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Audiobooking 7 March 26, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audio, Audiobooks, Baseball, Books, Comedy, Commentary, Drama, Film, Football, Health, History, Internet, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Rock, Sports, TV, Video, War, Wrestling.
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Another year of audiobook listening is in the books. I’m still an Audible member and use each month’s credit on a new book, but throughout my membership, there will come a time where I pay $35.88 to buy three extra credits. I listened while exercising, running (or walking) errands, doing household tasks, and at bedtime.

I even listened to one book on YouTube rather than Audible. Find out which one as I list the audiobooks I listened to since last year’s Audiobooking post:

  • Apropos of Nothing by Woody Allen – It’s sad that the abundance of Woody haters made him feel compelled to passionately, and rightly, defend his character through most of the book.
  • Talking to GOATs: The Moments You Remember and the Stories You Never Heard by Jim Gray (with guest voices including Bob Costas, Vin Scully, Tom Brady, and Snoop Dogg) – GOAT is an acronym for “greatest of all time.” – Vin was recorded over the phone while Bob and Tom were on Zoom via their webcam or phone. You can tell by the audio quality. – I remembered where I was during the moments Jim recounted, especially the Pete Rose interview. Jim didn’t deserve the grief he got. I’m glad he and Pete are on good terms these days
  • Killing the Mob: The Fight Against Organized Crime in America by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (read entirely by Robert Petkoff) – This was certainly enlightening. I had no idea the mob’s tentacles ran so deep, or that they had a boss in Tampa, of all places.
  • On the House: A Washington Memoir by John Boehner (“bainer”) – This was one of three books I returned. – The early stages of Speaker Boehner’s book were more of, apropos of the previous book I listened to, hits on his enemies. I mean verbal ad hominem attacks, not murders.
  • Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling by Jim Ross with Paul O’Brien (read by Jim; Vince McMahon’s foreword and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s afterword read by R.C. Bray) – I bought this with my On the House return credit. – Both Slobberknocker and Under the Black Hat have an instance of “at the end of the day.” I had yet to encounter that in Black Hat when I published last year’s post. – I watched many WWE documentaries on Peacock in my first two months as a subscriber (before “at the end of the day” fatigue made me quit watching what was left). I now realize that for all WWE-sanctioned media, you are required to say “-E” instead of “-F,” even when referring to the WWF days. Only clips can show the old logos and utterances of “-F” or “Federation.” Slobberknocker didn’t have that requirement, but Black Hat did. – I met Jim and Jerry Lawler at New York Comic Con in October.
  • How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived by Leslie Jordan (or should I say Leslie Alan Jordan?) – How can you not love Leslie? – I saw little of him on Will & Grace, but enjoyed him on The Cool Kids and enjoy him on Call Me Kat. – He’s worth following on Instagram.
  • Just When I Thought I’d Heard Everything!: Humorous Observations on Life in America by Charles Grodin (1934-2021) – Compilation of radio commentaries, but newly read (in 2013) for the book. – Wow, was this poorly edited. So many flubs were left in. I don’t know how I made it to the end
  • Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life by Julianna Marguiles (“margh-u-leez”) – I have seen little of Julianna’s work outside of the 1997 live episode of ER, but I enjoyed learning about her. – I was watching Friends on HBO Max at the time I heard her book, and it was neat seeing her older sister Alexandra (referenced in the book) recur on that show.
  • Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and Politics by Glenn Jacobs (a.k.a. Kane) – Like Talking to GOATs, I remembered where I was at the time of some of the events Glenn recounted from the period when I was a wrestling fan. – “-E” instead of “-F” – In pro wrestling terms, I was a mark early in my fandom and Isaac Yankem, Glenn’s first WWE character, genuinely scared me. So, I was surprised that he hated the character – The Fake Diesel angle began on Monday Night Raw on September 23, 1996, two days before my sister’s bat mitzvah. – Early Kane scared me, too. – Glenn’s position as mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, would be known as county executive in most other regions. I was unaware of county executives going by mayor until I heard a public address announcement by the “mayor of Broward County” in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on March 5, 2019, while waiting in the JetBlue terminal for a flight back to JFK. (See photos from my trip here.) – I didn’t enjoy Glenn’s libertarian commentary toward the end, but at least it’s on my side of the political aisle, and he didn’t attack anyone like Boehner did.
  • Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter by John Byner with Douglas Wellman (read by John) – I had better luck with John Byner than with John Boehner. – Long Island represent! Byner grew up all over Long Island, including Bohemia and Merrick. (Since Bill O’Reilly’s book, and Brian Kilmeade’s later, aren’t memoirs, I didn’t/don’t acknowledge they are also from Long Island. Bill’s from Levittown and Brian’s from Massapequa.) – I forgot John’s last name at birth was Biener. Unlike the Biener Audi folks, the phonetic spelling John legally adopted is how his family said it; like my last name, people kept mispronouncing his, calling him “Beaner” or “Beans.” – I don’t remember if he brought up playing Gurgi (and Doli) in The Black Cauldron, but I watched it on Disney+ a few weeks ago, as I work my way through (most of) Disney’s theatrical animated releases in chronological order. – Just as I prepared to published this post, I learned of The Super Bob Einstein Movie documentary on HBO Max. Bob created Super Dave Osborne for The John Byner Comedy Hour and would later appear on John’s Bizarre series and his own show, Super Dave.
  • Past Imperfect: The Autobiography by Joan Collins – Originally published in 1978, revised in the mid ’80s to include her Dynasty work, recorded in 2021. – Maxwell Reed was her husband, but I came to hate him just as much after listening. – I thought back to Slobberknocker as Joan referenced Bill Watts, obviously not related to Cowboy Bill.
  • Tropical Attire Encouraged (and Other Phrases That Scare Me) by Alison Rosen – Free with my Audible membership – Each chapter ended with an impromptu commentary by Alison and after finishing the book, there’s podcast-esque commentary by Alison and her husband Daniel Quartz. – I became a fan of Alison during her days as a guest on Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, proudly supporting the original livestream (UStream) incarnation of Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend. It was an honor to be the Fan Phone Call one Sunday evening in 2010; I listened to some episodes of the podcast version that continues to this day, but haven’t heard an episode in quite a while. – I’ve since gravitated toward podcasts by Gilbert Gottfried (with Frank Santopadre) and Ken Levine. – Listening to this book made me nostalgic for the halcyon days before politics drove a wedge into everything.
  • My Inappropriate Life: Some Material Not Suitable for Small Children, Nuns, or Mature Adults by Heather McDonald – Written and read in the days of Chelsea Lately, which again, I didn’t see much of, but I knew of the regular panelists and staff, including Heather.
  • The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism by Tucker Carlson – I can’t stomach his Tucker Carlson Tonight commentaries anymore (too dour, goes after right-wingers I like), but I was willing to buy The Long Slide. – After an introduction lamenting the way things were at the time of publication (summer 2021), the rest of the book is made up of past columns with present-day prologues. To that end, it was edited better than Charles Grodin’s audiobook.
  • You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success by Al Roker – I’ve been a fan of Al’s since his days at News 4 New York (WNBC), and thoroughly enjoyed his journey. – “You look so much better in person” was a well-meaning, unintentionally backhanded compliment someone gave him in Rockefeller Plaza one time on Today. Don’t ever tell anyone that.
  • Parenting for the Digital Age: The Truth behind Media’s Effect on Children and What to Do About It by Bill Ratner – There are occasional references to Bill’s career, but it’s mostly parental help, as the title indicates.
  • Oh, Nothing…: An Audio Collection of Stories and Memories from Alan Sues by Alan Sues (“sooz”) (1926-2011) – Since the book’s price was $9.79, I bought it that way rather with a credit that costs an additional $1.17 if bought with three ($11.96 x 3) or $5.16 with the monthly credit ($14.95). – Again I say as the title indicates, this is less of a book and more of an interview or one-on-one conversation. – There was so much more to Alan than his days on Laugh-In.
  • The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone – I felt deep empathy for Sharon as she recounted all that she’s endured. – Left-wing politics comes up throughout, but I made it to the end.
  • Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo by Jo Koy – “Josep!” – Jo’s brother reminded me of my late uncle Carmen, who also suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
  • After Mixed Plate, I encountered the second book that I had to disappointingly return for left-wing political reasons. I prefer not to name it or its author (and co-author), but I will say that they were also born and raised on Long Island.
  • Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly – I started listening just after I had finished watching Billy in the final season of Head of the Class on HBO Max, and earlier this week, I heard him in Pocahontas on Disney+. – Like Jimmy Johnson, these days, Billy lives with his wife in the Florida Keys.
  • Bad Republican by Meghan McCain – Double entendre: “bad” because she’s not conservative enough and she and her family hate [the 45th president], and “bad” merely as a Republican. The latter “bad” is how her former co-hosts of The View perceived her. – Three audio clips are used: two of her father Senator John McCain and one of her impassioned eulogy at his memorial. – One “at the end of the day”
  • God Bless This Mess: Learning to Live and Love Through Life’s Best (and Worst) Moments by Hannah Brown – Vocal fry galore! – Felt nothing when she won her season of Dancing with the Stars and didn’t get along with her dance partner Alan Bersten (only referred to by his first name) – That admission, with about an hour left in the book, let me to make my third return of the year. I was so distraught, having wasted my time supporting her (even though I thought she didn’t deserve to win that season!), I couldn’t finish my workout on the morning I heard that part.
  • Dear Hartley: Thoughts on Character, Kindness, and Building a Brighter World by Jedediah Bila – Speaking of former hosts of The View, Jedediah’s Dear Hartley is a series of hopeful letters (chapters) to her currently-toddler son. – Each “letter” ends with “I love you more than life, Mama.”
  • Kind is the New Classy by Candace Cameron Bure – One “at the end of the day” – Hey, three The View ex-pats in one year! – While Candace spoke positively of her co-hosts in the book, since she was still on it in 2018, she has since admitted her experience was as bad as Meghan’s.
  • Based on a True Story: A Memoir by Norm Macdonald (1959-2021) – Yes, the first “d” is lowercase. – This is not a nonfiction memoir, but a fictional novel “based on a true story.” – It’s the story of egomaniacal Norm and his timid sidekick Adam Eget (“e-ghit”), intertwined with confessions from the supposed ghostwriter of the book, voiced “splendidly!” by Tim O’Halloran.
  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (1956-2016) – Before my animated theatrical journey began on Disney+, I watched all nine episodes of Star Wars (the Skywalker Saga) in episodic order. After finishing the original trilogy, I watched Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, a documentary produced by Carrie’s brother/Debbie’s son Todd, on HBO Max. Then, I decided to buy this audiobook and three of the next four below. – Left-wing politics, but through a 2008 lens
  • Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher (1956-2016) – A chronicle of Carrie’s experience with ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments – It includes another hater-facilitated defense, this time of Michael Jackson. Good.
  • The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher – She talks about her experience making the original Star Wars trilogy and shares diary entries written during filming of the first one (Episode IV). – The diary entries are read by her daughter Billie Lourd. – Ends with modern-day dramatizations of fan encounters at conventions, which Carrie referred to as “celebrity lap dance(s),” a term she also used in Bright Lights.
  • The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron and Clint Howard (foreword written and read by actress Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron’s daughter) – This is a real memoir about Ron and Clint’s youth and the lives of their parents Rance and Jean Speegle Howard. (I thought it was “Spiegel” as I listened since I have a friend with that last name.) – I’ve since heard Clint in The Jungle Book and two Winnie the Pooh shorts, via The Many Adventures of…, on Disney+. – This was temporarily the longest audiobook I’ve ever listened to, surpassing I’ll Be Back Right After This by Pat O’Brien.
  • My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie by Todd Fisher – Todd’s memoir and point of view of the events chronicled in Carrie and Debbie’s books, which are occasionally excerpted – Todd says “two thousand and” for 2001 and beyond, even for 2010 and beyond. – He kept saying “in the end,” but I’ll take a million of those over one “at the end of the day.” Bravo, Todd. – Only five minutes shorter than The Boys
  • The Masked Man: A Memoir and Fantasy of Hollywood by Tom Wilson – This is the book I listened to on YouTube. Tom posted chapters to his channel daily over three weeks in January. – Like Norm’s book, there’s a fictional aspect (“and fantasy of”). You don’t really think Clayton Moore followed him around like a shadow, do you? – I made a playlist of all the chapters, but you may buy on Audible if it’ll clear your conscience.
  • The President and the Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Their Battle to Save America’s Soul by Brian Kilmeade – A book about the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass
  • But Enough About Me: A Memoir by Burt Reynolds (1936-2018) with Jon Winokur (read by Burt) – Burt lists many of the people that helped shape his life. – I don’t know if it was the frailty of age, but Burt’s delivery was mostly whispered. – I’m thankful to Burt for reminding me of Sally Field’s verbatim acceptance speech when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, her second, for her role in Places in the Heart, and how it alluded to her previous win for Norma Rae. Read about that in her Wikipedia entry.
  • I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!: and Other Things That Strike Me as Funny by Bob Newhart (abridged) – The book is from 2002, so Bob’s speech was still clear and his voice wasn’t high. – Bob’s signature routines are sprinkled throughout. – I’ve since seen Bob in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under on…guess where?
  • Coreyography by Corey Feldman – Empathy strikes again as my heart ached for what he and Corey Haim endured as children. – I have a hunch I’ve heard his father Bob Feldman on some David Benoit albums, but maybe it was a different Bob Feldman. – Corey, too, set the record straight on Michael Jackson. – Yeah, he was in one of those animated theatrical films I saw on Disney+ (that’s where): The Fox and the Hound.
  • Who I Am by Pete Townshend (“town’s end”) – Even longer than The Boys: 17 hours and 56 minutes. I still have around four hours left, but it’s quite an adventure. – The title is a play on his song “Who Are You?” for The Who.

As I crafted this post, adding one book at a time, I had no idea how many books I had listened to: 34, plus three that I returned! That far exceeds the amount of books in earlier posts.

Until next year’s “Audiobooking” post, happy listening.

Instrumental Invasion, 1/26/22 January 27, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Politics, Radio, TV.
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The January 26 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded from December 7 to 9, 2021. The first segment was recorded at home on the 7th, four segments at the remote location on the 8th, and the last segment and pickups back at home on the 9th. More pickups were recorded at the remote location on the 14th as I shortened four segments. Starting next week, all segments will be 18 minutes long, bringing me full circle as that was the standard duration for the first seven months of Instrumental Invasion. (Going forward, I will not specify where segments are recorded; only when.)

The playlist was created on December 5 with annotations on the 6th. The talk break script was drafted on the 6th and 7th.

The stream cut out seven minutes into the show. Audio returned 39 minutes later, but uncompressed and initially fluctuating between channels. I will reuse the songs that didn’t air in future shows.

I played “Sundance” by Boney James because it was on the smooth jazz radio charts at the time of recording. I also wanted to work in the line “without Butch” in reference to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You won’t hear that on Watercolors!

I didn’t realize “Legacy” by Kenny G – a “duet” with Stan Getz – was new to the charts. I chose it as the first of six tracks to play from New Standards because it was featured in Kenny’s episode of the HBO documentary series Music Box that aired on December 2, the day before the album’s release. Plus, I got to call back to the Return to Forever song at the top of the show (“Medieval Overture“) since Stan Getz collaborated with Chick Corea during the RTF era. Fun fact: Chick’s compositions “Captain Marvel” and “500 Miles High” were recorded with Stan before RTF, but Light as a Feather came out first.

And yes, it’s true. I once let slip my political views on air, as noted after Jeff Lorber‘s “Anthem for a New America.” These days, the less I know about politics and current events, the better, and I don’t want to clash with people. I want to be everyone’s friend, regardless of politics. Incidentally, this was the second week in a row where I played a song from Jeff’s He Had a Hat album.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

The dead air portion was filled with segment file audio. The audio afterward was hard limited with the fluctuating portion converted to mono.

Instrumental Invasion, 11/24/21 November 25, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Comedy, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Politics, Radio, TV, Video Games.
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The November 24 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded one hour per day on October 4 and 6. I chose not to record on the 5th due to insomnia the night before. Recording was done on my laptop at my secondary location, but with my spare Audio-Technica AT2020 mic connected to my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 that I used at home before receiving a new mixer for Christmas. The mic stood on a boom for three years under the false hope of conducting an interview with a house guest. Accepting reality, I brought the mic and interface to the other location to use with my laptop. I’d finally achieved a universal sound with the same mic model in both locations. The only problem is I noticed a hum on my talk breaks, which I determined was from the fluorescent lights on the ceiling. Apparently, I had gotten used to the hum and forgot it existed. I know now to turn off the lights before recording.

Pickups were recorded from home on October 8 and 21. Segments were also remixed on the 21st down to 18:30 or close to it.

The playlist was created on October 1 and annotated on the 2nd. The script was drafted before recording on the 4th.

To accommodate all the new music I received, I replaced the 1984 and earlier segment with a third 2017 to present segment.

This was the first show with a new Dan Siegel liner in mind. Segments from the previous four shows featuring his music were retrofitted to include the liner.

In addition to new music by Dan, the show also marked the debut of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio after his music was sent my way for airplay consideration. I said the title of the song I played “Girly Face,” a la Arnold Schwarzenegger, in reference to his phrase “girlie men.” The phrase was co-opted from the Hans and Franz sketch on Saturday Night Live, in the same manner that “cheese-eatin[g] surrender monkeys” was co-opted from an episode of The Simpsons.

I averted an error when crafting the second segment of hour 1, but missed the one in hour 2’s second segment. Thinking I had 3:50 available rather than 2:50, I selected “Watch Your Step” by Chris Geith. I realized the error during the October 6 recording session, replacing it with “Nocturnal” by Lisa Hilton. You’ll hear Chris’s song next week.

I’ve been meaning to end a show with Gerald Albright‘s cover of “Crazy” for a while, but it never fit. There was finally time for it this week.

Little did I realize that the penultimate song of the night, “Looking Ahead” by Bill Heller, would get the music video treatment the day after I finished recording. Here it is, with all musicians except for the percussionist (Paula Atherton is featured in the thumbnail on flute):

I didn’t mention on the air, but it was my parents’ 44th wedding anniversary.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

8:45 AM UPDATE: I made another mistake that I didn’t notice until listening to the aircheck. When drafting the script, I mistook the first “i” in Dan Feiszli for an “r,” leading me to call him “Dan Ferszli” while back-selling “Full Sail” by Lawson Rollins.

My experience at Day 1 of 2021 New York Comic Con October 9, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Art, Audio, Audiobooks, DVD, Health, History, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Technology, Trains, Travel, TV, Video, War, Wrestling.
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Other New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 22014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1, 2018 Day 1, 2019 Day 1

I returned to the Javits Center on Thursday for the first day of this year’s New York Comic Con, my sixth time at the event. It was also the first time I set foot in Manhattan since a failed trip to Lisa Hilton’s performance at Carnegie Hall, nearly two years ago.

The days and weeks leading up to my trip were filled with trepidation. I felt anxious about what to expect. Would there be a capacity limit? Would I get scolded by staff or security? Did I waste my money on a badge? Why did William Shatner have to go to space, leading his events to be moved to the evening?

The day turned out to be as exciting as it was my last time at NYCC in 2019.

Under the assumption that I’d be meeting Shatner, I tweeted him about my concerns:

Been going back/forth on replying, but here goes: I have Asperger Syndrome, & I’m going to day 1 of NY Comic Con on Oct 7. I’m worried about what to expect, including photo op w/you that I bought. I’m hoping staff are nice, not angry/scolding. Will wear mask, of course.

Mike Chimeri

He replied encouragingly. I was hoping to link to that reply, but it seems to have been taken down.

Regardless, that led to many more replies from fellow fans. One fan in the UK made this suggestion:

Hi Mike, not sure if you have the same in the States, but in the UK we have a scheme where people wear a lanyard with sunflowers on, this signifies that the person wearing the lanyard may perceive life differently and to be a bit more understanding around them.

Mark ELVIS Goddard, @GBsBestElvis

He followed that up with…:

They are just a subtle way to let people know to be kind I work in the tourist industry & if a customer is wearing one we automatically know 2b kind & maybe a bit calmer around them, but they don’t have that awkward conversation of explaining why they don’t do lifts for example!

Mark ELVIS Goddard, @GBsBestElvis

So, I paid about $8 for a set of artificial sunflower heads. They shed like dog fur, but I proudly put one in my ticket holder above my badge.

My day began like any other Thursday since last April, in the days when the Javits Center was a field hospital for COVID patients: edit Wednesday’s Instrumental Invasion aircheck, make a scoped version for my blog, publish the blog post, and share the post on social media. That left me about 45 minutes to eat breakfast (a bowl of cereal), shower, and get dressed and packed.

An Uber driver picked me up around 9:00, dropping me off at Wantagh LIRR station within ten minutes. Once there, I bought my ticket and walked to my usual spot on the west end of the platform, above Wantagh Avenue. The train arrived at 9:28:

I was hoping for the new M9 railcar, but it was the old M7. Oh, well.

I listened to much of my aircheck on the platform and then on the train.

Penn Station has changed drastically since last January, as seen in these photos taken on the way back from Javits:

When I arrived at Javits, my Clear app vaccination voucher was scanned, then my badge, and I went through security. It was hassle-free, thankfully. I took the first photo at 10:42, snapping away until I reached the autographing area in hall 1E:

Knowing I’d be meeting Dee Bradley Baker, earlier in the week, I ordered a compilation DVD on Amazon of Phineas and Ferb episodes centered around Perry the Platypus, Dee’s character. Assuming I’d be seeing William Shatner’s panel at 11AM and getting a photo op at 12:10 PM, I bought a 1PM ticket for Dee. Thankfully, it was accepted at 11:00.

As I waited in line, I saw Dee and other celebrity guests assembling behind the curtain. I waved to Dee and he signaled back to me, pointing two fingers at his eyes and then toward me, as if to say “I’m watching you.” That was flattering. When I was next in line, I learned that photos were not allowed at the table; autographs only. I asked the representative if he had a photo op. Yes, at 3:40, an hour and 50 minutes before the rescheduled Shatner photo op would have been. I was fine with that.

Dee and I spoke briefly as he signed the DVD box art:

To Mike!

Dee Baker

Agent P (Perry’s code name in the O.W.C.A. [Organization Without a Cool Acronym])

Dee’s autograph

Then, he graced me with Perry’s signature vocal effect. We said our goodbyes and I proceeded to the sales table to buy my photo op.

It took half an hour because neither my credit nor debit cards worked and I had to withdraw cash from an ATM, then going on the line for cash payments.

I had 3 1/2 hours to spend until it was time to wait in the queue. What to do?

First, I bought lunch at the food court: chicken fingers with waffle fries and a Sprite. I ate as I finished listening to my aircheck. When I went to out my Bose SoundLink wireless headphones away, the ear cushion for the right channel came loose. I had to buy a replacement set from their website.

After that, I proceeded up to the show floor:

What?! Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim “Good Ol’ J.R.” Ross?!

I was a big pro wrestling fan growing up, along with my sister Lauren and cousins Chris and Sam (Samantha). After another ATM trip, a dream of mine was fulfilled: an autographed photo…:

To Mike!

“King” Jerry Lawler (WWE) HOF 07

Jim Ross

WWE HOF ’07

Jerry and Jim’s autographs

…and a photo op with King and J.R.!:

As you can see, I wore my 2020 U.S. Open shirt, previously seen in my pretend Winged Foot photo.

Before the photo, I told King that I didn’t know he’d be there. True to form, he quipped that he didn’t, either, but found himself and J.R. there anyway, or words to that effect. Don’t quote me. All I know is my comeback was “yeah, that’s how it goes,” meaning that’s what happens. After the photo, I told J.R. how long I’d been a fan and that I really enjoyed his two books, Slobberknocker and Under the Black Hat, which I listened to on Audible. He thanked me. (I synopsized Under the Black Hat in my latest “audiobooking” post.)

I took some more photos on the show floor…:

…then went back to the food court for seltzer (sparkling water) and a cookie. I engaged in conversation with my table mates, then called a few friends, and texted Lauren and Chris with a photo of the photo:

There was still plenty of time, so I sought out room 1E01: the Quiet Room:

As the name suggests, it’s a place where you can silently contemplate. I used my time in the room to charge my phone and draft the post you’re reading now.

My plan to pass the time worked. 3:15 came and I walked to the queue:

I spent the next 20 minutes or so chatting with my fellow queue members, then it was time.

I handed a staff member my ticket, put my belongings on a shelf, and was reunited with Dee. Here is our photo:

I was looking straight ahead, so I didn’t know what expression he made. I love it: Jack Benny-esque.

I said goodbye again, grabbed my belongings, picked up my photo print, and left the Javits Center. I may not have seen and met William Shatner, but I made many lasting memories. I’m so happy with how the day turned out. I will definitely be back.

Incidentally, there are articles on Bill’s 6:45 panel – which I would have seen if it was still at 11AM – on CNN’s website and Mediaite. Mediaite’s article includes a YouTube video of the panel (by Gragon Productions):

I watched on Friday night. It was like I was there in person.

10/13 UPDATE: Bill’s space trip was this morning. I didn’t realize it would only be a few minutes, but those few minutes were literally awesome for him. Watch the Blue Origin webcast replay:

10/14 UPDATE: Then, watch the moment of apogee inside the capsule:

10/17 UPDATE: Blue Origin had one more video up their sleeve: a recap:

Back to October 7.

Here’s my photographic journey back to Penn Station:

I reached Penn at 4:05…:

…and took the 4:12 bound for Wantagh, which was another M7:

When I arrived in Wantagh at 5:02, my mom was waiting to drive me home. As it turns out, the Penn-bound train was an M9:

Back in my room, I took photos of all the day’s belongings:

POSTSCRIPT: While perusing the New York Comic Con site on Friday afternoon, I noticed George Takei, Bill’s Star Trek co-star, was in the Q&A portion of his panel. So, I watched, periodically taking screencaps. In addition to Star Trek, he fielded questions about the animated film Kubo and the Two Strings, the video game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, his political activism stemming from internment during World War II (I ached as he told his story), and fond memories of Leonard Nimoy, another Star Trek co-star. One anecdote in particular was about how George saw Leonard perform in the play Equus on Broadway and Leonard returned the favor when George performed in the L.A. production. After the last question, George stood up, thanked the fans in the hall, and gave them Spock’s Vulcan salute. Now, how about those screencaps?

Well, thank you for making it this far. My next task is to chronicle the return of WCWP Homecoming Weekend. Till then, so long.

Audiobooking 6 April 4, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audio, Audiobooks, Baseball, Comedy, Commentary, Film, History, Media, Personal, Politics, Radio, Sports, TV, Video.
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It’s been just over a year since the previous post. Instrumental Invasion has taken up most of my time, providing a necessary escape from the tumultuous reality.

I continue to listen to audiobooks on days where I workout and run, or even while editing photos. My source remains Audible, now as a paid member. When I’m billed at the end of each month, I use my credit on the next audiobook to listen to. As I type, I have a three-book backlog.

Here’s what I’ve been listened to since Andrea Barber’s memoir:

I was a big fan of “The Critic” and have been an on-and-off fan of “The Simpsons.” I heard the cheery voice of Mike Reiss (“rees”) in DVD commentaries for both shows. I thought I would like “Simpsons Confidential.” While it had its moments, the book was mostly a string of personal or locational attacks: Texas, South Carolina, Tim Allen, Republican politicians, etc. Never meet your heroes and don’t listen to their memoirs. I was previously let down in a similar fashion by Ron Perlman, Joely Fisher, Carrie Keagan, and Eric Idle. I was somehow able to tolerate the political asides of Billy Crystal, Carl Reiner, and Ken Levine (“laVYNE”) in their memoirs.
Thankfully, Audible refunded my credit for the book, even with only 55 minutes left to listen to. I used it to buy Jerry Seinfeld’s “Is This Anything?” I hope nothing makes me regret that purchase.
If you want to see Mike’s latest personal attacks on people he hates, he’s on Twitter at MikeReissWriter.

My Instagram post, 1/30/21; a screencap of Audible’s credit was the post photo
  • All in All: An Actor’s Life On and Off the Stage by Stacy Keach (foreword by Alec Baldwin, read by voice actress whose name, again, I missed) – Only political in the ’60s and early ’70s – blessed relief after enduring Mike Reiss
  • Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld (chapter titles read by British voice actress) – Jerry’s jokes by decade, prefaced by synopses of his life in each decade
  • Never Look at the Empty Seats: A Memoir by Charlie Daniels (1936-2020) – Nearly the opposite of Ken Levine and Mike Reiss politically – pleasant to my center-right ears – nice to learn about his full career besides “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
  • Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey – Except for acknowledging 2020 events at the end, enjoyable to listen to – “NOTE TO SELF! …”
  • Under the Black Hat: My Life in the WWE and Beyond by Jim Ross with Paul O’Brien (read by JR) – Focuses on JR’s WWF/WWE career, beginning at Wrestlemania XV in 1999 (six years after his initial debut) – for a wider life story, I’ll need to check out Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling

There, all caught up.

Until next year’s “Audiobooking” post, happy listening.

Audiobooking 5 April 1, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Commentary, Film, History, Media, Military, News, Personal, Politics, TV, Video.
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In light of my practically apolitical audiobook streak since I impulsively quit the “Audiobooking” series, save for the right end of the spectrum, I chose to bring it back. Here’s what I’ve been listening to while exercising since September 2018:

2018 humbled me with the unexpected political turns in the memoirs I listened to, not to mention Kevin Hart’s endless tangents. It taught me to choose the audiobooks I buy carefully. If the author is politically active from the left on social media, chances are it will come up in their book. Eric Idle was the last mistake in that respect, which is why I haven’t bought John Cleese’s memoir. Thankfully, Neil Ross only had one political sentence in his book: deriding right-to-work states. I wonder what Goldie Hawn’s memoir, released in 2005, would have been like if it came out today. Never Play Dead and The United States of Trump weren’t exactly choir music, either. The books reminded me of the political stories I missed while avoiding current events. Nevertheless, they were worth listening to, as were the rest of the audiobooks listed above.

Whenever Andrea Barber mentioned her son Tate in Full Circle, I thought of a running gag on the Game Sack YouTube channel involving TATE Mode, the vertical screen orientation for arcade games. It’s generally pronounced “tah-tay,” but host Joe Redifer pronounces it phonetically, an acceptable alternate pronunciation. Whenever a game is featured with TATE Mode, he’ll get facetiously hyperbolic.

I have three more audiobooks to listen to in my Audible app after I finish Full Circle, and you’ll see what those were in the next “Audiobooking” post. Until then, happy listening.

Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall: 2019 edition January 12, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Blu-ray, Comedy, DVD, Hockey, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Politics, Sports, Travel, TV, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous Lisa Hilton recaps: June 2011January 2014January 2015January 2016, January 2018

Thursday night, for the fifth time in six years, I made my way to the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to see jazz pianist Lisa Hilton perform.

Unlike last year, I didn’t leave the house early so I could eat dinner before arriving at Weill. I went about my typical Thursday routine, including eating a pasta dinner around 5:00. At 5:40, my mom drove me to the Wantagh LIRR station. It’s a good thing I chose to leave at that time because unbeknownst to me, the 5:59 train was moved up to 5:55 starting on Monday:

The other arrival times are unchanged.

It was cold and windy on the platform, so it’s a good thing I wasn’t there long.

The train arrived two minutes late, at least on clocks set to the official U.S. time:

Just like the snowy night I saw the Bob James Trio at the Blue Note, the Rangers and Islanders were playing each other. Then, the game was at Barclays Center, current home of the Islanders. This time, it was at Madison Square Garden. Thus, Rangers and Islanders fans were prevalent on the train. Ordinarily, I would have stayed on all the way to Penn Station, but getting to Carnegie Hall isn’t as direct as Blue Note. I could have taken the 1 train from Penn to 59th Street-Columbus Circle, but I would have to walk a few blocks south and east from there. In the afternoon, I consulted Google Maps to determine what subway line I should take instead of the 1. They suggested I exit at Woodside and take the 7 train to Queensboro Plaza, then transfer to the N or W trains to 57th Street and 7th Avenue. That’s what I did.

I arrived at Woodside at 6:46 and proceeded to the adjacent subway station:

I lost my sense of direction and stood in position for this Flushing-bound train:

I figured out where I was facing when the doors wouldn’t open on my side.

The correct 7 train arrived at 6:52:

12 minutes later, I stood in Queensboro Plaza:

Google Maps suggested the N train on the way and the W train going back. I ended up doing the opposite. The W train arrived before the N, two minutes after I got off the 7:

By 7:15, I was at 57th Street:

I took the southeast corner stairway:

The stairway faces south, so I had to turn north and then east:

It wasn’t long before I reached my destination:

Foolishly choosing the stairs over the elevator, I (somewhat) breathlessly arrived on the fourth floor and stood in the lobby until the hall doors were opened:

The audience was allowed in at 7:30.

After finding my front row not-quite-center seat, I took a few pictures of the stage, knowing I’d have to put the camera away until afterward:

A security guard reminded me there was no photography during the show, and I assured him I was only taking before and after. I know the rules and willingly play by them. (I didn’t tell him that.)

Lisa and her two bandmates walked on stage at 8:04. Yes, for the first time, this was a trio performance. Luques (“lu-KEZ”) Curtis was once again on acoustic bass with Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. Mark alternated between sticks and brushes depending on the song.

The first nine songs were all from Lisa’s latest album, Oasis, released on December 7. The concept is similar to that of her previous album, Escapism: escaping the craziness of the real world. At the Oasis, you can take your mind off the political turmoil and extreme weather dominating the news. A case of extreme weather is the Woolsey fire in Southern California, which forced Lisa to evacuate her Malibu home. She eventually returned home to no damage, but others weren’t as fortunate.

I’m right-of-center politically, but I can’t stand politics’ insane tribalism. It’s our way or the highway, whether “our” is Republicans or Democrats. And don’t get me started on the politics of personal destruction. One wrong move will destroy your life. I also have a pessimistic view of my party’s chances in elections and I take hyperbole from left-leaning politicians and pundits personally.

Since late September, I have paid little attention to the news. I know what happened on November 6, and that my left-wing friends gloated triumphantly, but that’s mostly it. Some news comes to my attention by overhearing what someone is watching in another room, from newspapers on display at the supermarket if I fail to avert my gaze, or reading Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards at the end of episodes of his sitcoms. I keep my head buried in music, sports (but not sports debate or news magazines), documentaries, cartoons, sitcoms, tech reviews, and video game or console reviews and retrospectives. Ignorance is bliss.

I used to occasionally post political links or videos, such as for Prager University, on Facebook, but I stopped a year ago. Now, I don’t talk politics at all on any of my social media (I seldom did on Twitter since my account is public) or with family and friends, unless we agree. I’m a people-pleaser; I want to be everyone’s friend. I don’t want politics to come between us.

Lisa promised that the songs we were about to hear would be uplifting. There wouldn’t be any songs with titles like “F U Donald,” as John Scofield had with Combo 66 in November.

The set ran about 70 minutes. Here’s what Lisa Hilton’s trio played:
1.
Adventure Lands
This made me think of the times I went to the Adventureland amusement park in Farmingdale when I was growing up.

2. Oasis
Mark Whitfield Jr. provided a swing beat at times. At one point, I followed Luques Curtis’s fingers on the bass.

3. Twists of Fate
Lisa credited Count Basie and Thelonious Monk among her inspirations for this song.

4. Watercolor World

5. Vapors & Shadows (also on Horizons, 2015)
In a quiet moment, Mark lightly clacked the drums. Lisa and I seemed to lock eyes briefly.

6. Lazy Daisy
This brought to mind a hippie daisy floating downstream or lying in an inner tube in a water park lazy river, like the one at Splish Splash in Riverhead. That was another park I frequented growing up, but I haven’t been there in almost 20 years.

7. Just for Fun (also on In the Mood for Jazz, 2003; Nuance, 2010; and Getaway, 2013)
Lisa’s gliding up and down the keys made me laugh.

8. Sunshine States
There was a Latin flavor befitting the two Sunshine States, California (officially the Golden State) and Florida. It was reminiscent of Chick Corea, and the end felt like “Tequila” by The Champs, just as “Hot Summer Samba” did last year.

9. Sunday Morning (also on Midnight in Manhattan, 2006)

10. Waterfall (from Cocktails at Eight, 2000)

11. Meltdown (from Sunny Day Theory, 2008; later on Nuance, 2010; and Escapism, 2017)
This song is a comment on a hectic life, being driven to a meltdown or breakdown. It had a frantic, heavy metal-like pace, and also brought to mind boss music in a video game. There were occasionally staccato Morse Code-like notes.

12 (Encore). Zero Gravity (from Escapism, 2017)
Coincidentally, earlier in the day, I watched the fourth Futurama film, Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009), on Blu-ray. One of the special features involved series executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen talking about their recent Zero G flight. They and their fellow passengers, including Matt’s son Will, experienced periods of weightlessness.

As it turned out, no one else was seated in the front row, not even in the handicap seats. I could have moved, but chose not to.

1/18 UPDATE: Lisa posted a picture from the set (taken by photographer Ryan Nava) to Facebook, her website, and her newsletter last night:

Here’s the Facebook post, which ends with a link to her web post:

1/29 UPDATE: Lisa posted two more of Ryan Nava’s pictures to social media yesterday:

When the house lights went back up in Weill Recital Hall, and the audience began to leave, I said aloud, to no one in particular, that was a great show. Steve, who was seated one row behind me, agreed. I told him it was my fifth time, he said it was his first. We spoke a little more, then went our separate ways. I proceeded to the lobby to meet and greet Lisa and Luques. I didn’t see Mark, though. As I let other audience members talk to them for a while, I shared my enthusiasm with Adam and Vicki. Adam was seated a row or two behind me and told me he noticed that I was taking notes. I let him know it was for the recap you’re reading right now, and shared some of the notes with him. He was nice enough to take a picture of Lisa and me before I left:

I rightly took the elevator back down to the first floor.

By 9:46, I was back in the 57th Street subway station:

My N train for Queensboro Plaza arrived at 9:54:

Ten minutes later, I was among a massive throng of passengers (whom I didn’t photograph out of privacy) waiting to board the 7 train:

It took another ten minutes for that 7 train to arrive, and a couple more minutes before the doors were opened. I barely fit into the cramped car I walked into. There was little relief between stops as few people got off. Flushing was likely the majority destination.

The late arrival of the 7 train at Woodside meant I missed my LIRR train for Wantagh.

The good news is I would only have to wait about 20 minutes for the next Babylon-bound train:

The bad news is it was an express train that only stopped at Woodside, Jamaica, Valley Stream, and Freeport, with no other stops before Babylon. My dad was nice enough to drive 15 minutes out to Freeport to pick me up because I wasn’t about to wait until about 11:15 for a train that would stop at Wantagh.

After waiting upstairs out of the wind for 15 minutes, I proceeded to the track 4 platform and waited for my train:

Brrr! Each gust was tough to endure.

I was relieved to board the warm train at 10:47:

Once again, there were Rangers and Islanders fans aboard. And once again, the Islanders won. This time, 4-3. As a Rangers fan, this has been a tough season. (8:20 PM UPDATE: The game was part of a home-and-home. The Rangers won 2-1 at Barclays Center earlier today.)

The train was scheduled to arrive at Freeport by 11:15. Instead, it was there at 11:23. My railcar was a few blocks from where Dad was. Once inside his car, the drive back to Wantagh took 15 minutes, the same length it took to get to Freeport. Home sweet home.

Thank you to Lisa Hilton, Luques Curtis, and Mark Whitfield Jr. for the fifth great night of music in six years. (I couldn’t make it in 2017.) Thanks, as well, to Steve, Adam, and Vicki from the audience; and of course, to my parents for transportation to and from the train stations.

John Scofield’s Combo 66 at Blue Note December 2, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Politics, Travel, Weather.
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Two weeks after braving wintry conditions to see the Bob James Trio at Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, I returned to the legendary venue to see guitarist John Scofield‘s Combo 66 quartet.

363 nights after seeing saxophonist Dave Koz for the first time, as his 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour stopped at the Tilles Center, it was time to see John Scofield for the first time.

Skies were partly cloudy with a stiff westerly breeze on Thursday afternoon as I walked from my house to the Wantagh LIRR station. I took an earlier train than the last time: 4:27 this time. Aboard the train, an M3 railcar, I sat in the head car and could see straight ahead, a perspective I seldom see.

Once at Penn Station, I boarded an E train for West 4th Street. I arrived outside Blue Note at exactly 5:45:

Within 20 minutes, I was inside. I thought about sitting by the stage again, but opted for a seat further back and elevated. Unfortunately, I didn’t make any new friends at the table this time. A father and son, and man in his 20s kept to themselves and I was too shy to start a conversation.

John Scofield’s Combo 66 began their set a few minutes after 8:00:

John led the quartet on electric guitar:

He was backed up by Gerald Clayton, on piano for five songs:

…and organ, which I had a better view of, for three songs:

Vicente Archer on acoustic bass:

…and Bill Stewart on drums:

Bill used brushes for “I’m Sleeping In”:

There were eight songs in the quartet’s set, with all but three of them from the Combo 66 album:
1. Can’t Dance*
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

2. Hand Jive
Originally heard on: Hand Jive (1994)

3. Green Tea*
Originally heard on: A Go Go (1998)

4. Dang Swing
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

5. I’m Sleeping In
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

6. Icons of the Fair
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

7. F U Donald (Bill Stewart composition)
Originally heard on: Band Menu (Bill Stewart) (2018)
I felt like an outcast as John announced the title, an obvious shot at President Donald Trump, which received a hearty applause. The son seated next to me cheered “my man!” at the title’s sentiment. I just sighed and shook my head. The song itself was great. I thought it was better with guitar than saxophone as there was on Bill’s Band Menu. Afterward, John emphatically repeated the title and softly quipped, “now, we’d like to play a beautiful ballad for [Vice President] Mike Pence.” Even I laughed. Then, the set concluded with…

8. New Waltzo*
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

*-Gerald Clayton played organ.

It was a superb set. Not even a politically-charged song title could dampen my enjoyment. Thank you to John, Gerald, Vicente, and Bill.

Returning to Penn Station on the E train and to Wantagh on a Babylon-bound LIRR train were both uneventful. My next trip to Manhattan is slated for January 10 when I’ll once again see pianist Lisa Hilton perform.

No more “Audiobooking” posts; rant about expressions September 21, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Personal, Politics.
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I’ve had a rough year when it comes to audiobooks I’ve purchased on Audible. After enduring the disappointing political turn in Ron Perlman’s book last year, I was subjected to the same political turns from Carrie Keagan and Joely Fisher, culminating in Kevin Hart repeatedly going off on endless tangents in his book. He didn’t get political, but he took a political turn at the MTV Video Music Awards while I was in the process of listening to the book.

As if the tangents weren’t enough, he said “at the end of the day.” It’s time for me to come clean: I loathe that expression. I also have no use for “kind of” unless you actually mean “somewhat” or “partially.” And don’t get me started on “so” as the first word of a response to a question or to introduce a video. “So” typically means “therefore.” Oh, and uptalk/high-rising terminal.

That was a tangent, but a worthwhile one.

In light of the four audiobook disappointments, three this year alone, I’ve decided to give up the annual “Audiobooking” posts. I don’t listen as often anymore, anyway. I tend to watch YouTube videos (some of which are plagued with the aggravating expressions and/or vocal tic) or listen to podcasts (likewise) during my workouts or at bedtime.

I’ll conclude this impulsively-conceived post by linking to the final “Audiobooking” post from nine months ago.

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.