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Rob Paulsen with Michael Fleeman, Voice Lessons November 7, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Health, Media, Music, Personal, TV, Video.
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Posing with Rob Paulsen (right) and Michael Fleeman (left) after they discussed Voice Lessons at Strand Bookstore

Four weeks ago today, I attended a discussion and signing at Strand Bookstore for voice actor Rob Paulsen‘s memoir (with Michael Fleeman), Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life. Two weeks passed before I began simultaneously reading the book and listening to the “read by the author” audiobook.

On the afternoon of October 24, I read the front and back covers, Rob and Mike’s signatures, and the “Praise for Voice Lessons.” Then, I opened the Audible app on my iPhone and began the simulcast. I read and listened to the dedication, foreword (written and read by Rob’s son Ash), introduction, and the first chapter. I took care of the rest of the book, including photos and the “about the authors” page, over nine of the next thirteen days. It was a quite a literary journey.

Voice Lessons recalls key moments in Rob Paulsen’s life and career, including growing up in Michigan, leading a cover band, moving to California to pursue acting, his biggest roles, and winning an Emmy Award.

The last 40% of the memoir covers the harrowing journey through Rob’s throat cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. I felt like I was there and I sympathized. I cheered inside as his recovery progressed. I remember listening to the first Talkin’ Toons podcast Rob did after his recovery, which he cited in the last chapter. His lead sentence even served as the chapter title: “faith, kindness, passion, humor…and Cheez-Its.”

There is also a heartwarming story about Chad Gozzola, a Duchenne muscular dystrophy patient whom Rob first met at a charity hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and remained in touch with – along with his family – over the rest of his life.

The book concludes with the return of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, which will premiere next year on Hulu. Rob also announced that at the book discussion.

This humble review only scratches the surface. Voice Lessons is about 200 pages long and worth reading. The audiobook is seven hours and seven minutes long and worth listening to. I recommend both at the same time, although you’ll occasionally notice differences in phrasing.

I’ll leave you with a photo of my copy and my log:

I kept in Strand’s Post-It note, indicating I’m in signing group 1, as a reminder of my experience last month. As for the log, I tracked the content I read and how many pages it was. For example:

11/1/19: Chapter 7 (27)

Rob Paulsen at Strand Bookstore October 13, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Health, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, TV, Weather.
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I traveled to the borough of Manhattan for the second Thursday in a row. This time, my destination was the Strand Bookstore in the East Village to see voice actor Rob Paulsen discuss his new memoir, Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life. He was joined by his co-author Michael Fleeman, and later by Randy Rogel, the brilliant mind behind many great songs and episodes from Animaniacs and Histeria!, among other credits, and animation writer, including for Batman: The Animated Series, which I began watching on the DC Universe app and website on September 27 and will complete today.

The trip to Strand Bookstore marked my first time on the east side of Greenwich Village after a few years traveling to the West Village for performances at Blue Note. My most recent trip there was for John Scofield’s Combo 66 last November.

A nor’easter had been churning offshore since Wednesday and was supposed to push back west, giving the region rain and wind until Friday or Saturday. I woke up Thursday morning to unexpected sunshine. It turns out the rain wasn’t going to start until the afternoon. I regularly run for exercise, so I took the opportunity to get in 10.4 miles, an outdoor personal best that I would break by .1 miles only two days later.

The sun held out much longer than I thought it would and I was able to walk to the Wantagh LIRR station without needing to take Uber to avoid walking in the rain. I only had to contend with light rain for the last quarter-mile and for ten minutes on the platform. As the train proceeded west toward Penn Station, away from the nor’easter, the skies cleared. The ride was uneventful except for the sight of a Southwest Airlines plane approaching LaGuardia Airport. If only I had my camera out of my backpack.

After arriving at Penn Station, I proceeded up West 34th Street to 6th Avenue, where I went down to 34th Street-Herald Square Station and took the Q train to 14th Street-Union Square Station.

These are the sites I took in as I walked through Union Square and down to Strand:

It was 5:58 when I walked into Strand. Rob’s discussion was on the 3rd floor, the Rare Old Books floor. I walked up the stairs where a few people waited by the door until we were allowed in at 6:30. The line grew over the next half hour, but before long, the door opened and those of us that were on the guest list checked in. We were given a copy of Voice Lessons with a Post-It that had a number written on it. Mine had the number 1, which meant I was in group 1, the first to get books signed by Rob Paulsen and Michael Fleeman.

I sat in the front row, right next to Rob and Mike’s chairs. To my right, a laptop was connected to a TV for slides and a couple of videos that would be shown during the discussion:

Rob and Mike entered the room at 7:09 and the discussion began.

Rob’s brother Mike was in attendance, along with his high school friend, his agent, and a few others. Randy Rogel sat with them until the musical portion of the event. The rest of the attendees were, like me, hardcore Rob Paulsen fans.

Here are select close-ups of Rob Paulsen:

…and Michael Fleeman:

Rob and Mike discussed the structure of the book and went over its highlights.

They also talked about Rob’s signature characters, starting with Raphael from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Donatello from the 2012 series:

Carl Wheezer from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius:

Yakko Warner on Animaniacs:

Genetically-enhanced lab mouse Pinky of Pinky and the Brain, which began as shorts on Animaniacs and were spun off into their own series:

This portion led to a reading of the book’s introduction: “Pinky Gets Bad News”:

Then, Mike introduced a pair of commercials Rob appeared in:

The first was his first role: a 1979 ad for west coast fast food chain Jack in the Box during their Fring (french fry/onion ring) campaign:

Here is that ad:

The second was the infamous “Aaron Burr” Got Milk? ad where a radio call-in contestant fails to coherently recite the correct answer because he doesn’t have milk to wash down his peanut butter sandwich:

You know the one: “Awwin Buww!” Rob voiced the radio personality, Sean Whalen played the unfortunate caller, and Michael Bay – yes, that one – was the director! Watch:

The discussion inevitably turned to Rob’s throat cancer, which he thankfully survived (knock on wood):

The stage then turned to Randy Rogel:

Referring to the sign behind him, he quipped: “I like how this is ’18 miles of books,’ and now it’s 18 miles and one inch.”

Rob explained how Randy got into showbiz:

Randy talked about when Rob told him he had cancer:

“…but the truth is, the doctor said to Rob, ‘Rob, you have a very rare form of cancer. It’s called The Rob Paulsen Cancer. And he said, ‘why me?!'”

Jokes aside, Rob and Randy were part of Animaniacs LIVE! at Joe’s Pub the night before. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the event and did not attend. For those of us that couldn’t make it, and even for some that did, we were treated to a few songs.

To the Joe’s Pub attendees, “if I had known you were gonna be here tonight, I’d have written a new song”:

Rob replied, “Not too far from the truth.”

The first song was “When You’re Traveling from Nantucket,” from Animaniacs episode 87, which focused on the concept of time:

“… The international date line’s an imaginary cleft. Today is on the right side and tomorrow’s on the left. …”

“… that it was mildly amusing, but then totally confusing, and we bet you wish we hadn’t sung at all!”

Next was a song from Histeria! episode 32, “Writers of the Purple Prose.” Chronicling the works of William Shakespeare, it’s “That’s the Story That’s Told by the Bard”:

It was a duet:

Singing of MacBeth: “… Then he kills others, it’s really quite vicious, Until in the end, he gets stabbed in the duff!”

“No, that’s wrong. By MacDuff.”

The third and final song was Randy’s first: “Yakko’s World“:

“United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru…”

“… Tunisia, Morocco, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Djibouti, Botswana-aaaaa, …”

“…Crete, Mauritania, then Transylvania, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Malta, and Palestine, Fiji, Australia, Sudan!”

Michael Fleeman returned for Q&A:

Rob and Mike fielded four questions:

And that was it!

“Thank you, guys. Randy! Mike Fleeman!”

With the discussion complete, it was time to sign. While waiting in the group 1, I passed by a Remington Standard 10 typewriter:

I had Andrew, a Strand employee, take a picture of me with Rob and Mike:

Both of them signed my copy, Mike first and Rob second. Thinking ahead, Mike wrote:

To Mike,
What he said
(arrow pointing up)
Mike

Rob signed with a variant on Yakko’s “Helloooo, Nurse!” catchphrase:

Hellooo, Mike!
Rob Paulsen

I told Rob we were friends on Facebook and that I’d met him two years ago at New York Comic Con. He instantly remembered.

I said my goodbyes and went back to my chair, but before I packed up and headed back to Penn Station, I got to meet Randy Rogel:

I told him I loved his music and his Emmy-winning writing work for Batman. He liked that, looking back fondly.

Within ten minutes, I was at 14th Street-Union Square Station and back aboard the Q for 34th Street-Herald Square. Unfortunately, power disruptions on the Broadway corridor delayed the ride. We were stuck on the center track at 23rd Street Station for about five minutes, though it felt longer. At Penn Station, I bought a frozen yogurt to eat on the ride back to Wantagh. Since I missed the 8:56 Babylon branch train, I’d have to wait until 9:31. But as I stood by a timetable waiting for a track number for the 9:31, I noticed there was a 9:13 Babylon train. It didn’t stop at Wantagh, but did stop one hamlet west in Bellmore. So, I took that and was picked up in Bellmore. The forecast of rain didn’t pan out. That light rain I encountered earlier in the day was the extent of it. Once I was home, I unpacked and went to sleep.

It was a great night at Strand, and a pleasure to see Rob Paulsen again, and meet Michael Fleeman and Randy Rogel for the first time. In the days ahead, I will read Voice Lessons and simultaneously listen to the “read by the author” audiobook. I have done this in years. When I finish, I’ll write a review. Until then, thanks for reading this post.

NOTE: Strand recorded the event to add to their YouTube channel. Once added, I will update this post with their video.

10/14 UPDATE: The video is up. I’m in it, taking and checking pictures, and otherwise listening intently. Watch:

10/22 UPDATE: The day after appearing at Strand, Rob appeared on Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman‘s eponymous podcast, Everyone Talks to Liz Claman. The episode went up a week later. You can listen to it here.

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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Other New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 22014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1, 2019 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.

Audiobooking 4.5 September 22, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Film, Music, News, Personal, Theatre, TV.
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After I wrote my previous post, I decided to at least list the audiobooks that didn’t let me down.

Rather than wait until December and recall all I’d listened to in the past year, I made a Microsoft Word document in January, adding to the document after completing each audiobook. Putting aside Carrie Keagan and Joely Fisher, here’s what I chronicled in that document:

  • My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart (read by Elizabeth) – This was an intense book. I felt Elizabeth’s pain during her nine-month abduction. I understood just how sick and deranged Brian David Mitchell was. I cheered at the point when the police found her and apprehended Mitchell and Wanda Barzee.
  • Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin – Steve recalls his youth and entire stand-up career, which he ceased in 1981. He has occasionally returned to stand-up since, including for a Netflix special with Martin Short.
  • Leonard: My Fifty-Year Relationship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner with David Fisher (read by Bill) – William Shatner details his 50-year relationship with Leonard Nimoy, along with their lives prior to meeting. Shatner briefly detailed Nimoy’s left-wing political activism, but it’s in the past and didn’t sting as much as Carrie Keagan’s contemporary politics in the previous audiobook. It was interesting to listen to. Shatner’s read sounded extemporaneous rather than scripted.
  • Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon – In this memoir that bears the same name as her platinum 1978 album (minus the “A Memoir” part), Carly Simon focuses mostly on the first 40 years of her life. It starts with the dysfunctional upbringing, moves on to touring and recording as The Simon Sisters with her sister Lucy, details her early hits, and chronicles her marriage to James Taylor from its fairy tale beginning to its bitter end.
  • Not Dead Yet: The Memoir by Phil Collins – This is a complete autobiography, from birth to publication in 2016. There was a passing positive reference to Harvey Weinstein, anachronistic considering what’s been reported since this book came out.

If you’d like to know what I’m listening to after this post, ask me.

No more “Audiobooking” posts; rant about expressions September 21, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Personal, Politics.
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I’ve had a rough year when it comes to audiobooks I’ve purchased on Audible. After enduring the disappointing political turn in Ron Perlman’s book last year, I was subjected to the same political turns from Carrie Keagan and Joely Fisher, culminating in Kevin Hart repeatedly going off on endless tangents in his book. He didn’t get political, but he took a political turn at the MTV Video Music Awards while I was in the process of listening to the book.

As if the tangents weren’t enough, he said “at the end of the day.” It’s time for me to come clean: I loathe that expression. I also have no use for “kind of” unless you actually mean “somewhat” or “partially.” And don’t get me started on “so” as the first word of a response to a question or to introduce a video. “So” typically means “therefore.” Oh, and uptalk/high-rising terminal.

That was a tangent, but a worthwhile one.

In light of the four audiobook disappointments, three this year alone, I’ve decided to give up the annual “Audiobooking” posts. I don’t listen as often anymore, anyway. I tend to watch YouTube videos (some of which are plagued with the aggravating expressions and/or vocal tic) or listen to podcasts (likewise) during my workouts or at bedtime.

I’ll conclude this impulsively-conceived post by linking to the final “Audiobooking” post from nine months ago.

Audiobooking 4 December 12, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Country, Film, Game Shows, History, Internet, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Technology, Theatre, TV.
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Here is a list of all the audiobooks I’ve listened to in the 51 weeks since my previous “audiobooking” post:

These audiobooks got me through workouts, bedtime, long walks, and boredom.

In the case of Ron Perlman’s book, I found out after the “Legacy” chapter that Ron is politically active on social media. But I digress.

While I was obsessed with Game Show Network (now GSN) in the early 2000s, I saw plenty of Bill Anderson on Goodson-Todman game shows like Match Game and Password Plus. So, it was nice to be reacquainted with him and introduced to his music.

When you read a book, you don’t hear the tone and inflection that the author had in mind. Listening to Shelly Peiken read Confessions of a Serial Songwriter put what her words I read 16 months earlier into perspective.

Next year’s post will be #5, but will not mark five years of regularly listening to audiobooks. That milestone comes in a year and a half. In the meantime, I hope I’ve inspired you to give the above audiobooks a chance. Happy listening.

Audiobooking 3 December 23, 2016

Posted 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:

* – 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…

A day at the 2016 PGA Championship July 30, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Golf, Health, Media, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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I spent my Friday with my father Bill at the second round of the PGA Championship, held this year at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. The championship was held two weeks earlier this year because of the Olympics. This is a photo recap of our day. Regular cameras weren’t allowed, so all pictures were taken on my iPhone 6.

A few months ago, I listened to the Audible version of Love That Boy, a book by National Journal senior political columnist Ron Fournier. (I ended up buying the book and then buying a copy for my dad for Father’s Day.) It’s mainly about his relationship with his son Tyler, before and after he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 12, about five years before I learned I had it. After the diagnosis, Ron began taking Tyler on trips to presidential museums and to meet a few living presidents, whom Ron covered while a reporter. My dad and I have also taken trips since my diagnosis: to golf tournaments, especially major championships. He used to go to golf tournaments with his friends and father, my grandpa Carmen. In particular, he attended the 1986 and 1995 U.S. Open Championships at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, and the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol. Since 2002, when the U.S. Open was first held at the Bethpage Black Course in Bethpage State Park, we have been to six majors and a handful of regular tournaments. The majors we’ve been to, counting the one that’s the subject of this post, are:
2002 U.S. Open, 3rd Round – Bethpage Black Course
2004 U.S. Open, Final Round – Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
2005 PGA Championship, Final Round – Baltusrol Golf Club
2006 U.S. Open, Final Round – Winged Foot Golf Club
2009 U.S. Open, 3rd/Final Round – Bethpage Black Course
2016 PGA Championship, 2nd Round – Baltursol Golf Club

In 2005 and 2009, play was suspended due to thunderstorms (PGA) and darkness (U.S. Open). I watched the rest of those two majors on TV the following day. In 2009, I also went to the course twice before the first round; once with my mother Lisa and once alone. Here’s how that went.

Dad and I didn’t plan on going to this year’s PGA Championship, even though it was in the tri-state area, but earlier this month, my uncle Jim gave us two grounds tickets to the second round. We would be going, after all.

Rain was in the forecast for Thursday night and yesterday, which I thought would mean no trip or a wasted trip. But play was only delayed 45 minutes and the rain subsided shortly before we left Wantagh around 10AM. General parking was about a half hour away from Baltusrol at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, New Jersey. We arrived there a little after noon.

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Shuttles traveled to and from the park and Baltusrol around the clock.

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We got to the grounds just before 1PM.

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The 2019 PGA Championship will be at Bethpage Black:
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We watched Soomin Lee, Joost Luiten, and William McGirt finish their second round starting at 16.

The 16th green:
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The MetLife blimp:
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The 17th green:
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The 18th hole:
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The clubhouse:
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We reached the practice green just in time to see Phil Mickelson leave it and make his way to the 1st tee:
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Phil won the last time we were at Baltusrol in 2005.

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In his second round, he recovered from a triple bogey at the 1st to shot an even par 70, making the cut at +1.

Gregory Bourdy chipping off the green:
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He went on to shoot a 68 after starting at the 10th tee. At -3 for the championship, he was six shots back of Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb (-9) after two rounds.

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Brian Gaffney’s ball adjacent to the 6th fairway:
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Gaffney reached the green and was able to save par, but he shot a 74 (+4) in the first round and 73 (+3) in this second, missing the cut by five shots.

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The 7th fairway:
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The 11th tee and 10th green:
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From there, we watched two groups that started at the 10th:
1) Omar Uresti, Greg Chalmers (who had an autism awareness patch on his bag), Ross Fisher
2) David Muttitt, Smylie Kaufman, Zac Blair

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The view from the grandstand by the 10th tee and 9th green:
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Here, we watched a few groups:
1) J.B. Holmes, Brian Stuard, Hideki Matsuyama
2) Matt Dobyns, Tyrell Hatton, Harris English
3) Ernie Els (whose son is autistic), Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson

We left the grandstand before Jimmy Walker’s group reached the 9th green.

The 13th green:
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The aforementioned Harris English’s ball adjacent to the 13th fairway:
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He did make the cut and was five shots back (-4).

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Walking through Patron Plaza…:
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A misting fan:
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After 4 1/2 hours, our day came to an end:
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Since it was rush hour, the shuttle ride back to Oak Ridge Park took about 40 minutes. From there, Dad and I drove home, listening to the coverage of the rest of the second round on SiriusXM’s PGA Tour Radio. Heading up the coverage was the voice of the New York Giants, who play a half hour away at MetLife Stadium, Bob Papa. We arrived back at the house at about 8:30.

It was a memorable day at the PGA Championship. Thank you, Uncle Jim, for the tickets.

I will update this post after the final round.

7/31, 7:30 PM UPDATE: The rains came yesterday (Saturday) afternoon and suspended play until this (Sunday) morning. Jimmy Walker briefly trailed in the third round this morning, but regained the lead heading into the final round this afternoon. Moments ago, Walker held off defending PGA Champion Jason Day, and his own nerves, to win the 2016 PGA Championship. He won wire-to-wire, leading or tied for the lead after every round. Day showed class by congratulating Walker on the 18th green.

I’m glad to have been part of the tournament as a second round spectator.

7/31, 8:41 PM UPDATE: Post-championship links:
PGA/CBS Sports: Walker’s winning par putt
PGA/CBS Sports: Wanamaker Trophy presentation and interview
Nick Menta, Golf Channel: Walker bests Day by one to win PGA Championship
Kyle Porter & Robby Kalland, CBS Sports: PGA Championship 2016 leaderboard, highlights: Breaking down a wild ending

8/1 UPDATE: More links:
Matt Stypulkoski, The Star-Ledger: Jimmy Walker continues trend of first-time major winners
Steve Politi, The Star-Ledger: Jimmy Walker’s PGA Championship victory is a win for grinders everywhere
Hank Gola, The Star-Ledger: Is it still Jimmy Walker’s day if he had been paired with Jason Day?
Andy Vasquez, The Record: Walker holds off Day for first major
Tara Sullivan, The Record: Walker’s wire-to-wire act was dynamite (a reference to “dynomite!,” the catchphrase of J.J. Evans on Good Times, portrayed by namesake Jimmie Walker)
Michael Bamberger, Golf Magazine: Jimmy Walker Edges Jason Day, Wins 2016 PGA Championship
Art Stricklin, Golf Magazine: Party Awaits Jimmy Walker at His Home Club in Texas

8/2 UPDATE: Even more links:
PGA: Full Sunday Highlights
PGA: Full Tournament Highlights
PGA: Jimmy Walker’s Full PGA Champion Press Conference
PGA: Top 10 Shots of the 2016 PGA Championship (#9 spoiler: I saw John Senden on the practice green after he completed his second round.)

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

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Football, Music, Personal.
1 comment so far

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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.

Audiobooking 2: Listen Up! November 12, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Basketball, Blu-ray, Christmas, Comedy, Commentary, DVD, Film, News, Personal, Politics, Sports, TV, Video.
1 comment so far

Early last December, I listed all the audiobooks I had listened to while working out between June and the day I wrote the post. I said “there [would] be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead.” This follow-up post will list those books, all of which I listened to on Audible.

Since my misadventure with Dick Cavett’s left-leaning book collection of New York Times blog posts, I’ve only listened to apolitical or right-leaning audiobooks.

From last December to now, here is what has guided me through workouts, bedtime, and boredom:

I have many more audiobooks I plan on listening to between now and the next post, whenever that will come. Just today, I started Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes’ book on Jack Kemp. It’s called Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America. After that, I’ll move on to the another Rush Revere book: Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner. Then, a series of autobiographies should keep me occupied through the summer. Until next time…