him record a video message for a fan as Zim from Invader Zim. As with his conversation with Grey as Billy and Mandy, it put a smile on my face and made me laugh. I applauded when he was finished.

After that, I headed back to civilization, so to speak…

…and walked the show floor:

I happened to pass by the SYFY Wire stage…

…as Cher Martinetti spoke to the creator/showrunner and cast of the new Netflix series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
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The creator/showrunner is Noelle Stevenson, who was accompanied by Aimee Carrero (Princess Adora/She-Ra), Karen Fukuhara (Glimmer), and Marcus Scribner (Bow).

You can watch the interview here:

I commented on the video:

I walked by the stage during this interview. I was curious about this series after seeing The Power of Grayskull documentary, but now I’m all in. I’ll definitely be watching.

11/20 UPDATE: I have unfortunately fallen off the bandwagon. While I wish nothing but the best for the series, it plays out like a soap opera, and I’m more into episodes with self-contained plots. I don’t know how I would have managed watching the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons when they were new with story arcs lasting several weeks. The “Jet Fuel Formula” arc took 20 weeks, “Upsidasium” lasted 18 weeks, and “Missouri Mish-Mash” played out over 13 weeks. Now, back to the recap…

I pre-ordered Mega Man 11 for PlayStation 4, but have yet to play it.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is on my Xbox One wish list:

Having seen all I wanted to see on the show floor, I headed down to the main entrance:

Then, I left:

It’s a good thing I didn’t wear a jacket because it was warmer than it had been in the morning.

Within 20 minutes, I was back at Penn Station, where I boarded a Babylon-bound train. An hour later, I was back in Wantagh.

I walked about a mile and half home, listening to Marion Ross’s memoir on Audible along the way.

Once I had unpacked my things at home, I took a picture of my badge (blurring out the codes):

It was a nice few hours at New York Comic Con. Thank you to Grey DeLisle, Phil LaMarr, and Richard Horvitz. It was a pleasure meeting you all.

My experience at Day 1 of 2017 New York Comic Con October 6, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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Previous New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 2, 2014 Day 1
Later New York Comic Con recap: 2018 Day 1

Yesterday, I was at the first day of the 2017 New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in the Midtown West section of Manhattan. It was my third trip to NYCC.

I almost didn’t go this year. When I planned on buying a badge (ticket) in June, I learned that fan verification was required. Unfortunately, fan verification was closed. Luckily, last month, I learned on the website that verification was open again. So, I immediately got verified and bought a badge for Day 1.

I woke up at 6:20 yesterday morning. I looked out my window and saw a picturesque sky. I took a couple of shots of it, without and with flash:

After that, I put my camera in my backpack, where it stayed for a few hours.

In between, my mother drove me to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station at 8:40. Nine minutes later, I was on a train bound for Penn Station.

50 minutes later, I exited Penn and walked to the Javits Center. Those that had a badge, including me, were directed to the green entrance via West 39th Street, five blocks north of where I’d been walking.

I made my way down to Level 1 to meet five voice actors and get professional photo ops with four of them.

First up was Tara Strong:

As you can see, I wore my Northern Trust golf tournament shirt. I got it back on August 27, after walking Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury to see the final round.

After Tara, it was on to Rob Paulsen:

Rob is a throat cancer survivor (knock on wood), having battled it last year.

Tress MacNeille:

Jim Cummings:

And finally, Jess Harnell:

When I noticed Jess had his sunglasses on, I put my glasses on:

In all, I spent about four hours in five lines. It was a thrill to meet and chat with them all. I won’t get into the details of our brief conversations, but they were all very nice. Jess even gave me a hug.

I also enjoyed chatting with fellow fans – like Kelly, Sierra, Dave, and a few others whose names I didn’t get – while waiting in line. There was even a woman ahead of me on the Jess Harnell line who was not only dressed as one of his characters – Cedric from Sofia the First – but her name is Jess Warner! Her first name was the same as his, and her last name was the same as his Animaniacs character Wakko Warner. More on that below.

Afterward, I headed to the Epic Photo Ops area for a pair of professional photo ops. Since I had just met the actors at their autograph tables, there was a familiarity in the booth. It was like visiting old friends.

Jim Cummings suggested we “look intrepid”:

I love the outcome.

The second photo op was with Rob, Tress, and Jess, the stars of Animaniacs:

They were the Warner siblings: Yakko, voiced by Rob, Wakko, by Jess (as I noticed before), and Dot, by Tress.

All that remained was to walk the show floor on Level 3. But first, a few shots taken in the lobby on Level 2 after entering around 10:15:

The show floor:

I mostly focused on the video game developers section, as you’ll see below.

The next six pictures were taken in the morning:

I took this in the afternoon:

It was a fun day, but I was ready to head home. I left satisfied.

I walked south on 11th Avenue until I reached West 34th Street, where I alternated between walking and running, hoping to make the 4:12 train back to Wantagh. I did, with time to spare.

Thank you to Tara Strong, Jim Cummings, Rob Paulsen, Tress MacNeille, and Jess Harnell. As I said, it was a pleasure to meet and chat with you all.

I’ll conclude this post with a picture of my program and badge:

10:25 PM UPDATE: While searching in vain on YouTube for video of the I Know That Voice: The Series panel that took place at 5:30, shortly after I got home, I found this interview of Jim Cummings:

10/7 UPDATE: The only video I could find of the aforementioned panel was this:

The video stops before the Q&A portion.

Seven weeks of Netflix April 29, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Comedy, Film, Internet, Music, Personal, Technology, TV, Video.
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In a post last month, I noted that I ran out of things to watch on Netflix and, in addition to playing video games, began watching YouTube channels instead. Less than a day after I wrote that post, I discovered things to watch on Netflix again. I started with a few movie classics that I had never seen. First up was Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles. That was followed by a pair of Rob Reiner films: This Is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride, both of which featured Christopher Guest and Billy Crystal. From there, I moved on to a few music documentaries:

I went back to YouTube for a couple of days, but then I took a big step. Actually, a giant leap is more like it. I decided to watch all 278* episodes of Cheers, followed by all 264* episodes of Frasier, its spin-off. “Let the journey begin,” I told myself on the afternoon of March 12 as I loaded the pilot episode of Cheers. What followed was textbook binge-watching. It took only 20 days to watch all 11 seasons of Cheers. It took 17 days to watch every season of Frasier, which also ran 11 seasons. The last day I watched Cheers and the first day I watched Frasier overlapped, making for a combined 36 days of 542* episodes. The journey was worth it.

* – Multi-part episodes are split up.

With the two long-running series out of the way, I spent the next two days watching four stand-up specials: two by Dave Chappelle, one by Jo Koy, and one cinematic release by Kevin Hart. After that, there were four documentaries:

After a few days of DVDs and Blu-rays, I returned to Netflix to watch the third season of Dawn of the Croods, one of many Dreamworks animated series made for Netflix. Unfortunately, the season ended on a cliffhanger. Yes, Cheers and Frasier had cliffhangers, but seasons weren’t released to Netflix months apart. Within seconds of watching a cliffhanger finale, you could move on to the next season’s premiere.

All that remained for me to watch were two movies: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, which I watched a few times on VHS when I was 12, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which I don’t recall every seeing.

Now, the well has run dry again, but I expect there to be a handful of movies and documentaries to watch in May. Until then, back to YouTube.

2014 in review December 31, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audio, Commentary, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio.
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The following is an excerpt of an end-of-year post WordPress created for MikeChimeri.com. Scroll down for my editorial.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,500 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Despite seven more posts than last year, 2014 was more for reflecting than recapping. Only six posts recapped jazz concerts, two recapped WCWP events, and one was a recap of my day at New York Comic Con. A lot of work went into those posts, however. You can find them in the archives (screen left) for January, February, April, June, and October.

As for reflection, I reflected one year with an iPhone, one year of running with the help of the Nike Running app, ten years since my college commencement, and twenty since the infamous O.J. Simpson car chase. You can find those posts in the archives for May and June.

I always hope the best when a new year approaches and this time is no different. I hope you, the reader, I, the writer, and everyone we know have a happy, healthy, and gainful 2015.

My experience at Day 1 of 2014 New York Comic Con October 10, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Books, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
3 comments

Previous New York Comic Con recap: 2012 Day 2
Later New York Comic Con recaps: 2017 Day 12018 Day 1

Yesterday marked my second trip to New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in the Midtown West portion of Manhattan. This time, I went with my girlfriend. We met each other at Penn Station, going our own ways to get there. I came from Wantagh, she came from Wallingford, Connecticut.

My way to her began at around 12:15 when I walked two blocks to a bus stop for the southbound NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) n73. The bus arrived at 12:28, two minutes ahead of schedule. That ensured I would arrive at the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station in time to board a 12:32 train, an earlier train than I had planned for. If I hadn’t bought my round trip ticket the day before, I’d have to wait for the 12:57. 50 minutes later, I was at Penn Station. I met up with my girlfriend and we began the half-hour walk to the Javits Center.

We entered at West 38th Street, tapping our badges before going inside. Conventioneers were greeted by giant inflated Teen Titans – and, by extension, Teen Titans Go! – characters.

Beast Boy and Starfire:
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Cyborg and Robin:
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And, of course, Raven:

Time to head inside…

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My first plan was to meet voice actor Billy West, whom I interviewed back in 2005 at WCWP. Since autographing was involved, and not knowing offhand where Booth 1280 was, despite going to NYCC two years ago, I headed downstairs.

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A fellow conventioneer informed me that Booth 1280 was on the show floor. So, my girlfriend and I headed there.

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On the floor…
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We searched the aisle numbers and headed for the 1200s. It was there that we found Billy West.

Billy and I had a brief conversation, he signed my copy of Futurama, Volume 7 – which has Zoidberg on the cover – and my girlfriend took our picture:

He signed the cover this way:

To Mike!

…Zoidberg could eat…

Billy West

It was the highlight of my afternoon. But there was more to do. My girlfriend and I walked the floor back to a downward escalator.

Along the way, this is what we saw:
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We finally reached a downward escalator:
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There were a few panels I was interested in attending, but the one we settled on was here in Room 1A21:
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It was for the latest (and upcoming) Transformers TV series, Transformers: Robots in Disguise. The panel began at 4:00, but we got in line at 3:00.

The line was small when we arrived and we ended up near the front. It pays to show up early. After 50 minutes in line, the door was opened. We ended up sitting front row center. It was fantastic.

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The panel was moderated by Mike Vogel, the Vice President of Development for Hasbro Studios:
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From right to left on the dais, there was Jeff Kline, executive producer:

Jose Lopez, director:

Adam Beecher, producer and writer:

And the voice talent:
Will Friedle (Bumblebee):

Khary Payton (Grimlock):

Constance Zimmer (Strongarm):

…and Mitchell Whitfield (Fixit):

Now that you know the stars, here are random panel wide shots:
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Khary set up the clip about to be shown:
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Q&A:
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After 45 minutes, the panel came to an end:
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Constance and Khary stuck around to sign autographs:
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Transformers: Robots in Disguise premieres in early 2015 on Cartoon Network. I can’t wait. I’m so glad I chose this panel.

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After a few fun hours at New York Comic Con, my girlfriend and I called it a day:
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We didn’t go right home, though. We walked down 11th Avenue to West 35th Street, taking that to 8th. We stopped in Trattoria Bianca for an early dinner. An hour later, we boarded an express LIRR train back to Wantagh, which also took an hour.

As I did for my 2012 Day 2 recap, I’ll leave you with a picture of the ticket holder I wore and the badge it carried:
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10/11 UPDATE: There is an in-depth recap of the Transformers: Robots in Disguise panel at Newsarama.

And unbeknownst to me, because I didn’t look at the NYCC schedule beyond Thursday, there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel yesterday. Bam! Smack! Pow! has a recap of that, while IGN’s Scott Collura interviewed Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), and executive producers Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman.

If tickets for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday hadn’t sold out so fast, I would have gone either of those days. But I’m glad I went when I did. As I noted in the original recap, I got to meet Billy West in person and to whet my appetite for Transformers: Robots in Disguise, sitting front row center for their panel in the process.

Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall January 17, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Football, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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Previous recap: June 2011
Later recaps: January 2015, January 2016, January 2018, January 2019

Last night marked the second time I saw jazz pianist Lisa Hilton perform.  The first time was about 2 1/2 years ago in Greenwich Village (see link above).  This time, I was uptown at Carnegie Hall‘s Weill Recital Hall.  It was my first time ever at Carnegie.

My journey began at around 4PM, when I left home to walk to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station for a 4:27 Penn Station-bound train.  I would have taken a later train, but I wanted to be safe in case any delays popped up during my walk to the station.  That’s what happened the day before when I had to take a train to Rockville Centre.  But even though there were delays earlier in the day, there were none when I arrived.  My trip to Penn Station was smooth sailing.  No one sat near me after Freeport.  It was a peaceful journey as I took in the sights while listening to my iPod, not a noisy one where I’m surrounded by chatter from people of varying ages.  (The ride back was somewhat crowded, but not too noisy.  And it helps to have studio headphones.)

I was in a railcar near the back of the train, which meant I needed to walk a little extra from the train to the LIRR Terminal.  Once there, I had dinner at TGI Friday’s.  Then, I walked up to the subway terminal and took the E train uptown to 7th Avenue and West 53rd Street.  The second I emerged from the seemingly endless flights of stairs, I saw the Ed Sullivan Theater, home to the CBS late night talk show, The Late Show with David Letterman.  I whipped out my Nikon D5100 and took a picture:
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I was fortunate enough to attend a taping with my father back in December 2004, but that’s another story.

I arrived at Carnegie Hall just before 7PM.  Since photography wasn’t allowed during Lisa’s performance, these outside pictures will have to do:
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Thinking that the time when the doors to the hall are opened was the time to go inside, I waited outside the Weill Recital Hall entrance for 15 minutes.  Two couples went inside while I was waiting.  Finally, I opened the door and asked if I was allowed to come in.  Of course, I was.  I got my ticket, went up to the lounge adjacent to the hall, and waited for the hall doors to open.

According to my watch, I took my seat at 7:42.  The Weill Recital Hall was not what I was expecting.  It was an intimate hall with one row of orchestra seats, where I sat, and a balcony behind them.  There were three chandeliers on the ceiling; my seat was between two of them.

The hall was completely acoustic.  There were no speakers, no engineer, no amplification, nothing of the kind.  I was in for a unique experience.

Lisa entered at 8:06, joined by Ben Street on upright acoustic bass and Billy Hart on drums.  Lisa played a Steinway & Sons piano.

The set primarily featured music from her upcoming album, Kaleidoscope.  Here’s what the set looked like:
1. Kaleidoscope
2. Whispered Confessions – This one was my favorite.
3. Midnight Mania
4. Bach/Basie/Bird: Boogie Blues Bop
5. Sunny Side Up
6. Blue Horizon
7. Stepping Into Paradise – This was a solo piano piece.  Ben and Billy left the stage and took a break.  They returned for the rest of the set.
8. Getaway – This was another favorite.
9. Subway
10. When It Rains
11. Evening Song
12. So This Is Love

“Getaway” and “Evening Song” are from Getaway (2013).  “Subway” and “When It Rains” are from American Impressions (2012).  “So This Is Love” is from My Favorite Things (2005).
“Getaway” was first performed on Seduction (1997) and in a slightly slower tempo on In the Mood for Jazz (2003).  “Evening Song” also debuted on Seduction.  “Stepping Into Paradise” originated on Getaway.

After the show, I caught up with Lisa in the lounge, and even got to meet her daughter Fiona.  Fiona was nice enough to take our picture:
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My original plan for returning to Penn Station involving taking the M7 MTA New York City Bus back to 34th Street and walking to the LIRR Terminal from there.  But when I got to the bus stop, I had a clear view of Times Square.  I could see the Jumbotron, which still had up the “2014” sign, complete with the New Year’s ball frozen in place above it.  Forget the bus, I thought.  I’m walking back and taking pictures.  And I did:
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42nd Street Subway Station:
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My last two pictures of the night came at the LIRR Terminal entrance:
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I initially boarded the wrong train: an express that didn’t stop at Wantagh.  Luckily, I was able to grab all my belongings quickly and exit the train (thanks to the doors not closing right away).  I quickly found the right train on a different track and barely boarded that one in time.  I was bound for home, capping a memorable night.  I opened my eyes and ears to a new experience and I enjoyed it.  Thank you, Lisa, Ben, and Billy.

My experience at Day 2 of 2012 New York Comic Con October 15, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Books, Comedy, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Later New York Comic Con recaps: 2014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1, 2018 Day 1

Friday marked my first time at the annual New York Comic Con, held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on 11th Avenue on Manhattan’s West Side.  The Javits Center stretches from West 34th to 40th Streets, but the main entrance is at West 37th.

My day at the event was scheduled around the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel, which was to be held at 6:45 PM.  Bored at home, I left the house just after 1:00, 90 minutes earlier than I planned.  I walked to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station (a 20-minute walk), bought a round trip off peak ticket in a ground-level vending machine, and waited on the platform for the train to arrive.  I saw one person in costume, which meant I wouldn’t be the only one bound for NYCC on the train.  With the air temperature in the low 50s and a stiff breeze, I was dressed for winter: a winter coat and a long sleeve shirt, but no costume.  As the joke goes, I went as myself.

After an hour-long train ride to Penn Station, I walked up to the street and had two slices of pizza at Famous Famiglia on 8th Avenue, one of many locations in New York alone.  It was an appropriate lunch on the day of the TMNT panel.

After passing the Houndstooth Pub at the corner of 8th and West 37th Street, the site of many contemporary jazz shows I’ve attended, I crossed west and then north to walk on the north side of West 37th.  There were groups of people ahead of me also heading to Javits.  Part of the walk featured an overpass above Dyer Avenue, which leads into the Lincoln Tunnel.  Once at the Javits Center, I walked in the green entrance.

Friday was the second day of four of the Con.  A sold-out crowd packed the Javits Center, making the indoor temperature feel like close to 80.  If only I had chosen a spring jacket and short sleeve shirt.

According to my camera, I took the first picture in this post at 3:18 PM, within 40 minutes of arriving at Penn Station.  Let’s see those pics, shall we?

I expected to see press conducting interviews, like Bill Schulz and Jesse Watters did last year, but I only saw crews passing by with their equipment off (seen here after I left the Show Floor):

Taking the escalator to the Show Floor:

Leaving the Show Floor:

The next few pics are LEGO displays built by LUGs (LEGO Users Groups) in New York and Connecticut:

Quidditch:

I put the camera down for the next hour and a half to take in the sights and sounds, and grab an early dinner at the food court.

By the time I got to the conference room where the TMNT panel was, there was a line.  I took this pic of the schedule board while waiting on that line, which went on to extend well past me:

As the wait continued, Peter Hastings, one of TMNT’s executive producers, walked by taking pictures of the line.  I recognized him from a Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen podcast back in May.  As he passed near me, I asked him, “Are you Peter Hastings?”  He said yes, then wondered as he shook my hand how I knew who he was.  I told him it was from his body of work, and I cited Pinky and the Brain and TMNT; all I could think of offhand.  I couldn’t tell if he was scared, shocked, or flattered that I knew of him.  It reminded me of when I was at the will call booth at the old IMAC in Huntington before a Rippingtons concert in 2006.  (You can see my pics with Jeff Kashiwa and Steve Reid here.)  Musician Tom Huber was in line ahead of me and I recognized his name when he told it to the ticket taker.  I told him I knew of him through his background vocals on two tracks from Steve Briody‘s (“BRY-dee”) “Keep On Talkin'” album.  Tom’s response was, “Are you kidding?”  In Peter’s case, he assured me the next day on Facebook that he was flattered.  I thanked him for that.

NYCC staff opened the doors to the conference room just after 6:20.  I managed to get an aisle a few rows in (behind a few reserved rows).

(After the above pic, I switched from my Nikon D3100 to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 because I don’t yet have a long lens for the Nikon.  I switched back after the panel.)

The panel began at 6:47 with the TMNT title sequence projected on screens and through theater-style speakers.  The crowd erupted in cheers as Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello approached the dais.

Donnie, Raph, Mikey, Leo:

The panel was moderated by Ray Rahman, a writer for Entertainment Weekly and “somehow, the senior Ninja Turtles correspondent, which is a title I take as seriously as you guys do”:

Here is Ray’s pre-panel write up.

The panel consisted of executive producers Ciro Nieli…

and the aforementioned Peter Hastings:

The rest of the panel was four cast members: the voices of three of the four turtles and their sensei.

Sean Astin as Raphael:

The aforementioned Rob Paulsen as Donatello:

Rob was also Raphael in the original TMNT series that premiered 25 years ago.  (Talkin’ Toons podcast live: original cast reunion)

(IGN’s interview with Rob)

Greg Cipes as Michelangelo:

…and Hoon Lee as Splinter:

Rob acknowledged that TMNT voice director Andrea (“ahn-DRAY-uh”) Romano was in the audience.  She stood up and waved to everyone:

(That was the best image I could get.  Sorry about the poor quality.)

Greg, Rob, and Sean reenacted a fight scene from the show while watching the scene on screen:

What they were reenacting:

Greg and Sean looked at the screen to their left (above) while Rob looked straight ahead at the reverse side of a second screen.

It ended with Donnie screaming in shock!:

What the scream looked like animated:

Ciro, Greg, and Rob watching the sneak previews:

As quickly as the panel began, it was over.

An hour flies when you’re having fun.

As the crowd left, a music video set to “Gangnam Style” by Psy played on the screens.

Meanwhile, Greg stuck around to greet fans and sign autographs:

Some of my pictures from the panel were vidcaps (or screencaps), pictures captured from my computer screen while playing video, which I then edited in Photoshop (cropping, adjusting color).  My camerawork was iffy because I used a mini tripod and tended to shake.  Neil Vitale did a much better job than me.  Here’s his video:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles airs Saturday mornings at 11:00 Eastern on Nickelodeon.

About ten minutes after the leaving the conference room…

…I was out of the Javits Center.

Fifteen minutes later, I made it back to Penn Station’s LIRR terminal.  On the train ride back, I sat next to two people that also attended NYCC.  One of them came with a group of anime fans and she was dressed as a character.  But I don’t remember which one.

I arrived home at 9:45.  It was quite an 8 1/2 hour adventure, one that I won’t soon forget.

We leave you with a picture of the ticket holder I wore and badge that it held:

10/16 UPDATE: Meredith Blake of the Los Angeles Times wrote on Friday about how New York Comic Con is catching up with the bigger Comic-Con (note the hyphen) International in San Diego.

10/19 UPDATE: Andy Levy of Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld was on the Show Floor last Friday when I wasn’t.  Click here to see his report.

Irene retired April 13, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Media, News, Personal, TV, Weather.
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Irene was just below hurricane status when it made landfall on Long Island and points north last August 28, but that name has been retired from the Atlantic storm name cycle for 2017 and on.  From NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration) (edited):

Irene has been retired from the official list of Atlantic Basin tropical storm names by the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) hurricane committee because of the fatalities and damage it caused in August 2011 and will be replaced by Irma.

[Irene made] landfall in North Carolina on Aug. 27 as a Category 1 hurricane … [and] made another landfall the next day as a tropical storm very near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The center moved over Coney Island and Manhattan, New York, the same day.

Irene caused widespread damage across a large portion of the eastern United States as it moved north-northeastward, bringing significant effects from the mid-Atlantic through New England. The most severe impact of Irene was catastrophic inland flooding in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Including flood losses, damage in the United States [from Irene] is estimated to be $15.8 billion.

You can read about my Irene experience here.  There are still marks on windows where I put masking tape up as a precaution.  Until the end of December, I was convinced it was a category 1 hurricane rather than a tropical storm when it made landfall.  With less than two months to go until the 2012 hurricane season begins, I hope that any tropical systems that hit Long Island are merely depressions or extratropical remnants.

A side note: When I read that Irma would be the “I” replacement in 2017, I immediately thought of a character from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series.  Irma Langinstein (portrayed vocally by Jennifer Darling) was a secretary at Channel 6 and a friend of reporter April O’Neil (Renae Jacobs).

Ken Navarro, “The Test of Time” January 12, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Football, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Sports, Travel, TV.
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Ken Navarro rang in 2012 by releasing his new solo acoustic guitar album, “The Test of Time,” on his website.  The street date is March 20, but if you can’t wait, and I sure couldn’t, you can buy through his website.  Since it arrived in the mail two days ago, I’ve listened intently to the album’s twelve tracks, classic songs that truly stand “The Test of Time.”

The tracks (original artist in italics):
1. Imagine (John Lennon) (5:11)
2. Little Martha (The Allman Brothers Band) (3:56)
3. Just Like A Woman/Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (Bob Dylan) (6:09)
4. Message In A Bottle (The Police) (4:37)
5. Eight Days A Week/Ticket to Ride/Day Tripper (The Beatles) (4:37) – As I listened to this, I found myself impersonating the Beatles on select lyrics, namely on “Day Tripper”
6. The Days of Wine and Roses (Henry Mancini) (5:03)
7. Wichita Lineman (Glen Campbell) (4:26)
8. Letter From Home (Pat Metheny Group) (2:41)
9. Caroline No (Brian Wilson) (2:42)
10. Europa (Santana) (6:57)

I got my first taste of “Letter From Home” and “Europa” at last year’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars concert in Milford, Connecticut.

Bonus Tracks:
11. Bach BWV 998 (J.S. Bach) (3:28)
12. When You Wish Upon A Star (Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket) (3:15) – This was originally heard in the Disney classic Pinocchio, but since 1987 (following Super Bowl XXI), it’s used in the post-Super Bowl (and other major sports championships) ad for Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts.  You’ve just finished listening to “The Test of Time.”  What are you going to do next?  I’m going to Disney World!

The description on the album’s webpage is apt: it’s a “Ken Navarro masterpiece” from start to finish.

2/1 UPDATE: “Message In A Bottle” music video:

5/1 UPDATE: “Imagine” music video: