December 29, 2013

The Wolf Of West Cliff

Good morning and greetings, 2013 fans. Well, we’ve come to the end of the year, and what a year it’s been. We survived the idiocy of the debt crisis, hopped on the love train called Obamacare, and saw Kim Kardashian have a baby with Jerry West. And God willing, by the end of 2014 or the time my children are grandparents, we won’t have any more troops dying in Afghanistan.

Of course, I could drone on about other major news stories, like the Jonas Brothers’ feud, Justin Beiber’s monkey retiring or Miley Cyrus getting more ink than Michelle Obama, but that’s just the way of the world these days. It seems the more skin you show, the more the media pays attention. I can relate. I’m naked under my clothes every day.

So the Christmas holiday has come and gone, and this year my family celebrated it in the traditional way. Being Jewish, we don’t have a Christmas tree, but to get into the holiday spirit I always hang a sprig of mistletoe from my rear view mirror.

So on Christmas Eve, with my in-laws in town, we followed in the foot steps of our ancestors and went out to dine on some Chinese cuisine. We cruised over to Golden City, where we enjoyed some beef chow fun, chicken and eggplant in garlic sauce, and Mao’s personal favorite, sweet and sour chicken. The place was packed, and rest assured we had more than enough for a minyan.

The food was delicious, made even better as we played Pat Sajack by spinning the Lazy Susan that rotated the garlic chicken chow mein and the chicken fried rice. When the check was brought out, it was accompanied by fortune cookies and fried sesame balls. I quietly remarked to my daughter, “I wish we had some almond cookies,” as I’m trying to lower my cholesterol.

Well, before I could say, “Are there any more egg rolls?,” the restaurant’s owner walked over and handed me a container of Bakery Street Gourmet Almond Cookies wrapped in a red bow. I was momentarily taken back and canceled the order of pot stickers to go. I knew at that moment that it was going to be a White Christmas, as it was going to take lots of milk to down these little cakes of almond joy.

I bowed and thanked her, as we were amazed by the synchronicity of the moment. We paid the bill and left with 49 take out boxes of food. The only down moment came when I opened my fortune cookie and it read, “The fortune you seek is in another cookie.” Slightly dismayed, I cracked open another cookie that read, “That wasn’t chicken.” Still wanting to leave on a positive note, I went for a third try. “Confuscious say, if you think we’re going to sum up your whole life on this little piece of paper, you’re crazy.” I almost spit up the crab rangoon.

Then it was on to Christmas Day, or should I say NBA Wednesday. The league had scheduled five highly anticipated matchups, but due to player injuries and the Dow Jones hitting a new high, I was not prepared to sit inside on a gorgeous winter day and watch 13 straight hours of basketball. So instead, I taped the first two games and decided to go to the movies. I had no idea what an emotional commitment I was in for.

My son wanted to see “The Wolf of Wall Street,” so with my father-in-law in tow we headed downtown. Now, I hadn’t heard much about the movie, but it came highly recommended, a “must see” by Grantland’s Bill Simmons. Well, let me say this. This three hour spectacle of the rise and fall of Leonardo DiCaprio is still seared in my mind like a filet of ahi tuna
I hadn’t seen that many naked women since I accidentally wandered into a Rainbow Family’s tea party at Woodstock. There were more hookers than you’d find in the lobby at happy hour at the Hotel Del Ray in San Jose, Costa Rica. The movie made Sharon Stone and “Basic Instinct” seem like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

And I don’t want to say that the drug use by Leonardo and this buddies was over the top, but there hadn’t been that much snow blown since the blizzard of Buffalo back in 1977. They also took quaalude use to a new high or new low. And let’s just say we saw a lot more of Australian actress Margot Robbie then we had ever bargained for. I think we saw the first and second Noel, if you catch my drift.

We then returned home and finished up the day with three good NBA games, with the Warrior win in the finale being the best of all. Now that’s what I call a merry Christmas. God bless the Father, the Son and the Holy DVR.

Moving along, last week I posted a beautiful, smoke enhanced sunset from back on December 16. For today’s photo follies we’re are going back to the early morning hours of this same day, when the waves were munching and crunching the shore along West Cliff Drive.

The sky lit up early and red was the color. The volume of the morning was turned up high as the wave action at Lighthouse Point and Steamer Lane was going at full tilt. Surfers were rushing like lemmings to the sea. It was a fabulous morning. I say that any time I can capture a gorgeous sunrise and a spectacular sunset on same day, my work is done.

A guy tells his psychiatrist: ‘It was terrible. I was away on business, and I emailed my wife that I’d be back a day early. I rushed home from the airport and found her in bed with my best friend. I don’t get it. How could she do this to me?” “Well,” says the psychiatrist. “Maybe she didn’t see the email.”

So that’s our last post for 2013. We’ll catch you in the new year showing NBA fans that you’re more than a prime time dunker. Aloha, mahalo and later, Blake Griffin fans.

December 22, 2013

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Sunsets On Fire

Good morning and greetings, winter solstice fans. On Saturday, in the spirit of French painter Toulouse-Lautrec, we enjoyed the shortest day of the year, as fall turned into winter. December had already provided us with some wacky moments in the weather department, as we experienced both extreme high and low temperatures within a one week period. At one point I was wearing my bathing suit under my snow pants.

Back on December 10th, the air was a tad chilly. Okay, it was fall frigid. How cold was it? I didn’t make my bed that day, I just defrosted it. It seemed that a pre Christmas mass of cold air from the Arctic sent temperatures plunging, as we tied an all-time record low for the day at 27 degrees. How cold was it? I actually considered listening to Rush Limbaugh. That’s how desperate I was for some hot air.

But then last Monday, the thermometer hit 74 degrees, which matched the record high for the day. How hot was it? Hillary Clinton was spotted downtown wearing a pants suit without the pants. I had take off my shorts off with a spatula.

Yes, the weather has been wild and crazy, in a very meteor illogical way. And then last Sunday brought smoke from a fire in Big Sur, which put a whole new face on the skies above us.

Now we’re not supposed to be in wildfire season, which nature usually reserves for July or August. Be that as it may or June, last week’s fire burned in the dense forest and steep terrain of Big Sur. The blaze had some help from some offshore winds, which was burning the dry brush in the Los Padres National Forest, which lies 30 miles south of Monterey by the way Sheryl Crow flies.

This rare December fire, in one of the world’s loveliest places, came at a time when the earth was at its thirstiest, as this is the driest calendar year on record around these parts. During non-drought years, Big Sur averages 45 inches of rain, but has gotten only 7 inches so far this year, and just a half inch since July. Throw in some dry vegetation, warm winds and temperatures and boom, you’ve got yourself a burn baby burn, disco inferno.

So with this as the backdrop, I awoke to a dry mouth and a beautiful sunrise last Monday morning. The horizon was sailor red, with swirling clouds exotically placed in an colorful backdrop. But the highlight of the morning session were the huge waves blasting the coast. Seems a west by northwest swell dropped in on the bay, bringing the surf community out in full force. Or as my rabbi likes to say, “Live slow, surf fast.”

But the best was yet to come, as big waves continued to pound the cliffs throughout the day. As the sun started to dip in the sky, West Cliff Drive was filled with an early arriving crowd, as there was going to be a party at dusk and all were invited.

The smoke added an ominous presence, as there was an unusual ribbon of clouds reaching across the sky. This provided a nice cover for the sun as it made its descent to the horizon. Throw in the usual haze, humidity and pounding surf and this was the kind of show that brings the fans out of their seats. The sky was going through different phases of color. My personal favorite was the final act, which I can only describe as fifty shades of orange.

In the end, I was left with the memory and images of a classic late fall sunset. But here’s the best part. The following night the sky put on an even better performance that left this longtime observer filled with digital glee. Stay tuned.

On to a little late night humor. “Fox News host Megyn Kelly now says she was just kidding when she said Santa Claus is white. However, she’s standing by her statement that the Grinch who stole Christmas, definitely Jewish. Yesterday Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly told viewers that Santa Claus is white. Then she said Santa’s elves are Mexican and they are stealing jobs from American elves.” –Conan O’Brien

“In an interview Oprah Winfrey said she has no regrets about not having children. Oprah said, “I feel bad enough about bringing Dr. Phil into the world.” – Conan O’Brien “Here’s what I know about the moon. It’s pale and white and on some nights I stare at it for hours and hours at a time. Oh, no, wait, I’m thinking of Anderson Cooper.” – Craig Ferguson

“In a speech, Russian president Vladimir Putin slammed the U.S. for being ‘genderless and infertile.’ My question is: How did Vladimir Putin get his hands on my profile?” .” –Conan O’Brien “Somebody actually did a study that found that because of his hard-drinking lifestyle, the character James Bond would live to be only 56 years old. When men heard that they were like, “Yeah, I’d take that deal.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our first winter report. We’ll catch you showing NBA fans why you’re the top scorer in the last five minutes of tightly contested games this year. Aloha, mahalo and later, Damian Lillard fans.

December 15, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 11:10 am

Good morning and greetings, celebration fans. Well, it’s December and according to my Kim Kardashian desktop calendar, another birthday has come and gone. Scientific studies have proven that people who have more birthdays tend to live longer. To quote actor Bill Murray, ” So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.”

I believe it was either Alex Trabek or Abraham Lincoln who said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” After another year of blowing out candles, I am well aware that as senior citizen, I am not getting younger. The painter Pablo Picasso once remarked ” It takes a long time to grow young.” The way I see it, I’m not quite over the hill but I’ve got a great view.

I know the number 61 one is just a number, but I prefer to associate it with Roger Maris’ home run record, not the age on my driver’s license. Lucille Ball had the right idea when she said “The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.” I don’t want to say I’m getting old but the other day I went to an antique auction and three people bid on me.

So on 12/12/12 of last year, I celebrated my 60th birthday. There was a lot of pressure on me to do it up right, so I rounded up the old gang and we watched the Golden State Warriors defeat the Miami Heat on a last second shot by Draymond Green. It was very similar to my bar mitzvah party, as there were no girls, plenty of appetizers and a 10 pm curfew.

So this year the pressure was off, as I could just sit back and enjoy hearing from old friends and cell mates. I savored the day for what is was, or as George Harrison once tweeted, “All the world is a birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.” And have all the ice cream you want. Socialite Paris Hilton once remarked, “The way I see it, you should live everyday like it’s your birthday.” And as the internet has revealed, she looks very good in her birthday suit.

They say that age is just a number. Baseball star Satchel Page once asked “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Well, I wouldn’t be thinking 61. I wouldn’t mind switching those numbers around to the sweet 16. I believe it was Chinese scholar Yung No More who said age doesn’t matter, unless you’re a piece of muenster cheese. Although it seems the older I get, the fewer things seem waiting in line for.

Still, it’s a vicious cycle, or as astronaut John Glenn observed, “There is no cure for the common birthday.” Some feel that celebrating your birthday is like being happy that you are closer to your grave. Or as comedian Jerry Seinfeld once commented, “Birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we’ve grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it’s not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably, happy birthday? No such thing.”

But let’s end this subject on a happier note. Here are three jokes for your amusement.

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist.

Just to see what would happen, on the twins’ birthday their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure. That night the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly. ‘Why are you crying?’ the father asked. ‘Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken.’ Passing the optimist twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. ‘What are you so happy about?’ he asked. To which his optimist twin replied, ‘There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!’

A traveling salesman was passing through a small town in Texas when he sees a little old man sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of a house. So he stops and says to him, “You look as if you don’t have a care in the world! What’s your formula for a long and happy life?”

And the little old man says, “Well, I smoke six packs of cigarettes a day, I drink a quart of bourbon every four hours and six cases of beer a week. I never wash and I go out every night; I don’t get to bed until four in the morning.” And the guy says, “Wow, that’s just great. How old are you?”
And the little man says, “Twenty-two.”

And here’s the third. You may have heard this before but it always brings a smile to my face.

Every morning a man passes a house in his street and every morning he sees a woman in her front garden beating her husband over the head with a French loaf. This goes on for months until one morning he passes the house and sees the woman is beating her husband with a chocolate éclair. Later that day he meets the woman in the street. ‘Aren’t you the woman who beats her husband with a French loaf?’ asks the man. ‘Only, today, I could have sworn you were hitting him with a big cake.’ ‘Oh, I was,’ replies the woman. ‘Today is his birthday.’

Today’s photo journey takes us back to the very chilly morning of December 6. I was sitting in my car along West Cliff waiting for some color to emerge in the clouds, but nothing happened until just before the sun made an appearance on the horizon. The action was occurring in a small area of the sky so I took out my zoom lens and captured red ribbons of cloud color. When the sun made its full appearance the moment was glorious, despite the fact that I had no feeling in my fingers.

Some things in life are worth a little frostbite for. This was one of them.

That’s the post birthday report. We’ll catch you showing NBA fans why you’re the best power forward in the game so far this season. Aloha, mahalo and later, LaMarcus Aldridge fans.

December 8, 2013

Something Cold, Something New

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:13 am

Good morning and greetings, December fans. Well, there was a bit of a change in the weather last week, as the temperature dropped below freezing. How cold was it? I spent most of last week walking around with a toaster in my shorts.

Now I don’t want to say that it’s cold in my house, but I actually go outside to warm up. It’s an igloo with central heating. The furnace barely makes a dent in heating the frozen tundra which is our downstairs. It was so cold last week that I had to salt the hallway. I shouldn’t be able to hear my breath.

The fun continued. When I turned on the shower I got hail. My daughter’s new rabbit tried to hop in bed with me. I had to put on skates to go to the bathroom at night. I tried to take the garbage out but it didn’t want to go.

When I came downstairs Thursday morning, I looked at the thermometer and it read “ouch.” If that thermometer had been an inch longer I might have frozen to death. I turned on my computer to check the local temperature and it was 26 degrees. That’s a bit cool for a Mediterranean climate. I looked outside and saw Smoky the Bear grab a box of matches and run shivering into the woods. The mailman came by, I told him to watch out for polar bears.

I got in my car and started it by yelling “mush.” I would have been better off driving a zamboni. It was so cold I chipped my tooth on some soup. So I headed over to Starbucks where they wear serving coffee on a stick. The line was too long, so I drove over to Costco, where kids were fighting for turns on the rotisserie.

There was a politician standing out in front of the store who actually had his hand in his own pocket. The store was crowded and pickpockets were sticking their hands in stranger’s pockets just to keep warm. After I left the store I saw a hitchhiker holding a picture of his thumb and a sign that read, “Anywhere above 40 degrees.” Yes, the morning was a bit chilly.

So how cold was it last Wednesday? Well, icy air sweeping down from the arctic helped Oakland set a new record low of 33 degrees. San Jose and San Francisco tied their low record marks for the day at 29 and 40 degrees. It was 16 degrees in Morgan Hill and inside our home high school basketball star Morgan Green was writing in a flannel notebook. The National Weather Service said there was a chance of snow flurries in my kitchen.

On the national weather front, it was 15 degrees below zero at the Denver Airport on Thursday morning. The jet stream was pulling air into Colorado from Siberia, making it nice and toasty for Denver Bronco fans. Maybe they should weatherstrip the Canadian border. And if you’re keeping a weather map at home, the record low temperature for the Rocky Mountain state is −61 °F, set back in 1985 in northwestern Colorado. I believe Snapple and Peyton Manning freezes at that temperature.

My morning walks along West Cliff were exhilarating, as the skies were clear, the air cold and crisp and my epidermis frozen. With the skies being absent of clouds and drones, I spent time analyzing the early season play of the Warriors’ Steph Curry and his backcourt mate, Klay Thompson, not be to confused with Nucky Thompson, who seemed at odds with himself in the excellent season four finale of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

So for today’s photo ensemble, we are heading back to warmer times and November 26. This day started out in spectacular fashion, with a world class sunrise that I featured in last week’s post. As the day moved along glorious clouds remained in the sky, so it appeared there would be some commotion down along the ocean.

The sky turned beautiful colors at sunset, but the most amazing part was the pelican action. As I stood on the cliffs along West Cliff Drive at Stockton Avenue, thousands and thousands of pelicans were in transit heading north. As I turned and looked south, I could see them coming in endless waves against the gray sky. Glory, glory, hallelujah.

But as they passed and I looked north, their formations blended into the multi-colored sky, which was turning various shades of exotica. This was a magical time, as the pelican migration was in full force while the sky was blowing up. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday evening.

On to some late night humor. “The president said despite the initial problems, it’s working better now and going to continue to improve. A million people visited on Monday, mostly to see if they were covered from injuries suffered at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Amazon announced plans for an amazing service called Amazon Prime Air. When you order something from Amazon that weighs five pounds or less, a robot will drop your package on your doorstep. It’s all part of Amazon’s pledge to drive your dog insane.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“You know in some countries seeing an unmanned drone means your village is about to be destroyed. In America it means you ordered Mad Men on Blu-ray.” –Jimmy Kimmel “A new miniseries premiered tonight called “Mob City.” It’s about the 1940s when gangsters came from the east to L.A. In those days L.A. was overrun by gangsters — swarthy animals who stopped at nothing to shake people down for a few bucks. Today that role is filled by Kardashians.” – Craig Ferguson

According to a new report, America’s teenagers are 30th in the world in math. Luckily, America’s teenagers will never understand the report because they’re 85th in reading.” –Conan O’Brien “A new study found that the state where people cursed the most, where they used the most profanity, is Ohio. Most of those curse words are directly followed by the word “LeBron.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So it’s my birthday on Thursday and I plan on celebrating it the usual way, with a 24 hour fast, silent meditation and some Chinese take out. We’ll catch you showing NBA fans in the early season why you might be the next up and coming superstar. Aloha, mahalo and later, Paul George fans.

December 1, 2013

All The Right Stuffing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 10:14 am

Good morning and greetings, Hanukkah fans. Last Wednesday night was the start of the celebration of the festival of lights, and I’m not referring to cruising down Sepulveda Blvd at rush hour. But at the same time, it was Thanksgiving Eve, as the NFL nation got ready to set caloric intake records on Thursday.

Now why was this happening? I always feel there should be separation between church and real estate, as two big time holidays converging at the same time should be avoided at all costs, especially if there are potato latkes at stake. I should mention that Hanukkah runs for eight nights, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the holiday, but there was just something that didn’t feel right about the situation. It’s like ordering spare ribs or putting shrimp salad on a piece of challah. It’s just not kosher.

After all, before we start feasting on Thanksgiving dinner, some of us are already anticipating the second night activities, when the Pilgrims dined on leftovers. I believe it might have been John McCain’s great, great grandfather who first coined the phrase ‘Round Two.’ Who says you can’t reheat again?

Now the key to the second night is always having enough gravy, because dry white meat has been the ruin of many on the back end of the double dip. Of course, you’ve got to hope there’s still a good amount of stuffing left over from the first night. If these two key components are in place, then it should be smooth sailing ahead. Besides, by this time, I’m just thankful my shorts have an elastic waistband.

Getting back to Hanukkah, it’s a holiday that I always look forward to. It’s not so much the lights, the gift giving or the family camaraderie, but the applesauce and sour cream on top of a combination of shredded potatoes and grated onions that really puts me in the holiday spirit. Throw in a little flour, salt and eggs, fry them in oil that lasts for eight rounds of servings, and bingo, you’ve got yourself something that Martha Stewart would be proud of. A real holiday tradition, something that makes the world a warmer and happier place through carbohydrates.

So moving on to the photo department, here we were at the end of November and I had not yet shot a sunrise of note. Now others might say that every sunrise is spectacular, but what I’m looking for is something so colorful, so magnificent, so breathtaking that only Oprah could create it.

The sunrise drought ended last Tuesday morning, as I awoke and looked out the window and saw deep color in the early morning clouds. I immediately jumped out of bed, excited at the prospect at seeing some early morning magic in the sky. I rushed down to West Cliff and as you can see from the photos, was not disappointed at what then transpired over the Pacific, as the sunrise was just late November spectacular.

I realize that I am drawn to these moments, that perhaps I’ve found a calling. I’m not really sure how this all transpired, but at this point, with over six decades on the planet in the books, it’s a good place for me to be. It brought to mind the words of comedian Fred Allen, who once said, “California is a fine place to live, if you happen to be an orange.” Thank you and drive home safely.

On to some late night humor. “I remember one year Mom was fixing Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey is in the oven, and she’s tearing the house apart looking for her cellphone. Later, we’re all sitting down to eat and the turkey starts to ring. This year Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah are on the same day. I’m no theologian, but I think what that means is eight days of leftovers.” – David Letterman

“It’s that’s special time of year when your whole family gathers together in one place to look at their cellphones. And I’m going to start dinner by telling my parents I’m gay. It never gets old!” – Jimmy Kimmel “A new study found that parents who only have daughters are more likely to be Republican, which I guess explains why my Dad registered as Republican when he saw me throw a football.” – Jimmy Fallon

“The big news this week is that the U.S. finally got Iran to agree to stop making nuclear weapons. In exchange, the U.S. has freed up $8 billion of Iran’s assets. When asked how it plans to spend the money, Iran said, “We’re going to buy nuclear weapons.” The Patriots overcame six fumbles and a score of 24-0 to beat the Broncos in overtime. It was amazing. They came back from dropping the ball and being down 24 points. Or, as Obama put it, “What’s your secret?” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our post holiday report. We’ll catch you showing basketball fans why you’re the most explosive guard in today’s NBA. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

Follow Sunrise Santa Cruz on Twitter
Sunrise Santa Cruz in the news!