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Instrumental Invasion, 9/8/21 September 9, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Video Games.
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The September 8 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP, the 75th show overall, was recorded from July 26 to 29, alternating between one and two segments per day at times when construction was not in progress next door.

The playlist was created on July 25 with annotations carrying into the 26th, followed by the script draft.

As noted at the top of the show, I played through two versions Super Mario World over a couple of weeks in July, beating the game and finding the last of the exits on the 24th.

I played the Super Famicom version on an FXPak Pro flash cart…:

…and the North American Super Nintendo version via Nintendo Switch Online:

It was the first time I had completed the game in over 25 years. For more on my experience with Super Mario World and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, check out my post on Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the SNES Library by Pat Contri.

As for the September 8 show, I chose not to acknowledge the 75th show milestone. I’ll save that for the 100th, if we get that far.

I learned last Friday that I had been mispronouncing trumpeter Tyler Mire’s last name while talking up “(It Gets) Better” by Ken Navarro. During the live listening party on Facebook for I Will Still Be Here, Ken pronounced it “meer” while I thought it rhymed with fire. I had submitted this week’s show, wherein I played “Straight Out the Gate,” the morning before. So, it was too late to correct my mistake, the third time I’d played a song with Tyler on trumpet. If I ever play any of those three songs again, rest assured I will use the correct pronunciation.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 9/1/21 September 2, 2021

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Video, Video Games.
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The September 1 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded an hour per day on July 22 and 23 amid construction next door.

The playlist was created on July 21 and annotated on the morning of the 22nd. The script was drafted before each recording session. That means the first hour was drafted on the afternoon of the 22nd and the second on the morning of the 23rd.

As usual, some segments ran long, requiring fast delivery or removing sentences, while others ran short, requiring padding, swapping out short liners for longer ones, and extra info. For example, I wasn’t planning on listing all the Hubert Laws albums Chick Corea played on.

I referenced the 1989 film The Wizard while back-selling “The Wizard” by Joyce Cooling. It’s a film I had heard about, but didn’t see until last September on HBO Max. It surely made moviegoers want a Nintendo Entertainment System, Power Glove (Lucas Barton loves it!), and Super Mario Bros. 3, key to the film’s climax. SMB3 was released in North America two months after The Wizard released.

The Power Glove was mentioned in The Gaming Historian‘s video on the U-Force, which creator Norman Caruso posted eight hours before airtime. Watch:

As for my show, click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

The stream audio was fine this week, clear as a bell in both channels, but there was a glitch toward the end of the first segment of hour 2. The stream (or automation) froze for about three minutes, resumed, froze again for several more seconds, resumed again, then jumped ahead to the next segment. For the part that didn’t air, I copied from my segment files and applied a multiband compressor filter.

9/3 UPDATE: Ken Navarro hosted a listening party tonight on Facebook for I Will Still Be Here, and I learned I’ve been mispronouncing the last name of trumpeter Tyler Mire. It’s “meer,” as in meerkat. It doesn’t rhyme with fire. Last week’s show and next week’s show, which I submitted yesterday morning, also have that mispronunciation.

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 (8/25 UPDATE: Instagram seems to have removed embedding for WordPress sites):

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 (8/25 UPDATE: two seem to have been removed) (9/19 UPDATE: another two were removed) 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 (9/19 UPDATE: removed). 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.