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SJFS 2018 Night 1 recap May 1, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, Video, Video Games.
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Other SJFS recaps: 20082008 meet-and-greet200920102011,20122013 Night 12013 Night 22014 Night 12014 Night 22015 Night 12016 Night 12016 Night 2, 2017 Night 12017 Night 2, 2018 Night 2

Keyboardist Jay Rowe‘s 16th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars was held in his hometown of Milford, Connecticut, on Friday and Saturday nights. The concerts benefit the Milford Public Schools music department. This is a recap of Friday night with headliners Marc Antoine, David Benoit, Marion Meadows, and special guest Elan Trotman.

The sixth annual SJFS in 2008 was the first show I recapped for my blog, which was only two weeks old at the time.

My parents and I left for Milford earlier than last year, at 1:10, but we encountered the same heavy traffic. To be fair, traffic was fine until we crossed into Connecticut. The flow finally eased after exit 27 in Bridgeport. Along the way, I played Kirby Star Allies on my Nintendo Switch, the first time I played in portable mode and the only time I played it all weekend. Then, I watched new videos from a few of the YouTube channels I subscribe to, and posted a picture to Instagram:

A view of the Throgs Neck Bridge on the Cross Island Parkway

A post shared by Mike Chimeri (@mikechimeri) on

I should also note that like last year, a Jay Rowe song played on the Watecolors SiriusXM channel during the drive. This year, it was the radio edit of “Rosemary’s Tune.”

It took two hours and 55 minutes to get to the Milford Hampton Inn.

As we checked in, I ran into saxophonist Jessy J, who headlined Saturday night, along with her husband David. A few minutes later, David Benoit walked in the lobby and we caught up with each other.

My room was on the south end of the first floor. After unpacking and setting up my laptop, I hung out with my friend Kelly, who chose to stay over at the hotel rather than drive from home both nights. We would see each other again after the show.

My dad recommended we eat dinner at Olive Garden on U.S. 1 in neighboring Orange. So, that’s what we did. Like last year, I had minestrone and lasagna with a couple of breadsticks.

My parents dropped me off at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in the Parsons Government Center at around 7:15. I had my ticket checked, then got into my position in the orchestra pit with a few photographers and waited for showtime.

Oddly, Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz came on stage to start the night about five minutes before 8:00.

After that came the opening acts. First was the Jonathan Law High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Phil Giampietro:

They performed “Feather Report,” a Kris Berg composition.

Second was the Jonathan Law Choir, directed by Kelly Jones:

They sang two songs: “Hlonolofatsa” (5/3 UPDATE: Thank you, Kelly.) and “Jonah’s Song.”

Jay Rowe and his band came on stage around 8:15:

Jay played keyboards:

Dave Anderson was on bass:

Trever Somerville on drums:

On his birthday, percussion by Steve Scales:

…and Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on electric guitar:

As noted above, the headliners were, in order of appearance, Marc Antoine on classical guitar:

David Benoit on piano:

…and occasionally on keyboard:

Jay emphasized the first syllable on “Benoit” rather than the second.

Marion Meadows on soprano saxophone:

And for the last three songs (including the encore), special guest Elan Trotman on tenor sax:

SET LIST
1. Smooth Ride (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2016)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

2. Latin Quarter (Marc Antoine)
Originally heard on: Urban Gypsy (1995)
Featured musician: Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

3. Caminando (David Benoit & Marc Antoine)
Originally heard on: So Nice! (2017)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano/keyboard), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

4. A Cafe Au Lait Bentley (David Benoit & Marc Antoine)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2017)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano/keyboard), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)
I cheered when David announced this song: “Yay!” It’s my favorite song on So Nice. David told me it’s based on a line in Ashley Bell by his friend Dean Koontz. I found it here:

“Of course I don’t teach anymore. Don’t have to. That’s my café-au-lait Bentley over there. But I always tell people,” said Mrs. Hoffline-Vorshack, “I was the first to recognize your talent.”

5. Freedom at Midnight (David Benoit)
Originally heard on: Freedom at Midnight (1987); “The Schroeder Variations” with “Moonlight Sonata” excerpt on Earthglow (2010)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano/keyboard), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

6. Body Rhythm (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: Body Rhythm (1995)
Featured musician: Marion Meadows (soprano sax)
Marion began the song by playing through the audience.

7. Humanity (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: Soul Traveler (2015)
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Jay Rowe (keyboard solo), Dave Anderson (bass solo)

8. Montuno Bay (Marc Antoine)
Originally heard on: Guitar Destiny (2012)
Featured musicians: Marc Antoine (classical guitar), Jay Rowe (keyboard solo)

9. Every Step of the Way (David Benoit)
Originally heard on: Every Step of the Way (1988)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano/keyboard), Marc Antoine (classical guitar)

10. Linus and Lucy (David Benoit; Vince Guaraldi cover)
Originally heard on: This Side Up (1985), Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown! (1989)/This is America, Charlie Brown episode 6: “The Great Inventors,” Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years! (2000)
Featured musicians: David Benoit (piano)

11. Soul City (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: Soul City (2018)
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Elan Trotman (special guest) (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar solo)

12 (Finale). Mas Que Nada (Marc Antoine; Jorge Ben Jor cover; Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 signature song)
Originally heard on: Cruisin’ (2001)
Featured musicians: Everyone but Dave Anderson; Roberto Vally (bass)
With the piano in the way, I didn’t realize Roberto was on bass, so I didn’t take any pictures. Instead, I’ll refer you to his website. I met him in the hotel lobby the following morning.

13 (Encore). Watermelon Man (David Benoit; Herbie Hancock cover)
Originally heard on: Right Here, Right Now (2003)
Featured musicians: Everyone but Marc Antoine, Danny Pickering (flugelhorn)

Jay didn’t play on David Benoit’s songs. Rohn didn’t play on “Latin Quarter,” “Caminando,” “A Cafe Au Lait Bentley,” “Montuno Bay,” or “Every Step of the Way.”

We’ve reached the part where I show groups of pictures by artist. We start with Marc Antoine:

David Benoit on piano:

…and keyboard:

To start “Body Rhythm,” Marion Meadows played through the audience:

Special guest Elan Trotman:

Jay Rowe:

Dave Anderson:

Trever Somerville:

Steve Scales:

Rohn Lawrence:

Now for shots with more than person, starting with Jay and Marc:

David and Marc:

Elan and Marion:

“Linus and Lucy”:

The finale: “Mas Que Nada”:

The encore: “Watermelon Man”:

Danny Pickering made a cameo on flugelhorn:

The end:

I wasn’t expecting an encore, but I love David’s take on “Watermelon Man,” so I was happy to hear it.

At the meet and greet in the lobby, I met and posed with Marc Antoine:

Elan Trotman and David Benoit:

…and Jay Rowe and Marion Meadows:

Kelly dropped me off at the hotel and she went to the after party. In all the years I’ve gone to SJFS, I’ve never been to an after party. I don’t like to be up too late, anyway. I usually go to sleep around 10:00 or 11:00.

Click here to read how the rest of my weekend went.

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The end of the Wii Shop March 21, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Personal, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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The Wii Shop Channel on the Nintendo Wii is closing for good on January 30, 2019. Next Monday is the last day to buy points to download Virtual Console and WiiWare titles in the shop. Buy now. You have until 4PM ET/1PM PT that day. 3/27 UPDATE: Points can no longer be purchased.

I didn’t know about the Wii Shop’s fate until last Thursday when the YouTube channel My Life in Gaming, run by Coury Carlson and Marc “Try4ce” (or just “Try”) Duddleson, posted this video:

The video highlights select Virtual Console games from retro consoles and arcades, as well as select WiiWare titles. Each console segment has a guest selection from other YouTubers. Those YouTubers are Jonathan Williams a.k.a. The 8-Bit Duke, John Linneman from Digital Foundry, G Gracin III of G to the Next Level, Joe Redifer of Game Sack, Derek Alexander of Stop Skeletons from Fighting, Anthony Cavallo a.k.a. AntDude, Chris Alaimo who runs the Classic Gaming Quarterly channel, and Erin Plays.

$1 is equal to 100 Wii Shop points. Points are sold in $10 increments between $10 and $50, plus tax.

I was reluctant to buy points for the first few days after the video went up. I had 900 points left over from a shopping spree last year and used them on Sunday afternoon to buy the original arcade version of Golden Axe. That spree led me to purchase the four Donkey Kong games for the NES, Sonic 1 and 2 on the Sega Master System, and Pilotwings and Kirby’s Dreamland 3 on the Super NES. The only Virtual Console purchase prior to that was Yoshi for the NES. I didn’t utilize the wired internet connection adapter until a few years ago and didn’t know the Wii was Wi-Fi compatible until last May when I bought a refurbished Wii U and transferred my Wii data to it, leaving the Wii for Gamecube games.

Monday evening, I took the plunge, twice shelling out $50 plus tax to buy 10,000 points. I used those points to buy the following:

  • Arcade: Altered Beast, Ninja Gaiden, Rygar, Shinobi, Space Harrier, Tecmo Bowl, Wonder Boy in Monster Land
  • Neo Geo: Neo Turf Masters
  • NES: Kirby’s Adventure, Startropics
  • SNES: Kirby Super Star
  • N64: Mario Party 2, Super Smash Bros.

Let me explain some of my purchases: I bought Kirby’s Adventure because I know the save battery in my cartridge will go sooner or later. Neo Geo consoles and games are ridiculously expensive. Cart only, Mario Party 2 is at least $23 on eBay while Super Smash Bros. starts at $32. The DS reissue of Kirby Super Star starts at $14 loose on eBay; $21 with the case and manual. The original Super Nintendo cartridge goes for at least $40. The arcade purchases were to avoid using MAME or buying the original PCBs.

About an hour after my farewell spree, I wrote a truncated version of the above on Twitter. It was in reply to My Life in Gaming’s follow-up tweet about the video which tagged all YouTubers involved, I didn’t list the arcade games. Chris Alaimo selected Golden Axe, Coury recommended Shinobi and Space Harrier, and Try touted Wonder Boy in Monster Land. None of the other games I listed were recommended in the video, which led Joe Redifer to facetiously reply:

Nobody in the video recommended any of those games. Please return them and download ONLY the games we recommended. Thanks!

I replied in kind with “At once, sir!,” following up with “I assume we’re both kidding.” Both were liked by Joe.

Chris was next to quip:

Honestly. It’s like why do we even bother? 😛

So, I said:

I’m only one man. Surely, others that haven’t replied bought all the games you all recommended.

And he replied:

They better have. I have kids to feed.

Then, yesterday morning, I rewatched the arcade portion of the video so I could finally note that I did buy the arcade games that were recommended.

Farewell, Wii Shop. You will live on through my Virtual Console purchases. I didn’t buy any WiiWare titles, though.

3/22/18 UPDATE: After watching the “Franchise Killers 2” episode of Game Sack, I decided to buy one WiiWare title: Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth. Bye again, Wii Shop.

2017 WCWP Homecoming Weekend, first five hours October 14, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Education, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Video, Video Games.
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For the third year in a row, I led off the 60-hour Homecoming Weekend block of alumni-hosted shows on WCWP, LIU Post’s campus radio station. Instrumental Invasion with Mike Chimeri kicked off the festivities yesterday at noon.

The Homecoming Weekend block began in December 1977 as Oldtimers’ Weekend. Here is a flyer made for the inaugural block:
OldtimersWeekendFlyer

And here’s the press release.

The block would move to the weekend of homecoming the following year, but wouldn’t be called Homecoming Weekend until 1980.

Back in the present, my mother drove me up to LIU Post at 8:10 AM. I arrived at LIU Post about a half hour later.

Three hours remained until my show. I passed the time by setting up in Studio 2, browsing the web in Studio 3 (which is as an editing room and classroom) on my laptop – which I brought to edit the airchecks audio and video after my show – and played a word search in a Nintendo 3DS game called Crosswords Plus.

Along the way, fellow alumni Jeff and Pat Kroll arrived, as did Joel Feltman.

Eventually, noon came and I was on the air. While my first song – “Happy Hour” by the recently departed Chuck Loeb – was playing, I took some pictures:

An hour into the show, I had Pat Kroll take a picture of me:

Ted David, who came on after my show, listened to me on his drive up to the station. He was very complimentary of every facet of my show, especially my music selections and delivery. He repeated those compliments early in his show. After spotting my camera, he took this picture of me:

Ted’s right. This was a great show. From my perspective, it was nearly flawless. The only mistake was having the CD 1 pot (potentiometer) down at the start of “One More Time” by Herman Jackson. Here is how I looked and sounded during the airchecks:

Thanks to Shanachie for not penalizing me for the excerpt of “Stratosphere” by Najee. They claimed the copyright on the video and are getting revenue. I thank them for the joy their artists provide me.

11:45 AM UPDATE: I just noticed that my camcorder swayed back and forth on the tripod while recording. I hope it doesn’t give any viewers motion sickness.

10/17/17 UPDATE: I have since acquired an alternate recording of the show via internet stream. The constant tone from my FM tuner recording in the above video is gone. Here is how the airchecks sounded on the stream:

I mentioned during the show that David Benoit hosts a show on an 88.1 FM in Long Beach, California, but neglected to elaborate. The call letters are KKJZ-FM and it’s known as KJazz 88.1 FM. Like WCWP, it emanates from a college campus: Long Beach State. David’s show airs weekdays from 8AM to noon Pacific (11AM to 3PM Eastern).

Here’s how the transitions between songs during the show sounded (10/17/17 UPDATE: Also via the stream):

And here’s the playlist.

As I noted Ted David followed my show:

As I further noted, Ted complimented me during his show:

Thank you, Ted, not only for the compliments, but for the aircheck.

Ted then gave way to Pat Kroll:

Pat had me take a posed shot:

Then, I took a pic of Pat and Jeff:

Next door in Studio 3, I asked Bruce and Tamara Leonard to pose for a pic:

Then, Bruce had me pose with Tamara:

And before I left for home, a shot of Ted David and Joel Feltman:

It’s 8:05 AM as I post this. I’m headed back up to LIU Post this afternoon for Homecoming, the WCWP Alumni Barbecue and the announcement of the 2018 class of the WCWP Hall of Fame. I should have a recap of the day up by Monday.

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.

Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, Day 2 August 14, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Football, Internet, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Technology, Travel, Video, Video Games.
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I’ve been to jazz performances, comedy acts, and New York Comic Con. But yesterday marked my first time at a retro gaming convention. I made my way to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in East Garden City for the second day of this year’s Long Island Retro Gaming Expo.

Within the last year, I’ve become a regular YouTube viewer, gravitating toward channels about computers, music keyboards, video games, video game and console collecting, and what equipment to use to get the best picture quality out of video game consoles on an HDTV. These videos inspired me to start the Mike Chimeri’s Music Collection YouTube series. Here’s the latest episode:

Two of the YouTube channels I watch are The 8-Bit Guy and 8-Bit Keys, both run by David Murray. (He also has a website.) In a video earlier this year, David announced he would be appearing at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. With that in mind, I bought a ticket for the second day.

When I purchased my ticket, I was automatically subscribed to the expo newsletter. With a month to go, the schedule was released. It turned out the first day would be more eventful, with many guest speakers, including David. In fact, my friend Jill and her son Mark went on the first day and saw him speak. But I chose to stick with my decision to only go to the second day, since David was also listed as a vendor.

I left for the Cradle of Aviation Museum, part of Museum Row, at 11:30. 20 minutes later, I was there.

I was directed to a desk, where I exchanged my ticket for a wristband.

I also bought into a raffle at the information desk:

After a few minutes of walking by vendors, I spotted David Murray. I introduced myself and we had a brief conversation. He graciously allowed a picture with him, which his wife took:

It slipped my mind that he should sign something until he brought it up after the picture. I had him sign my program:

It turned out David wasn’t a vendor on the second day because he had sold all his merchandise on the first day. I was disappointed, but still honored to meet him and his wife. Be sure to check out The 8-Bit Guy and 8-Bit Keys. And if you like what you see, consider supporting the channels on Patreon. I do.

After that, I toured the rest of the vendors.

I held off on buying anything until I was ready to leave.

The tournament room:

The second floor had freeplays on various consoles and CRT TVs, as well as arcade cabinets:

I gave Mega Man and Castlevania a try, but struggled and gave up after losing a life:

I played a successful level of Dr. Mario, a favorite of mine:

I’ve always liked how the “Chill” tune briefly pays homage to “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins.

I first discovered the arcade version of Tetris at the since-closed Kutsher’s Hotel in 1995. My former dentist also had a Tetris cabinet for many years. Back in 2010, I bought the rare, unlicensed NES port on eBay. The music and gameplay sound just like the arcade. I also have the licensed Nintendo version.

I subscribed to Nintendo Power for several years. Game Genies for many consoles helped me greatly. The NES version allowed me to beat Super Mario Bros. 3 many times.

Here are R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), the Virtual Boy, and the Power Glove:

One of my cousins had a Virtual Boy, which I tried in 1995, six months after the Kutsher’s weekend, and did not like.

I quickly walked the third floor where there was PC LAN freeplay:

Back on the second floor, AfroDJMac played our favorite retro tunes:

Madden:

A corridor of freeplay:

Back to the first floor:

Board games, or tabletop games:

In just over an hour, I’d seen everything. All that remained was to go back to the Vendor Hall and buy some games I’ve always wanted, but never owned. Consider this the equivalent of a pickups video. The games I bought were:

Nintendo Game Boy:

  • Monopoly
  • Elmo’s ABCs (don’t judge)
  • Mickey’s Speedway USA

Sega Genesis:

  • Tecmo Super Bowl

Nintendo 64:

  • Cruis’n World
  • Top Gear Rally

Nintendo Gamecube:

  • Super Monkey Ball

Nintendo DS:

  • Kirby Mass Attack

I also bought a Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP model AGS-101:

For over a decade, I’ve had the frontlit AGS-001. I was satisfied with the quality until I found out in this My Life in Gaming video…

…and this Metal Jesus Rocks video…

…that there was a second model, the AGS-101, which was not only backlit, but brighter! The difference is amazing. On top of that, as you saw, the GBA SP I bought was a Limited Edition Pikachu version. I’m not into Pokémon, but it’s still special to have.

I was hoping to get a Sega Saturn at a decent price, but did not succeed. I’ll have to settle for eBay sometime in the future.

There was one item I bought that was neither a game nor a console. It was pixel art by Joseph Uzzo who has a blog called Nestalgic Bits. I picked out a standing sprite of Raccoon Mario from Super Mario Bros. 3:

I may have only been at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo for a couple of hours, but I had a great time. Thanks to the expo staff, the vendors, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Joseph Uzzo, the Murrays, and my fellow game enthusiasts.

SJFS 2017 Night 1 recap May 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel, Video Games, Weather.
19 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 22018 Night 1, 2018 Night 2

On Friday and Saturday nights, keyboardist Jay Rowe hosted the 15th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars in his hometown of Milford, Connecticut. The concerts benefit the Milford Public Schools music department. Friday’s headliners were Will Donato, Nick Colionne, Jeff Kashiwa, and Rick Braun.

It was ten years ago April 28 that I attended SJFS for the first time, making this my 11th year in attendance. Like that first time, my parents came with me.

We left for the Milford Hampton Inn at around 2:30. It had been rainy and windy all day, but the rain let up and wind diminished about a half hour into our drive. Unfortunately, we encountered heavy traffic throughout, especially in Connecticut.  Under normal traffic, we’d be at the hotel in an hour and 45 minutes, but the drive took nearly twice as long this time.

Perhaps as a good omen, the Watercolors channel on SiriusXM played “Smooth Ride,” the title track from Jay’s latest album:

Watercolors was on throughout our not-so-smooth ride. I also spent the first half of the ride breaking in my new Nintendo 3DS XL. I played a couple of 3DS games – Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 (just the time trials) – as well as two DS games – Mario Kart DS (again, only the time trials) and You Don’t Know Jack.

After checking in and settling in to our third floor rooms, we made our way to the home of Smooth Jazz for Scholars: Veterans Memorial Auditorium, located in the Parsons Government Center. Along the way, we ate dinner at Wendy’s.

At 8:10, the show began, as Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz welcomed the audience and thanked sponsors:

The show opened with performances by West Shore Middle School general music students, directed by Chris Kalafus:

…and the Foran High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jessica Shearer:

Then, it was on to the main event. Jay Rowe’s house band consisted of Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on guitar, Dave Anderson on bass, Trever Somerville on drums, and Steve Scales on percussion. Pictures of the band and headliners can be seen below, but first…

SET LIST
1. Bumpin’ on Hollywood (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Red Hot and Smooth (2006)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Jonathan Law/Foran High School horn section, Rick Braun (trumpet), Will Donato (alto sax), Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

2. Funkability (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: What It Takes (2010)
Featured musicians: Will Donato (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

3. New Life (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: Will Power (2005)
Featured musician: Will Donato (alto sax)

4. When You Love Somebody (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: Influences (2014)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar, vocals), Jason Grant (drums)

5. The Journey (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: The Journey (2016)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar), Jason Grant (drums)

6. Movin’ Up (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Play (2007)
Featured musician: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

7. Do It Again (Jeff Kashiwa; Steely Dan cover)
Originally heard on: Upcoming album
Featured musician: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

8. Notorious (Rick Braun)
Originally heard on: Body and Soul (1997), Sessions: Volume 1 (2006)
Featured musicians: Rick Braun (flugelhorn), Will Donato (tenor sax)

9. My Funny Valentine (Rick Braun; standard by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart)
Featured musician: Rick Braun (vocals, muted trumpet)

10. Everything is Alright (Rick Braun)
Originally heard on: Around the Horn (2017)
Featured musicians: Rick Braun (trumpet, vocals), Rohn Lawrence (guitar, vocals), Jay Rowe (keyboards, vocals)

11. Morning Call (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: The Journey (2016)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar), Jason Grant (drums)

12. Supersonic (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: Supersonic (to be released July 2017)
Featured musicians: Will Donato (alto sax), Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

13. Hyde Park (The “Ah, Oooh” Song) (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Another Door Opens (2000)
Featured musicians: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax), audience (“ah, oooh”)

14 (Finale). Grazin’ in the Grass (Rick Braun; Hugh Masekela cover [a.k.a. “Grazing in the Grass”])
Originally heard on: Shake It Up (collaboration with Boney James) (2000); Sessions: Volume 1 (2006)
Featured musicians: Everyone

As promised, here are the pictures. We start with the “Bumpin’ on Hollywood” horns:

Jay Rowe:

Rohn Lawrence:

Dave Anderson:

Trever Somerville:

Steve Scales:

After “Bumpin’ on Hollywood,” Will Donato went to the lobby to start “Funkability.” He worked his way through the audience, picking out my friend Kelly along the way to the stage:

Now, the on-stage shots:

Tenor sax on “Notorious”:

Nick Colionne:

Vocals on “When You Love Somebody”:

Working through the audience on “Morning Call”:

Spotting my camera:

Striking a pose:

I gave him an approving thumbs up as the audience laughed.

Jason Grant was on drums for Nick’s songs:

Jeff Kashiwa:

Rick Braun on flugelhorn for “Notorious”:

On hitting the last note: “I can do it!”

He did:

Muted trumpet for “My Funny Valentine”:

Regular trumpet for “Everything is Alright”:

Rick also sang “My Funny Valentine”:

…and “Everything is Alright”:

Rohn backed him up:

And so did Jay!

Will and Rohn:

Jeff and Rohn:

Rick and Will:

Rick and Rohn:

Will and Jeff:

The finale: “Grazin’ in the Grass”:

Jay had some closing remarks as the song wound down:

The last note:

Before I left for the night, I caught up with Will Donato and we posed for a picture:

It’s always nice to see him. He’s been very complimentary of my work, and was when we spoke Friday night. It goes without saying that I’m fond of his work, as well. When I posted on Facebook yesterday that I was back home, he left the following comment:

Mike! It was so great to see you! You always make me feel so welcome when I travel back east! I respect and admire YOUR talents! WD

Reading that now brings a smile to my face.

A recap of Saturday night’s show can be seen here.

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.

My experience at Day 1 of 2014 New York Comic Con October 10, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Books, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
2 comments

Previous New York Comic Con recap: 2012 Day 2
Later New York Comic Con recap: 2017 Day 1

Yesterday marked my second trip to New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in the Midtown West portion of Manhattan. This time, I went with my girlfriend. We met each other at Penn Station, going our own ways to get there. I came from Wantagh, she came from Wallingford, Connecticut.

My way to her began at around 12:15 when I walked two blocks to a bus stop for the southbound NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) n73. The bus arrived at 12:28, two minutes ahead of schedule. That ensured I would arrive at the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station in time to board a 12:32 train, an earlier train than I had planned for. If I hadn’t bought my round trip ticket the day before, I’d have to wait for the 12:57. 50 minutes later, I was at Penn Station. I met up with my girlfriend and we began the half-hour walk to the Javits Center.

We entered at West 38th Street, tapping our badges before going inside. Conventioneers were greeted by giant inflated Teen Titans – and, by extension, Teen Titans Go! – characters.

Beast Boy and Starfire:
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Cyborg and Robin:
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And, of course, Raven:
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Time to head inside…

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My first plan was to meet voice actor Billy West, whom I interviewed back in 2005 at WCWP. Since autographing was involved, and not knowing offhand where Booth 1280 was, despite going to NYCC two years ago, I headed downstairs.

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A fellow conventioneer informed me that Booth 1280 was on the show floor. So, my girlfriend and I headed there.

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On the floor…
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We searched the aisle numbers and headed for the 1200s. It was there that we found Billy West.

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Billy and I had a brief conversation, he signed my copy of Futurama, Volume 7 – which has Zoidberg on the cover – and my girlfriend took our picture:
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He signed the cover this way:

To Mike!

…Zoidberg could eat…

Billy West

It was the highlight of my afternoon. But there was more to do. My girlfriend and I walked the floor back to a downward escalator.

Along the way, this is what we saw:
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We finally reached a downward escalator:
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There were a few panels I was interested in attending, but the one we settled on was here in Room 1A21:
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It was for the latest (and upcoming) Transformers TV series, Transformers: Robots in Disguise. The panel began at 4:00, but we got in line at 3:00.

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The line was small when we arrived and we ended up near the front. It pays to show up early. After 50 minutes in line, the door was opened. We ended up sitting front row center. It was fantastic.

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The panel was moderated by Mike Vogel, the Vice President of Development for Hasbro Studios:
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From right to left on the dais, there was Jeff Kline, executive producer:
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Jose Lopez, director:
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Adam Beecher, producer and writer:
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And the voice talent:
Will Friedle (Bumblebee):
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Khary Payton (Grimlock):
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Constance Zimmer (Strongarm):
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…and Mitchell Whitfield (Fixit):
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Now that you know the stars, here are random panel wide shots:
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Khary set up the clip about to be shown:
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Q&A:
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After 45 minutes, the panel came to an end:
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Constance and Khary stuck around to sign autographs:
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Transformers: Robots in Disguise premieres in early 2015 on Cartoon Network. I can’t wait. I’m so glad I chose this panel.

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After a few fun hours at New York Comic Con, my girlfriend and I called it a day:
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We didn’t go right home, though. We walked down 11th Avenue to West 35th Street, taking that to 8th. We stopped in Trattoria Bianca for an early dinner. An hour later, we boarded an express LIRR train back to Wantagh, which also took an hour.

As I did for my 2012 Day 2 recap, I’ll leave you with a picture of the lanyard I wore and the badge it carried:
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10/11 UPDATE: There is an in-depth recap of the Transformers: Robots in Disguise panel at Newsarama.

And unbeknownst to me, because I didn’t look at the NYCC schedule beyond Thursday, there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel yesterday. Bam! Smack! Pow! has a recap of that, while IGN’s Scott Collura interviewed Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), and executive producers Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman.

If tickets for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday hadn’t sold out so fast, I would have gone either of those days. But I’m glad I went when I did. As I noted in the original recap, I got to meet Billy West in person and to whet my appetite for Transformers: Robots in Disguise, sitting front row center for their panel in the process.

My trip up Super Bowl Boulevard February 14, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Broadway, Football, Media, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Last Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Seattle Seahawks resoundingly defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII by the score of 43-8.  It was the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

Two days before the Big Game, I headed to nearby Manhattan to walk the NFL’s Super Bowl Boulevard Engineered by GMC.  The “Boulevard” spanned Broadway between West 34th and West 47th Streets.  It was open to the public between Wednesday, January 29, and Saturday, February 1, the day after I was there.  I had my Nikon D5100 (and two lenses) along for the walk to take pictures with.

The pictures in this post were taken outside the remote studios of ESPN, NFL Network, and FOX Sports; inside the Xbox One tent; by the Super Bowl Toboggan Run; by Extra Points, where fans could kick footballs through a goalpost; and a few other landmarks along the way.

We begin at ESPN’s studio:
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The Xbox One tent:
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The CNN/Bleacher Report studio:
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The autograph stage:
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Super Bowl Toboggan Run:
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NFL Network’s studio at West 41st Street:
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The Vince Lombardi Trophy:
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One block north of Super Bowl Boulevard was M&Ms World:
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On the second floor, there was a massive array of tubes that contained milk chocolate, peanut, peanut butter, and pretzel M&Ms in a variety of colors.  Two of the tubes had milk chocolate M&Ms in the team colors of the Seahawks and Broncos.  I filled a bag of all kinds of M&Ms in all colors; 2.87 pounds worth.  It took me three days to eat it all.

The FOX Sports studio at West 46th Street:
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Megyn Kelly hosted her Fox News Channel show, The Kelly File, from this south-facing desk hours after I took this picture:
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The north side of the studio:
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A later shot of the south side:
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Extra Points:
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This kick was good:
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When I passed by NFL Network’s studio again, Joe Montana was on set with hosts Andrew Siciliano, Willie McGinest, and Heath Evans:
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Here’s how that looked on NFL Network:
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And when I passed by ESPN’s studio, NFL Insiders was on:
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From left to right: Bill Polian, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, and Suzy Kolber:
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Macy’s Broadway entrance:
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Macy’s West 34th Street entrance near 7th Avenue:
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Once inside, I bought a Super Bowl XLVIII polo shirt, cap (second from the left above), full size football with the Seahawks and Broncos logos on it, and program.

Despite the massive crowds and back stiffness that set in after an hour and a half, I had a great time walking Super Bowl Boulevard.

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on winning Super Bowl XLVIII two nights later.

My experience at Day 2 of 2012 New York Comic Con October 15, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Books, Comedy, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
2 comments

Later New York Comic Con recaps: 2014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1

Friday marked my first time at the annual New York Comic Con, held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on 11th Avenue on Manhattan’s West Side.  The Javits Center stretches from West 34th to 40th Streets, but the main entrance is at West 37th.

My day at the event was scheduled around the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel, which was to be held at 6:45 PM.  Bored at home, I left the house just after 1:00, 90 minutes earlier than I planned.  I walked to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station (a 20-minute walk), bought a round trip off peak ticket in a ground-level vending machine, and waited on the platform for the train to arrive.  I saw one person in costume, which meant I wouldn’t be the only one bound for NYCC on the train.  With the air temperature in the low 50s and a stiff breeze, I was dressed for winter: a winter coat and a long sleeve shirt, but no costume.  As the joke goes, I went as myself.

After an hour-long train ride to Penn Station, I walked up to the street and had two slices of pizza at Famous Famiglia on 8th Avenue, one of many locations in New York alone.  It was an appropriate lunch on the day of the TMNT panel.

After passing the Houndstooth Pub at the corner of 8th and West 37th Street, the site of many contemporary jazz shows I’ve attended, I crossed west and then north to walk on the north side of West 37th.  There were groups of people ahead of me also heading to Javits.  Part of the walk featured an overpass above Dyer Avenue, which leads into the Lincoln Tunnel.  Once at the Javits Center, I walked in the green entrance.

Friday was the second day of four of the Con.  A sold-out crowd packed the Javits Center, making the indoor temperature feel like close to 80.  If only I had chosen a spring jacket and short sleeve shirt.

According to my camera, I took the first picture in this post at 3:18 PM, within 40 minutes of arriving at Penn Station.  Let’s see those pics, shall we?

I expected to see press conducting interviews, like Bill Schulz and Jesse Watters did last year, but I only saw crews passing by with their equipment off (seen here after I left the Show Floor):

Taking the escalator to the Show Floor:

Leaving the Show Floor:

The next few pics are LEGO displays built by LUGs (LEGO Users Groups) in New York and Connecticut: