April 26, 2015

The Father The Son And The Holy Coast

Good morning and greetings, cyber readers.  As you know, my son Jason is a junior at UC Santa Barbara.  During this past spring break, instead of coming home for the week and be surrounded by family, rabbits and mounds of chicken parmesan, he decided to take up a long standing offer and headed off to Mexico with his friend’s family to relax and experience the culture of our neighbors to the south.

Now, I’m not exactly sure where he went, but I’m thinking Baja, somewhere along the coast.  Now when the Gilbert family goes on vacation, we are happy to do nothing besides eat, read, swim and relax.  After returning from his Mexican vacation, Jason informed me that their family did even less, which is quite an accomplishment.

His days were filled with meals of fabulous Mexican cuisine, taking naps in the hammock and vigorous games of Scrabble at night.  The ocean was too rough for him to learn how to surf, so he spent the days happily reading and discovering new recipes for salsa.

So being that I hadn’t seen my first born in three and half months, I decided it was time for my annual road trip down the coast to Goleta, which is where the UC Santa Barbara campus is located.  My plan was to drive down early Saturday morning and spend the day with Jason before heading back early Sunday, so to be back in time for the tip off of the first of the four playoff games on the day.

Now I am an early riser, as I haven’t woken up after 6 am since Woodstock.  There is really no rhyme or reason to why I have to be up at around 5 am, but once I awake my mind is on full alert and at that point, there is no turning back.  Occasionally, I can fall back to sleep, but it’s never for long.

They say life is something that happens when you can’t get to sleep, but I’m not buying it.  I know I’m sleep deprived and suffer from a little sleep apnea, but then again, who doesn’t?  So I spend the day yawning and go about my business.

I was a little anxious about getting up early, so I hopped into bed a little after 10 pm.  I was definitely tired from playing basketball in the afternoon, and so I thought I could perhaps drift off to dreamland before hitting the road in the early morning hours, before dawn’s early light.

Well, I finally fell asleep at 11:30, and then slept in till 12:30, and when I awoke and saw the time, I realized in was in trouble.  I tried switching beds, watching TV, but I knew that by 2 am the sleep train had pulled out of the station.

So I just waited till 4 am, and then hit the road. For my four hour plus ride, I had brought along some select Howard Stern cassette tapes that I recorded back in the 80′s.  They included interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, David Lee Roth, Sam Kinison, Gary Shandling, Joe Piscopo and more.  Even though I have heard them numerous times, they are always entertaining and make the time go by much more pleasantly.

So I popped the first cassette tape it and before I could say “Jessica Hahn,” it popped out.  Put the next one in the same thing happened.  Yes, the cassette player was no longer working, so it was on to plan B.
Fortunately, my CD player was still working,  so I stuck in a live Doobie Brothers concert recorded in Milan, Italy, back in 2010.  I was listening to the music while rolling down the highway, and Jesus was just alright with me.
So I arrived at 8:30, and Jason greeted me, fresh from a shower.  He proceeded to make me a wonderful breakfast of rice, zucchini and chicken, when all I wanted was a pop tart.
We then headed over to the admissions building where Jason is employed as a campus tour guide, and gave a 10:30 tour to 30 prospective students and their families.  After a mile and a half trot around the campus, we then headed back to his apartment to catch the tip off of the Golden State game, and then at halftime headed over to Gio’s Pizza in Isla Vista, where I proceeded to consume the biggest slice of pizza in my life.
The slice was tremendously good, as I was surrounded by a sea of college aged males and coeds drinking Bud Lite.  At that point, I felt like I was part of the Gaucho nation, and it felt good.
After the pizza, we split a chocolate milk shake before going back and catching the Pelicans fourth quarter comeback at his place.  But the Warriors came out on top in the end and so things were falling nicely into place.
Jason had to study and I was a bit tired, so we passed up a baseball game against Cal Poly, before heading out to do a little shopping at Trader Joe’s and Vons.
We then headed over to check out my illustrious accommodations at the Motel 6, where at $146.00 per night, they don’t supply you with any shampoo.  But fortunately, when we picked some take out chicken katsu at the L & L Barbecue, I picked up a couple of containers which my son graciously filled with shampoo.
We proceeded to eat and watch the Dallas-Houston game, and I knew my day with my son was coming to a close.  We spent some time talking after the game, and I listened to him talking about his life, his future options and where he might be headed.  It was great  just to listen and hear about how his life plans might be unfolding.
I said my goodbye, headed to the motel, watched a little bit of “The Closer” and fell right asleep.  In the morning, they served no breakfast, and I was on the road and in the early morning fog before 7 am, heading back to Santa Cruz.
It was a lot of driving but well worth the trip.  Jason will graduate next year and who knows what continent he may be heading to.  His life is going by so quickly, and I savored the time spent with my oldest child.  I look at him and he is so familiar.  He is, after all, the best of me.
For today’s photo entree, we are heading back to the evening of January 28th.  The place was Natural Bridges State Beach, and as the sun set into the Pacific, some nicely colored tangerine clouds appeared in the sky.  Then I headed down to the sand, where pink and white clouds were swirling in the backdrop of the remaining final arch.  The clouds then turned from orange to red, and all was good.

On to some late night humor.  “An intruder was arrested at the White House last night after trying to jump the fence. Authorities aren’t releasing the fence jumper’s identity, but they did say that she tore her pantsuit.  A company has come out with a line of medical marijuana dog treats. Finally a medicine that will help my dog lie on the couch all day.” – Seth Meyers

“Teenagers across the country have been participating in something called the Kylie Jenner Lips Challenge, in which they place a jar around their lips and suck in air in order to make their lips swell. While teenagers in China have been participating in “school.”  Arnold Schwarzenegger has a new movie that focuses on a zombie apocalypse. It takes place in an empty wasteland with no living beings. Just like the movie theater where it’s playing.” – Seth Meyers
“Today is Earth Day. The way I see it, as humans the very least we can do is recycle. A lot of recycling is going on this year. For example, Bushes and Clintons.  The New York Mets have won eight games in a row. Astronomers say this won’t happen again for another 10,000 years.” – David Letterman
“There are reports that Kim Jong Un climbed North Korea’s highest mountain. Kim Jong Un said all it took to climb that mountain was hard work, determination, and lying about climbing that mountain.  At the White House yesterday, a little girl actually asked first lady Michelle Obama how old she is. Michelle answered, “Old enough to put you on the No Fly List, sweetheart.” – Jimmy Fallon
So that’s my last blast for April.  We’ll catch you scoring 40 points and hitting a spectacular, game-tying three pointer in the final seconds to force overtime in game three.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

April 19, 2015

They Don’t Give Out Trophies For Regular Season Champions

Good morning and greetings, NBA playoff fans.  Yes, in the words of the Chambers Brothers, “The time has come today,” as it is wonderful to be alive and a pro basketball fan.  The fabulously entertaining NBA regular season came to a stunning conclusion Wednesday night, and now it is on to the postseason, when the big boys lace up their sneakers and go for the gold-the NBA championship.

Last year’s first round of the playoffs were utterly fantastic, in which three out of the four western conference matchups went down to the final game of the series.  In the other, a miraculous, last second, buzzer beating shot by Portland’s Damian Lillard stunned the Houston Rockets in the game six finale.  My head was about to explode, but that’s what two frenzied weeks of wild finishes and  wall to wall action will do to you.

Now for the long standing Warrior nation, this is your time to rise and shine.   Golden State has been hands down, from start to finish, the best team in the NBA this season.    It has been a miraculous run, as no one, including Stephen Curry’s barber, expected the Warriors to win 67 regular season games.

But there was some doubt heading into the new campaign.  Former coach Mark Jackson, who had led the Warriors to a 51 win season the year before, was thrown out the door last May and replaced by TNT’s Stevie Kerr, who had as much NBA head coaching experience as my mother-in-law.  This was a big gamble, as the team thrived under Jackson and were headed down the road to playoff prosperity.

So they awarded Steve Kerr with a 5 year, $25 million contract.  Would this former reserve shooting guard, who once traded punches and received a black eye from then teammate Michael Jordan, be the man to lead the Warriors to the promised land?

Well, it appears that owner Joe Lacob got it right in replacing Jackson, who always said that the hand of God was guiding the Warrior team.  Golden State got off to a tremendous start, stunning everyone around the league by winning 20 out of their first 22 games  The dream was in motion and the fans were going wild.
But first let’s give credit to Mark Jackson for getting the ball rolling.  As he said a few months back on his first return to Oracle Arena an ESPN commentator, “Steve Kerr’s done an outstanding job. He deserves a lot of credit. I think while giving him credit, there’s no need to take away credit from the past. You can’t disrespect the caterpillar and rave about the butterfly.”
Throughout the season, there were miraculous nightly performances by all-star guard Stephen Curry, with this ball handling, drives to the hoop and extraordinary clutch three point shooting, making him arguably the most exciting performer in the NBA today.

As he said after Wednesday night’s regular season finale, “We’re a resilient group, and we’re hungry to achieve the next level.  Our record is great.  I don’t think anyone could imagine 67 wins going into the season.  We wanted to finish strong, look forward to the playoffs and bottle up all that mojo we established over these 82 games.”

It’s been a season beyond expectations.  Curry’s partner in the backcourt, all-star Klay Thompson, scored 37, yes 37, points in one quarter earlier in the season, an unbelievable scoring performance.  When he squares his shoulders to the basket when shooting, he’s an artist in motion.
Pastor Jackson said a while back that the combination of Curry and Thompson were “the best shooting backcourt ever, it’s not even close.” I almost choked on my Frosted Flakes when I heard this, but I have come around to the fact that it is true.  They are the best, and the league logo, Jerry West, would agree.
They are joined in the starting lineup with my NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, power forward  Draymond Green.  Now every team had a shot to select Green, who was picked in the second round of the draft, so he came in having a little something to prove, with a chip on his shoulder.  As Jackson remarked, “What he does, you cannot put on paper.”
The other component in the mix is center Andrew Bogut, the 7 footer out of Australia, who’s a shot blocker and rim protector and a key part of the passing game and defensive scheme.  Bogut missed the playoffs last year with a rib injury, but he is now smiling, healthy and ready to do battle.Now the second season is underway, and the number to focus on is 16, in that you have to beat four teams, four times to call yourself champions.  The Warriors have what it takes to go all the way.  Luck has been on their side, as they have been relatively healthy all year, while other teams have been decimated by injuries.

Of course, there are other obstacles looming in their path, but they caught a break when the defending NBA champs, the San Antonio Spurs, dropped from the # 2 seed to #6 on the last night of the season, meaning they’ll have to win out on the road.  They take on Chris Paul and the L.A. Clippers, which are the two teams that have eliminated the Warriors from their last two playoff series.

The Warriors opened up on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans, and now have a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series, with game two on tap for tonight.  The Pelicans are young and shouldn’t be much of a challenge.It’s the Warrior’s time.  Everything is falling nicely into place.  They know what their task is and the challenges that lie ahead

In the words of Coach Kerr, “The best thing the Warriors franchise did over the last few years was build a defensive unit. Everything that ‘s happened has prepared this team to play well in the postseason, because it’s all about defensive intensity, being able to string together four or five stops.  Those are the teams that ultimately go deep and maybe win the whole thing,  You got to be able to defend and we can count on our defense.”
It may not be raining in the Bay Area, but the championship drought may soon be over.  We’ve got Curry and no worries.  Let’s keep that mojo rolling.
So I heard through the grapevine that the last week’s flowers in the rain were a nice break from the morning sunrises.  So I thought I would continue the theme of color by showcasing a parade of phalaenopsis orchids I had shot at various nurseries and farmers markets throughout the county.I have hundreds of beautiful orchid photos resting peacefully in my archives, as I went a little orchid crazy a while back.  They are such an exotic and as my cousin Gina says, “erotic” looking flower, and their colors just drive my photographic eyes wild.  So sit back and click on the photos to make them larger.

On to some late night humor.  “Governor Chris Christie says if he’s president, he will crack down on the sale of marijuana. However, that was before he was told it also comes in a brownie. Hillary Clinton announced she’s running for president. Yesterday in Ohio, Hillary popped into a Chipotle and she ordered a burrito bowl with chips and salsa. And on her way out she said, “That locks down the Hispanic vote.” – Conan O’Brien

“Hillary Clinton is now in Iowa. She’s spending every waking minute of her day meeting ordinary people, and it’s to prepare her for a job in which she will never again meet an ordinary person.  Hillary’s trying to appear downhome. Earlier today she was sitting on the front porch of a general store whittling a pantsuit.” – David Letterman

“Hillary Clinton is not the first woman to run for president. That title belongs to Victoria Woodhull, who ran for president in 1872. Her running mate was a young, scrappy John McCain.   Jeb Bush welcomed his fourth grandchild. The new Bush grandchild is happy, healthy, and will be running for president in 2048.” – Conan O’Brien

So we’ll catch you have a record setting season and being the best player in the NBA not in the playoffs.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

April 12, 2015

It Takes A Long Time To Grow Old

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Good morning and greetings, baby boomer fans.  In my last posting, I wrote about the impending birthdays of my son and brother.  I am happy to report they both enjoyed their birthday celebrations, although Brad mentioned at his age (56), he couldn’t remember turning 21.  Or as Mark Twain once tweeted, “When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not.”
But there was still one other birthday to celebrate in the Gilbert family, as yesterday, April 12, my father, Daniel Gilbert, turned 98 years old.  Yes, 98 years old, sports fans.  If you’re keeping a scorecard at home, that’s approximately 35,770 days on the planet.
Now you would think we would be having a grand celebration in honor of such an auspicious occasion, but it was not to be. Unfortunately, my father did not know it was his birthday.  The last time I asked him how old he was, he said 56.  He does not know what day it is, what time it is or who is the president.
That is because he has been diagnosed with advanced dementia, and there is very little left of his short term memory.  His mind started to go south in the his late 80′s, as I can’t remember the exact year.  The decline was gradual, but definitely noticeable.
Back when my father was in his 80′s, I used to take him out to lunch to give my mother some free time for herself.  The conversation was good and the dining always pleasant, with juicy hamburgers at The Hindquarter, prime rib out on the wharf at Gilda’s and shrimp and lobster sauce, his favorite Chinese dish at Tam’s, where he always had eyes on my soup.
But then walking became tricky and other things came into play, so I figured after 85 plus years of going out to eat, he’d just have to settle for home cooked meals. I wanted him to be safe, and not fall and break a hip, which is the beginning of the end for many elderly people.  So he began his indoor existence, where he is now still today.
For his 90th birthday, we threw him a party at the Peachwoods Grill over in Pasatiempo.  It was an amazing experience because the dementia had set in, but on this day he miraculously rose to the occasion as the honored guest.  He graciously handled himself and no one really noticed anything out of place.But on the way out, while walking with my brother, the demons returned as I heard him saying, “Where are we, where are we going.”  The fog had returned.
And that was basically the last time we celebrated an occasion that he was somewhat conscious of.  Over the years the dementia has taken over and has robbed him of the most of the joy in his life.  He know longer follows his New York Giants and Knicks, as he watches the screen but the rooting interest has been gone for years.
Unfortunately, the dementia has taken a toll on my 89 year old mother, who after 65 years of being married to this man and dealing with his manic depression, is just exhausted, after putting his needs in front of hers.  At her tender age, she has been a caregiver too long, and she is plain worn out.
We want my father to stay at home as long as possible, as my mother does not want to spend her free time visiting him in a nursing facility.  I agree with her, but the task of taking care of him has taken a toll on both of us.
We now have caregivers during the day and overnights.  But the stress of the situation led to my mother contracting shingles last July, which were incredibly painful and threw her for a loop.  She is now in some sort of pain every day, and as she often says to me these days, ‘I’m not whistling Dixie.”
So I take her out to lunch, to doctor’s appointments and make sure they get a good, home cooked meal every night. My father’s world has become very small, as he has outlived everyone in his family, just has his body has outlived his mind.  No one comes to visit except the caregivers, and he rarely goes outside, as he spends his days sleeping and watching television.  It’s not a pretty picture, and every day is like basically the same.  These are not the golden years.
But his heart is strong, and he continues to live on, though I doubt that he is enjoying his existence.  It is difficult to imagine being 98 years old, as I know how my body feels at age 62.  Tired doesn’t begin to describe it.
So he continues on.  He take very little medication and rarely visits the doctor.  When we did, the doctor would ask, “Is he walking okay?”  “Yes.”  “Is he eating well?”  “Yes.”  Does he get agitated or belligerent?”  ‘No.”  “Well,” says the doctor, “Five more years and he’ll be 100.”
And that about says it all.  He just keeps on ticking.  Happy birthday, Dad.
For our photo concession this week, we are heading up to the Arboretum at UCSC.  I awoke last Tuesday to the sound of rain, and wanted to shoot the flowers with the precipitation intact.  When I arrived at the Arboretum, the sky was changing from blue to gray, as rabbits scurried around in the underbrush.  There were lots of flowers in bloom, and I captured the color and droplets of moistness I was looking for.
On to some late night humor.  “John McCain addressed critics who believe he will be too old to run for a sixth term in the Senate, saying that he’s still healthy and ready to go. Then people around McCain said, “Why is he talking to that mannequin?” – Jimmy Fallon   “The campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has narrowed the choices down to four finalists. The four finalists are Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Flo from the Progressive Insurance.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama just made his first presidential trip to the state of Utah. Obama spent his time in Utah just like you’d expect — telling people, “Uh, no, I don’t play for the Jazz.”  Jeb Bush is facing criticism after it was just revealed that he checked off his race as “Hispanic” on a voter registration form back in 2009. When asked if he regrets it now, Bush said, “Si.” – Jimmy Fallon

“California may force the city of Beverly Hills to cut its water use by up to 35 percent. So yet another tough break for Beverly Hills farmers.  McDonald’s has announced plans to unveil even larger hamburgers. They also announced plans to widen their doors and reinforce the floors.” – Conan O’Brien

So we’ll catch you being the go-to guy on the defending NBA champions and leading the Spurs into the playoffs.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Kawhi Leonard fans.

April 5, 2015

The Golden State Of Birth

Good morning and greetings, Final Four fans.  Yes, in just a few short hours, a new college basketball champion will be crowned, which brings to a close  three weeks of March Madness.  In the end, only one team will be left standing, and as the victors cut down the nets and CBS plays “One Shining Moment” to a backdrop of fabulous plays and cheerleaders in tears, one thing stands out at this moment.

People love to gamble.  That is the secret to the madness, as the tournament has drawn its best ratings in more than two decades.  Seems college hoops fans were checking their brackets like lemmings marching to the sea.
And for you who were not watching Saturday night, the Wisconsin Badgers

knocked off the previously undefeated Kentucky Wildcats to advance to the championship game, where they will face the Duke Blue Devils.  The king is dead.  Who knew?

And with the college basketball season coming to a close, this means the NBA once again takes center stage. With just over one week left in the regular season, the Golden State Warriors continue to lead the NBA in excitement and execution, and have elevated their game to a very high level.
Now this does not guarantee a championship, but it’s a good place to start.
So mark your calendars for April 18, when the the postseason journey begins to determine who will be  coming home with the Larry O’Brien championship trophy.  The Warriors have been the best team all season, but when the playoffs start, everyone’s record is 0-0, as the slates have been wiped clean.
The Warriors have set a record for franchise wins and have locked up the number one seed.  In the words of all-star point guard Stephen Curry, ” It’s a testament to how focused we’ve been over the course of the season. We’ve had a big lead in the standings, but we understood the big goal in mind. We kept our focus and we kept our commitment to what we are doing on the floor.”
But before the playoffs get underway, there is an important day in the lives of my family.  Coming up on Tuesday, April 7, my son Jason turns 21 years old.  This is a special occasion, as this means four years from now, he will be able to drive the rental car on our Hawaiian vacations.  That is the true aloha spirit.
Jason is a junior and majoring in biochemistry at UC Santa Barbara.  He is on the premed track and hopes to attend medical school somewhere in the western hemisphere.  He’s always wanted to be a doctor, and God knows, we’re going to need someone in the family who knows about the aging mind.
I’m very proud of him and what he’s accomplished so far.  I had a ringside seat to see him grow from a tiny infant to the young man he is today.   We were connecting basically every day until he went off the college.  We played basketball, we talked basketball and we watched basketball.  It was a bonding element.
I always knew where I could find him, up in his room watching “The Office” or writing some sort of essay to get into some kind of program when he wasn’t playing beach volleyball.  And he has followed in my path in the culinary department, as he marinates his chicken and makes mango salsa like a young Wolfgang Puck.If I had any complaints, it would be that now he has his own life to live.  He’s become a man, and after graduation from college, will soon be off on another adventure, adding new chapters to his life.  I won’t be going along on his journeys, but my heart will be with him.  But how I miss the day to day contact.
And I always say, laugh and the world laughs with you.  Skype, and you skype alone.
But his isn’t the only birth that occurred on this day.  That’s right, as my brother Brad also celebrates his trip down the birth canal.  And we are lucky to have him around, because back in the early spring 2014, while on a heli snowboarding trip to Alaska, Brad was sitting on top of a glacier when the cornice collapsed under him, sending him tumbling down the mountain.
When he finally finished his free fall, he was buried in the snow and dazed and confused.  He was alive and but unfortunately, on the way down the slope, a bomb had gone off and destroyed his left knee.  All the ligaments, attachments and things you need to function were kaput.
So began a very painful chapter in my brother’s life.  My brother Paul flew up to Colorado to survey the damage, and the carnage was something neither would want to see or go through again.  My youngest brother was a wreck and there was nothing we could do.
When the swelling finally went down and the heavy narcotics began to wear off, Brad had major reconstructive surgery on the knee in Colorado.  This led to gut wrenching days and the agony of sleepless nights.  We were all helpless in his fight against pain.Then began the second act of physical therapy, which turned out to be more painful than his injury. Now Brad could have given up and not gone headlong into the PT, but this boy wants to get back on the slopes. I admire him for that, because for me, I’d be at the lodge snorkeling in the hot tub while sipping hot chocolate and downing some scones.

His doctor says his knee has progressed well.  He’s not done with physical therapy, but I admire his attitude and never give up spirit.  In the mornings, he takes a long hike with his golden retriever up into the foothills, and as he looks down the slope, realizes he’s a lucky man.  And so are we who know him.

So happy birthday, boys.  And rest up, as the playoffs are approaching.
So for our photo viewing this week, we are heading back to the morning of January 16.  The clouds put on a nice orange glow early on, as I was shooting from along various locations on West Cliff Drive.  As the sun started to rise, soft pastel colors appeared and the sky came to life and all was good.
On to some late night humor,  “According to a new study, the marijuana in Colorado is almost twice as strong as it was 20 years ago. Of course, people had some questions for the scientists, like “How can I get your job?”  Taco Bell is replacing the “Waffle Taco” with its new “Biscuit Taco,” which is a taco-shaped biscuit filled with eggs, sausage, or chicken. That story again: Weed is twice as strong as it used to be.” – Jimmy Fallon
“For the first time, a vegan gluten-free bakery has opened at Disney World. The place is called “It’s a Sad World After All.”  Nigeria just held their election and their incumbent president, whose actual name is Goodluck Jonathan, lost the race. He was beaten by his rival, Betterluck Jonathan.” – Conan O’Brien”McDonald’s is going to test all-day breakfast at their restaurants in San Diego. Which means stoners now have absolutely no motivation to get up before 10:30.  All-day breakfast is good for McDonald’s customers, but I think it’s sad for the workers. It seems to me the most fun part of their job was telling people that breakfast is over.” -Jimmy Kimmel
So we’ll catch you having an MVP type season while putting up 51 points on the Kings last week and  leading the league in scoring.  Aloha, mahalo and later, James Harden fans.

March 29, 2015

No Need To Worry, We’ve Got Steph Curry

Good morning and greetings, early spring fans.  The insanity of March Madness continues to carry on, as we are now down to the Final Four teams.  Two weeks ago, I wrote that the finale was going to be a little anticlimatic, as the highly favored University of Kentucky team, who entered tournament undefeated, has just continued to roll on, compiling an very impressive 38-0 mark.
Or as former Butler head coach Joe Sexson once said, “Kentucky players put their pants on the same way our players do. It just takes them a little longer to pull them up.”
 Of course, as Ashley Judd, Kentucky’s most notorious fan reminded me, their starting front line is bigger than most NBA teams.  Gigantic doesn’t begin to describe them.  This vaunted college basketball program continues to find a way to win, as the Wildcats inch closer to a possible NCAA title, which will be decided next Monday night in Indianapolis.
As Kentucky’s vanquished opponents have proclaimed, “Coach John Calipari, tear down this wall.”
But truth be told, I’m not caught up in the hysteria of the college tournament, as there is something even bigger brewing in the Bay Area.  And that, my friends, are your Golden State Warriors.
And if you haven’t heard, there’s still time to jump aboard the Warriors bandwagon.  But don’t make any plans on hopping off until the middle of June, when the NBA championships will be decided.
 It has been a dream season for Warrior fans, something that is so magically delicious that you can’t take your eyes off the screen.  With nine games remaining in the regular season, Golden State has clinched their first Pacific Division title since the 1975-76 season, or when Rick Barry still had some natural hair on his head.
As point guard Steph Curry said last Tuesday night after clinching the title, “It feels great.  It’s my sixth year and we haven’t done it before.  It’s a big accomplishment, but obviously, we have a lot more to accomplish this year with goals in mind.  But this is a good stepping stone for us to win the division and keep it moving.”The blue and gold  have also shattered their all-time franchise record for wins in a season by securing their 60th on Saturday night, while at the same time breaking the mark for wins (26) on the road.  As they say, there’s no place like away.
Rookie head coach Steve Kerr’s squad has been blowing away opponents at home at the Oracle Arena, compiling a very impressive 34-2 mark.  The Warriors have a high octane offense, that involves a lot of ball movement and three point shooting, which really gets the crowds roaring.
The Warrior’s offense is predicated on moving the ball side to side, getting the best shots on every possession.   Everyone is involved in touching the basketball, and this unselfishness leads to good things happening.A longtime observer of the east bay sports scene, Bruce Meyers, says it best. “It’s magical.  It’s poetry in motion.”
But what really revs up the fan base at Oracle is the way the Warriors play defense.  Led by undersized power forward Draymond Green, the Warriors’ defense is a testament to tenacity, as the Warrior defenders have been stifling the opposition like never before.  Inevitably, at some point in the game, lately the third quarter, the Warriors play shut down defense and take their opponents out of the game, and then the rout is on.
Golden State has been magnificent at home, as it has been a party every night.  They are led by all-star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who have been touted as the best outside shooting tandem of all-time. But what makes this squad so effective is their depth, as they have twelve players they can run in and out of the lineup.  The team is hungry and focused, and has played at an extraordinary level all season long.Steve Kerr, with the input from veteran assistant coaches Ron Adams and Alvin Gentry, has transformed the Warriors into a title contender in his first season as head coach.

As owner Joe Lacob said at the time of his hiring, “Steve Kerr was incredibly prepared.   He covered every detail you could imagine.  He knew our roster in and out. He had assistant coaches he wanted to go after. It was like a tour de force. At the end of the day, I know he knows a lot about basketball.”
Golden State, unlike many other franchises, has remained relatively injury free, which is an immense blessing.  Teams like Oklahoma City, Portland and Chicago have been decimated by injuries, with players like the Bull’s Derrick Rose and last year’s MVP Kevin Durant’s futures in doubt.
The key to the excitement at the arena is the team play and it’s orchestrator, Stephen Curry.  Having just celebrated his 27th birthday, he is generally considered, with no disrespect to Russell Westbrook or LeBron James, the most exciting performer in the league.
He is a magician with the ball, and an amazing no look passer.  But what brings the crowds to their feet is his variety of dipsy doo moves to the hoop and his incredible three point shooting.  No one shoots threes better than Steph, and when he launches, it’s nothing but net.
And being 6’3″ and not bulked up, he’s easy to relate to, as a relatively small figure in a big man’s game.  He’s the best player on the best team, and a prime candidate for Most Valuable Player.
But he’s not after that award.  The Warriors are eyes are on a bigger prize, and that is an NBA championship.  It’s going to be tough, but they have they home court advantage, where they have been virtually unbeatable.
So it’s two weeks and counting till the end of the regular season.  And then the big show hits the stage, the NBA playoffs, which will be delectably brutal.  But the Warriors have what it takes, and they are confident that this could very well be their year. So keep the faith and stay tuned.
For our photo study this week, we are returning to the Natural Bridges State Beach on the evening of January 9.  I sensed early on that there would be some fireworks in the sky, and this night did not disappoint.I started shooting from the upper parking lot, and then headed down to the sand, where I caught the reflection of the clouds in the large pond of water.  It was a beautiful sight, as the sky and water were aglow with vivid color.  Game on.
On to some late night humor. “Ted Cruz released a presidential campaign video in Spanish. Cruz explained, “It’s important for me to reach out to the people I’m trying to deport.”  People are questioning if Ted Cruz can legally run for president because he was born in Canada. And the last thing we want to do is pave the way for a President Bieber.” – Conan O’Brien
“Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for president. But if you see a T-shirt that says “Ted Cruz 2016,” those aren’t election shirts. That’s just how old he thinks the Earth is.” – Seth Meyers  “Republican candidate Ted Cruz said recently that in the 36 hours after he announced that he’s running for president, he’s raised over a million dollars. And Hillary Clinton closed her checkbook and said, “Happy to help. Can’t wait.” – Jimmy Fallon

“McDonald’s is introducing a Big Mac clothing line. Of course there already is a clothing line for Big Mac lovers. It’s called a hospital gown.  According to a new study, human waste contains gold and other special minerals. In the future this could make things awkward when a cashier asks, “How would you like to pay for this?” -Conan O’Brien

“Kraft Foods and Heinz will merge to create the fifth largest food and beverage company in the world. The merger will combine brands like Kraft Mac & Cheese, Heinz ketchup, Oscar Mayer wieners, and Philadelphia cream cheese. Or as stoners put it, “Already did that, bro.” – Jimmy Fallon”Today is the 20th birthday of the Starbucks Frappuccino. The CEO of Starbucks wrote in his book about the story of the Frappuccino: “It’s experimental, it’s adventurous, it fires people up and engages their imagination.” Does it, though? Seems like a coffee milkshake to me. ” – Jimmy Kimmel
So that our last blast for March.  We’ll catch you scoring 23 points in a win over North Carolina, and then going for a season-high 27 in the win over Arizona Saturday night to get to your Wisconsin team into the Final Four.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Sam Dekker fans.

March 22, 2015

It’s Spring And Taxes Are In The Air

Good morning and greetings, springtime fans.  After a week of game-winning, buzzer-beating March Madness, there are now the Sweet 16 teams alive in their quest for the magical,mystical national college championship.

Well, let’s just say 15 contenders and the University of Kentucky.  The Kareem always rises to the top.

But in the midst of all this hoop hysteria, there is something else brewing that puts even the biggest gamblers on edge.  Yes, boys and girls, it’s that time of year to let the feds in on if you’ve been naughty or nice.  So open up those W-2′s and 1099′s and let the sunshine in.  It’s tax season.

The Beatles once crooned, “Everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey.” As for myself, I am an open book when it comes to paying the piper.  And this year, I am doing more than my share to help fund federal giveaway programs, like national health care, rebuilding the infrastructure of Afghanistan and support for Yemeni rebels.  Despite what they say, when in Yemen, you make yemenade.

So how did we end up with this tax system?  How did this whole federal income tax program come around, and why in the wide, wide world of sports was it needed?  Inquiring minds want to know.I ran across a site called randomhistory.com, which provided some answers to the tax situation along with some comic relief on this not so thrilling topic .  Or as they say at Morgan Stanley, “You must pay taxes.  But there’s no law that says you gotta leave a tip.”

Let’s face it.  It feels good paying taxes, supporting our government. It’s the ultimate economic cleansing.  According to my sources, which are always sketchy, Americans starting paying income tax to support the American Civil War.  The Revenue Act of 1861 paid for this four year conflict, at a cost of $2.5 million a day, or what Oracle Arena collects in parking revenue on Warrior game nights.

However, the act was repealed and replaced the following year with the tiered income tax, which lead many people to start shedding tears. The current income tax system was made into law in 1913, before the start of World War II.  This came about as the feds needed more coin from the populace to fund our foreign conflicts, so they started withholding taxes from people’s paycheck.

In 1913, the kid friendly federal form 1040 was introduced.  This required all citizens, legal permanent residents and criminals with a net income of $3,000 or more to file their tax returns.  It was simple, as it only consisted of three, fun-filled pages, something that even Ted Cruz could understand.

WW II led to the creation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which became the IRS.  The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for collecting taxes, enforcing revenue laws and messing with people’s heads as part of the U.S. Department of Treasury, which is the world’s largest accounting and tax-collection organization.  I tried to have my name removed from their mailing list, but they refused to cancel my subscription.

Did you ever notice that when you put the words “The” and “IRS” together, it spells “THEIRS?”

Filling out the tax form and taking the proper deductions can be a tricky proposition.  I leave it up to my trustworthy accountant to do my bidding for me.  Let’s just say he knows what’s in and what’s out, where to slice and dice.  This year he’s counting my weight loss as a non-capital gain.

Or as author Herman Wouk once wrote, “Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.”  And Albert Einstein, who was no slouch, professed that “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”  I wonder who did his taxes?  H & R Block?

But hey, if you’re looking to make a little coin around tax time, you can make big bucks by reporting a company for tax evasion.  The IRS Whistleblower Office will pay money to people who blow the whistle on persons who fail to pay the tax that they owe. If the IRS uses information provided by the whistleblower, they can collect up to 30 percent of the additional tax and penalties, tax free.  If you snitch, you can become rich.

Sounds like easy money.  Now some companies get away with murder.  In 2009, Bank of America had an income of $4.4 billion. They paid $0 in taxes.  In 2010, General Electric made $4 billion in U.S. profits. It paid $0 in taxes.  Now that’s imagination at work.Now why I am paying to build roads, bridges and Starbucks in Taliban country, when G.E., an American multinational conglomerate corporation, pays zilch.  Is it because they bring good things to life?

So finally, here’s my favorite fact about taxes.  According to the website historic-UK.com, Lady Godiva, not to be confused with Lady Gaga, was a rich landowner in England.  Her husband was an evil son of bitch and he demanded from the people of Coventry to pay oppressive taxes.

Lady Godiva pleaded with him to stop this hated tax and he is reputed to have said, “You will have to ride naked through Coventry before I will change my ways.”

This jackass was sure that his modest wife would never strip down.  But Lady Godiva took him at his word, and on Market Day in Coventry she rode naked, covered only by her long golden hair, which covered her entire body so that only her face and legs could be seen.

This son of a bitch was so stunned by the whole incident that he believed it was a miracle that no one had seen his wife’s naked body, and he immediately freed the town from paying the hated tax.

And this led to the publishing of the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

So let me end with a little ditty by poet Ogden Nash that sums up my feelings.  “Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes.  The wind will presently disappear, but the taxes last us all the year.”

For our non-taxable photos series, we are heading down to Lighthouse Point along West Cliff Drive on the morning of January 4.  The sky lit up early with vivid red and orange colors, and cast a beautiful reflection down on the sand at Its Beach.  It was my first sunrise of 2015, and it was magnificent, as the sky was a nicely painted canvas of colors.  Then the sun rose over the bay and my work for the day was done.

On to some late night humor.  “In an interview with Playboy magazine, Dick Cheney criticized President Obama and said he’s quote, “the worst president of my lifetime, without question.” Then Cheney said, “But enough talk. When do I take my clothes off?  During his weekly address to the nation, President Obama discussed higher education and said, “The most important skill you can sell is your knowledge.” Or as English majors working at Starbucks put it, “No it’s not.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama filled out his March Madness bracket. You can tell Obama’s mind is elsewhere because his top two picks were Israel and Iran.  President Obama has decided that he wants his presidential library to be in Chicago, not Hawaii. Today Hawaii’s governor said, “Great, who’s going to want to come to Hawaii now?”” – Conan O’Brien

“A new study has shown that women who get more sleep have better sex. Unfortunately, the study was conducted by Bill  Cosby.Officials in Indiana have discovered a working meth lab inside a Walmart. They became suspicious when they noticed a Walmart employee making a decent living.” -Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday was the L.A. Marathon. It’s the only time of year you see someone running in the streets of Los Angeles when it’s not the end of a car chase.  Some people are still angry about the letter written by Republicans to Iran. It’s also not helping that they said, “Dear Iran or Iraq, we can never keep you two straight.” – Conan O’Brien  “A grandmother in South Africa celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday by going skydiving. It’s pretty impressive — most people turning 100 usually go the other direction in the sky. – Jimmy Fallon

So we’ll catch you making your father’s day by hitting the game-winning shot for your Georgia State squad that upset Baylor in the first round of the NCAA’s.  Aloha, mahalo and later, R. J. Hunter fans.

March 15, 2015

The Insanity Of March Madness

Good morning and greetings, college hoop’s fans.  There is excitement in the air throughout the college basketball nation, as the NCAA tournament is once again upon us.  College basketball fans and gamblers waited all year for a chance to see their teams go to the big dance and come away with a winning lottery ticket.

It’s three weeks of wall-to-wall excitement, end-to-end action and fantastic finishes, as 68 teams will vie for the chance to cut down the nets and walk away with the title of NCAA champion.  Who will be this year’s Cinderella team?  Who will be the last team standing for that one shining moment?  And who will catch me when I fall?

Unfortunately, for some, the fun has been taken away, as this year March Madness has been tainted with some March Sadness.   It seems this year’s champion has already been preordained, and that would be the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Now I’m not saying the fix is in, but this year’s powerhouse squad blitzed through their opponents during the regular season, leaving them undefeated, with a perfect 34-0 record.   This team is as loaded as Charlie Sheen on a Friday night.

Now this has happened because Coach John Calipari has recruited enough McDonald’s All-Americans to stock the running of the Kentucky Derby.  You’ve got first year diaper dandys sitting on the bench, patiently awaiting their time until they’re drafted into the NBA.  There’s a gross surplus of more than moonshine in the blue grass state.

We’re talking basketball royalty, as the Wildcat’s basketball team is the winningest program in NCAA Division I history.  They lead all schools in NCAA tournament appearances, as they rank first in wins, are second to the UCLA Bruins in championships and third in their cheerleaders GPA scores.

Now Kentucky was once coached by the Baron of Lexington, Adolph Rupp, a college basketball legend who was as winning a coach as he was a possibly a racist.

One of the biggest games during Rupp’s career was the 1966 NCAA championship game. It featured Kentucky’s all-white starting five playing against an all-black starting five from Texas Western University. Texas Western came out on top in a dandy of a contest, and it helped lead to the integration of black athletes into college basketball during the days of the civil rights movement.

This game was so significant that it was made into a full length feature film,”Glory Road, starring Josh Lucas.  I give it two thumbs up, as it’s an inspiring story about an underdog upsetting mighty Goliath, with all the trials and tribulations they go through to win the championship.
Or in the words of God’s greatest basketball creation, Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

This is not to take away from the hoopla and hysteria surrounding this year’s tournament. It’s possible that the number one overall seed Kentucky will be knocked off their perch, but I believe the boys in Las Vegas already know who will be left standing at the alter when the final buzzer goes off.

After all, basketball is not a complicated game.  In the words of former Texas coach Abe Lemons, “There are really only two plays: Romeo and Juliet, and put the darn ball in the basket.”

Now it’s kind of a shame because in my younger days, I had a lot more interest in college hoops.  That was because when players were recruited to colleges, they stayed for four years.  You could follow them throughout their collegiate days and seem them matriculate into future NBA players. NCAA basketball was a farm system for the NBA.

But then back in 1975, two high school players named Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby went directly from high school to the NBA, and all bets were off.  Their thinking was, if I’m ready to play with the big boys, why do I have to go to college?  They wanted to be paid.

For some, like Emmy winning award sportscaster Dan Patrick, the college regular season is now unwatchable.  For me, I’m totally tuned into the NBA and don’t have time for the college game.   You see very few talented seniors on the floor, because the NCAA has a one and done rule, as in you must attend college for one year before your eligible to be drafted into the NBA.

This is really a joke, because one season does not make a college career.  Of course, a few of the highly touted high school players are ready for the big show, but the rest should stick around for a while and learn the fundamentals of the game before going to the big top.  Perhaps get an education.  But the lure of money is a big pull.

Now March Madness is not just for the maniacs.  Anyone can check out the brackets and pick the winners down to the Final Four, and if there’s money involved, it’s even better. It’s all about picking the winners and predicting the upsets.

Personally, I’m picking Syracuse Orangemen to come out on top. They’re not eligible for the tournament due to numerous recruiting violations, but they’re still my emotional favorite.

I spoke last Thursday with senior college basketball analyst Dr. Michael Schur, who for some unknown reason (Florida International University booster), was left off of this year’s selection committee.  Here are his thoughts on the Final Four.

‘I’m only selecting three teams because everybody’s picking Kentucky.  So here’s my Final Three.  The Duke Blue Devils, the Wisconsin Badgers and Notre Dame.  I like the Irish and their defensive intensity.  They’ve got three point shooters and are able to score from the inside and outside.  And I always loved the movie ‘Rudy.’”

So the question remains, who will take down these mighty Wildcats?  Stay tuned.

For today’s photo selection committee, we are featuring some March magic.  The year was 2008 and I was shooting from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive.  There were lots of clouds during the day, and the sunset didn’t look promising, but much to my surprise, an opening appeared on the horizon late in the day and the sky just blew up.

It was a spectacular March night, one that I won’t soon forget because of the peculiar shaped clouds coming down from the heavens that I have conveniently forgotten the name of.

On to some late night humor.  “Mayor de Blasio has legalized ferrets. Now you can legally own ferrets in New York City. I want to tell you something. If I want to see anymore beady-eyed little weasels, I’ll just keep riding the subway.  The new Apple Watch is out. It gets email. You can send texts. It has a corkscrew, nail clipper, tooth pick, scissors, tweezers, a compass, and if you put it on the floor and stand on it and it will tell you how much you weigh.” -David Letterman

“Now in Utah if you get the death sentence, they have the firing squad. In Russia, they call that early retirement.  Because Utah is largely Mormon country, the firing squad’s a little different. You’re blindfolded but no cigarette.” – David Letterman

“President Obama’s trying to work out a nuclear deal with Iran, and the Republicans are steamed. They got together and sent Iran a letter about the nuclear deal. They said if this doesn’t work, by God, they’re going to send Seth Rogen and James Franco.  The ayatollah in Iran says he believes that he got the letter, but he thinks he accidentally threw it out with his Crate & Barrel catalog.” – David Letterman

“This is a very big week for us here. Tomorrow night on our show we get a visit from President Obama, which means that all of you here tonight just missed having to get a cavity search to get in here tonight.  There’s a new study that says giving your child too much praise can harm them later. They become more narcissistic. Narcissism is a condition of excessive self-interest that affects approximately one out of every one Kardashian.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So we’ll catch you wowing the NBA nation by scoring a NBA season high and career-high 57 points against the Spurs last week.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Kyrie Irving fans.

March 8, 2015

The Dark Side Of The Milk

Good morning and greetings, cacao bean fans.  As you may know, my body is a sacred temple, a synagogue to my soul, and therefore, I’m not fond of taking any medications.  But on those rare occasions when I’m in need of something to soothe my inner sanctum, there’s always one drug I can count on. Chocolate.  And of course, TV.

Now I’ve been merrily addicted to this wonderful, sugary brown concoction since early childhood. I can recall skipping with delight into my local candy store, and gazing upon such delights as M & M’s, Hershey Bars, Nestle Crunch, Chunkies and Raisinets, just to name a few.  And these weren’t the mini, bite size versions, these were the real deal.  It was pure almond joy.

So as I got older and matured into a responsible adult, I realized that a chocolate bar a day does not keep the doctor away, so I’ve had to cut back on my intake.  New age doctors say that if you’re going to be ingesting chocolate, it’s healthier to go to the dark side.  Who knew?

Now I will admit there are lots of good dark chocolate bars out there, but you really don’t get that sugar rush that you do with milk chocolate, and isn’t that the point?  Then again, researchers from the Plain or Peanut Institute suggest that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain.  And it’s a great after school snack.

Now I bring up this delicious subject because of an interesting item I found on Yahoo Health News.  In a recent study by the US Food and Drug Administration, they found that 59 percent of dark chocolate products in the U.S. contain trace amounts of milk.  According to my abacus, that’s close to two out of three bars recommended by four out of five dentists.
So your favorite dark chocolate bar contains a little milk, what’s the big deal?

 Well, according to FDA researchers who aren’t on the take,, “Even one small bite of a product containing milk can cause a dangerous reaction in some individuals.”  That explains George Bush.

Now dark chocolate has been the savior for folks who want to experience the sensual flavors and effects of chocolate without bringing the cow along with it.

According to U.S. laws, and thank God there is a law, food products are required to put their ingredients on the label.  Sugar is my favorite, with high fructose corn syrup a close second and hydrogenated soybean oil taking the bronze.

Now this white liquid produced by cows is one of the top food allergies in the country, although as a kid, I thought cookies and milk were as beneficial as penicillin.

The FDA recently conducted a test of more then 100 dark chocolate bars that showed many contained undeclared milk.  Well, how it came about is a mystery that the Hardy Boys could solve.

The contamination probably took place when they cross pollinated the milk and dark chocolate, as the equipment was probably shared in the making of the bars.  Personally, I blame it on the white chocolate.

The results were that two out of seventeen of these products labeled “dairy-free” or “allergen-free”were found to contain milk. Fifty-five of the ninety-three dark chocolate bars without any clear indication of the presence of milk also were found to contain Boosie’s fluid. And six out of the eleven chocolate products labeled “traces of milk” contained milk at levels high enough to cause a reaction similar to the explosion on Mount St. Helens.

And now the news gets even better.  The consumer health watchdog group, As You Sow, who is all about protecting the people and the planet, filed notices of legal action last Wednesday against Hershey’s, (say it ain’t so,)  See’s Candies, and Mars, alleging violation of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act for failure to warn consumers of the toxic chemical cadmium in the companies’ chocolate products.

Holy 3 Muskateers bar, Batman.

It seems our youth are especially susceptible to cadmium, as it has been linked to kidney, liver, and bone damage.  But don’t worry kids, your pancreas and spleen are still safe.

As You Sow, and as we shall reap, had previously initiated legal action against an additional thirteen chocolate manufacturers, including Godiva, Ghirardelli, Lindt, Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, (no, not Trader Joes!), for failure to warn of lead and cadmium in their chocolate products.

Not to worry parents out there, but lead exposure has been a significant public health issue for decades and is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and lower IQ at specific levels.  This explains Texas Governor Rick Perry.

According to Eleanne van Vliet,  As You Sow’s toxic chemical research director, “Consumers need to know that chocolate may contain heavy metals.  Since lead and cadmium accumulate in the body over time, even small amounts should be avoided.”

When asked for a comment, the group AC/DC said they were too busy, as they were on the highway to hell.

Well, it’s your choice folks, but when dealing with small children partaking in these products, I zinc it may be time to take a closer look at it.  Do your due diligence.  You know, the children are our future.

So for today’s photo snack, we are returning to the edge of the continent on the morning of December 14.  The place was Its Beach and Lighthouse Point, and when I arrived at this glorious location, the sky was full of color.  Then the sun rose over the mountains across the bay and vivid colors were added to the canvas.  Simply delightful.

On to some late night humor.  “Jeb Bush is getting his presidential campaign in gear. Last week he said he supports a path to citizenship for immigrants. He said, “I believe in an America where hard work and dedication can lead to any job that your brother and dad once had.  It was reported today that Edward Snowden may return to the United States. He is going to carpool with Julian Assange and Roman Polanski.” – Conan O’Brien

“Two California teachers charged with having sex with students and giving them cocaine. On the plus side, the students involved had perfect attendance. Yesterday Justin Bieber turned 21 years old. Justin started celebrating on Saturday — five years ago.” – Conan O’Brien  ” Happy birthday to Justin Bieber. Yesterday he turned 21, which means he can be tried as an adult.” – Jimmy Kimmel

 ”Taco Bell is testing a new product called “Cap’n Crunch Delights,” which are balls of sweet dough, covered in crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal, and filled with a “milk icing” — you know, Mexican food.” – Seth Meyers  “Taco Bell is testing a new dessert item called Cap’n Crunch Delights. They are warm doughnut holes filled with sugary cream and rolled in Cap’n Crunch. They really know how to capture the flavors of old Mexico.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Boston Medical Center found that 15 percent of 2-year-olds in the Boston area drink as much as 4 ounces of coffee a day.  Pediatricians say giving caffeine to toddlers can cause depression, diabetes, sleep disturbance, and obesity. On the plus side they get a lot more finger painting done.” – Jimmy Kimmel  “President Obama said he wants the United States to establish an embassy in Cuba by April. When asked if Cuba would establish an embassy here, Obama said, “What do you call Miami?” – Jimmy Fallon

So we’ll catch you having a great season with Portland, but unfortunately, you tore your left achilles tendon last week. But you’ll come back strong.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Wes Matthews fans.

March 1, 2015

Up In Smoke

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:47 am

 

Good morning and greetings, March fans.  February, the Toulouse-Lautrec, or the shortest month of the year, has quietly faded into the past on my Jennifer Aniston calendar, and what a fabulous friend and month it was.

Stardom is a strange journey, or in Jennifer’s words, “When somebody follows you 20 blocks to the pharmacy, where they watch you buy toilet paper, you know your life has changed.”

Now wouldn’t you think Brad Pitt would have better things to do.

February may have had the fewest days on the calendar, but if you’re a fan of ice, freezing rain and blizzarding snow, then last month was heaven on earth.

Now somewhere you would expect it to be a little chilly this time of year would be Alaska, but when I checked the weather map, the temperatures ranged between 20 to 30 degrees, with some days in the 40′s.  But the big story coming out of our truly wildest state has nothing to do with the weather.

Last week, Alaska became the third state to legalize the dreaded Mary Jane, marijuana.  Holy Bob Marley, Batman.  They are following in the sticky steps of Colorado and Washington, with the state of Oregon raring to go with recreational use on July 1.

High ho, high ho, it’s off the the Yukon state we go.
This was a somewhat shocking development, because you’re bringing the decriminalization movement to a remote frontier where conservatism thrives, where Sarah Palin endorses shooting wolves for target practice.  And she can see Russia from her front porch.

You know, even with my binoculars, I can’t see Alaska.
The changes came about in this land of the frozen tundra after voters in November narrowly approved a ballot measure making it legal to smoke, grow and own pot for personal use, though this weed remains illegal under federal law.  The DEA will give you no love.

But as musician Willie Nelson once pointed out, “”I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?”,
Now the blunt truth is, the ganga plant remains banned by the federal government, which classifies it as a Schedule I substance along with heroin and LSD.  It’s reefer madness.  But as Arnold Schwarzenegger once chimed in, “It’s not a drug.  It’s a leaf.”
What this means is, stoners, er people in Alaska aged 21 and up can legally possess up to one ounce and grow up to six plants, which can reach size of redwood trees  This is in accordance to a summary provided by the official Alaska state website, under the watchful eyes of the Cheech and Chong Institute.
But there are still some issues to sort in this igloo-filled state of cannibas individualism.  Under the state’s new law, and there oughta be a law, private consumption will be legal but public consumption remains a no-no.  You can smoke it or give it away, but buying and selling the green is frowned upon and remains illegal.

But as comedian Bill Hicks once pointed out, “Why is marijuana against the law.  It grows naturally upon our planet.  Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit unnatural?

Getting more to the point, President Obama chimed in, “When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently.  That was the point.”   Well said, Mr President.

Which is a far cry from President Bill Clinton, who claims, “When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it, and I didn’t inhale, and I never tried again.”  But it seems like Bill found another way to get his ya-yas out.
Well, the folks in Alaska will figure it out. In the words of President Thomas Jefferson,  “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.”  Who knew?

Now back in our nation’s capital, they also voted in November to legalize pot, but Congress wasn’t so crazy about bongs and water pipes in the West Wing.  But congressional attempts failed to stop the rush of the green wave, as last Thursday, Washington DC became the first place east of the Mississippi River with legal recreational marijuana.  The people have spoken.  Long live the queen.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, who was threatened with jail time, proclaimed that it will be legal for people 21 or older to possess up two ounces of pot and grow up to three mature plants at home for personal use. But once again, it can’t be sold legally, and the District will neither tax nor regulate the drug, steps that were explicitly banned by Congress and endorsed by Snoop Dog and his posse.

Well, it seems there will be green in the halls of Chronic, er Congress.  So for the last word on all this spreading recreational, preventive glaucoma usage, I turn to comedian Steve Martin.

“I used to smoke marijuhgana. But I’ll tell you something: I would only smoke it in the late evening. Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening – or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, mid-evening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early mid-afternoon, or perhaps the late-mid-afternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. . . . …But never at dusk.”

For today’s photo series, we are heading up the coast to the tiny town of Davenport.  At this time of the year, if I want to see the sun set into the horizon, then up north to the cliffs above Davenport I must go.

Monterey Cypress trees line the coast, and when you look out over the water, you see remnants of the pier that was used a whaling station.  On this night back in early March 2007, I got up there early to take in the sights, which came along with a nice looking sunset.

Unfortunately, these day, the cliffs are off limits to photographers and prospectors, as No Trespassing signs dominate the landscape.  But at least I have my memories.

On to some late night humor.  “As of midnight last night, marijuana is officially legal in our nation’s capital. Or as President Obama put it, “Clear some space, Michelle. Barry’s getting his OWN garden!” – Jimmy Fallon  “Alaska today officially legalized marijuana for recreational use. I think they did this years ago. That’s how the Palin kids ended up with those names, right?  Alaska does have some special rules. You’re not allowed to smoke marijuana in public, and you have to follow special disposal rules. You can’t just throw a joint in the trash. The last thing you want is a grizzly with the munchies.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Waffle House is partnering with a mail delivery service app so customers can pick up their packages at the restaurant. So if you’re someone who is interested in getting packages delivered to a nearby Waffle House, congrats on being the sketchiest person on earth.  A new study found that smoking weed is 114 times less harmful for people than drinking alcohol. And if you want to learn more, you can ask people waiting for their deliveries at Waffle House.” – Jimmy Fallon

Alex Rodriguez will be back with the New York Yankees after being suspended for a season. He wrote the fans of the Yankees an apology. We’re still waiting on one from the Knicks.  The Academy Awards are passed out on Sunday. It’s voted by members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Or as I call them, 50 shades of white.” – David Letterman

“Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald got in some hot water this week for saying that he served in the military’s Special Forces when he never did. It gets even worse when you find out the place he actually served was Old Navy. – Jimmy Fallon  “The Kardashian family has signed a deal keeping them on the air for four more years and paying them $100 million. So let that be a lesson. If you really work hard and apply yourself, you are wasting your time.” – Seth Meyers

So belated birthday wishes go out to my old Syracuse pal, Amy Zimmerman, who I once spent a lifetime with one night in Cortland, New York.  A University of Penn graduate, she is currently freezing, er residing in Westchester County, New York, but in her dreams, she’s in a much more tropical setting.

And here’s a birthday shout out to my old NBA basketball radio correspondent, Robert “Bob O” Hall, who at this stage of the game, still has a good assist to turnover ratio.  Bob turns the big 63 on Wednesday, and being a much older man, has always been like a father figure to me.

So we’ll catch you being the most explosive player in the NBA, as you’re putting up triple double numbers on a nightly basis.
Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

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.

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