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Audiobooking 4 December 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Rating Improv-A-Ganza games; the ratings May 25, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Commentary, Game Shows, Media, Personal, Radio, Theatre, TV.
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I have been a fan of improv comedy since I discovered reruns of the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? on Comedy Central 14 years ago.  The American version with Drew Carey and much of the American performers from the British version brought the Whose Line franchise and improv to the stratosphere.  My love for Whose Line carried over to Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show, which unfortunately didn’t last long.  But I had the good fortune to conduct phone interviews with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood while I was at WCWP.  Here’s how those interviews went:

Brad Sherwood Interview (May 25, 2005)
Colin Mochrie Interview (September 14, 2005)
Brad Sherwood Interview II (November 10, 2006)

(More interviews can be heard here and here.)

Four years into Drew Carey’s run as host of The Price is Right, along came Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza on GSN.  With a month and a half of the show under viewers’ belts, I’ve decided to choose my favorite, least favorite, and so-so games from the show:
(NOTE: Ratings are subject to change and vary by the episode in which the games are performed.)

FAVORITE

  • Fairy Tale
  • First Date
  • Forward/Reverse
  • Freeze Tag
  • Kick It!
  • Options
  • Playbook
  • Question This!
  • Sentences
  • Two-Headed [Expert]

LEAST FAVORITE

  • Sound Effects – I’m a perfectionist.  With the exception of Rich Fields and Steve Kamer, audiences members’ attempts at sound effects are tough to watch.
  • Moving People/Bodies – This is also tough to watch.
  • Mousetraps – All I can say is ouch!  I feel for whatever two performers have to participate.

SO-SO

  • Bob’s Call – When Bob Derkach hears a line that songs like a song, he’ll improvise a song and the two performers in the scene have to do the same.
  • Compilation Album
  • New Choice
  • Song for a Lady

I’m hoping there will be more Improv-A-Ganza in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead.  But unfortunately, it may not be around much longer, either, as it is suffering from low ratings.  I got so caught up in watching each episode and savoring every moment, I didn’t consider looking up the ratings.  Since the show’s competition includes cable news opinion shows, I’m not surprised.  The ratings would probably be higher if DVRs were factored in.  I’m one of those DVRers, if that is a word.  I watch my Improv-A-Ganza recording later while watching Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor as it airs.

I convert each episode to my MiniDV camcorder then capture those episodes to my computer as AVI video files.  The final step is normalizing audio and inserting fades or crossfades then rendering as MPG files and deleting the AVIs to save hard drive space.  Unfortunately, the recordings are in SD (standard definition) because Cablevision hasn’t added GSN’s HD feed.  Improv-A-Ganza airs in HD.

If Improv-A-Ganza is in its last days, then there is an upside: there will be more episodes of this show than the Green Screen Show.

5/25 UPDATE: Last night’s episode featured those so-so rated games Bob’s Call and Compilation Album.  I liked them both.  Moving Bodies was all right.

5/26 UPDATE: I have a theory about some of the Improv-A-Ganza ratings analysis.  The show is not a traditional game show, yet it’s on GSN.  Therefore, if its ratings can be negatively spun, perhaps that will hasten its cancellation.  It’s similar to the Fox Business Network (FBN): highlight the channel’s low ratings and root for its demise.

I’m probably wrong.  It is, after all, just a theory from a fan of Drew Carey’s improv franchise, from the American Whose Line to Improv-A-Ganza.

5/27 UPDATE: Look at this post on the MGM Grand Las Vegas Facebook page (h/t Improv-A-Ganza Facebook fan page):

Stand-up comic, producer, writer and host of “The Price is Right,” Drew Carey, will return to the Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand with his Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza. Audience members may appear in an original, primetime GSN (Game Show Network) television series being shot during these special live performances!

Improv-A-Ganza is alive!

6/3 UPDATE: Or is it?  Tonight’s show was the season finale.  Let’s hope it wasn’t the series finale.

Not watching The Price is Right; but instead… May 19, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, Media, Personal, Theatre, TV.
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This season, The Price is Right went in a direction that I did not like: they decided to go with guest announcers that had little or no announcing experience.  The guest announcer they felt was best was made permanent.  The result is a stilted delivery with caricatured announcer emphasis.  I don’t want to name the announcer because if I decide to watch regularly again, he may grow on me.  In that case, I will update this post with the good news.  Until then, I watch three shows with professional announcers:

  • Jeopardy! with Johnny Gilbert
  • Wheel of Fortune with a series of guest announcers trying to fill the late Charlie O’Donnell’s shoes; as I type, Jim Thornton is guest announcing for the third week in a row
  • Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza with former TPiR announcer, the last pro, Rich Fields

In the case of Improv-A-Ganza, it appears Drew has finally found a successful successor to Whose Line is it Anyway?  I love nearly every second of the show.  The best game so far was Forward/Reverse on last Monday’s episode.  Jonathan Mangum, part of the Improv-A-Ganza performer rotation, is a good announcer/sidekick to Wayne Brady on Let’s Make a Deal, a show I watched (despite not airing in HD) until I could no longer take poor decisions by contestants.  Wayne has appeared as a special guest in select Improv-A-Ganza episodes.

With Wheel, it helps if there are as little dud letters called and as little Bankrupts and Lose-A-Turns spun as possible.  A successful bonus round solve doesn’t hurt either.

Jeopardy! is at its best when the two rounds are completed without the annoying bip-bip-bip-bip indicating time has run out and clues will remain hidden.

Christmas Eve TPiR Double Showcase Winner December 24, 2010

Posted by Mike C. in Game Shows, Media, TV.
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Just in time for Christmas, there was a double showcase winner on “The Price is Right.”  Judy Ho was the last contestant to come on down.  And once she was in contestants’ row, she won a lot:

  • One Bid: Linea Pele accessories
  • Secret “X”: Trip to Athens
  • Showcase 1: Price is Right Christmas Stocking: Trip to Cancun, trip to Oslo, Sanibel 18′ sailboat
  • Showcase 2: Fun Christmas Gifts: 32 GB iPod Touch, 8 GB iPod Nano, 2 GB iPod Shuffle, Apple TV, XBOX360 Kinect plus six games, 42″ JVC 1080p LCD HDTV, Acura ZDX

In all, Judy won $101,244 in prizes.  She was the third-highest daytime winner in the history of “The Price is Right.”  Merry Christmas!

You can watch the show here.  If you want to skip ahead, Judy’s winning run begins at 23:19.

As a side note, congratulations to host Drew Carey on his weight loss.  I hope he can maintain it.  After losing close to 100 pounds in 2007, and being as low as 134 in early 2008, I’m currently hovering in the mid 140s.

Cause and Effects; 4/7/13 UPDATE: Drew’s side of the story, What took me (Mike) so long February 6, 2010

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Game Shows, Media, TV, Weather.
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Terry’s side of the story

4/7/13 UPDATE: Drew’s side of the story comes later in this post.

Terry Kneiss, a Double Showcase winner on The Price is Right in December 2008, sent me the following e-mail (with permission to quote him here) on Wednesday:

I just got word from my publisher that the book “Cause and Effects:  The Amazing Story Surrounding the ‘Perfect Showcase Bid’ on Television’s #1 Daytime Game Show” is available to buy online for pre-order.  The website is www.perfectshowcasebid.com.  Publisher is Langdon Press out of [Minnesota].

That perfect showcase bid led to an unenthusiastic reaction from host Drew Carey.  At the time, I didn’t understand why he reacted that way, but I defended him nonetheless:

I believe he was simply in stunned disbelief and shock.  Not everyone handles that situation by yelling and screaming.  Drew has had the yelling, screaming reaction before, but he is far from perfect.  If you want Drew to be wildly enthusiastic every time, you’re going to be disappointed.  Clearly, many were disappointed by this.  If you want to stop watching “The Price is Right” because Drew isn’t enthusiastic enough for your taste, it’s your choice.  But there are plenty of people like me that support Drew and will continue to watch.

I now feel that Drew thought Terry was playing him and the TPiR staff like fools, the same way Michael Larson did on Press Your Luck in 1984.  But I could be wrong.

Cause and Effects will showcase, pardon the pun, Terry’s side of the story.  On the book’s website, there is this introduction:

My name is Terry Kniess as in the guy who hit The Price Is Right Showcase on the nose — last done in 1973! That earned me a “double showcase!” Oh, and you pronounce Kniess like “niece”, as in ‘my niece hit The Price Is Right showcase just a few weeks after I did!’ But is this a simple story of incredible luck? Or is this the tale– as so many members of the press are asserting — of a diabolical scheme perpetrated by a family of evil geniuses? Well, it all starts with a dog.

My vote is “a simple story.”

Terry is a retired meteorologist and has his own weather website.

2/10 UPDATE: Terry has supplied me with an excerpt from Chapter 15: “Pegging the Stranger Meter, or Just a Series of Coincidences?”:

If there is any reason to believe in a conspiracy theory, it’s because of the strange but true coincidences between the show she (my niece, Jodi) was on and the show I was on.  Let’s review:

1.  Her show aired exactly one month to the day after the one I was on.
2.  She sat in the same seat I did.
3.  Her fiancé, Tom, sat in the same seat as my wife, Linda.
4.  Both Jodi and I were among the first four contestants called to “Come on down.”
5.  Linda had to tell me my name was called.  Ton had to tell Jodi her name was called.
6.  She got up on stage with the third prize up for bid.  The same with me.
7.  We were both in the first Showcase Showdown.  The Showcase Showdown is when the contestants spin the big wheel at the end of the first half and second half of the show.
8.  Her first spin was $.95.  My first spin was $.90.

4/7/13 UPDATE: Drew’s side of the story

Last week, Pop My Culture podcast co-host Vanessa Ragland was one of three guests (one of them recurring) on voice actor Rob Paulsen’s weekly Talkin’ Toons UStream show (formerly itself a podcast).  My curiosity was piqued enough to search for the series on iTunes.  As with the Nerdist podcast three years ago, The Price is Right host Drew Carey was on Pop My Culture last year.

About ten minutes in, Drew recalled Kneiss’ double showcase success (without naming him).  And similar to that show, he was deadpan while lamenting the situation.  Drew said there was a diehard TPIR fan that sits in the front row.  The fan knew what the prices of prizes were because they were, at the time, recycled.  “I don’t care what that f***in’ guy said,” Drew intoned.  “He got it from the guy in the front row ’cause we have it on tape.”  He went on to say the fan did that “out of malice to give everybody the exact price and kinda screw over the show.”

Drew wasn’t the only one to say this.  Carrie Grosvenor said the same thing at About the day it aired!:

Apparently, according to the message boards at Golden Road, one of their regular members was in the audience on the day this show was taped, and had been shouting out pricing answers throughout the show. This isn’t unusual in and of itself – anyone who watches the show knows that the audience does this, and that contestants look to these shouted answers for guidance. However, in this case, the audience member, who calls himself “Ted” at Golden Road, is an expert on pricing these items and has some experience giving correct dollar amounts away to contestants. If you watch the show again, it’s very clear that contestant Terry was looking directly at a single person in the audience for help.

In Drew’s Pop My Culture appearance, he noted that TPiR now changes up the prizes and prize features regularly so the prices will be different each time.  Terry Kneiss’ “simple story of incredible luck” may be simpler than I originally thought, but the show’s new practice make his story unique.  His on-the-nose success may never be duplicated.

What took me so long?
You may be wondering why it took so long for me to update this post with that information.  First, I wasn’t as big a Price is Right fan as others and as big a game show fan as I used to be.  Second, I gave up watching the show in 2011 when George Gray was made the permanent announcer.  Forgive me, but George has an exaggerated delivery and I couldn’t stand hearing it.  That’s another thing Drew brought up on PMC: fans that don’t like the changes to the show.  With my radio background and as a fan of voice acting, this is the only change that I don’t like.  It makes me wish that Jim Thornton could double his announcing his duties and work TPiR in addition to Wheel of Fortune.  But like my desire for FOX Sports to go back to using unique themes and cues for the sports they cover, neither George nor FOX’s practice of using NFL cues for more than just NFL coverage are going anywhere.  So, I just need to accept both unpleasant situations and move on.

Latest TPiR double showcase winner March 11, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Game Shows, Media, TV.
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For third time in a month, and the fourth time in three months, a contestant on “The Price is Right” wins both showcases in the Showcase round.  Today, the lucky contestant was Lorna Baker.

Lorna was the fourth of the first four contestants to come on down at the top of the show, and the fourth contestant to make it on stage, winning a Traeger Lil’ Pig grill in One Bid.  Once on stage, she played Freeze Frame and won Wesley Allen bed with a Laura Ashley mattress.

In the Showcase Showdown, she spun 1.00 on the Big Wheel, winning $1,000, but nothing more in her bonus spin.

In the Showcase round, Lorna passed the first showcase to the runner-up, Catherine.  The first showcase consisted of a Kitty Hawk Kites kiteboarding kit, a Segway scooter, and a Toyota Prius hybrid car.  The second showcase contained Broyhill’s Affinity living room collection, Noritake dinnerware, a private chef from Big City Chefs, and a trip to Brussels, Belgium!  (Sorry, I morphed into announcer Rich Fields for a second.)

Lorna’s bid for that second showcase was $17,250.  The actual retail price…$17,333!  With a difference of $83, $4 less than Zachary Newton’s difference two weeks ago, Lorna Baker won both showcases.  In all, she won $56,150 in cash and prizes.  What a day.

Video of today’s show can be found here.  Skip to 16:55 to see One Bid and Freeze Frame, 28:34 for the Showcase Showdown, and 31:23 for the Showcase round.

Another Double Showcase Winner on TPiR! February 19, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Game Shows, Media, TV.
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Today on “The Price is Right,” Lindsey Marie Kowal won both showcases in the Showcase round!  Lindsey Marie – a Cleveland, Ohio, transplant living in Las Vegas – came within $116 of the actual retail price of her showcase, which featured Jo Malone products, a bedroom set (with mattress), and a jet ski.  (If a contestant is within $250 or less on their bid, they win both showcases.)  She was the first Double Showcase winner since Terry Kneiss, another Vegas resident, won in December.  Host Drew Carey exhibited much more enthusiasm than last time, which means there won’t be an uproar from fans on the internet.  (I’d be surprised if there is.)

The second showcase was James Bond-themed with a watch, an assortment of “007” movies on blu-ray disc, a home theater system with blu-ray disc player and a 46″ plasma TV, and a trip to Monte Carlo.

In addition to the showcases, Lindsey Marie won snowboarding equipment in One Bid, the game played in contestants’ row.

Video of the full show can be found here.  The Showcase round begins at 31:37.

2/24 UPDATE: Today, only three airdates later, “The Price is Right” had another Double Showcase winner!  Zachary Newton, the top winner in the Showcase round, came within a mere $87 of the actual retail price of his showcase.  The showcase featured a bedroom set (with mattress), snowboarding and skiing equipment, and a snowmobile.

Zachary passed the first showcase, which featured nine iPod Nanos, a monthly home spa party for a year, and a trip to Sweden.

His One Bid prize was a refrigerator/freezer.

Video of the full show can be found here.  The Showcase round begins at 32:22.

Defending Drew Carey December 17, 2008

Posted by Mike C. in Game Shows, Media, Radio, TV.
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Yesterday on “The Price is Right” on CBS, a contestant named Terry Kneiss (“niece”) from Las Vegas made a perfect bid in the Showcase round and won both showcases.  This was only the second time in the history of the show that a contestant bid perfectly.  The other time was in the first season, 1972-1973.

For not being enthusiastic enough in announcing this milestone, host Drew Carey has been roundly criticized, especially on the internet.  Other criticisms include: he bungled the situation, he can no longer be defended, he shouldn’t have been the host in the first place, bring back Bob Barker, etc.

I was going to link here to video of yesterday’s Showcase round, so you could just for yourself.  But it wouldn’t load properly.  Instead, click here for the full episode on CBS.com.  Then, scroll ahead to 31:25 for the full round or 37:06 for the stoic reaction that’s infuriated so many people.

I am here to defend Drew.  I believe he was simply in stunned disbelief and shock.  Not everyone handles that situation by yelling and screaming.  Drew has had the yelling, screaming reaction before, but he is far from perfect.  If you want Drew to be wildly enthusiastic every time, you’re going to be disappointed.  Clearly, many were disappointed by this.  If you want to stop watching “The Price is Right” because Drew isn’t enthusiastic enough for your taste, it’s your choice.  But there are plenty of people like me that support Drew and will continue to watch.  I have been a Drew Carey fan since “The Drew Carey Show,” I became a bigger fan when he started the U.S. version of “Whose Line is it Anyway?,” and I’ve supported him on all projects since.

If you’re a fellow Drew Carey fan/supporter, you’re welcome to leave a comment.  I look forward to hearing from you.

And congratulations to Terry.  You wrote a second chapter for the history books.

12/18 UPDATE: TMZ – I can’t believe I’m linking to them – has audio of an interview with 93.1 The Party in Las Vegas.

And Paul Walsh of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a report on Terry’s win and the “internet buzz” that followed it (and, of course, Drew Carey’s stoic reaction).