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!

Friday, October 10, 2008

“Ei8ht” is not enough

My GF and I have a favorite show, called "Jon & Kate Plus Ei8ht," on TLC, The Learning Channel.

It follows young parents from Pennsylvania, Jon and Kate Gosselin, and their eight children: twins girls Cara and Mady, and sextuplets Joel, Hannah, Alexis, Collin, Leah and Aaden. (Aaden, the cute lil' guy in the glasses, is my favorite!)

We get to see not only how two parents in their early 30s handle each of the kids and their different personalities, but also what it's like to get eight kids ready for everything from a day at home or a Fourth of July parade to a vacation at Walt Disney World, driving the whole family the whole way!

It's a great show (I've been trying to tell Pete of "Daddy Diary" fame to tell The Wife about it, but he probably hasn't) and all of the kids are absolutely adorable! As such, the Gosselins have been on everything from the cover of this November's "Good Housekeeping" magazine to "Oprah." Impressive, right? Not to the folks at TLC, apparently.

Because following this week's first-run episode of "Jon & Kate Plus Ei8ht," they showed a show that blew my mind: "17 Kids and Counting" ... can you imagine???

Now, I see how much time and effort Pete and The Wife spend bringing up three lil' ones, and they do a great job. Jon and Kate have their hands full with eight kids (including Aaden, who's so cute!). But 17?! C'mon, those people were looking for a TV gig!

Aside from the sheer logistics of having 17 children and another on the way (that poor mother!), I feel bad for those kids. How do you not lose your identity when you have 16 (soon to be 17) siblings?

Let's hope TLC, and this family, stop at 17 kids.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

In case you missed it... favorite daytime TV host welcomed my favorite group of all time to her show Tuesday.
You know I've met them, right? Click here to read about it.

And you're aware I've met her, no? Click here to read about that!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

No "View" except her own

Now let me preface this by saying: I've been fan of Elisabeth (Filarski) Hasselbeck for years.

She was adorable on the second season of "Survivor," and I thought it was great when she was added to "The View" in 2003. With that said, though, I feel she is totally unyielding in her support of the Republican party, and she's totally blind to the mere possibility someone else could have a valid point that is the opposite of hers. (Perhaps she should be the one covering her eyes in this pic, 'cause all she can't see any viewpoint other than her own.)

Whenever I'm changing the channels in the morning and come across "The View," she's seemingly always taking a beating from one (or more) of the co-hosts who don't share her beliefs. And, I find more often than not, those co-hosts aren't battling with Elisabeth to get her to change her mind; it's a matter of her not respecting the fact that they have an opinion that doesn't agree with hers.

Here's the most infuriating part: I agree with Elisabeth! We share many of the same political ideas! But, I am able to realize not everyone thinks the same way I/we do. With Elisabeth, it seems it's her way or the highway.

And while her staunch stances have garnered Elisabeth an invitation to the White House for a state dinner and a guest appearance on Fox News in the past, I feel they make all G.O.P.ers look like unwavering morons, unable of even being able to concede there might be another viewpoint out there, contrary to theirs.

I'm sure, despite recent reports denying it, that Elisabeth will end up on Fox News once she's done with her "View" gig. (And, personally, I'm hoping for another graceful departure, a la Rosie and Star!) Fox News would be a perfect fit for her, and I'd actually enjoy watching her on that network, 'cause when you watch Fox News, you know what you're going to get.

Until that move, though, I fear Elisabeth's unyielding positions on "The View" will make both herself and fellow Republicans look foolish.

And I promise, other than the occasional Tina Fey/Sarah Palin musing, this is as political as I'll get on "Sean's Space!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

POOF! The secrets have disappeared!

This is a guilty pleasure, but I loved watching last night's premiere of "Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed," shown locally on the My9 Network.

I ate the original series up a decade ago when the Masked Magician exposed some of the grandest magic tricks of the day on the FOX Network. Hence, I made sure to record this new reincarnation of the series last night.

I've long loved magic — both watching it and trying to perform small cards tricks and the like. I still remember going to a small magic show when I was like 5, attending it with my family at IBM in East Fishkill. To this day, I find myself glued to the TV when Criss Angel or David Blaine do something cool and newsworthy.

My senior year in college, I went to a David Copperfield show at Albany's then-Knickerbocker Arena — I'd seen all of his CBS prime-time specials as a kid — and was blown away at how, for example, he disappeared on stage and rematerialized seemingly from out of the floor directly behind my ninth-row seat!!! A dozen years later, I still have no idea how he did that one.

So ... when I have the chance (for the first time, 10 years ago) to see how they do all those amazing illusions, I was hooked! Now, with a new, 13-episode season showing how they do about 120 even better tricks, I'll be doing an illusion of my own: magically appearing in front of my TV for the next dozen Mondays to watch the show!

Now, I know many old-school magicians don't agree with revealing the secrets of the trade — a decade ago, the Masked Magician's motives were to inspire his brethren to come up with newer, more elaborate illusions — but I love the "duh factor," as I call it. I like being totally mesmerized by an illusion one minute, and learning how (many times) it's so simple to pull off, as if Duh! Why didn't I think of that?!

Nowadays, though, all you need is an Internet connection to learn the basics of the craft. Whereas I'd often take out magic books from the library when I was a kid, now I just log on to YouTube (many times, when I can't sleep) and learn card tricks and other beginner's tricks from 7- and 8-year-olds!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"The Right Stuff" for October

While October is a fun month for me for various reasons, it's one that bring attention to a serious cause: namely, the fight against breast cancer.

Like many of us, New Kids On The Block singer Danny Wood has lost someone he loved to this disease. His mom, Betty, lost her fight to breast cancer almost 10 years ago.
Back in the day, the New Kids' moms were almost as famous as their sons among us fans, as they were featured on several talk shows, etc. During the New Kids' current tour, a picture of Betty Wood is shown at the end of a montage of people we've lost (Donnie's dad, among others) since the guys were last together in 1994.

As a tribute to Danny's mom and her fight with breast cancer, the New Kids are selling women's tank tops with the above logo on them, with the proceeds going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You can click on either of the images in this post for a link to buy the shirts.
In between songs during their new tour, the New Kids take the time to display the shirts (seen above) and remember Betty and those like her who are no longer with us.

For more on Danny's tribute to his mom, click here to head over to his Web site dedicated to her, on which you'll hear "My Angel," the song he wrote to remember Betty.