December 13, 2009

The Cold And The Beautiful

Good morning and greetings, Hanukah fans, and welcome to our grand finale for 2009. Due to my life coach’s orders, I’m going to take a couple of weeks off and head out to Palm Desert for nine days of meditation, relaxation and enough sports and movie viewing to make my eyes bleed. There’s nothing like the desert in the wintertime-flowers blooming, 80 degree temperatures and the outdoor hot tubs and pools running 24 hours a day. But take my word for it, it’s not any easy existance-sometimes when the temperatures dip I have to put on a warmer bathing suit.

On the meteorology front, last week was a record-breaking doozy. I woke up Tuesday to frost on my windshield and keyboard, as snow fell in the Santa Cruz mountains as the low temperature was 29 degrees, the coldest December 8 in Santa Cruz history. How cold was it? Here are my favorites. It was so cold, hitchhikers were holding up pictures of their thumbs. Politicians had their hands in their own pockets. When I turned on the shower, I got hail. I saw an Amish man buying an electric blanket. My dog moved his blanket from the dog house to the barbecue. And finally, and my personal favorite, it was so cold, my father used tabasco sauce as an after shave lotion just to get some feeling in his face.

A blast of frigid Canadian air mixed with a large storm system that originated in the Gulf of Alaska delivered the coldest period I can remember in my twenty-four years here in Santa Cruz. Well, except for the that stretch in 1984 when my jumper wouldn’t go down and I was as cold as ice. To say the least, it was a tad chilly for Warrior fans. Or in the words of George Carlin, “The weather was dominated today by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused with a Mexican high.”

Meanwhile, while we were shivering here on the central coast, it was sunny and warm in Hawaii as the biggest waves in years hit the North Shore of Oahu. Which meant it was time for the prestigious Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay. The event was created in 1984 to honor former Waimea Bay lifeguard Eddie Aikau, who was lost at sea while attempting a solo rescue back in 1978. This legendary surfing event is only held on a day when the wave faces are consistently near 40 feet. Because of these standards, this event has only been held eight times in its 25-year history, or about as often as I wake up past 6 am.

According to observers, it was a classic, all-time day at Waimea, with 25 foot waves, 50 foot faces and winds as sweet as a Maui Gold pineapple. As Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in his Three Dot Lounge blog, “A typical Waimea session draws big crowds but falls short on the entertainment scale, hardly measuring up to Maverick’s for quality and length of ride. But when the Bay is really firing, as it was today, no one in attendance would rather be anywhere else. There’s a spirit, vibe and historical element to that event that simply cannot be matched.”

The winner of the contest, which hadn’t been held in five years, was Greg Long of San Clemente, CA, who won $55,000 and the title for the day as the world’d best big wave surfer. Next up, Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, which was pumping last week and the next challenge for these men (and women) who ride mountains and risk their lives to ride the biggest of the big. Just before the contest began, there was a Hawaiian prayer said for the safety of the competitors. It’s the same prayer is say every time I turn on the jacuzzi jets in my hot tub.

So in honor this event, we are featuring a couple of shots I took from the final day of the Coldwater Classic held last month at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz. The morning started with a beautiful sunrise at Lighthouse Point. When I came up from shooting on the sand at Its Beach, I headed over to the Lane and was greeting by these huge waves barreling off shore. It was an exciting feeling, seeing these epic waves show up for our local contest, and although they don’t compare to the monsters of Waimea or Mavericks, they certainly brought smiles to the faces of all who came. Myself, I was just happy to walk away with a contest poster and a Jeff Spicoli t-shirt.

On to the late night action. “Honestly, — the Salahis. They had a big state dinner for the guy and all of a sudden there’s a lovely young couple there. Nobody has any idea who they are, nobody cares who they are, they weren’t invited, nobody wants them there. Since 1980, there have been 91 breaches of security at the White House. Well, 92 if you count George Bush. How about the couple that sneaked into the White House for the big state dinner? Now, they’re going to be subpoenaed by the House Homeland Security committee. But I mean honestly, you can’t blame the Salahis for going where they’re not invited. I mean, isn’t that our foreign policy?” –David Letterman

“According to the CIA, Osama bin Laden periodically sneaks into Afghanistan. Well, a guy’s got to have fun! You know what I mean? What happens in Kabul stays in Kabul. In Iowa, a large group of people waited outside a Sarah Palin book signing to urge her to run for president in 2012. The large group of people was known as the Iowa Democratic Party.” –Conan O’Brien

“This is interesting. A letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1808 has been discovered at the University of Delaware. It’s a personal letter thanking John McCain for his support in the election of 1804. This week, America’s last living World War I veteran — a man named Frank Buckles, 108 years old — he said he would like to see a memorial in Washington, D.C. You know, when he gets back from Afghanistan.” –Jay Leno “Police in Texas seized thousands of ecstasy tablets with pictures of Obama’s face on them. Drug dealers chose Obama because the pills make you feel hope and change and then send you off to a faraway place.” –Craig Ferguson

So that’s it, sports fans, our final notes and jolts for 2009. We will return on January 4, with some desert delights along with the highlights from the journey inside my mind. Birthday wishes go out to my long-time, New Jersey pal Steve Margolin, who phoned in from Connecticut to state on the record that I did not strike him out twice in that minor league championship game but does admit to whiffing on a sidearm fastball to close out the ballgame. I don’t want to say that Steve and I go way back, but the first video of me is at Steve’s birthday party where I’m wearing a red jacket and bow tie, looking like young Geoffrey Farrakhan. So enjoy the holidays and the rest of 2009 and be grateful for what you have, like family, health and the NBA League Pass. We’ll catch you in the right corner of the end zone in 2010. Aloha, mahalo and later, Elin Nordegren fans.

December 6, 2009

The Prodigal Sun

Good morning and greetings, change we can believe in fans. Well, it’s December, which means the holiday season is upon us along with office parties, college Bowl Games and the pressure to figure out what gift to buy for that special boss or co-worker who you could really care less about. Yes, mistletoe fans, I’m already knee-deep in the holiday spirit.

Despite Derek Jeter and the Yankees winning the World Series, 2010 has been a somewhat challenging year. One long-time friend suddenly passed away, another sufffered a heart attack and then there was the balloon boy. Not that I’m feeling vulnerable, but I’m at the point that when I feel a pain anywhere in the chest area, I’m thinking, heart attack, any discomfort in the stomach area, appendicitis and if I have cramps, I’m already picking out baby names. As I’ve mentioned before, I’d like to strangle the advertising executive who came up with the slogan “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better. Well, he’s close, I’m getting older all right, but I’m getting bitter.

Actually, it’s not as bad as I’m making it sound, although there are some things that happened this week that made me shake my head and wonder, what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on? Let’s start with Tiger Woods, or should I say, Tiger Wouldn’t? You’ve got a gorgeous Swedish wife who makes delicious pancakes, two beautiful kids and enough money to buy Hannah Montana and you can’t keep it in your pants? Do the words honesty, trust or faithfulness mean anything to you or your caddie? Then again, he’s no different than Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, half the Republican lawmakers and a multitude of sports superstars. I’m no New Orleans Saint, but c’mon, Eldrick, keep your putter in your golf bag.

I also find the situation in Afghanistan somewhat confusing and disappointing. I love President Obama, I think he’s the best thing to happen to this country since the invention of TiVo, but his plans to deploy 30,000 more troops to be put in harms way to fight the Taliban is difficult to swallow. The Afghan goverment, coming off the rigged election is a mockery of a sham of a travesty, and just ask the Russians how easy it is to fight an enemy in a country where opium is king. The Taliban are the devil and the need to crush Al Queda is quite understandable but at the risk of how many lives? I hate to be too serious in this blog, but the President’s decision has crushed the hopes of many who thought change was in the air. Can you imagine what he would have done had he not won the Nobel Peace prize? We’re eight years into this war and just the thought of this new surge leaves me tired, emotionally drained and Bushed.

Getting back to my aging process, this week I had to make a very easy decision and wave the white flag to my son, Jason. We have been playing one-on-one basketball since he was old enough to double dribble and has never beaten me, and due to the Geneva Convention and my personal Bill of Rights, I’ve never allowed him to win. We had some close encounters of the below the rim kind this summer but he was never quite able to get over the hump. That could have been due to the fact that I kept the score and never let him know it was game point till I was one away.

Anyway, we were playing last week and with his quickness, jumping ability and incredible genes, I realized I’d have to be at the top of my game to ever to beat him again. So, like any aging racehorse going out to stud, I told him that I will never play him again when we keep score so I can be led out to pasture with an undefeated record. Now, a bigger man would have played him again for the inevitable father-son pasage of rights but I am not that kind of man. In the words of Moe Howard of the Three Stooges, when asked if he were a man or mouse, Moe replied, “Put a piece of cheese in front of me and you’ll find out.” Or as I say, live brie or die.”

Today’s photo fantasy tour comes to us from the month of November. The first two shots are the sun rising and cascading over the water at Steamer Lane. We then head over to Natural Bridges to see some magnificence in the western skies before finishing up with a sunrise shot that should have been first but got jumbled to due global warming and my declining basketball skills. There was a incredibly beautiful sunset that came out of nowhere this past Friday, but due to the fact that I was still basking in the glow of my son’s 21 point, 10 assist performance earlier in the day I was unaware that the sky would soon be aglow and missed it. It was as spectacular as Jason’s third quarter ending buzzer beater. It just goes to show, Ansel Adams fans, that I am still a work in progress.

On the the late fight funnies. “New reports on Sarah Palin’s ‘Going Rogue’ bus tour. They say she’s been traveling on private planes to various stops and then just hops in the bus at the local town. So, let’s see what you got. You have Sarah Palin, who’s no longer governor, who’s promoting a book she didn’t actually write by going on a bus tour which is not really a bus. Her big complaint? Politicians who aren’t real. Hey, congratulations. Chelsea Clinton just got engaged to her longtime boyfriend. That’s very exciting. And I understand Bill is already planning the bachelor party.” –Jay Leno “Speaking from West Point, NY, the President announced he will send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan over the next six months and 2,000 additional troops to Tiger Woods’s mansion in Orlando. Peacekeeping forces.” –Jimmy Kimmel

We were a little light on the late night humor so here are a couple of jokes that will hopefully fill the bill. A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later, there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says “What the hell was that all about?”

A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: he’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. “Cold floors,” he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, “Bad food.” They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. “I quit,” he says. “That’s not surprising,” the elders say. “You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”

So that’s our show. Birthday wishes go out to my old radio partner, Jerry Hoffman, who shares the day of December 12 with yours truly. Jerry, who you can read at www.12sportsonline.com, can still turn the double play at second and in his mind is the Chase Utley of central coast. So for you apple sauce and sour cream lovers like myself, enjoy the festival of lights and potato latke experience of Hanukah that begins on Friday night. We’ll catch you in the right flat. Aloha, mahalo and later, Drew Brees fans.


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