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Instrumental Invasion, 5/26/21 May 27, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Comedy, Country, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, TV, Video, Video Games.
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The May 26 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded over three days. The first hour was completed on April 20 with a pickup on the 21st, while the second hour and additional pickups were done on the 22nd.

The playlist was created on April 18 with annotations and the script draft on the 19th.

It was a Brown namesake extravaganza with songs by Norman (guitar/vocals), Alison (banjo), Paul (guitar/vocals), and Dean (guitar), plus songs by Lisa Addeo – making her Instrumental Invasion debut – and Julian Vaughn that featured Mel Brown on bass. I’d love to see the five of them perform together someday.

For the first time in six shows, I had to replace a song because time was running short in a segment; in this case, the first segment of hour 2. “Through the Years” by Brian Culbertson was replaced with “Northern Lights.”

As I type this sentence, I have not played any version of Space Harrier, but through watching videos on YouTube, I’ve developed an appreciation for it. Thus, “Get Ready” by Jazmin Ghent (making her debut on the show) makes me think of the opening line in the game: “Welcome to the fantasy zone. Get ready!”

This video dares to compare every version of Space Harrier:

I also made reference to The Golden Girls. “Picture it!,” I exclaimed as Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) while acknowledging Nick Petrillo on keyboards.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 5/5/21 May 6, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Football, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Sports, Video, Video Games.
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The May 5 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded two segments per day from March 31 to April 2.

The playlist was created on March 27 and annotated on the 28th. The script was drafted on the 29th.

I used the phrase “one compound word,” while back-selling “Magicsmiles” by Gregg Karukas, as an homage to a 2012 episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd (strong language):

The phrase was uttered by the Nerd (James Rolfe) toward the end of a monologue on football. The monologue starts at 1:27 with the phrase coming two minutes later.

And speaking of videos, here is the music video for “Motor City Sway” by Alexander Zonjic:

I didn’t have Cinco de Mayo in mind when I programmed “South of the Border” into the playlist, but I realized while drafting the script that the show would air that day.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 4/14/21 April 15, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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The April 14, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was painstakingly recorded over four days. The first hour was recorded in the early morning and mid-afternoon of March 9. The second hour took three days with the first segment recorded on March 10 on my laptop through an Apogee MiC 96k, and the last two segments back at home on the 11th and 12th. Pickups were required for a talk break in the third segment of hour 1 and one talk break in each segment of hour 2.

The playlist was created and annotated on March 7, and the script was drafted on the 8th. For the second week in a row, I made a timing error. Worse yet, two timing errors. In the last segment of hour 1, I put in a 4:32 song rather than 5:32. The replacement song faded out incredibly early, which still left me with too much time in the talk break that followed. I had to vamp. I made the opposite mistake in hour 2, inserting a 4:55 song in the second segment when I needed 3:55. The irony is the first segment was mainly comprised of songs that I had to cut from the last two shows, one due to timing and the other because of a wordy talk break. (9:35 AM UPDATE: I forgot to account for the replacement, which was from 2011. That meant listeners heard me refer in the vamp to a 2010 song that they wouldn’t hear until a week later.)

The inclusion of “Outside Solaris” by Clifford Marshall Van Buren is another of my loving tributes to the heyday of local forecast music on The Weather Channel. You can find an example of its usage on Matt Marron’s TWC Classics tribute site. I don’t always do this, but I prefaced the description of Solaris with “according to Wikipedia” to acknowledge my lack of knowledge. You learn something new every day.

The “fun fact” preface to the Dan Ingram tidbit was an homage to a catchphrase on the Technology Connections YouTube channel.

Picking up on what I said coming out of “Whispered Confessions” by Lisa Hilton, here is a side-by-side comparison of the song’s melody and what’s played between levels in the NES port of Pac-Man:

That remains a pleasant coincidence seven years after hearing the song for the first time at Carnegie Hall.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 3/31/21 April 1, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Video, Video Games.
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The March 31, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP marked one year since my Wednesday night premiere. The show was recorded one hour per day on February 25 and 26 with multiple pickups recorded on the second day, and still more on the morning of the 27th.

The playlist was created on February 23 with annotations continuing into the 24th, after which the script was drafted.

This was an incredibly hard show to do. I had to improvise multiple talk breaks because there wasn’t enough time to read from the lengthy scripts. The second talk break of the show was so lengthy that I had to replace “Lakeshore Cowboy” by Ramsey Lewis with “Heartsounds” by David Lanz. In future playlists, I’m expanding the back-sell length to 50 seconds. That may not even be enough.

Giant Steps” and “Fly with the Wind” were included days after acquiring John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner‘s albums of the same name. Giant Steps is the first Trane album I ever bought.

My “Giant Steps” curiosity had been piqued by several YouTube videos that either covered the song…:

…or adapted the changes into other songs:

So, it was only right that I acquaint myself with the original.

I played “El Camino Real” by David Benoit to make up for the factual error I made when I first played it last August 19.

Click below to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Requiem for Cygnus Destroyer, LJN Defender and IUPG March 6, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Media, Personal, Radio, Video, Video Games.
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3/31 UPDATE: A comment from Greg B. noted that “Matt is now Mx. Morgan Constance Enby. [They] abandoned video game talk all together … focusing on Trans Rights/Awareness and Politics.” As I stated in my reply, thank you, Greg, for letting me know. I sincerely wish them luck in their current endeavor. If any readers share their political views and are equally active, you can follow them on Twitter. (It’s the same account as before, but with a new link. That’s why I couldn’t find it.)

Read the original post below.

In June 2017, I discovered a video game-centered YouTube channel run by the enthusiastic Matt Ezero (“ezzer-o”), who bears a striking resemblance to actor and director David Hyde Pierce. Matt had three series running concurrently:

  1. Cygnus Destroyer’s Retro Reviews – the channel’s original concept, reviewing retro video games and consoles that Matt grew up playing or recently acquired
  2. The LJN Defender – an alternate take on video games published by LJN, a company that incurred the wrath of The Angry Video Game Nerd, one of Matt’s influences
  3. Innocent Until Proven Guilty (IUPG) – a balanced look at flawed video games to determine whether they are innocent or guilty (or on rare occasions, guinnocent)

I had nearly five years of content to catch up on. There wasn’t much I didn’t like. Here are the first five videos I saw upon my discovery:

My only pet peeve was the unscripted status update outros, but Matt’s transparency was admirable. He had eschewed those outros a year before I discovered the channel. He had also upgraded his game capture methods from composite for pre-HD consoles to RGB and HDMI shortly before my discovery, starting with Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker:

Naturally, I became a loyal subscriber, and when Matt started a Patreon account in 2018, I was a proud pledge.

The content kept on coming, and as a patron, I provided feedback and voted on upcoming topics. Best of all, my name was featured in the credits. For example, Sonic and the Black Knight:

Incidentally, the Wiimote/nunchuk control demonstration in that video was hilarious: “Looks fun, doesn’t it?!” I love absurd humor.

Another example, Zelda CD-i games:

My Patreon post comments were even seen in the background. This was at the end of the Simon’s Quest video:

…and Matt’s tribute to the Sega Master System:

Unfortunately, any videos he posted to Patreon – mostly episode commentaries – were unscripted, which meant small things, like repeat phrases (i.e. “so…yeah,” “kind of”) or vocal quirks, got on my nerves. Not only that, but his persona was radically different. Main channel Matt was lively; Patreon Matt was staid. (He was also a political progressive who “liked” left-wing political posts on Twitter, but his tweets were apolitical.) I wasn’t expecting the same intense personality as the videos, but it was quite a contrast, akin to the chill energy of some Twitch streamers. And that was fine.

I think the reason phrases and quirks irk me is because I worked hard to improve my speech, or at least improve my presentation in a public forum. Hearing others speak how I used to, and still do to some extent in unguarded conversations, on recorded media is unnerving. I’m such a perfectionist that I edited all the fumfering and misspeaking out of old home audio recordings (late teens, early 20s) of play-by-play of my friends bowling at nearby AMF Wantagh Lanes.

With that said, though – to use one of his phrases – I gained insight into how he made his videos. For example, overhead camera shots of him playing Nintendo Switch games in handheld mode (as in this video) were actually recorded straight ahead with an upside down perspective. He would flip the video in Vegas Pro, his video editing software of choice, so that the view was right side up.

I also had the opportunity to vote in polls to determine episode topics. Among my votes was for an IUPG on Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival.

As 2019 progressed, Matt began to experience creative burnout. To counter that, he tried an experimental unscripted video on Bubsy: Paws on Fire. My black and white, all or nothing brain figured this was the way things would be from now on. So, I unpledged and unsubscribed. YouTube recommendations pointed me to a follow-up video where he announced a pivot back to the way things were. I promptly resubscribed and repledged. The scripted redo, the second video posted after his hiatus, came out this way:

That wasn’t the end, though. Content creation continued to be a struggle for Matt. After this IUPG video on WWE 2K20 (where, ironically, he ended the video on an uplifting, positive note about future content)…:

…the burnout reached its apex. The only solution was to go unscripted in 2020 to lessen the burden. I wouldn’t have that, unpledging and unsubscribing for good. I hoped for the best for him, but what he had in mind was not what I wanted.

As someone with weekly radio shows I record well in advance, and a compulsion to photograph and recap events I attend (i.e. UPLINK last year, Smooth Jazz for Scholars every normal year), I empathize with Matt’s struggle. There are times where I can’t handle the stress and want to quit. Somehow, I get through the creation process each week with the radio shows, but with the second UPLINK last month, I just couldn’t bring myself to take notes on four panels I chose to watch and adapt those notes into a recap as I did the first time. As for the radio shows, it takes at least five times as long to create, script, record, and produce each one. Yes, like I preferred Matt do, I script out my talk breaks with freedom to ad-lib occasionally. I started doing that last summer because there was a lot of information to disseminate and I didn’t want to forget anything. I feel I have enough voice over training and natural talent where I don’t always sound like I’m reading from a script. But even with all the work that goes into a show, I’ll make a mistake or forget something and need to redo a line or few. I don’t know how long my show’s run will be, but I greatly hope I don’t get burned out.

As 2020 dragged on, I assumed it was (new) business as usual for Matt, carrying on like any content creator. Other channels I unsubscribed from over small things – like mispronouncing words and phrases (some even intentionally to trigger pedants), saying “kind of” or “sort of” every other sentence, going on anti-humor tangents, and saying “at the end of the day” instead of “ultimately” or “in the end” – continue to put out content. They do just fine without my pedantry. Not Matt. On February 7 of this year, someone commented on one of my IUPG screencap Instagram posts:

Whatever happened to him? The guy has completely disappeared. Even on his second channel. Along with social media.

The commenter was right. If you try to access the Cygnus Destroyer accounts on Twitter and Facebook, you’re told the pages no longer exist. Matt left up the YouTube channel for posterity, calling it simply “LJN Defender.”

He wrote this in the channel about tab:

This is the old channel for the LJN Defender and home to Innocent Until Proven Guilty. I’ve now stopped making these types of videos because I no longer enjoy making them, but you will always be able to watch my old content right here.

The last post in the community tab was 11 months ago. Looking at the comments for the post before that have me worried that I caused Matt’s demise.

Blindsided, I replied to the commenter:

Whoa, I had no idea. I quit following and supporting him early last year when he abandoned scripted videos. Sad to hear he’s disappeared from the public eye.

After visiting the channel, I wrote a follow-up:

And now I see that those videos aren’t even listed. It just stops at WWE 2K20. Well, I think I’ll resubscribe just so I can reacquaint myself with his videos. I was a diehard fan for three years and watched nearly every video he posted.

I did as I said, watching all 180 videos that Matt left up over the past three weeks, from the evening of February 12 through this morning. (Oddly, he removed closed captioning from the remaining videos.) I even watched unscripted ones like his second anniversary video. Along the way, I noticed that some now-unlisted videos remained in the end screen. I watched one of them. As my journey progressed, I occasionally felt wistful, knowing that the man I was watching had essentially disappeared off the face of the Earth. I also felt nostalgic for later videos, recalling what was going on in my life at the time they were published.

Wherever you are, Matt, know that you still have plenty of fans, including me, that are grateful for the seven years of content you gave us. The pedantic side of me may not like the small things from your unscripted moments, but your videos brought me joy. They were informative, enlightening, and entertaining. Thank you and God bless you.

Instrumental Invasion, 2/24/21 February 25, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Audiobooks, Health, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Radio, TV, Video Games.
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The February 24, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded over three days. The first hour was recorded on January 22, the first two segments of the second hour on the 23rd, and the last segment on the 24th.

The playlist was created on January 21 while chasing lost opportunities to buy a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X from GameStop, and then Walmart. I annotated the playlist on the morning of the 22nd and drafted the script for each segment of the first hour as I recorded. I scripted the second hour’s talk breaks on the 23rd while digitizing a book on tape: How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication by Larry King with Bill Gilbert. Larry, who was one of my broadcasting heroes, succumbed to COVID-19 that morning and I wanted to revisit the audiobook that got me through the latter half of 11th grade.

For the second week in a row, I had to pad out the last talk break of hour 1, then did it for both talk breaks in the last segment of the show.

I played “Serious Business” by Jazz Funk Soul in an effort to give airplay to their first two albums: Jazz Funk Soul and More Serious Business. I had previously only played tracks from their latest, Life and Times.

As with the last segment of last week’s show, the first segment of hour 2 this week was remixed to incorporate a new liner from guitarist Nick Colionne. The talk break coming out of his song, “Nite Train,” was rerecorded to compliment a vintage WCWP liner, and the end of that break was rerecorded following news of Chick Corea’s passing.

I ended the show with “Revelation” by Yellowjackets and WDR Big Band to make up for the last ten seconds getting cut off back on December 9.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

As a bonus, here’s a blooper from the first segment:

Instrumental Invasion, 1/6/21 January 7, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Podcast, Radio, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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The January 6, 2021, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded on December 9, 2020. It was the first show recorded in one day since the October 14 show, which was made on September 7 (Labor Day). I recorded away from home on my laptop with a USB version of the Audio-Technica AT2020 microphone. This is most likely a one-off.

The playlist was created and annotated on December 7, exactly three months after the aforementioned previous one-day show recording.

Starting with this show, I added an extra five seconds in the playlist for talk breaks coming out of two songs and for the first talk break of hour 2. I had trouble filling time in the second segment, but then struggled to hit the post in the last segment, which was the only one I couldn’t edit down to 18:40.

As with the show that aired on December 9, to accommodate new music acquisitions, I swapped out the 1984 and earlier segment for a third 2017 to present segment.

I included “Groovers and Shakers” by Blake Aaron to make up for the last 90 seconds getting cut off on November 25.

“One Day” by Yellowjackets and the WDR Big Band is another song that was also posted to YouTube:

Once I saw Russell Ferrante was playing an actual Rhodes piano, I redid that credit in the last talk break at home with an Apogee MiC 96k. I should have used that mic the day before.

Regarding “Flurries” by Brian Culbertson, I was unaware that drummer Khari Parker died back in June. I learned that on Tuesday while annotating the playlist for the February 3 show.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

I also have two bonuses. First, I contributed a question to Game Dave‘s latest Digitally Distracted episode:

Here’s the question and his answer:

The second bonus is Jeff and Pat Kroll signing off last night’s The Rock Show, my lead-in:

Instrumental Invasion, 11/18/20 November 19, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Comedy, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Video Games.
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The November 18, 2020, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded one hour per day on October 22 and 23 with a pickup recording on November 11.

The playlist was created and annotated on October 19 with additional annotations during the recording sessions.

This is the first show where I scripted out every talk break, though I give myself freedom to ad-lib. (The remark about “a lot of classic rock in this show” was an ad-lib, for example.)

The show was originally recorded with 19-minute segments, but they all had to be trimmed down to 18:45 through editing out portions of talk breaks, and even speed compression. I had to do the same to the November 25 and December 2 shows. This is another danger of recording shows well in advance.

My reading of “Lucky,” while talking up the Fourplay song, was an homage to Mario‘s exclamation in his eponymous Nintendo video games when he snags a 1-Up Mushroom.

I originally recited the joke that inspires Jeff Lorber‘s “He Had a Hat” while talking up the song, but it was ten seconds over. I’m proud of the talk-up that made the show as I still shouted the punchline. Here is the joke (which Jeff told differently in a promotional interview):

“The Jewish Grandmother”

A Jewish lady’s grandson is playing in the water, she is standing on the beach not wanting to get her feet wet, when all of a sudden, a huge wave appears from nowhere and crashes directly over the spot where the boy is wading. The water recedes and the boy is no longer there. He simply vanished.

She holds her hands to the sky, screams and cries, “Lord, how could you?

Have I not been a wonderful grandmother?

Have I not been a wonderful mother?

Have I not given to B’nai Brith?

Have I not given to Hadassah?

Have I not lit candles every Friday night at dusk?

Have I not tried my very best to live a life that you would be proud of?”

A loud voice booms from the sky, “Okay, okay!”

A few minutes later another huge wave appears out of nowhere and crashes on the beach. As the water recedes, the boy is standing there, smiling, splashing around as if nothing had ever happened.

The loud voice booms again “I have returned your grandson. Are you satisfied?”

She responds, “He had a hat.”

Incidentally, I recorded the segment, and the entire second hour, on a Friday afternoon.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

As a bonus, I made a scope of the original 19-minute segment cut of the show. No broadcast compression filter was applied:

As still another bonus, here is how Jeff and Pat Kroll signed off my lead-in, a live edition of The Rock Show:

11/21 UPDATE: I forgot to note in this post that I swapped out an extra 2017-present segment for another 2007-2016. When I made the playlist, I didn’t have much material from the last four years to fill a second segment. Since then, I’ve received five more albums, which you’ll hear in the coming weeks, except for the last two weeks of December.

Instrumental Invasion, 9/30/20 October 1, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Broadway, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, TV, Video, Video Games.
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The September 30, 2020, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded on August 28. It was intended to air on September 23, but due to a programming error, the previous week’s show ran again. The error revealed the danger in recording shows so far in advance and immediately submitting them to a shared Google Drive folder. Other hosts record the week their show is to air and then submit it. Last Thursday, I was instructed that going forward, I am to submit the following Wednesday’s show the day after each show airs. That’s what I will do for the October 7 show and so on.

The playlist was created on the afternoon of August 25 with annotations beginning that evening and continuing into the recording session. As you can tell in the PDF, Acoustic Alchemy‘s “Allemande” duet was not my first choice to wrap up hour 2’s first segment, but I’m glad I went with it.

This show was the first to include a liner that Game Dave graciously recorded for me:

Considering his friend and former Digitally Distracted co-host Gerald, it’s an odd coincidence that the liner is followed in alphabetical order by Gerald Albright (a repurposed Mike Chimeri Show liner).

This was also the first time I got to use my friend Ryan Grabow‘s liner, which debuted a few weeks ago, coming out of a Rippingtons song:

“A Ripping good time,” indeed.

Musicians recurred more than usual in this show, but I might have overplayed my hand with recurring instruments.

As I back-sold “Juicy” by Brian Simpson, my mouth randomly salivated. I acknowledged that in my talk break, but opted to cut it out as it could be misconstrued as lascivious. Here’s what you would have heard:

I used the correct title on the air, but the track listing for Herb Alpert‘s Come Fly with Me adds “got” to “A Lot of Livin’ to Do.” That led whoever compiled composer credits to confuse it with the unrelated Elvis Presley song, “Got a Lot o’ Livin’ to Do!” Ironically, the song in Bye Bye Birdie is performed by Conrad Birdie, a character inspired by Elvis. (Sounds Like… called it “Gotta Lotta Livin’ to Do,” but correctly credited Lee Adams and Charles Strouse as composers.)

I am truly baffled as to what the voice sample says in “Category A” by Cindy Bradley. To quote Professor Farnsworth, crazy gibberish.

Finally, the aircheck you’ve been waiting for. Click here to download the MP3 or listen below:

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:

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.

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:

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.)

1/11/21 UPDATE: The 2022 PGA has been pulled from Trump National Bedminster due to the storming of the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday by some of the outgoing president’s supporters. An alternate venue has not been chosen yet. I hope it’s one in the New York metro area as Bedminster would have been.

2/4/21 UPDATE: The PGA announced their replacement last week, which I didn’t find out until this morning. It’s far removed from the New York metro area: Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were originally scheduled to host the PGA in 2030, which means a new venue will have to be picked for then. The next major in the New York metro area will be the 2026 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

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