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Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library September 13, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Books, DVD, Internet, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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A cropped photo of my copy after returning from day 1 of this year’s Long Island Retro Gaming Expo

Pat Contri was a name I’d heard of since I started regularly watching YouTube channels a few years ago, but I’d never seen his videos, listened to his podcasts, or bought his merchandise. My only exposure to him was the Angry Video Game Nerd episode he appeared in, which he wrote with series creator and star James Rolfe. My unfamiliarity dissolved after visiting Pat’s table last month at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. I got to meet him and his friend and colleague Ian Ferguson…:

…and I bought early episodes of the Pat the NES Punk YouTube series on DVD along with Pat’s comprehensive 2016 book: Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library.

As with Leonard Herman’s Phoenix IV last year, I vowed to read the Guide to the NES Library after the expo. After reading a couple of preface pages on the Uber ride home on August 10, I held off on the rest of the book until 12 days later, August 22. I had another day of the expo, photos to edit, a recap to write, cousins to hang out with while they visited for a few days, and a photo editing project for a friend. In my downtime, I worked my way through the three sets of DVDs. As I neared the end of the third set, my photo editing project was complete, which meant I could finally commit to Pat’s guide.

Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library is as big as an educational textbook and just as heavy. It’s 437 glossy pages long, but the last five pages are a list of the book’s financial backers. So, I read two more preface pages, then moved on to the main 432.

The book chronicles each and every game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, from the numbered titles like 1942 and 8 Eyes to Zoda’s Revenge and Zombie Nation.

Pat is not alone in reviewing each game, as he is joined by Ian Ferguson, Asheton “Ashi” Phinney, Brett Weiss, Jim Evans, Joe Pingree, Karen Niemla, and Joey “Roo” DeSena.

Most pages are devoted to two games. An image from one of the two games is in the background while four images from each game are on the bottom. The top of the page shows the games’ cartridge designs and lists their genre, release date, developer, publisher, number of players, special features, whether the game is licensed or unlicensed, availability (from “very common” to “extremely rare”), and star rating. There are 11 ratings ranging from bomb (“awful and/or broken”) to 2 1/2 stars (“average”) to 5 stars (“classic”). Below that is the review, which can be a few short sentences in medium type or several paragraphs in small type. Then the reviewer, identified by their initials (i.e. PC, IF, JD), will add their “reflections.”

The landmark titles get their own pages with additional images. Such titles include the three Super Mario Bros. games, The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II, the unlicensed Tengen version of Tetris, and Tecmo Super Bowl.

Following 387 pages of North American releases, the book concludes with PAL exclusive games, HES (Home Entertainment Suppliers) games, special and promo cartridges (i.e. Nintendo World Championships 1990), test cartridges, label variants, the NES console and its major accessories, supplemental articles, and images of unreleased games.

It took me 21 days to read 432 pages of Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library. Along the way, I kept a journal of how many pages I read each day. I started with 12, then 14, 18, 20, 24, and 50 and 53 pages on two of my last three days. For some games, I imagined certain public figures in my head reading in their voice. I thought of Bob Costas for baseball games, Mike “Doc” Emrick for hockey games, Ahmad Rashad for basketball ones, Jim Lampley for boxing, Liev Schreiber for football, David Feherty for golf, and even Matt Ezero for some games he evaluated in his LJN Defender videos. For reflections, in the case of Pat, Ian, and Roo, I imagined them reading for themselves.

When I wasn’t reading on the first 11 days, I finished Pat Contri’s DVDs, watched all ten episodes of The Video Game Years on Amazon Prime, and caught up on most of Pat’s non-podcast videos from 2012 to the present. That included all later Pat the NES Punk and Flea Market Madness episodes.

It was neat to read about games that I previously saw in Punk episodes, like Baseball Stars, Dance Aerobics, Sqoon, and Wall Street Kid. It was also satisfying to know that some games in my collection were uncommon, such as Wario’s Woods.

The tone of the book’s reviews range from clinical to overly critical. I was satisfied with all but three reviews: Tetris 2, Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White, and Yoshi’s Cookie. I liked those games growing up, getting plenty of mileage out of them. I treated Tetris 2 and Yoshi’s Cookie as endurance tests, playing until a game over. For Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White, I played solo, hitting select during the puzzle selection each round until I finally got a big one. That meant more money to win on the wheel. In …Guide to the NES Library, Tetris 2 and Yoshi’s Cookie were dismissed as lousy cash-ins. Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White was considered a step down from the Rare-developed games that preceded it. “Pat Sajak would not be pleased,” wrote Pat Contri in the reflections.

There were sporadic typos or word omissions, and (counting Console Wars author Blake Harris’s foreword) six instances of my pet peeve phrase “at the end of the day” (thank goodness there weren’t more), but ultimately, the book was a great read.

If you grew up with the Nintendo Entertainment System, are collecting for it, or you just want to learn about the console that revived the video game industry, buy this book, available for $59.99. You’ll love it. And when you’re finished with that, be sure to pre-order Pat’s next book, a Guide to the SNES Library, which will focus on the Super Nintendo’s games. It’s also available for $59.99, or you can buy the special edition for $79.99.

Lastly, there’s a $4.99 app called Ultimate Game Guide – on Android and iOS – which contains all NES games from all regions, as well as accessories and console variants. If you select a game, it includes the statistics and review from the book, though not the reflections. You can even keep track of the games you have in your collection, and go to Amazon or eBay to check listings for the ones you don’t.

Ladies and gentlemen, David Benoit and Friends! August 26, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Books, Jazz, Music, Personal, TV.
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My scan of the cover

I am a big fan of jazz pianist, composer, and conductor David Benoit for over 20 years, but have been aware of his music for over 30 years, dating back to songs from his catalog getting airplay during local forecasts on The Weather Channel. I have been fortunate enough to see him perform ten times since 2003 and I’m proud to call him a friend.

Friday marked the release of David’s latest album: David Benoit and Friends. I’ve been looking forward to the album for months, especially within the last two months since he played two songs from it in June at My Father’s Place.

Every track is superb, but my favorites are:

  • Sienna Step – a fast-paced bossa nova workout, this was one of the two songs David performed in June
  • 96-132 Revisited – a new take on a song from his debut album Heavier Than Yesterday (1977); 96-132 refers to the song’s tempos: 96 BPM (beats per minute) at the beginning and end, and 132 BPM in the middle; until reading the liner notes, I thought the title referred to a zip code, and I incorrectly read it as “9-6-1-3-2”
  • Sly Fox – an organ-heavy tune that David composed with Jeff Lorber, but unlike the two songs they wrote for Full Circle (2006), Jeff did not appear on it
  • Dave G. – a tribute to Dave Grusin that features Vincent Ingala on soprano sax; drummer John “JR” Robinson posted video of one of his recording session takes to Facebook back in May:
  • The Ballad of Jane Hawk – an uplifting orchestral tribute to David’s friend Dean Koontz’s book series; featuring Peter White on acoustic guitar and Tim Weisberg on flute
  • Feel It Still – a Portugal the Man cover a la Les McCann
  • Make It Real – the lone vocal track, featuring vocals and lyrics by Lindsey Webster; the bossa nova refrain is addictive

My favorites make up most of the album. I like it that much.

As you saw in the cover art at the top, other “friends” on the album are saxophonist Dave Koz, guitarist Marc Antoine, and trumpeter Rick Braun. The liner notes reveal still another “friend”: cellist Justin Cheung.

Backing David up throughout the album are the aforementioned JR Robinson on drums, Ken Wild on bass, percussion by Luis Conte, and the guitar stylings of Pat Kelley. The horn section is made up of Mike Cottone and Jamey Havorka on trumpet with trombone by Erm Navarro.

I highly recommend David Benoit and Friends. Buy it now; you won’t be disappointed. Here is the full track list:

  1. The Ballad of Jane Hawk (featuring Peter White and Tim Weisberg)
  2. Make It Real (featuring Lindsey Webster)
  3. Vernazza (this is the second song David performed in June) (featuring Dave Koz)
  4. Moon and Sand (Chet Baker cover, based on Kenny Burrell’s cover) (featuring Marc Antoine)
  5. Sly Fox
  6. How Deep is the Ocean (Irving Berlin standard) (featuring Rick Braun)
  7. Dave G. (featuring Vincent Ingala)
  8. Sienna Step
  9. Feel It Still (Portugal the Man cover)
  10. 96-132 Revisited
  11. Viva La Vida (Coldplay cover) (featuring Justin Cheung)

P.S. The title of this post refers to the late Gary Owens’s introduction to the Garfield and Friends theme song: “Ladies and gentlemen, Garfield and Friends!” The intro leads into two versions of the theme: “Friends are There” for the first two seasons and “Ready to Party” in subsequent seasons. David Benoit composed the music for two Garfield specials: Garfield’s Feline Fantasies and Garfield Gets a Life. Ed Bogas wrote music for Garfield and Friends.

2019 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo recap August 14, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous LIRGE recaps: 2017 (Sunday), 2018

This is a long and comprehensive post, so buckle up.

Last weekend, I attended the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo for the third year in a row and my second year for both days.

John Hancock and The 8-Bit Guy weren’t at LIRGE this year, but making return appearances were Bob Neal from RetroRGB, Jeremy Parish of Retronauts and Video Works, Kurt Kalata and Rob Russo of Hardcore Gaming 101, and video game historian and author Leonard Herman.

Among those appearing for the first time were Frank Cifaldi of the Video Game History Foundation, Pat Contri (a.k.a. Pat the NES Punk) and Ian Ferguson of the Completely Unnecessary Podcast and The Video Game Years, and the My Life in Gaming duo of Coury Carlson and Marc “Try4ce” Duddleson (as in the Triforce from The Legend of Zelda).

The Long Island Retro Gaming Expo is held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum along Museum Row in East Garden City, as indicated by these signs I took on the way there Saturday morning:

Based on the “date taken” info of the above pic, I arrived at the museum at 10:09. Before getting in line to get inside, I photographed a historic marker:

The weather outdoors was much better this year: sunny, warm, and comfortable. You could leave the rain gear at home or in your hotel room.

While on line, I passed a trailer with arcade machines inside:

This was the only time I noticed it. I was focused on what was in the museum.

I set foot inside Cradle of Aviation half an hour after arriving:

The rest of this post is divided into four parts:

  1. Panels
  2. Meeting and Greeting
  3. Pictorial Tour
  4. Pickups

Part One: Panels

After walking around the first floor for nearly 15 minutes, I made my way into the theater planetarium for the first panel:

It was Jeremy Parish (center) along with Kurt Kalata (right) and Rob Russo (left):

Titled “Love for the Unloved,” the trio discussed several underappreciated consoles, accompanied by Powerpoint slides.

Before we see the slides, here are close-ups of Jeremy:

Kurt:

…and Rob:

A few wide shots:

The slides of underappreicated consoles:

The slide for the Bandai WonderSwan went up, but they didn’t have time to discuss it:

Next to speak was…

Frank introduced himself…

…and his work with Digital Eclipse…

…before moving on to the main topic:

Frank is pictured with Kelsey Lewin, who was at Game On Expo in Phoenix, Arizona, that weekend hosting a similar panel:

The last 35 minutes of the panel were Q&A:

I spent the next two hours touring the exhibits, buying games from vendors, meeting and greeting Frank Cifaldi, Coury and Try, Pat and Ian, and Leonard Herman. You’ll see photographic evidence in parts two and three. I made time in between to eat a few snacks from the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s Red Planet Café.

Pat and Ian had a panel after Frank’s, which you can hear in part in the latest Completely Unnecessary Podcast, starting 17 minutes in.

Then, it was on to Leonard’s panel, which was in Panel Room 2:

Leonard talked about the late Ralph Baer and Ted Dabney, and the friendships he developed with them.

After arriving on Sunday, I tried out Ralph Baer’s Brown Box with a man named Jeff:

I played poorly, but had a good time.

There were two panels that I attended on Sunday. First, the My Life in Gaming RGB Master Class:

As noted earlier, My Life in Gaming is run by Coury Carlson:

…and Marc Duddleson, better known as Try:

Coury and Try periodically ran excerpts from upcoming episodes profiling figures in the fields of video game modding, repair, and history:

Bob from RetroRGB, who was seated next to me, was included, but I kept his screenshot out of this post since he told me he didn’t like how he looked.

I found those excerpts enlightening. It put faces and voices to names I’d heard of in previous episodes. I was already familiar with Bob, Kevin, Frank, Ste, and Dan.

The excerpts can be seen in this unlisted link.

Time for Q&A:

I asked what it was like shooting the M2 documentary, seen here:

(NOTE: Unless you’re fluent in Japanese, I suggest selecting “English – Japanese Translation” in the CC [closed captioning] settings.)

More Q&A shots:

Coury made the panel available for listening here. (My attempts to embed it failed.)

After exiting the theater, Bob talked shop with fans:

The second panel I went to on Sunday, my last of the weekend, was Jeremy Parish, Frank Cifaldi, and Coury Carlson:

It was like the finale of a revue where all the acts return to play together.

After introducing themselves for those that hadn’t seen their other panels, Jeremy, Frank, and Coury talked about what avenues are available for playing old video games.

Close-ups of Jeremy:

Frank:

…and Coury:

Wide shots:

Part Two: Meeting and Greeting

I caught up with Frank Cifaldi after his Saturday panel. I told him I was in a similar situation preserving photos, videos, and documents digitally. Then, Try took our picture:

After that, Frank took a picture of me with Coury and Try:

I caught up with Leonard Herman his table before his panel:

I was finally introduced to Pat Contri:

…and his colleague Ian Ferguson:

I spent a lot of time at the table shared by Coury, Try, Pat, and Ian, along with Ian’s wife Vani. I watched as fans came by to meet them and had in-depth conversations with them. The topics ranged from games to travel to video production to my running. Coury was surprised that I had run 8.8 miles early Sunday morning.

I briefly spoke to Bob Neal from RetroRGB once I got back to the table after the RGB Master Class and Try took our picture:

Following my last panel, I briefly spoke to Jeremy Parish, complimenting him on his recently-wrapped Virtual Boy Works series. After 21 proper episodes on the 22 releases (13 in North American and Japan, 9 exclusive to Japan), he posted this retrospective:

Ryan, a staff member I grew accustomed to in the theater planetarium, took a picture of me and Jeremy before I left for the weekend:

Part Three: Pictorial Tour

This is a pictorial tour through all three floors of the expo, starting on the first floor:

This game is actually part of the museum, unaffiliated with the expo:

The second floor:

Among the musical performers were the band Consoul, who played music from several video games:

At the time, they were playing the main theme from Super Mario 64. For reference, here is the original music:

…and the third floor:

Meanwhile, the Long Island Tabletop Gaming Expo was occurring on the other side of the museum:

Next year, the Tabletop Gaming Expo will be held separately on April 18.

Time to go:

A parting shot:

Part Four: Pickups

Saturday’s pickups:

Sunday’s pickups:

Yes, even these count as pickups:

Summing up in writing, the pickups were:

Nintendo Entertainment System:

  • The Adventures of Bayou Billy
  • American Gladitators
  • Blades of Steel
  • The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout
  • Golf
  • Gyromite
  • Gradius (“GRAHDius”)
  • The Legend of Kage (“KAH-ghay”)
  • Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf
  • Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
  • R.C. Pro-Am
  • Super C
  • Track & Field
  • Track & Field II

I played Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! at friends’ houses, but never had that version. I only had plain Punch-Out!! with Mr. Dream replacing Tyson after the licensing agreement wasn’t renewed. Now, I have the original. I don’t have R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), but that won’t stop from using two controllers to play Gyromite. I already do it with sports games.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System:

  • Gradius III
  • Paperboy 2
  • Pilotwings
  • Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
  • Saturday Night Slammasters
  • Wario’s Woods
  • Zoop

I had Pilotwings 64 for the Nintendo 64, but never the original for Super NES. My sister took Wario’s Woods to her new apartment a couple of months ago, so I bought a new copy to replace it. Paperboy 2 is worth getting for the music alone, as seen in Jeremy Parish’s review last June:

Sega Genesis:

  • Columns
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
  • Paperboy
  • Road Rash
  • Shaq-Fu
  • Super Monaco GP
  • WWF Super WrestleMania

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker was my most expensive pickup; more than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist last year. I remember Super Monaco GP in the arcade room at Baldwin Lanes. According to Joe Redifer of Game Sack, the Genesis port is better than the original. (Since I cued the video to the relevant portion, I can’t embed it.) I bought a loose cart on eBay in 2016, but I now prefer to have Genesis games in their original boxes. So, I bought one in its box on Sunday. The same goes for Columns. I bought Super WrestleMania to complement the Super NES port I’ve had since childhood. Coincidentally, today marks 30 years since the Genesis was released in North America. Last October 29 was the 30th anniversary of the initial Japanese release as the Mega Drive. And last Tuesday marked 25 years since I purchased a Genesis of my own. It was the Sega Sports bundle with a seat cushion and NFL Football ’94 Starring Joe Montana.

Microsoft Xbox:

  • Tetris Worlds

I played the Game Boy Advance version a lot in the mid 2000s. I never knew it was ported to other consoles. I like to collect Tetris games for as many consoles as I can. I even bought the unlicensed Tengen arcade port for NES that predated Nintendo’s official version. It reminded me of playing the arcade machine at Kutscher’s Resort and Country Club in March 1995.

Non-games:

  • The Legend of Zelda official keychain
  • My Life in Gaming pin
  • My Life in Gaming sticker
  • Night Trap: 25 Years Later (Blu-ray) (signed by Coury and Try)
  • Pat the NES Punk, Volumes 1 to 4 (DVDs) (all signed by Pat)
  • Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library: 1985-1995 (signed by Pat, Ian, and Frank)
  • The Video Game History Foundation sticker
  • Phoenix IV bookmark

Pat’s merchandise is available here. As with Phoenix IV last year, I will review Ultimate Nintendo when I finish reading it. And I’m enjoying Pat’s DVDs. (8/31/19 UPDATE: I enjoyed them. I watched later videos on Pat’s YouTube channel, as well as all ten episodes of The Video Game Years on Amazon Prime Video.)

This was another successful and enjoyable year at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. Thank you to everyone I met, met again, and bought from. Until next year.

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.

Leonard Herman, Phoenix IV: The History of the Videogame Industry September 13, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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Posing with Phoenix IV moments after completing it

One of the last things I picked up last month at the annual Long Island Retro Gaming Expo was Phoenix IV: The History of the Videogame Industry by Leonard Herman.

Leonard co-hosted a panel with The Immortal John Hancock on the second day of the expo.

Copies of Leonard’s book were available in the vendor hall, so I bought one for him to sign. On the dedication page (“This book is dedicated to my friend & mentor Ralph H. Baer”), he wrote:

To Mike,

Best Wishes

Leonard Herman

In my recap of the expo, I noted that I would read Phoenix IV from cover to cover, no matter how long it took. I kept my word. It took 31 days to read the blurbs, forewords, introduction, 43 chapters, four appendices, endnotes, and the About the Author page. In all, I read 781 pages between August 12, the day after the expo, through Tuesday. My copy was the black and white paperback edition. The color hardcover edition is slightly longer in duration with more illustrations.

The “IV” in Phoenix IV indicates that it is the fourth edition of a book Leonard first released in 1994. The original title was Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Home Videogames.

Phoenix IV is a treasure trove of information, spanning from 1951 to 2015 (with the endnotes extending into 2016). Leonard introduced facts and figures that I’d never known about while also providing a trip down memory lane. I recalled my experience with certain games and consoles, and where I was in my life when they launched. I learned more about certain events in video game history, as well as video game consoles and accessories, including lesser-known consoles like the Coleco Adam. I found out that the Atari 2600 was first called the VCS (Video Computer System) and didn’t take its numeric name until the 5200 was released years later. I got used to the initials SCE to describe Sony Computer Entertainment when the various PlayStation consoles were referenced. I was educated on the yen-to-dollar ratio in a given year for Japanese console, game, and accessory prices.

There’s so much more to learn about when you read Phoenix IV. My only complaint is it has occasional typos and formatting errors, but if that’s my only complaint, then you know it’s a great book. It’ll take a while to read, but it’s a journey worth taking.

Thank you, Leonard.

2018 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo recap August 13, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Internet, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Last year marked my first time at the annual Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum along Museum Row in East Garden City. I was only there for two hours, though. This year, I deeply immersed myself in the event, buying a weekend pass back in March. I did that after learning that legendary video game collector and educator The Immortal John Hancock would be there:

If that wasn’t enough, David Murray, The 8-Bit Guy, would be back, as well. And on behalf of Retronauts, Jeremy Parish was there. I’ve only listened to one podcast so far, but I regularly watch the Works series of videos for NES, Super NES, and Game Boy on Jeremy’s YouTube channel.

Hancock, 8-Bit Guy, and Parish all had panels on Saturday afternoon in the museum theater. Before I did anything else, I made sure to sit in on those panels.

I left for the Cradle of Aviation Museum at 10:20. A light rain fell in the wake of thunderstorms that plowed through an hour earlier. By the time I arrived, there was only drizzle. I had to wait in line to present my ticket and get wristbands for both days. While waiting, I photographed a couple of historic markers:

…and the museum exterior:

Once inside, attendees were greeted by this sign:

My home for the next four hours:

First panel up, Jeremy Parish (center) with Kurt Kalata (left) and Rob Russo (right) of Hardcore Gaming 101:

Kurt plugged the appearance a few days ago on the site.

The topic was the history of Super Joe in Capcom games, including Commando and Bionic Commando.

Jeremy Parish:

Kurt Kalata:

Rob Russo:

The lone picture I took with my iPhone X all weekend:

The panel wrapped up with Q&A.

Afterward, I got to meet Jeremy, letting him know how much enjoy his videos. Then, we posed for a picture:

He let me know what the next episode of Super NES Works would be about, including the correct pronunciation of one of the words in the title.

8/15 UPDATE: The episode is about Darius Twin, with “Darius” pronounced like “Elias,” but with an “R” instead of an “L”:

Jeremy explained the pronunciation in a pinned comment below the video:

Fun fact about this video: I looked up the pronunciation of Darius to make sure I got it right. So anyone who posts a comment to “correct” it will be (1) wrong and (2) sent to the salt mines for a life of hard labor.

For the next panel, The 8-Bit Guy talked about the demo scene:

For Q&A, someone asked how David’s Planet X3 game for DOS was coming along.

He showed us:

A few more questions and answers followed.

8/14 UPDATE: I recorded all the panels for personal use, but in the case of David’s presentation, to vidcap anything I couldn’t get with my DSLR. Here are those vidcaps:

David stuck around to watch the third panel of the day: The Immortal John Hancock:

John shared his backstory, discussed collecting, and of course, took Q and gave A.

John’s video game binder:

The panel concluded with a group shot, which was one of a few pics posted to John’s Facebook and Twitter pages:

After leaving the theater, I met up with David and John at their booths. David’s wife Leslie took our picture:

…and The Eternal Sarah Hancock took my picture with John:

8/14 UPDATE: In his latest YouTube video, John reflected on his time at the expo and shared some of his oddball game pickups:

On the upper left and right corners of the screen, he mixed in B-roll from the first and second floors. The group shot is the video thumbnail and was also shown in the upper left in the last 30 seconds.

Before my shopping spree, I walked all three floors, taking pictures along the way. We start on the first floor:

Second floor:

The music of Super Thrash Bros.:

LAN play on the third floor:

Here’s the end result of my shopping:

When I got home, I photographed my pickups.

Sega Saturn:

  • Console with cables and two controllers (second bought separately)
  • Daytona USA
  • Sega Rally Championship
  • NBA Jam Extreme

I was so proud to finally get a Saturn and games for it. I have fond memories of playing Daytona USA, among other games, at my cousins’ house in Massapequa.

Super Nintendo:

  • Aladdin
  • Killer Instinct
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

Sega Genesis:

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist

Nintendo Gamecube:

  • Super Smash Bros. Melee

Nintendo Wii:

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1

Nintendo Wii U:

  • New Super Luigi U
  • Super Mario Maker

And from The 8-Bit Guy’s booth, I bought a pair of Retro Grooves cassettes by Anders Enger Jensen, whose music can be heard in David’s videos.

I will be getting these in MP3 form by e-mail, but for now, I used my Sony TC-WE305 cassette deck – which I bought in 2004 for digitzing my WGBB shows – to record both sides of each cassette to my computer, via Adobe Audition 3.0, and save the tracks separately. I love them.

I spent a couple of hours editing Saturday’s pictures and then went to sleep.

I left a half hour earlier yesterday morning, attaching my Sunday wristband beforehand.

The Long Island Retro Gaming Expo runs concurrently with the Long Island Tabletop Gaming Expo. I didn’t walk through the section on Saturday, but I made up for it when I walked in yesterday:

John brought his R2-D2 from the Tabletop area to the vendor hall:

After John delighted kids with his astromech droid…

I asked if he could pose for a pic. He obliged:

When I finished shopping from vendors on Saturday, I thought that was it. But I wanted more, and got more yesterday morning before the one panel I planned on attending: Leonard Herman and John Hancock, the latter of whom I saw with a couple of the vendors I bought from.

Leonard and John covered many topics in their 11AM panel:

Their backstories, how they met, video game history, Leonard’s history books (such as the latest, Phoenix IV: The History of the Videogame Industry), and Leonard’s stories about Ralph Baer and Ted Dabney.

It ended with a lengthy Q&A.

I learned so much during the panel. Afterward, I bought Leonard’s book from one of the vendors and he signed it for me.

To Mike,

Best Wishes

Leonard Herman

I look forward to reading Phoenix IV from cover to cover, no matter how long it takes.

That counts as one of my pickups, which I photographed when I got home around 1:45:

As for the games I picked up…

Nintendo Entertainment System:

  • Double Dragon
  • Mega Man 3

Nintendo Game Boy:

  • Alleyway

Sega Genesis:

  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

Sega Saturn:

  • Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • WWF In Your House

Sony PlayStation:

  • Tekken

Sony PlayStation 2:

  • Tekken 4
  • Tekken 5

Nintendo Wii U:

  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition

At home, I bought the Action Replay 4M Plus for Saturn, and six more games on eBay: three for Genesis (World of Illusion, Quackshot, Rocket Knight Adventures), two for Saturn (Virtua Fighter Remix, Virtua Fighter 2), and one for N64 (Yoshi’s Story).

I’m so glad I was more involved in the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo this year. Thank you to everyone I met, met again, and bought from. Until next year.

SJFS 2018 Night 1 recap May 1, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, Video, Video Games.
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18 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 20082008 meet-and-greet20092010201120122013 Night 12013 Night 22014 Night 12014 Night 22015 Night 12016 Night 12016 Night 2, 2017 Night 12017 Night 2, 2018 Night 22019 Night 1, 2019 Night 2

Keyboardist Jay Rowe‘s 16th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars was held in his hometown of Milford, Connecticut, on Friday and Saturday nights. The concerts benefit the Milford Public Schools music department. This is a recap of Friday night with headliners Marc Antoine, David Benoit, Marion Meadows, and special guest Elan Trotman.

The sixth annual SJFS in 2008 was the first show I recapped for my blog, which was only two weeks old at the time.

My parents and I left for Milford earlier than last year, at 1:10, but we encountered the same heavy traffic. To be fair, traffic was fine until we crossed into Connecticut. The flow finally eased after exit 27 in Bridgeport. Along the way, I played Kirby Star Allies on my Nintendo Switch, the first time I played in portable mode and the only time I played it all weekend. Then, I watched new videos from a few of the YouTube channels I subscribe to, and posted a picture to Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

A view of the Throgs Neck Bridge on the Cross Island Parkway

A post shared by Mike Chimeri (@mikechimeri) on

I should also note that like last year, a Jay Rowe song played on the Watecolors SiriusXM channel during the drive. This year, it was the radio edit of “Rosemary’s Tune.”

It took two hours and 55 minutes to get to the Milford Hampton Inn.

As we checked in, I ran into saxophonist Jessy J, who headlined Saturday night, along with her husband David. A few minutes later, David Benoit walked in the lobby and we caught up with each other.

My room was on the south end of the first floor. After unpacking and setting up my laptop, I hung out with my friend Kelly, who chose to stay over at the hotel rather than drive from home both nights. We would see each other again after the show.

My dad recommended we eat dinner at Olive Garden on U.S. 1 in neighboring Orange. So, that’s what we did. Like last year, I had minestrone and lasagna with a couple of breadsticks.

My parents dropped me off at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in the Parsons Government Center at around 7:15. I had my ticket checked, then got into my position in the orchestra pit with a few photographers and waited for showtime.

Oddly, Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz came on stage to start the night about five minutes before 8:00.

After that came the opening acts. First was the Jonathan Law High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Phil Giampietro:

They performed “Feather Report,” a Kris Berg composition.

Second was the Jonathan Law Choir, directed by Kelly Jones:

They sang two songs: “Hlonolofatsa” (5/3 UPDATE: Thank you, Kelly.) and “Jonah’s Song.”

Jay Rowe and his band came on stage around 8:15:

Jay played keyboards:

Dave Anderson was on bass:

Trever Somerville on drums:

On his birthday, percussion by Steve Scales:

…and Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on electric guitar:

As noted above, the headliners were, in order of appearance, Marc Antoine on classical guitar:

David Benoit on piano:

…and occasionally on keyboard:

Jay emphasized the first syllable on “Benoit” rather than the second.

Marion Meadows on soprano saxophone:

And for the last three songs (including the encore), special guest Elan Trotman on tenor sax:

SET LIST
1. Smooth Ride (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2016)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

2. Latin Quarter (Marc Antoine)
Originally heard on: Urban Gypsy (1995)
Featured musician: Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

3. Caminando (David Benoit & Marc Antoine)
Originally heard on: So Nice! (2017)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano/keyboard), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

4. A Cafe Au Lait Bentley (David Benoit & Marc Antoine)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2017)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano/keyboard), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)
I cheered when David announced this song: “Yay!” It’s my favorite song on So Nice. David told me it’s based on a line in Ashley Bell by his friend Dean Koontz. I found it here:

“Of course I don’t teach anymore. Don’t have to. That’s my café-au-lait Bentley over there. But I always tell people,” said Mrs. Hoffline-Vorshack, “I was the first to recognize your talent.”

5. Freedom at Midnight (David Benoit)
Originally heard on: Freedom at Midnight (1987); “The Schroeder Variations” with “Moonlight Sonata” excerpt on Earthglow (2010)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano/keyboard), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

6. Body Rhythm (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: Body Rhythm (1995)
Featured musician: Marion Meadows (soprano sax)
Marion began the song by playing through the audience.

7. Humanity (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: Soul Traveler (2015)
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Jay Rowe (keyboard solo), Dave Anderson (bass solo)

8. Montuno Bay (Marc Antoine)
Originally heard on: Guitar Destiny (2012)
Featured musicians: Marc Antoine (classical guitar), Jay Rowe (keyboard solo)

9. Every Step of the Way (David Benoit)
Originally heard on: Every Step of the Way (1988)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano/keyboard), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

10. Linus and Lucy (David Benoit; Vince Guaraldi cover)
Originally heard on: This Side Up (1985), Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown! (1989)/This is America, Charlie Brown episode 6: “The Great Inventors,” Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years! (2000)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano)

11. Soul City (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: Soul City (2018)
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Elan Trotman (special guest) (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar solo)

12 (Finale). Mas Que Nada (Marc Antoine; Jorge Ben Jor cover; Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 signature song)
Originally heard on: Cruisin’ (2001)
Featured musicians: Everyone but Dave Anderson; Roberto Vally (bass)
With the piano in the way, I didn’t realize Roberto was on bass, so I didn’t take any pictures. Instead, I’ll refer you to his website. I met him in the hotel lobby the following morning.

13 (Encore). Watermelon Man (David Benoit; Herbie Hancock cover)
Originally heard on: Right Here, Right Now (2003)
Featured musicians: Everyone but Marc Antoine, Danny Pickering (flugelhorn)

Jay didn’t play on David Benoit’s songs. Rohn didn’t play on “Latin Quarter,” “Caminando,” “A Cafe Au Lait Bentley,” “Montuno Bay,” or “Every Step of the Way.”

We’ve reached the part where I show groups of pictures by artist. We start with Marc Antoine:

David Benoit on piano:

…and keyboard:

To start “Body Rhythm,” Marion Meadows played through the audience:

Special guest Elan Trotman:

Jay Rowe:

Dave Anderson:

Trever Somerville:

Steve Scales:

Rohn Lawrence:

Now for shots with more than person, starting with Jay and Marc:

David and Marc:

Elan and Marion:

“Linus and Lucy”:

The finale: “Mas Que Nada”:

The encore: “Watermelon Man”:

Danny Pickering made a cameo on flugelhorn:

The end:

I wasn’t expecting an encore, but I love David’s take on “Watermelon Man,” so I was happy to hear it.

At the meet and greet in the lobby, I met and posed with Marc Antoine:

Elan Trotman and David Benoit:

…and Jay Rowe and Marion Meadows:

Kelly dropped me off at the hotel and she went to the after party. In all the years I’ve gone to SJFS, I’ve never been to an after party. I don’t like to be up too late, anyway. I usually go to sleep around 10:00 or 11:00.

Click here to read how the rest of my weekend went.

Guest reading at my old elementary school a fourth time March 5, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Books, DVD, Education, Personal, Photography, TV, Video, Weather.
4 comments

Previous guest reading posts: 20152016, 2017

Friday was March 2, Dr. Seuss‘s birthday, which meant it was time to read his books at Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport. It was my fourth year as a guest reader. I finally learned what this day is commonly known as: National Read Across America Day.

I read to seven classrooms and two remedial reading classes. For the latter, which were taught by my friend Lori Downing, I read Green Eggs and Ham. As the other seven classes, I read The LoraxIf I Ran the ZooHop on PopDr. Seuss’s Sleep BookMr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, and Gerald McBoing Boing, the book that started my guest reading journey.

What separates me from other readers is I incorporate voice acting into my reading. I even take cartoon character requests. My throat grew scratchy after doing certain voices, but it was worth it to entertain the kids.

Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book has a newscast tone, so I read it like a news anchor. For The Lorax and the end of Green Eggs and Ham, I based my delivery on the acting in the 1970s CBS specials. Green Eggs and Ham was part of Dr. Seuss on the Loose in 1973 while The Lorax was a full half hour the year before. I first saw them on VHS in the late ’80s and then again on DVD about a decade ago.

As I read, I had the teachers take candid pictures. I combined those, and one Lori took of me, into a collage:

While I was inside Giblyn, a nor’easter was raging outside. A mix of rain and snow fell as coastal flooding affected streets around the school, at least in the morning at high tide. I didn’t grasp how bad the storm was until riding home and then arriving home. A few small tree limbs were in the driveway while a bigger one fell in my neighbor’s backyard. Power went out twice around 3PM, based on my mother’s DVR recording of General Hospital and the time flashing on the stove clock.

I may not be able to guest read next year. My South Florida-based cousin is getting married on March 2. If that’s the case, I had a nice four-year run with so many great memories.

Guest reading at my old elementary school a third time March 6, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Education, Personal, Photography.
3 comments

Previous guest reading posts: 2015, 2016
Later guest reading post: 2018

I was back at Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport last Thursday to read Dr. Seuss books on the week of his birthday for the third year in a row. But that wasn’t all. I also helped with the morning announcements by reading a Dr. Seuss-inspired poem/quiz. My delivery style received praise from teachers and students alike.

I read a variety of books this year. The book I read to most classes was The Cat in the Hat. I also read Horton Hatches an Egg; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; My Many Colored Days; and Gerald McBoing Boing, the first book I read two years ago.

As usual, I incorporated voice acting into my reading, which led to cartoon character requests afterward. I even got requests for presidential impressions.

My sister Lauren told me on Friday that the school was still buzzing about me a day later. That made me beam with pride, just as I was beaming when I was there on Thursday.

Until next year, here’s this year’s [mostly] candid shot collage:
mcguestreadingcollage-30217

9PM UPDATE: This afternoon, I received a gift bag of food from Trader Joe’s with a card that read as follows:

Dear Mike,

Thank you so much for all your help on each and every Dr. Seuss/Read Across America Day at Giblyn. Thank you especially this year! ♥ You were really the star of the day. Your talent in reading, voices, and photography ensures a successful day!

–The Giblyn Reading Dept.

Shelly Peiken book discussion and signing September 25, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel.
1 comment so far

Back in March, I wrote about my experience reading songwriter and Freeport native Shelly Peiken‘s (“PIE-kin”) book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. I was hoping for an opportunity to meet her in person the next time there was a book signing in New York City or here on Long Island. Over the summer, that opportunity came to be as Shelly invited me and her fellow Facebook friends to an event on Friday night at Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine in Rockville Centre, not too far from the LIRR station. I proudly committed to going, as did many other friends from her youth in Freeport. That includes my mother Lisa, who grew up within walking distance of Shelly.

My original itinerary to get to Turn of the Corkscrew was similar to the previous Friday’s journey to Long Beach for the Long Beach Jazz Festival. The only difference is I would eat an early dinner at home before leaving for the Wantagh LIRR station where I would take the 5:59 train. Mom would meet up with me in RVC, as it’s colloquially known, coming from work in Freeport. That never happened because Mom decided to come home first so we could go together. We did, leaving the house at about 5:50. We arrived a half hour later. Shelly wasn’t due to speak until 7:00, but I always like to be early so I can get a prime seat.

After having a can of diet ginger ale and two chocolate chip cookies, I took these preliminary pictures:
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Shelly arrived on time, hugging my mother Lisa on the way to the podium:
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For about an hour, Shelly read excerpts from Confessions of a Serial Songwriter
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…and sang a few of her songs:
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The songs were:
Bitch” – #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for Meredith Brooks in 1997
Almost Doesn’t Count” – #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 for Brandy in 1999; #19 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for Mark Wills in 2000
Human on the Inside” – #59 in Australia for the Divinyls in 1996; #30 on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart for the Pretenders (as “Human”) in 1999
Who You Are” – #8 on the UK Singles chart for Jessie J in 2011

Mom loved “Almost Doesn’t Count.” “That’s very pretty,” she complimented after the last chord. “Thank you, Lisa,” Shelly cheerfully replied. Mom added, “It’s my kind of song.”

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Shelly also admitted she’s working on an audiobook version of Confessions. I can’t wait to hear it.

After Shelly’s friend Suzan Koç took a group picture of her with all of us in the first few rows, it was time for the signing portion of the night. I had my copy ready and Mom bought a copy, too.

She wrote the following in my copy:

Mike –
I love that you came
Nice to meet you in person
Shelly

I couldn’t agree more.

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Here’s what she wrote in Mom’s copy:
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Lisa –
I cried when I saw your face
Shelly

Aww.

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As the crowd thinned out, all that remained were Shelly and her friends. They sat, reminisced, and looked at childhood pictures, for a half hour. I sat with them and took it all in.

Before sitting down, Shelly gathered them for a picture:
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From left to right, there’s Linda, Lisa, Celeste, Shelly, Lisa, and Peggy.

Thank you again, Shelly. I had a wonderful time, and I know (friends) did, too. Tell Suzan it was nice to meet her, too. And thank you, also, to Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran, the co-owners of Turn of the Corkscrew.