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My experience at Day 1 of 2017 New York Comic Con October 6, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 2, 2014 Day 1

Yesterday, I was at the first day of the 2017 New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in the Midtown West section of Manhattan. It was my third trip to NYCC.

I almost didn’t go this year. When I planned on buying a badge (ticket) in June, I learned that fan verification was required. Unfortunately, fan verification was closed. Luckily, last month, I learned on the website that verification was open again. So, I immediately got verified and bought a badge for Day 1.

I woke up at 6:20 yesterday morning. I looked out my window and saw a picturesque sky. I took a couple of shots of it, without and with flash:

After that, I put my camera in my backpack, where it stayed for a few hours.

In between, my mother drove me to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station at 8:40. Nine minutes later, I was on a train bound for Penn Station.

50 minutes later, I exited Penn and walked to the Javits Center. Those that had a badge, including me, were directed to the green entrance via West 39th Street, five blocks north of where I’d been walking.

I made my way down to Level 1 to meet five voice actors and get professional photo ops with four of them.

First up was Tara Strong:

As you can see, I wore my Northern Trust golf tournament shirt. I got it back on August 27, after walking Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury to see the final round.

After Tara, it was on to Rob Paulsen:

Rob is a throat cancer survivor (knock on wood), having battled it last year.

Tress MacNeille:

Jim Cummings:

And finally, Jess Harnell:

When I noticed Jess had his sunglasses on, I put my glasses on:

In all, I spent about four hours in five lines. It was a thrill to meet and chat with them all. I won’t get into the details of our brief conversations, but they were all very nice. Jess even gave me a hug.

I also enjoyed chatting with fellow fans – like Kelly, Sierra, Dave, and a few others whose names I didn’t get – while waiting in line. There was even a woman ahead of me on the Jess Harnell line who was not only dressed as one of his characters – Cedric from Sofia the First – but her name is Jess Warner! Her first name was the same as his, and her last name was the same as his Animaniacs character Wakko Warner. More on that below.

Afterward, I headed to the Epic Photo Ops area for a pair of professional photo ops. Since I had just met the actors at their autograph tables, there was a familiarity in the booth. It was like visiting old friends.

Jim Cummings suggested we “look intrepid”:

I love the outcome.

The second photo op was with Rob, Tress, and Jess, the stars of Animaniacs:

They were the Warner siblings: Yakko, voiced by Rob, Wakko, by Jess (as I noticed before), and Dot, by Tress.

All that remained was to walk the show floor on Level 3. But first, a few shots taken in the lobby on Level 2 after entering around 10:15:

The show floor:

I mostly focused on the video game developers section, as you’ll see below.

The next six pictures were taken in the morning:

I took this in the afternoon:

It was a fun day, but I was ready to head home. I left satisfied.

I walked south on 11th Avenue until I reached West 34th Street, where I alternated between walking and running, hoping to make the 4:12 train back to Wantagh. I did, with time to spare.

Thank you to Tara Strong, Jim Cummings, Rob Paulsen, Tress MacNeille, and Jess Harnell. As I said, it was a pleasure to meet and chat with you all.

I’ll conclude this post with a picture of my program and badge:

10:25 PM UPDATE: While searching in vain on YouTube for video of the I Know That Voice: The Series panel that took place at 5:30, shortly after I got home, I found this interview of Jim Cummings:

10/7 UPDATE: The only video I could find of the aforementioned panel was this:

The video stops before the Q&A portion.

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My day at the final round of The Northern Trust August 29, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Golf, Media, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
1 comment so far

Previous event recaps: 2012 (The Barclays), 2016 (The Barclays)

For the second year in a row, a Long Island golf course hosted the PGA Tour event now known as The Northern Trust, the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs. Last year, which was the last year as The Barclays, the event was held at Bethpage Black Golf Course. This year, The Northern Trust was about 12 miles west at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury. Glen Oaks is adjacent to SUNY Old Westbury and not too far from NYIT (New York Institute of Technology) or LIU Post, my alma mater. In fact, as you’ll see near the end of this post, I wore my WCWP shirt that you’ve seen in previous posts. As for the other two colleges, I went to day camp at them for a few childhood summers. In 1989 and ’91, main camp activities were at NYIT while swimming was at SUNY Old Westbury. In 1990, activities were exclusive to Old Westbury.

My father Bill and I attended the final round of The Northern Trust, which began 50 years ago as the Westchester Classic, on Sunday. Jordan Spieth (-12) and Dustin Johnson (-9) were the last group of the day. Would Spieth hold on? Could D.J. catch him? Or would it be someone else?

Dad and I left for general parking at Nassau Coliseum at around 11:30. Once we arrived, we boarded a shuttle bus. On board, a welcome video looped on TV screens. The shuttle arrived at Glen Oaks Club just before 12:30. Weather conditions were excellent: partly sunny skies with warm, dry air and a cool breeze.

I would have loved to bring my Nikon D5500, but only smartphones on silent were allowed for photography. Thus, the pictures in this recap were taken on my iPhone 6 and edited afterward in Adobe Photoshop Elements 15. Since the phone lacks an optical zoom, I preserved the original resolution rather than shrink the pictures, as I usually do on this site. In most cases, you’ll have to zoom in to see the far-away players.

With that out of the way, let’s begin:

From here, pictures aren’t entirely in chronological order. Until we get to the 18th green, pictures are in order of the hole where they were taken.

The practice green:

The 1st hole:

LaGuardia Airport is close to the course, so there were plenty of low-flying planes in their final approach:

The 2nd hole:

Henrik Stenson and Martin Laird:

Bubba Watson and Jhonattan Vegas:

Paul Casey and defending champion Patrick Reed:

Dottie Pepper and Peter Kostis of CBS Sports walking ahead of…

Jordan Spieth…

…and Dustin Johnson:

Robert Streb and Scott Brown on the 4th hole:

Stenson and Laird at the 5th hole:

The 6th green:

The 7th hole:

The 8th hole:

Jason Day and C.T. Pan:

Matt Kuchar and Jon Rahm:

The 9th hole:

The 10th hole:

David Lingmerth and Louis Oosthuizen:

Bubba Watson and Jhonattan Vegas:

The 11th hole:

Jason Kokrak and Morgan Hoffmann:

A jib passing the 12th hole:

Dad and I followed Robert Streb and Scott Brown from here to the 17th:

There was a horse stable next to the 13th hole:

It’s rare that I hear horses neighing and sputtering in real time.

The 13th hole:

The 14th hole:

The 15th hole:

The 16th hole:

The 17th hole:

The 18th hole:

David Lingmerth and Louis Oosthuizen:

I spent the last two hours of the tournament at this spot by the 18th green:

I had to endure a few men behind me, who I assume were in their 20s, not necessarily following etiquette (that’s all I’ll say), but it was worth it.

The TV tower where Jim Nantz and Sir Nick Faldo called the action:

The Northern Trust is the last tournament of the year for CBS. The remainder of the FedExCup playoffs are on NBC.

After Lingmerth and Louis Ooie (as voice actor Jeff Bennett calls him) finished their round, the next pair to play 18 was Robert Streb and Scott Brown:

Followed by Bubba Watson and Jhonattan Vegas:

Vegas shot a 65 to finish at -9.

Then, Patrick Cantlay and Russell Henley:

Justin Thomas, who won the PGA Championship two weeks earlier, and Chez Reavie:

Justin Rose and Jason Dufner:

Keegan Bradley and Kevin Chappell:

Matt Kuchar and Jon Rahm:

Rahm finished tied for third with Jhonny Vegas at -9.

Paul Casey and Patrick Reed:

And finally, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson:

Jordan and Dustin came to 18 tied at -13. Johnson’s tee shot landed in the rough and his second shot was short of the green. He would end up with a long par putt. Spieth, meanwhile, had a long birdie putt.

Spieth missed his birdie putt:

That meant D.J. could force a playoff if he parred…

…and he did!

The camera didn’t focus properly, but you get the idea.

Here’s how the putt looked on TV.

Spieth made his par putt to ensure the playoff:

The playoff:

Johnson hit a massive tee shot that landed within 95 yards of the hole. Here’s how it looked on TV. (6:42 PM UPDATE: The shot was shown in last night’s episode of Feherty when guest Darius Rucker listed D.J. as one of his three favorite golfers of all time. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods were the other two.)

D.J.’s approach shot landed near the hole:

The shot looked like this on CBS.

Spieth missed a long birdie putt to extend the playoff:

But Johnson made his birdie putt and won The Northern Trust:

The winning putt can be seen at the end of these extended highlights.

Dottie Pepper interviewed Dustin afterward:

Here’s the interview.

Our last two times at The Barclays, Dad and I stuck around to watch the off-air trophy presentation. This year, after a playoff, we were eager to head home, which, after buying a hat and shirt in the shop, we did.

Three FedExCup playoff tournaments remain. Can Dustin, Jordan, or anyone else in the top 100 win it all? We’ll know by the evening of September 24. (9/24 UPDATE: Someone else: Justin Thomas.)

On the way to the shuttle bus, Dad took this picture of me:

We got home at exactly 8:00. It was an exciting eight hours. What a finish! Our next golf trip will be next June for the third round of the U.S. Open, held at Shinnecock Hills.

I’ll leave you with a few news stories on the final round (subscription required for Newsday/News 12 links):
AP (via PGATour.com)
Newsday
Newsday column by Mark Herrmann, who also wrote the story in the above link
News 12 Long Island

I can be seen in the background in one clip from News 12’s video. Here’s a high-resolution screenshot from my TV:

And here’s a closer look:

3:29 PM UPDATE: I just learned I was actually in the background during CBS’s telecast, not in News 12 B-roll. Here is a vidcap:

8/31 UPDATE: Inside the Ropes segments of this week’s Inside the PGA Tour:
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Final Round

SJFS 2017 Night 2 recap May 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Horse Racing, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Phone, Photography, Sports, Thoroughbred, TV.
13 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, 2016 Night 2, 2017 Night 1

Keyboardist Jay Rowe‘s 15th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit continued Saturday night with the second of two concerts. The headliners were Chieli Minucci (“key-L-e min-OO-chee”), Steve Oliver, Nelson Rangell (soft g), and Steve Cole.

I was only able to get 3 1/2 hours of sleep, although I may have gotten an hour or two more when I thought I was half asleep.

At 6:45 AM, I stretched and went down to the Hampton Inn fitness center to exercise. Running on the treadmill was tough. My body was used to the treadmill at home and I could only manage a broken 2.4 miles (meaning I took a lot of breaks) before giving up and moving on to weightlifting. (I had a better handle on the treadmill yesterday morning, running 5 miles with less breaks.)

Later in the morning, I went to the lobby to drink hot chocolate and mingle with musicians and fellow jazz fans. First, I ran into Mark Abrams and his wife Phyllis. Then, I had a long, engaging, intriguing conversation with Nelson Rangell. My mother Lisa was in on the conversation for a little while. As a went to pour my second cup of hot chocolate, I met Steve Oliver, who was pouring a cup of coffee. I told him I’d been a fan of his music since I first heard it on The Weather Channel in 2002. He was pleased to hear that.

While my parents spent the afternoon at Mohegan Sun, I edited pictures from Friday night, chose the ones to include in the recap, uploaded them to the website, and placed them in the rough draft. When I was finally finished, I killed some time walking from Hampton Inn to a couple of stores on Boston Post Road (U.S. 1). I didn’t buy anything, but at least I passed time before dinner.

When my parents returned, we drove up Boston Post Road to the Olive Garden in Orange. I ate minestrone and cheese ravioli with meat sauce. Delicious.

It was 7:15 when we arrived at Veterans Memorial Auditorium back in Milford. I watched a replay of the Kentucky Derby on my iPhone since I forgot about the race. Always Dreaming won by 2 3/4 lengths.

At 8:00, the dream of Saturday night’s concert became a reality. Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz got things started with a welcome and thank yous:

After Kevin introduced Jay Rowe’s house band, he introduced Jay himself. His band was made up of Rohn Lawrence on electric guitar, Dave Anderson on bass, Trever Somerville on drums, and Steve Scales – who graduated from the University of Bridgeport earlier in the day – on percussion.

We’ll get to pictures of the band and headliners after you see the…

SET LIST
1.
Smooth Ride (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2016)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

2. Daybreak (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Global Village (Special EFX) (1992)
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (acoustic/electric guitar), Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar, vocals)

3. High Noon (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on: Positive Energy (2002)
Featured musicians: Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar, vocals), Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar)

4. Lavish (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Deep as the Night (Special EFX) (2017)
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (acoustic/electric guitar), Nelson Rangell (alto sax)

5. Vonetta (Nelson Rangell; Earl Klugh cover)
Originally heard on: Soul to Souls (2006)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (flute), Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar)

6. Another Star (Nelson Rangell; Stevie Wonder cover)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

7. Turning Night Into Day (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: Turning Night Into Day (1997)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Steve Cole (tenor sax), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

8. Thursday (Steve Cole)
Originally heard on: Spin (2005)
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar), Steve Oliver (electric guitar), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

9. Going in Circles (Steve Cole; Friends of Distinction cover)
Originally heard on: Pulse (2013)
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

10. Chips and Salsa (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on: 3D (2004)
Featured musicians: Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar, vocals), Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar, vocals)

11. Sunlight Within (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on: Global Kiss (2010)
Featured musician: Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar, vocals)

12. Mirage (Steve Cole)
Originally heard on: Turn It Up (2016)
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Nelson Rangell (flute), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

13. Sonora (Nelson Rangell; Hampton Hawes cover)
Originally heard on: Destiny (1995) (alto sax); My American Songbook, Vol. 1 (2005)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (whistling/piccolo), Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

14. Katy’s Groove (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2016)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards); Foran High School Advanced Vocal Ensemble, directed by Theresa Voss

15 (Finale). Cruise Control (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Butterfly (Special EFX) (2001)
Featured musicians: Everyone

Here are the pictures, starting with Jay Rowe:

The end-of-solo glide:

Rohn Lawrence:

Dave Anderson:

Trever Somerville:

Steve Scales:

Chieli Minucci on electric guitar:

Acoustic guitar:

Steve Oliver on acoustic guitar:

“Guitar symphony orchestra” intro to “Chips and Salsa”:

“Olé!”:

Electric guitar:

Vocals:

Nelson Rangell on alto sax:

Flute:

Chimes, at the beginning of “Sonora”:

Whistling on “Sonora”:

Piccolo:

Back to whistling:

Steve Cole:

Steve Oliver and Chieli:

“Tayyy-yo!”:

Chieli and Nelson:

Steve Cole and Nelson:

Nelson, Steve Cole, Chieli:

Steve Cole’s “wall of guitar” for “Thursday”:

The Foran High School Advanced Vocal Ensemble, directed by Theresa Voss, vocalized on “Katy’s Groove”:

The finale: “Cruise Control”:

Jay had many people to thank, but Rohn wanted to thank Jay:

With that, the 15th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars was complete.

I had another engaging conversation with Nelson the following morning as I began editing pictures. I finished editing them on the drive home, which only took an hour and a half. Until next year, Milford.

Seven weeks of Netflix April 29, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Comedy, Film, Internet, Music, Personal, Technology, TV, Video.
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In a post last month, I noted that I ran out of things to watch on Netflix and, in addition to playing video games, began watching YouTube channels instead. Less than a day after I wrote that post, I discovered things to watch on Netflix again. I started with a few movie classics that I had never seen. First up was Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles. That was followed by a pair of Rob Reiner films: This Is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride, both of which featured Christopher Guest and Billy Crystal. From there, I moved on to a few music documentaries:

I went back to YouTube for a couple of days, but then I took a big step. Actually, a giant leap is more like it. I decided to watch all 278* episodes of Cheers, followed by all 264* episodes of Frasier, its spin-off. “Let the journey begin,” I told myself on the afternoon of March 12 as I loaded the pilot episode of Cheers. What followed was textbook binge-watching. It took only 20 days to watch all 11 seasons of Cheers. It took 17 days to watch every season of Frasier, which also ran 11 seasons. The last day I watched Cheers and the first day I watched Frasier overlapped, making for a combined 36 days of 542* episodes. The journey was worth it.

* – Multi-part episodes are split up.

With the two long-running series out of the way, I spent the next two days watching four stand-up specials: two by Dave Chappelle, one by Jo Koy, and one cinematic release by Kevin Hart. After that, there were four documentaries:

After a few days of DVDs and Blu-rays, I returned to Netflix to watch the third season of Dawn of the Croods, one of many Dreamworks animated series made for Netflix. Unfortunately, the season ended on a cliffhanger. Yes, Cheers and Frasier had cliffhangers, but seasons weren’t released to Netflix months apart. Within seconds of watching a cliffhanger finale, you could move on to the next season’s premiere.

All that remained for me to watch were two movies: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, which I watched a few times on VHS when I was 12, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which I don’t recall every seeing.

Now, the well has run dry again, but I expect there to be a handful of movies and documentaries to watch in May. Until then, back to YouTube.

2017 WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony April 3, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, TV, Video.
4 comments

Previous Hall of Fame ceremonies: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

It may have been April Fools’ Day, but there was serious business at LIU Post on Saturday. The 2017 class of the WCWP Hall of Fame was inducted during an afternoon ceremony in the Goldsmith Atrium at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.

It was the sixth ceremony overall, but only the fifth I’ve attended. I couldn’t make last year’s ceremony because I was in Milford, Connecticut, ahead of the second night of musician Jay Rowe’s annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert series. Thankfully, this year’s HOF ceremony came six weeks before this year’s SJFS.

I arrived on campus about a half hour before the ceremony, which was due to start at 1PM. As always, I took pictures and video. You can see the video at the end of this post, but first, the pictures:

The ceremony began with an introduction by Dan Cox, WCWP’s Director of Broadcasting:

…and a video narrated by Jim Cutler:

The 2017 inductees are John March:

John LiBretto:

…and Neil Marks:

2015 inductee Jeff Kroll was the host:

2012 inductee Hank Neimark introduced John LiBretto:

2013 inductee Harry Lowenthal had a question for John:

Pat Kroll presented John with a gift bag:

John March was interviewed ahead of the ceremony from his home in South Carolina:

Hank accepted on John’s behalf:

The third inductee of 2017 was Neil Marks, introduced by Jeff:

The view from my Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder:

Neil had a speech prepared:

Neil’s family:

I took this picture of Neil with the family before the ceremony:

Then, it was story time:

Neil’s father had a question:

Pat had a few stories to share:

The ceremony concluded with this picture:

…and cutting of the cake:

Then, it was off to the Abrams Communications Building, home to WCWP for 51 1/2 years, for more reminiscing:

Now, the video:

Video was recorded with my Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder and mixed with audio from my Tascam DR-03. Thanks to Dan Cox for providing the introductory video and interview with John March, which were incorporated into the video.

It’s an honor and a privilege to capture events for WCWP and to mingle with fellow alumni. Congratulations to John LiBretto, John March, and Neil Marks. Welcome to the WCWP Hall of Fame.

Watching YouTube and playing video games March 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, History, Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Technology, TV, Video Games.
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After about a year of watching TV shows, movies, documentaries, and comedy specials on Netflix in my downtime, I nearly ran out of things to watch. As a result, I turned my attention to YouTube. I watched several episodes of Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Game Sack, and Gaming Historian on there last year. But in the last month, I’ve re-watched Game Sack and Gaming Historian episodes, and binge watched The 8-Bit Guy/8-Bit Keys and My Life in Gaming. This post is about how I discovered the channels I frequent.

I discovered Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show last year while looking for interviews of Kevin on YouTube. I was listening to his book, How I Slept My Way to the Middle, on Audible last March, and was completely unaware of his chat show, which he’s had since 2009. In the two months that followed, I watched episodes with guests who I was familiar with or whom I didn’t expect to express their political beliefs. Once I was caught up, I would watch new archived episodes two days after they streamed live. I tried watching one episode live, but I focused more on the chat room discussion than the interview. For a few months, the KPCS YouTube channel was down; all videos were gone. Eventually, they were restored and I resumed watching new episodes.

I found Gaming Historian while looking for longplay video game videos like they have at World of Longplays. What I got instead was informative historical documentaries on video game franchises, consoles, companies, and industry executives. Norman Caruso does a great job.

I discovered Game Sack, a channel run by Joe Redifer who co-hosts with his friend Dave White, via suggested videos after watching some Gaming Historian episodes. Each episode features playthroughs and critiques by Joe and Dave of the same categories I listed for Gaming Historian, as well as video game genres. The videos are entertaining, informative, humorous, and well-spoken; a perfect blend.

David Murray is the 8-Bit Guy. His videos focus on retro technology such as computers, digital cameras, and the aforementioned video game consoles. A video about video game music in the 8-bit era was suggested to me after a Game Sack episode. That video inspired David to start the 8-Bit Keys channel, which focuses on synthesizers and keyboards. I binged watched those videos a few weeks ago while recovering from an upper respiratory infection.

I support the latter three YouTubers on Patreon. Searching for other YouTubers to support on that site led me to My Life in Gaming. I watched an episode or two and became hooked. It’s hosted by two friends named Coury Carlson and Marc Duddleson (aka Try4ce). Their videos range from masterclasses on video game consoles and hardware for capturing gameplay to live streams of gameplay. Similar to Gaming Historian and Game Sack, they also have videos devoted to video games and VG developers. They even had a series of “How to Beat” videos which parodied 1990s VHS tips videos. Here’s one of them.

All these videos inspired me to buy NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), Game Boy, Super NES, and Sega Genesis video games to add to my collection. I even bought a refurbished Xbox 360 with a wireless controller a couple of weeks ago. Once it arrived, I bought several pre-owned games at a nearby Gamestop. They include puzzle games, quiz games, racing games, kart racers, and platformers. The game I’ve played the most thus far is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. I bought the Xbox 360 because it’s backward compatible with most Xbox games which I plan on eventually getting. I also have in mind the Playstation 3 because of its backward compatibility with PS1 and PS2. If only the PS4 and Xbox One were backward compatible with all their predecessors.

Getting back to YouTube, there are two more channels I’d like to discuss. For a couple of years, I’ve been subscribed to a channel called Prager University. It was created by talk radio host Dennis Prager as “an online video resource promoting knowledge and clarity on life’s biggest and most interesting topics.” The channel “gather[s] some of the world’s best thinkers and distill[s] their best ideas into free, 5-minute videos on things ranging from history and economics to science and happiness.” One video led me to another channel. It was by Dave Rubin, a former left-wing ideologue who is now a free-thinking, open-minded classical liberal. After watching that video, YouTube suggested another video from Dave’s channel, The Rubin Report. Now, I’m hooked on that, too. I haven’t binge watched videos, but I have seen his commentaries and most recent interviews. Not only is Dave a political commentator, but he’s also a gamer. He played through Contra on the NES in his latest live stream video.

If you like video games and/or politics, I recommend you give these channels a try. They’ve given me hours of information and enjoyment. Thank you all.

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.
Tags: , , , , ,
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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.

Two days at The Barclays August 30, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Golf, Internet, Media, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
1 comment so far

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.
3 comments

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.)