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Dave Koz 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour at Tilles Center December 4, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Comedy, Education, Football, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, TV.
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Saturday night, my friend Lori Downing and I saw the Dave Koz 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of my college alma mater, LIU Post. Saxophonist Dave Koz’s friends are guitarist Peter White, horn player Rick Braun, pianist David Benoit, and singer Selina Albright, daughter of saxophonist Gerald Albright. (She plays the sax, too.) The rest of the band was made up of music director Randy Jacobs on guitar, Brian Simpson on keyboards, Nathaniel Kearney Jr. on bass, and Jay Williams on drums.

There are 149 pictures waiting below, but first, the backstory.

This was my first time at Tilles for something not involving WCWP since July 2009 when I saw John Tesh perform. It was also my first concert since Smooth Jazz for Scholars in May. Rick Braun was there for the first night.

I have been meaning to see Dave in concert for almost 11 years. My dad bought tickets to Dave’s Valentine’s Day show at Best Buy Theater in Manhattan in 2007, but an ice storm kept us from going. Four Februarys later, I had another opportunity to see Dave at the same theater with my friend, and loyal Dave Koz fan, Kelly Dacey. Unfortunately, plans came up for her and I missed out again.

For four years in a row, I saw Peter White Christmas – a spin-off of sorts of Dave’s Christmas tour featuring Peter and Rick Braun, along with saxophonist Mindi Abair – at the defunct IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) in Huntington. (Here’s my recap of my fourth year.)

This year, to use a cliche, Dave got the band back together to mark the 20th anniversary of his tour. The inaugural tour coincided with his first Christmas album, December Makes Me Feel This Way. With Peter, Rick, and David Benoit, whom I hadn’t seen perform since five days before Hurricane Sandy, on board, I felt compelled to finally see Dave in concert. When I noticed in early September that the tour was coming to the Tilles Center on December 2, I immediately bought two tickets, inviting my friend Lori Downing to come with me. I picked those tickets up at Tilles’s Will Call booth on October 13, following my WCWP Homecoming Weekend show.

I was anxious in the days leading up to Dave’s show, worried that something would go wrong. Thankfully, nothing did.

Until Lori picked me up around 6:30 PM, it was a typical Saturday for me. I exercised, ran on the treadmill, went grocery shopping with my friend Rob Leeds, and watched NCAA Division I FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) conference championship games.

I guided Lori from my house to LIU Post, going the route I’ve known for 18 years of my life: the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway (NY 135) north, the Long Island Expressway (I-495) west, NY 106/107 north, breaking off into 107 north, Northern Boulevard (NY 25A) west, and the west entrance to LIU Post. I usually went in the east entrance to be let off at Post Hall (where the Academic Resource Center was) or WCWP, but I directed her to the other one since we were going to Tilles.

We arrived just after 7PM, but had to wait a half hour for the concert hall doors to open.

Our tickets were for row JJ, which I affectionately called the Uecker seats, a reference to an infamous Miller Lite commercial from 1984, starring Hall of Fame baseball player and broadcaster Bob Uecker, a spokesman for Miller beer at the time:

Our seats weren’t that high. The view of the stage was great (and less filling). It still helped to have my 55-300 mm lens for the pictures I was about to take.

The show began at 8:08 when David Benoit, offstage, announced: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host for the evening, Dave Koz!”

“New York, make some noise!

Before you see the rest of the pictures, I present the set list:
1. Opening Medley: Winter Wonderland/Happy Holiday/The Most Wonderful Time of the Year/Angels We Have Heard On High/Sleigh Ride
Dave Koz – lead vocals on “Happy Holiday”
Dave’s saxophone: tenor

2. Let It Snow
Dave’s saxophone: tenor

3. Little Drummer Boy
Can be heard on: December Makes Me Feel This Way (1997), A Smooth Jazz Christmas (2001)
Dave’s saxophone: soprano

4. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
Dave’s saxophone: tenor
Selina Albright – lead vocals
Rick Braun, trombone

5. The Christmas Song
Dave’s saxophone: tenor
Selina Albright – lead vocals

6. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Dave’s saxophone: tenor
Selina Albright – lead vocals
Peter White, Rick Braun – background vocals
Peter White – spoken verse
Randy Jacobs – electric guitar solo

7. White Christmas
Can be heard on: December Makes Me Feel This Way (1997)
Dave Koz only
Dave’s saxophone: alto

8. Together Again (Dave Koz)
Originally heard on: The Dance (1999)
Dave Koz/David Benoit
Dave’s saxophone: soprano

9. Possible (Selina Albright)
Originally heard on: Conversations (2017)
Selina Albright only

10. Everything is Alright (Rick Braun)
Originally heard on: Around the Horn (2017)
Rick Braun/Dave Koz/Peter White
Dave’s saxophone: tenor
Rick Braun – lead vocals
Randy Jacobs, Nathaniel Kearney Jr., Peter White, Dave Koz – background vocals
Randy Jacobs – electric guitar solo
Brian Simpson – piano, dance solo
Jay Williams – drum solo
Rick prompted the audience to sing the “hey, hey, pretty mama” line.

11. Do I Do/Promenade (Peter White)
Originally heard onGroovin’ (2016)/Promenade (1993)
Peter White/Dave Koz/Rick Braun
Dave’s saxophone: alto

12. The Music of Charlie Brown: Christmas is Coming*/Skating**/Christmas Time is Here***/Linus and Lucy**** (David Benoit)
David performs these songs on:
* – Remembering Christmas (1996), 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas (2005), Believe (2015) (part of “Guaraldi Medley”)
** – Remembering Christmas (1996)
*** – Christmastime (1983); Remembering Christmas (1996), Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years! (2000)
**** – This Side Up (1985); Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown (1989); Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years! (2000)
Dave’s saxophone: soprano on “Christmas Time is Here,” tenor on “Linus and Lucy”
Selina Albright – vocals on “Christmas Time is Here,” vocalese on “Linus and Lucy”

INTERMISSION

13. Hark! The Herald Angels We Have Heard On High (Medley) (Dave Koz & Friends)
Originally heard on20th Anniversary Christmas (2017)
Dave’s saxophone: soprano

14. Silent Night
Can be heard on: 20th Anniversary Christmas (2017)
Selina Albright, end verse vocals
Dave’s saxophone: soprano

15. Feliz Navidad
Can be heard on: 20th Anniversary Christmas (2017)
Selina Albright – lead vocals
Dave Koz, Rick Braun – background vocals
Dave’s saxophone: soprano

16. Joy to the Wonderful World (Medley) (Dave Koz & Friends)
Originally heard on20th Anniversary Christmas (2017)
Dave’s saxophone: alto
In a year where Lori and I went to the Louis Armstrong House and Museum, and 50 years since “What a Wonderful World” was recorded, this song warmed our hearts.

17. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Selina Albright – lead vocals
Dave’s saxophone: soprano

18. The Hanukkah Song/Eight Candles (A Song for Hanukkah) (Dave Koz)
“Eight Candles” originally heard onDecember Makes Me Feel This Way (1997), A Smooth Jazz Christmas (2001)
Dave Koz/Peter White/Rick Braun
Dave Koz – lead vocal on “The Hanukkah Song”
Peter White – accordion on “Eight Candles”
Rick Braun – trombone on “Eight Candles”
Dave’s saxophone on “Eight Candles”: soprano

19. Every Step of the Way/Kei’s Song Redux/Freedom at Midnight (David Benoit)
Originally heard onEvery Step of the Way (1988)/Conversation (2012)/Freedom at Midnight (1987)
Dave’s saxophone on “Freedom at Midnight”: tenor

20. Bueno Funk (Peter White)
Originally heard on: Glow, 2001
Peter White/Dave Koz/Rick Braun
Jay Williams – drum solo
Dave’s saxophone: tenor

21. Grazing in the Grass (Rick Braun)
Originally heard on: Shake It Up (with Boney James) (2000); Sessions, Volume 1 (2006)
Rick Braun/Dave Koz/Peter White
Mid-song vocal medley: Groovin’/Just My Imagination/Shotgun/Soulful Strut (instrumental)
Dave’s saxophone: tenor

22. You Make Me Smile (Dave Koz)
Originally heard on: Lucky Man (1993)
Nathaniel Kearney Jr. – bass solo
Rick Braun – trombone
Dave’s saxophone: soprano

23 (Encore). Celebrate Me Home
Part of “The Home Medley” on 20th Anniversary Christmas (2017)
Dave Koz, Selina Albright – lead vocals
Rick Braun, Peter White – background vocals
Everyone, even the audience, joined in on vocals at the end
Dave’s saxophone: alto

Now, the rest of the pictures. We start with Dave Koz on tenor sax:

Soprano sax:

And alto sax:

Peter White:

Peter played accordion on “Eight Candles”:

Rick Braun:

I never knew Rick played trombone until Saturday night:

Marching back and forth during the “Eight Candles” refrain:

David Benoit:

The “Linus and Lucy” solo, complete with Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree:

Selina Albright:

Randy Jacobs:

Brian Simpson:

Nathaniel Kearney Jr.:

Jay Williams’ “Bueno Funk” solo:

On to wide shots, starting with the opening medley:

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”:

“Together Again”:

“Everything is Alright”:

…which featured a dance solo by Brian Simpson, accompanied by drummer Jay Williams:

“Promenade”:

“Linus and Lucy”:

“Hark! The Herald Angels We Have Heard On High (Medley)”:

“Silent Night”:

“Feliz Navidad”:

“Joy to the Wonderful World (Medley)”:

“Eight Candles”:

“Freedom at Midnight”:

“Bueno Funk” began in the audience:

The James Bond routine:

After Selina put the sunglasses on, Peter played a wolf whistle riff, which made me chuckle.

“Grazing in the Grass”:

“You Make Me Smile”:

Finally, the encore: “Celebrate Me Home”:

Dave had everyone pose for a picture – albeit, a small one – posted to Facebook and Instagram:

Here’s how it looked:

“… God bless you, Happy Holidays, good night!”:

About an hour after the band left the stage, there was a meet and greet in the Tilles Center’s Herbert and Dolores Goldsmith Atrium, which has hosted the annual WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony since the first class was inducted in 2012. Coincidentally, I was wearing the same shirt that I wore at this year’s ceremony. Rick was the first musician Lori and I met and greeted while we were in line for Dave, Peter, and Selina:

Then, at the table, I caught up with Peter, and introduced myself to Selina and Dave. I told Dave that Kelly Dacey said hello. He appreciated that and asked what she’s up to these days. I told him. 15 minutes later, after the autograph portion of the meet-and-greet was over, I posed for a picture:

As we were posing, Dave said it was great to meet him. Through my posed smile, I said “likewise.” Selina got a kick out of that, which led me to quip “I’m a regular Jeff Dunham.”

Then, Lori joined us:

I told Dave about how we’d been to the Louis Armstrong House and Museum earlier this year and how special it was to hear “What a Wonderful World” following the trip.

After that, Lori and I packed our things and left the building, but not the campus. First, I wanted to show Lori around WCWP; or at least, since the door was locked, the exterior of the Abrams Communication Center that’s been home to it since its switch to FM in March 1965. (It began as a carrier current station in October 1961.) She was fascinated.

The clock struck midnight as Lori and I drove back to our homes. It had been a fantastic five hours on the campus of LIU Post and its Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. I had a blast! It was great to meet Dave and Selina for the first time and see Peter and Rick again. I spoke to David on Facebook on Sunday, letting him known how things went for me, complimenting him and the band, and wishing them all luck on the rest of the Dave Koz 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour.

Merry Christmas to all that observe it and Happy Hanukkah to me, Dave, and our Jewish friends and family.

P.S. As I finish this post, I’m at the end of my 302-song iTunes instrumental Christmas music playlist, which I started listening to on November 9. Okay, let’s take it from the top!

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Mid-season thoughts July 9, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Personal.
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The first half of the 2017 Major League Baseball season ends today. I have watched very little of it. Considering the way the New York Mets, my favorite team, have performed, that’s a good thing. As I’ve told my Facebook friends, ignorance is bliss.

As for Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Miami, I expect the American League to win yet again. Thankfully, though, this will be the first time in 15 years that the winner doesn’t get home field advantage in the World Series. Starting this season, home field goes to the league champion with the better record, finally putting MLB on par with the NBA and NHL.

This was originally a Facebook post, but I revised it for the website.

My 2016 MLB Predictions April 3, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Personal, Sports.
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Previous MLB season predictions: 2015

(12/21/16 UPDATE: Results italicized in parentheses.)

The 2016 Major League Baseball season begins today. That means it’s time for my annual preseason predictions.

NL (National League) East

  1. Nationals (3) (2)
  2. Mets (Wild Card 1)
  3. Phillies (finished 4th)
  4. Braves (finished 5th)
  5. Marlins (finished 3rd)

NL Central

  1. Cardinals (1) (missed playoffs, finished 2nd)
  2. Cubs (Wild Card 1) (won division, 1 seed)
  3. Pirates
  4. Reds (finished 5th)
  5. Brewers (finished 4th)

NL West

  1. Giants (2) (Wild Card 2, finished 2nd)
  2. Dodgers (Wild Card 2) (won division, 3 seed)
  3. Diamondbacks (finished 4th)
  4. Padres (finished 5th)
  5. Rockies (finished 3rd)

AL (American League) East

  1. Red Sox (2) (3)
  2. Yankees (Wild Card 1) (missed playoffs, finished 4th)
  3. Blue Jays (Wild Card 2) (Wild Card 1, finished 2nd)
  4. Orioles (Wild Card 2, finished 3rd)
  5. Rays

AL Central

  1. Royals (1) (missed playoffs, finished 3rd)
  2. Tigers
  3. Indians (won division, 2 seed)
  4. White Sox
  5. Twins

AL West

  1. Astros (3) (missed playoffs, finished 3rd)
  2. Angels (finished 4th)
  3. Rangers (won division, 1 seed)
  4. Mariners (finished 2nd)
  5. Athletics

Playoff predictions:
NL Wild Card Playoff

Cubs defeat Dodgers (Giants defeat Mets)

AL Wild Card Playoff
Blue Jays defeat Yankees (Blue Jays defeat Orioles)

NL Division Series
Cardinals vs. Cubs: Cardinals win 3-0 (Cubs vs. Giants: Cubs win 3-1)
Giants vs. Nationals: Giants win 3-2 (Nationals vs. Dodgers: Dodgers win 3-2)

AL Division Series
Royals vs. Blue Jays: Royals win 3-0 (Rangers vs. Blue Jays: Blue Jays win 3-0)
Red Sox vs. Astros: Red Sox win 3-1 (Indians vs. Red Sox: Indians win 3-0)

NL Championship Series
Cardinals vs. Giants: Cards win 4-2 (Cubs vs. Dodgers: Cubs win 4-2)

AL Championship Series
Royals vs. Red Sox: Royals win 4-1 (Indians vs. Blue Jays: Indians win 4-1)

World Series (AL home field advantage via All-Star Game win) (home field correct; last time decided by All-Star Game; new Collective Bargaining Agreement says team with better record gets home field)
Cardinals vs. Royals: Cardinals win 4-2 (Indians vs. Cubs: Cubs win 4-3)

As you can see, I predict the two teams I don’t like will square off in the World Series for the first time since 1985. But unlike the last time, the team I’ve disliked longer, the Cardinals (since 2006) will prevail. (A classic World Series played out between the Indians and Cubs, both vying to end long championship droughts. The Indians hadn’t won the World Series since 1948; the Cubs hadn’t since 1908. The longer drought was busted as the Cubs prevailed, in spite of blowing a four-run lead in regulation in Game 7, then almost blowing a two-run lead in the bottom of the 10th inning after going ahead in the top of the inning. There was joy in Wrigleyville as, to quote Joe Buck on FOX, “the Cubs…have finally won it all!”. Hallelujah.)

I’m a pessimistic Mets fan, so it’s only fitting that I have them missing the playoffs. I was generous enough to predict second place, but not a Wild Card spot. (They ended up with the first Wild Card spot, but lost late in the game to the Giants. I didn’t watch, but I was disappointed. The fact the Cubs eliminated the Giants in the NLDS eased the disappointment.)

(I’ve decided to give up public preseason predictions for the MLB and NFL. Thanks for reading what I’ve posted.)

Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall: 2016 edition January 18, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, Weather.
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Previous Lisa Hilton recaps: June 2011, January 2014, January 2015

The second show I’ve attended in 2016 – the first was the Jeff Lorber Fusion, ten nights earlier – continued an annual tradition: Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Yesterday’s performance marked her third year in Weill and I’ve been in the audience every time.

Like last year, I got a ride to the Wantagh LIRR station at around noon. Once there, I bought a round trip off peak ticket and waited for the 12:18 train to Penn Station. The ride wasn’t as quiet as last year in either direction, but I didn’t mind.

When I got to Penn, I took the 1 train to 59th Street-Columbus Circle. I walked two blocks south and one block east to get to Carnegie Hall, taking pictures along the way:
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It was a 2:00 show:
MC11716008a

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My seat was front row center again. I had the row all to myself. You’d think people would buy front row seats if they’re available, but not in this case.

I grabbed a few shots of the stage, and ceiling, before showtime:
MC11716011a

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Lisa Hilton and the band were fashionably late, starting at 2:03. Lisa played piano with Ben Williams on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. Except where noted by an asterisk*, J.D. Allen and Ingrid Jensen rounded out the band on tenor saxophone and trumpet, respectively.

1/27 UPDATE: Here’s a shot from further back in the audience during the show:
LH11716

I’m to Ingrid’s left (screen right).

All but the last two songs in the set were from Lisa’s new album, Nocturnal, which comes out this Friday. Copies were on sale in the lobby and I bought one before entering the hall. Here is the set list:
1. Nocturnal (also on Horizons, 2015)
2. A Spark in the Night
3. Whirlwind
4. Seduction (also on Seduction, 1997; Cocktails at Eight, 2000; My Favorite Things, 2005; and The New York Sessions, 2007)
5. Willow Weep for Me (written by Ann Ronell)
Midnight Sonata:
6. Part I: Symphony of Blues
7. Part II: Desire (also on In the Mood for Jazz, 2003)
8. Part III: Midnight Stars
9. Twilight
10. An August Remembered (rewritten from “August 1999,” which was composed for Cocktails at Eight in 2000)
11. The Sky and the Ocean (from Horizons, 2015)
12. Stepping Into Paradise (from Getaway, 2013)

“A Spark in the Night” and “Midnight Stars” had a Latin feel to them. “Midnight Stars,” in particular, sounded like a bullfighter song at one point. “Nocturnal,” “Seduction,” and “Twilight” sounded as good as they did last year. “Whirlwind” was a whirlwind. I loved it. I remember August 1999: Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs achieved the 3,000th hits of their eventual Hall of Fame careers, I had two weeks of diagnostic vocational evaluation at Abilities, Inc., in Albertson, and I spent an afternoon at Splish Splash water park in Riverhead. I thought of all that as I listened to “An August Remembered.” Unlike on the Nocturnal album version, which was a solo performance, the band accompanied Lisa.

I caught up with Lisa after the show and we posed for this picture:
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I was caught off guard when I looked out the window and saw snow falling. And it was accumulating. But the end result was merely a coating. As I type, there may be more significant snowfall at the end of the week.

“See you next year,” I said to Lisa after we said our goodbyes. Year 3 at Carnegie Hall was a success. Thanks to Lisa, Ben, Rudy, J.D., and Ingrid.

My 2015 MLB Predictions April 5, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Personal, Sports.
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(11/11/15 UPDATE: Results italicized in parentheses.)

Back in September, I went public with my annual NFL season predictions after years of posting them on Facebook. Another personal tradition is predicting the Major League Baseball season.

Here are my predictions for 2015:

NL (National League) East

  1. Nationals (2) (missed playoffs, finished 2nd)
  2. Braves (Wild Card 2) (missed playoffs, finished 4th)
  3. Mets (won division, 3 seed)
  4. Marlins (finished 3rd)
  5. Phillies

NL Central

  1. Cardinals (1)
  2. Pirates (Wild Card 1)
  3. Reds (finished 5th)
  4. Cubs (Wild Card 2, finished 3rd)
  5. Brewers (finished 4th)

NL West

  1. Dodgers (3) (2)
  2. Giants
  3. Diamondbacks
  4. Padres
  5. Rockies

AL (American League) East

  1. Orioles (2) (missed playoffs, finished 3rd)
  2. Red Sox (finished 5th)
  3. Yankees (Wild Card 1, finished 2nd)
  4. Blue Jays (won division, 2 seed)
  5. Rays (finished 4th)

AL Central

  1. Indians (1) (missed playoffs, finished 3rd)
  2. Tigers (Wild Card 1) (missed playoffs, finished 5th)
  3. Royals (Wild Card 2) (won division, 1 seed)
  4. White Sox
  5. Twins (finished 2nd)

AL West

  1. Athletics (3) (missed playoffs, finished 5th)
  2. Angels (finished 3rd)
  3. Mariners (finished 4th)
  4. Rangers (won division, 3 seed)
  5. Astros (Wild Card 2, finished 2nd)

Playoff predictions:
NL Wild Card Playoff

Braves defeat Pirates (Cubs defeat Pirates)

AL Wild Card Playoff
Tigers defeat Royals (Astros defeat Yankees)

NL Division Series
Cardinals vs. Braves: Cardinals win 3-1 (Cardinals vs. Cubs: Cubs win 3-1)
Nationals vs. Dodgers: Dodgers win 3-0 (Dodgers vs. Mets: Mets win 3-2)

AL Division Series
Indians vs. Tigers: Tigers win 3-2 (Royals vs. Astros: Royals win 3-2)
Orioles vs. Athletics: Athletics win 3-0 (Blue Jays vs. Rangers: Blue Jays win 3-2)

NL Championship Series
Cardinals vs. Dodgers: Cardinals win 4-1 (Mets vs. Cubs: Mets win 4-0)

AL Championship Series
Athletics vs. Tigers: Tigers win 4-2 (Royals vs. Blue Jays: Royals win 4-2)

World Series (AL home field advantage via All-Star Game win) (home field correct)
Cardinals vs. Tigers: Cardinals win 4-1 (Royals vs. Mets: Royals win 4-1)

As with my Patriots prediction, pessimism drove me to pick the Cardinals to win the World Series. The 2006 NLCS, in which the Cards defeated the Mets in seven games, turned me against them. (The 2015 World Series turned me against the Royals.)

I will update this post after the World Series with results italicized in parentheses. Play ball! (The revision is complete, ten days after the World Series concluded with a disappointing result. In a dream world, the 2016 Mets will make like the 2015 Royals and win the World Series one year after losing it. But the more likely outcome is a return to futility for the Mets. Worse yet, the Mets open next season with two games in Kansas City. Until then, thanks for reading this revised post.)

Audiobooking December 2, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Baseball, Basketball, Broadway, Comedy, Commentary, Film, Health, Media, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Sports, Theatre, TV.
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While I may have indefinitely suspended photo album picture scanning, one constant since June has been audiobooks. What I’ve usually done is listen to a whole chapter while working out in the morning or on my portable elliptical machine in the afternoon. I only buy nonfiction and prefer that they are read by the author. I want to hear their words in their voice, not someone else’s, even if the author’s delivery is subpar.

This isn’t the first time I’ve listened to audiobooks. That goes back to a road trip with my parents and sister in January 1997, as we drove back from Florida. To show you how long ago that was, the audiobook was on cassettes. That book, The Hobbit, was the only time I’ve listened to fiction. It’s been all nonfiction since.

Between December 1997 – when I listened to The Big Show: A Tribute to ESPN’s SportsCenter – and June 2014, I would get an audiobook here and there, but I wasn’t a regular buyer. I didn’t exercise in the morning, either. That began in late March. It’s always best to get tough tasks out of the way early because your willpower drops as the day progresses. It helps to have something interesting to listen to while you’re working out, not something aggravating like politics and sports debate and discussion.

With all that in mind, I’ve listened to the following audiobooks, on CD or through Audible, since June:

  • President Me: The America That’s In My Head by Adam Carolla (via CD) – an outline of all the things Adam would do to improve the United States if he were president
  • Not Quite the Classics by Colin Mochrie (via Audible) – improvised stories based on the first and last lines of select novels and poems
  • I’ll Be Back Right After This: My Memoir by Pat O’Brien (via Audible) – Pat’s memoir chronicled his early life, television career, and struggle with addiction. Knock on wood, Pat has been sober for six years and counting.
  • Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (via CD) – This is the latest in Bill and Martin’s “Killing” series that factually recounts the events of historical figures leading up to their tragic deaths. Their previous books focused on Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus of Nazareth, respectively.
  • Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal (via Audible) – Billy’s memoir ran the gamut of emotions, from funny to heartbreaking, recalling major events in each decade of his life as of publication last year. I learned things I never knew and recalled fond memories of what I already knew. The only downside to the book is that Billy peppered his liberal ideology throughout it, outlining his liberal points of view and maligning right-leaning personalities and media. I’m not a lockstep conservative, but I do tend to take criticism of or jokes about people, places, and things that I like personally. But I didn’t let that completely ruin the listening experience.
  • Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large by William Shatner with Chris Regan (via CD) – When I was searching for the next audiobook to listen to, as Still Foolin’ ‘Em was winding down, I recalled William Shatner had a memoir out called Up Till Now: The Autobiography. But then I noticed that Shatner Rules had come out later than Up Till Now. So, I opted for Shatner Rules instead. The big message I took from the book was to say “yes” to as many things as possible. “‘No’ closes doors,” William said. “‘Yes’ kicks them wide open.” Shatner briefly drifted into politics, too, but the environmental kind. His doomsday scenarios were frightening. I didn’t let that completely ruin the listening experience. (ding) Rule: I highly recommend Shatner Rules as either the written book or spoken audiobook.
  • Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks by Dick Cavett (via Audible) – It was here that I did let politics completely ruin the listening experience. This is not a memoir. It is a compilation of Dick’s columns at The New York Times’ Opiniator blog. That structure is similar to that for Things That Matter, a compilation of Charles Krauthammer’s columns over his 30-year career to date. Charles is Dick’s polar opposite. But I didn’t know any of that until my second day of listening. And it was this rant of a column that Dick read for Brief Encounters – combined with frustration that the book was not what I expected – that led me to request a refund from Audible. Thankfully, they granted it. I did learn a few things, though, about Dick’s days writing for The Tonight Show. I also learned that Arthur Godfrey preferred to address only one member of the listening or viewing audience (“you”), not the entire audience (“everybody”).
  • Scribe: My Life in Sports by Bob Ryan (via Audible) – I bought this in place of Brief Encounters. I’ve been listening for nearly a week and I’m enjoying it.

There will be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead as I continue to try to keep myself in shape.

NFL Network coming to Cablevision!!! August 16, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Basketball, Football, Media, News, Personal, Radio, Sports, TV.
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Effective tomorrow, NFL Network and NFL RedZone will be added to Cablevision’s lineup.  Via NFL.com:

BETHPAGE, NY and NEW YORK, NY — August 16, 2012 – NFL Network and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), the largest TV provider in the nation’s top media market, announced today that they have reached a multi-year agreement for carriage of NFL Network and the NFL RedZone channel.

NFL Network will make its debut in Cablevision homes beginning Friday. NFL Network will be available on channel 150 in both standard-definition and HD for customers who subscribe to iO Preferred, iO Silver, iO Gold or the iO Sports & Entertainment Pak. NFL RedZone, which airs on Sundays throughout the regular season, will be offered in both standard-definition and HD on channel 151 as part of the iO Sports & Entertainment Pak, which is now included in the new iO Gold package, which was launched last spring. …

Cablevision customers like myself have been waiting for this day since the network launched nearly a decade ago.  I learned of this from Steve Somers on WFAN twenty minutes before publishing this post.

NFL Network will round out a trio of channels devoted to professional sports leagues.  iO (Interactive Optimum) channel 148 is NBA TV and 149 is MLB Network.

Thank you very much, Cablevision.

8/18 UPDATE: Here is the Steve Somers monologue that tipped me off to NFL Network’s arrival on Cablevision.  After talking about the Mets and Yankees results, he got to the big deal at the 9:02 mark.  My transcript (listen along):

As you have heard [earlier in the day on WFAN], Cablevision has taken on the NFL Network, giving the face of the NFL Network, Rich Eisen, the opportunity to extol the virtues of the cable industry in general, and the NFL Network in particular, as we heard on his live infomercial, apparently sponsoring Joe and Evan this afternoon.  Rich will also appear with Joe and Evan sometime soon, where we will actually hear from him discussing football!  …

Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts filled in for Mike Francesa all this week.

Derecho flashback July 1, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Radio, Sports, Weather.
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Friday’s derecho that plowed through the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic took me back fourteen years to a derecho that impacted Long Island.

Derecho” is a Spanish term that has many translations, including “straight.”  The “straight” translation gives the long-lasting weather event its name because of the straight-line winds it produces.

The derecho I remember hit in the mid-afternoon of September 7, 1998; Labor Day.  But I didn’t even know of that term, or the swath of damage it caused, until last winter while reading up on major storms that have hit Long Island.

Outside of looking at the radar on The Weather Channel and hearing the thunder, I was oblivious of the derecho’s effects.  I was in the basement of my friend Joey’s house, a few blocks southwest of my home in Wantagh.  The basement was basically his apartment.  It had a bedroom, entertainment center (where we were at the time), and bathroom.  I sat at a table while he sat on the couch.  I flipped back and forth from The Weather Channel and ESPN, the latter of which was carrying a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.  Mark McGwire hit his 61st home run of that season in that game.

Despite the strong winds and lightning, the power never went out at Joey’s house.  My house wasn’t so lucky.  We did lose power.  Considering what I learned recently, I can understand why and why it was out for so long.  Power was not restored until around 4AM, about half a day after the derecho hit.

YouTube user Eltiempo10 has video of a Weather Channel Local Forecast at 2:58 PM:

The forecast begins at 0:38, following a station promo featuring Mike Bono, who is now at YNN.  (Click here for my December 2005 interview with him.)  The JFK “Current Conditions” observation at the top of the forecast is from before the derecho.  At 0:50, you’ll notice the temperature went down 11 degrees and the wind speed was 51 MPH!  Much of the last 90-seconds is the 90-minute radar loop.  The music excerpt used is “Secrets” by Brazilian jazz guitarist Torcuato Mariano, from his 1995 album Last Look.

Scenery pictures June 30, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, Weather.
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Inspired by my travel pictures post, this post is made up entirely of pictures of scenery or past landmarks that are new to the site.

I originally planned on putting in pictures I shot in April and June of this year, but then went further back to 2005.  Unless otherwise noted, the pictures were taken outside my house.

We’ll start with a few sunrise pictures.

February 24, 2005:

March 3, 2005:

March 14, 2005, overlooking the 1st hole fairway of Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead golf course in Palm Harbor, Florida:

July 3, 2005: Sunset outside Jones Beach Theater:

May 27, 2006: Memorial Day Weekend fireworks at North Hempstead Beach Park:

July 30, 2006: A series of sunset pics while on a boat ride south of Freeport:

August 18, 2006: Looking above Woodcleft Avenue in Freeport:

August 25, 2006: On the beach in Lake Worth, Florida:

Later that day, an approaching thunderstorm at The Cascades in Boynton Beach:

August 26, 2006: Storm clouds north of Boynton Beach:

August 28, 2006: Walking up Cascades Isle Boulevard:

September 6, 2006: Shea Stadium before the first game of a Mets-Braves doubleheader:

A plane for a since-defunct airline in its final approach to LaGuardia Airport:

September 8, 2006: Hicksville LIRR station:

September 11, 2006:

October 28, 2006: Back at Innisbrook, looking above Copperhead’s 2nd tee:

Part of Innisbrook’s Loch Ness pool:

November 3, 2006: Fall foliage at LIU Post:

Looking above the Duffy Avenue/Newbridge Road intersection in Hicksville, south of the LIRR station:

November 10, 2006: Sunset at Post:

August 17, 2007: The early stage of a thunderstorm:

September 12, 2007:

October 27, 2007:

March 8, 2008: Back above Copperhead:

April 7, 2012, at a surprise wedding in Freeport:

June 3, 2012:

June 9, 2012:

June 17, 2012, at a Father’s Day barbecue in Freeport:

June 22, 2012: Sunset:

June 27, 2012: Looking above the platform at the Wantagh LIRR station:

A bird in the Rockville Centre LIRR station parking lot:

And now more photographic loose ends have been tied up at MikeChimeri.com.  I hope you liked what you saw.

Where I was: Johan Santana’s no-hitter June 1, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Hockey, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Radio, TV.
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(Updated with additional links.)

It’s been a whirlwind 56 minutes as I type.  Here goes:

For stress reasons, I typically don’t watch or listen to Mets games until three hours after it starts.  If I didn’t check ESPN.com at 9:42 PM EDT to see the name of the winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals held last night – it was Snigdha Nandipati – I would not have known Johan Santana was three outs away from pitching a no-hitter.  But I did.

I left my bedroom, and from the top of the stairs in the top floor hallway, I told my parents down in the den to put on SNY because Santana was close to achieving that no-hitter.  This may be too much information, but while SNY was (and still is) recording on the DVR in my room, I listened to the last three outs on WFAN from the bathroom on the shower radio in there.

Mets lead radio play-by-play announcer Howie Rose was as loud as he was 18 years and five nights ago at Madison Square Garden, calling Stephane Matteau’s Eastern Conference Finals-clinching goal in double overtime for the Rangers against the Devils.

I don’t think any Mets fan, including Howie, thought tonight would ever happen.  It took 8,020 games in 51 seasons for the first no-hitter in Mets history to occur.  What a night.

An excerpt of the game recap from Steven Miller at MLB.com:

It took 50 years, but the New York Mets and Johan Santana finally have their no-hitter.

The 33-year-old Santana held the Cardinals hitless in an 8-0 victory Friday in front of 27,069 at Citi Field, who witnessed the first no-hitter in franchise history. The left-hander walked five as his pitch count climbed to 134, but manager Terry Collins could not pull his starter, who Collins said he would limit to about 110 pitches before the game.

“Wow — amazing,” Santana said after the game. “Coming into this season, I was just hoping to come back and stay healthy and help this team. And now I’m in this situation in the greatest city in baseball. I’m very happy, and I’m happy for [the fans], finally — the first one.

“It was a crazy night, trying to command my fastball, moving all over the plate. But I was able to locate it, command it and get some quick outs and get out of there.”

When asked how he felt after throwing the final pitch, Santana could hardly contain his excitement.

“That’s the greatest feeling ever,” Santana said, just as he received a celebratory pie to the face.

WFAN audio/SNY video via Deadspin

New York Daily News:
Anthony McCarron: Johan Santana tosses first no-hitter in NY Mets history during 8-0 victory against St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field
Mike Lupica: On Johan Santana’s magical night at Citi Field, NY Mets fans finally see a no-hitter

Newsday (subscription required):
Roderick Boone: Johan Santana pitches Mets’ first no-hitter

ESPN New York:
Andrew Marchand: Johan Santana tosses no-hitter

WFAN/Associated Press/1010 WINS:
UNBELIEVABLE: Santana Throws First No-Hitter In Mets History

Steve Somers of WFAN (who now sounds years younger thanks to dental surgery last Monday):
Show Open
Interview with Mets catcher Josh Thole
Interview with Ron Darling, former Mets pitcher and current analyst for Mets games on SNY
6/6 UPDATE: Monday night’s Show Open and interview with Jerry Seinfeld

MLB.com:
Pictures
Video

8/18 UPDATE: In recent days, Steve Somers’ speech has returned nearly to what it was before his surgery.  He no longer sounds like he ingested helium.

Unfortunately, Johan hasn’t been the same pitcher since the no-hitter.