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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.

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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.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
16 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 20082008 meet-and-greet200920102011,20122013 Night 12013 Night 22014 Night 12014 Night 22015 Night 12016 Night 12016 Night 2, 2017 Night 12017 Night 2, 2018 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:
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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.

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.
3 comments

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.

Guest reading at my old elementary school again March 3, 2016

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

Previous guest reading post: 2015
Later guest reading posts: 2017, 2018

It’s the week of Dr. Seuss‘s birthday, which can only mean one thing: Dr. Seuss Spirit Week at Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport. Tuesday was the only day devoted to guest readers this year, and I was honored to be invited back after the fun I had last year.

I chose My Many Colored Days as my book, which I read to a few classes, but I was coaxed into reading Gerald McBoing Boing again. I did, reprising all the voices I used last year. I also read I Am Not Going to Get Up Today to an after-school class.

Like last year, I ended up fielding many cartoon character voice requests, plus a few Full/Fuller House characters. My throat was sore by day’s end, but it was worth it to entertain the kids.

When I wasn’t reading and doing impressions, I photographed a few other guest readers.

I’m already looking forward to next year. Until then, I’ll leave with this collage of candid shots taken while I read:
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