January 25, 2015

The Balls Never Lie

 

 Good morning and greetings, football fans, and welcome to my fully inflated Super Bowl preview.   Coming up on Sunday, the nation will be consumed with food, alcohol, TV and football, as the New England Patriots battle the Seattle Seahawks for the bragging rights to see who is the baddest of the bad, with the NFL championship trophy on the line.
Last year, Super Bowl XLVIII became the most-watched American television program in history, barely beating out the “Sons of Anarchy” season finale. So if you didn’t catch the games last weekend, you missed out on an utterly fantastic, unbelievable finish that still has the Green Bay Packer nation in a severe depression.So let me give you a little recap of the action leading up to Super Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.

Representing the American Football Conference are the New England Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, who I am often mistaken for.   He has led his team to three Super Bowl titles.  He also has a child with the most attractive assistant D.A. in America, actress Bridget Moynahan from the CBS series “Blue Bloods.”  This golden boy is married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bunchen, whom he met on a blind date.  Some guys have all the luck.

And speaking of luck, to get to the Super Bowl, the Patriots crushed quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game by a 44-7 score.  It was a total beatdown, as once again, the highway to the Super Bowl runs through the New England thruway.

There was not doubt about the outcome of this game.  But there was big hullabaloo afterwards, as it seems the Patriots used 11 footballs in the game that were deemed to be, much like my ego, deflated by the NFL’s standards.   When the balls are deflated, it makes them easier to grip when throwing a pass downfield.  This would give the Patriots a seemingly unfair advantage.
The footballs were questioned after the game and had no comments on advice of their attorneys.  When asked about the allegations of “DeflateGate,” Tom Brady called the accusations “ridiculous” and maintained his innocence. “I feel like I have always played within the rules,” Brady said. “I would never break the rules.”  Now bending them, that might be a different story.

New England Coach Bill Belichick, known in some circles as “The Hoodie” for his wearing of sweatshirts along the sidelines, says he was shocked to learn about the story and has never talked to anyone on his staff about football air pressure, the function of atmospheric conditions or his recipe for linguini with red clam sauce.

 

The Patriots say they will continue to cooperate with the investigation.  But this where the story gets interesting.

 

Back in 2007, the NFL determined that New England had violated league rules when a Patriots staff member videotaped signals by opposing coaches.  This undercover operation became known as Spygate.  The team was fined and stripped of their 2008 first-round draft pick.  The NFL then fined Belicheat, er Belichick, the maximum allowed $500,000 for this black ops affair, the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league’s 87 year history.

A report described the league office as “disappointed, giddy, angry, euphoric and distraught,” after learning of the ball alterations.   The Patriots could lose future draft picks, a couple of cheerleaders or one of Belichick’s favorite hoodies if the league confirms the balls were deflated.

 

Hey, if you don’t get caught, it’s not cheating.  And if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

Now for the Seattle Seahawks, the road to the Super Bowl was a bit tricker, as they found themselves trailing with four minutes to go,  19-7, to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.  At this point, Packer fans, known as the cheeseheads, knew they were headed for the Super Bowl and were going wild, celebrating with swiss cheese fondue, melted brie inside puff pastry and my personal favorite, crab rangoon.  The game was in the bag.

 

But then, the greatness of sports finishes took over, as the Seahawks came back from the dead, and in a finish that you wouldn’t believe, went ahead and won in overtime, after taking the lead in final two minutes, only to have the Packers drive downfield in the final minute of regulation to tie the score.

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call must-see TV.  The Packer nation was left in shambles, or as longtime Packer fan told me, ‘It’s the worst loss in my lifetime.”

 

The last four minutes of the game was surreal, as it was the largest comeback ever in a conference title game.  It was so unscripted.  You had to see it to believe it.  I saw it and I still didn’t believe it.

 

After the game, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who claims Jesus came to him in a dream when he was 14 years old, said,“That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special. I’ve been through a lot in life, and had some ups and downs. It’s what’s led me to this day.”

Packer QB Aaron Rodgers had a slighty different take on the subject.  I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome. He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”  Amen, brother.

 

One more note on the game.  It seems the Las Vegas initially screwed up the point spread and made the Seahawks an early 3 point favorite.  Well, 80% of the bets in the first 24 hours were on the Patriots, which means the big gamblers thought the spread was wrong and put a ton of dough on New England.  So the big money is riding on New England, and if the Patriots win, Las Vegas is going to take it the shorts.  Big time.  Count on it.

 

Remember, it’s doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s whether or not you beat the spread.

 

For our Super Bowl viewing session, we are going to back to a series of photos I shot back on a Sunday night back in February 2006.  The place was Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and on this night the sky did not disappoint.  The cloud color went from soft tangerine to vivid orange orange before finishing up with the grand finale of a blood red.  Meanwhile, the waves were pumping and the crowds along the cliff were loving it, making it a perfect, super Sunday night.

On to some late night humor.  “Tonight President Obama gave the State of the Union address. The Obamas invited 22 guests to the speech, including a former Cuban prisoner, an astronaut, and a doctor. Either that or he was setting up the weirdest bar joke of all time.  The RNC released its first presidential debate schedule, which includes at least nine debates in different states across the country. As opposed to the Democratic debates, which will just be Hillary staring at her opponents until they burst into flames.” – JImmy Fallon
“Last night was the State of the Union address, and everyone’s excited about the huge special appearance by a guy we haven’t seen in a really long time: 2008 Barack Obama. That guy had swagger.” – Jimmy Fallon  “Last night President Obama gave the State of the Union address, and I just have to say that I don’t know what union he was describing. But I want to live there. I want to move. It sounds outstanding. There’s a middle class. They have small businesses. It sounds great.” – Seth Meyers 

“Vice President Joe Biden said he has privately met with 17 Republican senators at his home to try and connect on issues like tax reform. Biden asked what he can do to speed up negotiations, while Democrats asked, “Does this door lock from the outside?”   A new helicopter service called Gotham Air is now offering users cheap flights from Manhattan to JFK or Newark airports that start at just $99. If there’s two words I trust together in the same sentence, it’s “cheap” and “helicopter.” – Jimmy Fallon

“A new study revealed Vermont businesses could benefit financially by legalizing marijuana. And by Vermont businesses I mean specifically Ben & Jerry’s.  In Florida, a teenage boy was arrested for posing as a doctor. After hearing about it, Dr. Phil said, “Wait, it’s illegal to pose as a doctor?” – Conan O’Brien  “This fall Pope Francis will host Mass at Madison Square Garden. And unlike the New York Knicks, he will have a prayer.” – Seth Meyers
More on Super Sunday next week.  Enjoy the game and we’ll catch you putting on one of the all-time greatest shooting performances while setting an NBA record by scoring 37 points in the third quarter Friday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Klay Thompson fans.

January 18, 2015

No Tears, No Fears, It’s The New Year

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:47 am
Good morning and greetings, New Year’s fans.  Well, Sunrise Santa Cruz has returned from a two week sabbatical, where I hoped to take advantage of being off the computer grid to experience what others do with their lives.  This would include activities like hiking, bungee jumping, camping, running with the bulls, fire walking and attempting to free-climb El Capitan.   Basically, just looking to expand my horizons of my so-called life.
It was to be a glorious time, freeing myself from staring at my monitor like a mental patient. Just getting out into the great outdoors and seeing what the world has to offer.

So back in early January, I turned my computer over to hospice care, where it could live out its days freezing up as much as it liked.  I was free to journey into the unknown, not tied down by the internet, where I could view a rare John Travolata selfie with his natural hair or read about Lady Gaga stripping down to sweat out her toxins.  Free at last, God almighty, free at last.
But due to circumstances under my control, it did not come about, as I spent two weeks watching hours and hours of NBA hoops.  This has been a fantastic season for NBA fans, because there is at least one great game a night.  And for Golden State fans, this has been a dream season, as they have risen to the top of the NBA hierarchy.As a nameless long time Warrior follower (Doug MacKinnon) told me last week, this Warrior season has made his life “20 to 30 per cent better.”   And that’s just during the daylight hours.
Not only do they have the leading MVP candidate in point guard Stephen Curry, who is the most exciting talent in the NBA galaxy, but along with teammate Klay Thompson, they are must see TV.  If this team stays healthy, the skies are the limit, as Warrior fans have waited a long time to get to the mountaintop.Were he alive today, the great Dr. Martin Luther King would have said “I have a dream.  That one day the Warrior nation will rise up see rookie head coach Steve Kerr lead his team to an NBA title.”
This just in.  College basketball expert and anesthesiologist to the stars, Dr. Michael Schur, who coined the phrase, “one and done” just called in his predictions for the NBA Finals.  He’s picking the Warriors to come out of the west and Kentucky from the eastern conference.
 And when I wasn’t watching the NBA, my wife and I were going through four seasons of Showtimes’ “Shameless,” a comedy drama about a group of siblings who are basically abandoned by their dead beat, alcoholic father and dysfunctionally survive on their own.
Season five premiered in January, and I can proudly say we are all caught up on the action.  Of course, taking a long walk in the meadows at Yosemite would also have been nice.  And commercial free.
So I would like to return to the final day of 2014, or what we call New Year’s Eve.  Now I like to play it low key on this major occasion of revelry, as I also do on most all other occasions.
My wife and I celebrated the eve by taking in a movie on the DVD.  I was thinking about a romantic comedy like “When Harry Met Sally,” Sleepless in Seattle” or “Apocalypse Now,” but my wife had something else in mind.   “Basic Instinct,”  a feel good, family fun movie with overt sexuality and graphic depiction of violence.I had seen this 1992 flick before, as did my wife, but she wanted to bring in the new year on a high note.
For me, I just loved the costume changes.  And of course, the famous scene when a young Stone Stone reveals her Volvo always brings down the house.  Or as she said to co-star Michael Douglas, “You know I don’t like to wear any underwear, don’t you, Nick.”
So a thriller with perverse sexuality and erotic bloodshed.  That’s the way you count down the year.
So the weather nationwide was wild and wacky on the final day of 2014, as the coldest winter storm of the year blasted unsuspecting Southern California with snow and bitter cold conditions.   How cold was it?  Sharon Stone would have been wearing thermal underwear.
So I didn’t see the ball drop in Times Square, as I was out by 11:45.  I then awoke from a dream at 6 am, where I was at college, but I didn’t have any where to live, which meant I was already falling behind in my classes.  What a pleasant state of mind to experience during my first moments of consciousness in the new year.
Then, while lying in bed repeating, “I’m not in college, I’m not in college,” I heard the garbage truck coming down the street and realized I had not taken the cans out.  So I whipped on Miley Cyrus sweatshirt, dashed outside, grabbed the can and dragged it down the street, catching the truck at the end of the block.  Mission accomplished.
And that, my cyber friends, was the start of the new year.
So I then headed down to West Cliff to take a walk and see the sunrise.  The air was cold and crisp, with not a cloud in the sky.  People were scattered along the cliff taking pictures of the first rise of the new year, but I just kept walking, breathing in the start of 2015.  It was a good feeling, a good start to what I hope will be a good year.  We’ll see.
So for today’s photo feature, we are going back to 2014.  It was the morning of November 18, and the place was a very familiar Lighthouse Point.  It was a magnificent sunrise, with the red clouds turning orange and reflecting all over the sand as the waves crashed at Its Beach.  It was early morning magic with admission free.
On to some late night humor.  “According to a new report that just came out, the average college freshman reads at a seventh grade level. Or if you’re an optimist every seventh grader now reads at a college freshman level.  A Saudi Arabian prince has said that oil may never again rise above $100 a barrel. He said it’s gotten so bad he can’t afford to buy his wife her own car that she’s not allowed to drive.” – Conan O’Brien

“For the first time since 2007, the FDA Has approved a new device to treat obesity. The amazing breakthrough is called a vegetable. One of the new gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show is a belt that tells the person wearing it when it’s time to lose weight. Another device is a pair of jeans that says, “Hey, try a salad.” – Conan O’Brien

“John Boehner is a member of a country club in Ohio. It turns out that the bartender was plotting to poison Boehner. Now wait a minute. Isn’t that the movie with Seth Rogen and James Franco?  Here in New York City, it’s cold. It’s so cold the Republicans want to use the Keystone Pipeline to deliver soup.” – David Letterman

“Today is the birthday of Elvis Presley and dictator Kim Jong Un. Last year Kim Jong Un had Dennis Rodman on hand to sing to him. This year he had a low-key celebration. He spent the day at home reading Sony’s emails.” – Jimmy Kimmel  “The Girl Scouts announced that they’re adding three new cookies this year, which include Rah-Rah Raisins and two gluten-free flavors. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses said, “If they ring the doorbell, pretend we’re not home.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my new year’s report.   We’ll catch you leading the league in three point shooting while your team has the best record in the eastern conference.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Kyle Korver  fans.

December 28, 2014

It’s The End Of The Year As We Know It

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:17 am

Good morning and greetings, end of the year fans. Well, it will soon be out with the old and in with the who knew, as 2014 draws to a close. And with the fresh year comes the new calendars. I’m really excited about the selection, as there as are so many fantastic ones to chose from.

I’ve narrowed down my favorites to the National Geographic Beautiful Landscapes, National Parks and Monuments and the Sports Illustrated 2015 Kate Upton mini wall calendar, who, no pun intended, is an American treasure chest herself.

And so this is my 50th post of the year, where I sit down and probe my mind for subjects to write about. Usually, it’s weather, sports, a few personal insights and observations, some late night humor and more weather.

But this was a tough week, as I was drawing blanks. So after banging my head a few times on the keyboard, I decided to switch things up, and had my son Jason, after promising him a big bump in his allowance, to ask me a series of random questions to draw out the inner me. You know, getting up close and personal.

So here we go. Boy, was I nervous.

Question: Who would you like to change places with for a year?
Answer: I’d like to be Stephen Curry with stronger ankles. I’d also like come back in a previous life as Scott Baio, if you catch my drift.

Question: What is your favorite all-time TV show?
Answer: Definitely “The Honeymooners, with “Baywatch a very close second.” As for third, “Sargent Bilko”, “The Three Stooges”, “Friday Night Lights”, and every show on the Oprah TV network.

Question; What celebrity would you compare yourself to?
Answer: Woody Allen, with a better jump shot. Or a slightly smaller and gentler Howard Stern. Oh, and Sandra Day O’Connor.

Question: What is your favorite liquid?
Answer: A chocolate milk shake, with Tropicana Orange Juice runner up. And the Pacific Ocean.

Question: What’s the first thing that you would like to hit your palate in the morning?
Answer: Chocolate cake, with any kind of quality cookie in second place. Or leftover Chinese food. And for my vegan cholesterol purposes, some roasted broccoli smothered in parmesan cheese.

Question: If Steve Nash came over for dinner tomorrow night, what would you serve him?
Answer: Boneless thigh chicken parmesan, with pasta and spinach salad with huge chunks of avocado. With chocolate cake.

Question: If you could tell your rabbi something right now, what would it be?
Answer: Take the Seahawks and the under.

Question: If there was a 30 for 30 film made about you, what would it be called?
Answer: “Every Day is Saturday.”

Question: What’s been the funniest moment in your life?
Answer: This is a tough one. But I’ve got a winner. I was living in Hermosa Beach and getting ready to take my brother Brad and his wife to LAX. Being the nuturing sibling that I am, I made him a chocolate milk shake for the ride. So he climbed into the back seat wearing a brand new white shirt, and we started up the hill to the airport.

On the way up, the car suddenly lurched forwards, causing a minor tsunami in the back seat. When I looked in the rear view mirror, the shake was covering his face and dripping down his sunglasses onto his beautiful white shirt. The sight of the dripping shake was hysterical, and his wife and I laughed all the way to the airport. I dropped them off, then drove home laughing all the way. I couldn’t wait to get home tell my wife the story, but when I got back, I couldn’t get the words out because I was still laughing so hard. I laughed about it for days.

Actually, I’m still laughing about it.

To commemorate the occasion, my brother took a picture of his shake damaged shirt and made into a mouse pad. Ah, memories.

Question: What question would you like to know the answer to?
Answer: How much longer am I going to be writing this damn blog? And who killed JFK?

And finally.

Question: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in life?
Answer: Never answer any question seriously.

So to celebrate 2014, which is the Chinese Year of the Horse, I am featuring some of the highlight moments from the last digital twelve months. Of course, these pictures are just the tip of the iceberg, but a nice smattering of color, light and nature’s magic. It’s all about capturing the moment, and I think I’ve caught my share.

Now for some humor. Mrs. Peterson phoned the repairman because her dishwasher quit working. He couldn’t accommodate her with an “after-hours” appointment and since she had to go to work, she told him, “I’ll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter, and I’ll mail you a check. By the way, I have a large rotweiler inside named Killer; but he won’t bother you. I also have a parrot, and whatever you do, do not talk to the bird!”

Well, sure enough the dog, Killer, totally ignored the repairman, but the whole time he was there, the parrot cursed, yelled, screamed, and about drove him nuts.

As he was ready to leave, he couldn’t resist saying, “You stupid bird, why don’t you shut up!”

To which the bird replied, “Killer, get him!!!”

So it’s the end of the year as we know it, and I feel fine. On to 2015.

So we’ll catch both of you having your best seasons of your careers while being the most underrated point guards in the league. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mike Connelly and Kyle Lowery fans.

December 21, 2014

It’s Not Weather You Winter Lose, But How You Play The Game

Good morning and greetings, Frankie Valli fans. I bring up the name of this great frontman for the group, The Four Seasons, because yesterday was the winter solstice, marking the change of seasons from fall to winter.

Yes, the skies have been greyer and the weather a bit damp and chillier, but being north of Big Sur, we take the good with the bad, the ying with the Yankees. After all, what good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?

On the other hand, as writer Robert Byrne once noted, “Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.”

Now back in the 60′s, before I turned to hip hop and rap, the first record album I ever owned was the Four Seasons Greatest Hits. Frankie Valli had a wild falsetto voice, hitting some notes that dogs couldn’t even hear, as he belting out top ten hit tunes like “Sherry”, “Rag Doll” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”

Lyrics like,”Dawn, good away, I’m no good for you,” comprised the music of my early youth. I remember going on my first date with my future wife to Marianne’s Ice Cream and looking at her and thinking, “You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eye off of you,” which I believe was the same way I felt about pralines and cream in a sugar cone. Or was two scoops of the Alice B. Toklas Chocolate Fudge Brownie in a cup?

Either way, Frankie and the rest of the Seasons made a strong impression upon me, but it was the second album that I purchased that had a bigger and more lasting impact for a young boy growing up along with Bruce Springsteen in the Garden State.

As The Boss recalls from his childhood, “When I was growing up, there were two things unpopular in my house. One was me, the other was my guitar.” Gee, and I thought I had it rough having to eat oatmeal for breakfast.

Anyway, the album was The Doors Greatest Hits, with their signature song, “Light My Fire,” that got me hooked up to the rock and roll bandwagon. Back in 2004, it was rated number 35 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of all time.

Number one on the hit list was “Like a Rolling Stone,” by Bob Dylan, followed by the Rolling Stones ‘Satisfaction” and “Imagine” by John Lennon. Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” was number 17, and my generation’s classic anthem, “Stairway to Heaven” came in at number 31. “And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forests will echo with laughter. Does anybody remember laughter?”

But let’s get back to the winter solstice. This was no ordinary day. It is what meteorologists, vampires and wikipedia would classify as an astrological phenomenon, marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year. So according to the Farmer’s Almanac, what this means is the days are getting longer and the medical marijuana stronger.

So I celebrated the first day of winter like a man’s man, with the NFL, the NBA and my son, who returned on Saturday for a two week winter break. After weeks of studying and taking finals in biochemistry and human physiology, all he wants to do is sleep, eat, sleep and dance.

Oh, and watch his Golden State Warriors, whose mind boggling, franchise record 16-game winning streak was snapped last Tuesday in a loss at Memphis. But Steph Curry and the boys got back to their winning ways on Thursday, as their league leading record now stands at a very impressive 22-3. They’re rolling.

So last night, members of the tribe celebrated the sixth night of Hanukkah. During this holiday, we celebrate the miracle of the oil, which lasted eight days, by lighting candles on the menorah. We are then free to bandy about and do as we please, which most importantly involves the eating of potato latkes.

This is the highlight of the eight day festival of lights, as we fry up potato pancakes and then load on either apple sauce or sour cream, or in my case, both. They are delectably delicious and surprisingly, a low carb snack. I personally love to eat them under the mistletoe.

Now for a little holiday humor. It was Hanukkah and the tiny village outside Budapest in Hungary was frightened that they may not have any latkes because they had run out of flour

Rudi, the Rabbi, was called upon to help solve the problem. He said, ‘Don’t worry, you can substitute matzo meal for the flour, and the latkes will be just as delicious.’

Sarah looks to her husband and says, ‘Samuel, you think it’ll work?’

‘Of course,’ Samuel replies, ‘Everybody knows Rudolph the Rab knows grain, dear.’

So to highlight this occasion of shredded potatoes, grated onions and jelly donuts, I am showcasing my third favorite bridge after the George Washington and Golden Gate, Natural Bridges. It’s a tad older than the first two, formed millions of year ago, before the invention of the VCR.

There were originally three arches, but the outermost fell during the early 20th century, and the inner arch collapsed during a storm that I did not photograph in 1980. At that stage of my photography career, I was mostly shooting from Stockton Avenue and rarely ventured north up to the Bridges, so I missed shooting some landscape history. You snooze, you lose.

So these are some shots taken over the years, beginning in 2006. These days, the Bridges is the place to be when the sky blows up at sunset time, because the reflection of the clouds on the sand is always spectacular. And that is something I can live with. So enjoy the final arch.

On to some late night humor. “Sony has canceled the big Seth Rogen movie, “The Interview.” North Koreans hacked their email so Sony said, “Now we can’t show anybody the movie.” I’m disappointed. I think this is the wrong thing to do. And I hear in the film Meryl Streep is great as Kim Jong Un. Last year, my son gave me a delightful gift for Christmas. He took an egg carton, emptied it out, and made me a pill organizer.” – David Letterman

“This evening marks the beginning of Hanukkah. It’s that special tradition where people find out their friend is Jewish and think back on the number of times they’ve asked them what they were doing for Christmas.” – Jimmy Fallon “Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. And who better to celebrate Hanukkah with than our guest tonight — Garth Brooks. Right?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“I’m so excited for my son. On Christmas morning I want to see his face, to be there when he opens the gifts. I want the see what my assistants got him for Christmas. The Giants and the Jets won their football games yesterday. Astronomers say this will not happen again until the year 2164.” – David Letterman

“Those North Korean hackers are at it again. Earlier today they leaked Santa’s naughty list. Happy birthday to Pope Francis. They had a big birthday party for the Pope at the Vatican City Olive Garden.” – David Letterman “A man was recently admitted to the hospital for surgery after doctors discovered he still had surgical scissors in his stomach from a procedure performed 12 years ago. Said his new doctor, “The surgery was a success. Now where are my keys?” – Seth Meyers

So birthday wishes go out today to my old Fort Lee pal Steve Margolin, who after decades of shoveling snow and ice in Connecticut has finally relocated to the Sunshine State of Florida, where he spends the day watching the sunrise and sunset, NBA League Pass and being seated before 5:00 pm to catch the early bird matinee dinner at Flakowitz Deli in Boynton Beach, home of the mile high deli sandwiches.

So that’s the holiday report. It was an unbelievable week for NBA overtime games. So we’ll catch you putting on an fantastic shooting performances in a triple overtime win over the Spurs last week. Aloha, mahalo and later, Damian Lillard fans.

December 14, 2014

62 And Still Don’t Have A Clue

Good morning and greetings, December fans. As you may have known, last week I celebrated my 62nd birthday in the usual fashion, with cake, ice cream, animal balloons and pony rides. It was a fine day, starting out with a stroll along the ocean as the big waves battered the coastline.

At the end of my walk, I passed by a gentlemen wearing a “Life is Good” sweatshirt. I smiled, and knew I had a theme for the day.

So it was off to a tremendous start, as I was then greeted at home with several very clever top ten list birthday cards, which evoked laughter, a key to birthday celebrations. Then it was on to the phones, as I connected with many friends and family throughout this great land of ours. The festivities also included a fabulous Italian lunch and a dinner fit for a king.

All in all, it was day for the ages and I was left with a really warm feeling, like a piece of cinnnamon French toast.

And that was good, because at this point in my life, I like to keep my birthday celebrations low key, as my focus is on having a career by 70. Because you know you’re getting old when the only thing you want for your birthday is not to be reminded of it.

And that’s the downside. Much like Rodney Dangerfield, ” I know I’m getting old. Last week I walked by a cemetery and two guys came running after me with shovels,” I’m not crazy about this aging process. Yeah, I know 62 isn’t 92, but it sure ain’t 32. So it doesn’t thrill me when I hear an opponent on the basketball court say to his teammates while matching up squads, “I got the old guy.”

At that moment, I don’t have to look around and wonder who he’s talking about. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re playing with guys 40 iPads younger. I’m playing with all young bucks, and when I mention I went to Woodstock, they think I’m talking about pizza.

The aging process is catching up with me. I’ve got one toe, two fingers and a computer with arthritis. I’m beginning to like accordion music. Garden care has become a big thing in my life. Now fortunately, I haven’t gotten to the age of comedian George Burns, when he uttered, “When I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.”

Now I have heard unconfirmed reports from a few years back that there are at least 28 deceased classmates from my high school graduating class of 1970. Now despite turning 62, which makes me eligible for lots of insecurity and Social Security, God willing, it looks like the odds of my being around on the planet for a while are pretty good, being that my father is 97 and my mother 88. Unless, of course, they never told me about the adoption.

Now I’m no math major, but what this means is come next February and April, they will be 98 and 89. Holy smokes. When I was living in an outdoor health club called Hermosa Beach in the 90′s, I used to come up to Santa Cruz for the Thanksgiving holiday and when I left to go back to the southland, I would always think, “Will this be the last time I see my father?”

Well, two score and fifty drumsticks later, he is still ticking, although, unfortunately, is a shell of his former self. His dementia has robbed him of most of his short term memory, as his life is lived in a very small circle. But yet he lives on, with the heart of a grazing bison.

So to avoid early dementia, I try to keep my mind sharp as a tack, by doing things like writing this blog, reading non-fiction true crime, ordering egg rolls with every Chinese meal and immersing myself in the world of television. That’s what we call in social media business being well-read and well-viewed.

So I walk three miles each weekday to make sure my heart keeps pumping. This harkens me back to the Ellen DeGeneres line,”You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

So I don’t know exactly where my life is leading me, as I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for 29 years and could be ready for a change. But as long as my parents are hanging around their ponderosa a mile down the road, the central coast is where I will be. It’s pretty much I don’t know where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been. So stay tuned.

But I do know that wherever I’m at, I’ll be shooting photos, and this week’s selection are quite colorful. The year was 2010, and the place was Natural Bridges State Beach. As you can tell from the first shot, with the way the clouds were situated in this December sky, there was vast potential for some very deep visual activity.

Well, we got that and more, as there was fire in the sky, as the sand and water turned from tangerine to radical orange to ruby red. Just a spectacular night to be on the coast, as the sky was blazing and the sand was a disco inferno.

On to some late night humor. “New research has found that 84 percent of vegetarians and vegans ultimately return to eating meat. It turns out the way animals are treated is nothing compared to how people treat vegetarians. Last week my wife and I welcomed our second child, Frances Cole Fallon. Now I live with three females. Or as Obama put it, “Who’s laughing now, funny man?” – Jimmy Fallon

“Scientists say they’re getting closer to developing a pill to replace exercising. Americans heard this and said that it better come in cool ranch flavor. This week Apple stores are holding free computer programming classes for children. Or as that’s called in China, a job fair. A woman on a Southwest Airlines flight gave birth to a baby. As soon as he was born, the baby said, “I had more leg room in the womb.” – Conan O’Brien

“After the game in a gesture of friendship, LeBron James put his arm around Princess Kate. You’re not supposed to do that. You can’t touch royalty, as I continually remind my staff. A company has developed a grease burn protection so you can fry a skillet full of bacon naked. I did that once. I’m so embarrassed. I thought it would be fun to cook bacon naked. And then Denny’s fired me right on the spot.” – David Letterman.

“A flight headed from San Francisco to Phoenix had to make an emergency landing in L.A. today after a passenger gave birth midflight. The parents called the birth a miracle while the airline called it a second carry-on. The woman gave birth in the middle of a flight. I’m happy to report that the mother and child are doing fine, while the guy who was sitting next to her is not.” – Seth Meyers

“Today Prince William went to Washington, D.C., and he met with President Obama. He said, “It feels weird being in the White House because I’m not an American.” And then Prince William said, “Yeah, me too.” The meeting with Prince William took place at the White House because Prince William wanted to see where the president spent his days, but the golf course was covered in snow.” – Craig Ferguson

So birthday wishes go out today to my old basketball buddy, Jim Berry, who’s relocated from south county to Colorado, but not for those preventive glaucoma reasons you might think. If you catch my drift.

So I hope you’re enjoying the Golden State Warriors’ 16 game winning streak. We’ll catch you coming back from a hand injury and picking up right where you left off, as the most explosive guard in the NBA. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

December 7, 2014

Brr, It’s Getting Old Out There

Good morning and greetings, Warrior fans. Well, Golden State followers must feel like they have died and gone to basketball heaven, because this team is on a roll. As of this writing, they’re cruising along on a 12 game winning streak, as their record stands at an amazing 17-2 mark. They have been getting out early and blowing their opponents off the floor, and have the look of a championship contender.

I know it’s early and NBA titles aren’t won in December, but this stretch of basketball they have put together has been more than impressive. The great Dr. Martin Luther King, who was known to hit the open three, once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

So it has been a dream season so far, as despite some injuries the team has jelled like a cranberry sauce relish. But head coach Steve Kerr is well aware that challenges lie ahead. “We haven’t faced some major adversity that’s inevitably coming. We’re off to a great start. We’re having fun. We’ve got great guys. But it’s going to get a lot harder. I know that.”

So if you want, there’s lots of room to climb on to the Golden State bandwagon. Everyone loves a winner, and with point guard Steph Curry being the most exciting performer in the league and playing like an MVP candidate, Warrior fans are pinching themselves over the team’s success. In the NBA, it’s all about winning the championship, as the ring’s the thing.

Now speaking of rings, when trying to determine the age of a tree, you look inside the core for the annual circles. One ring represents one year of life. Well, you can add another ring to my core, because coming up on Friday, I turn the big 62. I would prefer that number to be my height, but God made me an undersized, defensive-minded point guard.

At this stage, 62 is somewhat mind-blowing. But I do like the even numbers. But let’s fact it, in dog years, I’m dead.

But life has given me a lot, as I have a few things to be thankful for when my birthday comes around.

Let’s start with the family. As my brother Brad said to me in a private moment over Thanksgiving, my wife Allison appears to be very happy these days. She has been cancer free for more than five years, and that is more than a blessing. I attribute her happiness to the fact that we have a Genie from DIRECTV, the most advanced home HD DVR that can record five shows at once and store up to 200 hours of HD entertainment, which we go through every weekend.

As our rabbi says, with your Genie, your every TV wish is granted.

My son Jason is now a junior and on the premed track at UC Santa Barbara. When he’s not playing intramural basketball or baking chicken parmesan, he finds time to volunteer for Hospice Care, being a campus tour guide, working in a research lab and doing an internship at a local hospital. But what he says makes him happiest these days is taking a break from studying and watching his Golden State Warriors in action.

My daughter Aimee is now a senior at Santa Cruz High, and looking forward to leaving that experience behind her. She works at a restaurant and is a valuable employee at the westside New Leaf Market, which supplies her with endless greens for her rabbits. She also attends cosmetology school three days a week. I’m not quite ready to let her cut my hair, but promised her she could do my makeup in the upcoming year.

My brother Paul and his family are doing quite well, and my brother Brad, who back in March tumbled 1,000 feet down a glacier in Alaska and blew out his knee, but lived to talk about it, is taking the season off from snowboarding. This inactivity is driving him crazy but he has vowed to return to his snowboarding days next year.

To read about his continuing rehab, check out his latest blog at http://www.glutenfreesnowboarder.com/2014/11/its-getting-better-all-the-time/

Now my parents are a whole other story. My father is 97 years old, and has been suffering from dementia for close to a decade. It is difficult to deal with, but my mother, who is no spring chicken at age 88, is always able to have a smile on her face, even in the worst of times, which puts her in the category of sainthood. Well, it’s either that or the Celexa.

And our golden retriever, Summer, who is 9 and half years young, still brings so much joy to my life. Writer Agnes Sligh Turnball hit the nail on the head when she said, “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” Summer also loves the Genie and spends most of her day watching and recording shows from the Animal Planet.

And I will not celebrate this day alone, as my longtime friend, compadre, radio partner and former Mr. Universe, Jerry Hoffman, also shares this date with me. Jerry was recently hit with a sudden illness that knocked him off his feet for a couple of weeks, but he is going through treatment and is doing quite well. He’ll be hitting the slopes in Lake Tahoe this weekend, so happy birthday, my friend, and wishing you many, many more. Just stay away from those trees.

Now since this is the birthday post, I wanted to feature something spectacular for the occasion. So here’s the action from the morning of October 30. I was down at Lighthouse Point and reflection from the clouds on the sand at Its Beach was splashed with amazing color.

Then the sun rose over Steamer Lane, and I captured a couple of shots of the rays shooting through the beacon of the lighthouse. Mornings like this are a gift, and this is why I’m a sunrise photographer. But I’m still hoping for a pony.

On to some late night humor. “This is official today. China has surpassed the U.S. and now has the No. 1 economy in the world. After hearing this, China’s children asked, “So now can we take a lunch break?” For the first time, a major league baseball umpire has announced he’s gay. The umpire did this by pointing at himself and yelling, “OUT!” Over the weekend a couple got married on the New York City subway — on the subway! The couple asked that instead of gifts you send Purell hand sanitizer.” – Conan O’Brien

“It is still raining in Los Angeles. The rain is giving much needed relief to California’s crops. By that I mean “marijuana.” – Craig Ferguson “The trailer for the new “Terminator” movie came out today. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as you may know, is back. Said he’d be back, and he is. A man of his word. In this one he goes back in time to stop Phil Collins from launching a solo career.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So I know that many of you were still recovering from the holiday and may have missed last week’s post, “The Good, The Bad and the Stuffing. I bring it up because the photos are from sunrise from Thanksgiving morning that my brother Paul described as “epic.” So you might want to scroll down and take a look.

So we’ll catch you being the big man coming off the bench and putting up big numbers with the Warriors’ second unit. Aloha, mahalo and later, Maurice Speights fans.

November 30, 2014

The Good, The Bad And The Stuffing

Good morning and greetings, December fans. Yes, the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, as records were shattered in the consumption of stuffing department. I am left with a very pleasant memory, along with 72 cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce to commemorate this blessed occasion.

To year round cranberry sauce lovers, I say, crave the wave. Your taste buds will thank you.

Now in last week’s post, I looked ahead to the holiday, previewing how others celebrated this glorious gathering of food and stress. So with the sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and green beans now just a low carb memory, I thought I would take a look back at the holiday that brings some families together while ripping others apart.

As I’ve always maintained, be someone that brings out the best in you, not the stress in you.

Now first of all, the Pilgrims did not celebrate this festival with Trader Joe’s turkey gravy. Back in 1621, they decided to throw themselves a rave party to celebrate the harvest, so for the fixings, the men went “fowling,” as in the hunting of wild birds. Then a group of Wampanoag Indians showed up with five deer and enough deviled eggs, spinach dip and stuffed mushrooms for 50.

Looking back upon this first feast, the menu was quite exotic for the times. There was lobster, fish, sushi, chicken, rabbit, flank steak, squashes, dried fruits, aging movie stars, eggs, goat cheese, tater tots, chestnuts, hickory nuts, shrimp toast and spring rolls.

Not making it to the table were mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, bagels, corn on the cob, cranberries, whitefish salad and the most important item, gravy, which we all know is a key component to the success of the meal. And no forks were used for this feast, as this utensil didn’t make an appearance in North American until the 19th century. So we’re talking spoons, knives, fingers, chopsticks and slingshots.

Historians say the party raged on for three days, and included the 50 surviving Pilgrims and 90 Indians, as they ate, played party games, shot guns for fun and watched football and the Macy’s Day Parade.

Now according to my sources in the South Pacific, long before the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower, native Hawaiians were celebrating the longest Thanksgiving in the world. This holiday was called Makahiki, and lasted four months, from November through February. During these months of celebration, work, war, surf contests and reruns of “Magnum, P.I.” were forbidden.

So there was no mention of turkey at this original Thanksgiving. And let’s face it, when we think about this holiday, turkey is the number one bird on the hit list. The great American statesmen, Ben Franklin, wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. Me, I always favored the peacock.

So here’s a few fun facts about the approximately 45 million turkeys that were consumed and then exhumed on Thanksgiving.

There is evidence that turkeys have been around for 10 million years, or right around the making of the pilot episode of “Law and Order.”

Only male turkeys can pull off the gobble gobble routine, which is a seasonal call that drives the females crazy during their mating periods. Hens prefer to cluck, like in get me the cluck out of here.

Domesticated turkeys, or farm raised, cannot fly. So they go Amtrak. The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at a hefty 86 pounds, about the size of a large German Shepard or an small Austrian sheep herder.

Now here’s an unusual fact. Due to white meat being the most delectable and popular part of the turkey, these large birds have been bred to have huge breasts. As a result, the female’s backs are always killing them.

Now this takes all the fun out of the equation for both sexes because the domesticated turkeys are no longer able to mate, due to the breasts getting in the way of the mounting of the female. So they have to settle for a romantic dinner, a movie, then on to some heavy petting before they call it a night. Chickens have all the luck.

And finally, let’s give a shout out to Sara Josepha Hale, a magazine editor who is the author of the popular nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little lamb.” She urged President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving, as until 1863, the holiday had not been celebrated annually since the first feast back in 1621. She believed the day would unite Americans in the midst of dramatic social and industrial change and awaken our hearts for love and home and country.

And most importantly, it would create a day for Americans to wake up at the crack of dawn, so they can get in line to wait for the stores to open at great malls of our nation. We know it as Black Friday, a consumer’s dream come true, and just the way God created it. Because only in America, do people trample other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.

So for our holiday photo session, we are returning to Thanksgiving morning, 2014. I had slept in till 6:30, but when I saw that red glow on the eastern horizon, I dashed out of the house, parked the car at Bird Rock and sprinted down West Cliff to catch the amazing glow of the red clouds above Monterey Bay, before catching the sunrise over at Steamer Lane. Just a spectacular way to the start off the holiday.

On to some best of late night humor. “Yesterday New Jersey Governor Chris Chistie was asked about the slow pace of his weight loss and said, quote, ‘Rome was not un-built in a day.’ In fact, Christie and Rome have a lot in common: one was built by Julius Caesar, and the other was built by LITTLE Caesar.” – Jimmy Fallon “Ted Cruz of course, was furious that the big storm back east shut down the government. He said, ‘That my job!’ But you know, there is a big difference between Ted Cruz and snow. Both are white and everyone’s sick of them – but eventually snow goes away.” – Bill Maher

“The Arizona legislature passed a bill that would allow business owners asserting their religious beliefs to deny service to gay customers. Some businesses have already put up signs that read: ‘Nice shirt, nice shoes, no service.’” – Seth Meyers “Presidents Day, of course, started out as celebration of Washington’s birthday. Then someone remembered it was Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th. So now we celebrate Washington, Lincoln and all the other Presidents. I have no idea how this led to mattress sales. It’s probably something do with Bill Clinton.” – Craig Ferguson

“Yesterday the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks advanced to the big game, which means this year’s Super Bowl will have teams from the two states where recreational marijuana is legal. Or as pizza delivery men put it, ‘Pray for us.’” After the president’s State of the Union address, there will be three separate Republican rebuttals. Obama said, ‘Yeah, I live with two daughters, my wife and my mother-in-law. Three people telling me I’m wrong is a holiday.’” – Jimmy Fallon

So welcome to December. We’ll catch doubling your scoring average for the third straight season while nailing the three ball. Aloha, mahalo and later, Draymond Green fans.

November 23, 2014

Jolts And Quotes From The Gravy Boat

Good morning and greetings, turkey day fans. According to my Nicki Minaj desktop calendar, Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday. For most, it is a week filled with joy, as families reunite and share in a bounty of food, drink and tryptophan. My favorite amino acid helps the body in making niacin, an important B vitamin, which works well as both a floor wax and a dessert topping.

So this week, the airports are packed and people take to the highways like lemmings. Or as the late, great Johnny Carson once observed, “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then they discover once a year is too often.” Hiyo.

Now when I look back into my blogging archives, it seems that I wax nostalgic about my favorite national holiday in the even years, as in 2010, 2012 and 1846.

So for today, I hope you’ll pardon me if I bring back some of the greatest celebrities quotes and a few new ones about this festival of turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and enough stuffing to fill the Grand Canyon.

So Thanksgiving is always a November to remember, as uncontrolled violence, er football, takes center stage on this holiday. Or as comedian John Caponera put it, ‘Who knew the Pilgrims liked football so much?”

It’s a time of bonding, when relatives and friends come together. Jon Stewart, coming off his directorial debut of his new movie, “Rosewater,” grew up in the Garden State of New Jersey and enjoys reminiscing about the holiday. “I celebrated in an old fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then killed them and took their land.”

It seems that the Indians got a raw deal in this whole Thanksgiving story. Or as Native American comedian Larry Omaha puts it, “My mother won’t celebrate Thanksgiving. She says it represents the white man stealing our land. But she’s not angry, she figures, what the hell, we’re taking it back one casino at a time.”

For the host family, a good part of the day is spent in the foxhole, better known as the kitchen, preparing for a feast that will be prepared by a few, eaten by many and cleaned up by less. Unfortunately, many people will go hungry on this day, and that is a sin. No one in America should go hungry.

Or as Mother Theresa once tweeted me from a Backstreet Boys concert, ‘If you can’t feed 100 people, feed one.”

There is something vaguely satisfying about putting together a meal that feeds so many. I just love cramming stuffing into the bird’s cavity, as the instructions always say to ‘lightly stuff” the bird.

Well, after I finish jackhammering the delightfully flavored mix of bread crumbs, celery, and unions into the self basting butterball, I place it in a plastic bag, and it does all the work. It’s like magic. There’s a great future in plastics.

Or as Roseanne Barr once described the filling of the crevice, “Here I am at five o’clock in the morning, stuffing bread crumbs up a dead bird’s butt.”

George Carlin had this take on the holiday. “We’re having something a little different this year for Thanksgiving. Instead of a turkey, we’re having a swan. You get more stuffing.” And it’s always so moist.

So it makes for a long day, but it only comes around once a year, and you have 365 days to recover from it. It can be a little stressful when the families reunite. Or as Stephen Colbert once noted, “Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.”

Thanksgiving is celebrated by most all in America, from the common working stiff to high profile celebrities in Hollywood. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzeneger, who is busy man due to the double family front on this occasion, made a keen observation when he quipped, “I love the Thanksgiving turkey…it’s the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts.”

Now my favorite TV talk show host, David Letterman, is retiring from the late night wars sometime in 2015. He will be missed. Here’s his take on the holiday. “Thanksgiving is the day when you turn to another family member and say, ‘How long has Mom been drinking like this?’ My mom, after six Bloody Marys, looks at the turkey and says, ‘Here kitty, kitty.’”

As the world know, David Letterman is a huge admirer of the world’s most powerful woman, Oprah Winfrey. As I’ve said before, Oprah is a saint, a woman with a huge heart that overflows with love and generosity. She changes lives on a daily basis, and if you want to model yourself after someone, the Big O would be a good starting point.

This is her thought on the day. ‘Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.” Or as comedian Kevin James once spouted, “Thanksgiving. Not a good day to be my pants.”

Which leads me to the words of writer William A. Ward, who so eloquently once said, “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”

Well, I believe I have. I am particularly thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. But I would also like the give thanks to you, the readers of this blog, who take time out each week to decipher whatever humorous thoughts sprint across my mind. It’s all about the laughter. The photos are the icing on the cake.

So for my final thoughts on this day before we celebrate Black Friday, I will defer to one of the funniest and palest men in American, comedian Jim Gaffigan, to put the holiday in the proper prospective. “Thanksgiving. It’s like we didn’t even try to come up with a tradition. The tradition is, we overeat. ‘Hey, how about at Thanksgiving we just eat a lot?’ ‘But we do that every day!’ ‘Oh. What if we eat a lot with people that annoy the hell out of us?’”

So in honor of the turkey day, for our photo follies, we are featuring a cluster of their distant cousins, the pelican. The day was November 14th, and I had heard a rumor of a mass gathering at Natural Bridges State Beach. Sure enough, they were packed in on the rocks like sardines and with the gulls down on the sand.

We then return to November of last year, as we head down to the Municipal Wharf and take in a couple of outrageous feeding frenzy moments, as the birds were going anchovie crazy. There was non-stop action with the volume turned up.

We then move on to a big flock of pelicans in flight heading north before we finish up with a delightful shot along West Cliff Drive of these amazing birds moving through the sun as it dips into the horizon.

On to some late night humor. “There are reports that leaders from ISIS and al-Qaida met at a farm house in Syria last week, and agreed to work together against their common enemies. That story again: Two radical terrorist groups managed to do what two American political parties cannot. The Keystone XL pipeline would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It’ll be the biggest underground structure leading into the U.S. Then people in Mexico said, “Eh . . . second biggest.” – Jimmy Fallon

I don’t know if you know this but Hitler was a painter and one of his watercolor paintings is being auctioned off. It’s expected to sell for over $60,000. So if you’re looking for a wedding gift for Charles Manson.”- Conan O’Brien “Today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln wrote it on his way to the site of the speech on the back of an envelope. One guy on the back of an envelope wrote the great Gettysburg Address — while every night it takes six guys to write this crap!” -David Letterman

“Germany has overtaken the United States as the world’s favorite country. The favorite country survey was based on more than 20,000 people in 20 countries. Isn’t it a little bit unfair that they did this before the McRib came back?” -Jimmy Kimmel “David Bowie’s new album is a greatest hits collection called “Nothing Has Changed.” On the cover he looks in the mirror and he says nothing has changed. When I look in the mirror I say, “Hello, grandpa.” – Craig Ferguson

“Scientists say the European space probe that landed on the comet has detected organic matter. This means there could be either life in space or a Whole Foods. We just don’t know. This week a group of activists, known as Anonymous, hacked the Twitter account of the KKK. The KKK is furious. They said Anonymous is just a bunch of cowards who don’t have the courage to show their faces.” – Conan O’Brien “A man in California was arrested after he stabbed his potential employer during a job interview. Well, at least now he knows where he sees himself in five years.” – Seth Meyer

So that’s my big holiday post. Enjoy this gathering for what it is and perhaps take a moment to think about the military families that are apart on Thanksgiving.

We’ll catch you slinging touchdown passes and putting up big numbers on the board week after week. Aloha, mahalo and later, Aaron Rogers fans.

November 16, 2014

Numb And Number To

Good morning and greetings, polar vortex fans. Now if I’m being perfectly honest, I really don’t like the feeling of being cold. Or for that matter, being imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp.

Nor do I like feeling hot, except when I’m raining down jumpers on the basketball court. I just get into a zone. Auto Zone.

So when I heard last week that the midwest and rockies were preparing for a blast of polar air that was to send temperatures and toilets plunging, I knew Snowvember was upon us. Pardon my french, but to quote either Elton or Tommy John, “The bitch is back.”

Holy guacamole. Meteorologists and Al Roker’s cousin were calling it the “Arctic Outbreak.” We’re once again talking about a huge mass of whirling and swirling cold air that sent thermometers soaring downward. It had been a hundred years since Denver had been this cold this early, as the thermometer dropped faster than the Dow Jones average did a month ago.

Last Wednesday, the thermometer didn’t rise above the six degree mark all day in Denver. How cold was it? Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick. The only thing colder was the Denver Nugget’s defense that night at Pepsi Center, as they gave up 84 points in the first half in the loss to Portland.

Denver set a new record with a recording of minus 14 below. So how cold was it outside the arena? Ladies of the night were charging twenty bucks just to blow on your hands.

So what in the wide, wide world of weather is this polar vortex? For those of you who have forgotten or don’t give a rat’s behind, it’s a large pocket of the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere that swoops down from the north, leading to bitter cold freezing conditions while making life miserable for the masses, unless you’re a badger or wolverine.

Residents of Chicago are still in a panic. That’s what 32 feet of snow last year will do to you. And just in case you were wondering where the coldest spot in the nation was on Wednesday, the honor went to Casper, Wyoming, where it was a bone chilling 26 below. Pickpockets were sticking their hands in stranger’s pockets just to keep them warm.

So I say, America, let’s band together and send this weather back to where in belongs, to a land with ten provinces, three territories and one escaped Bieber. Canada. America’s attic. Or as they like to say about themselves, “We’re not colder, we’re cooler.”

Now I have nothing against Canadians, although I have never made love in a canoe. I may have on occasion sampled some their bacon in eggs benedict. A Canadian is sort of like an American, but without the gun. Or as the gangster Al Capone once said, “I don’t even know what street Canada is on.”

So while it’s 81 degrees in Palm Beach County, Florida, there’s four feet of snowing dropping in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, California bathes in sunshine and the drought continues to rage on. Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite fair, but if we didn’t have the weather to talk about, what would we start our conversations with?

So to update a previous post, I have remained in touch with my old friend Dennis, who’s doing quite well, but for security purposes did want me to reveal his last name (Haggar). My old high school buddy celebrated his 62nd birthday on Thursday with cake, ice cream and animal balloons. We had been out of touch for 44 years, but now we are reunited, and it feels so good.

But under the category of, “Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear,” low and behold, last Wednesday, I received an email from my closest comrade from grammar school, who I also hadn’t been it touch for over four decades. He somehow ran across my blog and reached out to me.

It was a glorious reunion. But out of respect for his privacy, he wanted me to keep our conversation on the down low, so as not to reveal his profession, (attorney), relationship status (married), hobbies (jazz music) and most importantly, his Pacific Northwest location (Seattle.)

Turns out my old Fort Lee running buddy is a big NBA hoops fan, and has named all his sons after Shawn Kemp. I had been dreaming about his mother’s banana cake for years. It was a blast heading back to the past, and where we go from here is basically a jump ball.

But if these things happen in threes, I’m ready, because if something else is coming down the pike, I really hope it’s a pony.

So for today’s photosynthesis, we are returning to West Cliff Drive on the morning of October 26. I wanted to get a wider shot of the sunrise over the bay, so I set up shop at Fair Avenue. The sky was vivid red and orange before the sun rose, casting a painted canvas look at the heavens above Monterey Bay.

The sun then rose, the sky turned blue, and I packed up my stuff and drove home to confront the ghosts of my future. I’ve got a great past in front of me.

On to some late night humor “I’m so excited. Jay Leno is on the show tonight. He brought some really funny jokes and some great stories. Although I’m a little concerned he also brought his old desk and Kevin Eubanks.” – Jimmy Fallon “At the economic summit in China, Vladimir Putin is being accused of flirting with the first lady of China. Then again, Putin does have a history of not respecting boundaries.” – Conan O’Brien

“”Director Oliver Stone says he’s going to make a movie about Vladimir Putin. I can’t believe anyone would want to work with that insane communist. And Putin is a little crazy as well.” – Craig Ferguson ” Welcome to our special “Sons of Anarchy” show. I’m a huge fan. When I was a young man, I ran with a gang of redheaded punks. We were called the Ginger Snaps. Our biggest enemy was sunlight. “Sons of Anarchy” is the No. 1 show in its time slot. They were No. 2 but then they had the No. 1 show executed in an abandoned warehouse.” – Conan O’Brien

“Pepsi is testing a new drink flavor, which is a mix between Mountain Dew and Doritos. Or as stoners call it, “instant breakfast.” The October jobs report was released and it showed that unemployment has hit its lowest point in six years. Also hitting its lowest point: anyone who tried that new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew.” – Jimmy Fallon “PepsiCo is developing a Doritos Mountain Dew called Dewitos. I think I’ll wait until they come out with Diet Dewitos.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Pepsi has a new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. No, we don’t have an Ebola vaccine, but we do have the Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. You know Kim Jong Un, the evil dictator of North Korea? Apparently, a guy in his inner circle used his ashtray while smoking and Kim Jong Un had him executed. I remember the same thing happened when a guy used Martha Stewart’s personal lemon zester.” – David Letterman

“The Secret Service said there have been 40 fence-jumping incidents at the White House in the past five years. Half of them were intruders trying to get in. The other half was President Obama trying to get out.” – Conan O’Brien “A tiger has been seen running around Paris. Citizens were told to stay indoors and do whatever’s necessary to protect the wine and cheese. They should leave home only to smoke and to judge others.” – Craig Ferguson

So full speed ahead, as clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. We’ll catch you making great comedy movies classics for American audiences. Aloha, mahalo and later, Bobby and Peter Farrelly fans.

November 9, 2014

The Warriors Are Butter Because They’re On A Roll

Good morning and greetings, central coast fans. If you looked up the definition of magnificent in the dictionary, and for you kids out there, it’s a book we used in the olden day with lots of fancy words, it would describe our weather last week here in Santa Cruz. As the polar vortex swoops down from Canada, bringing a deep freeze to the midwest and northeast, our weather remained warm and dry in our little cold water paradise where the redwoods meet the sea.

I have been a resident of this surf town for almost three decades. From the first moment that I set foot in this liberal city, I was fortunate enough to call West Cliff Drive my home, where I could stare for hours out my living room window and take in the view of the ocean, the landscape and roller skaters, and not necessarily in that order.

Having Monterey Bay as your front yard was a fantastic place to begin my wonder years, as life is magical along the edge of the continent. The sky and clouds put on a show every day and admission is free. To say I was blessed would be an understatement. It was simply an outstanding way to begin my Californication into the Golden State.

Now God didn’t skimp in the beauty department when he created this place, as nature never takes a vacation. Or as naturalist John Muir liked to say, “The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere.”

Now coming from an east coast state of mind, Santa Cruz was a different animal. People here were laid back, life was free and easy and there just wasn’t that high intensity mentality that I was used to. This was particularly true on the basketball courts, where the motto up at the UCSC fieldhouse was “Friendship through competition.”

At the time, I was coming from a different place, where crushing your opponent felt a lot more comfortable. Or as my power yoga instructor once told me, “The surgeon general says it’s okay to smoke the competition.” Remember, if you come in second, you’re just the first loser.”

Now Santa Cruz was not exactly a bastion of professional sports franchises. Back in the mid 70′s, there were the high school teams and Cabrillo College, and that was basically it. Sure, people rooted for the A’s, Giants, Grateful Dead, Raiders, 49ers, Santana and the Warriors, but there was no big time sports presence in town, unless you counted the Doobie Brother rocking out at the Catalyst.

Well, that all changed back in 2012, when the Golden State Warriors announced that they were relocating their D-League team from Bismark, North Dakota, which was just east of Siberia, to Santa Cruz. Upon hearing this news I was shocked, stunned, mystified and finally posterized.

Professional basketball in Santa Cruz. Who knew? There didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in local hoops. Relocating over the hill In San Jose, where the population center was much greater, would have seemed a much better fit.

Well, unbelievably, the decision was approved by the Santa Cruz City Council in time for the start of the 2012-13 season. They renamed the team the Santa Cruz Warriors and received a $3.5 million loan from the city to build the Kaiser Permanente Arena. I was hoping for an Outback Steak House.

And just like that, we had the NBA logo, Jerry West, chowing down on some frled calamari strips down at the Crow’s Nest, and pro basketball in our little cold water hamlet.

The team has been in the D-League Finals the last two seasons, as the arena is sold out almost every night and the action has been outstanding. The city loves their Warriors and the Warriors have in turn supported the community. It’s been a good fit, a real success story.

Well, it seems not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. In the October 29th issue of the Good Times, in the section of Local Talk, people are asked “What is Santa Cruz’s biggest eyesore? One man answered, “People smoking cigarettes downtown.” Another woman replied, “All the people that are homeless and the desperation in their eyes. It’s more like a heart sore.”

But my favorite answer was from a stay-at-home Mom, who was not exactly a big hoops supporter, when she said, “The basketball stadium downtown.” I guess you can’t please all the people all the time, as the money could have gone to other projects. But it’s here now, so let the games and incessant noise begin.

I attended Media Day last Thursday at the arena with my cohort Jerry Hoffman, and there’s a lot of fresh talent on this year’s squad. According to head coach Casey Hill, “We’re coming into a year where we don’t have as many guys returning. We’ll build a team, not necessarily from scratch, but pretty dang close to it. I’m actually looking forward to it, it will be a fun challenge. It’s the D-League experience.”

So opening night is November 14 against the LA Defenders. The league is all about the players developing their game so they can be called up to the big show, the NBA. If you’re a basketball fan, you’ve got to check it out. It’s the real deal, and it’s in our hometown.

It’s all about following the dream. Or as my rabbi once told me while running out on a fast break, “Reach for the sky or don’t even try.” Shalom.

So for today’s photo journey, we are returning to the evening skies of October 27. When I got down to Stockton Avenue, a distinct ribbon of clouds had formed in the western sky. Over the next half hour, the clouds went through some color changes, from standard white to tangerine orange and then finishing up with ruby red.

Meanwhile, turning back to the east, the clouds were wild and flooding the sky with a pinkish hue color. All in all, for early in the season, it was a good night on the digital front.

On to some late night humor. “For the first time in history, Congress has 100 women in it. Congratulations. Welcome to modern times, America. It’s great having 100 women in Congress. Unless you’re in line for the congressional bathroom.” – Craig Ferguson “On Tuesday, Utah Candidate Mia Love became the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. She’s also a Mormon. Yeah, a black female Republican Mormon. Even unicorns are saying, “Not buyin’ it.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Mary Keitany from Kenya won the women’s race at the New York City Marathon. Mary was fast. Experts say it’s one of the most impressive races they’ve seen a woman run. Then Hillary said, “Stay tuned.”-Jimmy Fallon “It’s been announced that a Union soldier who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama over 151 years after his death. Even better, he finally got an appointment at the VA hospital.” – Seth Meyers

“Daredevil Nik Wallenda broke a record when he walked blindfolded between two Chicago skyscrapers. Wallenda said he didn’t do it to set a record. He did it because that’s the safest way these days to walk through Chicago.”- Conan O’Brien “Discovery, formally the Discovery Channel — they changed it to make it more confusing — has a special on December 7 called “Eaten Alive” that will feature a man being eaten alive by an anaconda. So, if you were disappointed by the fact that Nik Wallenda didn’t fall off that tightrope, this is your show.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So birthday wishes go out on Tuesday to my old backcourt teammate, Doug MacKinnon, who sailed from Plymouth Rock back in the 70′s and landed on West Cliff Drive and saved me a space.

We’ll catch you running the point and bringing excitement to the arena every time you step on the floor. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kiwi Gardner fans.

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