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Attending the 2020 U.S. Open in spirit; how I got through the COVID-19 lockdown September 22, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Dogs, Golf, Health, Internet, Media, Music, New Age, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Tennis, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games.
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2020 would have been the third year in a row I attended a PGA Tour major championship held in the New York metropolitan area and fourth year in the last five. In 2016, I traveled to Baltusrol Golf Club for the second round of the PGA Championship. In 2018, I was briefly at Shinnecock Hills for the third round of the U.S. Open. And last year, I witnessed the final round of the PGA at Bethpage Black Golf Course, the third time a major had been held there.

This year, the U.S. Open was to return to New York in June, as usual, to be held at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck. As my dad and I had done in 2002 and 2018, we opted to attend the third round so that he could watch at home on Father’s Day. We attended the final round the last time the championship was at Winged Foot in 2006. We were on the periphery of Phil Mickelson‘s collapse on the final hole. So many people stood by the 18th green that we could only hear the undoing. It was a depressing walk to the bus terminal and ride back to general parking at Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

Shortly after Dad bought the 2020 third round tickets in December, I bought a polo shirt that I would proudly don as I walked Winged Foot’s West Course. I had visions of aerial shots of the course along and ground level views of flags flying in the breeze while Brian Tyler‘s epic theme for Fox SportsUSGA coverage – “Triumph of the Spirit” – danced through my head.

Meanwhile, an insidious disease was spreading its way around the world. By March, Coronavirus Disease 2019 – also known as COVID-19 and the coronavirus – had reached the United States. State and local governments put residents on lockdown. Events were canceled or postponed left and right. Sports were put on hold indefinitely.

It was a sudden, sharp, and scary change that was very hard for me to bear. I was so scared and paranoid that I avoided watching or reading the news. It was torture passing by the den as my parents watched New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings. His voice was the last thing I wanted to hear as it served as a harsh reality check. Social media wasn’t any better. Every day, another public figure became a casualty. Some of my friends lost their friends. My dad lost two of his friends.

From March to June, I kept busy at home. I retouched photo scans, removing dust and scratches, and adjusting contrast and color. While I worked, I listened to music or to interview podcasts that didn’t reference the news. Once I landed a weekly radio show at WCWP, recording and producing the shows became another preoccupation. In my downtime, I watched videos on the various YouTube channels I subscribe to, learning about technology and video games. I also watched traditional TV programming: sitcoms like Last Man Standing and Man with a Plan, and the documentary miniseries The Last Dance, about the Chicago Bulls championship dynasty in the 1990s. I worked out religiously and watched what I ate. I bought groceries and other necessities online.

On social media, I limited my Facebook posts to treadmill running milestones, post-radio show blog posts, and photos from the past on Throwback Thursday (#TBT), Flashback Friday (#FBF) or #MemoryMonday. Instagram had some of those photos from the past, but I also began the Cocoa Photo Series, with new entries posted every two to three days. It’s photos of my late Chocolate Labrador from his puppy days in 1998 through Christmas 2006. Here’s an example:

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Cocoa Photo Series, entry 58: January 15, 2002 #dogsofinstagram #chocolatelabsofinstagram

A post shared by Mike Chimeri (@mikechimeri) on

As states and localities were phased back to somewhat normal, I left my house more often, disposable mask in hand when walking through the neighborhood and covering my face when necessary, especially when shopping. I still buy some things online, though.

For a few months now, I’ve begun to follow various dog accounts on Instagram, mostly for Labrador Retrievers. Watching dogs grow up is just what I need in these difficult times.

This concludes the COVID-19 portion of the post.

In April, I learned that three of the four PGA Tour majors were rescheduled for later in the year, with the [British] Open Championship being canceled outright. The U.S. Open was rescheduled for September 17 to 20, the first time the event was in September since 1913. (This meant it would occur a week after the conclusion of the tennis US Open, sans periods, held south of Winged Foot within the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. For the record, Naomi Osaka won the women’s singles title for the second time in three years while Dominic Thiem won for the men, his first grand slam title.)

Assuming spectators would be allowed, I would be attending the third round of the U.S. Open on September 19. I put the date in my iPhone calendar and hoped that fans got the okay to attend. On July 29, access was denied. I felt like I had wasted my money on a shirt for an event I couldn’t even see in person. At least Dad got refunded for the tickets.

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This is the emblem on a polo shirt I would have worn to the third round of this year's U.S. Open golf championship at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck. Instead, I'll be watching at home like every other fan, and I'm reluctant to wear the shirt anymore.

A post shared by Mike Chimeri (@mikechimeri) on

Indeed, to date, I’ve only worn it once after the above Instagram post. That one time was on September 10, a week before the first round. It was for a photo project that would put myself at Winged Foot in spirit.

I connected my Nikon D5500 to a tripod, attached a remote, and photographed myself in front of a blank spot on my bedroom wall, clad in what I would have worn to the third round:

The hat is from 2006 and the ticket holder is from 2018.

Then, I applied an effect to make it seem like I was outside in the sun:

The third step was to combine the image with a shot of Winged Foot I found on Google:

I used the magic wand tool to highlight the wall so I could delete it, leaving only myself. Then, I copied and pasted what was left over the Winged Foot image. After initially placing myself in the center of the image, I cropped it down and re-centered myself. This is the end result:

For publicity’s sake, I made sure to note it was a “fake photo.” I posted to Facebook upon completion on the 10th and to Instagram on the morning of the 19th:

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Had this year's U.S. Open Golf Championship been open to spectators, I would be at Winged Foot Golf Club today to watch the third round. Thanks to Photoshop, I'm there in spirit. My (not really) tinted lenses reveal my true location in this image I created last Thursday. #usopengolf #usopen

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Fall conditions were in effect in the area, which meant I’d have a jacket on if I was truly in person, as I did last year at the PGA:

I watched all four rounds of the U.S. Open on TV like everyone else, but not on FS1 and Fox. The rescheduling put Fox in a bind as they were committed to college football on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday. The only solution was to relinquish their USGA rights back to NBC Sports, which they did on June 29. Starting this year, Thursdays and Fridays would be seen on Golf Channel with weekend coverage on NBC. This also meant the previous U.S. Open theme, “In Celebration of Man” by Yanni (pardon the audio quality), made its return. (A bagpipe-infused version was made for Open Championship coverage, as heard in 2016.)

At the end of 72 holes, Bryson DeChambeau was the 120th United States Open champion. He was the only player to shoot under par in the final round and the only player under par for the championship. Bryson joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods among players to win an NCAA individual title, the U.S. Amateur, and the U.S. Open. It was his first career major victory and I was very glad for him.

The end result motivated me to include the polo shirt in my regular rotation, just as I do with shirts for most of the other tournaments I’ve attended.

The next major to be held in the New York metropolitan area comes in May 2022 when the PGA Championship is held at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. I hope the world is post-pandemic by then so I can be there in person. (Other future sites can be found here.)

I’ll leave you with video and additional articles related to the final round of the 120th U.S. Open.

VIDEO:
John Pak finishes as low amateur
Final round top shots
Final round extended highlights
Bryson DeChambeau, every televised shot
2020 U.S. Open top shots
Every televised shot from DeChambeau’s victory (all rounds)
Trophy presentation
Press conference
Bryson with Todd Lewis on Live from the U.S. Open
Bryson with Todd Lewis on Morning Drive

ARTICLES:
Will Gray, Golf Channel: Bryson DeChambeau cruises to U.S. Open win for first major title
Michael Bamberger, Golf.com: Victory & Validation: Bryson DeChambeau won the U.S. Open on his own terms
Mike Dougherty, Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Bryson DeChambeau vindicated after dominant finish at Winged Foot
Bill Pennington, The New York Times: Bryson DeChambeau wins U.S. Open his way: in commanding fashion
Mark Cannizaro, New York Post: Bryson DeChambeau runs away with U.S. Open for first major title
Greg Logan, Newsday: Bryson DeChambeau powers his way to his first major at Winged Foot

Instrumental Invasion, 9/16/20 September 17, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Comedy, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, TV, Video, Video Games.
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The September 16, 2020, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP is the 25th show overall. It was recorded over two days: the first hour on August 21 and the second on the 22nd.

The playlist was created on August 18 and annotated on the 19th, with additional annotations during each recording session.

I finished recording in the nick of time. After the last talk break, the landscaping crew for the two houses directly behind my bedroom began running their leaf blowers.

I had to work in “Working Girl March” by Dave Grusin from the Tootsie soundtrack, which I bought immediately after watching the film on Netflix a week before recording. The version on the soundtrack is not the cue used in the film.

The show intro was one of three talk breaks I scripted out in Notepad. Each had a lot of information to share and I didn’t want to get stuck.

The ends of the talk-ups for “Cruisin'” by Larry Carlton and “Hacienda” by the Jeff Lorber Fusion had to be remixed and precisely spliced over the original mixes. The first talk-up had a glitch between “not” and “Grusin.” The second required me to raise the gain on “this time” because it was too low to hear as I raised the music levels.

I didn’t mention it on the air, but the notes at the end of Larry’s solo on “Cruisin'” always remind me of the pause sound in Konami games for the NES:

Now, here’s the pause sound mixed with the end of the solo:

I noted that Jean-Luc Ponty performed “Tender Memories” on David Sanborn‘s Night Music around the time Storytelling was released. Here is that performance:

Click here to download the show 25 aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 8/19/20 August 20, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, History, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games.
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The August 19, 2020, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded on July 24 (hour 1) and 25 (hour 2).

The playlist was created, modified, and annotated between July 21 and 23.

To accommodate my chatty second talk break of hour 1’s second segment, I had to replace the Jeff Lorber Fusion song I had in mind. Instead of “Bright Sky” off Galaxian, I went with “Lava Lands” from Wizard Island. It was a fitting choice, having watched the Oregon episode of Smithsonian Channel’s Aerial America on their YouTube channel a few days before recording. The Fusion’s album is a reference to various landmarks in Oregon, including Lava Lands Visitor Center and, of course, Wizard Island, which is located within Crater Lake.

I had to rerecord the second and third talk breaks of the above segment on the morning of the 25th, shortly after waking up. That’s why my voice sounded the way it did. I realized that morning I’d mistakenly left out Will Lee on bass while talking about “Some Down Time” by Steve Khan, and wanted to correct that immediately. I had to script the talk breaks so I wouldn’t get flustered or forget what to say.

As I did in my 2018 and ’19 Homecoming Weekend shows, I dedicated the Keiko Matsui song I played – in this case, “Marlin Club Blues” – to Game Dave, citing a video where he suggested you listen to her music rather than in-game music:

I neglected to mention that Randy Waldman played keyboards and Hammond B-3 organ on “Marlin Club Blues.” Keiko was only on piano.

And speaking of YouTube, here is the music video for “Living Out Loud” by Joyce Cooling that I recommended:

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

8/22 UPDATE: While watching the Houston portion of The 8-Bit Guy‘s second Tech from Texas video, it occurred to me that David Benoit‘s song “El Camino Real” was not about the road in California, but the trail in Texas. It should have been obvious since a song called “Houston” precedes it on his Inner Motion album. As a California native, I assumed David had the California road in mind when I annotated the playlist. Clearly, I was wrong.

Instrumental Invasion, 7/29/20 July 30, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Drama, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, TV.
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The July 29, 2020, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded on the 9th.

The playlist was created on July 3 and annotated on the 4th with additional annotations while recording.

I always learn something while recording these shows. This time, I learned Kenny Loggins was the first to record “What a Fool Believes,” what a guajeo/montuno is, and the personnel on “Rise” by Herb Alpert. For “Ozark” by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, I resisted the urge to reference the Netflix drama that my father enjoys.

Instead, I noted it’s the first track on side two of As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls. The title track took up all of side one.

Yes, I played versions of “Can’t Hide Love” and “Some Other Sunset” for the second week in a row.

Click here to download this week’s aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 6/24/20 June 25, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Comedy, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, TV.
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The June 24, 2020, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded on the afternoon of May 26 with rerecording on June 5.

Work on the playlist began on May 19 with annotations on the 24th and during the recording session on the 26th.

I was proud to incorporate Dave Pike and Randy Waldman into the show.

I bought Dave’s Jazz for the Jet Set after listening to “Sweet ‘Tater Pie” on Spotify. I was first exposed to the song after hearing WABC-AM DJ Dan Ingram play it on his WABC-FM (later, WPLJ) show in 1967. The jazz and blues show differed greatly from the top 40 he played the AM side. The aircheck I heard can be found on the Musicradio 77 website.

As for Randy Waldman, my musician friend Nelson Rangell recommended Superheroes to me during a phone conversation the night before I bought it and Dave Pike’s album. The first song I was drawn to was the “Mighty Mouse Theme.” It made me think of a routine in Andy Kaufman’s stand-up act. As Foreign Man, he would stand next to a record player while the theme played on an LP. He would stand perfectly still until the line “here I come to save the day!,” which he would lip-sync while heroically moving his arm.

Speaking of stand-up acts, I unknowingly channeled comedian Timmie Rogers both times I said the title of Brian Hughes‘ song “Oh Yeah!” That was Rogers’s catchphrase, exemplified in this 1960s performance:

I have a feeling I’m the only DJ in North America to play Anders Enger Jensen on the radio. His music is all over YouTube – on channels like The 8-Bit Guy, Techmoan, Technology Connections, and of course, his own channel – but it needs the terrestrial treatment, and I provided it.

The end of the first hour’s second segment and all of the third had to be rerecorded on the morning of June 5. After referencing Norman Brown‘s “Something Just for You,” on the same album as “It’s a Feelin’,” my segue to the tease should have been “A Song Just for Bilbao,” but I inverted “just” and “for” and didn’t notice the mistake until a day after recording. Since it wasn’t a factual error or repeated phrase (i.e. “but first”), I initially chose not to rerecord. A week after recording, I realized I neglected to acknowledge Dave Holland, the bassist on Michael Brecker‘s cover of “Song for Bilbao.” Since there was music playing under both omissions, I had to redo the entire segment. After that, I fixed my flub at the end of the previous segment.

Unfortunately, as I feared, the redone segments were not added to automation. So, listeners heard the original “for just” and Dave Holland-less segments. The lesson here is to thoroughly check your recordings before submitting them.

Click here to download this show’s aircheck MP3, which I modified to include the corrections, or listen below:

Audiobooking 5 April 1, 2020

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

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

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

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

Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the SNES Library December 2, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Basketball, Books, Education, Football, Internet, Media, Radio, Sports, Technology, TV, Video, Video Games.
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I photographed my copy of Guide to the SNES Library shortly after completing it Sunday

Two months and one day after completing Pat Contri‘s Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Librarywhich I reviewed here – my pre-order copy of the special edition of his Guide to the SNES Library arrived on my front porch.

Once again, the guide is as big as an educational textbook. Now that I think of it, this book is educational. There’s much to learn about the Super Nintendo Entertainment System within its 445 pages (plus a few pages listing Kickstarter contributors).

When I tweeted on Sunday that I finished reading, Pat wondered what my muscle gains were, considering the book’s heft. I replied thusly:

I was late in boarding the NES bandwagon, not getting a console until February 1990, over four years after its initial release in the New York Metropolitan Area. The Super NES, released on August 23, 1991, is a different story. Besides commercials, my first exposure to the console came at my friend Jessie’s house. I regularly played Super Mario World and F-Zero on her projection TV as 1991 gave way to ’92. After saving up part of the cost, my parents got a console for me and my sister Lauren in late January. In the months that followed, I spent many hours playing games, especially the aforementioned Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart (an 11th birthday present), and Mario Paint. I discovered all of Super Mario World’s exits and repeatedly watched the end credits. I would get emotional at the scene with the Yoshi eggs hatching. I successfully beat all cups in Super Mario Kart in all cc modes, and I loved the Rainbow Road theme. And as a weather buff, I had fun making radar loops with Mario Paint’s animation feature.

In nearly 28 years, I’ve amassed a collection of 46 Super Nintendo games. Reading this guide inspired me to add to that collection, at least somewhat.

Guide to the SNES Library chronicles all games released in North America and PAL territories in alphanumerical order, from 3 Ninjas Kick Back and The 7th Saga to Zool and Zoop. (Yes, those are their names.)

Pat Contri was not alone in reviewing the games. Returning from Guide to the NES Library are Asheton “Ashi” Phinney (I loved his alliteration, puns, and rhymes), Jim Evans, and Karen Niemla. The new recruits are Daniel Anderson, Daniel Greenberg, Dagan Moriarty, Kyh Yang, Alli Flanagan (who, like Pat, appeared in The Video Game Years), Pete Skerritt, and Mike Vito(12/14 UPDATE: Dagan, Kyh, and Pete also wrote reviews for the third edition of the NES guide.) Visual effects artist Yoshi Vu provided cart and hardware images, and additional cover art. The foreword was written by Jirard Khalil, a.k.a. The Completionist.

As with Guide to the NES Library, most pages in Guide to the SNES Library are devoted to two games. An image from one of the games is blurred in the background with two images from each game appearing above and below the review. The top of the page shows the games’ cartridge designs and lists their genre, release date, developer, publisher, number of players, special features, availability during the SNES’s life (from “very common” to “extremely rare”), and star rating. There are 10 ratings that range from half a star (one small star, “poor”) to 2 1/2 stars (two big stars and one small star, “average”) to 5 stars (five big stars, “classic”). Reviews can take up anywhere from a fifth of the page to a third of it, followed by the reviewers’ “reflections.” Reviewers are identified by their initials (i.e. PC, PS, AP, DG).

Eleven landmark titles with five-star ratings got full page reviews, including EarthBound, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World and its sequel, and Super Metroid. Those reviews take up more space on the page than regular half-page reviews. I only own four of the games out of those eleven, and only two that I listed here. Some five-star games only got half a page, such as Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, Super Street Fighter II, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. I have two of those, along with one that I didn’t mention. You’ll have to buy the book to find out which other five-star games were only on half a page and which got the full page treatment.

The tone of game reviews ranged from clinical to critical, but not in your face or obnoxious. I’m just glad the SNES versions of Tetris 2 and Yoshi’s Cookie weren’t treated as harshly. As I mentioned earlier, I currently have 46 SNES games, and I plan on buying some of the easier-to-obtain games in the book with ratings of 4, 4 1/2, or 5 stars to add to the collection. If they cost over $100, forget it. No Pocky & Rocky for me.

There were plenty of sports games released for the Super Nintendo that I read about. At the moment, I only have four: NBA Hangtime (which I also have on the Genesis and Nintendo 64), NBA Jam: Tournament Edition, True Golf Classics: Pebble Beach Golf Links and Super Bases Loaded. While reading about Midway games like NBA Jam, I learned who that the voice of most of those games was Tim Kitzrow. Besides NBA Jam, Tim also voiced the NFL Blitz series, which I enjoyed on the N64. He included video of an appearance on FOX Sports West on his website:

NBA Hangtime, Midway’s successor to NBA Jam, was voiced by longtime Bulls TV play-by-play announcer Neil Funk, who is retiring at the end of this season. Other TV announcers and analysts to lend their voices to sports games on the Super Nintendo are Al Michaels, Jack Buck, Pat Summerall, and of course, John Madden, to name a few.

After 400 pages of North American and PAL releases, there are chapters on special and promo cartridges, test cartridges, select games from the Japanese Super Famicom library, a look at some unreleased games (by Evan Gowan of SNES Central), and the SNES console and its accessories.

Guide to the SNES Library concludes with supplemental articles. Three of the articles were based on the authors’ YouTube videos. James Rolfe‘s “The Console Wars: SNES vs. Sega Genesis” was taken from a two-part video in 2012, which was combined into one part on the Cinemassacre Plays subchannel:

James and Pat Contri’s friendship dates back to their early days on YouTube. They’ve occasionally collaborated on videos. In fact, their latest went up on Saturday night:

Kelsey Lewin‘s supplemental article was on the Life Fitness LifeCycle Exertainment Bike, based on her video from last year:

In addition to her YouTube channel, Kelsey is the co-owner with her husband Cody of Pink Gorilla Games and co-director with Frank Cifaldi of The Video Game History Foundation. For you sports fans, Kelsey’s father is play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin. You may know him from his stints with the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers on TV, and the New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Chargers, and UCLA Bruins football and men’s basketball on radio. Those and other credits can be found here.

And speaking of sports, the third article based on a video was Norman Caruso‘s Gaming Historian 2016 episode on Nintendo‘s ownership of the Seattle Mariners, which he posted as Nintendo was selling most of their shares. The episode had periodic quote readings by YouTubers, and Pat read a quote – in a sinister tone – from Fay Vincent, commissioner of Major League Baseball at the time of Nintendo’s purchase. Unfortunately, MLB forced the removal of the video, so I can’t embed it here.

As for the rest of the supplemental articles, Chris Kohler’s entry on the SNES CD-ROM originally appeared on Kotaku last September. Roger Barr, Andre Meadows, and Karen Niemla supplied original articles. It’s worth reading each article, especially the ones based on videos so you can see differences in text.

It took 19 days to read 445 pages of Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the SNES Library. Once again, I kept a journal of how many pages I read per day. Dividing 445 by 19, I averaged about 24 pages a day. I mostly imagined my own voice in my head as I read the reviews, but I occasionally thought of certain public figures narrating them. I had Pat’s voice in mind when I read his reviews.

Guide to the SNES Library was another great read! Thanks to Pat Contri and his fellow reviewers Ashi Phinney, Daniel Anderson, Daniel Greenberg, Kyh Yang, Karen Niemla, Alli Flanagan, Jim Evans, Dagan Moriarty, Pete Skerritt, and Mike Vito.

For those that grew up with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, are collecting for it, or just want to learn about it, this book is a must. There are eight versions available for purchase ranging from $59.99 to $99.99, or $29.99 for just the digital download. I have the $79.99 special edition, but I recommend the physical/digital combo at $99.99. I should have bought that in the first place, but I didn’t mind paying an extra $10 yesterday for the digital download and paying the same price to download the NES guide. Having the books physically and digitally is the ultimate experience.

There will eventually be an Ultimate SNES Game Guide Collecting app for iOS and Android. I will update this post when it’s available.

Rob Paulsen with Michael Fleeman, Voice Lessons November 7, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Health, Media, Music, Personal, TV, Video.
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Posing with Rob Paulsen (right) and Michael Fleeman (left) after they discussed Voice Lessons at Strand Bookstore

Four weeks ago today, I attended a discussion and signing at Strand Bookstore for voice actor Rob Paulsen‘s memoir (with Michael Fleeman), Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life. Two weeks passed before I began simultaneously reading the book and listening to the “read by the author” audiobook.

On the afternoon of October 24, I read the front and back covers, Rob and Mike’s signatures, and the “Praise for Voice Lessons.” Then, I opened the Audible app on my iPhone and began the simulcast. I read and listened to the dedication, foreword (written and read by Rob’s son Ash), introduction, and the first chapter. I took care of the rest of the book, including photos and the “about the authors” page, over nine of the next thirteen days. It was a quite a literary journey.

Voice Lessons recalls key moments in Rob Paulsen’s life and career, including growing up in Michigan, leading a cover band, moving to California to pursue acting, his biggest roles, and winning an Emmy Award.

The last 40% of the memoir covers the harrowing journey through Rob’s throat cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. I felt like I was there and I sympathized. I cheered inside as his recovery progressed. I remember listening to the first Talkin’ Toons podcast Rob did after his recovery, which he cited in the last chapter. His lead sentence even served as the chapter title: “faith, kindness, passion, humor…and Cheez-Its.”

There is also a heartwarming story about Chad Gozzola, a Duchenne muscular dystrophy patient whom Rob first met at a charity hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and remained in touch with – along with his family – over the rest of his life.

The book concludes with the return of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, which will premiere next year on Hulu. Rob also announced that at the book discussion.

This humble review only scratches the surface. Voice Lessons is about 200 pages long and worth reading. The audiobook is seven hours and seven minutes long and worth listening to. I recommend both at the same time, although you’ll occasionally notice differences in phrasing.

I’ll leave you with a photo of my copy and my log:

I kept in Strand’s Post-It note, indicating I’m in signing group 1, as a reminder of my experience last month. As for the log, I tracked the content I read and how many pages it was. For example:

11/1/19: Chapter 7 (27)

Ryan and Mike at LIU Post, Teddy and Abe on exhibit October 30, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Art, Education, History, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, Travel, TV, Video.
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I concluded my Monday post this way:

With a pair of loose ends successfully tied up, it’s on to the next post, whenever that may come.

It turns out you only had to wait two days for the next post. The focus this time is another trip to LIU Post, including a stroll down memory lane as I recall my undergrad years.

I walked the campus with my friend, Ryan Grabow, who graduated with me in 2004:

I also had a chance encounter with another friend of mine, LIU Post artist-in-residence Dan Christoffel, leading to a tour of his latest art exhibit. More on that later.

For many years after graduating, Ryan Grabow had been living in Fort Myers, Florida, where he directed newscasts for two TV stations owned by Waterman Broadcasting. This year, he decided to look for the same position upstate in Orlando. He now directs the morning newscast at WOFL-TV, FOX 35 Orlando.

My trip back to LIU Post with Ryan, one week removed from Homecoming Weekend, was arranged in a text message conversation we struck up during Instrumental Invasion on Friday, October 18, after I played a song by the Rippingtons. As I wrote in my comprehensive recap:

… [M]y friend Ryan Grabow texted me after I played “Silver Arrows” by the Rippingtons. When he would appear on The Mike Chimeri Show 15 years ago, he’d always say “a ripping good time” whenever I played a Ripps song. Coincidentally, the next song I played was “Dear Friend” by Patrick Bradley, a fitting title.

You can watch the aircheck here:

Ryan told me he was driving up to New York for a week-long vacation and chose Monday the 28th as our day to hang out. He would pick me up at 10AM.

This was our first time at Post together in two years. I brought along my Nikon D5500 camera and the two CDs I made to alternate between for my show. As we listened to the music on the ride to Brookville, we told one another what we’d been up to lately and I provided commentary on what was happening in my show as each song played on the CDs.

Once we arrived on campus, Ryan acknowledged the change in color on the signs, which I had first seen ten days earlier and photographed a day later. Case in point:

He quipped that the speed bumps hadn’t changed. The reference was a running gag that originated with a TV production project: “Speed control: good idea or just plain nuts?”:

Naturally, our first stop after parking was WCWP, where we spoke to receptionist Janine Celauro, my mother Lisa’s bowling teammate, and Dan Cox, Director of Broadcasting.

Ryan’s next task was going to the bursar to update his alumni contact information. So, we walked north to Kumble Hall, passing signs with alumni names on them. One of them was Fred Gaudelli:

Fred is the executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and was inducted into the WCWP Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Another was Brian Kilmeade:

Brian, a Massapequa native, co-hosts Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel, hosts The Brian Kilmeade Show on Fox News Radio, and has authored a handful of books about American history. His latest is called Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History.

Passing Brian’s name reminded Ryan that he helps set up remote guests for Fox & Friends and other national Fox broadcasts for the aforementioned Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Sports 1.

I photographed Kumble’s exterior before we walked inside:

Kumble was a place I visited when meeting with my academic advisor each semester. My aunt Robin Rose was an advisor in the 1990s and early 2000s, which is how I ended up at what was then C.W. Post. Her presence was invaluable. It helped that she knew so many faculty, which made things easier for me in my first two years. It turned out the place I had the most success, WCWP, didn’t require her connections.

The bursar’s office directed us to the Alumni & Employer Engagement building, which housed the campus bookstore while Ryan and I were students.

On the way, we stopped in the Crafts Center, home to ceramics:

Professor Frank Olt was among the faculty that was connected with Aunt Robin and she recommended one of his courses to me in my second semester when I switched out of photography. I couldn’t handle film development or manually setting aperture and F-stop. It was overwhelming. I thrived in ceramics, sculpting many works that semester. I would sculpt more works in the spring of 2002, after switching out of an intimidating journalism course, and fall of 2003, the only time the course was my first choice. Via grainy digital camera photos from 2003, here are a few of my works:

I don’t know what happened to those, but here is what I was able to find in my house this morning, starting with the first thing I ever made in 2000:

I called it “Hertz Fieldhouse” because I was inspired by Conseco Fieldhouse, the recently-opened arena in Indianapolis. Since I made an outdoor stadium, I should have just called “Hertz Field.”

Lastly, a piece I photographed on film in April 2000:

I hadn’t visited Frank Olt in years – he wasn’t there when Ryan and I walked the campus in 2017 – so we were both happy to see each other. I told him about the jazz shows I had been to recently: the aforementioned Rippingtons in March, David Benoit in June, and the Bob James Trio last November. I forgot to tell him about seeing John Scofield two weeks after Bob.

Frank and I posed for a picture as he sat at a pottery wheel:

I’m so glad to know Frank, and to have known his colleague Linda Marbach while she was a professor.

This was Linda in April 2000 with graduate student Ji-Hyun:

Frank directed me and Ryan to the back room where Dan Christoffel was situated. I hadn’t seen him since he attended his friend and fellow artist Charlie Fillizola’s exhibit at Wantagh Public Library in 2013; six years and two days before Monday, in fact. Dan told us that he was about to present his latest exhibit in the Steinberg Museum of Art on the lower level of the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library. Ryan would have to wait before updating his alumni contact info. Luckily, he didn’t mind.

Dan spoke to an audience of LIU Post art majors (at least, I think that’s what they were):

Shortly after Ryan and I came in, Dan had us introduce ourselves.

Here are some of Dan’s works, starting with Now He Belongs to the Ages on the Abraham Lincoln wing of the exhibit:

Unfortunately, I can’t make out the title on the left, but the painting on the right is Thinking Beyond:

Justice, a trompe-l’œil (deceive the eye) painting:

Two paintings of Walt Whitman: Oh captain, my Captain, inspired by Whitman’s poem after Lincoln’s assassination:

Walt Whitman in His Prime:

On to the Theodore Roosevelt wing:

In his deepest hour:

Colonel Roosevelt:

Sagamore Hill:

Nobel Prize:

Rough Rider:

At the Elk Horn Ranch, Dakota Territory:

1901 – A Very Young President:

A Young Assemblyman:

Fighting the Good Fight:

A portrait of Booker T. Washington to mark a milestone occasion: First Black Man to Have Dinner at the White House:

His Love of Reading:

Little Texas:

T.R. – His Wife and Mother Died on the Same Day; He Went out West to Deal with His Deep Grief:

The exhibit concluded with Taking the Bull by the Horns:

A Newsday article on Dan’s artistry:

A picture with Dan before departing:

Thank you, Dan, for inviting us to your exhibit. It was wonderful. I highly recommend the exhibit if you, the reader, will be at LIU Post in the near future.

Ryan and I made our way east to the Alumni & Employer Engagement building:

Leftover from Homecoming:

Ryan was given a notepad to write down his new contact information and that was that.

We took the scenic route back to Hillwood Commons:

Ryan stopped in the Arboretum Walk so I could photograph him with his iPhone for a Facebook post. I also took a photo with my camera:

Ryan has been inside The Doll House, but I never have:

Post Hall:

As an undergrad, the southwest corner of the building was home to the Academic Resource Center. It was my home away from home. I made many friends in the form of fellow students, directors, learning assistants, and annual social work interns. I remain in touch with some of them.

The northeast corner of Hillwood:

Before going up the stairs to the current campus bookstore, which was once home to the museum, we passed a sign that explained the presence of Dan Christoffel’s exhibit:

Once in the bookstore, I planned on buying a sky blue polo shirt that said “Long Island University,” convinced to buy one after seeing Jeff Kroll (right) and Neil Marks (left) sporting them during the Homecoming game:

I was hoping for a shirt that said “LIU,” but when I initially visited the bookstore ahead of my radio show, it seemed only shirts emblazoned with the full name were available. But seeing Jeff and Neil in the shirts convinced me to buy upon my return with Ryan. On this day, I searched the rack where the shirts hung to look for my size: medium. Once I saw the letter M, I blindly reached for the shirt, and was surprised to find the holy grail: an “LIU” shirt!

Meanwhile, Ryan bought a windbreaker that said “Long Island University,” something to wear on cool winter mornings in Orlando. I’m proudly wearing my “LIU” shirt as I write this post, and it will be part of my warm/hot weather rotation.

We made one more stop at WCWP to say goodbye to Dan Cox and Janine Celauro. I had Janine take our picture:

Coincidentally, our friend Bernie Bernard was on the display behind us.

Ryan planned on stopping at Wendy’s on Glen Cove Road in Greenvale, but it was closed for renovations. So, we proceeded to our next stop – Micro Center in Westbury – looking for a place to eat on the way. We settled on Applebee’s in Roosevelt Raceway Center. Inside, besides eating our entrees, we talked about Ryan’s job at FOX 35 Orlando, about former WCWP Director of Operations Joe Manfredi (now at SUNY Old Westbury where he serves as station manager for OWWR), and other things. We walked around Micro Center for 45 minutes, browsing but not buying. Ryan didn’t leave empty-handed, though, buying a few mouse pads.

Ryan was nice enough to take me grocery shopping at the Levittown Stop & Shop, then we hung out at my house for an hour. After talking about a few YouTube channels in the car, he recommended the channel Technology Connections. I chose a couple of videos to watch on the CED (Capacitance Electronic Disc). (A third video on the subject was released yesterday with a fourth still to come.)

After that, we said our goodbyes until his next visit. It was enjoyable 7 1/2 hours.

It’s always great to see you, Ryan. As I said on the air, you’re a dear friend. I hope you don’t mind that I dipped into the archives with the speed bump video.

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:

10/22 UPDATE: The day after appearing at Strand, Rob appeared on Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman‘s eponymous podcast, Everyone Talks to Liz Claman. The episode went up a week later. You can listen to it here.