Good morning and greetings, presidential inauguration fans. Well, it finally warmed up, after a stretch of frigid weather last week that had me wondering if I was living on the central coast of California or in northern Siberia. I don’t want to say it was cold, but at one point I actually considered listening to Rush Limbaugh. That’s how desperate I was for some hot air.
So we all know that 2012 was a wacky year on the weather front in the U.S., with the severe drought in the midwest and Hurricane Sandy ranking one-two on the hit list. The weather so far in 2013 has been pretty unusual, with record highs and lows in all the wrong places. We’ve had blizzards, tornadoes, flooding and Peyton Manning once again coming up short in the postseason. Or as the Cowardly Lion said to Dorothy and the Scarecrow when they woke up and saw it was snowing in the field of poppies,”Unusual weather we’re having, ain’t it?”
Well, this strange magic is not confined to just our section of the globe. In a story by Peter Miller for National Geographic News, he reports that the weather in 2013 is going to extremes worldwide, with a snowstorm in Jerusalem, wildfires in Australia, a cold snap in China, and heat wave in Brazil. Based on my science background, ouija board and my personal psychic’s annual newsletter, it looks like 2013 is going to be as wild meteorologically as 2012.
Those worldwide weather events reminded me of the theme song from the 1961 sitcom, “Car 54, Where Are You?”, starring Fred Gwynne and Joe E. Ross.
“There’s a hold up in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights. There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights. There’s a scout troop short a child, Kruschev’s due at Idlewild Car 54, Where Are You?”
That song was written by Nat Hiken, the comic genuis who also created the the “Phil Silvers Show,” starring one of my childhood heroes, Master Sergeant Earnest Bilko. Larry David, the guy who wrote the classic Emmy award winning Seinfeld script, “The Contest,” says that his all-time favorite show is “Sgt. Bilko.” I’m right there with him, along with many “Honeymooners” fans. And yes, I’m still a master of my domain.
Anyway, pardon my digression, as sometimes my mind moves quicker than members of Michael Jackson’s family did after his death, in getting to his home in search of cash. I’m soothed by the words of American literary academic Mason Cooley, who said “The more learned a writer, the more digression beckons him.” And as either Ralph Kramden or writer Ralph Caplan once said, “Nothing is more to the point than good digression.”
Now back to the nutty weather. Eight inches of snow fell in Jerusalem last week, closing roads and Chinese restaurants all across the city. It was the biggest winter storm there in 20 years and caused more havoc than when Mel Gibson tried davening at the Wailing Wall. But the storm brought fun and joy, as children celebrated the occasion by making snowballs the shape of matzo balls and potato knishes.
In Australia, a heat wave smashed records across the country, as the national weather agency added two new colors to its weather maps to handle the possibility of unprecedented temperatures: deep purple for for above 122°F and hot pink for above 125.5°F . The first eight days of the year were among the warmest on record or CD, with January 7 ranking as Australia’s hottest day ever. How hot was it? Aborigines were seen buying air conditioners while at the beach, swimmers couldn’t walk to the water without burning their feet on the sand. But don’t sweat it, because in the words of cartoonist Charles Schultz, ” Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”
Elsewhere around the global wide world of sports, the weather has been equally extreme. Residents in the eastern U.S. and northern Europe were shocked with springlike weather conditions and the early season play of the New York Knicks. Tokoyo saw three inches of snow fall last weekend, which according to the sushi chefs at Benihaba, is nearly half of its typical total for a full year.
In China, the average temperature fell to 25°F in early January, the lowest in nearly three decades. More than a thousand ships in China’s Laizhou Bay loaded with spring rolls, barbecued spare ribs and shrimp wonton soup destined for the free world have been frozen into the ice. There’s an old Cantonese saying “Anything that walks, swims, crawls or flies with its back to heaven is edible”. However, if it once barked, purred, buzzed, snarled, growled or whistled, that’s where I draw my sweet and sour line, if you catch my drift.
Finally, in northeast Brazil, a drought and heat wave prompted officials to consider rationing electricity for the first time in a decade, as the temperatures in Rio de Janeiro reached a record 109.8°F. I guess this would be a good time to mention my favorite Michael Caine movie is the romantic comedy “Blame it on Rio,” co-starring Joseph Bologna, a very young Demi Moore and the lovely Michelle Johnson. “Last night didn’t happen. I know. I was there when it didn’t happen.”
These extreme conditions are becoming the norm. In a report released last Friday, a team of U.S. scientists reported that the frequency and duration of extreme conditions are clear signs of a changing climate. 2012 ranked as the warmest year on record for the lower 48 states, as the average temperature was more than three degrees higher than the average for the 20th century. At the same time, the amount of ice covering the Arctic Ocean shrank to its lowest level ever in late 2012. The great drought of 2012 could turn into a two-year drought, costing the nation tens of billions of dollars in crop loss again. But the good news is that “American Idol” is back with its dueling divas, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. Others dream, Idol delivers.
The skies, for the most part last week, were clearer than my judgement, so for today’s photo arcade we are going back the final night of 2012. That would be New Year’s Eve, December 31, the final sunset of the year. I located myself at Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and it was the culmination that brought closure to another fabulous year of sunrises, sunsets and sunrises. When I channeled my old pal Jim Morrison about the occasion, he said, “This is the end, my only friend, the end.”
On to some late night humor. “President Obama’s inaugural parade will feature eight floats, including a Hawaii float to honor his birthplace, an Illinois float to honor the first lady’s home state, and a Kenyan float just to mess with Republicans. On Sunday the White House will hold a private swearing-in ceremony for President Obama. Not to be outdone, on Sunday Republicans will hold a private swearing-at ceremony for President Obama. Republicans and Democrats are working on a new bill to streamline the healthcare system. It will reduce the cost of mammograms and prostate exams. But don’t worry. They’ll still be free at the airport.” –Jimmy Fallon
“President Obama told Congress it must raise our debt limit because the U.S. ‘is not a deadbeat nation.” Then the president added, ‘By the way, if China calls, I’m not here.’ Yesterday Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke during a court session for the first time in seven years. He never speaks and he finally spoke. It’s already being called the best ‘that’s what she said’ joke ever. Wal-Mart made plans to hire 100,000 U.S. Veterans. Which can only mean one thing: Wal-Mart is going to invade Costco.” –Conan O’Brien
“President Obama’s half-brother is running for political office in Kenya. Donald Trump has already accused him of being born in the United States. President Obama is coming under criticism that his new administration has less diversity than his first one. Which is why this morning Obama said, ‘All right, fine, I am a Muslim.” –Conan O’Brien “President Obama recently came under fire over the lack of diversity in his cabinet. Then Obama said, ‘You guys know I’ll be there, too, right?’” –Jimmy Fallon
“The Golden Globes last night had a lot of great moments. During Jodie Foster’s emotional speech she said she was gay, 50, and friends with Mel Gibson. Afterwards, her publicist told Jodie, ‘I’m going to need a raise.’” –Conan O’Brien “Prostitutes in Brazil have started learning English so they can communicate with out-of-town clients during the World Cup. They are learning key phrases like, ‘You are very handsome’ and ‘Nice to meet you, Mr. Sheen.’” –Jimmy Fallon
“Thousands of dead fish have now washed up on shore along the coast of South Carolina. Today the NRA said that this wouldn’t have happened if those fish had guns.” –Jay Leno
So that’s news and weather. We’ll catch you showing everyone on a nightly basis why you’re the best player on the planet. Aloha, mahalo and later, LeBron James fans.