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Instrumental Invasion, 5/12/21 May 13, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
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The May 12 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded over four days. Two segments were recorded on April 6, one on the 7th, another two on the 8th, and the last one on the 9th. Pickups were recorded on the 8th and 9th.

The playlist was created on April 4 and annotated on the 5th, after which the script was drafted.

I made an effort to play songs that were on the Billboard smooth jazz charts at the time of recording. I had played three of the five songs in previous radio shows: “Feels Like Friday Night” by Kim Waters, “Hurry Up and Wait” by Oli Silk, and “Tokyo Groove” by Adam Hawley.

There wasn’t just an abundance of Steves, Chrises, and Pauls. There were also a few Davids, Erics, Jeffs, and Michaels. I chose not to redo talk breaks to acknowledge them; it would have been overkill.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 5/5/21 May 6, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Football, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Sports, Video, Video Games.
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The May 5 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded two segments per day from March 31 to April 2.

The playlist was created on March 27 and annotated on the 28th. The script was drafted on the 29th.

I used the phrase “one compound word,” while back-selling “Magicsmiles” by Gregg Karukas, as an homage to a 2012 episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd (strong language):

The phrase was uttered by the Nerd (James Rolfe) toward the end of a monologue on football. The monologue starts at 1:27 with the phrase coming two minutes later.

And speaking of videos, here is the music video for “Motor City Sway” by Alexander Zonjic:

I didn’t have Cinco de Mayo in mind when I programmed “South of the Border” into the playlist, but I realized while drafting the script that the show would air that day.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 4/28/21 April 29, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Rock, Travel, Video.
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The April 28, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded over four days. One segment was recorded per day on March 23 (at home) and 24 (away on my laptop), and two per day on the 25th and 26th, both at home.

The playlist was created on March 21 and annotated on the 22nd, after which the script was drafted. While drafting, I forgot to include a tidbit about David Benoit‘s cover of “Your Song” by Elton John. The original came out in David’s last year of high school and he’s been a fan of Elton ever since. I added that tidbit in a March 27 pickup.

There were plenty more tidbits to go around, including one that required a pickup to make clear I was saying “funky” and not some other word. The personal tidbits are true and I have photographic evidence. Here I am in Florida at Christmastime in 1992, possibly the day that Cedar Walton‘s Manhattan Afternoon was recorded:

And this was taken during that trip on March 28, 2004, wherein I listened to “Expression” by Joyce Cooling and other songs on This Girl’s Got to Play:

One tidbit, however, was cut for time in the first segment:

Here is the cover of “Palladium” by Weather Report that I recommended in the outtake:

As for what aired, click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 4/21/21 April 22, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
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The April 21, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded over three days. The first two segments were recorded on March 16, the next on the 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) on my laptop, and the second hour back at home on the 18th. A pickup was recorded on the 19th.

The playlist was created and annotated on March 14 with the script drafted on the 15th.

After three weeks of mistakes, I finally achieved a flawless show…almost. While I knew I’d be playing “Sienna Step” by David Benoit for the second time, I forgot I had previously played “Tropical” by Jeff Lorber. Besides that, flawless. I was never short on time or had too much to fill.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Pardon the signal interference throughout the aircheck. To make up for that, here is a clean scope from segment files with a hard limit filter applied:

Instrumental Invasion, 4/7/21 April 8, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Wrestling.
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The April 7, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded over three days. The first segment was recorded on March 3, the next three on the 4th, and the last two on the 5th.

The playlist was created on March 1 and annotated on the 2nd.

This was the first normal show in three weeks with the usual five segment formats in effect, including two segments with the same format.

For the second week in a row, I had to replace a song in the first segment during my recording session. This time, it was due to a timing error I made creating the playlist. So, Spyro Gyra‘s “Islands in the Sky” was replaced with “Oasis.” Luckily, I didn’t have to change many annotations; the personnel was similar.

My story about meeting The Undertaker at Tower Records in Carle Place, while back-selling “Bones Jive” by Joe Sample, was true. Here’s photographic evidence:

That was a fun Saturday afternoon, but I don’t remember much about meeting him.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 3/31/21 April 1, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Video, Video Games.
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The March 31, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP marked one year since my Wednesday night premiere. The show was recorded one hour per day on February 25 and 26 with multiple pickups recorded on the second day, and still more on the morning of the 27th.

The playlist was created on February 23 with annotations continuing into the 24th, after which the script was drafted.

This was an incredibly hard show to do. I had to improvise multiple talk breaks because there wasn’t enough time to read from the lengthy scripts. The second talk break of the show was so lengthy that I had to replace “Lakeshore Cowboy” by Ramsey Lewis with “Heartsounds” by David Lanz. In future playlists, I’m expanding the back-sell length to 50 seconds. That may not even be enough.

Giant Steps” and “Fly with the Wind” were included days after acquiring John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner‘s albums of the same name. Giant Steps is the first Trane album I ever bought.

My “Giant Steps” curiosity had been piqued by several YouTube videos that either covered the song…:

…or adapted the changes into other songs:

So, it was only right that I acquaint myself with the original.

I played “El Camino Real” by David Benoit to make up for the factual error I made when I first played it last August 19.

Click below to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 3/24/21 March 25, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Technology, TV, Weather.
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The March 24, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was yet another show recorded over three days. The first hour was taken care of on February 18 (while snow and sleet pelted my window), the first segment of hour 2 was recorded on the 19th (after an hour of fixing my computer’s audio), and the last two segments were recorded on the 20th.

The playlist was created and annotated on February 15 and the scripted was drafted on the 16th.

Next week’s show will mark one year since Instrumental Invasion went weekly. The first show was limited to music from the 1970s, so I’ll be paying homage in a similar vein: music from 1995 and earlier. Ahead of that, I opted this week for music between 1996 and 2021.

There were three animated series references in the show:

  • Talking up “Funkology by Matt Marshak: “And pay attention; there’ll be a test at the end,” one of Garfield’s title sequence tags on Garfield and Friends
  • Back-selling “She’s Got the Way-O” by Steve Oliver: “Did you (I) say 3-D?” was a fourth wall-breaking question in a movie at the start of “Timmy’s 2-D House of Horror,” an episode of The Fairly OddParents
  • A second Garfield and Friends reference came while talking up “Mystic Vibration” by Ragan Whiteside: in “Mind Over Matter,” a crooked fortune teller begins his act by “sending out for brain waves” and “psychic vibrations”

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 3/17/21 March 18, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Classical, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
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The March 17, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was the 50th overall. Once again, it was recorded over three days: the first hour on February 11, two second hour segments on the 12th, and the last one on the 13th. Two pickups were recorded on the 15th and the third segment was remixed on the 16th after Patrick Bradley e-mailed me his liner.

The playlist was created on February 8 with annotations on the 9th and 10th, after which the script was drafted.

Last week, it was a Sousa march; this week, it was a classical piece, marking Gil Shaham‘s second appearance, and a second chance at reciting a long title.

I didn’t think to acknowledge how Acoustic Alchemy and Down to the Bone were British bands, but there wasn’t any time, anyway.

When I promoted the show on Facebook, I noted that I’d be playing a song from David Benoit‘s 1977 debut. David was pleasantly surprised, and even more so when I told him the song would be “Los Angeles.” He told me that song marked his first time writing for strings. I responded, “Wow. Well, it sounded great.” And it does. I hope you (the reader/listener) thought so, too.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 3/10/21 March 11, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Comedy, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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The March 10, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded over three days: one on February 3, three on the 4th, and two on the 5th, which is when I added the first segment pickup “ready, and appear!” Like last week, the first segment of hour 2 was remixed on the 16th after Patrick Bradley e-mailed his liner.

It was my mother Lisa’s 65th birthday, but I superstitiously didn’t acknowledge that. To celebrate, she, my father Bill, sister Lauren, and I went out to dinner at Vittorio’s in Amityville. It was my first time at a restaurant since Mom’s 64th birthday. (The next day, the country began to shut down.) I was only required to wear my mask when not seated at the table, so I adapted quickly.

The playlist for this show was created and annotated on February 1 as a snowstorm raged outside. I added annotations for “Snapshot” by Richard Elliot on the 2nd after my copy of Authentic Life arrived in the mail. The script was drafted on the 3rd.

I was inspired to play “Nautilus” by Bob James after watching this video the night before creating the playlist:

I had wanted to play a John Philip Sousa march for a while, and chose this show to incorporate my appreciation for his marches and for Monty Python by playing “The Liberty Bell,” which was the theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the talk-up, referencing the show’s intro, I quoted John Cleese‘s BBC continuity announcer character and imitated Michael Palin‘s “It’s” Man.

I paid homage to another favorite series of mine, Rocky & Bullwinkle, while talking up “Why Not” by Fowler and Branca. One episode of the Banana Formula story arc found Boris and Natasha stealing the tape recorder they used to capture Bullwinkle hiccuping said formula back from Fearless Leader after he was knocked out by a spring in the machine:

NATASHA: Now what, Boris?
BORIS: What else? We run like rabbits.
NATASHA: Good idea!
BORIS: On second thought, we take secret formula (on the recorder) with us.
NATASHA: You mean steal it?
BORIS: Why not?
(pause)
NATASHA: Funny, I can’t think of a reason.

The aforementioned snowstorm inspired me to play Nelson Rangell‘s cover of “Sweetest Somebody I Know” by Stevie Wonder. One of the first times I listened to it was on the back end of a 2015 winter storm, also in early February. That storm began as snow, changed to sleet and freezing rain, then changed to rain, after which I shoveled, and changed back to snow, which led to more shoveling because it was accumulating.

I said “album” a lot!, but I don’t care.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Requiem for Cygnus Destroyer, LJN Defender and IUPG March 6, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Media, Personal, Radio, Video, Video Games.
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3/31 UPDATE: A comment from Greg B. noted that “Matt is now Mx. Morgan Constance Enby. [They] abandoned video game talk all together … focusing on Trans Rights/Awareness and Politics.” As I stated in my reply, thank you, Greg, for letting me know. I sincerely wish them luck in their current endeavor. If any readers share their political views and are equally active, you can follow them on Twitter. (It’s the same account as before, but with a new link. That’s why I couldn’t find it.)

Read the original post below.

In June 2017, I discovered a video game-centered YouTube channel run by the enthusiastic Matt Ezero (“ezzer-o”), who bears a striking resemblance to actor and director David Hyde Pierce. Matt had three series running concurrently:

  1. Cygnus Destroyer’s Retro Reviews – the channel’s original concept, reviewing retro video games and consoles that Matt grew up playing or recently acquired
  2. The LJN Defender – an alternate take on video games published by LJN, a company that incurred the wrath of The Angry Video Game Nerd, one of Matt’s influences
  3. Innocent Until Proven Guilty (IUPG) – a balanced look at flawed video games to determine whether they are innocent or guilty (or on rare occasions, guinnocent)

I had nearly five years of content to catch up on. There wasn’t much I didn’t like. Here are the first five videos I saw upon my discovery:

My only pet peeve was the unscripted status update outros, but Matt’s transparency was admirable. He had eschewed those outros a year before I discovered the channel. He had also upgraded his game capture methods from composite for pre-HD consoles to RGB and HDMI shortly before my discovery, starting with Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker:

Naturally, I became a loyal subscriber, and when Matt started a Patreon account in 2018, I was a proud pledge.

The content kept on coming, and as a patron, I provided feedback and voted on upcoming topics. Best of all, my name was featured in the credits. For example, Sonic and the Black Knight:

Incidentally, the Wiimote/nunchuk control demonstration in that video was hilarious: “Looks fun, doesn’t it?!” I love absurd humor.

Another example, Zelda CD-i games:

My Patreon post comments were even seen in the background. This was at the end of the Simon’s Quest video:

…and Matt’s tribute to the Sega Master System:

Unfortunately, any videos he posted to Patreon – mostly episode commentaries – were unscripted, which meant small things, like repeat phrases (i.e. “so…yeah,” “kind of”) or vocal quirks, got on my nerves. Not only that, but his persona was radically different. Main channel Matt was lively; Patreon Matt was staid. (He was also a political progressive who “liked” left-wing political posts on Twitter, but his tweets were apolitical.) I wasn’t expecting the same intense personality as the videos, but it was quite a contrast, akin to the chill energy of some Twitch streamers. And that was fine.

I think the reason phrases and quirks irk me is because I worked hard to improve my speech, or at least improve my presentation in a public forum. Hearing others speak how I used to, and still do to some extent in unguarded conversations, on recorded media is unnerving. I’m such a perfectionist that I edited all the fumfering and misspeaking out of old home audio recordings (late teens, early 20s) of play-by-play of my friends bowling at nearby AMF Wantagh Lanes.

With that said, though – to use one of his phrases – I gained insight into how he made his videos. For example, overhead camera shots of him playing Nintendo Switch games in handheld mode (as in this video) were actually recorded straight ahead with an upside down perspective. He would flip the video in Vegas Pro, his video editing software of choice, so that the view was right side up.

I also had the opportunity to vote in polls to determine episode topics. Among my votes was for an IUPG on Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival.

As 2019 progressed, Matt began to experience creative burnout. To counter that, he tried an experimental unscripted video on Bubsy: Paws on Fire. My black and white, all or nothing brain figured this was the way things would be from now on. So, I unpledged and unsubscribed. YouTube recommendations pointed me to a follow-up video where he announced a pivot back to the way things were. I promptly resubscribed and repledged. The scripted redo, the second video posted after his hiatus, came out this way:

That wasn’t the end, though. Content creation continued to be a struggle for Matt. After this IUPG video on WWE 2K20 (where, ironically, he ended the video on an uplifting, positive note about future content)…:

…the burnout reached its apex. The only solution was to go unscripted in 2020 to lessen the burden. I wouldn’t have that, unpledging and unsubscribing for good. I hoped for the best for him, but what he had in mind was not what I wanted.

As someone with weekly radio shows I record well in advance, and a compulsion to photograph and recap events I attend (i.e. UPLINK last year, Smooth Jazz for Scholars every normal year), I empathize with Matt’s struggle. There are times where I can’t handle the stress and want to quit. Somehow, I get through the creation process each week with the radio shows, but with the second UPLINK last month, I just couldn’t bring myself to take notes on four panels I chose to watch and adapt those notes into a recap as I did the first time. As for the radio shows, it takes at least five times as long to create, script, record, and produce each one. Yes, like I preferred Matt do, I script out my talk breaks with freedom to ad-lib occasionally. I started doing that last summer because there was a lot of information to disseminate and I didn’t want to forget anything. I feel I have enough voice over training and natural talent where I don’t always sound like I’m reading from a script. But even with all the work that goes into a show, I’ll make a mistake or forget something and need to redo a line or few. I don’t know how long my show’s run will be, but I greatly hope I don’t get burned out.

As 2020 dragged on, I assumed it was (new) business as usual for Matt, carrying on like any content creator. Other channels I unsubscribed from over small things – like mispronouncing words and phrases (some even intentionally to trigger pedants), saying “kind of” or “sort of” every other sentence, going on anti-humor tangents, and saying “at the end of the day” instead of “ultimately” or “in the end” – continue to put out content. They do just fine without my pedantry. Not Matt. On February 7 of this year, someone commented on one of my IUPG screencap Instagram posts:

Whatever happened to him? The guy has completely disappeared. Even on his second channel. Along with social media.

The commenter was right. If you try to access the Cygnus Destroyer accounts on Twitter and Facebook, you’re told the pages no longer exist. Matt left up the YouTube channel for posterity, calling it simply “LJN Defender.”

He wrote this in the channel about tab:

This is the old channel for the LJN Defender and home to Innocent Until Proven Guilty. I’ve now stopped making these types of videos because I no longer enjoy making them, but you will always be able to watch my old content right here.

The last post in the community tab was 11 months ago. Looking at the comments for the post before that have me worried that I caused Matt’s demise.

Blindsided, I replied to the commenter:

Whoa, I had no idea. I quit following and supporting him early last year when he abandoned scripted videos. Sad to hear he’s disappeared from the public eye.

After visiting the channel, I wrote a follow-up:

And now I see that those videos aren’t even listed. It just stops at WWE 2K20. Well, I think I’ll resubscribe just so I can reacquaint myself with his videos. I was a diehard fan for three years and watched nearly every video he posted.

I did as I said, watching all 180 videos that Matt left up over the past three weeks, from the evening of February 12 through this morning. (Oddly, he removed closed captioning from the remaining videos.) I even watched unscripted ones like his second anniversary video. Along the way, I noticed that some now-unlisted videos remained in the end screen. I watched one of them. As my journey progressed, I occasionally felt wistful, knowing that the man I was watching had essentially disappeared off the face of the Earth. I also felt nostalgic for later videos, recalling what was going on in my life at the time they were published.

Wherever you are, Matt, know that you still have plenty of fans, including me, that are grateful for the seven years of content you gave us. The pedantic side of me may not like the small things from your unscripted moments, but your videos brought me joy. They were informative, enlightening, and entertaining. Thank you and God bless you.