September 28, 2014

Don’t Use That Atonement With Me

Good morning and greetings, Indian summer fans. On September 22, which according to my Kim Kardashian desktop calendar was last Monday, we experienced the fall equinox, as the sun’s rays shone directly over the Earth’s midsection, or around the area of what this social media personality is famous for. Or as Kim says, “People don’t understand the pressure on me to look perfect.”

Now during this time, everything is even Steven, as there is equal daylight and darkness hours throughout the world. What this means is that a change of season has occurred, as summer has turned to fall and the baseball playoffs are not far off. Which brings to mind this quote from actress Natalie Wood, “The only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he is a baby.”

Now not all folks in the northern hemisphere are excited about this change of seasons, as in some parts of this country, the weather is basically June and winter. But here in Santa Cruz, Indian summer has arrived, as we have warm weather with daily highs in the mid-seventies, when classic rock ruled.

Not taking into account our medical marijuana outlets, our average high for September is 76 degrees, give a toke or two. This leads to long sunny days and pleasant nights, when we can leave the windows open and experience the sounds of nature, like the raccoons tag team wrestling in my backyard.

These mask wearing bandits are known for their intelligence, because every time I forget to put up the gate on my doggy door, they take it as an invitation to come inside and sample the cuisine.

There’s nothing like coming downstairs in the middle of the night and finding a raccoon sitting in my chair eating chips and pineapple salsa while watching the NFL network. The only thing worse was the time I found a bobcat in my pants, but that’s another story for another time.

As I mentioned last week, we celebrated the Jewish New Year on Thursday, when we dipped apples in honey, and hoped for a sweet year ahead and a New York Giants win over the Washington Redskins that evening. Well, the Giants put 45 points on the board and Derek Jeter knocked in the winning run in classic fashion in his final at bat at Yankee Stadium, making this a New Year’s night to remember.

Now coming up on Friday night is Yom Kippur, which next to Christmas Day, when the NBA shows seven games nationally, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It’s the Day of Atonement, and it’s the one day of the year that the synagogues and temples are packed, as sort of a harmonic convergence of davening and guilt.

We are supposed to fast all day while we pray, to make amends with people we have sinned against over the past year. Fasting is a piece of cake for me, but praying is much more difficult, for my ADD mind is moving faster than the rabbi’s lips, and I read more fluently in Swahili than I do in Hebrew.

There are certain things we are forbidden to do on this holiday. We don’t eat, drink, be merry, bath, wash, luffah sponge, douse ourselves with perfumes, lotions or tanning butter, wear leather shoes, break dance and the toughest of all, engage in marital relations. And my wife is very serious about this, as she has a strict rule about me not dating during the high holy days.

We are also encouraged to wear white clothing, to symbolize one’s purity on this day and our love of tennis.

Now I don’t take this atoning all that seriously, as I know that God is my co-pilot and that he and the NSA have monitored me closely over the past year. But I know I’ll observe this holiday properly this year, as I’ll have made peace with God, my friends and I got $10 off my Direct TV bill this month.

My slate has been cleared with the people who are important to me. I’m not big on forgiveness. But I say, forgive, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because I deserve peace. Those are great words to follow. But rarely do I.

The great Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” So I’m a little weak. I can live with it.

But as a final thought, I’ll turn to the remark producer Paul Boese once said,”Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Interesting thought. Just like my prostate.

But remember, revenge is a dish best served Cold Nidre.

So for today’s photo lineup, I’m going to close out the month with a blast, I am featuring some classic shots from past Septembers. Lots of color, lots of fond memories from these magic moments in the sky along the coast.

On to some late night humor. “In an interview, Bill Clinton hinted that his daughter Chelsea’s baby is due in early October. Though it got weird when reporters asked if it’s a boy or a girl, and Hillary said, “I haven’t decided yet.” Bruce Springsteen is 65 years old today. Now when he’s dancing in the dark, it’s because of cataracts. It’s Sea Otter Awareness Week. It is taking the country by storm. Today Donald Trump put a sea otter on head. No one noticed.” – Craig Fergsuson

“Many of the leaders and assistants to the leaders from around the world were in attendance at the U.N. Climate Summit. They say this was arguably the most high-profile, significant meeting that will in no way change anything whatsoever.” – Jimmy Kimmel “According to a new report, Nigeria owes New York City over $500,000 in unpaid parking tickets for its foreign diplomats. Nigeria apologized and said they’ll pay the fines right away if they we send them our bank account number, our PIN, and our mother’s maiden name.” – Seth Meyers

“A man scaled the White House fence and ran across the lawn to the front door. Is it just me or is “The Amazing Race” running out of ideas? In another celebrity photo leak, nude photos of Kim Kardashian have been posted to the Internet. Kim said she’d be very embarrassed if only she knew how.” – Conan O’Brien

In an interview, Kim Cattrall said there could be another “Sex in the City” movie. An hour later, ISIS surrendered — there’s only so much they can take”. – Conan O’Brien “Tonight is Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium. He’s finally coming to the end of an amazing career that spanned over 20 actresses.” – Seth Meyers

So that’s it for September. We’ll catch you coming out of nowhere this season and catching three touchdown passes in the Giant’s win over the Redskins. Aloha, mahalo and later, Larry Donnell fans.

September 21, 2014

Slow Down, What’s The Rosh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 8:48 am

Good morning and greetings, High Holy Day fans. Coming up Wednesday night, people of my tribe will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It’s basically the same as Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, but with a slightly kosher twist.

Instead of a huge ball dropping in Times Square, we start the countdown in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. At the count of 10, a hand-made matzoh ball, about the size of a volleyball, gets passed around the table, and at 1, this tasty little dumpling made of butter, eggs, salt, pepper and some finely minced parsely plops down into the chicken soup and the celebration begins.

Of course, I’m just kidding. It’s more like the size of a tennis ball.

Rosh Hashanah is a day when we stay home from work, which isn’t a stretch for me. It’s an occasion when children of other religions wonder, “why can’t I be Jewish” and “what’s this bar mitzvah deal all about?” Hey, membership has its privileges.

And it is a time for introspection, to look within and without at the mistakes of the past year. I tend to gloss over this part rather quickly, as I tend not to want to dwell on the past, because I’m bound to make the the same mistakes in the future.

It is also a time to plan changes to be made in the new year, but I tend to file that under the “later” or “never” department. Snails are laughing at the speed I make changes.

Food is a big deal on this holiday, as we like to start off the new year with a good taste in our mouths and minds. So on the first night we dip apple slices (I prefer fuji or golden delicious) into honey to symbolize hopes for a sweet new year and for the Dow Jones to stay above 17,000.

Every Friday night, we have a Shabbat dinner with the family, which during the school year includes just my wife and myself, as our son is off at college and my daughter is off to the Hamptons on weekends. On this night we begin with the prayer over the Kedem Pure Grape Juice, my wine of choice.

We also eat a braided egg bread called a challah, which my wife used to make but we now purchase downtown at Noah’s, where their classic New York signature gourmet bagels are fresh-baked in-store every day.

The challah is usually shaped like a football, but on Rosh Hashanah they make them round with raisins, symbolizing the continuation of life and the celebration of the New York Giants picking up their first win of the season.

For me, it’s all about the meal. My wife is very much into the songs and prayers. I am too, in that I’m praying the service will end soon so we can move on to the culinary portion of the program.

So throw in some sweet brisket, honey cake and some freshly caught gefilte fish, and it’s a merry new year. All that’s left is the blowing of the chaufeur, er shorfar. We blow this ram’s horn on the holiday to call to mind the beginning of the new year, to remind people that the British are coming, to recall the inspiring words of the prophets and the hope that one day NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL will take domestic violence as seriously as his Super Bowl Sunday sponsors. Shofar it hasn’t been so good.

Now not only is Rosh Hashanah the start of the high holy days, but it also kicks off the new fall TV season. But I’m still reeling after seeing the opening episode of the “Sons of Anarchy,” as I can no longer recommend it as a family show.

The two-hour premier was shocking from the start, as the brutality, torture and savagery was way over the top. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a drama series about an outlaw motorcyle club or a recruiting tape for ISIS. But it will all come to an end soon, as in the words of executive producer Paris Barclay, “We can’t kill everybody.”

But there is good viewing on the way. Returning shows like “Newsroom,” and “Boardwalk Empire” are in their final season. “Parenthood” is ending its powerful run and creator Jason Katims of “Friday Night Lights” fame says his goal “is a great finish.” You can bet on it.

James Spader and “The Blacklist” returns tonight, and if you can get beyond Megan Boone’s wig and acting you might want to tune in.

So if you’re in need of some entertainment, tune in a “Justified,” “The Americans,” “The Good Wife,” “Ray Donovan,” “House of Cards,” ‘Homeland,” “Mad Men,” or “The Bridge.” These shows are written by the best in the business.

I’m not saying watching television is better than reading a good book. There have been many times I couldn’t put a book down, but I’ve never had trouble turning the TV off.

Nonetheless, there is a lot of good programming to choose from. So enjoy this magic box for what it is. Adulthood is a short season.

So since this is the start of the new year, I figure it is only right to close out the old one. These photos are from the evening of February 20, the final glorious sunset from last winter. I was shooting from Stockton Avenue, and what made this night special was the glow and colors that stuck around long after the sun had set.

It was a proper sendoff, as the sky filled with ribbons of orange clouds before turning impressively red for the locals on West Cliff.

On to some late night humor. “During a speech last night, President Obama announced that the U.S. will lead a huge multinational coalition to fight the terror groups in Iraq. Of course, most people just turned it off because they thought it was a rerun.” – Jimmy Fallon “In his speech the other night, President Obama announced that he’s counting on the support of an international coalition. Right now, we can’t get the support of the International House of Pancakes. – David Letterman

“They’re now selling parking places in New York. You can buy a premium parking place for $1 million. When President Obama heard that, he said, “Hey, wait a minute. I’ll give you $2 million if you will take the place I’m in.” New York City is now selling something like 10 prime parking spots. Each parking spot will cost you a million dollars. In a related story, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will pay you a million dollars for the spot he’s in. – David Letterman

A Michigan funeral home is offering a drive-thru viewing option. Or as they’re calling it, “Jack Actually in the Box.” – Conan O’Brien “At San Francisco’s airport last Tuesday, customs officials confiscated 20 giant millipedes. You should never bring a millipede on an airplane. There’s just not enough leg room.” – Craig Ferguson

“Earlier tonight President Obama spoke to Americans. Obama is getting tough with ISIS. He’s now going to force them to sell their NBA team.” – David Letterman “It’s been discovered that a healthy 24-year-old woman in China has lived her whole life without a major part of her brain. Scientists are calling her “the lost Kardashian.” – Seth Meyers

So let me say l’shanah tovah, which means have a good year and never take the Raiders and the points. We’ll catch you ending your Hall of Fame career and playing your final home game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

September 14, 2014

Kiss Me, I’m Polynesian

Good morning and greetings, NFL fans. I am almost a month removed from my Hawaiian vacation, as each day it recesses further into my memory bank, which is now open from 9-5 on Saturdays.

At the ripe old age of 61, to say I spend a lot of time in the tropics is laughable. It’s quite one-sided, as I am one week on and fifty-one weeks off these fantasy islands.

Hey, I know I’m just fortunate to able to fly over to the Garden Isle and pay the Hawaii State Tax on rentals at 13.962%. That’s the true aloha vacation spirit.

Hawaii is our 50th state, and how the U.S. came to acquire this prime piece of real estate is questionable at best. So let’s go back to the very beginning, when God created heaven, earth and the macadamia nut, and see how this exotic archipelago in the South Pacific found its way into the union.

About 40 million years, or around the first episode of “Law and Order,” volcanoes erupted creating the Hawaiian Islands and the early ABC Convenience Stores. Kauai is about five million years old, joining Oahu, Maui, Staten and the Big Island as the major players in the area.

Today there are underwater eruptions happening off the southern end of the Big Island, and a volcano will be emerging to form a land mass and join the Hawaiian chain of islands. The volcano, named Lo’ihi, starting forming around 400,000 years ago,and should be making an appearance above sea level in approximately 10,000 to 100,000 years, or when they let Ray Rice back into the NFL.

Back in ancient times, when violence in the NFL was limited to the playing field, the first visitors to Kauai came from the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. The arrived, not in speedboats, but in double-hulled outrigger canoes, loaded with pigs, chickens, VCRs, dogs, coconuts, iPhones, sweet potatoes, taro, Charo, sugar cane, bananas and packets of Soy Vey teriyaki sauce.

The Hawaiian islands are the Earth’s most isolated parcels of land, which makes them squeezably soft and biologically unique. There was no lauas, hula dancing shows or Thomas Magnum sightings, so the flowers and plants grew in relative isolation for millions of years.

We then fast forward to the early 1800′s, when the islands were ruled over by one big kahuana, King Kamehameha the Great. This great Golden State warrior had twice tried to invade Kauai, but was unsuccesful both times.

The first time, severe weather coming over from Oahu sank many of his war canoes, and once his men reached shore, they were slaughtered like kalau pigs. The survivors were later sacrificed to the gods. I guess the road to paradise isn’t always paved with good intentions.

The head muckety muck of Kauai, King Kaumaualii, realized that three times might be the charm, so he saved his people from annihilation by negotiating an agreement with King Kahehameha. The island was never conquered and with no blood spilled, became the last piece of the kingdom. That’s one for the books, Danno.

In 1778, British explorer James Cook was the first European to set afoot on the islands. He named them the Sandwich Islands, after one of his sponsors, the Earl Of Sandwich. On his third visit to Kauai, this man who was first greeted as a local god because he first arrived during a sacred festival, was killed by the local natives, and thus became toast.

Cook’s arrival opened the floodgates for Europeans, missionaries, acrobats, laborers, businessmen, sailors and surf instructors. Along with them came a fabulous array of Western diseases, which helped thin out the local population.

Then we move to 1893, when Queen Liliuokalani tried to introduce a new constitution that would have ended democracy and restored the island to a monarchy. Well, a group of civic minded European and American business leaders didn’t find this quite to their liking, so to preserve the democracy, they overthrew the Queen with the help of U.S. Marines and established a Provisional Government in her place, which did not exactly seem kosher.

Hawaii was then made a U.S. territory in 1898 and in 1959 achieved statehood. There are many Hawaiians who are still pissed off about the deposing of the Queen and non-locals surfing Oahu’s north shore.

In 1993, on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Congress passed a resolution, which President Clinton signed into law, offering an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for its involvement in the illegal invasion by the U.S. and his future involvement with Monica Lewinsky.

It is easy to realize why they call the islands a vacationer’s dream. The weather is perfect, the beaches are beautiful, and the rains warm and frequent. On the north shore of Kauai, nobody is in a hurry. This is a place where sweatshirts go to retire.

So if I’m lucky, someday I may call this land where NFL games start at 7am my home. But if not, that’s okay, because when you grow up in New Jersey and then move to California’s central coast, you’ve traded up. I mean, where do you go from here? Moving to the islands is just a natural progression.

So for today’s photo feature, we are heading back to the Garden Isle. We start off the program with a sunrise taken from inside our beachfront house in Anahola, then on to the beach where this surfer was paddling in as the sun rose on the horizon.

We then move to a nice closeup shot of a group of coconuts hanging from a coconut palm tree, and then it’s on to a bunch of sweet Hawaiian bananas that were growing on banana tree in a neighbor’s yard.

Then we see a nice variety of colorful shells I picked up along the beach, followed by some fragrant plumeria flowers that were moist from a recent rain shower. We move along to a snail the size of an Buick before we come upon a critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. There are only 1,100 remaining in the wild, all centered around the islands, so seeing one is a rare treat.

On to a little Hawaiian humor. A man was walking along the beach and found a bottle. He looked around and didn’t see anyone so he opened it.

A genie appeared and thanked the man for letting him out. The genie said, “For your kindness I will grant you one wish, but only one.”

The man thought for a minute and said, “I have always wanted to go to Hawaii but have never been able to because I’m afraid of flying and ships make me claustrophobic and ill. So I wish for a road to be built from here to Hawaii.”

The genie thought for a few minutes and said, “No, I don’t think I can do that. Just think of all the work involved with the pilings needed to hold up the highway and how deep they would have to be to reach the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the pavement that would be needed. No, that is just too much to ask.”

The man thought for a minute and then told the genie, “There is one other thing that I have always wanted. I would like to be able to understand women. What makes them laugh and cry, why are they temperamental, why are they so difficult to get along with? Basically, what makes them tick?”

The genie considered for a few minutes and said, “So, do you want two lanes or four?”

So that’s my story of Hawaii. We’ll catch you wondering what in the wide, wide world of sports you were thinking about when you suspended Ray Rice for only two games for domestic violence. Aloha, mahalo and later, Roger Goodell fans.

September 7, 2014

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Good morning and greetings, NFL fans. Well, the 2014 football season is underway, and already my hopes for the New York Giants going to the Super Bowl have been dashed, by a preseason performance best labeled as “dismal.”

Although the Giants did go unbeaten in the preseason, this perfect record will not mean anything after tonight, when they face the Detroit Lions on opening night of Monday Night Football. In the words of renowned sportscaster Al Michaels, “Those three words resonate like no other.”

At this point, there is a little hope for optimism. Quarterback Eli Manning, the guy who runs the show and has two Super Bowl rings, is coming off a terrible 2013 season, where he threw 27 interceptions and was a complete mess. New York started out 0-6, and although they finished the year at 7-9, I had completely given up on the season after their first three possessions on opening night. Seriously.

I kid you not. There I was, happily looking forward to a semi-successful season of Big Blue football, but in their opening game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Giant’s first three possessions resulted in a fumble and two Manning interceptions. At this point I was horrified, mortified and needed to be anesthetized.

I couldn’t believe how upset I was over their abominable play. It was at this point, not ten minutes into the freaking 2013-14 season, that I cut the emotional chord for the team that I had rooted for my entire lifetime.

Now even though the Giants played well in the second half and had a chance to win the game, I had given up. I had no forgiveness in my heart for Eli Manning. I realized this was just a football game and it’s a long season, but I was too discouraged to root on. I had lost my Giant’s mojo.

So the past is hopefully not my future, and I’m all set to go with my sixteenth year of the NFL Season Ticket package, which will enable me to watch all 16 regular season New York Giant games from the comfort of my living room. Some years have been pure ecstacy, while others have had my questioning my existence on the planet.

As all New York Giant fans know, we’ve had lots of memorable wins and incredible moments over the past couple of decades, but with it also comes a lot of pain and emotional suffering. I can honestly say that many of the greatest days of pure orgasmic joy have come from watching the Giants squash the opposition, whether it be Joe Montana and the 49ers, Tom Brady and the Patriots or Tony Romo and the Cowboys.

I remember the Conference Championships back in 2000, when the underdog Giants took on the Minnesota Vikings and destroyed them, 41-0. Up until this point, this was happiest day of my life. The Giants kept scoring touchdown after touchdown, and my andrenaline was running super high. I remember thinking, why can’t I feel like this every day? And if birds fly over the rainbow, why then, why can’t I?

I recall back in 1986, watching the Giants take apart the 49ers by a 49-3 score. My brother Brad called me during the game, and after he hung up, I thought to myself, that’s the happiest that I ever heard him sound. And I’m sure at that moment my father, my brother Paul and the rest of the Giant football nation were partying like it was 1999.

So once again this season, I have the RedZone Network that shows you the highlights of every scoring play of every game. Just when you thought your TV entertainment experience couldn’t get any better, DIRECTV takes it to a whole new level.

So that horror show on opening day is now a season of the past, and a fresh slate of games is upon us. We’ll see what happens tonight, as Eli Manning still looks out of sync and has a lot to prove. The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, not to be confused with Jean Paul Belmondo, said that, “In the football match, everything is complicated by the presence of the other team.” And that’s why they paid Jean Paul the big bucks.

So I guess I’m still a believer. I know things could be worse. Just ask my son Jason. He’s a Raider’s fan.

So for today’s photo display, we are heading back to the skies above Monterey Bay. There have been a few outstanding sunsets that have made headlines this summer, and if you were lucky enough to see the sky last Friday, you were treated to a spectacular sight.

I could see from the late afternoon clouds that something special was in the air, but I decided to have dinner with my wife and just shoot the closing act. So just before desert I drove over to a park nearby and caught the colors peaking over the Santa Cruz mountains. It was fantastic.

They don’t make them much better than that. It was world class, Santa Cruz.

On to some late night humor. “The NFL season kicked off officially tonight. It’s that magical time of the year when millions of Americans transition from checking Facebook all day at work to checking their fantasy football lineups all day at work.” – Jimmy Kimmel ” Football’s back. Surprisingly, only two teams played tonight, but the Oakland Raiders have already been eliminated from the playoffs.” – Craig Ferguson

“A spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence, one of the people who had nude photos leaked, is calling her nude leaked photos a violation of privacy. Meanwhile Kim Kardashian is calling her nude leaked photos “stuff I was going to release next week. Five geckos sent into space as part of an experiment have all died. On the bright side, they were able to save 15 percent on their car insurance.” – Conan O’Brien

“The NFL season kicks off tomorrow night. And then Friday is the start of the Super Bowl pregame show. What an awful day today. It’s 90 and insufferable. No, wait a minute. That’s me. Here’s how hot it is. I got on the subway this morning and I saw a rat eating a Dove Bar. – David Letterman

“The drug store CVS announced that the corporation is changing itself to CVS Health, and they’re no longer selling cigarettes. The CEO estimates the company will lose about $2 billion this year because they’re not selling cigarettes. It is part of their customer health focus. Competitors of CVS, like Walgreens and Rite-Aid, have no plans to follow suit. As much as they understand the consequences of smoking they also understand the wonderful consequences of making $2 billion a year.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our football report. We’ll catch you and the gang wreaking havoc on fellow outlaw motorcycle clubs tomorrow night on your final season opener on FX. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jax Teller and “Sons of Anarchy” fans.


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