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My experience at Day 1 of 2017 New York Comic Con October 6, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 2, 2014 Day 1

Yesterday, I was at the first day of the 2017 New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in the Midtown West section of Manhattan. It was my third trip to NYCC.

I almost didn’t go this year. When I planned on buying a badge (ticket) in June, I learned that fan verification was required. Unfortunately, fan verification was closed. Luckily, last month, I learned on the website that verification was open again. So, I immediately got verified and bought a badge for Day 1.

I woke up at 6:20 yesterday morning. I looked out my window and saw a picturesque sky. I took a couple of shots of it, without and with flash:

After that, I put my camera in my backpack, where it stayed for a few hours.

In between, my mother drove me to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station at 8:40. Nine minutes later, I was on a train bound for Penn Station.

50 minutes later, I exited Penn and walked to the Javits Center. Those that had a badge, including me, were directed to the green entrance via West 39th Street, five blocks north of where I’d been walking.

I made my way down to Level 1 to meet five voice actors and get professional photo ops with four of them.

First up was Tara Strong:

As you can see, I wore my Northern Trust golf tournament shirt. I got it back on August 27, after walking Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury to see the final round.

After Tara, it was on to Rob Paulsen:

Rob is a throat cancer survivor (knock on wood), having battled it last year.

Tress MacNeille:

Jim Cummings:

And finally, Jess Harnell:

When I noticed Jess had his sunglasses on, I put my glasses on:

In all, I spent about four hours in five lines. It was a thrill to meet and chat with them all. I won’t get into the details of our brief conversations, but they were all very nice. Jess even gave me a hug.

I also enjoyed chatting with fellow fans – like Kelly, Sierra, Dave, and a few others whose names I didn’t get – while waiting in line. There was even a woman ahead of me on the Jess Harnell line who was not only dressed as one of his characters – Cedric from Sofia the First – but her name is Jess Warner! Her first name was the same as his, and her last name was the same as his Animaniacs character Wakko Warner. More on that below.

Afterward, I headed to the Epic Photo Ops area for a pair of professional photo ops. Since I had just met the actors at their autograph tables, there was a familiarity in the booth. It was like visiting old friends.

Jim Cummings suggested we “look intrepid”:

I love the outcome.

The second photo op was with Rob, Tress, and Jess, the stars of Animaniacs:

They were the Warner siblings: Yakko, voiced by Rob, Wakko, by Jess (as I noticed before), and Dot, by Tress.

All that remained was to walk the show floor on Level 3. But first, a few shots taken in the lobby on Level 2 after entering around 10:15:

The show floor:

I mostly focused on the video game developers section, as you’ll see below.

The next six pictures were taken in the morning:

I took this in the afternoon:

It was a fun day, but I was ready to head home. I left satisfied.

I walked south on 11th Avenue until I reached West 34th Street, where I alternated between walking and running, hoping to make the 4:12 train back to Wantagh. I did, with time to spare.

Thank you to Tara Strong, Jim Cummings, Rob Paulsen, Tress MacNeille, and Jess Harnell. As I said, it was a pleasure to meet and chat with you all.

I’ll conclude this post with a picture of my program and badge:

10:25 PM UPDATE: While searching in vain on YouTube for video of the I Know That Voice: The Series panel that took place at 5:30, shortly after I got home, I found this interview of Jim Cummings:

10/7 UPDATE: The only video I could find of the aforementioned panel was this:

The video stops before the Q&A portion.

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Seven weeks of Netflix April 29, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Comedy, Film, Internet, Music, Personal, Technology, TV, Video.
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In a post last month, I noted that I ran out of things to watch on Netflix and, in addition to playing video games, began watching YouTube channels instead. Less than a day after I wrote that post, I discovered things to watch on Netflix again. I started with a few movie classics that I had never seen. First up was Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles. That was followed by a pair of Rob Reiner films: This Is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride, both of which featured Christopher Guest and Billy Crystal. From there, I moved on to a few music documentaries:

I went back to YouTube for a couple of days, but then I took a big step. Actually, a giant leap is more like it. I decided to watch all 278* episodes of Cheers, followed by all 264* episodes of Frasier, its spin-off. “Let the journey begin,” I told myself on the afternoon of March 12 as I loaded the pilot episode of Cheers. What followed was textbook binge-watching. It took only 20 days to watch all 11 seasons of Cheers. It took 17 days to watch every season of Frasier, which also ran 11 seasons. The last day I watched Cheers and the first day I watched Frasier overlapped, making for a combined 36 days of 542* episodes. The journey was worth it.

* – Multi-part episodes are split up.

With the two long-running series out of the way, I spent the next two days watching four stand-up specials: two by Dave Chappelle, one by Jo Koy, and one cinematic release by Kevin Hart. After that, there were four documentaries:

After a few days of DVDs and Blu-rays, I returned to Netflix to watch the third season of Dawn of the Croods, one of many Dreamworks animated series made for Netflix. Unfortunately, the season ended on a cliffhanger. Yes, Cheers and Frasier had cliffhangers, but seasons weren’t released to Netflix months apart. Within seconds of watching a cliffhanger finale, you could move on to the next season’s premiere.

All that remained for me to watch were two movies: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, which I watched a few times on VHS when I was 12, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which I don’t recall every seeing.

Now, the well has run dry again, but I expect there to be a handful of movies and documentaries to watch in May. Until then, back to YouTube.

Watching YouTube and playing video games March 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, History, Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Technology, TV, Video Games.
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After about a year of watching TV shows, movies, documentaries, and comedy specials on Netflix in my downtime, I nearly ran out of things to watch. As a result, I turned my attention to YouTube. I watched several episodes of Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Game Sack, and Gaming Historian on there last year. But in the last month, I’ve re-watched Game Sack and Gaming Historian episodes, and binge watched The 8-Bit Guy/8-Bit Keys and My Life in Gaming. This post is about how I discovered the channels I frequent.

I discovered Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show last year while looking for interviews of Kevin on YouTube. I was listening to his book, How I Slept My Way to the Middle, on Audible last March, and was completely unaware of his chat show, which he’s had since 2009. In the two months that followed, I watched episodes with guests who I was familiar with or whom I didn’t expect to express their political beliefs. Once I was caught up, I would watch new archived episodes two days after they streamed live. I tried watching one episode live, but I focused more on the chat room discussion than the interview. For a few months, the KPCS YouTube channel was down; all videos were gone. Eventually, they were restored and I resumed watching new episodes.

I found Gaming Historian while looking for longplay video game videos like they have at World of Longplays. What I got instead was informative historical documentaries on video game franchises, consoles, companies, and industry executives. Norman Caruso does a great job.

I discovered Game Sack, a channel run by Joe Redifer who co-hosts with his friend Dave White, via suggested videos after watching some Gaming Historian episodes. Each episode features playthroughs and critiques by Joe and Dave of the same categories I listed for Gaming Historian, as well as video game genres. The videos are entertaining, informative, humorous, and well-spoken; a perfect blend.

David Murray is the 8-Bit Guy. His videos focus on retro technology such as computers, digital cameras, and the aforementioned video game consoles. A video about video game music in the 8-bit era was suggested to me after a Game Sack episode. That video inspired David to start the 8-Bit Keys channel, which focuses on synthesizers and keyboards. I binged watched those videos a few weeks ago while recovering from an upper respiratory infection.

I support the latter three YouTubers on Patreon. Searching for other YouTubers to support on that site led me to My Life in Gaming. I watched an episode or two and became hooked. It’s hosted by two friends named Coury Carlson and Marc Duddleson (aka Try4ce). Their videos range from masterclasses on video game consoles and hardware for capturing gameplay to live streams of gameplay. Similar to Gaming Historian and Game Sack, they also have videos devoted to video games and VG developers. They even had a series of “How to Beat” videos which parodied 1990s VHS tips videos. Here’s one of them.

All these videos inspired me to buy NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), Game Boy, Super NES, and Sega Genesis video games to add to my collection. I even bought a refurbished Xbox 360 with a wireless controller a couple of weeks ago. Once it arrived, I bought several pre-owned games at a nearby Gamestop. They include puzzle games, quiz games, racing games, kart racers, and platformers. The game I’ve played the most thus far is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. I bought the Xbox 360 because it’s backward compatible with most Xbox games which I plan on eventually getting. I also have in mind the Playstation 3 because of its backward compatibility with PS1 and PS2. If only the PS4 and Xbox One were backward compatible with all their predecessors.

Getting back to YouTube, there are two more channels I’d like to discuss. For a couple of years, I’ve been subscribed to a channel called Prager University. It was created by talk radio host Dennis Prager as “an online video resource promoting knowledge and clarity on life’s biggest and most interesting topics.” The channel “gather[s] some of the world’s best thinkers and distill[s] their best ideas into free, 5-minute videos on things ranging from history and economics to science and happiness.” One video led me to another channel. It was by Dave Rubin, a former left-wing ideologue who is now a free-thinking, open-minded classical liberal. After watching that video, YouTube suggested another video from Dave’s channel, The Rubin Report. Now, I’m hooked on that, too. I haven’t binge watched videos, but I have seen his commentaries and most recent interviews. Not only is Dave a political commentator, but he’s also a gamer. He played through Contra on the NES in his latest live stream video.

If you like video games and/or politics, I recommend you give these channels a try. They’ve given me hours of information and enjoyment. Thank you all.

Audiobooking 3 December 23, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Film, History, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Pets, Politics, Radio, Sports, Technology, Theatre, TV, Video.
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Here is a list of the audiobooks I’ve listened to on Audible in the 13 months since my previous “audiobooking” post:

* – Left-wing viewpoint occasionally expressed

As I noted in my previous post, these books get me through workouts, bedtime, and boredom, but mostly the first two. As long as there are audiobooks read by my favorite public figures, I will continue to listen on Audible and chronicle those books on this site. Until next time…

Jeff Dunham at Carnegie Hall October 22, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Hockey, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Politics, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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(10/26 UPDATE: I have censored the few curse words that were in the recap.)

(10/23 NOTE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Jeff’s show ran “about 70 minutes.” I have corrected that to read “2 hours and 13 minutes.”)

I was in Manhattan for the second night in a row yesterday. Thursday, I was down in Greenwich Village to see the Chick Corea Elektric Band. Yesterday, I was uptown at Carnegie Hall to see ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Dunham. Pictures weren’t allowed during the show, which was part of Jeff’s Perfectly Unbalanced Tour, but I took my plenty before and after. I had to use my iPhone 6 because mobile devices were all that were allowed.

This was my fourth time at Carnegie Hall, but the first time in the Stern Auditorium. My previous three trips were to see pianist Lisa Hilton in the intimate Weill Recital Hall.

Jeff Dunham and his crew made their way to Carnegie at around 4:30. Jeff posted live video of the walk to Facebook:

About an hour after that streaming video, I left the house for the Wantagh LIRR station. It was the last day of a warm and humid air mass. Nonetheless, like Thursday night, I wore my green spring squall jacket in case of rain. There was nary a drop; only fog and mist when I returned six hours later. There had been rain earlier in the day, but while I waited for the 5:59 train for Penn Station, Wantagh was in between rain bands. The band to the east must have been intense because there were impressive cumulonimbus clouds:
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Low cumulus clouds set in starting in Queens, appearing dark against the setting sun.

There were New York Islanders fans on the train through Jamaica. They changed there for the Atlantic Terminal train to Barclays Center where the Islanders went on to beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2.

The train arrived at Penn Station at 6:55. From there, I took the E train to West 53rd Street and walked four blocks to Carnegie Hall.

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Once there, the crowd had to wait until 7:30 for the Stern Auditorium doors to open. After getting a bottle of water, I got to my balcony seat. Trivia, social media posts, and pictures were shown on the monitor:
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The ceiling:
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There was a welcome announcement at 8:03 following by three intro videos at 8:06. Since they’re from Jeff’s YouTube channel, I’ve included them below:

After an auto-tune montage, the show officially began at 8:16. The voice of Achmed the Dead Terrorist announced Jeff and he walked on stage. I looked at him on the monitor most of the time since I was so high up.

I took ten pages of notes in a 7 x 5 notebook. Below are some of those notes. I’ll try not to give too much away.

Jeff’s opening act:

  • Informal election vote: Hillary – cheers, Donald – more cheers
  • Why he’s a ventriloquist
  • Family – daughters, Audrey, twin boys
  • How Jeff and Audrey found out they were having twins, Jack and James
  • The twins’ birth
  • Changing diapers in NICU
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby pictures – meme photo (“I CAME OUT OF YOUR WHAT???”), then actual photos: their first birthday, Jeff holding them like dumbbells, at Disneyland
  • Left stage, came back
  • Videotaping show to include message to sons when they’re older

After the opening act, it was time to open the boxes and bring out the characters. Walter came first:

  • “Oh, shut the hell up! (mocking laugh)”
  • Joke about New Jersey
  • How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “Uber.”
  • Joke about auditorium appearance
  • Sick of election garbage – doesn’t like either candidate – like going in for colonoscopy
  • Cut to a video:

  • “You know, folks tell me that I should run for president”
  • Wife
  • Life after death
  • “If Trump becomes president, José’ll be out of the show” (a reference to José Jalapeño on a Stick)
  • Being an older parent
  • “Say good night, Walter.” “Thanks, everybody!”

Before bringing out the next character, Jeff announced that his next special will be taped in Dublin, Ireland, in May for Netflix. It will debut in August. The theme will be family. Jeff found out he is of Irish descent. To that end, a new character he tried out at Carnegie Hall was an Irish baby he was trying to get adopted:

  • Big head
  • Adult voice with brogue
  • Influenced by the other characters (“I keel you” from Achmed)
  • Much smarter than apparent age
  • Cursing (from Peanut)
  • Mother gave him up for adoption
  • Vaccination/shots – “Gin, rum, vodka”
  • Can’t walk, but can pub crawl
  • “All the drunks just think I’m a leprechaun”
  • “And that’s the new baby!”

Bubba J:

  • “I’m doin’ pretty good!”
  • “…watchin’ NASCAR and drinkin’ beer”
  • Twins
  • Wife
  • Running for president
  • “Press the flesh”
  • Debate/da bait, defense/da fence, Syria/Siri
  • Fracking: “Me and the wife are down to once a month”
  • “Say good night, Bubba J”

Peanut:

  • “Dat’s goooooooooood!”
  • (singing): “New York…..”
  • “Two infants at your age, how the hell did that happen?!”
  • Running gags (toward Jeff, into mic): “’cause you’re old”, “’cause you’re an a**h***”, “’cause I’m an a**h***”
  • Porn riff (“chicka-chicka-wow-wow”) – baby-related dirty talk
  • Caffeine zaniness – “It’s great!”, “Yes!”
  • Coffee enema
  • Lost a shoe – “No, dude, I found one”
  • Peanut fell off and his mouth was stuck open – after a few minutes of incoherent speech (“ahh***”), Jeff closed it
  • “Jeff-fa-fa”
  • “Nnnnnnyeow!”
  • Spoke to two men in the front row
  • Hearing aid joke (pretending to cut out)

Achmed the Dead Terrorist:

  • “Most beloved terrorist throughout the world”
  • Achmed’s origin story – tried out Dead Osama a year after 9/11, six blocks from Ground Zero – crowd loved act – retooled as Achmed starting in Spark of Insanity
  • “Greetings, American infidels!”
  • Usama Bin Laden is “dead dead”
  • “Do you know me, infidels?!” – cheers – “Thank you, I keel you (2x)”
  • “Achhhhhmed”
  • “It’s not funny!”
  • “Silence! I keel you!” – cheers – “Thank you, I keel you”
  • Achmed’s many kids: “…and Steve”
  • Games
  • Life story: “Once upon a time, (boom!). The end.”
  • Presidential election
  • “Oh! Bomb! Ah!”
  • Questions: “Dear Achmed…” – by my count, 19 questions – Favorite breakfast cereal: “Life” – Hugh Jorgen (huge organ): “I can’t believe you fell for that!” – Legs fell off, then arms, then ribcage

After one last joke, that was it. Since it was over, I resumed photography. There was one last bit of business for Jeff: a crowd selfie with his wife Audrey.

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Here’s how that selfie looked:

As you can see, balcony members weren’t in the picture, but I don’t mind.

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In all, Jeff was on stage for 2 hours and 13 minutes, leaving the stage at 10:29.

I took a selfie of my own a few minutes later:
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Then, I made my way down the stairs, through the lobby, and out the door. Merchandise was available in the lobby:
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Rather than walk back to West 53rd Street to take the E train again, I walked to 59th Street-Columbus Circle station.

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I took the 1 train back to Penn Station:
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I would have taken the 11:08 LIRR train to Wantagh, but there happened to be an 11:01 express train that didn’t make local stops until Wantagh. So, I boarded that one. There were some passengers that didn’t realize it was an express and had to change at Jamaica for the later, entirely-local train. It only took 43 minutes to get to Wantagh! Now that’s what I call express! I wouldn’t have arrived until 20 minutes later had I taken 11:08 train.

Thus ended my six-hour adventure. Jeff was hilarious, as always. I wish the show was available on video so I could watch it again and again. My notes and memories will have to do until then.

While I slept, Jeff was live on Facebook as his YouTube channel surpassed one million subscribers!

Congratulations, Jeff, and thank you to fans like me for getting the channel to a million and beyond.

Chick Corea Elektric Band at Blue Note October 21, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel.
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After a month away from the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, I returned last night to see the Chick Corea Elektric Band. It was the first of two shows in two nights. Tonight, I’m going to see ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Dunham in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. Pictures aren’t allowed, so that recap will be all words. (10/22 UPDATE: The recap of that show is now up. I was allowed to take pictures before and after, but I was still quite descriptive. Jeff’s YouTube videos and social media posts are also included in the recap.)

After the seating issue when I went to see Lee Ritenour in August, I opted for a seat further from the stage last night. It was still cramped, but my table seat was against the wall, which meant I was free to get up to take pictures without getting in anyone’s way. It was quite a workout, in addition to the 7.6 miles I ran in the afternoon. I was seated across from Phil, an avid Chick Corea fan from Vancouver, and his wife Kim. They made the time before the show worthwhile.

Now, the backstory: Pianist, keyboardist, and composer Chick Corea turned 75 back in June. In honor of this milestone, Blue Note arranged a two-month celebration/residency, which began Wednesday night with the first of five nights of the Chick Corea Elektric Band. The residency ends with Return to Forever meets Mahavishnu (Orchestra, I assume) from December 8 through 11. That show will combine half of Return to Forever, Chick and drummer Lenny White, along with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin on guitar. Victor Wooten will round out that band on bass.

The Elektric Band featured its definitive lineup, first heard on Light Years, the band’s second album, in 1987.

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Chick Corea played keyboards:
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…piano:
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…and, during the encore, keytar:
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Eric Marienthal was on alto sax:
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…and soprano sax:
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Frank Gambale on guitar:
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John Patitucci on bass:
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…and Dave Weckl on drums:
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The 8:00 set consisted of six songs with extended solos. The songs were:
1. Trance Dance
Originally heard on: Eye of the Beholder, 1988

2. C.T.A. (Miles Davis cover)
Originally heard on: Paint the World, 1993

3. Jocelyn – The Commander
Originally heard on: To the Stars, 2004

4. Beneath the Mask
Originally heard on: Beneath the Mask, 1991

5. Silver Temple
Originally heard on: The Chick Corea Elektric Band, 1986

6 (Encore). Got a Match?
Originally heard on: The Chick Corea Elektric Band, 1986

The encore started with an audience call and response intro. Chick would play:
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…and the audience would echo:
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Then, “Got a Match”:
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The last note:
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After the set, I briefly caught up with drummer Dave Weckl and we posed for a picture:
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I had a longer conversation with saxophonist Eric Marienthal, whom I’ve seen perform many times: with the Rippingtons in 2005, David Benoit in 2006, at Smooth Jazz for Scholars in 2008, solo in 2011, and with the Jeff Lorber Fusion in 2014, my first time at the Blue Note.

Just as we were posing for a picture, bassist John Patitucci walked by and I asked if he could get in, too. He did:
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I interviewed both Eric and John on The Mike Chimeri Show over a decade ago. All interviews can be heard here. (Out of self-consciousness, I haven’t listened since editing them for air.)

The Chick Corea Elektric Band put on a thrilling show last night. If you’d like to see them and get the same thrill I did, they play at 8:00 and 10:30 tonight, tomorrow night, and Sunday night.

Here is the rest of Chick’s residency schedule:

  • October 26-30: For Miles
  • November 2-6: Three Quartets, the Leprechaun Band
  • November 9-10: Experiments in Electronica
  • November 11-13: Flamenco Heart
  • November 16-17: Chick Corea Big Band
  • November 18-20: The Piano Duets
  • November 22-23: Chick Corea & Gary Burton
  • November 25-27: Origin II
  • November 30-December 4: The Music of Return to Forever – Acoustic
  • December 7: Chick Corea with John McLaughlin
  • December 8-11: Return to Forever meets Mahavishnu

10/30 UPDATE: Highlights from all five nights of the Elektric Band at Blue Note were posted to Chick’s Facebook page:

2016 LIU Post & WCWP Homecoming, 2017 Hall of Fame Announcement October 10, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Comedy, Football, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, Video, Weather.
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Earlier recaps: 2008, 2009, WCWP 50th Anniversary (2011), 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Later recap: 2017

Later in this recap, I share airchecks from my pre-recorded Homecoming Weekend show that aired early yesterday morning. To see and hear my live show on Friday, click here.

After kicking off Homecoming Weekend on Friday, I returned to the campus of LIU Post for Homecoming itself.

On my way to campus, I put on WCWP, whose signal wasn’t entirely clear at first, and listened to the Post Pioneers‘ Homecoming game against the Saint Anselm Hawks. The game had begun moments earlier and it was already 14-0! As my mother turned toward the Abrams Communications Building, where WCWP is located, the Pioneers scored their third touchdown to go ahead 21-0.

When I made my way from WCWP to Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium, all part of my Homecoming Day routine, it was 35-14 with a minute to go in the first half.

Before standing by the gate adjacent to the field, I photographed the carnival rides in the parking lot:
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Skies were cloudy and the air was mild and humid. There was spotty drizzle, but not enough to scare me away. (My camera isn’t weatherproof.)

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Joe Szadok and Jeff Kroll, on the right end of the press box (their left), called the game for WCWP:
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The series of pictures below are the touchdown to increase the Pioneers lead to 41-14, followed by the extra point that made the score 42-14:
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The Pioneers would go on to rout the Hawks 63-20 (thanks to a missed extra point) and improved their record to 6-0.

On my way back to WCWP, I zoomed my camera lens to 300 mm lens as an Emirates airline jet flew low in its descent toward JFK International Airport:
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The spotty drizzle intensified to a light rain shower, so I had to put my camera under my jacket for the rest of the walk back. Except for walks to and from Hillwood Commons for snacks from the vending machine, I didn’t leave WCWP until my dad picked me up an hour into Mike Riccio and Bobby G.’s radio show. More on that later.

I was pleasantly surprised to see faces from my early days at WCWP, especially Joe Manfredi, the former director of operations:
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Also on hand were Billy Houst and Karen Fiorelli, who took this picture of Joe, him, me, and Jay Mirabile:
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Jay is my biggest champion, always propping me up on Facebook, complimenting me and my talents.

John Zoni hosted the halftime and postgame shows:
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Bernie Bernard, who once again had a show after the football game, spoke to Jeff and Joe, still in the press box, during the postgame show:
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Here’s Bernie, moments into her show:
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When she wasn’t playing music, she played host to a cavalcade of alumni, starting with Bobby Guthenberg, AKA Bobby G.:
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Next were Jeff Kroll, fresh from the press box, and Pete Bellotti to announce the 2017 inductees to the WCWP Hall of Fame:
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The 2017 inductees are Neil Marks, John LiBretto, and John March.

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Jay Elzweig gathered by Jeff and Pete’s mic to discuss his history with WCWP and “The Original Hootenanny” show:
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Jay resurrected “The Hootenanny” in a show that aired at 4AM yesterday following my show.

Bill Mozer, who had his camcorder and 4-channel portable recorder set up in Studio 2, also spoke briefly. I was diagonal from Bill’s setup and shot the pictures you’re seeing here from the same spot.

After a few songs, David Kaplan was next to speak:
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He invited his daughter Alexa, a student at LIU Post, to join him at the mic.

David and Alexa gave way to more songs, then Roger Luce and Mike Schanzer (AKA Magick Mike Hendryx):
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Mike had a solo segment, as well:
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Unlike on Friday when he followed me, I followed him in the interview chair (via vidcaps):
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Bernie’s last aircheck of the show included Jett Lightning and Wolf German, a former student of hers:
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Wolf is enthusiastic and affable, and it was a pleasure to meet him. Jett agreed.

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Jett stuck around for Mike Riccio and Bobby G., and Bill Mozer checked on his setup:
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After the above picture, I packed up the camcorder and tripod and left Studio 2. I came back in for one final shot during Mike and Bobby’s phone interview with Chuck Taylor:
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As you see, Jay Elzweig stopped by the studio before he left for the night.

When I got home, I edited pictures, selected which to post here and Facebook, and began mixing camcorder video with my recording from the FM tuner and studio board. All the while, I listened to the rest of Mike and Bobby’s show, and Bruce Leonard and John Commins after them. Here’s the final cut of the video, which I rendered and posted to YouTube yesterday afternoon:

While waiting in Studio 3 for my dad to pull into the parking lot, I had Jeff Kroll take pictures of me with Alana Leider:
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…and John Zoni:
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Then, I took pictures of Pat Kroll and Lew Scharfberg:
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Alan Boritz and Pat Kroll:
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Lew Scharfberg, Jeff Kroll, Bruce Leonard:
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…and finally, Bill Mozer and Bernie Bernard:
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Thus ended a busy day at LIU Post. It’s always great to catch up with alumni I know and meet alumni for the first time. It’s also great to hear the various shows throughout Homecoming Weekend. “I’m listening to the very end,” I wrote in the WCWP Alumni Association Facebook group during Jeff Kroll’s 10PM show last night. “You sound great, Jeff.”

Here’s how Jeff signed off just before midnight:

Until next year, I’ll leave you with airchecks from the prerecorded Instrumental Invasion with Mike Chimeri that aired at 2AM yesterday:

…and the playlist.

As I noted last week, I recorded the show from home. It sounded great on the web stream, which I was awake to listen to.

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

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Football, Music, Personal.
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Posing with Confessions of a Serial Songwriter after I finished reading it

NOTE: This is more of a recounting of my experience leading up to buying the book, and then reading the book, than a review of it. I didn’t want to give too much away.

A few years ago, I added a friend on Facebook via mutual friends. Her name was Shelly Peiken (“PIE-kin”), and she was a native of Freeport, New York. Her mutual friends included my aunts, Randy and Robin, and a few other family friends from Freeport, where I spent much of the first 11 1/2 years of my life. Little did I know that Shelly was an established songwriter, having written “Bitch” for Meredith Brooks and “What a Girl Wants” for Christina Aguilera, among countless others. I mostly listen to instrumentals, having fallen in love with them during the local forecasts on The Weather Channel, but I was as tuned in to mainstream music as the next person.

I first heard – or rather, I saw – “Bitch” sometime in 1997 on a weekly late night NBC show, which aired after Late Night, called Friday Night Videos. Another memory of that song came later that year when my friend Joey sang the chorus as we walked through Splish Splash water park in Riverhead on Labor Day Weekend.

“What a Girl Wants” came to my attention when I was a freshman in college at LIU Post (then C.W. Post). I vividly remember having the bridge to that song in my head during the 1999-2000 NFC Championship Game, as the Buccaneers were driving (unsuccessfully) to regain the lead over the Rams late in the 4th quarter.

I knew Shelly was working on an autobiography, but didn’t know the title, or if it was out, until I noticed a post of hers in my Facebook news feed last Monday. The book is called Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. I headed to Amazon to see the book’s listing (which I linked to in the previous sentence). I contemplated whether or not I should buy it throughout the morning and into the afternoon. I twice watched a video on the listing page where Shelly explained how the book came to be. I didn’t realize until typing this now and searching YouTube that the video was posted over a year and a half ago. For you prospective buyers, here’s the video:

Sold! I bought Confessions… after watching a second time. Since it was Prime eligible, I figured I would have the book by Wednesday, but it didn’t arrive until Friday. Little did I know that my father Bill had also purchased the book. His copy arrived the next day. It sat on the kitchen table, tempting me. Do I dare read his copy before I get mine?

I didn’t succumb to temptation…until Friday morning. I whizzed through 46 pages before putting it back where I found it. By afternoon, my copy had arrived. I read another 19 pages in the afternoon and another 21 pages in the evening. 86 pages in one day! I’ve never read that fast! It helped that I imagined Kevin Pollak narrating the book as I read. He was in my head because I’d been listening to his autobiography on Audible. It’s called How I Slept My Way to the Middle: Secrets and Stories from Stage, Screen, and Interwebs. Plus, I had discovered his long-running chat show, simply titled Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show.

Saturday was another busy reading day. I read 48 pages in the morning, 36 pages in the afternoon, and 16 pages in the evening. Another 98 pages down. Even though it was only 8:06 PM when I completed page 185, I felt tired and went to sleep.

I woke up at sunrise. After watching Kevin Pollak’s interview with Drew Carey, I resumed reading Confessions… I read 42 pages before stopping to craft the first draft of the post you’re reading now. By mid-afternoon, I finished the book! In under 54 hours, I had read all 276 pages, including thank yous, the glossary, the song index, credits, and “about the author.” What an adventure!

There’s more to Shelly than “Bitch” and “What a Girl Wants.” And there’s more to the book than all the songs Shelly wrote. She also goes into the business side of songwriting and the changes it’s undergone in the last 15 years. I highly recommend Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. You won’t be disappointed. Order your copy today.

Audiobooking 2: Listen Up! November 12, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Basketball, Blu-ray, Christmas, Comedy, Commentary, DVD, Film, News, Personal, Politics, Sports, TV, Video.
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Early last December, I listed all the audiobooks I had listened to while working out between June and the day I wrote the post. I said “there [would] be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead.” This follow-up post will list those books, all of which I listened to on Audible.

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

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

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

Don’t Be a Pinhead Tour at Westbury recap May 3, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Commentary, Media, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Theatre, TV.
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According to WordPress, this is my 350th post at MikeChimeri.com.

Last night, for the first time in four years, I was at NYCB Theatre at Westbury to see Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller. This time, their tour had a new name: Don’t Be a Pinhead.

My dad and were seated in Section B, Row H.

The show was scheduled to begin at 8:00, but didn’t start until 8:09. At that time, Bill got on the P.A. system and directed the crowd to “please greet Dennis Miller!”

Dennis’ first joke was “Hi, #Hello #GoodEvening.” Here are some of the topics of his 35-minute set:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • James Carville
  • Other potential Democratic presidential candidates
  • Bill Ayers
  • John Kerry
  • Potential Republican presidential candidates
  • John Boehner
  • Green hotel
  • Apple Watch
  • Weird sports day – “Floyd Mayweather won the Kentucky Derby”
  • Harry Reid
  • Obamacare
  • Pope Francis
  • Nancy Pelosi

After the last Pelosi joke, Bill walked toward the stage and exclaimed, “Dennis Miller, everybody!” Bill’s 35-minute set included:

  • Baltimore
  • His hard scrabble upbringing in Levitttown
  • Hillary Clinton
  • President Barack Obama
  • One poll on each of the two
  • James Carville
  • The previous two presidential campaigns (McCain, Romney)
  • Romney’s 2012 primary opponents
  • How Bill got the five living presidents to sign pictures of them to raise money for track chairs

Intermission was 15 minutes, after which Bill and Dennis returned to the stage for Q&A. Once again, they sat in chairs while the stage rotated. Highlights of this part were:

  • A question from Barry in Syosset led Dennis to joke “Barry’s got Syosset?”
  • “Volleyballtocracy”
  • Dennis’ nicknames for Vice President Joe Biden: “Jar Jar Biden,” “Plugs MacKenzie”
  • The Saturday Night Live parody of Hillary Clinton’s campaign launch
  • Bill and Dennis won’t endorse any candidates for 2016
  • Dennis’ stories of traveling with Pres. George W. Bush
  • Stories from Bill and Dennis’ trips to Iraq
  • A plug for the Rockin’ the Boat benefit on May 21
  • What is a pinhead?
  • The Killing books (Dennis’ book: Killing Lincoln Logs)
  • Bill’s infamous appearance on The View in October 2010

And with that, the night was over. Bill and Dennis left to a standing ovation. Dennis paraphrased Jackie Gleason by saying “Long Island audiences are the greatest audiences in the world.” It was certainly an entertaining two hours.

If you want to see the Don’t Be a Pinhead Tour, get your tickets fast because the shows sell out in a hurry. The next three shows in Cleveland and Memphis next month, and Atlantic City in August, are all sold out. I recommend watching the Miller Time segment every Wednesday on The O’Reilly Factor to see if new dates are added. So far, Atlantic City is it.

If any viewer e-mails from audience members are read on The Factor this week, I will update this post with those e-mails and Bill’s replies.

5/8 UPDATE: There weren’t any viewer e-mails from audience members this week, but dates were added to the tour this fall. You can find them here.