Sunday, December 21, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS from "Sean's Space!"

Embarking on a much-needed, 13-day, year-end vaca, just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and share with you this year's Christmas card:

Hope you get "The Right Stuff" this Christmas!

I got dozens of these puppies printed at Target back in July, just two months after meeting my favorite group of all-time, the New Kids On The Block. I never thought I'd have been able to top last year's Christmas card, but voilĂ !

What's that you say? You celebrate the Festival of Lights? Not a problem. I thought of everything...

Enjoy the celebration, night by night and "Step By Step!"

To everyone who's stopped by "Sean's Space" this past year, I thank you and wish you a very happy and safe holiday season. It's been a fun year, and I appreciate your support.

Amid all the last-minute shopping and the run-up to Santa's big flight, hope you keep Hangin' Tough all the way to Christmas Day!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Watch the big tree in NYC (here online!)

One of my favorite Christmas pastimes is heading down to the Big Apple and checking out the sights.

Between the waiting in line to view the holiday-themed windows at famed stores like and Macy*s Herald Square and Bloomingdale's, visiting Santa Land at Macy*s (you pretty much can't go wrong this time of year at Macy*s), heading over to St. Patrick's Cathedral and Times Square and Radio City Music Hall (seen here), it's a great way to spend a December day.

Last year's excursion came three days after Christmas, and it was close to 60 degrees, making for a super day.

Of course, the capper to any Christmas-themed day in New York City is taking in the gigantic Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (you might know it as "30 Rock," of Tina Fey fame).

Between the trumpeting angels leading the way, the ice-skaters below and the huge tree, it's quite a sight — one I've been seeing year after year since I was a kid.

But ... if you're not lucky enough to make it to Rockefeller Center, here's the next best thing: All you have to do is click here and watch the 24-hour, live Web cam focused on the tree, compliments from your friends over at NBC New York. (It works best when viewed with Internet Explorer)
Day or night, you can watch the tree — whether dozens of people are skating below it around noon, or if the only guy around is picking up trash on the surrounding street, as he was this morning around 3:15 a.m., when I found the link.

It's like stalking a 72-foot-tall Norway spruce 24 hours a day. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

An NKOTB fan at UNH?

This is what I love: When two of my passions collide with totally awesome results!

See, in my real job as a sports reporter, I'm in the middle of covering the men's and women's basketball teams at Marist College. That entails, among other things, scouring pages and pages of pre-game notes (such as the ones to the right) prior to each contest. Each school usually gives you a packet of info, all in an effort to make my job easier, which I appreciate. These notes usually include obscure facts most people wouldn't know about a team, and as such, schools' sports information directors think of catchy headlines to use on various blurbs to draw people's attention to the information.

So, here's where it got fun for me recently, when the University of New Hampshire traveled to town...

Flipping through the Wildcats' game notes, I couldn't help but come across this first headline, "Hangin' Tough," above a blurb about how the UNH team played several opponents close all the way til the waning moments of games. Think nothing of it, right? Just "Hangin' Tough" and then on to the next item, right?

Well for me, "Hangin' Tough" is also the title of the second album by my favorite group of all time, the New Kids On The Block. (You've heard I met the New Kids, right?) OK, keep that in mind...

Then I'm glancing past other blurbs entitled things like "Seeing Double" and "Three For All" and the like.

Finally, I came across this last blurb in the UNH packet, which gave me a clue someone in the Wildcats' fold is also a NKOTB fan. Go ahead: Look at the headline... Come on! Coincidence? I think not!

Admittedly, I'm sure I'm the only person to read those notes and make the New Kids connection; and that's what makes it all the more cool!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fallon will have 'em fallin' over with laughs

Earlier this week, I learned that former "Saturday Night Live" star Jimmy Fallon will be starting his 2009 in Poughkeepsie!

Jimmy will be performing several stand-up shows at Banana's Comedy Club January 3rd and 4th. Banana's, located inside the Best Western hotel on Route 9, will host the 34-year-old for a 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. show that Saturday, followed by a 7 and 9:30 p.m. show on Sunday. Tickets are $25, not a bad deal for a guy who's scheduled to replace Conan O'Brien as the host of NBC's "Late Night" show next year. Plus, it's a pretty cool way to ring in the new year, right?

Thinking these shows would quickly sell out, I went through the online ticket service (not Ticketmaster) that's handling these shows as soon as I got the e-mail Sunday night and ordered what I thought were 2 tickets to one of the Poughkeepsie show. As it turns out, Jimmy is also performing at Banana's club in Hasbrouck, N.J. the night before; and in my haste to buy tickets before they're gone, I got stuck with 2 tickets for a show I can't go to, as the online ticket service will not exchange my tickets. (How's that for customer service?!)

Hence, I'd suggest you contact Banana's in Poughkeepsie directly to secure your tickets. I've seen many shows there before, and their staff is always accomodating. Click here for their official Web site. (Tell 'em Sean sent ya!) I'm still working on getting tickets for one of Jimmy's Poughkeepsie gigs, so I hope to see you at the show!

I've long been a fan of Jimmy's as, in my opinion, he's was the funniest guy on "SNL" when he was on the show, from 1998 to 2004. The back-and-forths he had with castmate Horatio Sanz were hilarious, as they were always cracking each other up with inside jokes during their skits. (Ah, live television.) And his "Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy" character ... don't we all work with one of them? "The Barry Gibb Talk Show," playing Sully of "Sully" and "Zazu" fame, and Randy Goldman from "Wake Up Wakefield" ... need I go on? Pure hilarity!

When Jimmy and Tina Fey teamed up for the "Weekend Update" portion of "SNL," it was a match made in comedy Heaven: They were both topical and witty, and they played off each other so well. Each Saturday, I'd fall asleep right after "Weekend Update," since I knew after that segment, the rest of the show would just lag, not being nearly as funny as the first half. As soon as I'd hear "Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow," I could turn off the TV.

With all that, you can see why I'm excited to see Jimmy live in Poughkeepsie; and why I was so disappointed with the ticket snafu. But be sure to get your tickets before they sell out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I joined the "Circus"

Resolutions, schmesoltions! That's what I say.

Yeah, back on last Dec. 31st, I proclaimed it: I'm Britney-free in '08! Well ... that lasted just over 11 months.That's cause at midnight (technically, Dec. 2nd), I downloaded Britney's new CD, "Circus," as soon as it came out. (But ... I used a gift card, so I don't feel so bad about it ... though I did splurge for the deluxe edition!)

I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but the night is young. But I did catch her "Good Morning America" performance this morning as I did some early-morning cleaning.

Hey, I was up, the TV was on, and Britney was looking like this at 8:15 in the morning ... what was the harm in watching a little "GMA" while the pop princess celebrated her 27th birthday? (I mean, look at her. No, seriously, look at her! Although Abraham Lincoln called ... he wants his top hat back.)

So, technically, I didn't full come through on my New Year's resolution to be rid of Britney for an entire year; but I came really close. I mean Jan. 1st to Dec. 2: That's more 11 full months. Sure, I had a couple small lapses along the way, but I held steadfast for most the year.

There was last Dec. 26th's download of her then-new CD, "Blackout;" but again, I used a gift card and that was also before the Britney-free in '08 pledge. Then I downloaded "Womanizer," the first single of "Circus," when it came out in early October.

Admittedly, Britney's music is like lyrical crack for me: There's very little intellectual material in there; but every time I hear it, I crave more 'cause it's so damn catchy. (Seriously, listen to "Baby, One More Time" once and try to get that song out of your head!)

And while I'm hopping back on the Britney bandwagon, this time there are limitations to my allegiance.

I will not shell out hard-earned money so see her upcoming tour, even if she does dress like this on stage. I've been to a pair of her concerts, and I swear she only sang three, maybe four songs total, as the rest of the time she was just dancing and lip-synching. (I'm pretty sure that wireless mic she uses isn't even turned on.) So none of my money will go for Britney tickets. But, I mean, if someone offers me free tickets to one of her concerts...

So, Britney, you've got a second chance with me. But so help me, just one shaven head or a late-night ambulance ride to a psych ward and it's over! You've been warned.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let the celebra-Sean begin!

It's official: The Christmas season has begun. I could not be happier!
As I explained earlier, when we were at Walt Disney World almost a month ago (OMG, it's almost been a month!), there were already decorations and signs like this one in all the shops and around the parks.

Even for me, someone who loves the lead-up to Christmas, this was way too early. I mean, it was the second week of November, two weeks before Thanksgiving for Mickey's sake.

But now? Now we're full into the season and I'm lovin' life! My celebrity-filled Christmas cards, the ones that I got printed back in July — they're even cooler than last year's cards — have almost all been mailed along with their accompanying CDs of Christmas songs. (Twenty-something cards/CDs down, only a few more to be sent!)

So enjoy the Christmas celebra-Sean, everybody! And check back here for more Christmas-y fun to come.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lacey, you take first place with me

Before "Dancing with the Stars," there was Albany's Times Union Center.

Yes, more than a year prior to teaming up with former *NSync-er Lass Bass here and took third place on this most recent season of "DWTS," dancing hottie Lacey Schwimmer shared a moment outside the Capital District arena, though it wasn't nearly as magical as the jaunt she and Lance seemed to have had here in Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A.

No, long before "DWTS," Lacey was one of the finalists on "So You Think You Can Dance." While it's my GF's fav show, I'd just watch it for one reason: Lacey. So when I had the opportunity to take my GF to the "SYTYCD" tour stop in Albany, I had to take my chance: to both please my GF and (hopefully) meet Lacey.

So, needless to say, when we both met each other outside the arena last September, the sparks flew and the picture speaks for itself:Note Lacey's pouting lips in my picture, just the same as in the one with Lance? The difference: I actually like Lacey, whereas she was just a dance partner to him.

Fear not, though, Lacey. While the voters of "DWTS" might have given you third place, you'll always take the top spot with me!

Tickets? V.I.P. Transportation? S.O.L.

So here's the quandary I find myself in two days before Thanksgiving:

I was able to score a pair of V.I.P. tickets to Friday's edition of NBC's "Today" show, which includes a performance by my favorite solo artist of all-time, the incomparable Barry Manilow. For those not in the know (or who didn't read this earlier post from more than a month ago), Barry just released a new CD of '80s songs — mostly ballads — that he's beeen promoting heavily.

The tickets were not easy to come by, making me want to go even more. The problem?

Living here in Dutchess County, some 82 miles north of the Big Apple, I'm pretty much reliant on Metro North to get to the city for the show. But ... the first MTA train into NYC Friday gets in at 6:25 a.m., 25 minutes after the mandated deadline for us fans to arrive at "Today."

So, what's a fan to do? Drive? Carpool with other Manilow fans? I suppose only time will tell, so stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

God bless you, Joe Daily

The only thing that's getting me through my cold is the fact that Joe Daily and the folks at Lite FM (that's 92.1 on your FM dial) are playing nothing but Christmas songs 24/7!

Just my luck, I was at Disney World when the festivities began last week, but I came back, got in my car, turned on Lite FM and there they were: Air Supply singing "Winter Wonderland." All was right with the world.

Click here and press the Listen Live Now button to hear what Christmas song is playing right now.

Sure, some bah-humbuggers like my buddy Pete will tell you it's too early to deck the halls with Christmas tunes, but it will help make the time I spend putting up my tree this weekend go like that!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to you, Mickey!

While I'm still recovering from last week's Disney World vaca (and the cold I quickly caught once we came back), I thought this was a timely entry...
Mickey Mouse, seen here celebrating Miley Cyrus' recent 16th b-day at Disneyland, turns 80 today. That's right, the Big Cheese is five times as old as Hannah Montana!

It was on Nov. 18, 1928, that Mickey debuted in "Steamboat Willie," a 7-minute, black-and-white cartoon which was the first ever to contain talking characters. After that, Mickey became a worldwide icon and the catalyst of many of Walt Disney's greatest achievements. That's why one of Walt's favorite sayings was "It all started with a mouse."

If you head to Disney World, you can meet Mickey in many forms: Chef Mickey, Safari Mickey, Sorcerer Mickey, and on and on and on...

But ... there's only one place where in all of Disney World where you can see Mickey as black-and-white "Steamboat Willie" over here, and that's at the helm of the paddleboat in the celebration scene of "Fantasmic!" which closes Disney's Hollywood Studios most nights.

Monday, November 17, 2008

M-I-C ... see you real soon!

Just in case you can't get your "Sean's Space" fix, my GF and I just returned from Disney World for a magical week-long vacation!

Both of us badly needed a vaca, and where else could we go but the most enchanting place on Earth?! (Just for clarification, Disneyland in California has always been billed as "the happiest place on Earth." I'm just sayin'.) Just as in our first WDW vaca of the year, we had a super -- albeit too short -- week hangin' with Mickey & his pals.

Check back throughout the week for more details on our supercalifragilisticexpialidocious trip to Disney World!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Four years of waiting ... for that?!

Wow! It's all over! After just turning a couple of switches, it's finally over!

Just got back from being Voter No. 1 at my polling place, where my guy was winning, 1-0 after my vote, for at least a minute or two ... until the person behind me voted. Really, though, I can armed (with my iPod here) ready to wait in long lines like the media warned us about. But no, if you get up early enough, you can avoid the long lines that I'm sure will come later today.

As it turned out, I only had to listen to music as I walked to and from my polling place, as those few minutes took longer than the actual voting process.

And after signing the rolls, pulling the curtain, making your choice and pulling the handle again ... you're done, just like that! Who knew?!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

'08 Presidential election? Child's play!

Sick of almost two years of presidential campaigning? Had enough of Dems and G.O.P.ers? Hug it out!

Head over to eBay for a charity auction where you can win a one-of-a-kind Cabbage Patch Kids doll, depicting either Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, his running mate Joe Biden, Republican presidential candidate John McCain or his pick for VP, that cutie Sarah Palin (who I think is a real doll with a button nose), seen here.

All the money raised in the auctions goes to the Marines' "Toys for Tots" program, which I donate new, unwrapped toys to every Christmas. Still, I won't be able to afford these toys.

As I post this, the Illinois senator here is going for $2,850. But that's nothing compared to the hockey mom-turned-Alaskan governor: The Sarah Palin doll with Xavier Roberts' signature on her buttcheek is going for $96,000! That's still a steal compared to the real VP hopeful's wardrobe tab.

Still, the money goes for a good cause, and fortunately, bidding will likely spike just moments before these auctions end on the evening of Election Day.

In case you missed the Cabbage Patch Kids fad a quarter-century ago (when the Arizona senator here was in his late 40s), moms and dads beat each other up in toy stores when these things first came out. Luckily, a few years after the craze reached its peak, I was able to buy my mom a pair of 'em for Christmas, both baseball players: one wearing a Cabbage Patch Kids uniform, the other a 1986 Mets jersey and pants ... both complete with batting helmet.

These days, both Mom's Kids are sitting, inside their boxes, in the darkness of one of Dad's closets!

Ironically, whoever shells out the big bucks for these political Kids will likely keep them in their original wrapping, never to be touched by human hands -- more investment than toy. Still, with the money going to a great cause, who cares if the winners burn or shred their Kids, as long as the tots get lots of toys in return?!

So forget CNN or Fox News. I'll be checking presidential returns on eBay Tuesday evening to see who the real winners are!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bettin' on Bedingfield paid off

So it's Wednesday, and I'm still recovering from Monday night's New Kids On The Block concert at Madison Square Garden, my third such NKOTB show in just over a month.

Just as before, Donnie, Jordan, Jonathan, Danny and Joey put on another amazing show, this one at "the world's most famous arena." Donnie even donned a New York Yankees cap, noting "this would get me killed" back in his hometown of Boston, where he and the guys are huge Red Sox and Celtics fans.

With the guys booked straight through early 2009, with their tour taking them to Europe, this was probably the last time I'd see the guys live for a while ... though they're rumored to be returning to the road here in America over the summer, just enough time for me to save up for tickets!

As if the New Kids weren't good enough (you've heard I met the New Kids, right?), their opening act, Natasha Bedingfield, is almost a good enough reason to buy a ticket.

Having also seen her three times now, I can say the British singer has a great voice and makes a really great warm-up act, as she's full of energy when she hits the stage.
Between her hits "I Love You," "Love Like This," which she sings without Sean Kingston who recorded the song with her, and "Unwritten," used as the theme song to MTV's "The Hills," Natasha puts together a great set.

Don't believe me? Check out this clip of Natasha singing "Unwritten" the first time I saw her (and the New Kids) at the Izod Center in New Jersey on Sept. 23rd...

Pretty good, right? Fortunate enough to see the New Kids three times, I was also lucky that the guys picked a really good opening act that made me want to get to the arena early each time.

¡Ay, caramba! No taco gratis para Sean

First, let me dedicate this post to my colleague and fellow blogger Pete, who's the biggest mooch for free food you'll ever meet ... and I mean that in a nice way.That being said, let me tell my tale of woe: I missed my free taco from Taco Bell yesterday, the one Jason Bartlett won for me and everyone else in America last week.

Who's Jason Bartlett? you might ask. Everyone in the country got a free taco? Did I miss something? Well, let me back-track a little and you'll get the whole picture and realize why I'm so bummed...

This is Jason Bartlett. He's an infielder with the Tampa Bay Rays, the same Rays who are embroiled in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. He's a pretty good hitter and a pretty speedy guy on the basepaths.

OK, so now Taco Bell ran a promotion heading into the World Series: Steal a Base, Steal a Taco. In short, Taco Bell would award everyone in America -- be they a baseball fan or not -- a free crunchy beef taco if someone steals a base in the World Series.

Now, there had been at least one stolen base in each Fall Classic leading up to this one, so... guessed it! Bartlett here stole second base in the Series' first game, awarding all of us a taco. But, as luck would have it, the free tacos were only available yesterday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the exact time I was traveling from New York City, thus leaving me taco-less!

¡Ay, dios mio!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

That cat can wail!

Just got back from a great concert by jazz trumpeter and composer Chris Botti.

A big thanks to Chris Silva and everyone at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House for bringing a great act like Chris to town. Not only was Chris a great entertainer on stage, he was just as gracious following the show, when he met with seemingly hundreds of fans.

During the show, which kicked off with "Ave Maria" and "When I Fall in Love" and concluded with Sinatra's "One for the Road (and One More for My Baby)," Chris recalled in betweens songs that:

* He'd actually performed at the Bardavon back in the mid-'80s when "I was the palest person ever to tour with the O'Jays!"

* He recorded his first solo CD at the Bearsville Recording Studio in Woodstock, the same place acts like the Rolling Stones, R.E.M and Patti Smith, among others, have laid down tracks. Here's a short video of Chris interacting with his fans in the Bardavon lobby following his Poughkeepsie performance...

Not only did he sign tons of CDs, he posed for numerous pictures with fans, including the one I snapped here of him and my very excited GF.
You might recognize my GF from such celebrity encounters as actor Liev Schreiber and singer Michelle Branch.

Chris was kind enough to autograph a copy of my "ENJOY!" cover featuring my story about him and his fans.

Needless to say, all of us in attendance "ENJOY!"-ed the performance!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barry loves the "Eighties"

Admittedly, in all the recent New Kids On The Block hoopla — between their new CD and their new tour — it seems like I've almost forgotten about my fav solo artist, Barry Manilow. But fear not, fanilows...
Earlier this week, I got word Barry's latest release, "The Greatest Songs of the Eighties," is set to drop on Tuesday, Nov. 25th, giving Manilow fans like me something to be truly thankful for on Thanksgiving, two days later.

For those of you keeping score at home, Barry's new release will be the latest in a series, spanning "The Greatest Songs of the Fifties," "The Greatest Songs of the Sixties" and "The Greatest Songs of the Seventies."

Obvisously, I'm a great fan of the man writes (and performs) "the songs that make the whole world sing," but these most recent CDs have been an even better experience for fans like me. They're like getting in a time machine and getting a musical do-over.

These "Greatest Songs of the (insert decade here)" CDs give us a glimpse into how Barry would have performed such hits as "Unchained Melody," "And I Love Her" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," among others, if he'd had the chance.

And this '80s CD?! OMG! That's like musical nirvana for me, who only regrets that the '80s lasted just 10 years! Even folks who aren't fans of Barry are bound to dig this CD, as it will feature, among other songs, "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper, "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx, and Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up," a particular favorite to my colleague, Phil Strum.

Until his CD comes out, though, I'll wait patiently — wearing my Members Only jacket while still trying to figure out how to solve my Rubik's Cube and watching "Silver Spoons" re-runs on DVD!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hope you "ENJOY!" Chris Botti

Quick! Before it hits newsstands tomorrow, here's the cover of this week's "ENJOY!" section, the Poughkeepsie Journal's weekly look at the local entertainment scene.
As you can see, my story on Chris Botti made the cover. A big thanks to Jan, Sharon and Jennifer for sharing their thoughts on Chris' local appearance here in town this weekend.

Unfortunately, after first touching base with Chris' people in California back in June and following up throughout the summer and as recently as last week, I was never able to speak with him, though I was promised an interview on several occasions. That's right: I have no problem getting an interview with the Jonas Brothers, but Chris Botti...

Hence, our local fans' memories were all the more helpful. You can click here to read the story, which previews Saturday night's Bardavon gig comes out in print in tomorrow's Journal. If you go, be sure to tell me about the show.

I first came to know of Chris during his time on "The Caroline Rhea Show," when he was the leader of the show's house band. Between that and seeing the reactions Jan, Sharon and Jennifer had to his live show, it looks like local fans (including two special people in the front row!) are in for quite a night on Saturday.

I'm going to try to get to the show after work Saturday, but for everyone else already with tickets, ENJOY!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Sean's Space" is back on the air

Just got back from filming my first segment back on Cablevision's "Sports Scene," following a hiatus of more than a year.After negotiations between the Poughkeepsie Journal and Cablevision lasted throughout the summer, I'm back on the air, reprising my role as guest commentator on the weekly program about local sports, hosted by long-time local anchor Charlie Cornacchio.

Airing every Tuesday evening locally on Cablevision's Ch. 18, "Sports Scene" brings viewers the week's best sports stories and highlights.Where do I come in? Just as I did for the 2006-07 school year, I add a guest viewpoint (originally, it was sold to me as me being "the Andy Rooney of the show") for the last segment of the program.

Here's my vantage point every Tuesday morning, as I face the camera, read my script off the teleprompter and share my thoughts with the audience. (Am I breaking the fourth wall or what???) This, however, is the end of the process.Waking up early in the morning, I have to think of an idea and essentially write a column on the fly, before gussying up -- today, I wore a blazer! -- and hustling to the studio, where I input my words into the teleprompter and tape several takes from several angles. Then, I'm off for another full day reporting on local sports for the Journal.
A lot of work? Sure. But it's all worth it when I get to sign off at the end of each segment with For the Poughkeepsie Journal, I'm Sean McMann; and I'll see you next week!