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2022 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo recap August 21, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Aviation, Books, Education, History, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Podcast, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous LI Retro recaps: 2017 (Sunday), 2018, 2019
Spinoff recaps: UPLINK (2020), Festival of Games (2021)

Part 1: Introduction

The Long Island Retro Gaming Expo‘s long-awaited return came on Friday, August 12, after a three-year COVID-caused absence. Yes, the expo was expanded to three days starting this year, running from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. The venue was the same as always: the Cradle of Aviation Museum, situated along Museum Row in East Garden City on the former site of Mitchel Air Force Base.

The purported 2020 edition of LI Retro was announced in February of that year. I immediately bought a weekend pass (still just two days). Little did anyone know that the faraway disease then referred to as the Coronavirus would reach the United States a few weeks later. As COVID-19 spread and a pandemic grew, venues shut down and events were either canceled or postponed. LI Retro’s postponement came that May. 2020 tickets would be honored in ’21. UPLINK, a virtual expo, was scheduled in its place on August 8 and 9. Of course, I attended and wrote a recap.

Even as vaccines were rolled out going into 2021, the organizers felt it was too soon to resume. Thus, they postponed again to ’22; and again, tickets for the postponed years would be honored. Another edition of UPLINK was held virtually in February. I attended, but was overwhelmed by the amount of transcribing and note-taking I’d have to do for the panels I planned on watching. So, I abandoned the recap in favor of continued radio show production.

Last December, LI Retro held its first annual one-day Festival of Games. I was in and out within two hours after a photographic walking tour (similar to the one you’ll see later in this post), arcade game sampling, and buying games from vendors. There was a recap for that.

As August drew closer, a third day of LI Retro was introduced. I considered attending, but opted to stick to the weekend.

With a week to go, I feared I’d compulsively take too many photos, a habit that’s gotten out of hand (i.e. Memorial Day boat ride, June 18 Mets game). I only took 353 photos at another Mets game on August 10, but sure enough, I went overboard at LI Retro. To that end, this is the first post with photo galleries.

The bulk of my photos were shot with my DSLR, but I took supplemental photos with my iPhone.

I arrived at the Cradle of Aviation Museum at 10:06 AM on Saturday:

Within 15 minutes, I was inside. I walked to the box office and handed my ticket to the attendant in exchange for a badge. “Finally,” I told her, “after 2 1/2 years, I get to use this [ticket].” She handed me my badge and my adventure began.

Part 2: Panels

My first panel – after meeting and greeting, and photographing the vendor rooms, was by Brett Weiss. “I Survived the Video Game Crash of 1983” began at 11AM in Panel Room 2. I joined it in progress, grabbing a front row seat, but oddly holding back on photos.

Brett talked about his experiences with arcade games and home video game consoles from the second generation into the third, and how the rise of home computers played a role in the 1983 crash.

During the Q&A session at the end, I relayed (but didn’t ask, so I apologized) my video game experience growing up. I was a home (and school) computer guy, fluent with Apple II, and my sister and I received an NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) in February 1990, as the third home video game console generation gave way to the fourth.

The book in the last photo is the one I bought from Brett afterward.

After snacking on a protein bar, I entered the Main Theatre for Pat Contri and Ian Ferguson’s 12:30 PM panel. I spoke to Pat and Ian during my meet and greet session two hours earlier, reminding them that I met them in 2019 and immersed myself in content from Pat’s YouTube channel after buying (at their merchandise table) the four DVD sets of Pat the NES Punk and the book Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library. I subsequently bought the SNES guide. I wrote reviews of each – NES, SNES. (And you can buy the DVDs and books here.) This year, I bought two stickers and a CU Podcast (Completely Unnecessary Podcast) t-shirt. It was the last large size they had. I said I’d probably get along swimmingly with Frank, Pat’s older friend from New Jersey who settled in San Diego before Pat and Ian made their respective moves there.

Pat and Ian’s panel was a live portion of their next episode of the CU Podcast. Before it started, and while I settled into my front row seat, the volunteer assigned to the theater asked them to “say something into the microphone” as a mic check. Ian jokingly parroted the request: “say something into the microphone.” I amusingly replied, “I knew you were gonna say that.”

Continuing from prior episodes, Pat and Ian criticzed Tommy Tallarico and his vaporware console that would have been (or could still be?) the Intellivision Amico. On display above them was the console’s leaked “fact book.” There will be audio and video, but first, the photos:

You can hear the panel-turned-podcast-episode here. My portion of the Q&A starts at 1:57:08, but I’ve clipped it here:

The word I used to describe Frank was “luddite.” Yes, I stumbled on the title Ancient Aliens, coming out as “ancient alenins.”

And this is a video excerpt from the panel – shot with the iPhone on the table – that was posted to Pat’s YouTube channel:

I was the voice at 16:44 saying that Sean Astin narrated a video game documentary. I was thinking of Video Games: The Movie, but a comment to the video said the fact sheet was referencing the later docuseries called Playing with Power: The Nintendo Story.

I liked Ian’s quaint pronunciation of wanton, “wonton” instead of “wantin’.”

Video of the Q&A portion:

My questions start at 18:26, “Tommy” starts at 25:13.

Theater guests had to exit on the third floor, so I bode my time by taking photos of the few console freeplay tables there. Then, I snapped pics for most of the second floor exhibits prior to the Axinn Air and Space Museum Hall entrance. I saved that for after the 2PM panel back in the theater.

In that 2PM panel, John Blue Riggs performed a live ROM hack of Super Mario Bros. for the NES, the first game I played in February 1990 via the Duck Hunt combo cart. With the right software, John imported tiles from whatever NES game ROMs the audience requested, and he altered the SMB code to altered the colors and text. Let the editing begin!

I spoke to John during the meet and greet, letting him know that like his son, I am on the autism spectrum, specifically with what used to be called Asperger Syndrome. While at his table, I bought a Sega Genesis ROM hack that put Scott Pilgrim from his titular video game in Streets of Rage 2. We posed for a photo, but when I got home, I was dismayed to find that my DSLR’s lens didn’t focus on us when his tablemate Dave took our photo. They graciously allowed a do-over with my iPhone Sunday morning.

Here is John’s aforementioned vlog of his LI Retro experience:

I’m in the vlog at 13:30, going through my DSLR camera roll before John’s panel. At 19:56, he and Dave ate at Friendly’s in nearby East Meadow. I ate there with my girlfriend Kelly during her visit in April.

After the panel, I photographed what I believed to be nearly every other nook and cranny of the freeplay and tournament areas. John saw much more than I did.

The last item on my Saturday agenda was to buy games from vendors. (See the end of part 4.)

The combination of excitement from earlier in the day and a loud block party somewhere south of my house kept me from relaxing and easing into sleep. I probably slept two to four hours, at best.

I arrived at day three of the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo at around 10:30 AM. I met Justin, Marshall, and Kieran from Cinemassacre/Screenwave Media (and bought Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie), got the second chance photo with Riggs, and hung out at Leonard Herman‘s table. I’ve known Lenny (to his friends and family) since meeting him at the 2018 LI Retro and then reviewing his video game history book, Phoenix IV. In 2019, I met his associate Jeff, and this year, I was honored to meet Patrick Wong and Mark W. Baer, the middle child of Dena and Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of videogames (one word). They’re all nice and friendly, and it was my pleasure buying Ralph’s book Videogames in the Beginning, and Kate Hannigan‘s biographical children’s book, Blips on a Screen. I will definitely read that to Leo F. Giblyn School students next March, another annual tradition of mine.

Lenny and Mark’s panel was at 11:30 AM in Panel Room 2. Again, I sat in the front row. Lenny grew to be like a surrogate son to Ralph, and the brotherly love between he and Mark was on display throughout the panel, especially in the first two pics.

I linked to it in the gallery, but here again is Ralph and Bill Harrison’s 1969 Brown Box demo:

Part 3: Meet and greet photos

Lenny Herman and Mark Baer:

Patrick Wong:

Jeff, in his Pac-Man suit:

Brett Weiss:

Pat Contri and Ian Ferguson:

John Riggs:

The Cinemassacre/Screenwave Media crew, Justin and Marshall:

…and I met Kieran while browsing a vendor’s games:

You’ll see merchandise and games in the pickups portion of this recap.

Part 4: Touring the expo

Musical performance: 88bit (a.k.a. Rob Kovacs):

88bit was featured in John Riggs’s vlog.

The other performers were ConSoul, Retro & Chill, and Super Thrash Bros. (also in John’s vlog).

The line ahead of the cosplay contest, held Saturday at 3:30 PM in the Main Theatre:

High score challenges:

Galaga:

Just Dance 4 (to “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley):

Tournaments:

Game Boy Selfie Station with the Game Boy Camera and Printer:

Console freeplay:

Indie and homebrew games:

Arcade freeplay:

PC freeplay:

Before I left for home on Sunday, I tried out some console and arcade freeplay games, but not PC games. Maybe next year. The console games I played were Joust (Atari 7800), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Donkey Kong Country (Super Nintendo), and Virtua Tennis (Sega Dreamcast). The arcade games I attempted were Space Invaders, Arkanoid, NARC, VS. Hogan’s Alley, Ms. Pac-Man, and Mortal Kombat.

I even gave LJN Video Art a try. It was just as finicky as The Angry Video Game Nerd (James Rolfe) made it out to be.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a TV running the WeatherStar 4000 simulator, a tribute to The Weather Channel local forecasts/Local on the 8s in the 1990s (check TWC Classics for examples):

Vendor Room:

Vendor Room annex (“More Vendors”), also home to meet and greets (and the food court):

When I was finished taking photos on Saturday, I began making the rounds in the vendor room to pickup video games. I vowed not to spend more than $25 on a game, and with one exception, I honored my vow. I successfully haggled when necessary, paying $15 for $17 worth of games, $20 for $23 worth, and $30 for $33 worth. Otherwise, one vendor discounted $7 from my $132 total and another had a two for $10 deal if you bought two $6 games. The only game I bought priced above $25 was the Xbox port of The Simpsons: Hit & Run, which was $35. It was my last purchase before leaving on Saturday. My last two purchases on Sunday were Legacy of the Wizard and Rolling Thunder, both for NES.

I was satisfied with my pickups, which brings us to…

Part 5: Pickups

Saturday pickups:

Merchandise:

Non-merchandise in the photo: Leonard Herman and Brett Weiss business cards, Schiffer Publishing and Classic Home Video Games bookmarks

NES (Nintendo Entertainment System):

Sega Master System:

Super NES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System):

Nintendo 64:

Nintendo GameCube:

Microsoft Xbox:

Nintendo Wii:

I’d wanted The Simpsons: Hit & Run ever since it was lauded in the Game Sack video on Simpsons games. (Click here to start at the relevant portion.) Epic Mickey was on my mind after seeing it on Friday in a 2017 Cygnus Destroyer video on his Top 10 Disney Games. I didn’t think to check the condition of the discs before buying, and was disappointed to see their scuffed appearance on Saturday night. You’ll see below that Epic Mickey 2 was one of my Sunday pickups from a vendor that also had the original game. All discs at his booth were in pristine condition. I lamented my mistake from the day before, chalking it up to a lesson learned. This Nintendo link taught me a positive lesson on Sunday night: how to clean discs. Monday night, I took dampened part of a washcloth and wiped Epic Mickey from left to right, line by line, then did the same with a dry part of the washcloth. The game played flawlessly in my Wii U. Tuesday morning, I did the same to Hit & Run and had the same positive result in my Xbox 360. Hit & Run was more fun and intuitive to play than Epic Mickey.

Sunday pickups:

Merchandise:

Non-merchandise in the photo: signed copy of The Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) signed by Justin (brought from home after seeing their booth on Saturday), Ralph Baer commemorative coins (one shown from the front, one from the back), my Game Boy Camera print from the Selfie Station, my weekend badge with Jovia lanyard

I watched the AVGN movie in 2019 on Amazon Prime Video, but it was later delisted. Now, I own a Blu-ray copy. They can’t take that away from me.

NES:

Xbox:

Wii:

It may be a while before I get a Super Scope, but the Saturday after LI Retro, I bought a Wii Balance Board, Wii Fit U, and a Wii Fit U Fit Meter. Now, I can play all the Wii Fit games and track my steps.

Just as AVGN made Ikari Warriors infamous (outtakes), Wii Music’s bad reputation stems from the crazy demo at E3 2008. I almost bought still another infamous NES game, Deadly Towers, on the Saturday of the expo, but relented.

Part 6: Conclusion

All good things must come to an end, and my time at the 2022 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo ended at 2:05 PM on Sunday, August 14. I took two parting shots with my iPhone before riding home:

Thank you for making it to the end of my recap. I know there was a lot to process, and it was a labor of love to draft the post. Patience was required often as WordPress struggled to display the text I typed, presumably because of all the photos and captions.

Thank you to all the guests I met and reacquainted with, to the vendors I bought from, and my fellow attendees, like budding game designer Brandon.

Special thanks to the LI Retro organizers and volunteers, especially Ryan Shapiro. You were all friendly and highly accommodating. I greatly appreciate that.

Until next year, so long.

SJFS 2022 Night 2 recap May 6, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, Travel, Video, Weather.
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Other SJFS recaps: 20082008 meet-and-greet20092010201120122013 Night 12013 Night 22014 Night 12014 Night 22015 Night 12016 Night 12016 Night 22017 Night 12017 Night 22018 Night 12018 Night 22019 Night 1, 2019 Night 2, 2022 Night 1

Updated with videos on 5/15.

Keyboardist Jay Rowe‘s 18th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars (benefiting the Milford Public Schools music department) continued Saturday night with the second of two shows. Saturday’s headliners were Jeff Kashiwa (who made a surprise appearance late Friday), Alex Bugnon, and in his debut, Marcus Anderson. Alex appeared in place of Brian Simpson, who had to back out at some point after my promotional blog post in February. SJFS attendees last saw Alex on the first night in 2013.

Photos and the set list are on the way, but we start with the preamble.

I found it hard to sleep in my Hampton Inn hotel room on Friday night. Not only did I have photo editing on my mind, but intermittent trucks and motorcycles (or muscle cars) on I-95 made it hard to relax and drift into sleep. I didn’t mention this in the Friday recap, but I brought two pairs of foam ear plugs to wear on both nights. I got in the habit of wearing them or safety earmuffs at home to drown out loud or unsettling noises, like fireworks (sadly, not just on the Fourth of July) or high wind gusts that slam rain into my south and east-facing windows during coastal storms. I figured I should start wearing them at concerts; if only I had thought of that sooner. When I wore ear plugs at bedtime, I would lie on my back with a sleep mask on, attempting to sleep, or at least relax. That’s what I did Friday night into Saturday morning. There comes a point on sleepless nights where I give up and start my day. That point came around 5AM.

I’m a Mets fan, so I checked the MLB app on my phone (via Hilton Honors Wi-Fi) to see how they did while I was pre-occupied with SJFS. What?! A no-hitter against the Phillies?! That’s only the second one in team history! And a combined no-hitter, at that! Click here to read all about it (and watch videos).

I lifted weights in the fitness center, then went back in my room to do push-ups and whittle down the amount of photos from Friday night. I showered, got dressed, and brought my laptop and phone to the lobby for breakfast and potential mingling with fans or musicians. I didn’t see any musicians, but John and Theresa Monteverde were there, followed later by Mark and Phyllis Abrams, and Billy and Sandy Okumu. Diane and Richard Roth were there, but we had forgotten about each other and didn’t reacquaint ourselves until Sunday morning.

For breakfast, I had two plates of French toast sticks with syrup, and two cups of apple juice to wash them down, followed later by two cups of hot chocolate. I mainly edited the road sign photos, but was able to start on photos from the show.

I went back to my room around 11AM and spent the next four hours editing the rest of Friday night’s photos and picking which ones to publicize. All the while, I listened to a few 2021 episodes of Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast. (Sadly, Gilbert died last month.)

I’m also a fan (and Patreon supporter) of the YouTube channel Technology Connections. Alec, the creator, recently posted the third of three (and a half) videos on heat pumps. Part three included a segment on the PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner) and their use in hotels. This was the PTAC in my room:

My PTAC

It was set to cool when I checked in on Friday, but I switched to heat. I switched back to cool Saturday afternoon as the unfiltered sun warmed up the room. That’s when I realized the thin curtain in front of the light-blocking thick one is supposed to filter the sun rays.

My girlfriend Kelly, dad Bill, and I had dinner at Gusto Trattoria, half a block from the hotel. It was there that self-doubt and performance anxiety set in. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to function at the auditorium because of my lack of sleep and that I’d compulsively end up taking as many photos as Friday night (around 400 before whittling). Somewhere in between, I managed to eat a piece of bread and bowl of Rigatoni Bolognese. Upon returning to my room after dinner, I lied down and took deep breaths. By 7PM (about an hour after dinner), I felt calm enough to get out of bed and go with Kelly to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium at Parsons Complex. Obviously, the sound check was over before we arrived because we saw attendees filing in.

I took an establishing shot of the auditorium with my phone before going in:

The second of my 2020 tickets was honored upon entrance and I went back to the same spot in the orchestra pit as Friday night to set up. I comprised with fellow photographers Katherine Gilraine and Ron Hancox to situate my camcorder (which recorded flawlessly on this night) (5/15 UPDATE: four videos are posted below) in a spot further back so the two of them had more room to maneuver during the show. I only had to move it out during a solo on the penultimate song of the night (one of the videos below). Fun fact (as Alec would say): this month marks ten years since I entered the world of DSLR cameras after Katherine recommended I switch to one.

While waiting, Jay Dobbins introduced me to someone I had met on Facebook through Jay Rowe’s weekly Tito Tuesday livestreams on Facebook (here’s one of the last streams to date). It was Robin Morin Stewart. After a pleasant conversation, Jay D. took our picture:

I also recognized Judy Raphael and spoke to her, but forgot to get a picture.

And of course, I saw the rest of my friends that I had seen Friday night and/or Saturday morning in the hotel dining area.

At some point before showtime, I got my second wind. I didn’t feel the least bit overtired or overwhelmed.

Saturday’s set began at 8PM with another enthusiastic introduction by Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz Productions:

Music director Jay Rowe led the house band on keyboards:

Andy Abel on guitar:

Dave Livolsi on bass:

Trever Somerville on drums:

…and percussion by Tony Cintron:

The headliners were Jeff Kashiwa on tenor sax and NuRAD (seen on tenor):

Alex Bugnon on keyboards:

…and Marcus Anderson on alto sax and flute (seen on alto):

SET LIST
1. I’ll Love You Later (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Groove Reflections (2021)
Featured musician: Jay Rowe (keyboards)

2. There She Goes (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Groove Reflections (2021)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Andy Abel (guitar)

3. Starlight Kisses (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Groove Reflections (2021)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

4. Slow Turn (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Sunrise (2021)
Featured musicians: Jeff Kashiwa (NuRAD/tenor sax), Andy Abel (guitar)
The NuRAD is an EWI (electronic wind instrument) that can be paired with a phone or tablet. Jeff paired his with his phone. 5/9 UPDATE: Jeff said in a Facebook post sharing one of my photos that it was “triggering [his] iPhone with the Korg iMono/Poly Patchman library.”

5. The Night is Young (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Sunrise (2021)
Featured musician: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

6. The Pecan Tree (Joe Sample cover) (Alex Bugnon)
Featured musician: Alex Bugnon (keyboards)
Jay didn’t play on any of Alex’s songs. Coincidentally, I played the original Joe Sample version of “The Pecan Tree” on last Wednesday’s Instrumental Invasion.

7. Harlem on My Mind (Alex Bugnon)
Originally heard on: Tales from the Bright Side (1995)
Featured musician: Alex Bugnon (keyboards)

8. Will Power (Marcus Anderson)
Originally heard on: Limited Edition (2017)
Featured musician: Marcus Anderson (alto sax/flute at the end)

9. Soul Ties (Marcus Anderson)
Originally heard on: Reverse (2022)
Featured musician: Marcus Anderson (alto sax)

10. Jay Rowe/Alex Bugnon duet: Poinciana/107 Degrees in the Shade
Originally heard on: 107 Degrees in the Shade (1991) (second song only)
Jay and Alex played the same medley in their 2013 duet. “Poinciana” is a jazz standard popularized by Ahmad Jamal on his album of the same name.

11. Night Groove (Alex Bugnon)
Originally heard on: Soul Purpose (2001)
Featured musician: Alex Bugnon (keyboards)

12. Understanding (Marcus Anderson)
Originally heard on: Limited Edition (2017)
Featured musicians: Marcus Anderson (alto sax), Jay Rowe (keyboards), Andy Abel (guitar)

13. Let It Ride (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Let It Ride (2012)
Featured musicians: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax), Dave Livolsi (bass), Tony Cintron (percussion), Jay Rowe (keyboards)
Jeff noted that Let It Ride was inspired by 1960s and ’70s music, and the performance of the title track here exemplified the ’70s part. Dave’s solo was based (no pun intended) on “For the Love of Money” by The O’Jays (1973), while Jay based his on “People Make the World Go Round” by The Stylistics (1972) and “Riders on the Storm” by The Doors (1971). The ’70s influence carried into the finale.

14 (Finale). Love and Happiness (Al Green cover)
Featured musicians: Everyone but Alex Bugnon
Trever Somerville and Tony Cintron traded places on drums and percussion midway through, and Trever even sang vocals! He left the percussion kit behind at the end (I neglected to take photos) and just sang next to Tony. These were the only surprises of the show, which went quicker than Friday night.

Here are groups of pictures by artist, starting with Jeff Kashiwa on tenor sax:

Jeff on NuRAD for “Slow Turn”:

Alex Bugnon:

Marcus Anderson on alto sax:

Marcus on flute at the end of “Will Power”:

Jay Rowe:

Andy Abel:

Dave Livolsi:

Trever Somerville:

Tony Cintron:

Marcus and Andy:

Marcus and Dave:

Marcus and Jay:

Jeff and Jay:

The last note of “Let It Ride”:

Jay and Alex’s duet: