March 29, 2015

No Need To Worry, We’ve Got Steph Curry

Good morning and greetings, early spring fans.  The insanity of March Madness continues to carry on, as we are now down to the Final Four teams.  Two weeks ago, I wrote that the finale was going to be a little anticlimatic, as the highly favored University of Kentucky team, who entered tournament undefeated, has just continued to roll on, compiling an very impressive 38-0 mark.
Or as former Butler head coach Joe Sexson once said, “Kentucky players put their pants on the same way our players do. It just takes them a little longer to pull them up.”
 Of course, as Ashley Judd, Kentucky’s most notorious fan reminded me, their starting front line is bigger than most NBA teams.  Gigantic doesn’t begin to describe them.  This vaunted college basketball program continues to find a way to win, as the Wildcats inch closer to a possible NCAA title, which will be decided next Monday night in Indianapolis.
As Kentucky’s vanquished opponents have proclaimed, “Coach John Calipari, tear down this wall.”
But truth be told, I’m not caught up in the hysteria of the college tournament, as there is something even bigger brewing in the Bay Area.  And that, my friends, are your Golden State Warriors.
And if you haven’t heard, there’s still time to jump aboard the Warriors bandwagon.  But don’t make any plans on hopping off until the middle of June, when the NBA championships will be decided.
 It has been a dream season for Warrior fans, something that is so magically delicious that you can’t take your eyes off the screen.  With nine games remaining in the regular season, Golden State has clinched their first Pacific Division title since the 1975-76 season, or when Rick Barry still had some natural hair on his head.
As point guard Steph Curry said last Tuesday night after clinching the title, “It feels great.  It’s my sixth year and we haven’t done it before.  It’s a big accomplishment, but obviously, we have a lot more to accomplish this year with goals in mind.  But this is a good stepping stone for us to win the division and keep it moving.”The blue and gold  have also shattered their all-time franchise record for wins in a season by securing their 60th on Saturday night, while at the same time breaking the mark for wins (26) on the road.  As they say, there’s no place like away.
Rookie head coach Steve Kerr’s squad has been blowing away opponents at home at the Oracle Arena, compiling a very impressive 34-2 mark.  The Warriors have a high octane offense, that involves a lot of ball movement and three point shooting, which really gets the crowds roaring.
The Warrior’s offense is predicated on moving the ball side to side, getting the best shots on every possession.   Everyone is involved in touching the basketball, and this unselfishness leads to good things happening.A longtime observer of the east bay sports scene, Bruce Meyers, says it best. “It’s magical.  It’s poetry in motion.”
But what really revs up the fan base at Oracle is the way the Warriors play defense.  Led by undersized power forward Draymond Green, the Warriors’ defense is a testament to tenacity, as the Warrior defenders have been stifling the opposition like never before.  Inevitably, at some point in the game, lately the third quarter, the Warriors play shut down defense and take their opponents out of the game, and then the rout is on.
Golden State has been magnificent at home, as it has been a party every night.  They are led by all-star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who have been touted as the best outside shooting tandem of all-time. But what makes this squad so effective is their depth, as they have twelve players they can run in and out of the lineup.  The team is hungry and focused, and has played at an extraordinary level all season long.Steve Kerr, with the input from veteran assistant coaches Ron Adams and Alvin Gentry, has transformed the Warriors into a title contender in his first season as head coach.

As owner Joe Lacob said at the time of his hiring, “Steve Kerr was incredibly prepared.   He covered every detail you could imagine.  He knew our roster in and out. He had assistant coaches he wanted to go after. It was like a tour de force. At the end of the day, I know he knows a lot about basketball.”
Golden State, unlike many other franchises, has remained relatively injury free, which is an immense blessing.  Teams like Oklahoma City, Portland and Chicago have been decimated by injuries, with players like the Bull’s Derrick Rose and last year’s MVP Kevin Durant’s futures in doubt.
The key to the excitement at the arena is the team play and it’s orchestrator, Stephen Curry.  Having just celebrated his 27th birthday, he is generally considered, with no disrespect to Russell Westbrook or LeBron James, the most exciting performer in the league.
He is a magician with the ball, and an amazing no look passer.  But what brings the crowds to their feet is his variety of dipsy doo moves to the hoop and his incredible three point shooting.  No one shoots threes better than Steph, and when he launches, it’s nothing but net.
And being 6’3″ and not bulked up, he’s easy to relate to, as a relatively small figure in a big man’s game.  He’s the best player on the best team, and a prime candidate for Most Valuable Player.
But he’s not after that award.  The Warriors are eyes are on a bigger prize, and that is an NBA championship.  It’s going to be tough, but they have they home court advantage, where they have been virtually unbeatable.
So it’s two weeks and counting till the end of the regular season.  And then the big show hits the stage, the NBA playoffs, which will be delectably brutal.  But the Warriors have what it takes, and they are confident that this could very well be their year. So keep the faith and stay tuned.
For our photo study this week, we are returning to the Natural Bridges State Beach on the evening of January 9.  I sensed early on that there would be some fireworks in the sky, and this night did not disappoint.I started shooting from the upper parking lot, and then headed down to the sand, where I caught the reflection of the clouds in the large pond of water.  It was a beautiful sight, as the sky and water were aglow with vivid color.  Game on.
On to some late night humor. “Ted Cruz released a presidential campaign video in Spanish. Cruz explained, “It’s important for me to reach out to the people I’m trying to deport.”  People are questioning if Ted Cruz can legally run for president because he was born in Canada. And the last thing we want to do is pave the way for a President Bieber.” – Conan O’Brien
“Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for president. But if you see a T-shirt that says “Ted Cruz 2016,” those aren’t election shirts. That’s just how old he thinks the Earth is.” – Seth Meyers  “Republican candidate Ted Cruz said recently that in the 36 hours after he announced that he’s running for president, he’s raised over a million dollars. And Hillary Clinton closed her checkbook and said, “Happy to help. Can’t wait.” – Jimmy Fallon

“McDonald’s is introducing a Big Mac clothing line. Of course there already is a clothing line for Big Mac lovers. It’s called a hospital gown.  According to a new study, human waste contains gold and other special minerals. In the future this could make things awkward when a cashier asks, “How would you like to pay for this?” -Conan O’Brien

“Kraft Foods and Heinz will merge to create the fifth largest food and beverage company in the world. The merger will combine brands like Kraft Mac & Cheese, Heinz ketchup, Oscar Mayer wieners, and Philadelphia cream cheese. Or as stoners put it, “Already did that, bro.” – Jimmy Fallon”Today is the 20th birthday of the Starbucks Frappuccino. The CEO of Starbucks wrote in his book about the story of the Frappuccino: “It’s experimental, it’s adventurous, it fires people up and engages their imagination.” Does it, though? Seems like a coffee milkshake to me. ” – Jimmy Kimmel
So that our last blast for March.  We’ll catch you scoring 23 points in a win over North Carolina, and then going for a season-high 27 in the win over Arizona Saturday night to get to your Wisconsin team into the Final Four.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Sam Dekker fans.

March 22, 2015

It’s Spring And Taxes Are In The Air

Good morning and greetings, springtime fans.  After a week of game-winning, buzzer-beating March Madness, there are now the Sweet 16 teams alive in their quest for the magical,mystical national college championship.

Well, let’s just say 15 contenders and the University of Kentucky.  The Kareem always rises to the top.

But in the midst of all this hoop hysteria, there is something else brewing that puts even the biggest gamblers on edge.  Yes, boys and girls, it’s that time of year to let the feds in on if you’ve been naughty or nice.  So open up those W-2′s and 1099′s and let the sunshine in.  It’s tax season.

The Beatles once crooned, “Everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey.” As for myself, I am an open book when it comes to paying the piper.  And this year, I am doing more than my share to help fund federal giveaway programs, like national health care, rebuilding the infrastructure of Afghanistan and support for Yemeni rebels.  Despite what they say, when in Yemen, you make yemenade.

So how did we end up with this tax system?  How did this whole federal income tax program come around, and why in the wide, wide world of sports was it needed?  Inquiring minds want to know.I ran across a site called randomhistory.com, which provided some answers to the tax situation along with some comic relief on this not so thrilling topic .  Or as they say at Morgan Stanley, “You must pay taxes.  But there’s no law that says you gotta leave a tip.”

Let’s face it.  It feels good paying taxes, supporting our government. It’s the ultimate economic cleansing.  According to my sources, which are always sketchy, Americans starting paying income tax to support the American Civil War.  The Revenue Act of 1861 paid for this four year conflict, at a cost of $2.5 million a day, or what Oracle Arena collects in parking revenue on Warrior game nights.

However, the act was repealed and replaced the following year with the tiered income tax, which lead many people to start shedding tears. The current income tax system was made into law in 1913, before the start of World War II.  This came about as the feds needed more coin from the populace to fund our foreign conflicts, so they started withholding taxes from people’s paycheck.

In 1913, the kid friendly federal form 1040 was introduced.  This required all citizens, legal permanent residents and criminals with a net income of $3,000 or more to file their tax returns.  It was simple, as it only consisted of three, fun-filled pages, something that even Ted Cruz could understand.

WW II led to the creation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which became the IRS.  The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for collecting taxes, enforcing revenue laws and messing with people’s heads as part of the U.S. Department of Treasury, which is the world’s largest accounting and tax-collection organization.  I tried to have my name removed from their mailing list, but they refused to cancel my subscription.

Did you ever notice that when you put the words “The” and “IRS” together, it spells “THEIRS?”

Filling out the tax form and taking the proper deductions can be a tricky proposition.  I leave it up to my trustworthy accountant to do my bidding for me.  Let’s just say he knows what’s in and what’s out, where to slice and dice.  This year he’s counting my weight loss as a non-capital gain.

Or as author Herman Wouk once wrote, “Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.”  And Albert Einstein, who was no slouch, professed that “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”  I wonder who did his taxes?  H & R Block?

But hey, if you’re looking to make a little coin around tax time, you can make big bucks by reporting a company for tax evasion.  The IRS Whistleblower Office will pay money to people who blow the whistle on persons who fail to pay the tax that they owe. If the IRS uses information provided by the whistleblower, they can collect up to 30 percent of the additional tax and penalties, tax free.  If you snitch, you can become rich.

Sounds like easy money.  Now some companies get away with murder.  In 2009, Bank of America had an income of $4.4 billion. They paid $0 in taxes.  In 2010, General Electric made $4 billion in U.S. profits. It paid $0 in taxes.  Now that’s imagination at work.Now why I am paying to build roads, bridges and Starbucks in Taliban country, when G.E., an American multinational conglomerate corporation, pays zilch.  Is it because they bring good things to life?

So finally, here’s my favorite fact about taxes.  According to the website historic-UK.com, Lady Godiva, not to be confused with Lady Gaga, was a rich landowner in England.  Her husband was an evil son of bitch and he demanded from the people of Coventry to pay oppressive taxes.

Lady Godiva pleaded with him to stop this hated tax and he is reputed to have said, “You will have to ride naked through Coventry before I will change my ways.”

This jackass was sure that his modest wife would never strip down.  But Lady Godiva took him at his word, and on Market Day in Coventry she rode naked, covered only by her long golden hair, which covered her entire body so that only her face and legs could be seen.

This son of a bitch was so stunned by the whole incident that he believed it was a miracle that no one had seen his wife’s naked body, and he immediately freed the town from paying the hated tax.

And this led to the publishing of the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

So let me end with a little ditty by poet Ogden Nash that sums up my feelings.  “Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes.  The wind will presently disappear, but the taxes last us all the year.”

For our non-taxable photos series, we are heading down to Lighthouse Point along West Cliff Drive on the morning of January 4.  The sky lit up early with vivid red and orange colors, and cast a beautiful reflection down on the sand at Its Beach.  It was my first sunrise of 2015, and it was magnificent, as the sky was a nicely painted canvas of colors.  Then the sun rose over the bay and my work for the day was done.

On to some late night humor.  “In an interview with Playboy magazine, Dick Cheney criticized President Obama and said he’s quote, “the worst president of my lifetime, without question.” Then Cheney said, “But enough talk. When do I take my clothes off?  During his weekly address to the nation, President Obama discussed higher education and said, “The most important skill you can sell is your knowledge.” Or as English majors working at Starbucks put it, “No it’s not.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama filled out his March Madness bracket. You can tell Obama’s mind is elsewhere because his top two picks were Israel and Iran.  President Obama has decided that he wants his presidential library to be in Chicago, not Hawaii. Today Hawaii’s governor said, “Great, who’s going to want to come to Hawaii now?”” – Conan O’Brien

“A new study has shown that women who get more sleep have better sex. Unfortunately, the study was conducted by Bill  Cosby.Officials in Indiana have discovered a working meth lab inside a Walmart. They became suspicious when they noticed a Walmart employee making a decent living.” -Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday was the L.A. Marathon. It’s the only time of year you see someone running in the streets of Los Angeles when it’s not the end of a car chase.  Some people are still angry about the letter written by Republicans to Iran. It’s also not helping that they said, “Dear Iran or Iraq, we can never keep you two straight.” – Conan O’Brien  “A grandmother in South Africa celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday by going skydiving. It’s pretty impressive — most people turning 100 usually go the other direction in the sky. – Jimmy Fallon

So we’ll catch you making your father’s day by hitting the game-winning shot for your Georgia State squad that upset Baylor in the first round of the NCAA’s.  Aloha, mahalo and later, R. J. Hunter fans.

March 15, 2015

The Insanity Of March Madness

Good morning and greetings, college hoop’s fans.  There is excitement in the air throughout the college basketball nation, as the NCAA tournament is once again upon us.  College basketball fans and gamblers waited all year for a chance to see their teams go to the big dance and come away with a winning lottery ticket.

It’s three weeks of wall-to-wall excitement, end-to-end action and fantastic finishes, as 68 teams will vie for the chance to cut down the nets and walk away with the title of NCAA champion.  Who will be this year’s Cinderella team?  Who will be the last team standing for that one shining moment?  And who will catch me when I fall?

Unfortunately, for some, the fun has been taken away, as this year March Madness has been tainted with some March Sadness.   It seems this year’s champion has already been preordained, and that would be the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Now I’m not saying the fix is in, but this year’s powerhouse squad blitzed through their opponents during the regular season, leaving them undefeated, with a perfect 34-0 record.   This team is as loaded as Charlie Sheen on a Friday night.

Now this has happened because Coach John Calipari has recruited enough McDonald’s All-Americans to stock the running of the Kentucky Derby.  You’ve got first year diaper dandys sitting on the bench, patiently awaiting their time until they’re drafted into the NBA.  There’s a gross surplus of more than moonshine in the blue grass state.

We’re talking basketball royalty, as the Wildcat’s basketball team is the winningest program in NCAA Division I history.  They lead all schools in NCAA tournament appearances, as they rank first in wins, are second to the UCLA Bruins in championships and third in their cheerleaders GPA scores.

Now Kentucky was once coached by the Baron of Lexington, Adolph Rupp, a college basketball legend who was as winning a coach as he was a possibly a racist.

One of the biggest games during Rupp’s career was the 1966 NCAA championship game. It featured Kentucky’s all-white starting five playing against an all-black starting five from Texas Western University. Texas Western came out on top in a dandy of a contest, and it helped lead to the integration of black athletes into college basketball during the days of the civil rights movement.

This game was so significant that it was made into a full length feature film,”Glory Road, starring Josh Lucas.  I give it two thumbs up, as it’s an inspiring story about an underdog upsetting mighty Goliath, with all the trials and tribulations they go through to win the championship.
Or in the words of God’s greatest basketball creation, Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

This is not to take away from the hoopla and hysteria surrounding this year’s tournament. It’s possible that the number one overall seed Kentucky will be knocked off their perch, but I believe the boys in Las Vegas already know who will be left standing at the alter when the final buzzer goes off.

After all, basketball is not a complicated game.  In the words of former Texas coach Abe Lemons, “There are really only two plays: Romeo and Juliet, and put the darn ball in the basket.”

Now it’s kind of a shame because in my younger days, I had a lot more interest in college hoops.  That was because when players were recruited to colleges, they stayed for four years.  You could follow them throughout their collegiate days and seem them matriculate into future NBA players. NCAA basketball was a farm system for the NBA.

But then back in 1975, two high school players named Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby went directly from high school to the NBA, and all bets were off.  Their thinking was, if I’m ready to play with the big boys, why do I have to go to college?  They wanted to be paid.

For some, like Emmy winning award sportscaster Dan Patrick, the college regular season is now unwatchable.  For me, I’m totally tuned into the NBA and don’t have time for the college game.   You see very few talented seniors on the floor, because the NCAA has a one and done rule, as in you must attend college for one year before your eligible to be drafted into the NBA.

This is really a joke, because one season does not make a college career.  Of course, a few of the highly touted high school players are ready for the big show, but the rest should stick around for a while and learn the fundamentals of the game before going to the big top.  Perhaps get an education.  But the lure of money is a big pull.

Now March Madness is not just for the maniacs.  Anyone can check out the brackets and pick the winners down to the Final Four, and if there’s money involved, it’s even better. It’s all about picking the winners and predicting the upsets.

Personally, I’m picking Syracuse Orangemen to come out on top. They’re not eligible for the tournament due to numerous recruiting violations, but they’re still my emotional favorite.

I spoke last Thursday with senior college basketball analyst Dr. Michael Schur, who for some unknown reason (Florida International University booster), was left off of this year’s selection committee.  Here are his thoughts on the Final Four.

‘I’m only selecting three teams because everybody’s picking Kentucky.  So here’s my Final Three.  The Duke Blue Devils, the Wisconsin Badgers and Notre Dame.  I like the Irish and their defensive intensity.  They’ve got three point shooters and are able to score from the inside and outside.  And I always loved the movie ‘Rudy.’”

So the question remains, who will take down these mighty Wildcats?  Stay tuned.

For today’s photo selection committee, we are featuring some March magic.  The year was 2008 and I was shooting from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive.  There were lots of clouds during the day, and the sunset didn’t look promising, but much to my surprise, an opening appeared on the horizon late in the day and the sky just blew up.

It was a spectacular March night, one that I won’t soon forget because of the peculiar shaped clouds coming down from the heavens that I have conveniently forgotten the name of.

On to some late night humor.  “Mayor de Blasio has legalized ferrets. Now you can legally own ferrets in New York City. I want to tell you something. If I want to see anymore beady-eyed little weasels, I’ll just keep riding the subway.  The new Apple Watch is out. It gets email. You can send texts. It has a corkscrew, nail clipper, tooth pick, scissors, tweezers, a compass, and if you put it on the floor and stand on it and it will tell you how much you weigh.” -David Letterman

“Now in Utah if you get the death sentence, they have the firing squad. In Russia, they call that early retirement.  Because Utah is largely Mormon country, the firing squad’s a little different. You’re blindfolded but no cigarette.” – David Letterman

“President Obama’s trying to work out a nuclear deal with Iran, and the Republicans are steamed. They got together and sent Iran a letter about the nuclear deal. They said if this doesn’t work, by God, they’re going to send Seth Rogen and James Franco.  The ayatollah in Iran says he believes that he got the letter, but he thinks he accidentally threw it out with his Crate & Barrel catalog.” – David Letterman

“This is a very big week for us here. Tomorrow night on our show we get a visit from President Obama, which means that all of you here tonight just missed having to get a cavity search to get in here tonight.  There’s a new study that says giving your child too much praise can harm them later. They become more narcissistic. Narcissism is a condition of excessive self-interest that affects approximately one out of every one Kardashian.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So we’ll catch you wowing the NBA nation by scoring a NBA season high and career-high 57 points against the Spurs last week.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Kyrie Irving fans.

March 8, 2015

The Dark Side Of The Milk

Good morning and greetings, cacao bean fans.  As you may know, my body is a sacred temple, a synagogue to my soul, and therefore, I’m not fond of taking any medications.  But on those rare occasions when I’m in need of something to soothe my inner sanctum, there’s always one drug I can count on. Chocolate.  And of course, TV.

Now I’ve been merrily addicted to this wonderful, sugary brown concoction since early childhood. I can recall skipping with delight into my local candy store, and gazing upon such delights as M & M’s, Hershey Bars, Nestle Crunch, Chunkies and Raisinets, just to name a few.  And these weren’t the mini, bite size versions, these were the real deal.  It was pure almond joy.

So as I got older and matured into a responsible adult, I realized that a chocolate bar a day does not keep the doctor away, so I’ve had to cut back on my intake.  New age doctors say that if you’re going to be ingesting chocolate, it’s healthier to go to the dark side.  Who knew?

Now I will admit there are lots of good dark chocolate bars out there, but you really don’t get that sugar rush that you do with milk chocolate, and isn’t that the point?  Then again, researchers from the Plain or Peanut Institute suggest that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain.  And it’s a great after school snack.

Now I bring up this delicious subject because of an interesting item I found on Yahoo Health News.  In a recent study by the US Food and Drug Administration, they found that 59 percent of dark chocolate products in the U.S. contain trace amounts of milk.  According to my abacus, that’s close to two out of three bars recommended by four out of five dentists.
So your favorite dark chocolate bar contains a little milk, what’s the big deal?

 Well, according to FDA researchers who aren’t on the take,, “Even one small bite of a product containing milk can cause a dangerous reaction in some individuals.”  That explains George Bush.

Now dark chocolate has been the savior for folks who want to experience the sensual flavors and effects of chocolate without bringing the cow along with it.

According to U.S. laws, and thank God there is a law, food products are required to put their ingredients on the label.  Sugar is my favorite, with high fructose corn syrup a close second and hydrogenated soybean oil taking the bronze.

Now this white liquid produced by cows is one of the top food allergies in the country, although as a kid, I thought cookies and milk were as beneficial as penicillin.

The FDA recently conducted a test of more then 100 dark chocolate bars that showed many contained undeclared milk.  Well, how it came about is a mystery that the Hardy Boys could solve.

The contamination probably took place when they cross pollinated the milk and dark chocolate, as the equipment was probably shared in the making of the bars.  Personally, I blame it on the white chocolate.

The results were that two out of seventeen of these products labeled “dairy-free” or “allergen-free”were found to contain milk. Fifty-five of the ninety-three dark chocolate bars without any clear indication of the presence of milk also were found to contain Boosie’s fluid. And six out of the eleven chocolate products labeled “traces of milk” contained milk at levels high enough to cause a reaction similar to the explosion on Mount St. Helens.

And now the news gets even better.  The consumer health watchdog group, As You Sow, who is all about protecting the people and the planet, filed notices of legal action last Wednesday against Hershey’s, (say it ain’t so,)  See’s Candies, and Mars, alleging violation of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act for failure to warn consumers of the toxic chemical cadmium in the companies’ chocolate products.

Holy 3 Muskateers bar, Batman.

It seems our youth are especially susceptible to cadmium, as it has been linked to kidney, liver, and bone damage.  But don’t worry kids, your pancreas and spleen are still safe.

As You Sow, and as we shall reap, had previously initiated legal action against an additional thirteen chocolate manufacturers, including Godiva, Ghirardelli, Lindt, Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, (no, not Trader Joes!), for failure to warn of lead and cadmium in their chocolate products.

Not to worry parents out there, but lead exposure has been a significant public health issue for decades and is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and lower IQ at specific levels.  This explains Texas Governor Rick Perry.

According to Eleanne van Vliet,  As You Sow’s toxic chemical research director, “Consumers need to know that chocolate may contain heavy metals.  Since lead and cadmium accumulate in the body over time, even small amounts should be avoided.”

When asked for a comment, the group AC/DC said they were too busy, as they were on the highway to hell.

Well, it’s your choice folks, but when dealing with small children partaking in these products, I zinc it may be time to take a closer look at it.  Do your due diligence.  You know, the children are our future.

So for today’s photo snack, we are returning to the edge of the continent on the morning of December 14.  The place was Its Beach and Lighthouse Point, and when I arrived at this glorious location, the sky was full of color.  Then the sun rose over the mountains across the bay and vivid colors were added to the canvas.  Simply delightful.

On to some late night humor.  “Jeb Bush is getting his presidential campaign in gear. Last week he said he supports a path to citizenship for immigrants. He said, “I believe in an America where hard work and dedication can lead to any job that your brother and dad once had.  It was reported today that Edward Snowden may return to the United States. He is going to carpool with Julian Assange and Roman Polanski.” – Conan O’Brien

“Two California teachers charged with having sex with students and giving them cocaine. On the plus side, the students involved had perfect attendance. Yesterday Justin Bieber turned 21 years old. Justin started celebrating on Saturday — five years ago.” – Conan O’Brien  ” Happy birthday to Justin Bieber. Yesterday he turned 21, which means he can be tried as an adult.” – Jimmy Kimmel

 ”Taco Bell is testing a new product called “Cap’n Crunch Delights,” which are balls of sweet dough, covered in crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal, and filled with a “milk icing” — you know, Mexican food.” – Seth Meyers  “Taco Bell is testing a new dessert item called Cap’n Crunch Delights. They are warm doughnut holes filled with sugary cream and rolled in Cap’n Crunch. They really know how to capture the flavors of old Mexico.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Boston Medical Center found that 15 percent of 2-year-olds in the Boston area drink as much as 4 ounces of coffee a day.  Pediatricians say giving caffeine to toddlers can cause depression, diabetes, sleep disturbance, and obesity. On the plus side they get a lot more finger painting done.” – Jimmy Kimmel  “President Obama said he wants the United States to establish an embassy in Cuba by April. When asked if Cuba would establish an embassy here, Obama said, “What do you call Miami?” – Jimmy Fallon

So we’ll catch you having a great season with Portland, but unfortunately, you tore your left achilles tendon last week. But you’ll come back strong.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Wes Matthews fans.

March 1, 2015

Up In Smoke

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:47 am

 

Good morning and greetings, March fans.  February, the Toulouse-Lautrec, or the shortest month of the year, has quietly faded into the past on my Jennifer Aniston calendar, and what a fabulous friend and month it was.

Stardom is a strange journey, or in Jennifer’s words, “When somebody follows you 20 blocks to the pharmacy, where they watch you buy toilet paper, you know your life has changed.”

Now wouldn’t you think Brad Pitt would have better things to do.

February may have had the fewest days on the calendar, but if you’re a fan of ice, freezing rain and blizzarding snow, then last month was heaven on earth.

Now somewhere you would expect it to be a little chilly this time of year would be Alaska, but when I checked the weather map, the temperatures ranged between 20 to 30 degrees, with some days in the 40′s.  But the big story coming out of our truly wildest state has nothing to do with the weather.

Last week, Alaska became the third state to legalize the dreaded Mary Jane, marijuana.  Holy Bob Marley, Batman.  They are following in the sticky steps of Colorado and Washington, with the state of Oregon raring to go with recreational use on July 1.

High ho, high ho, it’s off the the Yukon state we go.
This was a somewhat shocking development, because you’re bringing the decriminalization movement to a remote frontier where conservatism thrives, where Sarah Palin endorses shooting wolves for target practice.  And she can see Russia from her front porch.

You know, even with my binoculars, I can’t see Alaska.
The changes came about in this land of the frozen tundra after voters in November narrowly approved a ballot measure making it legal to smoke, grow and own pot for personal use, though this weed remains illegal under federal law.  The DEA will give you no love.

But as musician Willie Nelson once pointed out, “”I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?”,
Now the blunt truth is, the ganga plant remains banned by the federal government, which classifies it as a Schedule I substance along with heroin and LSD.  It’s reefer madness.  But as Arnold Schwarzenegger once chimed in, “It’s not a drug.  It’s a leaf.”
What this means is, stoners, er people in Alaska aged 21 and up can legally possess up to one ounce and grow up to six plants, which can reach size of redwood trees  This is in accordance to a summary provided by the official Alaska state website, under the watchful eyes of the Cheech and Chong Institute.
But there are still some issues to sort in this igloo-filled state of cannibas individualism.  Under the state’s new law, and there oughta be a law, private consumption will be legal but public consumption remains a no-no.  You can smoke it or give it away, but buying and selling the green is frowned upon and remains illegal.

But as comedian Bill Hicks once pointed out, “Why is marijuana against the law.  It grows naturally upon our planet.  Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit unnatural?

Getting more to the point, President Obama chimed in, “When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently.  That was the point.”   Well said, Mr President.

Which is a far cry from President Bill Clinton, who claims, “When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it, and I didn’t inhale, and I never tried again.”  But it seems like Bill found another way to get his ya-yas out.
Well, the folks in Alaska will figure it out. In the words of President Thomas Jefferson,  “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.”  Who knew?

Now back in our nation’s capital, they also voted in November to legalize pot, but Congress wasn’t so crazy about bongs and water pipes in the West Wing.  But congressional attempts failed to stop the rush of the green wave, as last Thursday, Washington DC became the first place east of the Mississippi River with legal recreational marijuana.  The people have spoken.  Long live the queen.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, who was threatened with jail time, proclaimed that it will be legal for people 21 or older to possess up two ounces of pot and grow up to three mature plants at home for personal use. But once again, it can’t be sold legally, and the District will neither tax nor regulate the drug, steps that were explicitly banned by Congress and endorsed by Snoop Dog and his posse.

Well, it seems there will be green in the halls of Chronic, er Congress.  So for the last word on all this spreading recreational, preventive glaucoma usage, I turn to comedian Steve Martin.

“I used to smoke marijuhgana. But I’ll tell you something: I would only smoke it in the late evening. Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening – or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, mid-evening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early mid-afternoon, or perhaps the late-mid-afternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. . . . …But never at dusk.”

For today’s photo series, we are heading up the coast to the tiny town of Davenport.  At this time of the year, if I want to see the sun set into the horizon, then up north to the cliffs above Davenport I must go.

Monterey Cypress trees line the coast, and when you look out over the water, you see remnants of the pier that was used a whaling station.  On this night back in early March 2007, I got up there early to take in the sights, which came along with a nice looking sunset.

Unfortunately, these day, the cliffs are off limits to photographers and prospectors, as No Trespassing signs dominate the landscape.  But at least I have my memories.

On to some late night humor.  “As of midnight last night, marijuana is officially legal in our nation’s capital. Or as President Obama put it, “Clear some space, Michelle. Barry’s getting his OWN garden!” – Jimmy Fallon  “Alaska today officially legalized marijuana for recreational use. I think they did this years ago. That’s how the Palin kids ended up with those names, right?  Alaska does have some special rules. You’re not allowed to smoke marijuana in public, and you have to follow special disposal rules. You can’t just throw a joint in the trash. The last thing you want is a grizzly with the munchies.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Waffle House is partnering with a mail delivery service app so customers can pick up their packages at the restaurant. So if you’re someone who is interested in getting packages delivered to a nearby Waffle House, congrats on being the sketchiest person on earth.  A new study found that smoking weed is 114 times less harmful for people than drinking alcohol. And if you want to learn more, you can ask people waiting for their deliveries at Waffle House.” – Jimmy Fallon

Alex Rodriguez will be back with the New York Yankees after being suspended for a season. He wrote the fans of the Yankees an apology. We’re still waiting on one from the Knicks.  The Academy Awards are passed out on Sunday. It’s voted by members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Or as I call them, 50 shades of white.” – David Letterman

“Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald got in some hot water this week for saying that he served in the military’s Special Forces when he never did. It gets even worse when you find out the place he actually served was Old Navy. – Jimmy Fallon  “The Kardashian family has signed a deal keeping them on the air for four more years and paying them $100 million. So let that be a lesson. If you really work hard and apply yourself, you are wasting your time.” – Seth Meyers

So belated birthday wishes go out to my old Syracuse pal, Amy Zimmerman, who I once spent a lifetime with one night in Cortland, New York.  A University of Penn graduate, she is currently freezing, er residing in Westchester County, New York, but in her dreams, she’s in a much more tropical setting.

And here’s a birthday shout out to my old NBA basketball radio correspondent, Robert “Bob O” Hall, who at this stage of the game, still has a good assist to turnover ratio.  Bob turns the big 63 on Wednesday, and being a much older man, has always been like a father figure to me.

So we’ll catch you being the most explosive player in the NBA, as you’re putting up triple double numbers on a nightly basis.
Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

February 22, 2015

We’re As Cold As Ice

Good morning and greetings, deep freeze fans.  Last week, I wrote about our lovely February weather, which lasted on through the three day President’s weekend.  It made for perfect golf conditions for the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro Am National Golf Tournament.   Well, at least till the fog blew in on Sunday.
Or as it says on the wall at the DMV, “Living without faith is like driving in a fog.”  Don’t let the shroud surround you.
Yes, the weather was ideal, with the tournament play being televised on the Golf Channel.  When you tuned in, besides seeing the celebs, the beautiful fairways and landscape of the three golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula, you also had a chance to view the incredible coastline and overhead shots of dolphins, whales and corporate sponsors, along with the abundance of sea life that is Monterey Bay.
Now I don’t usually watch much golf, as I think it’s more enjoyable to listen on the radio, but recently retired anesthesiologist Dr. Michael Schur was heating up my phone lines, calling in from his waterfront estate in Satellite Beach, Florida.A couple years back, he had celebrated his 60th birthday playing on the course at Pebble Beach, calling it “a lifetime dream come true,” and he wanted me to experience the majesty and wonder of God’s most beautiful golf arena.
So I put down the Hardy Boys book I was reading, (“The Mystery of the Chinese Junk”) and turned on the tube, and watched in amazement.  And then the fog blew in and blew out on Sunday and Tiger Woods was nowhere to be found.  Game over.
The conditions couldn’t have been any better for the tournament, but as the golfers teed off, the east coast was being bombarded with an arctic blast and freezing conditions.  The blizzarding snow just kept on falling, so as soon as people dug themselves out, they were greeted with another large dose of the white stuff.  .
To this point, I believe it was either Oprah, Dr. Phil or the Dali Lama’s brother who once said, “Sex is like snow, you never know who many inches you’re going to get or how long it will last.”
It has been a nightmarish 2015 for residents in the northeast, as the storms just haven’t let up, as Boston set a record for the snowiest February in history.  It doesn’t seem like winning the Super Bowl came with any good weather karma.
It’s like the old Chinese proverb, “Three feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather.” Or as the old Eskimo proverb says. “You never know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks.”  I’ve always said, if you’re going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance.

So as our week began, the skies went temporarily gray.  As we donned our sweatshirts, another winter blast of snow and ice swept into the midwest and into the south, burying some regions in more than a foot of snow while paralyzing transportation and cutting off power to a quarter of a million homes.  The eastern third of the country was locked in a deep freeze.

The bitter cold air was coming down from Siberia, where the the temperature was minus 50 below.  Southern states like Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and the Carolinas were frozen like popsicles.  You didn’t need to head to the local skating rink.  Just open your door and step outside, as admission was free and no skates were needed.

And reporting in on the weather carnage coming out of Nashville is field scout Nancy Mager, who’s the director of Sponsored Programs at Western Kentucky University.  As she reported, “It’s all ice and Syrian rebels.  We had an inch of ice on the trees, roads and power lines.   The schools have been closed all week.”

“The ice is beautiful and sparkling, but it’s dangerous as hell, as the roads haven’t been plowed or the sidewalks shoveled.” A New Jersey native, she added that with the wind chill factor at minus five degrees, “It’s never been this cold.”

I’ve also skated on thin ice and driven on icy roads and it’s a nightmare.  You hit the brakes but you just start sliding, with no control over your vehicle.

I had the pleasure of being in an accident like this years ago back in New Jersey, when a car had stopped ahead of me, but when I hit the brakes, I just went into a slide and rammed him.  And the ironic thing was, I was on my way to the gas station to put snow tires on the car, something we east coasters have the pleasure of doing.

So bitter cold temperatures shattered decades old records last week all across the Great Lakes region and in cities like Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Miami, just to name a few.  They’re shivering in Chicago as it’s been the coldest February since 1876.  Niagara Falls was turned into an ice spectacle and in Eastport, Maine, they’ve had 109 inches of snow in 23 days.  That’s brutal.
But the grand prize went to the city of Embarrass, Minnesota, where folks woke up to a thermometer reading Thursday morning of 41 below zero, without the wind chill factor.  I just have one word for them.   Brrrrrrrrr.
And finally, to put the cherry on top, on Friday, twenty one states had temperature in double digits below zero.  It was the coldest day in February history in Cleveland (minus 17), Flint, Michigan was a balmy minus 25, and in the blue grass state of Kentucky, it was the chilliest day in Lexington in 21 years (minus 18.)
And over the weekend more misery was headed their way, with another blizzard warning for the northeast,with more storms on the horizon .  While out here on the central coast, we’re struggling with temps in the mid 60′s, while in the Hawaiian Islands, they’re looking at a high of 82 degrees.  Somehow, it all doesn’t seem fair.
But as the late, great, Johnny Carson once quipped, “If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.”  Amen.
For our photo department, we are returning to the morning of Christmas Eve.  I was a fantastic sunrise, with vivid cloud colors, painted reflections and wild surf pounding in the background.  I was shooting from the sand at Its Beach, before making my way over to catch the sun coming up over the bay at Steamers Lane.  Just awesome beauty.
On to some late night humor. “Jeb Bush gave a speech yesterday. He had a pretty rough time. He accidentally said that ISIS has 200,000 men instead of 20,000, and then he mispronounced the name of the terrorist group Boko Haram. So if history has taught us anything, Jeb is well on his way to winning the White House.” – Jimmy Fallon  “Yesterday during a speech on national security, Jeb Bush mispronounced Boko Haram and got confused between Iran and Iraq. When reached for comment, his brother George W. said, “He sure sounds presidentiary to me.” – Conan O’Brien

“Starbucks has launched a home delivery service. It’s perfect for anyone too lazy to walk one block in any direction.  Little Caesars has introduced a giant, deep-dish pizza with a crust wrapped in three feet of bacon. Two hours ago Pizza Hut surrendered.  Here’s a new device that allows airline passengers to completely isolate themselves from their row mates. The device is called a baby.” – Conan O’Brien

“Gallup, the polling company, released its annual well-being index where they rank the health and happiness of residents of each of the 50 states. Alaska finished first and Hawaii was No. 2. It’s interesting that the top two happiest states are the ones that are farthest away from the rest of us.” – Jimmy Kimmel  I spent the past four days in Cuba shooting a special episode of this show.  I had an amazing experience in Cuba. People there are fantastic. But I do have to say it’s very nice to be back home in front of all of you capitalist pigs.” – Conan O’Brien

“The Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show is going on in Madison Square Garden.I want to tell you something about that dog show. If I want to see rolling over and playing dead at Madison Square Garden, I’ll go to a Knicks game.  At the NBA All-Star Game, the West beat the East 163-158, but the loss will be credited to the New York Knicks.” – David Letterman

So again, 60th birthday wishes go out to my brother Paul, who I celebrated the blessed occasion with on Friday along with his son, Josh and our old pal Doug Mackinnon, at the Oracle Arena, as the Warriors blew out the Spurs.  I just wish the game was as good as our seats.

So we’ll catch you putting up big numbers and playing like the first pick in last year’s NBA draft.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Andrew Wiggins fans.

February 15, 2015

The Golden State Of Mind

Good morning and greetings, February fans.  Well, it warmed up around the central coast last week, with sunny skies and delightful warm breezes, as the daytime highs got up into the mid 70′s.  The mornings are still cool and crisp, but nothing like the relentless battering weather conditions in Boston, where this month, the snowfall has been absolutely insane, with one blizzard after another.

If you like Super Bowl of snow, then Massachusetts is the place to be in February, as over six feet had fallen in 17 days.  We’re talking about 77.3 inches of the white stuff coming down in a little over two weeks, making it the snowiest February in city history.  It’s like the Mexican drug cartels had taken over the Weather Channel.  It just keeps coming down.

Now on the local front, let’s take a look the conditions we had back in January, where our fair city of Santa Cruz recorded no rainfall for the first time since 1893.  Holy smokes!  According to local meteorologists and my urologist, this has never happened before.  We were rolling on the winter front, with 43 straight days of peace, love, music and UV rays.

How dry was it?  A halibut knocked on my door asking for a drink of water.
Now January is usually the rainiest month on the central coast, where we expect to receive around 6.3 inches.  And looking north to San Francisco Bay area, the conditions were just as bleak, as there was no measurable moistness, which the National Weather Service declared it as the driest month on record, tape or CD.
It was the first time in 165 years that the Bay Area recorded no January precipitation.  If you want to do the math, that’s going back to 1850, long before women started lining up accusing Bill Cosby of any sexual shenanigans.
The only signs of precipitation in the Bay Area was at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, where the Golden State Warriors were raining down three pointers against their opponents.  At the all-star break, Golden State have compiled the best record in the NBA, with an outstanding 42-9 mark.  The dream season continues to roll along, and the only question Warrior fans want answered is, “Is this going to be our championship season?”  Stay tuned.
Now why am I bringing up February’s fabulous weather conditions?  Because back in 1974, before there was history, the internet, and Bruce Jenner was all man, I made my first visit to the Golden State.  Back in February 1974, the central coast was experiencing the same type of delightful weather patterns, with sunny, clear days and highs in the lows 70′s.It seems I had landed in a cold water paradise, where the redwoods got along with the sea.  Who knew?
Now why Santa Cruz?   I know some of you know the story, but it’s worth repeating.  I had first heard the name, Santa Cruz, in the summer of 1972, while attending the summer session of the University of Colorado.  I met a lovely young lady from San Francisco on my first night in Boulder, and I explained to her that I was a refugee from Syracuse University, fleeing the winters in upstate New York.
I told her I was in search of the “kind” weather, which coincidentally was how Boulder was advertised. “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.”  After she heard my story, she smiled brightly and uttered the magic words, “You should go to school in Santa Cruz.”
Was it kismet?  Was it fate that I had run into this blonde, tall glass of water who went on to become Wilhelmina model?  Well, sitting here in Santa Cruz forty three years later, I guess it was.  Because at that point, I didn’t know Santa Cruz from Jose Cruz.
So after a quick jaunt over to the European continent and the tip of Africa, I returned to the continent, where I then boarded a plane in New York and was deposited in the Golden State, specifically onto West Cliff Drive. My manifest destiny was complete.
I slept like a baby that night along the edge of the continent, and liked it so much that I extended my stay along the cliff to 14 years.  And the rest, they say, is history,  just like Stephen Curry winning the three point shootout in fine fashion on NBA All-Star Saturday night.
For today’s photo replay, we are returning to the evening of December 30.  There wasn’t too much cloud action in the sky, but as the sun started to dip between the clouds and heading for the horizon, I took out my zoom lens to capture the drama up close and personal on this night.  It’s just a kiss away.

On to some late night humor.  “Despite the Brian Williams lying scandal, NBC News led in the ratings last week. Although I should note the figures were reported by Brian Williams.  There’s a rumor that NBC is going to have Tom Brokaw fill in temporarily as the NBC News anchor. When asked why, a network spokesperson said, “Because the only other NBC person we have is Bill Cosby.” – Conan O’Brien

“It’s been reported that Beyoncé wore $10 million worth of jewels to the Grammys. When asked why, Beyoncé said, “I didn’t want to bring the good stuff.”  An old pair of shoes once owned by Justin Bieber has sold on eBay for $50,000. To be honest, they’re a little tight on me.  A Saudi Arabian prince has said that oil may never again rise above $100 a barrel. He said it’s gotten so bad he can’t afford to buy his wife her own car that she’s not allowed to drive.” -Conan O’Brien

“Once again it’s Fashion Week here in New York City. The top models of the day are very, very skinny. I did the math on this — it takes about a dozen models to actually create a shadow.  A woman in Manhattan went into a seafood restaurant, bit into a hunk of fish and got a fish hook in her mouth. I hate when you go into a restaurant and you’re the catch of the day.” -David Letterman

“Pot growers in the state of Washington have a problem. Supply there has outstripped demand and they have a lot more marijuana than they can sell.  Washington has more pot than they can smoke, which might help to explain why Pete Carroll called for a passing play on the 1 yard line.  The pot surplus is so bad in Washington right now that the governor is saying they may have to deploy Willie Nelson to the area.” -Jimmy Kimmel

So birthday wishes go out to my brother Paul, who turns the big 60 on Sunday.  He says he’s not concerned about turning sixty, and by early June, he’ll actually be able to say the number out loud.  Here’s joy to you, my brother.

So we’ll catch you tearing it up in the backcourt, but once again, not being named as a replacement on the all-star team.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Monta Ellis fans.

February 8, 2015

We’ll Head ‘Em Off At The Pass

Good morning and greetings, football fans.  Well, we are more than a week removed from the Super Bowl, and what a fantastic finish it was to the most hyped game on the planet.Well, with the exception of Seattle fans, like my old grammar school pal Neal Friedman, who was a bit upset with the outcome, as the Seahawks managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Now this game again personified the excitement and greatness of sports.  No one, not Alfred Hitchcock, the Farrelly Brothers or Mad Magazine could have scripted out the final few moments.  Throughout all of America, people could be heard shouting, “Unbelievable, why, why, why, and where are my pants?”  as the final seconds counted down.

Here’s the set up.  With the Patriots leading 28-24, Seattle had the ball on New England’s one yard line.  All QB Russell Wilson needed to do was hand the ball off to the human battering ram, running back Marshawn Lynch, to get the final yard and into the end zone for the game winning touchdown. Just one yard and the celebration is on.

Now on the other side, New England fans and bettors were set to commit hari kari. The Patriots had trailed 24-14 earlier in the game, before they mounted a fourth quarter comeback and scored two touchdowns against a Seattle defense that hadn’t allowed a fourth quarter touchdown in the last sixty years.

But at this moment, hopes were fading, as it looked like Paul Revere and the Patriots were going down to another late game defeat.

Now Seattle had quickly gotten down to the Patriots one yard line, as receiver Jermaine Kearse made a spectacular catch while laying on the field after juggling the ball, in a version of hot potato.   It was reminiscent of the New York Giants David Tyree’s unbelievable “Helmet Catch” in Super Bowl 42, that ruined the Patriot’s undefeated season.  You just don’t see mind blowing, miracle catches like this every day, no less when the Super Bowl title is on the line.

This was heavy sports drama, folks.

So Russell Wilson drops back into a shotgun set and fires a slant pass to his receiver on the goal line, only to have the ball intercepted by the Patriot’s Malcolm Butler.  What!  An interception!  Somebody pinch me.

Pandemonium then ensued as no one could have imagined this turn of events.  Up in the NBC broadcast booth,  a stunned play by play announcer Al Michaels described the play as “Unreal.”  Michaels, who was behind the mic for the “Miracle on Ice ” hockey game in Lake Placid when we upset the Russians, had counted down the final seconds of that call with, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!
Well, this wasn’t quite on par with that Olympic moment, but it was damn close.  For Seattle fans, this should not have happened in their lifetime.NBC’s color analyst Chris Collingworth was also stunned by the play call, not believing what he saw take place.  His immediate reaction, “I cannot believe the call.  You got a guy (Marshawn Lynch) who’s been borderline unstoppable in this part of the field.  I can’t believe the call.”
Well, Chris, neither could the rest of America.
Here is the play on You Tube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7rPIg7ZNQ8&feature=player_embedded
It was a shocking turn of events.  Reaction to the call came fast and furious to what was being called the worst coaching decision of all-time.  Former Cowboys running back Emmit Smith described it as “The worst play call in the history of football.”  Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson chimed in with “WCE.  Worst Call Ever.  Beast Mode in the backfield and you throw it?”And finally Donald Trump, who these days has what looks like a blond muskrat sitting on his head, said “It must have been President Obama that called in what will go down as the DUMBEST PLAY IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL.”  You’re fired.
And everyone who was anyone tuned in and turned on.  Super Bowl XLIX was officially the most-watched television broadcast in history, as the game was seen by 114.4 million total viewers, beating out the “Parenthood” series finale.

For the Seahawks and their fans, they will be forever left wondering, why didn’t they hand the ball off on their final offensive play of the season?  Seattle Coach Pete Carroll, who took responsibility for the pass call, had this to say about the play and his team a few days later.

“I don’t think at this point that everyone’s on the same page about the sequence.  We’re going to make this right by getting to the truth. By facing up and talking about it, letting everyone clear their mind.  When you finally gather and you’re ready to take the next step, we’re going to places that will be extraordinary.”
Well, it’s sounds like a story of redemption, and according to the coach, “It’s well under way.”  Only time will tell.
For today’s photo countdown, we are returning to the morning of December 9. I started shooting this beautiful sunrise along West Cliff Drive, and then headed down to Its Beach to capture the vibrant reflection of the colorful clouds in the sand. I then hit Steamers Lane to catch the surf action as the waves were pumping.  As the sun rose over the mountains, the colors started to fade, and it soon disappeared behind the clouds. Just another late fall classic.
On to some late night humor  “The city of Boston today held its Super Bowl victory parade. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle held Seahawks coach Pete Carroll out a window by his ankles.  Tom Brady says he wants to give the truck he was given as the Super Bowl MVP to the guy who won the Super Bowl for the Patriots. So Brady’s giving his truck to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.” -Conan O’Brien”Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted this week that he’s cried and lost sleep thinking about his controversial pass call at the Super Bowl. He just keeps running it over and over in his head. Well, actually he keeps passing it over and over.” – Seth Meyers  ”President Obama unveiled a $4 trillion budget for 2016 that would increase taxes on the wealthy and spend more money on education. He also made a snowball and put it in the oven, just to see which would last longer, his budget or the snowball.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush admitted that he smoked a notable amount of pot in school. He said, “You would too if your parents had named you ‘Jeb.’

Scientists have discovered that a 5,000-year-old mummy is covered with at least 60 tattoos. Scientists are calling him the earliest known member of the NBA.” – Conan O’Brien

So I’m one day late, but birthday wishes go out to my beloved mother Lee Gilbert, who turned a young 89 yesterday.  This past year has been a tough one, but she’s still smiling and in the running for sainthood.
And there was great news on the medical front for my old pal Jerry Hoffman, who had been going through some tough times recently, but got some fantastic news on Friday that left all of us stunned and elated.  It’s a new ballgame, my friend.
So we caught you Friday night looking like one of the top players in the NBA, after hitting your first three point shot of the season that was a game winner at the buzzer.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Anthony Davis fans.

February 1, 2015

We Are What We Eat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:01 am
Good morning and greetings, Super Bowl fans.  I’m posting this blog before yesterday’s big game, because I will probably be too emotionally incapacitated afterwards, as a result of avocado intake and all the other culinary delights that go along with watching a commercial-filled slug fest that takes six hours long to complete.
Now speaking of avocados, I don’t want to say that my fellow Americans are in love with this smooth, creamy fleshy fruit of the Gods, but when the nation sits down and knock backs over 100 million pounds of this spherical wonder, accompanied by 10 trillion pounds of chips, there is truly something special happening.
 We’re talking about 80 million avocados being consumed per hour during the Super Bowl, which according to my calculations, is enough to fill a football field 12 feet deep.
And best of all, a new study from the Guacamole Institute of Technology says an avocado a day can significantly lower your cholesterol. I’m down for at least one a day.  They’re full of nutrients, healthy fats, and will reduce the risk of heart disease while leaving your hair feeling silky smooth and shining soft.
We’re making this country a healthier and better place by putting away mounds of guacamole dip, one scoop at a time.  That’s American culinary ingenuity at its finest.
Moving on, the National Chicken Council estimates that Americans consumed over 1.25 billion chicken wings on Sunday, in a sea of barbecue, ranch dressing and blue cheese dipping sauces that could fill the Panama Canal.  Now if you were to line up the wings end-to-end, and who hasn’t wanted to do that in their lifetime, there would be enough to circle the Grand Canyon 120 times or to place 572 on every seat in all 32 NFL stadiums.Talk about painting a picture with words.  Just don’t forget the napkins.

Now there’s a recent study from the University of Illinois that suggests that the reason our youth of America are so fat is because they are consuming too much pepperoni and cheese, the main ingredients in this wonderful flat bread we call pizza.

 

We’re talking about young children pounding down extra grams of fat, milligrams of salt along with hundreds of extra calories leading to an obesity epidemic.  Holy ham and sausage, Batman.
Now to me, pizza can do no wrong.  Growing up in New Jersey, I worshiped at the Temple of Pizza King.  I bowed down to their slices, consisting of rich tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese on a crisp, thin crust.  Each bite was a heavenly delight.
Well, yesterday, the pizza boys were going at it full throttle, as 12.5 millions pizza were delivered to homes and prisons in America.  And our armed forces were not forgotten, as 5,000 pies were flown over to Afghanistan so that every soldier could have a taste of the old country while watching the championship game.
I just hope they watched out for those snipers at halftime, although I hear the Taliban are big fans of Katy Perry.  And yes, she was fully inflated at halftime.
But here is the biggest surprise and it’s a shocker.  According to my vegan sources, the number one food ingested in America on Super Bowl Sunday was vegetables.  What?  Hey, is someone pulling my lariat?
No, it’s twue, it’s twue.  While 100 million people are watching the game and plowing through the nuclear nachos, chili fries, jalapena poppers and enough beer to fill Hoover Dam, there are 200 other million Americans not viewing the contest.  To them, it’s just another Sunday night, as they go about sitting down to their dinners and eating their brussel sprouts, green beans and zucchini sticks.
It seems vegetables dominate the landscape on Super Bowl Sunday. Or in the words of humorist Will Rogers, “An onion can make people cry, but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.”So yesterday, as football fans, we consumed our fair share of carbs, sugar and alcohol.  That’s the American way.  So damn the calories, as for one day, we came together as a nation and ignored our collective weight on the scale.
Now for some football humor.  During the Super Bowl, there was another football game of note between the big animals and the small animals. The big animals were crushing small animals and at half-time, the coach made a passionate speech to rally the little animals.

At the start of the second half the big animals had the ball. The first play, the elephant got stopped for no gain. The second play, the rhino was stopped for no gain. On third down, the hippo was thrown for a 5 yard loss.

The defense huddled around the coach and he asked excitedly, “Who stopped the elephant?”  “I did,” said the centipede. “Who stopped the rhino?”  “Uh, that was me too,” said the centipede.  “And how about the hippo? Who hit him for a 5 yard loss?”

“Well, that was me as well,” said the centipede.  “So where were you during the first half?” demanded the coach. “Well,” said the centipede, “I was having my ankles taped.”

For today’s photo parade, we are going back to the evening of January 10.  I was shooting from the cliffs along West Cliff Drive at Stockton Avenue, as the sky turned various shades of orange as the crowds looked on.  But what delighted me was the view south, as beautiful pink clouds filled the sky and cast their reflection over Monterey Bay.  Just a beautiful sight on a January night.

On to a little late night humor.  “Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon announced that this will be his final season of racing. You could tell it was time for him to retire during his last race when he had his blinker on the whole time.” – Jimmy Fallon  “The Northeast is being hit with a major snowstorm. Forecasters said they’ve haven’t seen a whiteout like this since last week’s Oscar nominations.” – Conan O’Brien”

“They’re talking’ about the blizzard-like conditions in New York City.  A big question all the New Yorkers have, and they’re talking three or four feet of snow, is: How will the Chinese food delivery get through?  More bad news for the New England Patriots. The NFL now has video of those deflated footballs alone in an elevator with Ray Rice.  In the last 48 hours King Abdullah from Saudi Arabia passed away. I have a moral dilemma. The king passed away three or four days ago. Is it too soon to hit on Queen Latifah?” – David Letterman
So birthday wishes go out on Thursday to my longtime friend and confidante, Nancy Mager, who celebrates the big 60 this year.  My former blog editor, who can make baked ziti sing, is currently residing in Nashville, but I know her heart belongs to California.
And next Sunday to my favorite mother, who is still smiling after all these year, and can remember when dinosaurs roamed the earth.   More on her next week.
We’ll catch you putting up great numbers this season and deserving of an all-star selection, but not being named to the western conference team.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Damian Lillard fans.

January 25, 2015

The Balls Never Lie

 

 Good morning and greetings, football fans, and welcome to my fully inflated Super Bowl preview.   Coming up on Sunday, the nation will be consumed with food, alcohol, TV and football, as the New England Patriots battle the Seattle Seahawks for the bragging rights to see who is the baddest of the bad, with the NFL championship trophy on the line.
Last year, Super Bowl XLVIII became the most-watched American television program in history, barely beating out the “Sons of Anarchy” season finale. So if you didn’t catch the games last weekend, you missed out on an utterly fantastic, unbelievable finish that still has the Green Bay Packer nation in a severe depression.So let me give you a little recap of the action leading up to Super Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.

Representing the American Football Conference are the New England Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, who I am often mistaken for.   He has led his team to three Super Bowl titles.  He also has a child with the most attractive assistant D.A. in America, actress Bridget Moynahan from the CBS series “Blue Bloods.”  This golden boy is married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bunchen, whom he met on a blind date.  Some guys have all the luck.

And speaking of luck, to get to the Super Bowl, the Patriots crushed quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game by a 44-7 score.  It was a total beatdown, as once again, the highway to the Super Bowl runs through the New England thruway.

There was not doubt about the outcome of this game.  But there was big hullabaloo afterwards, as it seems the Patriots used 11 footballs in the game that were deemed to be, much like my ego, deflated by the NFL’s standards.   When the balls are deflated, it makes them easier to grip when throwing a pass downfield.  This would give the Patriots a seemingly unfair advantage.
The footballs were questioned after the game and had no comments on advice of their attorneys.  When asked about the allegations of “DeflateGate,” Tom Brady called the accusations “ridiculous” and maintained his innocence. “I feel like I have always played within the rules,” Brady said. “I would never break the rules.”  Now bending them, that might be a different story.

New England Coach Bill Belichick, known in some circles as “The Hoodie” for his wearing of sweatshirts along the sidelines, says he was shocked to learn about the story and has never talked to anyone on his staff about football air pressure, the function of atmospheric conditions or his recipe for linguini with red clam sauce.

 

The Patriots say they will continue to cooperate with the investigation.  But this where the story gets interesting.

 

Back in 2007, the NFL determined that New England had violated league rules when a Patriots staff member videotaped signals by opposing coaches.  This undercover operation became known as Spygate.  The team was fined and stripped of their 2008 first-round draft pick.  The NFL then fined Belicheat, er Belichick, the maximum allowed $500,000 for this black ops affair, the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league’s 87 year history.

A report described the league office as “disappointed, giddy, angry, euphoric and distraught,” after learning of the ball alterations.   The Patriots could lose future draft picks, a couple of cheerleaders or one of Belichick’s favorite hoodies if the league confirms the balls were deflated.

 

Hey, if you don’t get caught, it’s not cheating.  And if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

Now for the Seattle Seahawks, the road to the Super Bowl was a bit tricker, as they found themselves trailing with four minutes to go,  19-7, to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.  At this point, Packer fans, known as the cheeseheads, knew they were headed for the Super Bowl and were going wild, celebrating with swiss cheese fondue, melted brie inside puff pastry and my personal favorite, crab rangoon.  The game was in the bag.

 

But then, the greatness of sports finishes took over, as the Seahawks came back from the dead, and in a finish that you wouldn’t believe, went ahead and won in overtime, after taking the lead in final two minutes, only to have the Packers drive downfield in the final minute of regulation to tie the score.

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call must-see TV.  The Packer nation was left in shambles, or as longtime Packer fan told me, ‘It’s the worst loss in my lifetime.”

 

The last four minutes of the game was surreal, as it was the largest comeback ever in a conference title game.  It was so unscripted.  You had to see it to believe it.  I saw it and I still didn’t believe it.

 

After the game, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who claims Jesus came to him in a dream when he was 14 years old, said,“That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special. I’ve been through a lot in life, and had some ups and downs. It’s what’s led me to this day.”

Packer QB Aaron Rodgers had a slighty different take on the subject.  I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome. He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”  Amen, brother.

 

One more note on the game.  It seems the Las Vegas initially screwed up the point spread and made the Seahawks an early 3 point favorite.  Well, 80% of the bets in the first 24 hours were on the Patriots, which means the big gamblers thought the spread was wrong and put a ton of dough on New England.  So the big money is riding on New England, and if the Patriots win, Las Vegas is going to take it the shorts.  Big time.  Count on it.

 

Remember, it’s doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s whether or not you beat the spread.

 

For our Super Bowl viewing session, we are going to back to a series of photos I shot back on a Sunday night back in February 2006.  The place was Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and on this night the sky did not disappoint.  The cloud color went from soft tangerine to vivid orange orange before finishing up with the grand finale of a blood red.  Meanwhile, the waves were pumping and the crowds along the cliff were loving it, making it a perfect, super Sunday night.

On to some late night humor.  “Tonight President Obama gave the State of the Union address. The Obamas invited 22 guests to the speech, including a former Cuban prisoner, an astronaut, and a doctor. Either that or he was setting up the weirdest bar joke of all time.  The RNC released its first presidential debate schedule, which includes at least nine debates in different states across the country. As opposed to the Democratic debates, which will just be Hillary staring at her opponents until they burst into flames.” – JImmy Fallon
“Last night was the State of the Union address, and everyone’s excited about the huge special appearance by a guy we haven’t seen in a really long time: 2008 Barack Obama. That guy had swagger.” – Jimmy Fallon  “Last night President Obama gave the State of the Union address, and I just have to say that I don’t know what union he was describing. But I want to live there. I want to move. It sounds outstanding. There’s a middle class. They have small businesses. It sounds great.” – Seth Meyers 

“Vice President Joe Biden said he has privately met with 17 Republican senators at his home to try and connect on issues like tax reform. Biden asked what he can do to speed up negotiations, while Democrats asked, “Does this door lock from the outside?”   A new helicopter service called Gotham Air is now offering users cheap flights from Manhattan to JFK or Newark airports that start at just $99. If there’s two words I trust together in the same sentence, it’s “cheap” and “helicopter.” – Jimmy Fallon

“A new study revealed Vermont businesses could benefit financially by legalizing marijuana. And by Vermont businesses I mean specifically Ben & Jerry’s.  In Florida, a teenage boy was arrested for posing as a doctor. After hearing about it, Dr. Phil said, “Wait, it’s illegal to pose as a doctor?” – Conan O’Brien  “This fall Pope Francis will host Mass at Madison Square Garden. And unlike the New York Knicks, he will have a prayer.” – Seth Meyers
More on Super Sunday next week.  Enjoy the game and we’ll catch you putting on one of the all-time greatest shooting performances while setting an NBA record by scoring 37 points in the third quarter Friday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Klay Thompson fans.
Newer Posts »
Follow Sunrise Santa Cruz on Twitter
Sunrise Santa Cruz in the news!