April 26, 2009

The Father, The Sunset, And The Holy Coast

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 9:22 pm

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Good morning and greetings, NBA playoff fans. Once every few years, a gorgeous sunrise paints the skies of Monterey Bay but does not end up on the pages of this website known as Sunrise Santa Cruz. This non-harmonic convergence is usually due to few factors, among them my karma, my trouble with Algebra 1 and those damn Somali pirates.

That being said, for some reason the big guy in the sky had me oversleep (6:15) last Tuesday, and when I woke up the sky was glowing like the Alabama Crimson Tide. Or in the words of Kid Rock,”Singing sweet home Alabama all summer long.” Big, reddish-orange billowing clouds filled the sky as I looked on in shock and awe and then semi-disbelief. The sunrise was peaking as if Timothy Leary had just walked in the room, so I tuned in, turned on and then dropped out. It was a spectacular event as even Moses would have been impressed as the the surf at Cowell’s Beach must have looked like the Red Sea.

So now it’s few days later and my leg was still a little sore from kicking myself. So I thought, how do I make it up to the dedicated readers of this blog, who depend on this site to see the best of what appears in the central coast skies? There was only one thing to do, so I stopped waterboarding myself and began to search for Mr. Peabody, Sherman and the Wayback Machine. (This previous reference will only be understood by fans of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show folks broadcast in the late 50′s and early 60′s.)

When that quest proved unsuccesful, it was time to hit the photo archives and fortunately, they are as full as Bernie Madoff’s cell is with hate mail letters. For today’s photo fest we are venturing back to late December, 2008 to check out this previously unseen sunset. The place was the most Natural of Bridges and the sky was poised to light up like fans at Cheech and Chong concert. As the twilight show was about to begin, I flashed on Mick Jagger’s take on the sky. “Hey. You. Get off of my clouds. Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd.” And I replied, “Sorry, Mick. But on a night like this, wild horses couldn’t drag me away.”

This spectacular December sky was followed by a gorgeous red sunrise the following morning, which was in the same league as the one that I missed on Tuesday. So as it all comes full circle, one must wonder, what did I learn from this whole experience? In the words of Mr. Edwin Starr, when asked the question “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”

On to the late night experience. “And as the economy lags, the Army is getting more and more selective now. The Army announced this week they will no longer accept drug addicts and felons. But the good news is there’s always Congress, the NFL, and show business. Nieman Marcus announced they’re selling a diamond-studded dog collar for $3.2 million. Well, finally, it’s nice to see one big company that’s not out of touch with mainstream America. More bad economic news. Southwest Airlines announced they lost $91 million in the first quarter. Now they say they’re going to have to start cutting back. Cutting back? Have you ever flown Southwest, huh? What, are they taking the glass out of the windows?” –Jay Leno

“Next month in Toronto, Canada, former President George W. Bush will debate former President Bill Clinton. The question of the debate — is it worse to lie to your wife or lie to the entire country? And former President George W. Bush said today he does not remember seeing any of those torture memos. But to be fair, to Bush, any memo on his desk was torture. “I’m not readin’ that.” During an interview with The New York Post, Rudy Giuliani said that he is against gay marriage. He feels marriage should be between a man, a woman, the other woman, and the other woman he met after that.” –Jay Leno

“The Justice Department says they want to make an example of this Somali pirate guy. And I thought, really? In terms of making an example, I don’t think you can do much better than shooting the other three guys in the head. “But Dick Cheney is now criticizing President Obama, and he’s saying that his recent actions around the world are ‘disturbing’ and ‘not helpful.’ Yeah, yeah, things were so much better when Cheney was president, weren’t they?” –David Letterman “Even Dick Cheney was into Earth Day. Did you see what he said today? He called for the use of only recycled water when waterboarding prisoners.” –Jay Leno

“President Obama has kind of a happier outlook on torture. He says instead of waterboarding terrorists, he’s going to put them in dunk tanks.” –David Letterman “Happy Earth Day to everyone. President Obama celebrated Earth Day by flying his enormous plane to Iowa today to visit a wind power plant. There was a huge crowd on hand to greet him, partly to hear him talk about the importance of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and partly to show their kids what a black person looks like.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, once two of the most powerful men in this country, are now suffering from Balzheimer’s disease. Why didn’t I see it before? Balzheimer’s is a terrible illness that attacks the memory and gives its victims the balls to attack others for things they themselves made a career of. There is no known cure” –Jon Stewart

So that’s today’s prodigal sunset. And since I took a few showers in April next week’s blog will be bringing us some May flowers. So enjoy the week and remember to be grateful for the simple things. Like TiVo. And speaking of which, I love those firehouse boys on FX’s “Rescue Me.” The characters are sensational, and the dialogue, written by creators Denis Leary and Peter Tolan, is simply brilliant. So remember, defense is desire and we love full court pressure. Aloha, mahalo and later, Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald fans.

April 19, 2009

This Is The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarium

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Good morning and greetings, Stevie Wonder fans. Over the spring break, my daughter Aimee, who is today’s special guest blogger, loaded up her camera and took a trip down to the
Monterey Bay Aquarium, where “The Secret Lives of Seahorses” exhibit had just opened, featuring more than 15 species of sea horses along with pipehorses, sea dragons, pipefish and the rarely seen gefilte fish.

Now, sea horses are not your typical sea stallions. For starters, they are the only members of the animal kingdom in which the males get pregnant and give birth. A video in the exhibition, captures the birth process, which climaxes with a series of backward thrusts until about a dozen babies shoot out of a male’s pouch. And you thought the Octamom was wild.

In the wet and wild, sea horses are shy and wary. But many of the species are vulnerable or endangered, as many sea horses are sacrificed to the souvenir trade, where they end up on mirrors or key chains. Others get scooped up unintentionally in shrimp-fishing nets or fall victim to pollution, development, or hungry fish. Still others take their own lives after failed acting careers.

According to Ava Ferguson, the senior exhibition director at the aquarium, sea horses are very susceptible to habitat loss. They reside comfortably in small condos in tropical or temperate waters all over the world, within coastal reefs, sea grass beds or mangrove forests – three of the planet’s most imperiled habitats. And much like myself, sea horses excel at hiding and keeping a low profile. They are masters of camouflage, adept at changing color, shape and texture to improve their chances of survival, which is the same way I describe my years writing sitcom in Hollywood.

“Surprisingly, people don’t know much about sea horses,” Ferguson says. “Even scientists. It’s very difficult to study them in the wild. But for centuries, people have incorporated them into their art.” They also pop up repeatedly in literature, mythology and driver-ed instructional videos. “The head is like a horse, the eyes are chameleon-like, the pouch is like a kangaroo and the tail is like a monkey,” Ferguson says. Their chameleon-like eyes move independently and in all directions, helping it to see food coming its way and to avoid becoming food but making it very difficult to buy sunglasses.

So without further ado, I present to you guest blogger Aimee Jennifer Gilbert, in her own words. As I walked into the new sea horse exhibit, I was amazed as everything looked like it had come out of a Dr. Suess book. Photo #1 is an unbelievable, seaweed-like animal called a Leafy Sea Dragon, which is a type of sea horse. With its graceful movement, it captured my imagination and in my head became a mythical creature. Editor’s comment: The leafy sea dragon, is perhaps the most unusual species in the exhibition. Only one person in Australia (Crocodile Dundee) has a permit to collect them, and each year he takes a sole pregnant male from the wild, raises its youngsters and distributes them.

Photo #2 shows three sea horses and a coconut shrimp. I loved this picture because everything was so colorful. If you look closely, you see the greenish-grayish sea horse hiding behind the fish, the yellow sea horse in front, and the brown one curled around the coral. Since these unique animals were in glass tanks with drops of water on the sides, it was hard to take a really clear picture. Editor’s comment: I loved Jane Fonda in “They Shoot Sea Horses, Don’t They?”

Photo #3 is a picture of a hungry tiger shark. As I looked at this tank I was starry-eyed because when I put my face up on the glass the shark was so close that I felt like I could reach my hand out and feel its smooth skin. It was a sight I will never forget. Editor’s Comment: You never want to get forechecked into the boards by an angry San Jose Shark. The previous comment was my salute to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The next photo is of sand dollars. I love their intense texture. When we find sand dollars on the beach it is their skeleton we find-not the real body. Sand dollars sit in the bottom of the ocean upright, brown, and fuzzy! You can click the photo to make it bigger and see the identical mark each one has on their shell. Editor’s comment: My favorite Clint Eastwood movie-”A Fistful of Sand Dollars.”

In the next photo, I think it looks like it’s snowing. Well, believe it or not, I came to that tank right when it was feeding time and all of those little “snowflakes” are tiny shrimp! This tank was very interesting to look at because even the camouflaged rockfish joined the busy feast. Editors comment: I was once involved in a similar feeding frenzy with the sweet and sour shrimp at the Hong Kong Gardens “All you can eat” buffet

The last photo came from my favorite exhibit. The jellyfish were beautiful because these phenomenal creatures were so bright with color that when they dimmed the lights everything was even more spectacular. There were glowing moon, orange, red and peach jellies. The most amazing thing was the little tiny jellies that sparkled with different color lights blinking on their sides-it was unreal. Editor’s comment: Hundreds of jellyfish known as Pacific sea nettles have been recently spotted in San Francisco Bay. One touch of their, long brown tentacles will result in a powerful, numbing jolt that can hurt for hours or sometimes days. Sounds like my wedding night.

So that’s it for my guest blog, but don’t worry, with any luck, I’ll be in the blog again! Thanks, Dad for making me your little guest blogger- you’re my favorite dad so far. Editor’s comment: In case you are interested, this exhibit runs through September 3, 2012. But you had better start saving your pennies as the aquarium is a tad pricey.

So thank you, Aimee. You know what they say, the macadamia nut doesn’t fall far from the chesnut tree. Now on to some late night humor. “Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Somali pirates were all ‘untrained teenagers with heavy weapons,’ or as we call them in this country, rap stars. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder tried to put all this in perspective. He said this is the first act of piracy against the United States literally ‘in hundreds of years.’ Well, if you don’t count AIG, of course. And, you know, Obama is the consummate politician. You see him trying to appeal to the Mexican people? Like, he even changed his slogan to ‘Yes, we Mexi-can.’” –Jay Leno

“How about that Obama dog? Yeah, a little Portuguese water dog. And the dog, as you would expect, is not house broken yet. In fact, earlier today, he left a bigger mess in the Oval Office than Bush did. And you know they have Bo wearing one of those electronic collars. If he strays beyond the perimeter of the White House grounds he gets a little buzz. That’s to make sure he doesn’t — no, wait a minute, that’s Joe Biden. A new dog in the White House. I believe there hasn’t been a dog in the White House since that pack of semi-domesticated wolves that Cheney kept in his dungeon.” –David Letterman

“And today, they had the big Easter egg roll on the White House lawn. They always have it on Monday after Easter. But this year, because of the economy, they almost had to cancel the Easter egg roll. At the last minute, though, the United States government borrowed a billion eggs from China.” –David Letterman “George W. Bush has reportedly landed a $7 million book deal. The book will be about his years as president and is tentatively called ‘Decision Point,’ because every time Bush had to make a decision, he would point to Cheney.” –Jay Leno “President Obama on Thursday night hosted what may have been the first Passover Seder in the White House, and in a sign of the president’s popularity, Elijah showed up.” –Seth Meyers

So that’s a brief look at one of the world’s great aquariums, located right here in our central coast backyard. And we’ll be seeing more photos from the Aimee Gilbert collection in the future. On Saturday, we began our annual pilgrimage to the NBA mountaintop as the playoffs got underway with 8 games in two days. And anyone who has ever hit an open jumper is hoping this all culminates in a Finals matchup between LeBron James’ Cavaliers versus Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. But first we must experience TNT’s “40 games in 40 nights.” NBA action, it really is fantastic. So enjoy the warm days and we’ll catch on the inbounds play. Aloha, mahalo and later, Oscar Robertson fans.

April 12, 2009

I’ve Got Sunrise On A Cloudy Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:20 pm

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Good morning and greetings, Michelle Obama fans. I don’t want to say that I’m excited about our First Lady, but I have been going sleeveless for weeks. And the fact that her husband is the smartest guy around and is in charge of restoring this nation’s sanity thrills me on a daily basis. His presence provides real hope for our country’s future as we can show the world our strength and compassion. Throw in the fact that hosted a seder at the White House, is having a basketball court installed at Camp David and genuinely cares about helping the less fortunate almost makes me forget he’s a lefty. But then again, so was Jimi Hendrix. And the wind cries Obama.

Now you’ve heard me comment over the last few months that this has not been the year for color in the sky. Which is not to be confused with Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Except for a few moments back in early February, I haven’t shot a single sunrise in 2009. Well, that hitless streak came to an end this past Tuesday when I woke up, checked the horizon and saw clouds that could actually showed more promise than most of the new shows I watched this season. All I can say is, thank FX that Tommy Gavin and the firehouse boys are back on “Rescue Me.” And this follows of tremendous FX season of evilness on “Damages.” To quote the Backstreet Boys, “I just want to be Glen Close to you.”

So I was electrified as a Joe Biden hair plug as I put my kosher eggs benedict on hold and headed for Steamers Lane. The sky was just starting to light up and reflecting on the bay (photo #1) as I hit the cliff. It was a spectacular sunrise that, much like our new Commander-in-Chief, seemingly came out of nowhere. Something similar happened last March when there was a sunset that was just off the charts with nothing before or after. It’s as if the weather has a mind of its own. Or could it be the words of the group Spirit, “It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong?” Or was that Al Gore?

At the exact moment the sun disappeared up into the clouds (shortly after photo #6) the bells chimed (or did they toll?) from the church along West Cliff. What was even more amazing about this magnificent morning was that it was the 15th birthday of my son, Jason and the 50th of my brother, Brad. It was a wonderfully, energizing way to start the day, for soon after the skies clouded up and only early risers knew the beauty that began this April day. Or in the words of the Young Rascals, “It’s a beautiful morning. I think I’ll just go outside for a while.. and smile.”

You can also see from photo #5 that the swell was up and that the waves were pumping like questions being thrown at Timmy Geithner at a Republican Finance Subcomittee hearing. All in all, a special morning for spring break 2009. But now it is history, or as Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd would say, “Tuesday’s gone with the wind.”

On to some good humor. “This week, President Obama attended what was either the G-20 summit or his high school reunion. I haven’t seen old white dudes this excited about meeting a black guy since Michael Jordan’s fantasy camp.” –Seth Meyers ” He was the 11th U.S. President Queen Elizabeth has met with, and the first one where she spent the entire meeting clutching her purse.” –Bill Maher “A lot of Americans don’t understand the role of the queen. The queen is merely a figurehead. She wields no real political power. Or, as we call it in this country, the vice president.” –Jay Leno

“At the G-20 summit, the White House accidentally listed a phone sex line for journalists seeking an on-record briefing call for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. To which Bill said, ‘Boy, did they get the wrong number.’” –Jay Leno “The Taliban has decided to modernize a little bit. They’re going to stop measuring the lengths of mens’ beards. I’m proud of those guys. I couldn’t be happier. Oh wait, I know how I could be happier: if they stopped trying to murder us.” And the Taliban will no longer require women to wear those burkas while in public. Spring Break! Let’s see those ankles!” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s the Sunrise Santa Cruz report. To paraphrase the words of the great Terence Aloysius ‘Slip’ Mahoney (Leo Gorcey) from the Bowery Boys, “Sometimes matzo cast upon the waters comes back as burnt toast.” So enjoy the April skies, the last waning, breadless days of Passover and most importantly, the final week of the pro hoops regular season. We’ll catch you at midcourt. Oh, and here’s a shout out to the writers of “Friday Night Lights.” That show runs straight to my heart. Bring on the NBA playoffs. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jerry West fans.

April 5, 2009

Whale, I Guess This Is Goodbye

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 9:08 pm

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Good morning and greetings, Monterey Bay fans. In my quest to expose my larger-than-life story to the cyberworld, each weekday morning, to paraphrase Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, I like to “Take a walk on the west side.” For me, this coastal experience takes me to my favorite street (besides Jason on “Friday Night Lights”) in the western hemisphere. That would be West Cliff Drive, where the cutting edge of the continent bonds with the blue Pacific. Along with man’s best friend and my consigliore Summer, we mink stroll the cliff, never knowing who or what we will encounter. It could be a whales, dolphins, prison pen pals, porpoises, pelicans, otters or insurance agents, and not necessarily in that order.

For this hybrid of a blog, I always like to start off the new month with something exotic and was all ready to showcase an incredibly gorgeous sunrise from a few winters back. But then news came to me, or in the words of Marvin Gay, “I heard it through the grapevine” that a whale had washed up along the cliff. Well, faster than you could say “Jacque Cousteau” I sprang into action faster than Shamu downing a bucket of popcorn shrimp at Red Lobster. But as darkness was approaching and not wanting to break my 8pm backcourt ordered curfew, I decided to venture back on Friday morning.

As you can see from photo #1, I was not alone in my holy quest to see this fallen giant of the sea. As it turns out, a year-old female California gray whale had been found dead, floating alongside the wharf on Wednesday. It was towed a mile out to sea, but then drifted back in and landed just north of my favorite arch at Its Beach. Rather than burying it in the sand or Fed Exing it up to Ano Nuevo to become an appetizer for the great whites, the city decided to use a tow truck to haul it up onto West Cliff, put on on a flatbed truck and bring it to the city dump. Or as Joni Mitchell would say, “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.”

You can see in photo #2 a couple of wetsuited boys getting ready for some action. When this 25-foot long, 8,260 pound juvenile was brought up from the beach, it was just surreal. It was as if one of marine life artist Wyland’s painting had come to life, as this decomposing beauty was dangling in the air while knocking the iceplants off the cliff. This was a very unusual disposal method for a whale and certainly nothing that has been seen before here in Santa Cruz. The whaling wall of West Cliff had come to life. And as a special bonus, this yearling had a certain scent to it and I’m not talking Old Spice-more like old Sock.

So much like sleeping past 7am, helping my son with his math homework and my journey down the birth canal, experiencing this whale’s tale was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was sad that all this attention was being paid to a deceased mammal but many people gathered on the cliff had never seen a live whale, so they were happy just to get a peek at one of these beautiful creatures that roam the sea and food shop in our Monterey Bay.

Much like Fernando Valenzuela, this youngster was born in the warm Baja California waters and was heading north to the nutrient-rich waters off of Alaska when she encountered some kind of problem that led to her ending up dead on Its Beach. According to Saturday’s Santa Cruz Sentinel, Joe Rodgers, a longtime Santa Cruz boat captain and marine surveyor, said he spotted a whale that size this week several times, going back and forth across the bay, seemingly looking for its mother. Gray whales, which can grow to 50 feet in length, travel an incredible 12,500 miles in their annual migration. For me, I drive to the bank, stop at Longs and the dry cleaners and I’m ready for a nap.

Well, enough of my blubbering and onto some late night humor. “Today at the White House, President Obama met with the CEOs of all the major U.S. banks. A lot of these big bonus guys. The CEOs looked around the White House and said, ‘You live in this dump? You know what’s interesting? Today, a reporter in Crawford, Texas, asked former President George Bush how he felt about General Motors and Bush said, ‘You know, since I left office, I don’t really follow the Iraq war anymore.” And “see, I feel confident that it’ll go well, because President Obama is very good with these economic leaders. He is a very good speaker, of course, and a good speech writer. See, the problem with President Bush was when he went to the summit, any time anyone said G20, he’d go, ‘Bingo!’” –Jay Leno

“Earlier today, President Obama filled three of the remaining top jobs at the Treasury Department. Their job will be to collect taxes from all the other cabinet members that haven’t paid them yet.” Actually, this is highly unusual for the government to take the kind of action they did with General Motors. I mean, the closest the previous administration came to getting involved in the car industry was Bush using jumper cables to jump-start Dick Cheney’s heart.” –Jay Leno And “President Obama visited Buckingham Palace and he met with the Queen of England, and here’s what they did. They briefly shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. I mean, it was just like my honeymoon.” –David Letterman

“Now here’s a story. A guy in Brazil goes spear fishing, and he accidentally gets shot in his own head with the spear. Well, they operate on the guy. He’s unconscious. They pull the spear out and he’s going to be fine. And you know the first thing he said when he came to was, ‘Well, that’s the last time I go spear fishing with Dick Cheney.’” –David Letterman “Looking back at his presidential run this week, John McCain said that he got a lot of votes because of Sarah Palin. And weirdly enough, that’s the same thing President Obama said.” –Jimmy Fallon And finally, “MTV, Music Television, is putting actual music videos back on their network. If it works, Fox News said they’ll start doing actual news again.” –Craig Ferguson

I’d like to say that all’s whale that ends whale, but by bringing this magnificent creature that graces our seas to the city dump for its burial just doesn’t seem completely right. Anyway, we’ve got a pair of birthday wishes going out for Tuesday as my snowboarding-crazed brother Brad turns the big 50 and my outside hitting, volleyball playing, sprinter of a son Jason turns 15. Brad, who I have known since he was a small child, is the President and CEO of the nationally renowned People Productions Media Services based in Boulder, Colorado. Through the years he has been like a sports brother to me. Or as Lilly von Schtupp in “Blazing Saddles” once said of my youngest sibling, “What a nice guy.”

As for Jason, if I loved him any more or was any prouder of him, my heart would burst. But even more importantly, he still hasn’t beaten me one-on-one in basketball yet, although I haven’t given him the opportunity in a while. But now that Bernie Madoff is incarcerated and my Vietnam war injuries have magically healed, I’m running out of excuses.

So enjoy the spring break, baseball’s opening day and tonight’s NCAA championship game. Four Tar Heel seniors put their future NBA careers on hold and returned to North Carolina this season in their quest for the title. They’re hungry, talented and in the words of James Taylor “In my mind I’m going with Carolina.” Only Michigan State stands in their way. We’ll catch you on the backdoor alley-oop. Aloha, mahalo and later, Magic Johnson and Yankee fans.


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