November 23, 2014

Jolts And Quotes From The Gravy Boat

Good morning and greetings, turkey day fans. According to my Nicki Minaj desktop calendar, Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday. For most, it is a week filled with joy, as families reunite and share in a bounty of food, drink and tryptophan. My favorite amino acid helps the body in making niacin, an important B vitamin, which works well as both a floor wax and a dessert topping.

So this week, the airports are packed and people take to the highways like lemmings. Or as the late, great Johnny Carson once observed, “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then they discover once a year is too often.” Hiyo.

Now when I look back into my blogging archives, it seems that I wax nostalgic about my favorite national holiday in the even years, as in 2010, 2012 and 1846.

So for today, I hope you’ll pardon me if I bring back some of the greatest celebrities quotes and a few new ones about this festival of turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and enough stuffing to fill the Grand Canyon.

So Thanksgiving is always a November to remember, as uncontrolled violence, er football, takes center stage on this holiday. Or as comedian John Caponera put it, ‘Who knew the Pilgrims liked football so much?”

It’s a time of bonding, when relatives and friends come together. Jon Stewart, coming off his directorial debut of his new movie, “Rosewater,” grew up in the Garden State of New Jersey and enjoys reminiscing about the holiday. “I celebrated in an old fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then killed them and took their land.”

It seems that the Indians got a raw deal in this whole Thanksgiving story. Or as Native American comedian Larry Omaha puts it, “My mother won’t celebrate Thanksgiving. She says it represents the white man stealing our land. But she’s not angry, she figures, what the hell, we’re taking it back one casino at a time.”

For the host family, a good part of the day is spent in the foxhole, better known as the kitchen, preparing for a feast that will be prepared by a few, eaten by many and cleaned up by less. Unfortunately, many people will go hungry on this day, and that is a sin. No one in America should go hungry.

Or as Mother Theresa once tweeted me from a Backstreet Boys concert, ‘If you can’t feed 100 people, feed one.”

There is something vaguely satisfying about putting together a meal that feeds so many. I just love cramming stuffing into the bird’s cavity, as the instructions always say to ‘lightly stuff” the bird.

Well, after I finish jackhammering the delightfully flavored mix of bread crumbs, celery, and unions into the self basting butterball, I place it in a plastic bag, and it does all the work. It’s like magic. There’s a great future in plastics.

Or as Roseanne Barr once described the filling of the crevice, “Here I am at five o’clock in the morning, stuffing bread crumbs up a dead bird’s butt.”

George Carlin had this take on the holiday. “We’re having something a little different this year for Thanksgiving. Instead of a turkey, we’re having a swan. You get more stuffing.” And it’s always so moist.

So it makes for a long day, but it only comes around once a year, and you have 365 days to recover from it. It can be a little stressful when the families reunite. Or as Stephen Colbert once noted, “Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.”

Thanksgiving is celebrated by most all in America, from the common working stiff to high profile celebrities in Hollywood. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzeneger, who is busy man due to the double family front on this occasion, made a keen observation when he quipped, “I love the Thanksgiving turkey…it’s the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts.”

Now my favorite TV talk show host, David Letterman, is retiring from the late night wars sometime in 2015. He will be missed. Here’s his take on the holiday. “Thanksgiving is the day when you turn to another family member and say, ‘How long has Mom been drinking like this?’ My mom, after six Bloody Marys, looks at the turkey and says, ‘Here kitty, kitty.’”

As the world know, David Letterman is a huge admirer of the world’s most powerful woman, Oprah Winfrey. As I’ve said before, Oprah is a saint, a woman with a huge heart that overflows with love and generosity. She changes lives on a daily basis, and if you want to model yourself after someone, the Big O would be a good starting point.

This is her thought on the day. ‘Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.” Or as comedian Kevin James once spouted, “Thanksgiving. Not a good day to be my pants.”

Which leads me to the words of writer William A. Ward, who so eloquently once said, “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”

Well, I believe I have. I am particularly thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. But I would also like the give thanks to you, the readers of this blog, who take time out each week to decipher whatever humorous thoughts sprint across my mind. It’s all about the laughter. The photos are the icing on the cake.

So for my final thoughts on this day before we celebrate Black Friday, I will defer to one of the funniest and palest men in American, comedian Jim Gaffigan, to put the holiday in the proper prospective. “Thanksgiving. It’s like we didn’t even try to come up with a tradition. The tradition is, we overeat. ‘Hey, how about at Thanksgiving we just eat a lot?’ ‘But we do that every day!’ ‘Oh. What if we eat a lot with people that annoy the hell out of us?’”

So in honor of the turkey day, for our photo follies, we are featuring a cluster of their distant cousins, the pelican. The day was November 14th, and I had heard a rumor of a mass gathering at Natural Bridges State Beach. Sure enough, they were packed in on the rocks like sardines and with the gulls down on the sand.

We then return to November of last year, as we head down to the Municipal Wharf and take in a couple of outrageous feeding frenzy moments, as the birds were going anchovie crazy. There was non-stop action with the volume turned up.

We then move on to a big flock of pelicans in flight heading north before we finish up with a delightful shot along West Cliff Drive of these amazing birds moving through the sun as it dips into the horizon.

On to some late night humor. “There are reports that leaders from ISIS and al-Qaida met at a farm house in Syria last week, and agreed to work together against their common enemies. That story again: Two radical terrorist groups managed to do what two American political parties cannot. The Keystone XL pipeline would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It’ll be the biggest underground structure leading into the U.S. Then people in Mexico said, “Eh . . . second biggest.” – Jimmy Fallon

I don’t know if you know this but Hitler was a painter and one of his watercolor paintings is being auctioned off. It’s expected to sell for over $60,000. So if you’re looking for a wedding gift for Charles Manson.”- Conan O’Brien “Today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln wrote it on his way to the site of the speech on the back of an envelope. One guy on the back of an envelope wrote the great Gettysburg Address — while every night it takes six guys to write this crap!” -David Letterman

“Germany has overtaken the United States as the world’s favorite country. The favorite country survey was based on more than 20,000 people in 20 countries. Isn’t it a little bit unfair that they did this before the McRib came back?” -Jimmy Kimmel “David Bowie’s new album is a greatest hits collection called “Nothing Has Changed.” On the cover he looks in the mirror and he says nothing has changed. When I look in the mirror I say, “Hello, grandpa.” – Craig Ferguson

“Scientists say the European space probe that landed on the comet has detected organic matter. This means there could be either life in space or a Whole Foods. We just don’t know. This week a group of activists, known as Anonymous, hacked the Twitter account of the KKK. The KKK is furious. They said Anonymous is just a bunch of cowards who don’t have the courage to show their faces.” – Conan O’Brien “A man in California was arrested after he stabbed his potential employer during a job interview. Well, at least now he knows where he sees himself in five years.” – Seth Meyer

So that’s my big holiday post. Enjoy this gathering for what it is and perhaps take a moment to think about the military families that are apart on Thanksgiving.

We’ll catch you slinging touchdown passes and putting up big numbers on the board week after week. Aloha, mahalo and later, Aaron Rogers fans.

November 16, 2014

Numb And Number To

Good morning and greetings, polar vortex fans. Now if I’m being perfectly honest, I really don’t like the feeling of being cold. Or for that matter, being imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp.

Nor do I like feeling hot, except when I’m raining down jumpers on the basketball court. I just get into a zone. Auto Zone.

So when I heard last week that the midwest and rockies were preparing for a blast of polar air that was to send temperatures and toilets plunging, I knew Snowvember was upon us. Pardon my french, but to quote either Elton or Tommy John, “The bitch is back.”

Holy guacamole. Meteorologists and Al Roker’s cousin were calling it the “Arctic Outbreak.” We’re once again talking about a huge mass of whirling and swirling cold air that sent thermometers soaring downward. It had been a hundred years since Denver had been this cold this early, as the thermometer dropped faster than the Dow Jones average did a month ago.

Last Wednesday, the thermometer didn’t rise above the six degree mark all day in Denver. How cold was it? Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick. The only thing colder was the Denver Nugget’s defense that night at Pepsi Center, as they gave up 84 points in the first half in the loss to Portland.

Denver set a new record with a recording of minus 14 below. So how cold was it outside the arena? Ladies of the night were charging twenty bucks just to blow on your hands.

So what in the wide, wide world of weather is this polar vortex? For those of you who have forgotten or don’t give a rat’s behind, it’s a large pocket of the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere that swoops down from the north, leading to bitter cold freezing conditions while making life miserable for the masses, unless you’re a badger or wolverine.

Residents of Chicago are still in a panic. That’s what 32 feet of snow last year will do to you. And just in case you were wondering where the coldest spot in the nation was on Wednesday, the honor went to Casper, Wyoming, where it was a bone chilling 26 below. Pickpockets were sticking their hands in stranger’s pockets just to keep them warm.

So I say, America, let’s band together and send this weather back to where in belongs, to a land with ten provinces, three territories and one escaped Bieber. Canada. America’s attic. Or as they like to say about themselves, “We’re not colder, we’re cooler.”

Now I have nothing against Canadians, although I have never made love in a canoe. I may have on occasion sampled some their bacon in eggs benedict. A Canadian is sort of like an American, but without the gun. Or as the gangster Al Capone once said, “I don’t even know what street Canada is on.”

So while it’s 81 degrees in Palm Beach County, Florida, there’s four feet of snowing dropping in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, California bathes in sunshine and the drought continues to rage on. Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite fair, but if we didn’t have the weather to talk about, what would we start our conversations with?

So to update a previous post, I have remained in touch with my old friend Dennis, who’s doing quite well, but for security purposes did want me to reveal his last name (Haggar). My old high school buddy celebrated his 62nd birthday on Thursday with cake, ice cream and animal balloons. We had been out of touch for 44 years, but now we are reunited, and it feels so good.

But under the category of, “Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear,” low and behold, last Wednesday, I received an email from my closest comrade from grammar school, who I also hadn’t been it touch for over four decades. He somehow ran across my blog and reached out to me.

It was a glorious reunion. But out of respect for his privacy, he wanted me to keep our conversation on the down low, so as not to reveal his profession, (attorney), relationship status (married), hobbies (jazz music) and most importantly, his Pacific Northwest location (Seattle.)

Turns out my old Fort Lee running buddy is a big NBA hoops fan, and has named all his sons after Shawn Kemp. I had been dreaming about his mother’s banana cake for years. It was a blast heading back to the past, and where we go from here is basically a jump ball.

But if these things happen in threes, I’m ready, because if something else is coming down the pike, I really hope it’s a pony.

So for today’s photosynthesis, we are returning to West Cliff Drive on the morning of October 26. I wanted to get a wider shot of the sunrise over the bay, so I set up shop at Fair Avenue. The sky was vivid red and orange before the sun rose, casting a painted canvas look at the heavens above Monterey Bay.

The sun then rose, the sky turned blue, and I packed up my stuff and drove home to confront the ghosts of my future. I’ve got a great past in front of me.

On to some late night humor “I’m so excited. Jay Leno is on the show tonight. He brought some really funny jokes and some great stories. Although I’m a little concerned he also brought his old desk and Kevin Eubanks.” – Jimmy Fallon “At the economic summit in China, Vladimir Putin is being accused of flirting with the first lady of China. Then again, Putin does have a history of not respecting boundaries.” – Conan O’Brien

“”Director Oliver Stone says he’s going to make a movie about Vladimir Putin. I can’t believe anyone would want to work with that insane communist. And Putin is a little crazy as well.” – Craig Ferguson ” Welcome to our special “Sons of Anarchy” show. I’m a huge fan. When I was a young man, I ran with a gang of redheaded punks. We were called the Ginger Snaps. Our biggest enemy was sunlight. “Sons of Anarchy” is the No. 1 show in its time slot. They were No. 2 but then they had the No. 1 show executed in an abandoned warehouse.” – Conan O’Brien

“Pepsi is testing a new drink flavor, which is a mix between Mountain Dew and Doritos. Or as stoners call it, “instant breakfast.” The October jobs report was released and it showed that unemployment has hit its lowest point in six years. Also hitting its lowest point: anyone who tried that new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew.” – Jimmy Fallon “PepsiCo is developing a Doritos Mountain Dew called Dewitos. I think I’ll wait until they come out with Diet Dewitos.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Pepsi has a new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. No, we don’t have an Ebola vaccine, but we do have the Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. You know Kim Jong Un, the evil dictator of North Korea? Apparently, a guy in his inner circle used his ashtray while smoking and Kim Jong Un had him executed. I remember the same thing happened when a guy used Martha Stewart’s personal lemon zester.” – David Letterman

“The Secret Service said there have been 40 fence-jumping incidents at the White House in the past five years. Half of them were intruders trying to get in. The other half was President Obama trying to get out.” – Conan O’Brien “A tiger has been seen running around Paris. Citizens were told to stay indoors and do whatever’s necessary to protect the wine and cheese. They should leave home only to smoke and to judge others.” – Craig Ferguson

So full speed ahead, as clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. We’ll catch you making great comedy movies classics for American audiences. Aloha, mahalo and later, Bobby and Peter Farrelly fans.

November 9, 2014

The Warriors Are Butter Because They’re On A Roll

Good morning and greetings, central coast fans. If you looked up the definition of magnificent in the dictionary, and for you kids out there, it’s a book we used in the olden day with lots of fancy words, it would describe our weather last week here in Santa Cruz. As the polar vortex swoops down from Canada, bringing a deep freeze to the midwest and northeast, our weather remained warm and dry in our little cold water paradise where the redwoods meet the sea.

I have been a resident of this surf town for almost three decades. From the first moment that I set foot in this liberal city, I was fortunate enough to call West Cliff Drive my home, where I could stare for hours out my living room window and take in the view of the ocean, the landscape and roller skaters, and not necessarily in that order.

Having Monterey Bay as your front yard was a fantastic place to begin my wonder years, as life is magical along the edge of the continent. The sky and clouds put on a show every day and admission is free. To say I was blessed would be an understatement. It was simply an outstanding way to begin my Californication into the Golden State.

Now God didn’t skimp in the beauty department when he created this place, as nature never takes a vacation. Or as naturalist John Muir liked to say, “The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere.”

Now coming from an east coast state of mind, Santa Cruz was a different animal. People here were laid back, life was free and easy and there just wasn’t that high intensity mentality that I was used to. This was particularly true on the basketball courts, where the motto up at the UCSC fieldhouse was “Friendship through competition.”

At the time, I was coming from a different place, where crushing your opponent felt a lot more comfortable. Or as my power yoga instructor once told me, “The surgeon general says it’s okay to smoke the competition.” Remember, if you come in second, you’re just the first loser.”

Now Santa Cruz was not exactly a bastion of professional sports franchises. Back in the mid 70′s, there were the high school teams and Cabrillo College, and that was basically it. Sure, people rooted for the A’s, Giants, Grateful Dead, Raiders, 49ers, Santana and the Warriors, but there was no big time sports presence in town, unless you counted the Doobie Brother rocking out at the Catalyst.

Well, that all changed back in 2012, when the Golden State Warriors announced that they were relocating their D-League team from Bismark, North Dakota, which was just east of Siberia, to Santa Cruz. Upon hearing this news I was shocked, stunned, mystified and finally posterized.

Professional basketball in Santa Cruz. Who knew? There didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in local hoops. Relocating over the hill In San Jose, where the population center was much greater, would have seemed a much better fit.

Well, unbelievably, the decision was approved by the Santa Cruz City Council in time for the start of the 2012-13 season. They renamed the team the Santa Cruz Warriors and received a $3.5 million loan from the city to build the Kaiser Permanente Arena. I was hoping for an Outback Steak House.

And just like that, we had the NBA logo, Jerry West, chowing down on some frled calamari strips down at the Crow’s Nest, and pro basketball in our little cold water hamlet.

The team has been in the D-League Finals the last two seasons, as the arena is sold out almost every night and the action has been outstanding. The city loves their Warriors and the Warriors have in turn supported the community. It’s been a good fit, a real success story.

Well, it seems not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. In the October 29th issue of the Good Times, in the section of Local Talk, people are asked “What is Santa Cruz’s biggest eyesore? One man answered, “People smoking cigarettes downtown.” Another woman replied, “All the people that are homeless and the desperation in their eyes. It’s more like a heart sore.”

But my favorite answer was from a stay-at-home Mom, who was not exactly a big hoops supporter, when she said, “The basketball stadium downtown.” I guess you can’t please all the people all the time, as the money could have gone to other projects. But it’s here now, so let the games and incessant noise begin.

I attended Media Day last Thursday at the arena with my cohort Jerry Hoffman, and there’s a lot of fresh talent on this year’s squad. According to head coach Casey Hill, “We’re coming into a year where we don’t have as many guys returning. We’ll build a team, not necessarily from scratch, but pretty dang close to it. I’m actually looking forward to it, it will be a fun challenge. It’s the D-League experience.”

So opening night is November 14 against the LA Defenders. The league is all about the players developing their game so they can be called up to the big show, the NBA. If you’re a basketball fan, you’ve got to check it out. It’s the real deal, and it’s in our hometown.

It’s all about following the dream. Or as my rabbi once told me while running out on a fast break, “Reach for the sky or don’t even try.” Shalom.

So for today’s photo journey, we are returning to the evening skies of October 27. When I got down to Stockton Avenue, a distinct ribbon of clouds had formed in the western sky. Over the next half hour, the clouds went through some color changes, from standard white to tangerine orange and then finishing up with ruby red.

Meanwhile, turning back to the east, the clouds were wild and flooding the sky with a pinkish hue color. All in all, for early in the season, it was a good night on the digital front.

On to some late night humor. “For the first time in history, Congress has 100 women in it. Congratulations. Welcome to modern times, America. It’s great having 100 women in Congress. Unless you’re in line for the congressional bathroom.” – Craig Ferguson “On Tuesday, Utah Candidate Mia Love became the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. She’s also a Mormon. Yeah, a black female Republican Mormon. Even unicorns are saying, “Not buyin’ it.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Mary Keitany from Kenya won the women’s race at the New York City Marathon. Mary was fast. Experts say it’s one of the most impressive races they’ve seen a woman run. Then Hillary said, “Stay tuned.”-Jimmy Fallon “It’s been announced that a Union soldier who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama over 151 years after his death. Even better, he finally got an appointment at the VA hospital.” – Seth Meyers

“Daredevil Nik Wallenda broke a record when he walked blindfolded between two Chicago skyscrapers. Wallenda said he didn’t do it to set a record. He did it because that’s the safest way these days to walk through Chicago.”- Conan O’Brien “Discovery, formally the Discovery Channel — they changed it to make it more confusing — has a special on December 7 called “Eaten Alive” that will feature a man being eaten alive by an anaconda. So, if you were disappointed by the fact that Nik Wallenda didn’t fall off that tightrope, this is your show.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So birthday wishes go out on Tuesday to my old backcourt teammate, Doug MacKinnon, who sailed from Plymouth Rock back in the 70′s and landed on West Cliff Drive and saved me a space.

We’ll catch you running the point and bringing excitement to the arena every time you step on the floor. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kiwi Gardner fans.

November 2, 2014

Can We Still Be Friends?

Good morning and greetings, NBA fans. Yes, the new pro basketball season is upon us, but first congratulations must go out to the San Francisco Giants, who captured an amazing third World Series championship in five years behind pitcher Madison Bumgarner, some timely hitting and great defense. Or in the words of Giants announcer Duane Kuiper, “He hits in hard…he hits in deep…it is…OUTTA HERE.”

So with our national pastime slowly drifting into the rear view mirror, college and pro football move to the forefront of America’s viewing and gambling interest. Football is now our choice of entertainment in America, replacing baseball as the sport du jour. Controlled violence has become very chic these days, as has denying concussion’s side effects and cheerleader’s rights for fair pay.

During my wonder years growing up in New Jersey, we’d go up to the schoolyard and play tackle football. I remember playing with reckless abandon and never getting hurt. These days, the only thing I would attempt to tackle is a crossword puzzle.

So I celebrated my twenty-sixth wedding anniversary last week. I won’t say my wife and I have been through a lot, but there was a major health crisis back in 2009 which was a little dicey, but my wife came through the darkness and back into the light.

Or as the rabbi told me during our wedding reception, “Getting married is easy. Staying married is more difficult. Staying happily married is impossible.”

So we went out to dinner to celebrate the occasion and I burned the roof of my mouth on the crab and artichoke appetizer. But I am happy to report that after fifty two half years of matrimony, our relationship is in the best place it’s even been. Or as comedian Rita Rudner once said, “I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy the rest of your life.”

There’s an old African proverb that says a man without a wife is like a vase without flowers. Evangalist James Dobson said “Don’t marry the person you can live with. Marry the individual that you can’t live without.” I prefer the words of Zsa Zsa Gabor, who once tweeted, “A man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished.”

I courted my wife for nine years before we got married, but for some reason, I still have the gnawing feeling that I rushed into wedlock. Of course, I’m just kidding. At least that’s what it says in the prenup agreement.

So things are good on the matrimonial front. Just goes to show how two separate DVR’s can bring keep a marriage fresh and exciting.

Hey, it’s easy to knock TV, but it’s a fabulous gift that keeps on giving. Or as actress Lily Tomlin once pointed out, “If you read a lot of books you are considered well read. But if you watch a lot of TV, you’re not considered well viewed.” Who am I to argue with that?

So if I were to give any advice for someone looking to get married, I would quote the former NFL running back Paul Hornung, who said, “Never get married in the morning, because you’ll never know who you’ll meet that night.”

On another relationship front, last week I received an email from a high school friend I hadn’t heard from in forty four years. He sent me a short note which read, “This message is to an old friend, from an old friend. Love your writing.” And then he signed his name, which I told him I wouldn’t reveal (Dennis).

Forty four years! We are talking approximately 180,060 days of non-communication. The last time we spoke, I was one year out of Woodstock, Tricky Dick Nixon was president and my future bride was 11 years old, riding her bike through the streets of Lakewood, CA on a banana seat.

Well, those last three words went straight to my heart. Nothing he could have written could have been better. We then spoke on the phone, and it was an amazing fifty five minutes of delightful conversation.

We both had gone dark and had not attended any class reunions, yet he said he had been thinking about me all through the years. I too had wondered, what had happened to my best friend?

We go as far back as first grade, and he was in my life from then on through high school. I could hear the excitement in his voice as I updated him on some of our classmates, as to who was above and below the ground.

I told him I would keep our conversation private and wouldn’t reveal a thing about him, like his status (happily married) his profession (real estate) or his location in an unnamed west coast city (Portland.) As I said, mum’s the word.

It was a glorious reunion. I told him I’d stay in touch. There are still some questions. We’ll see where it goes from here.

It just goes to show, you never know what’s coming around the corner. And that’s why I always wear a safety helmet.

So for today’s photo session, we are going back to the lovely morning of October 15. When I woke up, the sky was dark and completely covered with ribbons of clouds. Then when the sun rose over Steamer Lane, the sight was spectacular. I later took some shots from along West Cliff Drive, that revealed the magnitude of greatness that morning. This was world class all the way.

“Vladimir Putin announced he’s abolishing daylight saving time. He said he doesn’t want to set Russian clocks back. I will say this: He’s done a pretty good job of setting the Russian calendar back — to about 1983. Now that Putin’s gotten rid of daylight savings, it’s just a matter of time before he decides to get rid of daylight altogether.” Today is the day I wait for. It’s National Cat Day. It’s the one day of the year we can ignore the fact that if cats were any bigger, they would kill us all.” – Craig Ferguson

“Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants! Last night the Giants beat the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 to win the World Series. Finally, an excuse for the city of San Francisco to have a parade. Kellogg’s has reported a 31 percent drop in profits this quarter after sales of breakfast foods and snacks fell in the U.S. When asked how he’s doing, Tony the Tiger replied, “Not great.” – Seth Meyers “For Halloween, a woman in Vermont is handing out kale to trick-or-treaters. If you’re in Vermont and you want to stop by, look for the house that’s been set on fire.” – Conan O’Brien

“People are taking selfies with bears and then using them as their profile pictures on dating apps. The forest service would like people to stop doing this. I don’t know. I say if people want to take selfies with bears, let them do it. It’s called natural selection. And it’s a win-win, because either you get to post a picture showing everyone how brave you are, or the bear gets to post a picture showing what it had for lunch.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So it’s November as the year continues to fly by. We’ll catch you shutting down the Royals while pulling off perhaps the greatest pitching performance in World Series history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Madison Bumgarner fans.

October 26, 2014

He Shoots, He Scores

Good morning and greetings, World Series fans. Last week, I wrote about the change of seasons, as the warm days of Indian summer, along with my recognition memory seemed to be fading. It’s definitely chillier in the morning, as when I start out my walk, the sun and my wife are nowhere to be seen. Or to quote author Jarod Kintz about our relationship. “With my last breath, I’ll exhale my love for you. I hope it’s a cold day, so you can see what you meant to me.
”

I’m not trying to get too mushy. Wednesday is our 26th wedding anniversary and I thought this shout out would go along well with the sugar free chocolate hearts and a bag of diamonds.

Now through the month of October, the fog, marine layer and any sort of joy from the Oakland Raiders have been absent from the area. The morning sky has been as clear as my conscience, with the sun popping up over the mountains of Monterey, delighting locals and green flash lovers.

But the lack of morning clouds is no more, as I recently shot back to back sunrises, one of which was featured in these pages last week. I had taken the last eight months off from the sunrise business, and I really hadn’t missed the action. I want this hobby to be, as Kool and the Gang says, “fresh, exciting, so inviting to me.” Nature never goes out of style.

For some folks, these moments of grandeur aren’t even a blip on the screen. I’ll never start taking these moments of dramatic glory for granted. Remember, everyone has a photographic memory, but not everyone has film.

Photographing at dawn is a noble and peaceful way to start the day, and like the Kardashian sisters, no two sunrises are exactly alike. Or as Kim once said, “I don’t understand why everyone is always going on about my butt. I’m Armenian. It’s normal.”

I don’t know about you, but this is one Kardashian I can never get enough of. Just goes to show, one day your sex tape gets leaked and next day people want your comments on the state of Dennis Rodman.

When I shoot sunrises, I’m looking for maximum reflection action from the clouds, so I usually position myself down on the sand at Its Beach, where the surf hits the turf. The wet sand provides a dramatic backdrop for capturing the amazing colors radiating from the sky. In the words of photographer Ansel Adams, “Sometimes I do get to places when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.”

I have shot four impressive shows at dawn so far this season, which will all go on display in future posts. Last Thursday’s sunrise was epic, with orange ribbons of clouds flooding and lighting up the sky. Wednesday night’s sunset, which unfortunately I did not see in person due to a meeting with the Justice Department, was insane, as the sky turned an outrageous blood red. You snooze, you lose.

Moving along, the San Francisco Giants have been on a roll in the postseason, and are now playing in the World Series. You could call this team a mini-dynasty, with a possiblity of three championships in five years. However, I’m not really a big National League fan. I’m just in it for the AT & T Park garlic fries.

As exciting as it is for Bay Area baseball fans, hoop hysteria is set to get underway on Wednesday night, as your Golden State Warriors travel up to our state capital to take on the young and turnover prone Sacramento Kings.

Now as you may know, I have a slight interest in NBA hoops, as with NBA League Pass, I have access to every regular game for the next five months. It’s just really a part time hobby, as I’m only watching six to seven nights a week.

There are lots of reasons for high hopes for this Warrior squad, as point guard Stephen Curry is a highlight reel every night. He was recently named the league’s top pure shooter and when it comes to scoring, he’s a mini-LeBron James. Although the Western Division is tougher than a two dollar steak, Golden State, if they stay healthy, will be in title hunt.

Yes, I’ve hopped aboard the Warrior bandwagon. We are loud. Proud. The Warrior Girls.

And if that’s not enough, we have our D-League Santa Cruz Warriors starting up, with opening night on November 14th. And the D-League Showcase comes to town in January, when Santa Cruz will be at the center of the basketball universe.

Who knew Santa Cruz would be a hotbed of professional basketball? D-League action. It’s all about following the dream.

One more basketball note. My Western Kentucky Hilltopper friend Nancy Mager heard that I was running fullcourt, and told me, “You’re going to get hurt.” I reassured her I most certainly would not, as I tend to stay away from in the infighting and interaction around the hoop.

Well, two hours later, I was setting a screen and a guy’s head smacked into my eyelid and opened up a beautiful cut. It’s always a relaxing feeling when your blood is flowing like the River Jordan. I had to retire for the day and ended up with a periorbital hematoma, or black eye, which is caused by bleeding beneath the skin in and around the eye. It’s not very painful but a lovely whiter shade of purple.

But not to despair, as I was out playing the following day. Not very well of course, as it was difficult shooting with the eye patch, but those seventh graders aren’t really that tough.

So for today’s photo fastbreak, I am featuring a sunset from five years ago, on October 26 of 2009. The place was Natural Bridges State Beach, and the colors and clouds were wild and crazy. The clouds were in an unusual formation, and when the sky lit up, it was unlike any sunset that I had previously shot. Just another night in a cold water paradise.

On to some late night humor. “Whole Foods is introducing a new system that will label its produce “good, better, and best” depending on their supplier’s farming practices. Good means “no pesticides,” better means “environmentally friendly,” and “Best” means “still not worth five bucks for an apple.” – Jimmy Fallon “In pop culture news, Lady Gaga got married. And yes, she was wearing white meat.” – David Letterman

“Yesterday yet another person jumped the White House fence. It happened again. On the bright side, at least Michelle Obama is finally getting more Americans to exercise.” – Conan O’Brien “Last night, someone jumped the White House fence again. See, the problem is, if the pizza doesn’t get to Obama in 30 minutes, it’s free. And that comes out of their paycheck.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Kim Kardashian turned 34 years old. I hope she got the day off from work. Can you imagine trying to buy Kim Kardashian a gift. What do you get for the woman who has everything for no apparent reason? Kim Kardashian, by the way, shares a birthday with Benjamin Netanyahu and the scientist Alfred Nobel. Which just goes to show you: Horoscopes are crap.” – Jimmy Kimme

“As of today, Starbucks will allow their employees to display tattoos and ear gauges. Those are the round plugs that some people put in their ear lobe to let the world know their dads never played catch with them. Rock ‘n’ roll legend Tom Petty turned 64 years old today. He’s gone from the Heartbreakers to the Hipbreakers.” – Craig Ferguson

Caught the movie “Gone Girl” this weekend. What a lovely slice of evil.

So enjoy the festival of mini chocolate bars we call Halloween on Friday and we’ll catch you getting better with age and going down as the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Peyton Manning fans.

October 19, 2014

You Snooze, You Lose

Good morning and greetings, fall foliage fans. Yes, the leaves are changing color and dropping off the trees, as we are going through some changes here on the central coast. I believe our lovely 90 degree October days, much like me sleeping peacefully through the night, are now history.

Or as author Anthony Burgess once said, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Snore and you sleep alone.”

As my body and what’s left of my mind continues to age, I don’t believe I’m getting the proper amount of sleep. Now according to researchers, if it takes you less than five minutes to fall asleep, then you are very likely sleep deprived. The ideal amount of time is about ten minutes. I chime in at about ten seconds.

And to think, I used to be so good at sleeping that I could do it with my eyes closed

So some might say I am suffering from severe sleep deprivation. The problem is lately, I am now waking up every couple of hours for no reason at all. Even though I consume half of Lake Erie before I go to sleep, I never need to visit the men’s room. And I know it’s not my wife drop kicking me because of my snoring, because that is no longer a problem.

In the past, I would always fell asleep first, and that would drive her batty. But, problem solved, as she now has aids that render her safe and gentle sleep. She has offered to share, but I hesitate to take anything stronger than milk and cookies, as my body is a synagogue and I want to remain meditation and medication free for as long as possible, or at least until the opening of the NBA season.

I’ve always been an early riser, which works well in the sunrise business. But I am not in love with being awake in the four o’clock hour, and recently, that’s the time that my mind has decided it wants to go to work. Because when my brain goes on red alert, further sleep and dreaming is out of the question.

Oh, I try to go back to that unconcious state by thinking of pleasant experiences in my life, like my bar mitzvah party, being massaged like an eggplant and taking the SAT’s, but it rarely works. Once my concious mind gets ahold of the rolodex of thoughts that have been lingering from the previous day, it’s over, Johnny.

We all know that it’s torture not being able to sleep. Or being waterboarded by Dick Cheney. Many a night I have woken up and laid in bed like a mental patient, wishing for sleep to come back on, and always being denied. Listen, I love TV, but I don’t want to be watching the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” at 3 am.

Okay, maybe a little “Three Stooges, but my brain gets enough TV stimulation during normal business hours. And it better be an episode with Curly. “I’m a victim of soicumstance.”

In the middle of the night, I want my mind to be open only to dreams. When I dream during our REM (Rapid Eye Memory) Sleep, they are usually wild and crazy. But it’s the same dream during the non-REM phases that drives me nuts. I have dreamt it dozens of times over the last forty years. I’m at school and heading to a class that I’ve never attended and haven’t studied for the test. It’s always math. I have this uneasy feeling of not being prepared. Half the time I can’t even find the classroom.

Author James Baldwin, talking about dreams, once said, “The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened.”

Now I have always been a wild REM dreamer, as in my dreams I am frequently in company of celebrities, old high school friends and Miss Universe contestants. My subconcious life is much more exciting than my concious state, as the excitement has slowed down in my care giving years.

So by not getting enough sleep each night, I spend my day my day actively yawning. This act of inhalation and exhalation of of air is linked to exhaustion, stress, ISIS, overwork, lack of work, Ray Donovan, fatigue, boredom and watching the first eight innings of a baseball game. I’m taking drowsiness to a new level.

However, I know in paradise, everyone naps.

It seems like I’m always somewhat tired. I know I suffer from sleep apnea, but my doctor says if I’m not falling asleep while doing 65 on the freeway, then not to worry about it.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping. I have already slept twenty years. I not asking for much when it comes to sleep. As rocker Warron Zevon once quipped, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I just really want to pass that damn algebra test.

So for today’s photo library I am showcasing the first sunrise of the fall season. The day was last Thursday and the place Lighthouse Point. I hadn’t shot a sunrise since last February, and the view from the sand down at Its Beach and Steamer Lane was spectacular.

In the words of the Chicago Transit Authority, it’s “only the beginning.” And what a delightful and colorful entrance it was.

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On to some late night humor. “Right around the corner is the midterm elections. There’s an anti-incumbent mood in the country. People are sick and tired of people who have been in the job too long and are lazy and overpaid and out of ideas. Wait a minute. I’m sorry. That’s me. The administration now has a name for the war against ISIS. Every military operation has to have a name so people can get behind it, and they now have a name for the war against ISIS — Operation Hillary’s Problem.” – David Letterman

“I was very happy to see that our old friend Jay Leno is coming back to television. He’s coming back to CNBC and he’s got a brand-new show. Jay drives a variety of exotic vehicles, and each week he runs down a different NBC executive.” – David Letterman “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance yesterday in over 40 days. But since he saw his shadow, that now means 60 more years of nuclear winter.” – Jimmy Fallon

“On this day in 1912, President Teddy Roosevelt was shot, declined to go to the hospital, and gave a 90-minute speech with a bullet in his chest. Then on this day in 2012, I spent the whole day on WebMD because my eyelid wouldn’t stop twitching. Brad Pitt said in an interview this week that he doesn’t feel safe in his own home without a gun. Said Pitt, “I don’t even know half these kids.” – Seth Meyers

“For the last two months evil North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has been missing. Well, apparently he is back in public. It turns out he was buried in the end zone at Giants Stadium. He claims he was kidnapped by Neil Patrick Harris.” – David Letterman “Today they announced the Nobel Prize winner for economics. It went to the guy who sold Derek Jeter’s socks for 400 bucks ” – Seth Meyers

So that’s another week. Be grateful for your health and think positive thoughts for others much less fortunate.

We’ll catch you hitting a three run walk off blast in the ninth inning and sending the Giants into the World Series. Aloha, mahalo and later, Travis Ishikawa fans.

October 12, 2014

Let’s Go, The Meder’s Running

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:54 am

Good morning and greetings, October lovers. What a great time to be alive and a sports fan on this planet. The baseball playoffs are in full swing, we’re one third into the NFL regular season, and the NBA preseason games are underway, which means the real deal is right around the corner. Ah, to be young and concussion free.

Now at the age of 61, I still have a heavy case of the Basketball Jones. For the last fifteen years, I have been playing half court pickup games on Saturdays out in Aptos. Fortunately this involves not a lot of running but a fair amount of sweating, which pleases my doctor to no end.

It’s a game of constant motion and jumping, although I only leave my feet if it’s an emergency. I’m a poster boy for playing at half speed.

So I look forward to hitting a few threes, making some no-look passes, and giving a lot of weakside help, which I think is one the reasons God put me on this great green earth. For you non-basketball folks, weakside help means basically leaving the man you’re guarding and creating a nuisance by double teaming opposing players.

It’s part of the old Magic Johnson philosophy, “Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.”
Now it’s not all that glamorous, but this giving gratifies me like taste of any flavor of Haagen Daz. I know I’ve lost a step or two or three, but my hands are still are still my calling card, as the quickness is still there. And according to my rabbi, I have a very high basketball IQ.

So why am I telling you this? Well, the games at Willowbrook Park have ended. It was a gradual slow and painful process, as the players became disillusioned and stopped showing up. So not only do I miss my weekly workout, but the male bonding with the boys from the south county. You can’t put you arm around a memory.

So what’s a fella to do? Well, I’ve started playing over on the westside at Meder Street Park, where I used to run back in the 80′s. It’s a beautiful location, as the court has a lovely view of the eucalyptus trees. And there’s action every day.

The problem is, I’m now mostly running full court, something I thought I had left in the past, along with dating, trick or treating and leaking out on the fast break. Yes, this game now involves actual running, not just sashaying around the half court making clever comments while picking and rolling.

So right after playing I’m usually sore, so I head to the hot tub, where I soak up before I head into the the oxygen tent. I’m usually in traction the next day, but it’s nothing that a ventilator can’t fix. There’s a fine line between exercise and a heart attack.

My son Jason recently said that if he could build his life around anything, it would be playing basketball. Or establishing world peace through beach volleyball. The macadamia nut didn’t fall far from the cherry tree.

But it’s sometimes awkward at the park when there are fifteen guys there and I’m the only one who’s ever seen an episode of Magnum, P.I.. So I explain that I’m prematurely silver and a graduate student in Buddhist philosophy. Or as former Laker Coach Phil Jackson said, “If you meet the Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball.”

Sometimes before we run start running I get in a few games of half court. It feels so good to be moving and knocking down those open jumpers, bringing me back into the light.

It just goes to show that as one door closes, another back door play opens up. As the saying goes, some want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen. Refuse to lose, defend till the end.

It’s all about standing tall, talking small, playing ball Get a life. Play basketball.

So for today’s photo display, we’re moving into the light, as we are heading down to Lighthouse Point and the arch at Its Beach. All the shots were taken at the golden hour around sunset time, when the sun is low in the sky and the colors and reflection delight.

I’m fond of the last shot of the wave exploding through the arch. This was a magical moment, and my favorite photo from this location.

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On to some late night humor. “A group in Russia has nominated Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize. When Putin heard this he said, “I’m all about achieving piece — piece of Ukraine, piece of Poland.” – Jimmy Fallon “Today is Vladimir Putin’s 62nd birthday. He celebrated the way he always does: having someone try his cake before him. It must be tough buying him a gift. What do you get for the man who has everywhere?” – Craig Ferguson

“The Obamas celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary. It was a quiet late-night supper. It was just the Obamas and a couple of White House fence jumpers. They’re doing everything they can to tighten security at the White House. Today, on the roof of the White House, they added one of those fake owls. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has resigned, and in her closing statement she said, “I’m leaving, not because of the breaches in security, but I don’t think I can take the pressure of the upcoming trick-or-treaters.” – David Letterman

“At the Eiffel Tower they’ve installed a new glass floor that lets tourists see what’s going on hundreds of feet below them. It celebrates France’s favorite pastime: looking down on people.” – Jimmy Fallon “The New York Post says that Oscar Wilde is responsible for Kim Kardashian’s rise to fame because he was the first person “famous for being famous.” When asked her thoughts about it, Kim said, “Is Oscar the one that lives in a trash can?” – Seth Meyers

“The speed limit here in New York City used to be 30 miles an hour. Now it is 25 miles an hour. I’ve gotten out of a cab moving 25 miles an hour. They’re now putting in speed bumps too. For years. it was just pedestrians. Nobody had seen North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for a week, then a month, and now six weeks have gone by and nobody’s seen him. They really started to get worried when he didn’t show up at the Clooney wedding.” – David Letterman

So the games go on and I’m loving it. We’ll catch you creating a TV sitcom called “The Goldbergs” that highlights my Wednesday night. Aloha, mahalo and later, Adam Goldberg fans.

October 5, 2014

Birds Are People Too

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:07 am

Good morning and greetings, baseball playoff fans. There were highs and lows on our local national pastime front last week, as the A’s were losers and the Giants were winners in respective one game wild card playoffs. It was especially painful for A’s fans like my son Jason, as they seemingly had the game won three times before they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

But then again, he has the football Raiders, who with any luck, will put together a winning season before he’s eligible for Medicare.

Now at this point in my life, the regular baseball season is for the birds, as it’s a tad long and way too slow. But birds are very much a part of my so-called existence, and I’m not referring to the heaping portion of teriyaki chicken I devour for lunch down at I Love Sushi, which comes with miso soup, calamari strips, california rolls, rice and salad, all for the bargain price of $7.50.

Why such a great deal? Because that’s the way they roll.

Now here on the central coast, we are surrounded by a diverse bird population. People are a different story.

When I wake up in the darkness and feed my baby squirrels, the birds are always singing. And it’s always the males, who are looking to protect their turf while crooning for some female companionship, because that’s the way God programmed us. We just don’t want to be lonely.

When I stroll down West Cliff, there’s a group of small birds who live in the trees that are always serenading passerbyers. They are joined by a variety of gulls screaming out over the water, as opposed to the pelicans, who are much more of the strong, silent type. They fly softly, but carry a big beak.

Now according to my sources in the aviary world, which would be the Santa Cruz Sentinel and writers Terri Morgan and Donna Jones, the Monterey Bay area is a pit stop or permanent home for 250 species of birds, not including Costco’s rotisserie chicken, of which they sell 60 million a year at their 650 warehouse stores. Come for toilet paper, leave with an giant roasted bird for $4.99.

This is because the Central Coast is part of the Pacific Flyway, a bird migration flight pattern that runs from the Arctic to the tropical rain forests and dictatorships of South America. Right now, after they’ve gotten in some breeding time up north, and we all know how enjoyable that can be, the shorebirds are heading through Santa Cruz on the way to their winter feeding grounds. Come for the food, stay for the fun and surf.

Natural Bridges Beach is a happening place if you’re into birds, as you can see egrets, hawks, black crowes, woodpeckers, pelicans, penguins, blackbirds, songbirds, Larry Birds, owls, orioles, yankees and gulls of every race, creed and color. I frequently see great blue herons with their tremendous wing spans, along with a variety of red shouldered and redtailed hawks, including the great Dominique Wilkens.

So if you’re a birder, the central coast is one of the great places to be in the fall. We don’t have quite an exotic a selection of species as in the Amazon jungles, where loggers are burning down and destroying the vegetation as fast as possible, but we pack a wallop with the belted kingfisher and red breasted sapsucker crowd.

Back in 2012, birders from all over the country flocked here when a common cuckoo was spotted in the Watsonville Slough, which blended right in with the crazies we have walking the streets of our town. Which brings to mind an old Turkish proverb, “For the birds that cannot soar, God has provided low branches.”

Now over the years, I have documented a group of cormorants, who built their nests on the cliff right outside Natural Bridges. I started photographing them back in June of 2008, as they gathered their nests, lay their eggs, went shopping, and hatched babies before eventually flying off to the world tour.

So when I saw this story in the San Francisco Chronicle last week, I was naturally interested.

Caltrans is demolishing part of the Bay Bridge, which is home to a gang of double crested cormorants. They are going to spend $709,000 to build 2½-foot-wide nesting condos and studio apartments on the underside of the new bridge, in the hopes that the 800 or so state-protected cormorants would move off the old span and sign new leases.

An additional $1 million has been spent to try to lure the birds over to the new bridge, using bird decoys, cormorant recordings, the best of the Doobie Brothers CD and even nests made from discarded Christmas wreaths and Hanukah bushes.

But the birds love the view and location and have no plans to relocate, So Caltrans came up with a Plan B, speeding up demolition in the hopes of beating next spring’s nesting season, because once the birds start laying eggs, work comes to a halt.

Apparently, the cormorants have told their friends about this prime real estate spot, as consultants hired to monitor the bird population have found 533 cormorant nests on the bridge this year, which is double the amount counted during construction three years ago. According to the new estimates, this would bring the total spent on relocating these protected birds to more than $33 million, or what an invitation costs to go to George Clooney’s wedding.

The lovely Julia Roberts and Matt Damon were there for the nuptials. Afterwards, David Letterman said, “What was it, a wedding or a heist?”

In a statement, a spokesman for the cormorants said they’re sorry about the exorbitant costs of the relocation, but it’s just too foggy and cold to nest over at the Golden Gate Bridge, as the suicide attempts make them a little nervous about raising their children in that kind of an environment.

So today I am showcasing some photos from our local bird population.The first shots are the location where the cormorants built their nests on West Cliff, followed by a shot of the babies. We then move on to a red shouldered hawk, followed by a snowy egret, then a great egret and some golden godwits at sunset.

We then finish up with a great blue heron in flight, followed by a cluster of gulls just wanting to have fun at Four Mile Beach.

On to some late night humor. “The NFL recently hosted a football workshop in China. Unfortunately, most kids just ran when they heard the word “workshop.” Congratulations to Chelsea Clinton, who gave birth to a baby girl named Charlotte on Friday. Or as Hillary described the baby, “Third in line to the throne.” Chelsea Clinton gave birth to a baby girl. And get this, she’s already said her first word: “Iowa.” – Jimmy Fallon

“George Clooney is off the market. Clooney and his bride got married in Italy on Saturday, and two days later they are still married! The wedding was so beautiful, it already won six Oscars. My advice to Clooney is to remember that marriage is complicated. It starts out pretty good, but then there are long rough patches, times when you want to leave. Oh, no, wait. I was thinking of “Oceans 13.” – Craig Ferguson

“LeBron James’ childhood will be the subject of an episode of a new children’s TV series. Hopefully it’ll help teach kids a valuable lesson — that they can do anything they put their mind to as long as they’re amazing at basketball. Scientists in northern California and Oregon found that marijuana gardens are threatening the salmon population. I don’t see the problem, really. Everyone loves baked salmon.” – Seth Meyers

“After a photographer was accused of harassing the royal baby Prince George, lawyers for Prince William and Kate Middleton said that their son “must be permitted to lead as ordinary a life as possible.” They then added, “Now get away from our castle!” – Seth Meyers “Evil dictator Kim Jong Un has not been seen in three weeks. I hate it when a recluse disappears, don’t you?” – David Letterman

So enjoy this California heat wave and we’ll catch you and your CIA bipolar personality on the new season of “Homeland.” Aloha, mahalo and later, Claire Dane fans.

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.

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