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Rob Paulsen at Strand Bookstore October 13, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Health, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, TV, Weather.
2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are select close-ups of Rob Paulsen:

…and Michael Fleeman:

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

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

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

Yakko Warner on Animaniacs:

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

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

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

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

Here is that ad:

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

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

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

The stage then turned to Randy Rogel:

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

Rob explained how Randy got into showbiz:

Randy talked about when Rob told him he had cancer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a duet:

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

“No, that’s wrong. By MacDuff.”

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

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

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

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

Michael Fleeman returned for Q&A:

Rob and Mike fielded four questions:

And that was it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hellooo, Mike!
Rob Paulsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My experience at Day 1 of 2019 New York Comic Con October 5, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Blu-ray, Broadway, Comedy, DVD, Internet, Media, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
4 comments

Previous New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 22014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1, 2018 Day 1

Thursday marked my fifth time at New York Comic Con, and third year in a row. It’s become tradition to attend, meet actors, and tour the show floor. NYCC is held annually inside the Javits Center in Midtown West.

I waited by my computer for about two hours back on May 5 to buy my Thursday badge. I didn’t know what guests would attend, but I found out a month later. The ones I was interested in meeting were Paul Reubens, James Arnold Taylor, Laraine Newman, Jennifer Hale, and Tom Kenny. Once again, this was my sole reason for attending because there weren’t any panels worth seeing.

One day removed from record heat, the weather that greeted me when I left my Wantagh home at 8:30 was cool and cloudy. As I stood on the LIRR station platform waiting for the 8:47 train, I briefly wished I brought gloves. Keeping with my train travel routine, I chose to sit in the first car. There were a few people seated ahead of me that were also on their way to New York Comic Con, but I didn’t want to bother them. I just listened to David Benoit and Friends and ate my protein bar with a can of orange seltzer.

The ride to Penn Station took about 45 minutes. When I exited at 8th Avenue and West 33rd Street, I greeted by persistent drizzle. It followed me all the way to the Javits Center. It took a while for the massive throng of attendees to get through security, but my search was quick and scold-less. After I was checked, I walked toward the entrance and then zipped my backpack compartments back up.

Once inside, I made my way to the autographing area:

It turns out there were two autographing areas: 1C and 1E. I was looking for Paul Reubens’ table in 1C, but he was actually in 1E. So, I walked toward there and waited in line at his table. Thank you to the staff members who aided me.

Like most 1980s children, I grew up watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse. I didn’t realize Pee-wee Herman was a character created and portrayed by Paul Reubens until the mid ’90s. That was the first time I saw Paul out of that character, on Murphy Brown.

I rediscovered Pee-wee’s Playhouse on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim in 2006, then rediscovered it again ten years later on Netflix. Watching it there wasn’t enough. I had to buy the series on Blu-ray, especially for the bonus features. I sometimes find myself quoting not just Pee-wee, but other series characters like Globey, Mr. Window (particularly when I see Lynne Marie Stewart [Miss Yvonne] on TV), Jambi, Pterri, Conky, Randy, and occasionally Clocky.

So, it was a thrill to meet Paul, albeit briefly, on Thursday morning. I told him I met Phil LaMarr last year. Phil played Cowboy Curtis in the Broadway run of The Pee-wee Herman Show. I had noticed Paul was making a surprised face while posing with attendees ahead of me, so I tried to do the same:

I look more shocked than surprised, but I still like it.

I returned to 1C to meet four voice actors:

First up was James Arnold Taylor:

I discovered James through Johnny Test, but learned more about his illustrious career through his website, JAT Vlogs on his YouTube channel, and appearance on the podcast Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen. I told him I liked how for his Fred Flintstone voice, he combined Alan Reed’s original portrayal with Henry Corden’s subsequent version. I also expressed my love as the voice of Fox’s Sunday primetime promos, to which he said he recorded the latest set of promos in his hotel room the night before. There was one thing I neglected to discuss. I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game, but I am aware of an infamous cutscene he voiced as Tidus in Final Fantasy X. In the cutscene, Tidus let out a loud, wooden, staccato laugh: “haaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha!” James explained that scene in a March 2016 JAT Vlog:

I chose a character collage at his table to sign, and he wrote:

Mike – You’re awesome!!
James Arnold Taylor

5:05 PM UPDATE: James recorded another promo from his hotel room yesterday, as he shared on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

More promos in my makeshift padded room in my hotel while at @newyorkcomiccon

A post shared by James Arnold Taylor (@jatactor) on

After James, I moved one table to the right (his left) and spoke to Laraine Newman:

You may know Laraine from her days on Saturday Night Live, and I’ve seen a handful of sketches from that time, but I’m more familiar with her voice over work. She was Queen Jipjorulac, Mark Chang’s mother on The Fairly OddParents. Mark Chang was voiced by Rob Paulsen as an energetic surfer dude with awkward syntax (pronouncing assistance “ah-sis-TAHN-say,” for example). When Rob interviewed Laraine for Talkin’ Toons, she mentioned Histeria!, the Warner Bros. edutainment animated series they co-starred in. I was not aware of the series when it originally aired, but my curiosity was piqued after that interview. Unfortunately, unlike the other ’90s WB series, Histeria! was not yet on DVD. When it was finally released years later, I bought it, watching for the first time over the 2017 Christmas vacation. I loved it! So, it was that DVD that I brought to NYCC for Laraine to sign. She was thrilled. I told her how much I loved the show and loved her characters: Miss Information, a bubbly Southern tour guide with a penchant for getting things wrong, and Charity Bazaar, a sad girl who frequently lamented, “I’m not happy.” I said I sometimes find myself saying that in certain situations.

Laraine signed the following on my DVD:

To Mike (Heart)
Laraine Newman

Laraine and the aforementioned Paul Reubens, Lynne Stewart, and Phil LaMarr are all alumni of The Groundlings improv and sketch comedy troupe. It’s where Paul created Pee-wee Herman.

Jennifer Hale was next:

Jennifer has a wealth of video game credits, but I know her mostly for her work as Ms. Keane on The Powerpuff Girls, various characters on Johnny Bravo, and T.U.F.F. Puppy. Someday, I will play some of the games she appeared in.

As with James, I chose a collage for her to sign:

To Mike!
Jennifer Hale

And finally, Tom Kenny:

Of course, Tom is the titular character on SpongeBob SquarePants. I love that show, but also love Futurama, where Tom’s credits include the all-purpose commissioner Abner Doubledeal and Leela’s bland eye doctor boyfriend Adlai Atkins, and the aforementioned Johnny Bravo, where he played Johnny’s (Jeff Bennett) nerdy friend Carl Chryniszzswics (“cruh-SIN-uh-wits”). He was glad to hear Carl get some love at the convention, as one attendee ahead of me had a drawing of Carl. We talked about his co-star, the late Larry Drake, who voiced Pops. I even imitated Pops (“Hey, Johnny!”). Tom told me about Larry’s horror film background, which I wasn’t aware of but glad to learn. Prior to Johnny Bravo, I only knew him from L.A. Law.

I thanked Tom for taking the time to meet with everyone in line, as the line extended down to one of the panel “chutes,” requiring security to let people know which side was the panel chute and which was the line for Tom (or “SpongeBob,” as the guard said). I brought my copy of the eighth season of SpongeBob SquarePants for him to sign:

10-3-19
Mike Ahoy!
Best fishes from “SpongeBob”
Tom Kenny

Thank you to Paul, James, Laraine, Jennifer, and Tom. It was a pleasure to meet all of you. Thanks, as well, to Anissa and her eldest son James, who I met in Tom’s line. It was nice to meet you, too, and I hope we can stay in touch.

After nearly four hours in autograph land, I was ready to head for home, but not before touring parts of the show floor:

Within 20 minutes of walking the show floor, I exited the Javits Center:

25 minutes after that, I was back in Penn Station where I boarded the 3:03 Babylon-bound train, which was packed with commuters. The crowd thinned a little at Jamaica, then further at Rockville Centre, but a handful of passengers exited with me at Wantagh one hour later. I was once again in the first car, which meant that I was on the east end and exited above Beech Street. (The first car westbound is just west of Wantagh Avenue.) After walking 20 minutes in the mist, I was home.

Once inside, I unpacked and photographed my autographed merchandise and my badge (with the codes blurred out):

I hope to be back at New York Comic Con next year. In the meantime, thank you for viewing this post.

2019 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo recap August 14, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous LIRGE recaps: 2017 (Sunday), 2018

This is a long and comprehensive post, so buckle up.

Last weekend, I attended the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo for the third year in a row and my second year for both days.

John Hancock and The 8-Bit Guy weren’t at LIRGE this year, but making return appearances were Bob Neal from RetroRGB, Jeremy Parish of Retronauts and Video Works, Kurt Kalata and Rob Russo of Hardcore Gaming 101, and video game historian and author Leonard Herman.

Among those appearing for the first time were Frank Cifaldi of the Video Game History Foundation, Pat Contri (a.k.a. Pat the NES Punk) and Ian Ferguson of the Completely Unnecessary Podcast and The Video Game Years, and the My Life in Gaming duo of Coury Carlson and Marc “Try4ce” Duddleson (as in the Triforce from The Legend of Zelda).

The Long Island Retro Gaming Expo is held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum along Museum Row in East Garden City, as indicated by these signs I took on the way there Saturday morning:

Based on the “date taken” info of the above pic, I arrived at the museum at 10:09. Before getting in line to get inside, I photographed a historic marker:

The weather outdoors was much better this year: sunny, warm, and comfortable. You could leave the rain gear at home or in your hotel room.

While on line, I passed a trailer with arcade machines inside:

This was the only time I noticed it. I was focused on what was in the museum.

I set foot inside Cradle of Aviation half an hour after arriving:

The rest of this post is divided into four parts:

  1. Panels
  2. Meeting and Greeting
  3. Pictorial Tour
  4. Pickups

Part One: Panels

After walking around the first floor for nearly 15 minutes, I made my way into the theater planetarium for the first panel:

It was Jeremy Parish (center) along with Kurt Kalata (right) and Rob Russo (left):

Titled “Love for the Unloved,” the trio discussed several underappreciated consoles, accompanied by Powerpoint slides.

Before we see the slides, here are close-ups of Jeremy:

Kurt:

…and Rob:

A few wide shots:

The slides of underappreicated consoles:

The slide for the Bandai WonderSwan went up, but they didn’t have time to discuss it:

9/26 UPDATE: The expo’s YouTube channel has posted video of the panel:

Next to speak was…

Frank introduced himself…

…and his work with Digital Eclipse…

…before moving on to the main topic:

Frank is pictured with Kelsey Lewin, who was at Game On Expo in Phoenix, Arizona, that weekend hosting a similar panel:

The last 35 minutes of the panel were Q&A:

10/10 UPDATE: Video of the panel was posted today:

I spent the next two hours touring the exhibits, buying games from vendors, meeting and greeting Frank Cifaldi, Coury and Try, Pat and Ian, and Leonard Herman. You’ll see photographic evidence in parts two and three. I made time in between to eat a few snacks from the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s Red Planet Café.

Pat and Ian had a panel after Frank’s, which you can hear in part in the latest Completely Unnecessary Podcast, starting 17 minutes in.

Then, it was on to Leonard’s panel, which was in Panel Room 2:

Leonard talked about the late Ralph Baer and Ted Dabney, and the friendships he developed with them.

After arriving on Sunday, I tried out Ralph Baer’s Brown Box with a man named Jeff:

I played poorly, but had a good time.

There were two panels that I attended on Sunday. First, the My Life in Gaming RGB Master Class:

As noted earlier, My Life in Gaming is run by Coury Carlson:

…and Marc Duddleson, better known as Try:

Coury and Try periodically ran excerpts from upcoming episodes profiling figures in the fields of video game modding, repair, and history:

Bob from RetroRGB, who was seated next to me, was included, but I kept his screenshot out of this post since he told me he didn’t like how he looked.

I found those excerpts enlightening. It put faces and voices to names I’d heard of in previous episodes. I was already familiar with Bob, Kevin, Frank, Ste, and Dan.

The excerpts can be seen in this unlisted link.

Time for Q&A:

I asked what it was like shooting the M2 documentary, seen here:

(NOTE: Unless you’re fluent in Japanese, I suggest selecting “English – Japanese Translation” in the CC [closed captioning] settings.)

More Q&A shots:

Coury made the panel available for listening here. (My attempts to embed it failed.)

After exiting the theater, Bob talked shop with fans:

The second panel I went to on Sunday, my last of the weekend, was Jeremy Parish, Frank Cifaldi, and Coury Carlson:

It was like the finale of a revue where all the acts return to play together.

After introducing themselves for those that hadn’t seen their other panels, Jeremy, Frank, and Coury talked about what avenues are available for playing old video games.

Close-ups of Jeremy:

Frank:

…and Coury:

Wide shots:

Part Two: Meeting and Greeting

I caught up with Frank Cifaldi after his Saturday panel. I told him I was in a similar situation preserving photos, videos, and documents digitally. Then, Try took our picture:

After that, Frank took a picture of me with Coury and Try:

I caught up with Leonard Herman his table before his panel:

I was finally introduced to Pat Contri:

…and his colleague Ian Ferguson:

I spent a lot of time at the table shared by Coury, Try, Pat, and Ian, along with Ian’s wife Vani. I watched as fans came by to meet them and had in-depth conversations with them. The topics ranged from games to travel to video production to my running. Coury was surprised that I had run 8.8 miles early Sunday morning.

I briefly spoke to Bob Neal from RetroRGB once I got back to the table after the RGB Master Class and Try took our picture:

Following my last panel, I briefly spoke to Jeremy Parish, complimenting him on his recently-wrapped Virtual Boy Works series. After 21 proper episodes on the 22 releases (13 in North American and Japan, 9 exclusive to Japan), he posted this retrospective:

Ryan, a staff member I grew accustomed to in the theater planetarium, took a picture of me and Jeremy before I left for the weekend:

Part Three: Pictorial Tour

This is a pictorial tour through all three floors of the expo, starting on the first floor:

This game is actually part of the museum, unaffiliated with the expo:

The second floor:

Among the musical performers were the band Consoul, who played music from several video games:

At the time, they were playing the main theme from Super Mario 64. For reference, here is the original music:

…and the third floor:

Meanwhile, the Long Island Tabletop Gaming Expo was occurring on the other side of the museum:

Next year, the Tabletop Gaming Expo will be held separately on April 18.

Time to go:

A parting shot:

Part Four: Pickups

Saturday’s pickups:

Sunday’s pickups:

Yes, even these count as pickups:

Summing up in writing, the pickups were:

Nintendo Entertainment System:

  • The Adventures of Bayou Billy
  • American Gladitators
  • Blades of Steel
  • The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout
  • Golf
  • Gyromite
  • Gradius (“GRAHDius”)
  • The Legend of Kage (“KAH-ghay”)
  • Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf
  • Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
  • R.C. Pro-Am
  • Super C
  • Track & Field
  • Track & Field II

I played Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! at friends’ houses, but never had that version. I only had plain Punch-Out!! with Mr. Dream replacing Tyson after the licensing agreement wasn’t renewed. Now, I have the original. I don’t have R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), but that won’t stop from using two controllers to play Gyromite. I already do it with sports games.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System:

  • Gradius III
  • Paperboy 2
  • Pilotwings
  • Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
  • Saturday Night Slammasters
  • Wario’s Woods
  • Zoop

I had Pilotwings 64 for the Nintendo 64, but never the original for Super NES. My sister took Wario’s Woods to her new apartment a couple of months ago, so I bought a new copy to replace it. Paperboy 2 is worth getting for the music alone, as seen in Jeremy Parish’s review last June:

Sega Genesis:

  • Columns
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
  • Paperboy
  • Road Rash
  • Shaq-Fu
  • Super Monaco GP
  • WWF Super WrestleMania

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker was my most expensive pickup; more than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist last year. I remember Super Monaco GP in the arcade room at Baldwin Lanes. According to Joe Redifer of Game Sack, the Genesis port is better than the original. (Since I cued the video to the relevant portion, I can’t embed it.) I bought a loose cart on eBay in 2016, but I now prefer to have Genesis games in their original boxes. So, I bought one in its box on Sunday. The same goes for Columns. I bought Super WrestleMania to complement the Super NES port I’ve had since childhood. Coincidentally, today marks 30 years since the Genesis was released in North America. Last October 29 was the 30th anniversary of the initial Japanese release as the Mega Drive. And last Tuesday marked 25 years since I purchased a Genesis of my own. It was the Sega Sports bundle with a seat cushion and NFL Football ’94 Starring Joe Montana.

Microsoft Xbox:

  • Tetris Worlds

I played the Game Boy Advance version a lot in the mid 2000s. I never knew it was ported to other consoles. I like to collect Tetris games for as many consoles as I can. I even bought the unlicensed Tengen arcade port for NES that predated Nintendo’s official version. It reminded me of playing the arcade machine at Kutscher’s Resort and Country Club in March 1995.

Non-games:

  • The Legend of Zelda official keychain
  • My Life in Gaming pin
  • My Life in Gaming sticker
  • Night Trap: 25 Years Later (Blu-ray) (signed by Coury and Try)
  • Pat the NES Punk, Volumes 1 to 4 (DVDs) (all signed by Pat)
  • Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library: 1985-1995 (signed by Pat, Ian, and Frank)
  • The Video Game History Foundation sticker
  • Phoenix IV bookmark

Pat’s merchandise is available here. As with Phoenix IV last year, I will review Ultimate Nintendo when I finish reading it. And I’m enjoying Pat’s DVDs. (8/31/19 UPDATE: I enjoyed them. I watched later videos on Pat’s YouTube channel, as well as all ten episodes of The Video Game Years on Amazon Prime Video.)

This was another successful and enjoyable year at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. Thank you to everyone I met, met again, and bought from. Until next year.

David Benoit at My Father’s Place June 17, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, TV, Weather.
2 comments

Friday night marked my second time in My Father’s Place at The Roslyn Hotel. The first time in March was to see The Rippingtons. This time, I saw one of the musicians from their first album: David Benoit. I saw David as part of Dave Koz’s 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour in December 2017 and at Smooth Jazz for Scholars in April 2018, but hadn’t seen him solo since October 2012, five days before Hurricane Sandy, at The Iridium. Furthermore, it was the first time I’d seen David on Long Island since his Christmas show at IMAC in December 2008, my last time there before it closed the following June.

I arrived at My Father’s Place at 6:30, entering from The Roslyn Hotel lobby and taking the elevator down to the lower level where it and 1221 at MFP are situated. The hostess recommended a table in the center. Considering the way the piano, bass, and drums were arranged, I opted for that table. I ate a cheeseburger and french fries, then waited for 8:00 to come.

Once again, there was an opening comedy act: Sherry Davey:

I was familiar with Sherry’s work, having seen her on an episode of NickMom Night Out, a signature show when Nick Jr. aired a late night programming block for adults. Sherry lives in nearby Port Washington and she incorporated many local references into her set. She also talked about getting remarried, online dating, millennials, her daughters, her nephew, her parents, and living with heart disease. I noticed in her website bio that one of her daughters is autistic. I’m on the spectrum myself, diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome 20 years ago. That could be why I’m so passionate about the music of David Benoit and other artists that I’m into.

After 20 minutes, Sherry’s set was over and it was time for the David Benoit Trio.

David led the trio on piano…:

…with Roberto Vally on bass:

…and Merrick native Dan Schnelle on drums:

Including the encore, the set ran 73 minutes. Here’s what they played:
1. Every Step of the Way
Originally heard on: Every Step of the Way (1988), The Steinway Sessions (2017)

2. Só Danço Samba
Originally heard on: So Nice! (with Marc Antoine) (2017)

3. Sienna Step
Originally heard on: David Benoit and Friends (coming later in 2019)

4. Vernazza
Originally heard on: David Benoit and Friends (coming later in 2019)

5. Kei’s Song
Originally heard on: Freedom at Midnight (1987), Conversation (2012) (as “Kei’s Song Redux”), The Steinway Sessions (2017)

6. Waiting for Spring
Originally heard on: Waiting for Spring (1989)

7. Dad’s Room
Originally heard on: Professional Dreamer (1999), The Steinway Sessions (2017)

8. If I Were a Bell
Originally heard on: Heroes (2008) (bonus track on Japan release; not worth importing unless you don’t have the U.S. release)

9. Cast Your Fate to the Wind
Originally heard on: Waiting for Spring (1989)

10. Beat Street
Originally heard on: Full Circle (2006)

11. Strange Meadowlark/Blue Rondo a La Turk (Dave Brubeck medley)
Originally heard on: Digits (1983), The Steinway Sessions (2017); Heroes (2008)

12. Freedom at Midnight
Originally heard on: Freedom at Midnight (1987), Earthglow (2010) (subtitled “The Schroeder Variations”)

13 (Encore). Linus and Lucy
Originally heard on: This Side Up (1985), Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown! (1989), Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years! (2000), The Steinway Sessions (2017)

I can’t wait to hear how “Siena Strut” and “Vernazza” sound on the new album when it comes out, likely by September. I will definitely play something from it on my Homecoming Weekend show in October. In the meantime, I’m falling in love with The Steinway Sessions.

Now, for groups of pictures of each band member, starting with David Benoit:

Roberto Vally:

…and Dan Schnelle:

The end of the encore:

I hung out in the lobby for about 15 minutes, mingling with David, Roberto, and Dan. Dan introduced David to his mother and grandparents. That was when I learned he was originally from Merrick. I perked up, telling them I grew up and live nearby in Wantagh.

Roberto asked me to send him the pictures I took of him, which I did on Saturday, including this one:

Two guys from the South Shore:

Lastly, me and David:

On the subject of his song “Dad’s Room,” I told him how much I enjoyed “Secret Love” on Waiting for Spring, which was a duet with his father Bob on rhythm electric guitar. He appreciated that, picking up on the story he told during the set of how that album was recorded in one day for budgetary reasons.

I had a great watching David, Roberto, and Dan perform. Thanks to all of you. Thanks also to Sherry Davey for relatable jokes and hilarious impressions.

Witnessing the final round of the 2019 PGA Championship May 21, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Golf, Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
3 comments

For the fourth year in a row, I attended at least one PGA Tour event; and for the third time in the last four years, I attended a round of a major golf tournament. Three years ago, it was the second round of the PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Last year, the third round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. Sunday, I attended the final round of the PGA Championship (final leaderboard) at Bethpage State Park’s Black Golf Course, Bethpage Black for short. The Black previously hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open.

The 101st PGA Championship was the first to be played in May, after decades in which it was held in August and served as the last major of the season. Now, it’s the second. That means CBS holds the broadcast rights to the first two majors of the year, with Fox carrying the U.S. Open and NBC televising the Open Championship.

Bethpage State Park and its courses are only 15 minutes away from my Wantagh home, but going there for the PGA Championship by car required driving south to Jones Beach State Park parking field 3 or 4 for general parking:

My dad and I were directed to field 4:

From there, a shuttle bus took us east on Ocean Parkway, north on Wantagh Parkway to Exit W6, east on Merrick Road, north on the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway (NY 135), east on Merritts Road (after exiting at a special ramp), and finally to the terminal outside Bethpage Black. We arrived at 12:30, two hours and five minutes before Brooks Koepka (“KEP-ka”), the 54-hole leader by seven shots, was to tee off:

The sun broke through the clouds for the first few hours, but the clouds eventually won out.

The USGA calls their shop the Merchandise Pavilion; the PGA calls it The PGA Shops:

Having already purchased a cap and short-sleeve shirt, the latter of which I wore on the second night of Smooth Jazz for Scholars, and not wanted to lug a bag of merchandise all day, I waited until we left in the evening to get anything.

The defending champion, and, I hoped, the repeat champion:

The range:

Among those practicing were Lucas Bjerregaard, Erik Van Rooyen, and Rickie Fowler.

The obligatory photo op:

The practice green and media center:

The bridge to the range:

The bridge from the 18th green:

Another practice green:

Phil Mickelson walking up the bridge after his final round:

He shot 76 for the second consecutive round, finishing at +12.

The 1:05 group: Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open Champion…:

…and Lucas Bjerregaard:

The Lucases both shot 73 and finished at +3.

The electronic leaderboard/TV monitor:

The 1st fairway:

The 1st green:

I stood by the 2nd tee to watch three groups come by:

First, another group where the pair share a first name: Danny Lee:

…and Danny Willett, 2016 Masters Champion:

The Dannys both shot 77, with Lee finishing at +6 and Willett +7.

The Goodyear Blimp provided aerial coverage early on:

But cloud cover forced it to ground.

The second group I saw at 2 was Rickie Fowler:

…and Sung Kang, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament the week before:

Fowler shot 77 to finish at +6, while Kang fared a little better: 72 to finish even-par.

The third was Jordan Spieth, who won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 and Open Championship in 2017:

…and Erik Van Rooyen:

Van Rooyen’s tee shot was way left:

Here’s where it ended up:

The 2nd fairway:

The 2nd green:

Spieth was one stroke better than yesterday, 71, ending up at -2. Van Rooyen shot 73 and finished at +1.

The 3rd tee:

The 3rd green and 4th tee:

The 4th fairway:

After that, I started to get hot – that’ll teach me to wear a jacket – and didn’t feel like walking the entire course. So, I headed for the 18th green. Along the way, I saw the 13th green:

14th tee:

14th green:

Back across Round Swamp Road, the 16th green grandstand:

15th tee:

16th green:

Somewhere in the distance is the 17th tee:

The 17th green and its grandstands:

The 18th tee:

18th fairway, which didn’t see many balls this round:

The 18th green and grandstands:

The TNT/CBS broadcast tower, overlooking the 18th fairway and green:

Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo called the action from 2:00 to 7:00. Spoiler alert: the championship ended on time, meaning 60 Minutes started on time.

The 18th fairway, seen from the greenside bunker:

Matt Kuchar after shooting 69:

He was one of a handful players under par for the round. He finished +1 for the championship.

After stopping at the adjacent concession stand for lunch/dinner, Dad and I returned to our spot by the greenside bunker:

We stayed there to the end. The stiff breezes cooled me off to the point where I put my jacket back on.

Between groups, the leaderboard would switch to the CBS feed (no audio). We watched as Brooks Koepka’s seven-shot lead almost evaporated, mainly due to four straight bogeys from 11 to 14, and Dustin Johnson, two groups ahead, drew closer, with five birdies and only one bogey through 15 holes. Even though I’ve rooted against players myself, I was startled that the fans around me, behind me by the ropes and up in the stands, were cheering Koepka’s demise. I like D.J., I even saw him triumph over Jordan Spieth in The Northern Trust two years ago, but I wanted Koepka to finish what he started. I’ve seen collapses in other sports, and the 2012 Ryder Cup, and I don’t like them. When Dustin Johnson faltered himself with bogeys at 16 and 17, I shook my head in affirmation and pumped my fist, not that anyone noticed. “Take that, fans,” I thought. But the fans cheered again when D.J. saved par at 18, chanting “D.J.! D.J.!” They cheered more as Brooks Koepka missed a short par putt at 17.

We’ll get to Koepka’s 18th hole in a bit. But first, here are some of the players that came before him, starting with Rory McIlroy, the 2012 and 2014 PGA Champion, as well as the 2011 U.S. Open Champion and 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year (winner of the Open Championship):

Like Matt Kuchar, McIlroy shot under par 69 and finished at +1.

When I went back to the concession stand for a chocolate chip cookie, I noticed there was another course map, smaller than the one by the entrance:

Back at the green, the Lucases, Glover and Bjerregaard:

One hole earlier, at 17, Bjerregaard made a hole in one while Glover chipped in for birdie from the bunker! I heard the roar, but didn’t know what it was until I saw on the leaderboard/monitor. It turns out my friend, guitarist and vocalist Matt Marshak, was there and saw both shots! How exciting!

Back at 18, Danny Lee in the bunker:

Rickie Fowler:

Jordan Spieth:

Dustin Johnson:

“D.J.! D.J.!”:

He finished with a 69, -6 for the championship. Spoiler again, Koepka survived 18 to win by two.

Luke List:

List had a rough day after three rounds under par. He shot 74 to finish at -1.

And that brings us to Brooks Koepka. His tee shot landed in the fescue left of the fairway:

His second shot landed back in the fairway.

After checking the distance…:

…he laid up and landed on the green, 12 feet from the hole:

The fans changed their allegiance to Koepka as he walked up to his ball:

After playing partner Harold Varner III putted out, an unfortunate 81 for him and +6 finish, Koepka putt from 12 feet:

…and made it:

As Jim Nantz said on TV, “It’s a Koepka coronation!” “Coronation” was the word I had hoped for after Saturday. Despite shooting a 74, his only round over par, he was crowned repeat PGA Champion.

Here’s how it looked on CBS: