February 22, 2015

We’re As Cold As Ice

Good morning and greetings, deep freeze fans.  Last week, I wrote about our lovely February weather, which lasted on through the three day President’s weekend.  It made for perfect golf conditions for the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro Am National Golf Tournament.   Well, at least till the fog blew in on Sunday.
Or as it says on the wall at the DMV, “Living without faith is like driving in a fog.”  Don’t let the shroud surround you.
Yes, the weather was ideal, with the tournament play being televised on the Golf Channel.  When you tuned in, besides seeing the celebs, the beautiful fairways and landscape of the three golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula, you also had a chance to view the incredible coastline and overhead shots of dolphins, whales and corporate sponsors, along with the abundance of sea life that is Monterey Bay.
Now I don’t usually watch much golf, as I think it’s more enjoyable to listen on the radio, but recently retired anesthesiologist Dr. Michael Schur was heating up my phone lines, calling in from his waterfront estate in Satellite Beach, Florida.A couple years back, he had celebrated his 60th birthday playing on the course at Pebble Beach, calling it “a lifetime dream come true,” and he wanted me to experience the majesty and wonder of God’s most beautiful golf arena.
So I put down the Hardy Boys book I was reading, (“The Mystery of the Chinese Junk”) and turned on the tube, and watched in amazement.  And then the fog blew in and blew out on Sunday and Tiger Woods was nowhere to be found.  Game over.
The conditions couldn’t have been any better for the tournament, but as the golfers teed off, the east coast was being bombarded with an arctic blast and freezing conditions.  The blizzarding snow just kept on falling, so as soon as people dug themselves out, they were greeted with another large dose of the white stuff.  .
To this point, I believe it was either Oprah, Dr. Phil or the Dali Lama’s brother who once said, “Sex is like snow, you never know who many inches you’re going to get or how long it will last.”
It has been a nightmarish 2015 for residents in the northeast, as the storms just haven’t let up, as Boston set a record for the snowiest February in history.  It doesn’t seem like winning the Super Bowl came with any good weather karma.
It’s like the old Chinese proverb, “Three feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather.” Or as the old Eskimo proverb says. “You never know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks.”  I’ve always said, if you’re going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance.

So as our week began, the skies went temporarily gray.  As we donned our sweatshirts, another winter blast of snow and ice swept into the midwest and into the south, burying some regions in more than a foot of snow while paralyzing transportation and cutting off power to a quarter of a million homes.  The eastern third of the country was locked in a deep freeze.

The bitter cold air was coming down from Siberia, where the the temperature was minus 50 below.  Southern states like Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and the Carolinas were frozen like popsicles.  You didn’t need to head to the local skating rink.  Just open your door and step outside, as admission was free and no skates were needed.

And reporting in on the weather carnage coming out of Nashville is field scout Nancy Mager, who’s the director of Sponsored Programs at Western Kentucky University.  As she reported, “It’s all ice and Syrian rebels.  We had an inch of ice on the trees, roads and power lines.   The schools have been closed all week.”

“The ice is beautiful and sparkling, but it’s dangerous as hell, as the roads haven’t been plowed or the sidewalks shoveled.” A New Jersey native, she added that with the wind chill factor at minus five degrees, “It’s never been this cold.”

I’ve also skated on thin ice and driven on icy roads and it’s a nightmare.  You hit the brakes but you just start sliding, with no control over your vehicle.

I had the pleasure of being in an accident like this years ago back in New Jersey, when a car had stopped ahead of me, but when I hit the brakes, I just went into a slide and rammed him.  And the ironic thing was, I was on my way to the gas station to put snow tires on the car, something we east coasters have the pleasure of doing.

So bitter cold temperatures shattered decades old records last week all across the Great Lakes region and in cities like Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Miami, just to name a few.  They’re shivering in Chicago as it’s been the coldest February since 1876.  Niagara Falls was turned into an ice spectacle and in Eastport, Maine, they’ve had 109 inches of snow in 23 days.  That’s brutal.
But the grand prize went to the city of Embarrass, Minnesota, where folks woke up to a thermometer reading Thursday morning of 41 below zero, without the wind chill factor.  I just have one word for them.   Brrrrrrrrr.
And finally, to put the cherry on top, on Friday, twenty one states had temperature in double digits below zero.  It was the coldest day in February history in Cleveland (minus 17), Flint, Michigan was a balmy minus 25, and in the blue grass state of Kentucky, it was the chilliest day in Lexington in 21 years (minus 18.)
And over the weekend more misery was headed their way, with another blizzard warning for the northeast,with more storms on the horizon .  While out here on the central coast, we’re struggling with temps in the mid 60′s, while in the Hawaiian Islands, they’re looking at a high of 82 degrees.  Somehow, it all doesn’t seem fair.
But as the late, great, Johnny Carson once quipped, “If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.”  Amen.
For our photo department, we are returning to the morning of Christmas Eve.  I was a fantastic sunrise, with vivid cloud colors, painted reflections and wild surf pounding in the background.  I was shooting from the sand at Its Beach, before making my way over to catch the sun coming up over the bay at Steamers Lane.  Just awesome beauty.
On to some late night humor. “Jeb Bush gave a speech yesterday. He had a pretty rough time. He accidentally said that ISIS has 200,000 men instead of 20,000, and then he mispronounced the name of the terrorist group Boko Haram. So if history has taught us anything, Jeb is well on his way to winning the White House.” – Jimmy Fallon  “Yesterday during a speech on national security, Jeb Bush mispronounced Boko Haram and got confused between Iran and Iraq. When reached for comment, his brother George W. said, “He sure sounds presidentiary to me.” – Conan O’Brien

“Starbucks has launched a home delivery service. It’s perfect for anyone too lazy to walk one block in any direction.  Little Caesars has introduced a giant, deep-dish pizza with a crust wrapped in three feet of bacon. Two hours ago Pizza Hut surrendered.  Here’s a new device that allows airline passengers to completely isolate themselves from their row mates. The device is called a baby.” – Conan O’Brien

“Gallup, the polling company, released its annual well-being index where they rank the health and happiness of residents of each of the 50 states. Alaska finished first and Hawaii was No. 2. It’s interesting that the top two happiest states are the ones that are farthest away from the rest of us.” – Jimmy Kimmel  I spent the past four days in Cuba shooting a special episode of this show.  I had an amazing experience in Cuba. People there are fantastic. But I do have to say it’s very nice to be back home in front of all of you capitalist pigs.” – Conan O’Brien

“The Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show is going on in Madison Square Garden.I want to tell you something about that dog show. If I want to see rolling over and playing dead at Madison Square Garden, I’ll go to a Knicks game.  At the NBA All-Star Game, the West beat the East 163-158, but the loss will be credited to the New York Knicks.” – David Letterman

So again, 60th birthday wishes go out to my brother Paul, who I celebrated the blessed occasion with on Friday along with his son, Josh and our old pal Doug Mackinnon, at the Oracle Arena, as the Warriors blew out the Spurs.  I just wish the game was as good as our seats.

So we’ll catch you putting up big numbers and playing like the first pick in last year’s NBA draft.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Andrew Wiggins fans.

February 15, 2015

The Golden State Of Mind

Good morning and greetings, February fans.  Well, it warmed up around the central coast last week, with sunny skies and delightful warm breezes, as the daytime highs got up into the mid 70′s.  The mornings are still cool and crisp, but nothing like the relentless battering weather conditions in Boston, where this month, the snowfall has been absolutely insane, with one blizzard after another.

If you like Super Bowl of snow, then Massachusetts is the place to be in February, as over six feet had fallen in 17 days.  We’re talking about 77.3 inches of the white stuff coming down in a little over two weeks, making it the snowiest February in city history.  It’s like the Mexican drug cartels had taken over the Weather Channel.  It just keeps coming down.

Now on the local front, let’s take a look the conditions we had back in January, where our fair city of Santa Cruz recorded no rainfall for the first time since 1893.  Holy smokes!  According to local meteorologists and my urologist, this has never happened before.  We were rolling on the winter front, with 43 straight days of peace, love, music and UV rays.

How dry was it?  A halibut knocked on my door asking for a drink of water.
Now January is usually the rainiest month on the central coast, where we expect to receive around 6.3 inches.  And looking north to San Francisco Bay area, the conditions were just as bleak, as there was no measurable moistness, which the National Weather Service declared it as the driest month on record, tape or CD.
It was the first time in 165 years that the Bay Area recorded no January precipitation.  If you want to do the math, that’s going back to 1850, long before women started lining up accusing Bill Cosby of any sexual shenanigans.
The only signs of precipitation in the Bay Area was at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, where the Golden State Warriors were raining down three pointers against their opponents.  At the all-star break, Golden State have compiled the best record in the NBA, with an outstanding 42-9 mark.  The dream season continues to roll along, and the only question Warrior fans want answered is, “Is this going to be our championship season?”  Stay tuned.
Now why am I bringing up February’s fabulous weather conditions?  Because back in 1974, before there was history, the internet, and Bruce Jenner was all man, I made my first visit to the Golden State.  Back in February 1974, the central coast was experiencing the same type of delightful weather patterns, with sunny, clear days and highs in the lows 70′s.It seems I had landed in a cold water paradise, where the redwoods got along with the sea.  Who knew?
Now why Santa Cruz?   I know some of you know the story, but it’s worth repeating.  I had first heard the name, Santa Cruz, in the summer of 1972, while attending the summer session of the University of Colorado.  I met a lovely young lady from San Francisco on my first night in Boulder, and I explained to her that I was a refugee from Syracuse University, fleeing the winters in upstate New York.
I told her I was in search of the “kind” weather, which coincidentally was how Boulder was advertised. “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.”  After she heard my story, she smiled brightly and uttered the magic words, “You should go to school in Santa Cruz.”
Was it kismet?  Was it fate that I had run into this blonde, tall glass of water who went on to become Wilhelmina model?  Well, sitting here in Santa Cruz forty three years later, I guess it was.  Because at that point, I didn’t know Santa Cruz from Jose Cruz.
So after a quick jaunt over to the European continent and the tip of Africa, I returned to the continent, where I then boarded a plane in New York and was deposited in the Golden State, specifically onto West Cliff Drive. My manifest destiny was complete.
I slept like a baby that night along the edge of the continent, and liked it so much that I extended my stay along the cliff to 14 years.  And the rest, they say, is history,  just like Stephen Curry winning the three point shootout in fine fashion on NBA All-Star Saturday night.
For today’s photo replay, we are returning to the evening of December 30.  There wasn’t too much cloud action in the sky, but as the sun started to dip between the clouds and heading for the horizon, I took out my zoom lens to capture the drama up close and personal on this night.  It’s just a kiss away.

On to some late night humor.  “Despite the Brian Williams lying scandal, NBC News led in the ratings last week. Although I should note the figures were reported by Brian Williams.  There’s a rumor that NBC is going to have Tom Brokaw fill in temporarily as the NBC News anchor. When asked why, a network spokesperson said, “Because the only other NBC person we have is Bill Cosby.” – Conan O’Brien

“It’s been reported that Beyoncé wore $10 million worth of jewels to the Grammys. When asked why, Beyoncé said, “I didn’t want to bring the good stuff.”  An old pair of shoes once owned by Justin Bieber has sold on eBay for $50,000. To be honest, they’re a little tight on me.  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

“Once again it’s Fashion Week here in New York City. The top models of the day are very, very skinny. I did the math on this — it takes about a dozen models to actually create a shadow.  A woman in Manhattan went into a seafood restaurant, bit into a hunk of fish and got a fish hook in her mouth. I hate when you go into a restaurant and you’re the catch of the day.” -David Letterman

“Pot growers in the state of Washington have a problem. Supply there has outstripped demand and they have a lot more marijuana than they can sell.  Washington has more pot than they can smoke, which might help to explain why Pete Carroll called for a passing play on the 1 yard line.  The pot surplus is so bad in Washington right now that the governor is saying they may have to deploy Willie Nelson to the area.” -Jimmy Kimmel

So birthday wishes go out to my brother Paul, who turns the big 60 on Sunday.  He says he’s not concerned about turning sixty, and by early June, he’ll actually be able to say the number out loud.  Here’s joy to you, my brother.

So we’ll catch you tearing it up in the backcourt, but once again, not being named as a replacement on the all-star team.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Monta Ellis fans.

February 8, 2015

We’ll Head ‘Em Off At The Pass

Good morning and greetings, football fans.  Well, we are more than a week removed from the Super Bowl, and what a fantastic finish it was to the most hyped game on the planet.Well, with the exception of Seattle fans, like my old grammar school pal Neal Friedman, who was a bit upset with the outcome, as the Seahawks managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Now this game again personified the excitement and greatness of sports.  No one, not Alfred Hitchcock, the Farrelly Brothers or Mad Magazine could have scripted out the final few moments.  Throughout all of America, people could be heard shouting, “Unbelievable, why, why, why, and where are my pants?”  as the final seconds counted down.

Here’s the set up.  With the Patriots leading 28-24, Seattle had the ball on New England’s one yard line.  All QB Russell Wilson needed to do was hand the ball off to the human battering ram, running back Marshawn Lynch, to get the final yard and into the end zone for the game winning touchdown. Just one yard and the celebration is on.

Now on the other side, New England fans and bettors were set to commit hari kari. The Patriots had trailed 24-14 earlier in the game, before they mounted a fourth quarter comeback and scored two touchdowns against a Seattle defense that hadn’t allowed a fourth quarter touchdown in the last sixty years.

But at this moment, hopes were fading, as it looked like Paul Revere and the Patriots were going down to another late game defeat.

Now Seattle had quickly gotten down to the Patriots one yard line, as receiver Jermaine Kearse made a spectacular catch while laying on the field after juggling the ball, in a version of hot potato.   It was reminiscent of the New York Giants David Tyree’s unbelievable “Helmet Catch” in Super Bowl 42, that ruined the Patriot’s undefeated season.  You just don’t see mind blowing, miracle catches like this every day, no less when the Super Bowl title is on the line.

This was heavy sports drama, folks.

So Russell Wilson drops back into a shotgun set and fires a slant pass to his receiver on the goal line, only to have the ball intercepted by the Patriot’s Malcolm Butler.  What!  An interception!  Somebody pinch me.

Pandemonium then ensued as no one could have imagined this turn of events.  Up in the NBC broadcast booth,  a stunned play by play announcer Al Michaels described the play as “Unreal.”  Michaels, who was behind the mic for the “Miracle on Ice ” hockey game in Lake Placid when we upset the Russians, had counted down the final seconds of that call with, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!
Well, this wasn’t quite on par with that Olympic moment, but it was damn close.  For Seattle fans, this should not have happened in their lifetime.NBC’s color analyst Chris Collingworth was also stunned by the play call, not believing what he saw take place.  His immediate reaction, “I cannot believe the call.  You got a guy (Marshawn Lynch) who’s been borderline unstoppable in this part of the field.  I can’t believe the call.”
Well, Chris, neither could the rest of America.
Here is the play on You Tube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7rPIg7ZNQ8&feature=player_embedded
It was a shocking turn of events.  Reaction to the call came fast and furious to what was being called the worst coaching decision of all-time.  Former Cowboys running back Emmit Smith described it as “The worst play call in the history of football.”  Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson chimed in with “WCE.  Worst Call Ever.  Beast Mode in the backfield and you throw it?”And finally Donald Trump, who these days has what looks like a blond muskrat sitting on his head, said “It must have been President Obama that called in what will go down as the DUMBEST PLAY IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL.”  You’re fired.
And everyone who was anyone tuned in and turned on.  Super Bowl XLIX was officially the most-watched television broadcast in history, as the game was seen by 114.4 million total viewers, beating out the “Parenthood” series finale.

For the Seahawks and their fans, they will be forever left wondering, why didn’t they hand the ball off on their final offensive play of the season?  Seattle Coach Pete Carroll, who took responsibility for the pass call, had this to say about the play and his team a few days later.

“I don’t think at this point that everyone’s on the same page about the sequence.  We’re going to make this right by getting to the truth. By facing up and talking about it, letting everyone clear their mind.  When you finally gather and you’re ready to take the next step, we’re going to places that will be extraordinary.”
Well, it’s sounds like a story of redemption, and according to the coach, “It’s well under way.”  Only time will tell.
For today’s photo countdown, we are returning to the morning of December 9. I started shooting this beautiful sunrise along West Cliff Drive, and then headed down to Its Beach to capture the vibrant reflection of the colorful clouds in the sand. I then hit Steamers Lane to catch the surf action as the waves were pumping.  As the sun rose over the mountains, the colors started to fade, and it soon disappeared behind the clouds. Just another late fall classic.
On to some late night humor  “The city of Boston today held its Super Bowl victory parade. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle held Seahawks coach Pete Carroll out a window by his ankles.  Tom Brady says he wants to give the truck he was given as the Super Bowl MVP to the guy who won the Super Bowl for the Patriots. So Brady’s giving his truck to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.” -Conan O’Brien”Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted this week that he’s cried and lost sleep thinking about his controversial pass call at the Super Bowl. He just keeps running it over and over in his head. Well, actually he keeps passing it over and over.” – Seth Meyers  ”President Obama unveiled a $4 trillion budget for 2016 that would increase taxes on the wealthy and spend more money on education. He also made a snowball and put it in the oven, just to see which would last longer, his budget or the snowball.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush admitted that he smoked a notable amount of pot in school. He said, “You would too if your parents had named you ‘Jeb.’

Scientists have discovered that a 5,000-year-old mummy is covered with at least 60 tattoos. Scientists are calling him the earliest known member of the NBA.” – Conan O’Brien

So I’m one day late, but birthday wishes go out to my beloved mother Lee Gilbert, who turned a young 89 yesterday.  This past year has been a tough one, but she’s still smiling and in the running for sainthood.
And there was great news on the medical front for my old pal Jerry Hoffman, who had been going through some tough times recently, but got some fantastic news on Friday that left all of us stunned and elated.  It’s a new ballgame, my friend.
So we caught you Friday night looking like one of the top players in the NBA, after hitting your first three point shot of the season that was a game winner at the buzzer.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Anthony Davis fans.

February 1, 2015

We Are What We Eat

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Good morning and greetings, Super Bowl fans.  I’m posting this blog before yesterday’s big game, because I will probably be too emotionally incapacitated afterwards, as a result of avocado intake and all the other culinary delights that go along with watching a commercial-filled slug fest that takes six hours long to complete.
Now speaking of avocados, I don’t want to say that my fellow Americans are in love with this smooth, creamy fleshy fruit of the Gods, but when the nation sits down and knock backs over 100 million pounds of this spherical wonder, accompanied by 10 trillion pounds of chips, there is truly something special happening.
 We’re talking about 80 million avocados being consumed per hour during the Super Bowl, which according to my calculations, is enough to fill a football field 12 feet deep.
And best of all, a new study from the Guacamole Institute of Technology says an avocado a day can significantly lower your cholesterol. I’m down for at least one a day.  They’re full of nutrients, healthy fats, and will reduce the risk of heart disease while leaving your hair feeling silky smooth and shining soft.
We’re making this country a healthier and better place by putting away mounds of guacamole dip, one scoop at a time.  That’s American culinary ingenuity at its finest.
Moving on, the National Chicken Council estimates that Americans consumed over 1.25 billion chicken wings on Sunday, in a sea of barbecue, ranch dressing and blue cheese dipping sauces that could fill the Panama Canal.  Now if you were to line up the wings end-to-end, and who hasn’t wanted to do that in their lifetime, there would be enough to circle the Grand Canyon 120 times or to place 572 on every seat in all 32 NFL stadiums.Talk about painting a picture with words.  Just don’t forget the napkins.

Now there’s a recent study from the University of Illinois that suggests that the reason our youth of America are so fat is because they are consuming too much pepperoni and cheese, the main ingredients in this wonderful flat bread we call pizza.


We’re talking about young children pounding down extra grams of fat, milligrams of salt along with hundreds of extra calories leading to an obesity epidemic.  Holy ham and sausage, Batman.
Now to me, pizza can do no wrong.  Growing up in New Jersey, I worshiped at the Temple of Pizza King.  I bowed down to their slices, consisting of rich tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese on a crisp, thin crust.  Each bite was a heavenly delight.
Well, yesterday, the pizza boys were going at it full throttle, as 12.5 millions pizza were delivered to homes and prisons in America.  And our armed forces were not forgotten, as 5,000 pies were flown over to Afghanistan so that every soldier could have a taste of the old country while watching the championship game.
I just hope they watched out for those snipers at halftime, although I hear the Taliban are big fans of Katy Perry.  And yes, she was fully inflated at halftime.
But here is the biggest surprise and it’s a shocker.  According to my vegan sources, the number one food ingested in America on Super Bowl Sunday was vegetables.  What?  Hey, is someone pulling my lariat?
No, it’s twue, it’s twue.  While 100 million people are watching the game and plowing through the nuclear nachos, chili fries, jalapena poppers and enough beer to fill Hoover Dam, there are 200 other million Americans not viewing the contest.  To them, it’s just another Sunday night, as they go about sitting down to their dinners and eating their brussel sprouts, green beans and zucchini sticks.
It seems vegetables dominate the landscape on Super Bowl Sunday. Or in the words of humorist Will Rogers, “An onion can make people cry, but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.”So yesterday, as football fans, we consumed our fair share of carbs, sugar and alcohol.  That’s the American way.  So damn the calories, as for one day, we came together as a nation and ignored our collective weight on the scale.
Now for some football humor.  During the Super Bowl, there was another football game of note between the big animals and the small animals. The big animals were crushing small animals and at half-time, the coach made a passionate speech to rally the little animals.

At the start of the second half the big animals had the ball. The first play, the elephant got stopped for no gain. The second play, the rhino was stopped for no gain. On third down, the hippo was thrown for a 5 yard loss.

The defense huddled around the coach and he asked excitedly, “Who stopped the elephant?”  “I did,” said the centipede. “Who stopped the rhino?”  “Uh, that was me too,” said the centipede.  “And how about the hippo? Who hit him for a 5 yard loss?”

“Well, that was me as well,” said the centipede.  “So where were you during the first half?” demanded the coach. “Well,” said the centipede, “I was having my ankles taped.”

For today’s photo parade, we are going back to the evening of January 10.  I was shooting from the cliffs along West Cliff Drive at Stockton Avenue, as the sky turned various shades of orange as the crowds looked on.  But what delighted me was the view south, as beautiful pink clouds filled the sky and cast their reflection over Monterey Bay.  Just a beautiful sight on a January night.

On to a little late night humor.  “Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon announced that this will be his final season of racing. You could tell it was time for him to retire during his last race when he had his blinker on the whole time.” – Jimmy Fallon  “The Northeast is being hit with a major snowstorm. Forecasters said they’ve haven’t seen a whiteout like this since last week’s Oscar nominations.” – Conan O’Brien”

“They’re talking’ about the blizzard-like conditions in New York City.  A big question all the New Yorkers have, and they’re talking three or four feet of snow, is: How will the Chinese food delivery get through?  More bad news for the New England Patriots. The NFL now has video of those deflated footballs alone in an elevator with Ray Rice.  In the last 48 hours King Abdullah from Saudi Arabia passed away. I have a moral dilemma. The king passed away three or four days ago. Is it too soon to hit on Queen Latifah?” – David Letterman
So birthday wishes go out on Thursday to my longtime friend and confidante, Nancy Mager, who celebrates the big 60 this year.  My former blog editor, who can make baked ziti sing, is currently residing in Nashville, but I know her heart belongs to California.
And next Sunday to my favorite mother, who is still smiling after all these year, and can remember when dinosaurs roamed the earth.   More on her next week.
We’ll catch you putting up great numbers this season and deserving of an all-star selection, but not being named to the western conference team.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Damian Lillard fans.

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.

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