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Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, Day 2 August 14, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Football, Internet, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Technology, Travel, Video, Video Games.
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I’ve been to jazz performances, comedy acts, and New York Comic Con. But yesterday marked my first time at a retro gaming convention. I made my way to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in East Garden City for the second day of this year’s Long Island Retro Gaming Expo.

Within the last year, I’ve become a regular YouTube viewer, gravitating toward channels about computers, music keyboards, video games, video game and console collecting, and what equipment to use to get the best picture quality out of video game consoles on an HDTV. These videos inspired me to start the Mike Chimeri’s Music Collection YouTube series. Here’s the latest episode:

Two of the YouTube channels I watch are The 8-Bit Guy and 8-Bit Keys, both run by David Murray. (He also has a website.) In a video earlier this year, David announced he would be appearing at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. With that in mind, I bought a ticket for the second day.

When I purchased my ticket, I was automatically subscribed to the expo newsletter. With a month to go, the schedule was released. It turned out the first day would be more eventful, with many guest speakers, including David. In fact, my friend Jill and her son Mark went on the first day and saw him speak. But I chose to stick with my decision to only go to the second day, since David was also listed as a vendor.

I left for the Cradle of Aviation Museum, part of Museum Row, at 11:30. 20 minutes later, I was there.

I was directed to a desk, where I exchanged my ticket for a wristband.

I also bought into a raffle at the information desk:

After a few minutes of walking by vendors, I spotted David Murray. I introduced myself and we had a brief conversation. He graciously allowed a picture with him, which his wife took:

It slipped my mind that he should sign something until he brought it up after the picture. I had him sign my program:

It turned out David wasn’t a vendor on the second day because he had sold all his merchandise on the first day. I was disappointed, but still honored to meet him and his wife. Be sure to check out The 8-Bit Guy and 8-Bit Keys. And if you like what you see, consider supporting the channels on Patreon. I do.

After that, I toured the rest of the vendors.

I held off on buying anything until I was ready to leave.

The tournament room:

The second floor had freeplays on various consoles and CRT TVs, as well as arcade cabinets:

I gave Mega Man and Castlevania a try, but struggled and gave up after losing a life:

I played a successful level of Dr. Mario, a favorite of mine:

I’ve always liked how the “Chill” tune briefly pays homage to “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins.

I first discovered the arcade version of Tetris at the since-closed Kutsher’s Hotel in 1995. My former dentist also had a Tetris cabinet for many years. Back in 2010, I bought the rare, unlicensed NES port on eBay. The music and gameplay sound just like the arcade. I also have the licensed Nintendo version.

I subscribed to Nintendo Power for several years. Game Genies for many consoles helped me greatly. The NES version allowed me to beat Super Mario Bros. 3 many times.

Here are R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), the Virtual Boy, and the Power Glove:

One of my cousins had a Virtual Boy, which I tried in 1995, six months after the Kutsher’s weekend, and did not like.

I quickly walked the third floor where there was PC LAN freeplay:

Back on the second floor, AfroDJMac played our favorite retro tunes:

Madden:

A corridor of freeplay:

Back to the first floor:

Board games, or tabletop games:

In just over an hour, I’d seen everything. All that remained was to go back to the Vendor Hall and buy some games I’ve always wanted, but never owned. Consider this the equivalent of a pickups video. The games I bought were:

Nintendo Game Boy:

  • Monopoly
  • Elmo’s ABCs (don’t judge)
  • Mickey’s Speedway USA

Sega Genesis:

  • Tecmo Super Bowl

Nintendo 64:

  • Cruis’n World
  • Top Gear Rally

Nintendo Gamecube:

  • Super Monkey Ball

Nintendo DS:

  • Kirby Mass Attack

I also bought a Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP model AGS-101:

For over a decade, I’ve had the frontlit AGS-001. I was satisfied with the quality until I found out in this My Life in Gaming video…

…and this Metal Jesus Rocks video…

…that there was a second model, the AGS-101, which was not only backlit, but brighter! The difference is amazing. On top of that, as you saw, the GBA SP I bought was a Limited Edition Pikachu version. I’m not into Pokémon, but it’s still special to have.

I was hoping to get a Sega Saturn at a decent price, but did not succeed. I’ll have to settle for eBay sometime in the future.

There was one item I bought that was neither a game nor a console. It was pixel art by Joseph Uzzo who has a blog called Nestalgic Bits. I picked out a standing sprite of Raccoon Mario from Super Mario Bros. 3:

I may have only been at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo for a couple of hours, but I had a great time. Thanks to the expo staff, the vendors, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Joseph Uzzo, the Murrays, and my fellow game enthusiasts.

A day at two museums and one park July 21, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Education, Film, History, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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One day last July, my friend Lori Downing and I toured the Fire Island Lighthouse. On Wednesday, our destination was Corona, Queens, to tour a pair of museums. Our first stop was the Louis Armstrong House Museum on 107th Street, followed by the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. In between, we walked through the park to see two relics from the 1964 New York World’s Fair: the abandoned New York State Pavilion, and the Unisphere. That part of this post includes home movies my grandfather shot at the fair, as well as recollections from my aunt Randy and Hank Neimark.

It took an hour and a half to get to our first stop due to heavy traffic on the Long Island Expressway (I-495) and Grand Central Parkway, and limited parking spots near the house. We parked a block away on 108th Street.

It would be 20 minutes until the next tour, so we walked through the garden…

…and looked at the pre-tour exhibits:

Photography was not allowed during the tour, but was allowed everywhere else.

I’m familiar with “What a Wonderful World,” but not enough to know it was recorded in 1967. That means this year marks its 50th anniversary:

The gift shop at the entrance:

The tour began just after noon. Our guide was Elaine, a museum docent that lives only 12 blocks away. She brought us back to the exhibit room for a short introductory DVD. It was then that I learned his name is pronounced phonetically, as in “Lewis,” not “Louie.” After the DVD, Elaine guided us to the house.

Everything in the house is nearly as it was when Louis’s wife Lucille died in 1983, 12 years after his passing. Even the doorbell, which Elaine rang before we walked in, was original.

After walking in, Elaine guided us to the living room, which included portraits of Louis and Lucille, lavish furnishings, and a Spinet piano (which he didn’t play).

Louis and I have something in common: home speech recordings. His medium was reel-to-reel tape; my media were cassette and microcassette. When I was younger, I would record myself, either talking about what I’d been up to recently, interviewing family members, or co-hosting a “radio show” with my cousin Chris. That last one was also recorded on video. While we were in the den, Elaine played a few examples of Louis’s speech recordings. As we learned later in the tour, he also recorded singing and trumpet improvisation from home.

The next stop was the downstairs bathroom with bathtub. The wall and ceiling were all mirrors. After that, it was on to the dining room, which led into the kitchen. Floral wallpaper adorned the walls and part of the ceiling. The cabinets and dishwasher were blue while the counter, sink, and dual oven (with six gas burners) was white. A can opener was built into the wall along with a compartment with paper towels, foil, and plastic wrap. Adjacent to the kitchen was a smaller dining room, which served as Louis and Lucille’s bedroom while Lucille’s mother lived with them and stayed in their bedroom.

The tour headed upstairs where the aforementioned bedroom and recording room were located. The bedroom had a double-size bed with drawers on either side, paintings of scenery hanging on the walls, Mylar wallpaper, a lamp, and a chandelier. The Mylar wallpaper carried into the spacious bathroom and closet. The recording room had reel-to-reel tape decks, amps, a record player, radio, shelves of records and tapes, a desk, and a portrait of Louis painted by his friend Tony Bennett. Bennett signed it with his real surname: Benedetto. Actually, the tapes and records are housed at Queens College, but will move to the Education Center that is going to be constructed across the street from Louis’s house.

That concluded the tour. I didn’t list everything that Lori and I saw and were told by Elaine, but I feel I’ve shared enough. I highly recommend taking the tour. Plan your visit here.

When we got back outside, Elaine suggested we pose with Louis’s cutout. She said it was necessary to gesture as he did:

Lori suggested taking one with Elaine:

In the gift shop, I bought a sticker, pin, picture postcards, and a DVD of an American Masters documentary from 1989: Satchmo: The Life of Louis Armstrong. Some of the interviews were filmed in the living room.

Before we left, I signed the guest book:

Lori and I walked back to her car and we drove to the Queens Museum at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

As I noted at the top, we walked through the park first. On our way to the Unisphere, I got a great view of the New York State Pavilion:

The Unisphere:

Lori walked toward the fountains, but I stayed behind; I didn’t want to get wet:

A different angle:

A closer look at the New York State Pavilion:

I even caught a quick glimpse inside the pavilion right before the gates were closed:

They were open because New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio toured the interior earlier in the afternoon.

Lori was fortunate enough to attend the 1964 New York World’s Fair, as did my grandparents, parents, and my parents’ siblings. My maternal grandfather, Arthur Rose, brought his movie camera to the fair and captured what he saw. The film, along with all of his home movies, was transferred to VHS 30 years ago. Six years ago, I transferred the VHS tapes to an external hard drive and then to DVDs.

Here is what my grandfather captured:

I also posted the film to Facebook, which garnered nothing but positive feedback and memories. My aunt Randy Stephen (née Rose), who was in the film, had this to say:

That was really wonderful, Mike (although I can just imagine how many times grandma must have yelled at grandpa for his camera work 😝)! I do remember going to the World’s Fair a few times, although I was only 6 or 7 at the time. The kid going crazy in the beginning must have been Bruce Goldberger, since I saw his mom, Ann, in the movie, as well. They were our neighbors in [the] Colony Park [section of Freeport].

Hank Neimark – a fellow alumnus of LIU Post and its radio station, WCWP – was there, too:

Michael Kosmin (Charter WCWP-FM guy) and I, claiming that we were doing radio reports on the ’64 World’s Fair, managed to get rides on the Goodyear Blimp. We contacted Goodyear PR, got permission over the phone, and with Nagra in hand headed out to the now abandoned Flushing airport. Of course we weren’t on the air yet, butcha know…. What a thrill. Over Manhattan, over the bridges, and over the Fair. We hitched on to the blimp twice.

Thank you to Hank and Aunt Randy for your stories.

Before heading into the Queens Museum, I heard a plane flying overhead – likely approaching nearby LaGuardia Airport – and quickly photographed it:

Founded in 1972, the Queens Museum is housed in the New York City Building, a pavilion built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and used again for the 1964 fair. In between the fairs, it was the home of the United Nations General Assembly for the U.N.’s first few years of existence. (Sources: Building History | Queens Museum, Queens Museum Wikipedia entry)

Lori and I looked at a few exhibits in the museum, starting with another relic of the 1964 World’s Fair: the Panorama of the City of New York:

I had to sharpen the pictures below since they came out blurry.

I didn’t have to sharpen these:

World’s Fair Visible Storage:

This houses memorabilia from the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.

Nine: 2017 Queens Museum Studio Program Exhibition:

Our second museum trip concluded with the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass:

After I bought a book of World’s Fair postcards in the gift shop, Lori and I returned to the car and she drove me home. There was heavy traffic going back, too, so it took another hour and a half to get home. The traffic gave us plenty of time to talk and listen to the jazz CDs I brought with me.

I had a wonderful time at the museums and in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Thanks again, Lori. Until next year.

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.
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Previous New York Comic Con recap: 2012 Day 2

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:
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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.

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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:
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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.

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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:
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Jose Lopez, director:
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Adam Beecher, producer and writer:
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And the voice talent:
Will Friedle (Bumblebee):
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Khary Payton (Grimlock):
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Constance Zimmer (Strongarm):
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…and Mitchell Whitfield (Fixit):
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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 lanyard 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.

2013 in review December 31, 2013

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Audio, Commentary, Film, Health, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, New Age, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, Weather.
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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 2013 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 9,600 times in 2013. 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.

2013 was the first full year for the WordPress version of MikeChimeri.com.  April was a transformative month that saw my upgrade from a Nikon D3100 camera to a D5100, and finally join iPhone nation.  I upgraded from an LG enV3 to an Apple iPhone 5.  (I ended up giving my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 to someone very special.)  A week after those two upgrades, I documented the 2013 WCWP Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  A week after that, I was in Milford, Connecticut, for the first two-night Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert seriesApril also marked five years since The Mike Chimeri Blog was launched; MikeChimeri.com launched in May 2005, seven years before merging with the blog.

In addition to some new contemporary jazz releases, I broadened my musical horizons by adding Return to Forever, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, and various Christmas compilations to my collection.  I posted more expressway and parkway pictures.  I spent most of the summer scanning old 35mm pictures and recording cassettes and microcassettes to one of my hard drives.  I returned to LIU Post and WCWP in October for my annual Homecoming Weekend Show and Homecoming itself.  I attended Charlie Fillizola’s art exhibit at Wantagh Public Library.  And besides SJFS, I attended concerts in August, October, and November.

I didn’t mention this in any post, but there was one dark spot in 2013: the loss of my paternal grandmother, Marilyn “Mazz” Chimeri (née Garing), in early July.  She was the last of my grandparents remaining after I lost my maternal grandparents, Lennie and Arthur Rose, in June and November 2010, and my paternal grandfather, Carmen Chimeri, in December 2011.  I miss them dearly, but feel lucky to have known them for as long as I did.  I love you all.

I hope for the best in 2014, not only for myself, but for each and every one of you visiting this site.  Have a happy and healthy new year.

Charles E. Fillizola exhibit recap November 1, 2013

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Education, Personal, Photography.
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I was at Wantagh Public Library last Saturday – October 26 – for artist Charles E. Fillizola’s exhibit.

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I was invited to Charlie’s exhibit by his fellow artist friend Dan Christoffel, whom I’ve known for about a decade.  Dan and I met when I was a student LIU Post.

Here is what I saw:

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I was inspired to buy prints of a pair of Charlie’s works: “Cedarmere,” a pastel; and “Lady Luck, Perkins Cove,” which is pen and ink.

This is “Cedarmere,” as it was displayed:
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“Lady Luck, Perkins Cove”:
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As the exhibit wrapped up, I asked Charlie and Dan for a picture:
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I’m so glad I accepted Dan’s invitation to Charlie’s exhibit.  I saw some magnificent works that I won’t soon forget.

For more from Charlie Fillizola, you can “like” him on Facebook.