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Rob Paulsen at Strand Bookstore October 13, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Health, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, TV, Weather.
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I traveled to the borough of Manhattan for the second Thursday in a row. This time, my destination was the Strand Bookstore in the East Village to see voice actor Rob Paulsen discuss his new memoir, Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life. He was joined by his co-author Michael Fleeman, and later by Randy Rogel, the brilliant mind behind many great songs and episodes from Animaniacs and Histeria!, among other credits, and animation writer, including for Batman: The Animated Series, which I began watching on the DC Universe app and website on September 27 and will complete today.

The trip to Strand Bookstore marked my first time on the east side of Greenwich Village after a few years traveling to the West Village for performances at Blue Note. My most recent trip there was for John Scofield’s Combo 66 last November.

A nor’easter had been churning offshore since Wednesday and was supposed to push back west, giving the region rain and wind until Friday or Saturday. I woke up Thursday morning to unexpected sunshine. It turns out the rain wasn’t going to start until the afternoon. I regularly run for exercise, so I took the opportunity to get in 10.4 miles, an outdoor personal best that I would break by .1 miles only two days later.

The sun held out much longer than I thought it would and I was able to walk to the Wantagh LIRR station without needing to take Uber to avoid walking in the rain. I only had to contend with light rain for the last quarter-mile and for ten minutes on the platform. As the train proceeded west toward Penn Station, away from the nor’easter, the skies cleared. The ride was uneventful except for the sight of a Southwest Airlines plane approaching LaGuardia Airport. If only I had my camera out of my backpack.

After arriving at Penn Station, I proceeded up West 34th Street to 6th Avenue, where I went down to 34th Street-Herald Square Station and took the Q train to 14th Street-Union Square Station.

These are the sites I took in as I walked through Union Square and down to Strand:

It was 5:58 when I walked into Strand. Rob’s discussion was on the 3rd floor, the Rare Old Books floor. I walked up the stairs where a few people waited by the door until we were allowed in at 6:30. The line grew over the next half hour, but before long, the door opened and those of us that were on the guest list checked in. We were given a copy of Voice Lessons with a Post-It that had a number written on it. Mine had the number 1, which meant I was in group 1, the first to get books signed by Rob Paulsen and Michael Fleeman.

I sat in the front row, right next to Rob and Mike’s chairs. To my right, a laptop was connected to a TV for slides and a couple of videos that would be shown during the discussion:

Rob and Mike entered the room at 7:09 and the discussion began.

Rob’s brother Mike was in attendance, along with his high school friend, his agent, and a few others. Randy Rogel sat with them until the musical portion of the event. The rest of the attendees were, like me, hardcore Rob Paulsen fans.

Here are select close-ups of Rob Paulsen:

…and Michael Fleeman:

Rob and Mike discussed the structure of the book and went over its highlights.

They also talked about Rob’s signature characters, starting with Raphael from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Donatello from the 2012 series:

Carl Wheezer from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius:

Yakko Warner on Animaniacs:

Genetically-enhanced lab mouse Pinky of Pinky and the Brain, which began as shorts on Animaniacs and were spun off into their own series:

This portion led to a reading of the book’s introduction: “Pinky Gets Bad News”:

Then, Mike introduced a pair of commercials Rob appeared in:

The first was his first role: a 1979 ad for west coast fast food chain Jack in the Box during their Fring (french fry/onion ring) campaign:

Here is that ad:

The second was the infamous “Aaron Burr” Got Milk? ad where a radio call-in contestant fails to coherently recite the correct answer because he doesn’t have milk to wash down his peanut butter sandwich:

You know the one: “Awwin Buww!” Rob voiced the radio personality, Sean Whalen played the unfortunate caller, and Michael Bay – yes, that one – was the director! Watch:

The discussion inevitably turned to Rob’s throat cancer, which he thankfully survived (knock on wood):

The stage then turned to Randy Rogel:

Referring to the sign behind him, he quipped: “I like how this is ’18 miles of books,’ and now it’s 18 miles and one inch.”

Rob explained how Randy got into showbiz:

Randy talked about when Rob told him he had cancer:

“…but the truth is, the doctor said to Rob, ‘Rob, you have a very rare form of cancer. It’s called The Rob Paulsen Cancer. And he said, ‘why me?!'”

Jokes aside, Rob and Randy were part of Animaniacs LIVE! at Joe’s Pub the night before. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the event and did not attend. For those of us that couldn’t make it, and even for some that did, we were treated to a few songs.

To the Joe’s Pub attendees, “if I had known you were gonna be here tonight, I’d have written a new song”:

Rob replied, “Not too far from the truth.”

The first song was “When You’re Traveling from Nantucket,” from Animaniacs episode 87, which focused on the concept of time:

“… The international date line’s an imaginary cleft. Today is on the right side and tomorrow’s on the left. …”

“… that it was mildly amusing, but then totally confusing, and we bet you wish we hadn’t sung at all!”

Next was a song from Histeria! episode 32, “Writers of the Purple Prose.” Chronicling the works of William Shakespeare, it’s “That’s the Story That’s Told by the Bard”:

It was a duet:

Singing of MacBeth: “… Then he kills others, it’s really quite vicious, Until in the end, he gets stabbed in the duff!”

“No, that’s wrong. By MacDuff.”

The third and final song was Randy’s first: “Yakko’s World“:

“United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru…”

“… Tunisia, Morocco, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Djibouti, Botswana-aaaaa, …”

“…Crete, Mauritania, then Transylvania, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Malta, and Palestine, Fiji, Australia, Sudan!”

Michael Fleeman returned for Q&A:

Rob and Mike fielded four questions:

And that was it!

“Thank you, guys. Randy! Mike Fleeman!”

With the discussion complete, it was time to sign. While waiting in the group 1, I passed by a Remington Standard 10 typewriter:

I had Andrew, a Strand employee, take a picture of me with Rob and Mike:

Both of them signed my copy, Mike first and Rob second. Thinking ahead, Mike wrote:

To Mike,
What he said
(arrow pointing up)
Mike

Rob signed with a variant on Yakko’s “Helloooo, Nurse!” catchphrase:

Hellooo, Mike!
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I told Rob we were friends on Facebook and that I’d met him two years ago at New York Comic Con. He instantly remembered.

I said my goodbyes and went back to my chair, but before I packed up and headed back to Penn Station, I got to meet Randy Rogel:

I told him I loved his music and his Emmy-winning writing work for Batman. He liked that, looking back fondly.

Within ten minutes, I was at 14th Street-Union Square Station and back aboard the Q for 34th Street-Herald Square. Unfortunately, power disruptions on the Broadway corridor delayed the ride. We were stuck on the center track at 23rd Street Station for about five minutes, though it felt longer. At Penn Station, I bought a frozen yogurt to eat on the ride back to Wantagh. Since I missed the 8:56 Babylon branch train, I’d have to wait until 9:31. But as I stood by a timetable waiting for a track number for the 9:31, I noticed there was a 9:13 Babylon train. It didn’t stop at Wantagh, but did stop one hamlet west in Bellmore. So, I took that and was picked up in Bellmore. The forecast of rain didn’t pan out. That light rain I encountered earlier in the day was the extent of it. Once I was home, I unpacked and went to sleep.

It was a great night at Strand, and a pleasure to see Rob Paulsen again, and meet Michael Fleeman and Randy Rogel for the first time. In the days ahead, I will read Voice Lessons and simultaneously listen to the “read by the author” audiobook. I have done this in years. When I finish, I’ll write a review. Until then, thanks for reading this post.

NOTE: Strand recorded the event to add to their YouTube channel. Once added, I will update this post with their video.

10/14 UPDATE: The video is up. I’m in it, taking and checking pictures, and otherwise listening intently. Watch:

February 9 blizzard pictures February 10, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Health, Personal, Photography, Video, Weather.
1 comment so far

This is my 400th post!

After the January 7 snowstorm, I was prepared for a bombardment of similar storms, or even blizzards. But outside of light snow the following Saturday and last Tuesday, the rest of January was relatively quiet. The only heavy precipitation to affect Wantagh was rain. There was the potential for a snowstorm on Super Bowl Sunday, but it never materialized. Relieved, I let my guard down. Last Friday, I told my friend Rob that I didn’t expect anymore big storms the rest of the season.

I was wrong.

On Monday, I learned that there was another storm on the horizon, and this one would not miss us. And as usual, the forecast for yesterday’s storm, ironically on the heels of unseasonably warm conditions on Wednesday, worsened as it approached. 6 inches of snow was the max in Monday’s forecast, rising to 10 inches, and then 14. Also, the winter storm warning was upgraded to a blizzard warning because the wind forecast increased. (Coincidentally, there was a blizzard four years ago yesterday.)

As snow fell yesterday, I went about my daily routine inside, including running on the treadmill for the first time in two years. At around 12:30, it seemed like the snow was about to end, but the radar filled up with more snow while I was on the treadmill. Snow didn’t end until around 4:00. 20 minutes later, my sister Lauren and I shoveled the driveway.

I brought an 18-inch ruler outside with me to measure snow in the middle of the driveway. I was surprised to only measure 8 inches of snow. Assuming that wasn’t the resulting of drifting, we were lucky. Nearby North Massapequa received a foot. Shoveling took about an hour. Thank you, Lauren, for your help.

This brings us to a photographic timeline that begins early in the blizzard and ends after shoveling:

8:28 AM:
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10:19 AM:
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12:12 PM:
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2:03 PM:
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4:02 PM:
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5:47 PM, after over an hour of shoveling:
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5:57 PM:
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And here’s a video timeline:

Light snow with less than an inch of accumulation is forecast for tonight and rain is expected on Sunday. High temperatures will be above freezing every day for the next week. That should speed up the melting process.

I’ve learned my lesson: I’m not declaring in the middle of the season that we’ve had our last snow of the season. In fact, I expect at least two more snowstorms before spring. After they strike, I’ll post about them here.

10 years of weight loss and maintenance January 2, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Food, Health, Personal.
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The mid-2000s were an unhealthy period of my life. I repeatedly indulged in desserts and dinners. I went from normal weight to overweight to obese. I surpassed 200 pounds late in 2004 and climbed all the way to 233.4 when I stepped on the scale on the morning of January 2, 2007, ten years ago today. By then, even my size 42 pants were too small. Enough was enough. I vowed to go on a diet. My goal was 160 pounds.

This diet required a lot of discipline, going for long periods between meals, and limiting myself to under 2,000 calories. I had a little over 2,000 calories on January 2, but the days that followed saw my daily calories drop to 1,600. A typical day began at noon with an Atkins bar, which was 240 calories at the time. A few hours later, I would eat a can of Progresso soup, either Hearty Chicken and Rotini or Homestyle Chicken. At the time, both were 200 calories. An hour or two after that, I ate two cups of Ronzoni Ziti Rigati with 1/2 cup of Ragu Traditional or Meat Sauce and four teaspoons of Kraft Parmesan Cheese. For dessert, which came after another hour or two, I ate three 100 calorie packs of Pringles or Sun Chips. Eventually, those would be phased out in favor of either Special K vanilla or chocolate bars that were 90 calories each, and then Quaker Chewy Granola Bars that were 100 calories each.

Besides eating, I also made an effort to walk daily with the aid of a step counter that I attached to my belt. In my hour-long walks, I averaged around 6,000 steps.

While on my diet, I skipped Easter and Passover dinners, adhering to my routine. When I was in Florida in March to see the PGA Tour’s PODS Championship (now, the Valspar Championship) at Innisbrook Resort, where my grandparents lived, I stuck to my eating routine. My grandpa Carmen was nice enough to buy the foods that I ate daily for the four days I was down there. A few days before the trip, I fell below 200 pounds. By March 30, I broke 190. On April 27, I broke 180. I was below 170 on May 18.

I reached my goal of 160 pounds on June 16, and my body fat was below 20%, but I was not ready to stop. I continued my diet, falling below 150 pounds on July 24 and breaking 140 on September 7. I had lost 93 pounds in eight months!

I added calories to my daily intake, remaining below 2,000 per day until October 10.

In the following months, my weight hovered in the mid-to-upper 130s. My lowest weight was 134 on April 25, 2008, a day which also saw my lowest body fat: 11.7%. My body fat would hover within 12% (varying tenths of a point), occasionally breaking 13%.

Throughout my diet, I took selfies, though not in the common way, to document my progress. Here are those selfies, all from 2007:

January 30: 215.2 lbs.:
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February 19: 205.6 lbs.:
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March 5: 199.8 lbs.:
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March 30: 189.2 lbs.:
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April 20: 180.8 lbs.:
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May 9: 173.6 lbs.:
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May 29: 165 lbs.:
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June 16: 160 lbs.:
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July 3: 155.6 lbs.:
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July 16: 152 lbs.:
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August 3: 147.6 lbs.:
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August 26: 142 lbs.:
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October 1: 137.4 lbs.:
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October 28: 135.8 lbs.:
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I was still able to maintain my weight for the first half of 2009, but my body fat was regularly within 13% by this time.

Unfortunately, the second half of 2009 marked the beginning of my regain. At first, I was able to keep my weight in the low 140s, occasionally reaching the upper 130s. But by the summer of 2010, I was averaging mid-to-upper 140s. By late 2011, I was averaging the low-to-mid 150s.

After Hurricane Sandy, I had reached the upper 160s to low 170s, where I remained until August 27, 2013. That day, I weighed 173.2 pounds and vowed to begin a new diet. The weight loss was slow at first, but I was down 12 pounds on December 23. Unfortunately, Christmastime dinners and desserts followed. Eventually, I was able to find an under-2,000-calorie routine and stick with it most of the time. There were days where I faltered, but not many. I had broken 160 pounds a few times between January and March 2014, but always came back above 160. That changed after March 16. I have not been 160 or above since. I haven’t been 150 or above since June 29, 2014. I fell through the 140s thereafter. I went below 140 pounds several days between September and December, but no lower than 138.8 on two days in October. I otherwise hovered in the low 140s, except for two days after Thanksgiving when I topped out at 146.

I remained below 140 pounds between June 2015 and January 2016, even breaking 130 several times in October and November. After peaking at 144 pounds in early June 2016, I fell back below 140 by mid-June. I was able to hover in the low 130s starting in mid-July, with body fat staying within 11%, but Christmastime eating has put me in the mid-130s and increased my body fat to around 13%. That’s where I stand as of this post.

What helped me lose my weight the second time around time was running, rather than walking the first time, with the help of the Nike+ Running (now Nike+ Run Club) app on my iPhone. Between May 2013 and May 2015, I opted to run and walk. But then, I challenged myself to only run. If I needed to rest, I would stop, and the app would pause. My early runs were around three miles, then four, then five. Nowadays, I’ll run up around 7 1/2 miles, running above eight miles on a few occasions. My average pace has gone from around 15 minutes a mile, when I started, to between 7:30 and 8 minutes per mile today. From spring to fall, I ran outdoors, but I opted for the treadmill in the winter. So far this winter, I’ve continued to run outdoors. In April 2016, I began stretching before each run, something I should have done all along. I seldom experience stiffness thanks to those stretches. Friends say I should run in a 5K, 10K, or higher, but for now, I feel more comfortable running on my own, setting and achieving goals. In the early days, my goal was 80 miles a month. These days, I like to run at least 100 miles a month. It’s even more satisfying when I reach 130 or 140 miles. My first month above 130 miles was September 2015. In September 2016, I broke 140 miles. And just last month, I broke 150 miles. That’s high enough for me; I don’t want to overdo it.

Since August, my eating routine consists of a protein bar, almonds, Progresso soup, pasta, and six graham crackers. That’s around 2,000 calories. There are days when I’ll break that routine, which I hope will be few and far between in the months ahead.

If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, I wish you luck. Thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with a second diet before picture from August 2013 at Planting Fields Arboretum…
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…and an after picture from October 2016 during my live WCWP Homecoming Weekend radio show:
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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.
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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.)

Audiobooking December 2, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk September 29, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Fire, Health, Internet, Military, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Police, Travel, TV.
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I was in New York City yesterday for the annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk. I signed up back in May after my dad recommended it to me. He was impressed by all the running I had done, and at such a fast pace. The fast pace back then occurred on the treadmill, but that has extended to the outdoors since I signed up. September alone was a landmark month for me, as I routinely ran 3.6 miles in about 38 minutes. Conditioning like that prepared me for yesterday.

The day began dark and early at 4:30 AM when my alarm clock woke me up. I tried to go to sleep early and get a decent amount of hours in, but I was only able to get about three hours of sleep. I spent about an hour getting ready and was out the door with my dad at 5:30.

We traveled to Point Lookout with eleven others from Dad’s firehouse, Freeport Excelsior Hook and Ladder Co. 1. There, we joined a bigger team from Point Lookout Lido Fire Department’s 2nd Battalion.

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I didn’t bring my Nikon D5100, settling on my iPhone 5 for all pictures seen in this recap.

Three buses took us to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Our Freeport team boarded first of those three.

We arrived in Red Hook shortly before 9:00.

20 minutes later, we began the long stop-and-go walk to the starting line.

Along the way, we passed Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church:
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Their bell rang as we passed by.

Almost at the starting line:
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And away we went!

I didn’t think I’d be able to run because of the amount of people participating. But once we crossed the starting line, I did run, though not for the entire 5K.

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The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (aka Hugh L. Carey Tunnel):
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As I ran and walked through the tunnel, music was pumped in through speakers and various runners yelled patriotic chants. It was surreal, but I enjoyed it.

The tunnel seemed to go on forever. While 1.73 miles is a mere two minutes by car, in light traffic, I was in there for 25 minutes on foot.

The light at the end of the tunnel:
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When I was out, I was greeted by the sight of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan:
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Freeport native Richie Muldowney was one of the 343 FDNY firefighters lost on 9/11:
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A view of Jersey City across the Hudson River:
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50 minutes after I started…
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…I crossed the finish line:
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My official time, listed here (search chimeri), was 0:50:36.

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On my way back, there were two early buses and one late bus. The early buses were full, so I and most of the Freeport team had to wait for the late bus. While we waited, we had lunch at Greenwich Street Tavern in TriBeCa.
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We were finished eating just in time to board the late bus back. It took nearly two hours to return to Point Lookout due to heavy traffic, and a half hour to return home to Wantagh.

The Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk was an amazing and awesome (in the literal sense) experience. If you haven’t signed up for it before, I recommend you try it at least once.

9/30 UPDATE: The full text results can be seen here.

Ten years since commencement May 13, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Education, Health, Personal, Radio.
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Last Friday marked ten years since the LIU Post (then C.W. Post) Class of 2004 commencement ceremony.

I was honored to be part of that ceremony:

It was a whirlwind morning and early afternoon.  My sleep pattern (and eating pattern) was screwed up at the time and I was unable to sleep the night before the ceremony.  But it was still a thrill.  I was excited to hear my name called, but a bit too excited.  That’s why I didn’t share the other pics that my father took of me at that moment.

After late lunch at Domenico’s in Levittown, my parents, sister, and I headed home where I promptly went to bed.

I haven’t strayed too far from the LIU Post campus since the ceremony, returning often to visit faculty and attend WCWP events.  I also had a couple of regular on-air stints at WCWP in addition to my time at the station as an undergrad.

One year with Nike Running iPhone app May 13, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Health, Personal, Phone, Technology.
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Today marks one year since I first used the Nike Running app on my iPhone 5.  My first run was 2.91 miles outdoors.  Since then, I’ve run as far as 5.74 miles indoors, and that was just last week.  So far this month, I’ve run more miles than I did in the rest of May last year.

By a month and a half after I started using the app, I had lost five pounds.  Unfortunately, I gained it back in the two months that followed, due in part to junk food indulgence and less running (due to high heat and humidity).  Since then, I’ve run farther and more often each month, and I’ve had more days of healthy eating.  As a result, I’ve lost 20 pounds.

One year with iPhone April 11, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Health, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, Travel, TV.
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A year ago yesterday, I boarded the iPhone bandwagon by switching from an LG enV3, which I had for 3 1/2 years, to an iPhone 5.  When I’m not texting or making a phone call, it’s a great alternative for internet access.  My workouts with the Nike Running app have gone further than I was going in my first iPhone post last July.  I’ve gone as far as 5.35 miles in one workout and broke 100 miles for the month of March.

When I need to comparison shop, I use shopping apps.  When I want to listen to the radio, I have the TuneIn app.  I’ve downloaded apps for several networks, network affiliates, and cable channels.

But I still wish the internal hard drive was bigger; maybe with the next iPhone.

January 2-3 blizzard pictures January 11, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Health, News, Personal, Photography, Weather.
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***This is my 300th post!!!***

2014 had barely begun and already a major winter storm was headed my way.  The snowfall wasn’t as great as last February’s blizzard, but Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island were under a blizzard warning, nonetheless.  This was due to blowing snow from wind gusts above 35 miles per hour.  The bulk of the snow came overnight Thursday, January 2, into the morning of Friday, January 3.  I shot this picture before I went to bed:
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I woke up around 9:00 Friday morning as snow was tapering off.  I took these pictures outside my bedroom windows, but without opening them:
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Then, I moved on to another room to take pictures of the backyard:
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With that out of the way, I got dressed for shoveling.  The bulk of my work was on the front porch, in the driveway, and at the curb.  Here are the before pictures:
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Before I started shoveling, I measured the powdery snow in driveway with a standard 12-inch ruler.  I measured about 8 1/2 inches of snowfall, which was 4.4 more than the National Weather Service’s official total for Wantagh, courtesy of a trained spotter.  Perhaps that was taken south of my section of Wantagh.  NWS totals for nearby North Merrick (10.6″) and North Massapequa (10.3″) were relatively close to my measurement.

Three hours later, I was finished.  I shoveled the front porch, driveway, curb, and a path around the house through the front yard, right side, backyard, and left side.  I was hoping that neighbors would offer to help with their snow blowers, but I ended doing everything myself.  I didn’t have the energy to shovel the deck in the backyard, opting to save that for Saturday.  Here are the after pictures:
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After hitting the shower, I took after pics from the upstairs windows as before:
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Unfortunately, the snow was followed by polar vortex temperatures, which were at their worst Friday night into Saturday morning.  Low temperatures reached the single digits, but moderated back to the 20s by Saturday afternoon.  After returning from a haircut and grocery shopping, I did some touch-up shoveling in the driveway…
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…and finally shoveled the backyard deck:
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The result of three hours of shoveling on Friday was pain in my left foot and right arm, but the pain gradually went away.

Above freezing temperatures and rain helped to melt much of the snow on Sunday and Monday, but what was left froze overnight Monday as the next round of polar vortex air moved in.  I had to dress in layers Tuesday morning just to bring back empty garbage pails from the curb following pickup earlier that morning.  I was only outside for five minutes.  The next time I ventured outside was Wednesday evening en route to dinner with friends.  Luckily, temperatures won’t be that cold again anytime soon.  In fact, the snow that hadn’t fully melted by Monday should melt today and tomorrow thanks to more rain and more above freezing temperatures.  I expect more snow before winter ends, and if there’s another big storm, I’ll have pictures to share.