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Audiobooking 3 December 23, 2016

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

* – Left-wing viewpoint occasionally expressed

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

Jeff Dunham at Carnegie Hall October 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff’s opening act:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bubba J:

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

Peanut:

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

Achmed the Dead Terrorist:

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

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

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Here’s how that selfie looked:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how Jeff signed off just before midnight:

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

…and the playlist.

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

15 years in radio; two shows on WCWP next weekend October 3, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Education, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Sports.
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Wednesday marks 15 years since my first radio show on Webradio WCWP, now known as MyWCWP. The maiden voyage of The Mike Chimeri Show, a contemporary jazz instrumentals show (naturally), embarked at 7PM on Friday, October 5, 2001. The first song I played was “Mountain Dance” by Dave Grusin.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think of recording the show for posterity, which I’ve done for all but one show since, but I did save the playlist:
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88 shows followed, plus another 95 after 10 months at WGBB.

I miss the days of having a weekly show, which I haven’t had since Evening Jazz on 88.1 WCWP in 2010, but I’m proud to have a show each Homecoming Weekend. Like last year, however, I will have two shows on Homecoming Weekend, and at the same times. The shows will bear the name Instrumental Invasion with Mike Chimeri.

The first show kicks off the weekend, live on Friday, October 7, at noon Eastern. I pre-recorded the second show two weeks ago from home and it will air early Sunday, October 9, at 2AM Eastern.

The live show will consist of all but three songs from albums released this year. The other three songs are from last year. Among the artists you’ll hear are Chuck Loeb, Yellowjackets, Richard Elliot, and Gerald Albright.

The pre-recorded show is a 50-year music journey, running from 1966 through 2016. Expect to hear Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Chet Atkins, David Benoit, Acoustic Alchemy, and plenty more.

Both shows can be heard locally on 88.1 FM, and worldwide at WCWP.org and on the TuneIn app.

In between, I can be found at LIU Post on Homecoming Day itself – Saturday, October 8. I’ll mostly be at the Abrams Communications Building, home of WCWP, but I plan on dropping by the Pioneers’ football game against Saint Anselm College, their 2014 Homecoming opponent.

Later in the afternoon, the 2017 class of the WCWP Hall of Fame will be announced. I always look forward to the announcement, and then the ceremony itself each spring.

I hope you’ll be listening to WCWP all Homecoming Weekend long. I’m honored to get the ball rolling again this year. Jeff Kroll wraps the weekend up at 10PM on October 9.

Two days at The Barclays August 30, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Golf, Internet, Media, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the third and final round of The Barclays, the first event of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs. This year, as in 2012, the host venue was Bethpage Black, the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Bethpage/Farmingdale.

One day after acquiring tickets to the second round of the PGA Championship, my dad Bill ordered tickets for the third round of The Barclays. About a week before we were to go, Dad won complimentary tickets to the final round. Our weekend was set.

This was the tournament’s 50th year. It began in 1967 as the Westchester Classic. This was also the last year it was sponsored by Barclays. Starting next year, when the tournament will be at nearby Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, it will be known as The Northern Trust. As a result, the tournament that was called the Northern Trust Open, held in February at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, will become the Genesis Open.

For the third round on Saturday, Dad and I left the house at 11:30 and drove to Nassau Coliseum for general parking. From there, a shuttle bus drove us to Bethpage Black.

All pictures both days were taken on my iPhone 6.

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The practice green and media center:
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The 1st tee:
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The 1st fairway:
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We stopped at the 18th fairway to watch Phil Mickelson and Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose finish their round:
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This was back by the 1st tee:
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The 1st green:
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The 4th tee:
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We stopped at the concession tent by the 5th green and 12th fairway, then watched the last seven pairings at the 5th green:
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Those pairings were:
Jim Herman and Jhonattan Vegas
Ricky Barnes and J.B. Holmes
Martin Laird and Harold Varner III
Jason Day and Adam Hadwin
Jordan Spieth and Sean O’Hair
Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore
Patrick Reed (36-hole leader) and Emiliano Grillo

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The MetLife Blimp:
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After watching Blayne Barber and Jason Kokrak at the 12th green, Dad and I made our way to the 13th green:iPh82716046

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We stood in the sun at first, then moved to the shade (seen above). We watched Barber and Kokrak, Ryan Palmer and Kevin Chappell, and then the seven pairings I listed earlier. As the leader and challengers approached, we saw Billy Kratzert, Dottie Pepper, and Peter Kostis from CBS Sports. Also passing by were course reporters from PGA Tour Radio, NHK (Japan), and Sky Sports.

After Reed and Grillo, Dad and I walked back toward the clubhouse.

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The jib by the 14th green:
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A closer look:
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The 15th tee:
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We stopped at the crosswalk by the 17th tee as Jason Day and Adam Hadwin teed off.

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We stopped in the shop to buy a shirt, then took the shuttle back to Nassau Coliseum.

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Rickie Fowler (-9) took the lead from Patrick Reed (-8) going into the final round. Here are highlights of the third round, which concluded while we were in transit.

For the final round on Sunday, Dad and I left for the Coliseum at noon. The shuttle we took arrived at Bethpage Black before 1:00.

Our first stop after arriving was the practice range, which was adjacent to the Yellow Course:
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At the range were Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Kevin Streelman, Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo, and Rickie Fowler.

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Then, we walked toward the 18th green.

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Me and the infamous warning sign:
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Our plan was to sit in the grandstand above the green until play concluded, but that didn’t pan out. I’m glad it didn’t.

We watched the four pairings start their rounds at the 1st tee:
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The four pairings:
Kevin Streelman and Gary Woodland
Emiliano Grillo and Justin Thomas
Adam Scott and Martin Laird
Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed

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Fowler and Reed waiting to tee off:
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After a brief stop in the Mastercard Club, Dad and I walked to the concession area by the 14th hole. On the way there, we passed Brandt Snedeker and Brian Harman as they made their way to the 17th tee. People were high fiving Sneds, and I tried to get in on the action, but he didn’t see my hand. Oh, well.

After hot dogs and soda, we returned to our spot at the 13th green:
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As you can see, the hole was moved.

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We watched the last 14 pairings come through. In addition to the four I listed earlier, there were also:
Brian Stuard and Jim Furyk
Billy Horschel and Rory McIlroy
Brendan Steele and Chez Reavie
Sean O’Hair and Charl Schwartzel
Ricky Barnes and Jordan Spieth
Jason Dufner and Blayne Barber
Ryan Moore and Kevin Kisner
Jason Kokrak and Ryan Palmer
Dustin Johnson and Jamie Lovemark
Jason Day and Tony Finau

Occasionally, photographers and TV cameramen set up in front of us. On a personal note, my dad’s friend joined us at the green for a little while.

Day parred 13, but made a 71-foot putt for birdie at 15.

When Fowler and Reed came to the green, volunteers strictly enforced the no-camera-or-phone policy. I put my iPhone back in its holster and didn’t touch it until they holed out. By this time, Fowler had faltered and Reed regained the lead. That lead would grow to three shots, but he won by one (-9).

Dad and I made another stop at the concessions by 14. While there, we ran into my friend Mike and his wife Laurie.

The jib also made an appearance:
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Then, we walked to the grandstand by the 17th green for the last two pairings:
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The view was spectacular:
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As we approached the 18th tee, we ran into Mike and Laurie again. After Reed and Fowler teed off, we walked adjacent to fairway.

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We stayed until the last putt:
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The 18th green at the moment Reed putt for bogey to win by one shot:
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Here’s how it looked on CBS.

The moment Peter Kostis interviewed Reed:
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Here’s how that looked.

We walked closer to the green for the trophy presentation (not televised), which came after Reed signed his scorecard.

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Dottie Pepper hosted the presentation:
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Reed’s win, the fifth of his career, earned him a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

On the way back to the shuttle, we passed by the 1st tee of the Red Course:
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And we saw Rickie Fowler signing autographs by the practice green:
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With that, we exited and boarded the shuttle:
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I expect to do as the sign said and return next year at Glen Oaks for The Northern Trust.

I will update this post after the Tour Championship with the FedExCup Champion. Until then, I leave you with post-tournament links:
Final round highlights
Patrick Reed news conference
Shots of the week
Final round photo gallery
Associated Press story
Helen Ross: Teamwork leads to success
Winner’s Bag: Patrick Reed, The Barclays

9/25 UPDATE: Rory McIlory won.

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.)

Spyro Gyra at the Blue Note May 28, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Basketball, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel.
3 comments

I was back at Blue Note on Thursday night to see Spyro Gyra‘s 8:00 show. This is a recurring expression in these recaps, but it was Spyro Gyra’s third night of a six-night engagement at the famous jazz club in Greenwich Village. It was also the first time I’d seen the band in nearly three years. This was the first time seeing them on land since June 2007 at the YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore.

My original plan on Thursday afternoon was to take the 4:27 westbound train from LIRR’s Wantagh Station (currently in the first phase of renovations) to Penn Station. But I was bored at home, so I left the house an hour and a half early. I walked 20 minutes to the train station and boarded the 3:09 train. I use a backpack, so I must have looked like a high school student to some fellow adults I passed. (Wantagh High School lets out at 2:19.) Wantagh Elementary School had a fire drill as I walked past it on Beech Street. I was glad to hear it was a whooping siren and buzzer instead of a ding-ding-ding bell. That’s why I dreaded fire drills as a kid. I don’t like surprises and I like those big bells even less.

The train ride was longer than scheduled due to a delay at Jamaica, but I still got to Penn Station within an hour of boarding. My girlfriend took Metro-North and the S and 1 trains, and we met at Penn 15 minutes after I arrived. We then took the A train to West Fourth Street. We walked up the stairs at West Third and killed time by watching basketball games at the West Fourth Street Courts. At 5:20, we decided walk up the block to Blue Note and wait for the doors to open. There was no line at first, but about 15 minutes, a line began to form.

Shortly after 6:00, the doors opened and my girlfriend and I chose our usual table at center stage. Our seats were the last before the stage.

Through dinner and dessert, 8:00 came, Spyro Gyra walked on stage, and the show began.

As he has been for all 40 years, Jay Beckenstein was on saxophone. He mostly played alto:
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…but was briefly on soprano:
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Tom Schuman, also with the band for all 40 years, played keyboards:
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Julio Fernandez, with the band for 29 of the last 31 years, was on guitar:
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Scott Ambush, in his 25th year, was on bass:
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…and newcomer Lionel Cordew on drums:
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Each night’s shows were at 8:00 and 10:30. Here is the set list from Thursday’s 8:00 show:
1. Catching the Sun
Originally heard on: Catching the Sun, 1980

2. Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson cover)

3. Havana Moonlight
Originally heard on: Got the Magic, 1999

4. Morning Dance
Originally heard on: Morning Dance, 1979; Access All Areas, 1984; Road Scholars, 1998

5. Cape Town Love
Originally heard on: Original Cinema, 2003

6. Harbor Nights
Originally heard on: Incognito, 1982; Access All Areas, 1984

7. Good to Go-Go
Originally heard on: Good to Go-Go, 2007

8. Funkyard Dog
Originally heard on: Good to Go-Go, 2007

We’ve reached the part of the recap with various shots of each musician. We start with Jay Beckenstein:
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Playing alto and soprano simultaneously on “Funkyard Dog”:
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Tom Schuman:
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Julio Fernandez:
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Julio’s vocal intro to “Havana Moonlight”:
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Julio was born in Havana.

Scott Ambush:
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Lionel Cordew’s drum solo before “Funkyard Dog”:
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Scott and Tom:
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Julio and Lionel:
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Scott, Jay, and Tom:
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My girlfriend and I had a wonderful time. We couldn’t have asked for a better show. I can only imagine what the 10:30 crowd saw.

Spyro Gyra are still at Blue Note tonight and tomorrow night. So, if you haven’t seen them yet and you’re free either night, come on down to the Village and see them live.

SJFS 2016 Night 2 recap May 4, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Football, Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, TV.
14 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1, 2014 Night 2, 2015 Night 1, 2016 Night 1

Day 2 of my weekend in Milford, Connecticut, began at sunrise. I went right to sleep when I returned to the hotel the night before. So, the first thing I did when I woke up was move the pictures I shot from my camera to my laptop. After that, I took the elevator down to the lobby and helped myself to breakfast. The day progressed from there. To pass the time, I watched episodes of Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show while editing Friday’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars pictures. When the latter rounds of the NFL Draft were televised, I had that on with the TV muted as I continued to listen to (when editing) and watch (when not) the Chat Show.

If such a thing existed, I would have teleported from my room to the Tilles Center Atrium for this year’s WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony. Instead, this recap by 2014 inductee Frank D’Elia will have to do. Jeff Kroll, inducted last year, informed me that next year’s ceremony will probably be earlier in the year, eliminating a conflict with Smooth Jazz for Scholars.

Eventually, 5:15 came and it was time for dinner. My girlfriend and I ate at the Olive Garden in nearby Orange. It was the first time I had been to any location other than the one in East Massapequa. Since I ate waffles and muffins at breakfast, I avoided those delicious breadsticks, limiting myself to minestrone, lasagna, and a creme de menthe candy when the check came.

My girlfriend improvised on her alto saxophone again while we waited in the parking lot adjacent to the Parsons Complex Veterans Memorial Auditorium. This time, she even played in front of audience members waiting on the auditorium steps. They loved it.

In the auditorium lobby, I met Jay Rowe‘s mother, Mia DiStasi, as I preordered Jay’s upcoming album, Smooth Ride.

At 8:00, Kevin McCabe welcomed the audience:
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There were plenty of people like me that also attended Friday’s show.

Once again, John Patterson, president and CEO of the Monroe County (Michigan) Convention and Tourism Bureau, promoted the River Raisin Jazz Festival:
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After two songs from West Shore Middle School students Friday night, Saturday night saw two songs by the East Shore Middle School Jazz Band:
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They played “Blues at Frog Bottom” and “Peter Gunn.”

After chairs were removed from the stage, Jay Rowe and his band came out.

Jay played keyboards:
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Steve Scales on percussion:
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Trever Somerville on drums:
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…and Dave Anderson on bass:
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The stars of night 2 were Eric Darius on alto saxophone:
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Chieli Minucci (“key-ELLIE min-OO-chee”) on electric guitar:
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…and acoustic guitar:
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Nelson Rangell on alto sax…:
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…flute…:
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…and piccolo:
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He also whistled a couple of bars:
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Nick Colionne on electric guitar:
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…and with Jay’s band on seven songs, including the finale, just like the night before, Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on electric guitar:
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SET LIST
1. East Coast West Coast (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Red Hot and Smooth (2006)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

2. Goin’ All Out (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Goin’ All Out (2008)
Featured musicians: Eric Darius (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

3. If I Ain’t Got You (Alicia Keys cover) (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Just Getting Started (2006)
Featured musicians: Eric Darius (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)
Eric worked his way through the audience in the middle of the song.

4. Uptown East (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Slice of Life (Special EFX) (1986)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

5. Dance on the Delta (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Upcoming Special EFX album
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar), Nelson Rangell (flute, alto sax)

6. From Here (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: Red (2015)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax, whistling), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

7. Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me) (The Brothers Johnson cover) (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: Nelson Rangell (1990)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (piccolo), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

8. Buckle Up (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: The Journey (2016)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (electric guitar), Nelson Rangell (alto sax)

9. Rainy Night in Georgia (Brook Benton cover) (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: It’s My Turn (1994), Keepin’ It Cool (2006)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (vocals, electric guitar), Eric Darius (alto sax)

10. Night on the Town (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Night on the Town (2004)
Featured musicians: Eric Darius (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

11. Ballerina (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Just Like Magic (Special EFX) (1990)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

12. The Road Ahead (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: Destiny (1995)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

13 (Finale). James Brown tribute
Featured musicians: Everyone, led by Nick Colionne (vocals)
Nick went into the audience twice for his “Whatta ‘Bout You?” routine.

Now for various shots of each musician, starting with Jay Rowe:
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Eric Darius:
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Chieli Minucci on electric guitar:
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Acoustic guitar:
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Nelson Rangell on alto sax:
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Flute:
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Piccolo:
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Whistling:
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Tambourine break on “Buckle Up”:
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I always love when Nelson joins Steve Scales on percussion.

Nick Colionne:
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Singing “Rainy Night in Georgia”:
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Rohn Lawrence:
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Steve Scales:
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Trever Somerville:
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Dave Anderson:
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Next, two shots, starting with Rohn and Eric:
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Nelson and Chieli:
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Rohn and Nelson:
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Nick and Nelson:
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Nick and Eric:
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Steve and Trever’s duet on “Night on the Town”:
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The James Brown tribute finale begins with Nick channeling the Godfather of Soul:
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The rest of the band was in on the seance:
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“Fellas!”:
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The response was inadequate:
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Take 2: “Fellas!”:
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After a “yeah!” response, Nick imitated James’s incoherence in a questioning tone, eliciting more “yeah!” responses.

Then, he laughed: “Ha-ha-ha!”:
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“Can I count it off?”:
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“1, 2, 3, 4!”:
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And away we went.

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The “Whatta ‘Bout You?” routine:
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Back on stage:
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The cape routine:
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Jay can dance:
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Time to bring it home:
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That was it for night 2.

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What a wild night and a fantastic weekend.

My girlfriend drove me to Bridgeport Station at around noon on Sunday and my journey home began. Until next year, Milford.

My 2016 MLB Predictions April 3, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Personal, Sports.
add a comment

Previous MLB season predictions: 2015

(12/21/16 UPDATE: Results italicized in parentheses.)

The 2016 Major League Baseball season begins today. That means it’s time for my annual preseason predictions.

NL (National League) East

  1. Nationals (3) (2)
  2. Mets (Wild Card 1)
  3. Phillies (finished 4th)
  4. Braves (finished 5th)
  5. Marlins (finished 3rd)

NL Central

  1. Cardinals (1) (missed playoffs, finished 2nd)
  2. Cubs (Wild Card 1) (won division, 1 seed)
  3. Pirates
  4. Reds (finished 5th)
  5. Brewers (finished 4th)

NL West

  1. Giants (2) (Wild Card 2, finished 2nd)
  2. Dodgers (Wild Card 2) (won division, 3 seed)
  3. Diamondbacks (finished 4th)
  4. Padres (finished 5th)
  5. Rockies (finished 3rd)

AL (American League) East

  1. Red Sox (2) (3)
  2. Yankees (Wild Card 1) (missed playoffs, finished 4th)
  3. Blue Jays (Wild Card 2) (Wild Card 1, finished 2nd)
  4. Orioles (Wild Card 2, finished 3rd)
  5. Rays

AL Central

  1. Royals (1) (missed playoffs, finished 3rd)
  2. Tigers
  3. Indians (won division, 2 seed)
  4. White Sox
  5. Twins

AL West

  1. Astros (3) (missed playoffs, finished 3rd)
  2. Angels (finished 4th)
  3. Rangers (won division, 1 seed)
  4. Mariners (finished 2nd)
  5. Athletics

Playoff predictions:
NL Wild Card Playoff

Cubs defeat Dodgers (Giants defeat Mets)

AL Wild Card Playoff
Blue Jays defeat Yankees (Blue Jays defeat Orioles)

NL Division Series
Cardinals vs. Cubs: Cardinals win 3-0 (Cubs vs. Giants: Cubs win 3-1)
Giants vs. Nationals: Giants win 3-2 (Nationals vs. Dodgers: Dodgers win 3-2)

AL Division Series
Royals vs. Blue Jays: Royals win 3-0 (Rangers vs. Blue Jays: Blue Jays win 3-0)
Red Sox vs. Astros: Red Sox win 3-1 (Indians vs. Red Sox: Indians win 3-0)

NL Championship Series
Cardinals vs. Giants: Cards win 4-2 (Cubs vs. Dodgers: Cubs win 4-2)

AL Championship Series
Royals vs. Red Sox: Royals win 4-1 (Indians vs. Blue Jays: Indians win 4-1)

World Series (AL home field advantage via All-Star Game win) (home field correct; last time decided by All-Star Game; new Collective Bargaining Agreement says team with better record gets home field)
Cardinals vs. Royals: Cardinals win 4-2 (Indians vs. Cubs: Cubs win 4-3)

As you can see, I predict the two teams I don’t like will square off in the World Series for the first time since 1985. But unlike the last time, the team I’ve disliked longer, the Cardinals (since 2006) will prevail. (A classic World Series played out between the Indians and Cubs, both vying to end long championship droughts. The Indians hadn’t won the World Series since 1948; the Cubs hadn’t since 1908. The longer drought was busted as the Cubs prevailed, in spite of blowing a four-run lead in regulation in Game 7, then almost blowing a two-run lead in the bottom of the 10th inning after going ahead in the top of the inning. There was joy in Wrigleyville as, to quote Joe Buck on FOX, “the Cubs…have finally won it all!”. Hallelujah.)

I’m a pessimistic Mets fan, so it’s only fitting that I have them missing the playoffs. I was generous enough to predict second place, but not a Wild Card spot. (They ended up with the first Wild Card spot, but lost late in the game to the Giants. I didn’t watch, but I was disappointed. The fact the Cubs eliminated the Giants in the NLDS eased the disappointment.)

(I’ve decided to give up public preseason predictions for the MLB and NFL. Thanks for reading what I’ve posted.)

Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall: 2016 edition January 18, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, Weather.
6 comments

Previous Lisa Hilton recaps: June 2011, January 2014, January 2015

The second show I’ve attended in 2016 – the first was the Jeff Lorber Fusion, ten nights earlier – continued an annual tradition: Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Yesterday’s performance marked her third year in Weill and I’ve been in the audience every time.

Like last year, I got a ride to the Wantagh LIRR station at around noon. Once there, I bought a round trip off peak ticket and waited for the 12:18 train to Penn Station. The ride wasn’t as quiet as last year in either direction, but I didn’t mind.

When I got to Penn, I took the 1 train to 59th Street-Columbus Circle. I walked two blocks south and one block east to get to Carnegie Hall, taking pictures along the way:
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It was a 2:00 show:
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My seat was front row center again. I had the row all to myself. You’d think people would buy front row seats if they’re available, but not in this case.

I grabbed a few shots of the stage, and ceiling, before showtime:
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Lisa Hilton and the band were fashionably late, starting at 2:03. Lisa played piano with Ben Williams on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. Except where noted by an asterisk*, J.D. Allen and Ingrid Jensen rounded out the band on tenor saxophone and trumpet, respectively.

1/27 UPDATE: Here’s a shot from further back in the audience during the show:
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I’m to Ingrid’s left (screen right).

All but the last two songs in the set were from Lisa’s new album, Nocturnal, which comes out this Friday. Copies were on sale in the lobby and I bought one before entering the hall. Here is the set list:
1. Nocturnal (also on Horizons, 2015)
2. A Spark in the Night
3. Whirlwind
4. Seduction (also on Seduction, 1997; Cocktails at Eight, 2000; My Favorite Things, 2005; and The New York Sessions, 2007)
5. Willow Weep for Me (written by Ann Ronell)
Midnight Sonata:
6. Part I: Symphony of Blues
7. Part II: Desire (also on In the Mood for Jazz, 2003)
8. Part III: Midnight Stars
9. Twilight
10. An August Remembered (rewritten from “August 1999,” which was composed for Cocktails at Eight in 2000)
11. The Sky and the Ocean (from Horizons, 2015)
12. Stepping Into Paradise (from Getaway, 2013)

“A Spark in the Night” and “Midnight Stars” had a Latin feel to them. “Midnight Stars,” in particular, sounded like a bullfighter song at one point. “Nocturnal,” “Seduction,” and “Twilight” sounded as good as they did last year. “Whirlwind” was a whirlwind. I loved it. I remember August 1999: Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs achieved the 3,000th hits of their eventual Hall of Fame careers, I had two weeks of diagnostic vocational evaluation at Abilities, Inc., in Albertson, and I spent an afternoon at Splish Splash water park in Riverhead. I thought of all that as I listened to “An August Remembered.” Unlike on the Nocturnal album version, which was a solo performance, the band accompanied Lisa.

I caught up with Lisa after the show and we posed for this picture:
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I was caught off guard when I looked out the window and saw snow falling. And it was accumulating. But the end result was merely a coating. As I type, there may be more significant snowfall at the end of the week.

“See you next year,” I said to Lisa after we said our goodbyes. Year 3 at Carnegie Hall was a success. Thanks to Lisa, Ben, Rudy, J.D., and Ingrid.