August 26, 2012

It’s An Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny, Yellow, Polka Dot Facekini

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:46 am

Good morning and greetings, Missouri Senate race fans. Well, it’s late August, and sun worshippers are still hitting the beaches in an effort to procure that all-important summer tan. As for me, I’m always tan on the inside. Or in the words of Woody Allen, “With my complexion, I don’t tan, I stroke.”

When folks hit the beach, they bring along sunbock, umbrellas and Yankee hats to make sure they don’t get toasted by the sun. Well, hold onto your SPF 50, beach lovers, as there’s a new beach craze hitting the sands. You’ve heard of the bikini. Well, get ready for the facekini.

This unusual beach accessory has been around in China for five years, but it is just now hitting the western cyber shores. The facekini is made of elastic fabric and covers a person’s entire melon and neck down to the collarbone. There are holes cut out for the neck, nose and mouths. Think Zorro in a Speedo.

So you ask, why are Chinese woman covering up their lovely faces at the beaches of Qingdao, which is in the eastern Chinese province of Shangdong, just down the road from Shama Lama Ding Dong? White skin is considered a sign of beauty in China. The Chinese have an old sayng that translates as “white skin covers up a hundred uglinenesses” and “soup not included on to-go lunches.”

Chinese women feel that tanned skin is not as pretty as white skin. Skin color is an indicator of your social status. Darker skin means you work outside in the fields or at a tanning salon, where summer never ends. The lighter you are, the wealthier and more professional and respected you seem. Having darker skin is reminiscent of peasants, laborers, farmers and NBA players.

So the female population in China is making sure their skin stays as white as the Aryan Brotherhood during the summer tanning season. Swimmers wear full-body bathing suits, while strollers carry umbrellas in full body armor while strolling along the streets of the city. Or in the words of the Lovin’ Spoonfuls. “Hot down, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.” Well, my friends, not in a facekini.

This item has become such a hit that vendors have gone facekini wild, with dozens of colors available, from electric blue to hot pink to sizzling rice soup. Personally, I prefer the Kung Pao purple. They also have different size eye holes, seam placements and turtleneck models for winter swimming. The cost ranges from $2 to $4, with a Friday special of buy one facekini at full price and get a half order of barbecue spare ribs.

For Chinese women, wearing a mask to the beach is no big deal. I, myself, am used to wearing a mask, but that is just to hide my emotions. But there are other benefits to the facekini. Not only does it shield wearers from UV rays, but it also keeps away pests like sharks, insects, jellyfish stings and kids playing smashball.

So when did being tan become the thing to do? In 1923, fashion designer Coco Chanel accidentally got sunburned while sailing aboard a yacht to Cannes. When she returned from the Riviera golden brown, her fans and followers went wild. So before you could say, “the healthiest tan is no tan,” an industry was born. Or as I recently told my wardrobe consultant,” I am made of blue sky and golden light, and I will feel this way forever…share the fantasy”-Chanel No. 5.”

For today’s photo ensemble, we are once again heading back to the South Pacific. This is your basic Garden Isle variety pack, featuring waterfalls, flowers, wildlife and traces of love, long ago, that didn’t turn out right.

Photo #1 is of Wailua Falls. which is your basic drive-thru waterfall located about ten minutes from the airport in Lihue. Personally, I prefer to hike in to shoot my subjects, cutting through the thick underbrush with a machete while fighting off leeches, but driving right up and shooting out the car window also works for me. Because of the gray sky, the shot did not include the everpresent rainbow that usually appears, so I just had to just settle for this majestic, 80-foot cascading river of macadamia nut love.

Then it’s on to Opaeka’a Falls, which flow all year round from Wailua River. The name dates back from days when walnut shrimp swarmed the river and were seen rolling in the turbulent waters at the base of the falls along the banks of macaroni salad with two scoops of rice.

We now move onto the wonderland that is the plumeria. This flower blooms year round in the islands, and it’s fragrance is right out of heaven, a combination of jasmine, gardenia and Old Spice. When you smell the beautiul blossoms of this plant, there is no denying that you are in paradise. As the say about leis, betcha can’t smell just one.

We then come to a Hawaiian octopus, which was caught by a fisherman from Honolulu, who came from a family where all eight brothers were divers. I watched as this eight tentacled octopus changed colors, and was amazed by the way it moved and its beauty. This exotic creature was later used that day as live bait in hopes of reeling in a 90 to 100 pound fish. Good things come to those who bait.

The final shot features an electric green fella that was from a band of geckos that spent the day lounging around in an Australian palm tree on the property. He didn’t have much to say, although he did mention that “15 minutes could save me 15% or more on car insurance.

On to the late night. “Today the Republicans are getting ready for the convention. They’re busy down there in Florida auditioning minorities.” –David Letterman “They’re now worried that Tropical Storm Isaac could hit Florida during next week’s Republican convention. But Florida is ready for it. Thanks to President Obama’s economic policies, many businesses down there are already boarded up.” –Jay Leno

“Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to develop into a hurricane in the next few days. Unfortunately, the Republican National Convention starts in Florida on Monday. The National Weather Service says the storm could reach category 5, which is strong enough to move Mitt Romney’s part to the other side of his head.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Rest assured, no matter how high those winds get, not a single hair on Romney’s or Paul Ryan’s head will move. They have guaranteed that. “Mitt Romney says if he is elected he will create 12 million new jobs in his first year in office – and that’s just for people to do his taxes.” –Jay Leno

“In a new interview with Fortune magazine, Mitt Romney says he wants to cut funding for PBS. When he heard that, Oscar the Grouch was like, ‘Seriously? I already live in a garbage can — how much worse can my life get?’” –Jimmy Fallon “Paul Ryan just released his tax returns for the last two years, and it turns out he and his wife had a combined income of over $323,000 last year. To which Mitt Romney said, ‘See, I do reach out to poor people.” –Jay Leno

“Happy birthday to gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt. He turned 26 this week. You know the sad thing? His world record time has already been broken by Republicans running away from Missouri Congressman Todd Akin. He announced that he is staying in the race. Is that a surprise? A guy who knows so little about a woman’s body doesn’t know when it’s time to pull out.” –Jay Leno “Mitt Romney has asked Todd Akin to step down. That’s too bad. Todd Akin was the guy to lead the Republican Party into the 16th century. Akin apologized on Rachel Ray’s show and then they made veal mea culpa.” –David Letterman

So that’s an update from the shores of the People’s Republic. I’m not even going to bring up the lunacy of 66 American troops being killed in Afghanistan in August, the single deadliest month since the war began in 2001. The first 1,000 U.S casulties occured over a ten-year period. The next 1,000 happened in 27 months. These aren’t just numbers, they are brave Americans with families. How about a surge to bring them home?

We’ll catch you showing everyone, why at 21 years-of-age, you’re the best player in baseball this season. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mike Trout fans.

August 19, 2012

Thou Shalt Not July

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 4:20 pm

Good morning and greetings, NFL training camp fans. Well, the glow from a week in paradise is still with me, but the memories of the sweet papayas and warm trade winds are growing fainter by the day, much like the chances of Sarah Palin being invited to perform her stand-up routine at the GOP convention. I have slowly readjusted to mornings on the central coast, which I like to refer to as the “Seven Shades of Gray.”

This is not a complaint, just an observation of the everpresent marine layer that makes me feel like I’m stationed at Camp Pendleton. Or in the words of Ronald Reagan. “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they have made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.” Nor do the Kardashians.

I believe it was either David or Robert Frost who once said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the toll road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” I love cruising down this weekly cyber highway of adventure. I remember telling my babysitter back in my first year of colllege, “Never be afraid to do something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.”

So that’s the thought that I bring to this posting every week. I’m hoping in some small way that my photos and thoughts are making a difference in people’s cyber existence. In the words of Tom Brokaw, “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” And I believe it was either Joyce or Val Kilmer who once told me, “Poems are made by fools like me, but at crunch time, only God can make a three.” Okay, so I’m NBA paraphrasing.

So let’s get down to business. July 2012 will be remembered for its brutal, scorching, unrelenting heat. Highways were buckling, planes were trapped on runways in melted asphalt while the earth cracked all over the midwest. July was hotter than the U.S. Women’s gymnastic team’s Q Rating, which right now is higher than a Michael Phelp’s Louis Vuitton ad.

In a story written by Seth Borenstein for the Associated Press, it has been officially confirmed by federal scientists and the cast of “Baywatch” that this past July was the hottest month ever recorded in the lower 48 states. Climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center was standing up straight when he said, “It’s a pretty significant increase over the last record.” In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl and the New York Giants victory in the Super Bowl to argue that the recent heat isn’t unprecedented.

But Crouch says the current year “is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years.” The average temperature in July was 77.6 degrees. That breaks the old record from July 1936 by 0.2 degree. Records go back to 1895, CDs to 1979 and 8-Track tapes to 1964, when the Beatles and Rolling Stones first sailed to America and landed on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation. And August 2011 through July this year was the warmest 12-month period on record. According to Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the record in July isn’t such a big deal. “But the fact that the first seven months of the year are the hottest on record is much more impressive from a climate standpoint, and highlights the fact that there is more than just natural variability playing a role: Global warming from human activities has reared its head in a way that can only be a major warning for the future.” In the words of Al Gore and Foreigner, “Urgent, urgent, emergency.”

As of this writing, 63 percent of the nation is experiencing drought conditions. 70 wildfires are burning in 13 states west of the Mississippi. Two million acres were scorched in July. Throughout the midwest, the massive heat has warmed lakes up to 80 degrees plus, causing massive fish n’ chips kills. If this is the new normal, then we’re all in trouble. Or as Whoopie Goldberg once told Billy Crystal, “Normal is nothing more than a cycle on the washing machine.”

We’ll end this subject with a thought from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who took a moment to blast some colleagues and climate change contrarians.

“The seriousness of this problem is not lost on your average American. A large majority of people finally believe climate change is real, and that it is the cause of extreme weather. Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.

“These people aren’t just on the other side of this debate. They’re on the other side of reality. And don’t get me started on Mitt Romney and his tax returns.”

For today’s photo fondue, we are returning to the skies of the Garden Isle. Because of the Patriot Act, I decided to photograph each morning’s sunrise on Anahola Bay. What we are looking at are the peak moments from Tuesday through Monday, with Thursday taking the day off. Things really got interesting on Friday (photo #3), when the clouds turned vivid orange and red in a display of the color that I had never seen in the islands, either at sunrise or dusk. It was world-class, all the way. Or as one local told me, “I’ve never seen a sunrise this vibrant. And you have such soft hands.”

On the to the late night. “Mitt Romney kept his selection of Ryan as his VP nominee secret for more than a week. You know how he was able to keep it secret? He had it hidden next to his tax returns. Ever since it was announced Sarah Palin will not be speaking at the Republican Convention, the Romney campaign has been flooded with thousands of texts and emails demanding that she be allowed to speak… all from President Obama.” –Jay Leno

“During the announcement, Mitt Romney said that he and Paul Ryan are ‘America’s Comeback Team.’ You know, as in ‘come back in four years and try again.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Romney and Ryan kind of look like a father and son in an ad for Super Cuts.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Paul Ryan’s plan is to cut government spending with his razor-sharp widow’s peak…You could open a can of beans with that.” –Jimmy Kimmel “It was a great Olympics – Team USA finished the games with 17 more medals than China. China said it was tough to swallow – especially when they had to make all of our “We’re #1” T-shirts.” –Jimmy Fallon

Let’s end on a political note. According to NBC News, as of last Thursday, the spending on the 2012 presidential radio and TV ads has now surpassed the half billion mark. With $37 million spent just last week, the total is now $512 million. That’s about as much as was spent on the 2008 campaign, and it’s not even Labor Day.

The money goes to TV stations and the networks. Just in case you were wondering what other ways you could spend $500 million, you could feed 9.2 million malnourished children for 50 days, immunize 29 million children for life or provide clean water for 500 million children for 40 days. Instead, it’s just buying attack ads on TV stations. That’s obscene. Think anyone in America is hungry? Homeless? It’s disgraceful.

So on that happy thought, enjoy the warm days of August and remember this site is all about beauty and laughter. We’ll catch you showing everyone why you’re the only player in baseball, along with “Say Hey” Willie Mays, to have 3,000 hits, 1,200 RBI’s, 300 steals and 250 homers,. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

August 12, 2012

I Want To Anahola Your Hand

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 3:34 pm

Good morning and greetings, Olympic beach volleyball fans. Well, I have returned relaxed, rejuvenated and emotionally resuscitated from one of the most delightful vacations in my first lifetime. Nothing like seven days of tropical bliss on the Garden Isle of Kauai to get my engines reloaded for another 51 weeks of dishing out the free flowing stream of unconciousness that swirls around my mind like the veins of chocolate running thru Breyer’s Vanilla Fudge Twirl frozen dairy dessert.

This year’s destination was the northeast part of the island, a lovely little spot called Anahola, which translated from Hawaiian means, “no damn tourists.” The place was pure Hawaiian, and Anahola Bay (photo #1 ) packed quite a punch. We stayed in a lovely beach cottage across the street from the ocean, and at night all we could hear was the pounding of the waves and the opening of the boxes of Mauna Loa macadamia nuts covered in milk chocolate.

Anahola Bay was an incredibly beautiful beach (photo #3), and as a surprise bonus, a river (photo #2) flowed into the crystal blue persuasion-colored ocean, which gaves us two bodies of water for the price of one. So when you got tired of the never-ending waves, you could parlay the experience into the river and just float with the current. I have to admit, floating on my back, with my eyes and thighs closed was an incredible feeling. I hadn’t been that relaxed since I audited a vibrational meditation class back in the 60′s. I’m all about the body-mind connection to get a passing grade in the spiritual world. Hare krishna, krishna krishna, haagen-dazsey.

When you wake up in the South Pacific, and I usually like to sleep in till at least 4:30 or 5 am, you are greeted by an air temperature of 72 degrees. During the day, the thermometer will hit a high of around 84 degrees, which makes wearing a shirt as unnecessary as paying attention to anything that comes out the mouth of a Tea Party member. And as luscious and soothing as the air temperature is, the ocean temp of 76 degrees launches me into another mind-blowing state of liquid relaxtion. One of my few goals in life is to bask in the warm ocean water everyday, and as of this writing, I am 1/52nd of the way to putting the finishing touches on this watery dream.

The beach cottage we stayed in was old Hawaiian, which was even more nicely decorated than my black-lighted dorm room back at Syracuse. The view from the kitchen (photo #4 ) looked over the mountain range where they filmed “King Kong” and the opening scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It was truly outstanding, and along with the antique furniture, wall hangings and King Kamehameha dish towels, gave one a real feeling of yesteryear. The only thing that was new Hawaiian was the flat screened TV, which allowed as to watch enough Olympic coverage till our corneas started to bleed.

The culinary calendar was magnificent, as I started and ended each day with a fresh papaya, which is not only a delicious tropical treat, but a rich source of nutrients that promotes healthy living. At least that’s what the agent who strip-searched me at the agricultural inspection station told me. Throw in some fresh mangos, teriyakl chicken and beef, chicken katsu and enough rice for a year of weddings and we were living aloha style on the dining front.

Since we were on the northeast side of island, I started off every morning by shooting the sunrise, which I’m sure comes as a shock to many of you. There were five good ones and one spectacular showing that blew the lens off my camera. This trip photographically will cover at least a month’s worth of blogs, as we’re talking beaches, waterfalls, baby geckos, sunrises, rainbows, octopus, waterfalls, flowers and Kona Coffee glazed macadamia nuts.

And for those inquiring minds, the first macadamia nut tree was planted on the island of Hawaii in 1881, by a certain Johnny Macadamianutseed. Unlike my parents were with me, you have to be patient with these trees, as it takes seven years to produce a commercial crop and 15 years to really pick up steam. And lo and behold, back in 2004, the Hershey company acquired the Mauna Loa brand, making them the kings of the world’s hardest nut to crack, which is something that my rabbi once remarked about me.

Overall, it was a wonderful tropical experience, as I haven’t been in warm water like that since my backstroking in the amniotic fluid. I will leave you with the paraphrased words of travel writer Paul Theroux, who once said outside an ABC store, “Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of Will and Grace.”

And finally, there’s the old Hawaiian proverb, “O Hawaii no ka ain makai O,” meaning, “After all, Hawaii is the best land,” especially with the Alaska Airlines escape to paradise airfares of $169 each way. I drank enough passion orange guava juice on those flights that I could have floated home.

On to the late night. “The Romneys have a horse competing in the Olympics. Ann Romney’s horse failed to win a medal in the dressage event today, which is a shame because if there’s one thing that family needs, it’s more gold. Romney’s Olympic horse is named Rafalco. She said I needed a silly name that no one’s ever heard of before and Mitt was taken.” –Conan O’Brien

“A former U.S. Olympic swimmer in an interview said that nearly all elite competitive swimmers pee in the pool regularly. So apparently I am an elite competitive swimmer. Saudi Arabia’s first female athlete will be allowed to compete while wearing a head scarf. The Saudi woman said she was thrilled about the ruling all she needs now is a man to drive her to the Olympics.” –Conan O’Brien

“Did you hear this big scandal? Eight female badminton players were expelled from the Olympics for trying to lose on purpose. So tragically, they’ll never have another chance to play badminton unless they get invited to a picnic. Seriously, the Olympic badminton players were apparently trying to lose on purpose, a big story. But really, think about it, if you train day and night for four years to be in the Olympics for badminton, in a way, haven’t you already lost?” –Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney is getting a lot of attention for a series of gaffes he’s made while he’s in London. And in response, Romney said that he has nothing but respect for the people of England, especially their monarch, Queen Latifah. The favorite to win the Olympic gold medal in archery is a legally blind athlete from South Korea, mainly because everyone else is too scared to compete next to him.” –Jimmy Fallon

“So far China has won the most gold medals, ladies and gentlemen. The Chinese athletes can’t wait to get home and show the medals off to the kids who made them.” –Conan O’Brien “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he will think about running for president in 2016 if Obama wins in November. But until then he said he’ll just think about pancakes.” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my first blast since returning to the mainland. Enjoy these August days and pinch yourselves if you’re a Laker fan. So revel in being the best team in the history of beach volleyball. Aloha, mahalo and later, Misty May Treanor and Kerry Walsh Jennings.

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