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 15, 2013

The Bay Of The Jackal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:41 am

Good morning and greetings, late summer fans. You know, life is full of surprises and prizes, and I don’t just mean the kind you find in a box of Cracker Jacks. If you keep your eyes open and your wings spread, you never know what you’ll encounter in the the journeys that lie ahead.

So with that thought, let’s go back to last Tuesday, when a light rain and my radio career were falling when I awoke. Since the coast looked drearier than the news I had received the day before, I decided to try and clear my head by walking around my neighborhood. It’s not nearly as exciting as skipping along the edge of the continent, but it does get my heart pumping and that’s just what my psychiatrist ordered.

So with my Steely Dan poncho on my back and my trusty golden companion leading the way, we set off into the mist. What immediately came to mind was a couple of classic Woody Allen lines, “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable,” and ‘Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering-and it’s all over much too soon.” Okay, so I was a little down.

But what happened next caught me completely by surprise, as standing not 30 feet away was a large coyote, who was licking his lips like wanted to order something off the menu. Now I’ve partied with a few of these jackals on the westside, and my greatest coyote moment was when I photographed one in the rain outside of Natural Bridges State Park. The amazing thing was that when I first saw him, I was without my camera, so I raced home and luckily when I returned, he was still there, talking to an insurance salesman.

So there he stood, his tan pelt dusted with moisture, eyeing my two legs like a couple of medallions of cocker spaniel. I waited at the edge of the arroyo, hoping for a roadrunner to zoom by so as to distract him from sizing me up like a Yom Kippur appetizer. And after a few minutes, this wily creature trotted down the street and disappeared back into the Animal Planet. I stood there and quietly took my place back at the top of the animal kingdom.

Now early one morning two weeks ago, I watched the movie “Life of Pi,” the story of a boy who is shipwrecked and ends up stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger and Cincinnati Bengal’s cheerleader. The film was a visual masterpiece, and the 3D images of fish, waves and clouds were extraordinary. With these images seared in my mind like some ahi tuna, I headed down to West Cliff, and was immediately taken in by the flocks of the birds flying over the water.

In my mind I was back in movie mode, but this was the real thing, and it was fantastic. I then equated the relationship between the boy and the tiger onto my oceanside journey with my golden retriever. While there was not a life and death issue at stake, she can be as dangerous as the big cats if you don’t pet her enough.

Right then a large chain of pelicans came upon us. Now flocks of pelicans flying by are no big deal, but this group seemed to have no end. I immediately started to count, and I gave up when I hit 160. The gathering was at least 200 strong, and I just stood there and watched in amazement as these prehistoric-looking birds kept changing formations and exchanging tweets as they headed north up the coast.

This image marinated in my mind all week, and then last Wednesday, I was back again on West Cliff in search of answers to the question, “Why do bad things happen to people with good hair?” But before I could take a look within, wave after wave of pelicans flew by in formations on their way south. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. There was something incredible happening to the south in Monterey Bay, and it wasn’t the combo seafood sliders at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing.

I later learned these fish-loving sea birds were joining an epic number of humpback whales, who were feasting on the massive anchovy blooms in the bay. In an article written by Nadia Drake for wired.com, marine biologist Nancy Black says there were “tons and tons” of anchovies in the area, more than have been seen in years. She spotted one school estimated to be 200 feet deep and more than a mile long by the way Sheryl Crow flies. Black estimated that there were 250 whales in the bay, the most she’s seen in her 26 years in the area, which has provided folks with the best whale watching since the humpbacks left Notre Dame.

And best of all, sports fans, this wild scene with the humpbacks blowing giant underwater bubbles to herd the fish into a bait ball and then go to town was happening right in the giant submarine canyon located in our front yard. It’s nature gone wild on Monterey Bay. I chalk it up to another prize awarded along the journey, but one that requires some dramamine for those of us who aren’t so crazy about the motion of the ocean, if you catch my continental drift.

So for today’s floral display we are heading back to our 50th and most tropical state. My brother Brad joined us on our recent adventure to the Garden Isle, and the home he stayed in had grounds that looked like botanical gardens. The variety of exotic plants were simply amazing, with one flower more vibrant and exotic than the next. But being a simple man, its the basic garden variety plumeria (photo #8) that does it for me. The fragrance of these flowers drives my olfactory system aloha wild. It is the true scent of the islands. Well, either that or Old Spice.

On to the late night humor. “Fox opposes a Syria peace plan because its modus operandi is to foment dissent in the form of a relentless and irrational contrarianism to Barack Obama and all things Democratic, to advance its ultimate objective of creating a deliberately misinformed body politic whose fear, anger, mistrust, and discontent is the manna upon which it sustains its parasitic succubus-like existence.” –Jon Stewart

“You can tell that fall is coming. The leaves are changing faster than the White House position on Syria. “A new survey found Americans clicked on Miley Cyrus stories 12 times more often than stories about Syria and President Assad. Well, that makes sense. Wouldn’t you rather watch a twerk than a jerk?” –Jay Leno “John Kerry has given Syria one week to hand over its chemical weapons. And if they don’t . . . he’ll give them another week.” –Jay Leno

“Secretary of State John Kerry said that Arab countries have offered to pay the entire cost of unseating Syria’s president if we take the lead militarily. They will pay for the whole thing. See, this is how global politics works. We invade Syria to get money from Saudi Arabia that they got from us for putting their oil in our Japanese cars so we can pay back China all the money we owe them.” –Jay Leno

“The United States is going to make a deal with Russia and Syria. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s the deal: Syria will turn over their stockpiled chemicals and we send them Alex Rodriguez. Syria is now saying they will agree to give up their chemical weapons if Miley Cyrus agrees to give up whatever it is she is doing. McDonald’s is now serving steak. Nothing says fine dining like rolling down your car window and screaming out, “medium rare!” – David Letterman

“Today was the primary for mayor of New York City. The city had to use old, lever voting machines from the 1960s because the electronic machines were too hard to program. Of course, it was awkward when Anthony Weiner said, ‘That’s not a lever.’” –Jimmy Fallon “If Christine Quinn wins the New York City mayoral race, she’ll be the city’s first lesbian mayor. Which is why her campaign slogan is, ‘Christine Quinn: as far away from Weiner as you can get.’” –Conan O’Brien

So the final post of summer 2013 is in the books. For all of you Rosh Hashanah fans, I hope the upcoming year will be a sweet one. For New York Giant football fans, you have my severe sympathy.

We’ll catch you doing more than signing autographs and wowing a national audience by throwing for a career-best 464 yards in the loss to number one ranked Alabama. Aloha, mahlao and later, Johnny Manziel fans.

September 18, 2011

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life Is But A Dream

Good morning and greetings, row, row, row your boats fans. I don’t know about you, but I’m a wild dreamer. Now it’s perfectly understandable to dream about former classmates from high school. Then again, when you’re forty years removed from those wonder years and still dreaming about the lovely Denise Cinquino, you have to wonder what’s going on in the mind during the midnight hour. Thanks to Gary Wright, I never know what’s going to happen when I close my eyes and climb aboard that Dream Weaver train.

Over the years during my dream hours, I’ve partied with celebrities a plenty. David Letterman, Jim Carrey, Mel Brooks, Howard Stern, Charo-I’ve spent quality sleep time with all of these people over the last few decades. These dreams are very enjoyable, as compared to my reoccurring nightmares of not being able to find my car, not being able to see clearly where I’m driving, or NOT HAVING GONE TO CLASS SO THAT I’M NOT PREPARED TO TAKE THE EXAM.

If I’ve had this dream once, I’ve had it fifty times. It’s exam time, I haven’t been attending, and now I have to face the music. I love waking up to that feeling There are reasons why I dream this dream, but delving deeper into this issue would force me to confront things that not even Dr. Livingston would want to explore. It’s unresolved city.

Just last night, I had a wild and wacky dream, like when Seinfeld dreamt that the hamburger was eating him. I was being asked to take over as ruler of a small African country (seriously) because of the crops I raised. Unbelievable! What’s happening is that consciously, my life is fairly routine, but once I close my eyes my subconscious is having a party. I’m just lucky to be on the guest list.

So what is it about dreams? Here’s the story. In the first hour and a half after hitting the pillow, we’re go through deepening stages, going from light sleep to deep sleep, the kind I got during upper level math classes. When we enter REM or rapid eye movement sleep, your breathing, heart rate and shirt size becomes irregular. It is your deepest sleep. Your eyes move quickly and your brain activity rises towards the same level as when you’re awake, unless you’re a member of the Tea Party, and then there is no brain activity at all, day or night.

This is when our dreams are most vivid, when we go on these subconscious adventures that in many cases could never be scripted. We try to take away the worries of today and leave our troubles behind. In my case, that’s only the beginning. We go through this sleep cycle three to five times a night. I never worry when my head hits the pillow, because I know the Dream Weaver will help me reach the morning light.

Now here’s something that my Thai boxing instructor finds fascinating. During REM sleep, the rest of the body becomes paralyzed, like when I was reciting my wedding vows. According to Dr. William Kohler, the medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute, this is ”nature’s way of making sure you don’t act out your dreams, whether it’s repeatedly kicking your spouse or jumping off the bed and hurting yourself.” It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong when if you’re about to swan dive off the bed at 2 am.”

Four out of five researchers that chew sugarless gum estimate that most people have more than 100,000 dreams in a lifetime. In an eight hour stretch, we spend two hours dreaming, while I spend the other six trying to locate my car keys. Dreams are a way of cleansing the mind, a kind of draino of the braino. We dream in order for a specific part of the brain, the medula fun zone, to sort through memories and events, trying to figure out which ones to keep and which ones to let go. In my case, I keep a rolodex of high school memories on active alert. Just ask Denise.

So why is it that we have wild and crazy dreams that come right out of a Fellini movie or Hayley Mills in “The Parent Trap?” It’s because, according to Dr. Kohler, “when we’re sleeping, the controls of our conscious mind are turned off.” So that explains me and Eleanor Roosevelt. As the brain sorts through different experiences and memories, it puts them together in strange and interesting ways. Thus my night with the Pointer Sisters.

Now I’ve saved the best for last. No, I’m not talking about those wonderful dream moments where I’m falling, being chased, about to be robbed or worse yet, forced to watch reality TV. No, I’m referring to appearing naked in my dreams. This is reoccurring dream 102. I’m somewhere, either at a poetry class, bowling alley, or my parent’s wedding and I’m buck naked, just wearing a smile.

Dream researchers say this is a very common theme, as nudity can symbolize a variety of things, including feelings of vulnerability, being caught off guard, or just flying free and not wearing any pants. Actually, in my naked dreams, no one else seems to notice. I certainly don’t mind the guys not taking a look but I’m a little hurt that the women aren’t glancing over to sneak a peek.

So for our final summer island photo adventure, we once again journey to the Garden Isle of Kauai. We start out with the sun making a morning appearance on the horizon in Poipu Beach, before heading to the north shore and the tarot fields, with the backdrop of the mountains above Hanalei. Next we view an island bird before checking out this green sea turtle, who hung out with his buddies all day in cove right off shore and loved the second season of “Louie” on FX. Photo credit for shot number two goes to my brother Brad, who still claims he saw a Miami Dolphin while snorkeling on the north coast.

We then take a look at a sampling of shells I collected at the absolutely gorgeous Tunnels Beach. We finish up with something special, a rarely photographed yours truly with his lovely daughter Aimee at the St. Regis Princeville Resort, which overlooks beautiful Hanalei Bay. As you can see from this photo, that is one dynamite view from the patio and not a bad shot of my blonde teen angel.

On to the late night. “President Obama described himself as an eternal optimist. He then explained that he’s the kind of person that sees the country as ‘half employed.’ Tim Pawlenty endorsed Mitt Romney, calling him a ‘bedrock conservative.’ When he heard this, John McCain said, ‘I grew up in Bedrock, and I don’t remember seeing him.’ “Rick Perry said he understands healthcare because his wife is a nurse. He also says he understands terrorism because he watched all the seasons of ’24.’ In high school, voted most likely to execute 200 people.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama said ‘No single individual built America on their own.’ When she heard that, Sarah Palin was like, ‘Hello? Paul Bunyan?’ “House Speaker John Boehner said that President Obama’s jobs plan merits consideration. Then he was like, ‘In fact, I’ll do it right now. OK, I hate it.’ “The government is about to release a report on what went wrong during the BP oil spill. Or as fish put it, ‘Hey, no rush.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“The candidates at the Republican debate looked like a board of directors that was lying about poisoning a river. “I tried to TiVo the debate and my TiVo fell asleep.” –David Letterman “Rick Perry and Mitt Romney squared off at the Republican debate. The only thing they agreed on was ‘shampoo, rinse, and repeat.’” –Jay Leno “Tonight was President Obama’s jobs speech and the NFL season opener. Which explains why Biden got confused and dumped Gatorade on President Obama.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The virus in the movie ‘Contagion’ is based on the bird flu which came out of nowhere back in 2008. Everyone thought it was going to change the way we live and it just faded away. Wait a minute, I’m talking about President Obama.” –Craig Ferguson President Obama wants to get Americans back to what we do best. He wants teachers teaching, police policing, firemen fighting fires, and the rest of us checking Facebook. Taco Bell is product testing a new taco with a shell made of a giant Dorito. Michelle Obama spent the morning watering the White House garden with her tears.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our final blast for the summer of 2011. Take a moment to feel grateful for all you have, because lots of folks out there are suffering. We’ll catch you breaking bats with a cut fastball. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mariano Rivera fans.

March 7, 2011

Words Fly Over The Rainbow


Good morning and greetings, no-fly zone fans.  Welcome to March, the month that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb chop.  I hope it’s been a good week, or at least fair or partly cloudy for all you who are reading or skimming this.  So from the halls of Monterey Bay to the shores of Tripoli, let’s go right to the news.

That Moammar Khaddafy, or if you prefer the Hebrew spelling, Gadhafi, is really quite the character.  Up until now, my favorite colonels were Klink and Sanders, because those herbs and spices are so damn finger lickingly good.  But these gentleman having nothing over this lovable maniac from Libya, who’s been in power for four decades yet seems as delusional as the leaders of the Republican Party.

The colonel and his son, along with their original recipe chicken, cole slaw and biscuits, insist there is no rebellion going on in their country, and then they go out and blast away at the opposition like they’re quarterbacks on Super Bowl Sunday, except the bombs they’re completing are real.  I’ll give Khaddafy credit, this guy looks like he walked straight out of central casting, as he has that cunning, desert fox dictator look down to a fine science.  And I sympathize with him because I know how it feels to have $30 billion in assets seized, that really can put a damper on the day.  And just my luck, with the way things have been going, it looks like I’ll never get the money back I lent to Hosni Mubarek.

You’ve got to love any tyrant who can deliver a speech, much like many of my early posts, that is meandering, disjointed and has little to do with reality.  I remember years ago when I started this blog that, I, much like the Colonel, urged my readers to fight with me “to the last man and woman.”  Okay, so maybe I was a little needy.  But to my credit, I never blamed radical Islamists for giving young people drugs that goaded them into a frenzing of rioting and posting comments on this site.

But for now, as much as I love bloody crackdowns on my own people, let’s get away from arms embargos, trade sanctions and personal interventions and get back to our subject at hand.  Back on the morning of February 16, the morning light was outstanding, as the sun’s rays were shooting down through the clouds as I walked along West Cliff without my camera.  Later that morning, it Nathan hailed, aiding to the pagentry of the day.  So being a savant, I thought it might be a good idea to head down to the beach at sunset time, as the weather this day, much like my trip through the birth canal, had been rather wild.

Because of the earlier rain and my glowing aura,  the beach was deserted at Natural Bridges.  As you can see from the first photo, the clouds were somewhat ominous.  Then all of a sudden, before you could say, “we do chicken right,” the sky darkened and it starting pouring, which of course, is great for my camera.  And then, much to my sunny delight, a beautiful, full arc, double rainbow rose in the sky, that made me feel like I was back in Kansas with little Toto.

Because of my location, I couldn’t get the shot of the rainbow dipping into the Pacific, but as Mick Jagger once told me, “you can’t always get what you want.”  Fortunately, while the rain was pelting down upon me, I got what I needed.  Seeing that rainbow light up the sky was quite entertaining, much like last week’s episode of ”The Good Wife.”  Not as intense as the drama on “Southland”, but something that Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Danny Reagan on “Blue Bloods” would have appreciated.

You can see in the final shot that the post rainbow clouds were just phenomenal.
That leads to the question, what is a rainbow?  Four out of five scientists say it is a band of colors in the shape of an arc that is formed from reflection, refraction, and a psychotic reaction of the sun’s rays inside millions of raindrops.  They appear, in the words of B.J. Thomas when “raindrops keep falling on my head,” as when it is raining in one part of the sky and sunny in another.  Those are classic rainbow conditions, my friends, and when they are happening, I immediately fly into rainbow alert a la mode, which goes great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

From what I learned from the radar map back in weather school, the sun is always behind you while the rain is in front when a rainbow or unexpected guests appear.  So, if my coordinates and karma are correct, the center of the rainbow’s arc is always directly opposite the sun or any other family member, like Alice, when she’s ten feet tall.

Most people, or people who need people, who are the luckiest people in the world, think that the colors of a rainbow are apple red, tangerine orange, mellow yellow, Mean Joe greene, Vida blue, indigo girls and violet parker.  Well, believe it or not, Mr. Wizard once told me that a rainbow is made up of an entire other group of colors.  We’re talking colors that my eye, my dog or even my periodontist can’t even see.

Now how is it that we are able to see rainbows?   We are able to see the colors because light of different colors is bent when it travels from one medium, like the air and into another, in this case, the water of raindrops.  When all the colors that make up sunlight are combined, they look as white as the crowd at a Tea Party rally, but once they are refracted, they break up into colors we see in a rainbow or at the snack shacks we see along the beach at Wakiki.

Now listen closely, boys and squirrels.  Every person, no matter what race (like the 100 meters), creed or color sees their own personal rainbow.  What that means is that when you are staring at one like me, while snapping away like Annie Liebowitz at a bankruptcy hearing, you are seeing the light bounced off of certain raindrops.  The person or sailor next to you may seem to be looking at the same rainbow, but they may be seeing light reflecting off other raindrops from a completely different angle.  Are you confused?  Don’t worry, just click your heels three times and ask for Dorothy.

Now here are a few more fun facts about rainbows.  It was Sir Issac Newton who discovered the seven distinct colors of the visible spectrum with the help of his brother Fig.  Phil Collins wrote quite eloquently in Genesis 9 that rainbows are God’s promise.  And everything we see, feel, hear, taste, smell and text exists between the frequencies of red and violet.  I have no idea what that means, I just like the way it sounded, like my voice on Sportstalk radio.  And they say the ladder to heaven is built of rungs which are the colors of the rainbow.  Personally, I’ve always been more of a “Stairway to Heaven” guy, because I do remember laughter.

On to some great late night.  “Protests continue in Libya. It was reported that most of the protests are being organized on a dating website, which explains why half the protest signs say “No Gadhafi” and the other half say “No fatties.  They’re saying Gadhafi is “disconnected from reality.” According to the State Department, Gadhafi thought this year’s Oscars were fantastic.”–Conan O’Brien  “I thought the Oscars were supposed to be young and hip and I only saw all these old people. Then I realized I was watching “60 Minutes.”–Craig Ferguson  “The Oscar statue is about thirteen inches in height and weighs about 9 pounds. Oh wait, that’s Tom Cruise.”–David Letterman

“Moammar Gadhafi is starting to sound a little crazy. Al-Jazeera canceled his show, “Two and a Half Shiites.  Gadhafi said his people “love him.” I think that’s what he said. It was hard to hear over the rebel gunfire.”–David Letterman  “Everyone is saying we have to take control of Moammar Gadhafi. We can’t even control Charlie Sheen.  Charlie Sheen said that he’s now more popular than President Obama, at which point Mike Huckabee accused him of growing up in Kenya.”–Jay Leno

“Oprah has been invited by Egypt’s new government to do a show from Cairo. So they’ve replaced one power-mad tyrant who’s been ruling for 30 years with another one.” –Conan O’Brien  “Sarah Palin is going to India to make a speech. She’s hoping to visit some of those Indian casinos she’s heard so much about.” –Jay Leno  “Bristol Palin is releasing a book called “Not Afraid of Life.” Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is releasing a book called, “I’m Afraid of Books.”–Jimmy Fallon

“‘King Kong’ opened 78 years ago. It’s the story of a woman that gets carried away by an ape. The same thing happened to Maria Shriver.” –David Letterman  “Twitter was down for two hours on Saturday. It was terrible. I had to call random people in the phone book and tell them what I had for lunch.”–Jimmy Fallon  “The price of gas here was up to $4.50. When I started pumping, it was only $3.85.–Jay Leno

So that’s our first official blast for March.  If you like college basketball, and what true American doesn’t, this is a month to savor like your first Haagan Daz bar.  So be grateful for your clean water and we’ll catch you at midcourt.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Kevin Love fans.

November 28, 2010

A Weekend To November

Good morning and greetings, holiday season fans. That’s right, for many, this past week and the next five are their favorite times of the year. For me, it’s the NBA playoffs and anytime I get dial tone. If I listen closely, I can almost hear Andy Willams singing, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or for my non-Amish friends, the most wonderful time for a beer.

I know I may be a little premature with this, but nothing else came across the radar scope this week, so bring on the holiday festivites. What red-blooded, white-celled American doesn’t love the endless TV commercials, holiday parties, and most importantly, buying gifts for people you don’t give a rat’s tush about? If I seem a bit cynical about the upcoming mistletoe invasion, I apologize to my cyber constituents. It’s just my stream of holiday unconciousness.

Now we just finished Thanksgiving, where I ate enough turkey to jump start my pilgrimage to the Mecca in Milwaukee. It was a great time to gather with family and reflect on some things that I’m grateful for. Here are a few random post holiday thoughts.

I’m grateful that it’s not 2012 and there isn’t real talk of Sarah Palin becoming the first female president. Besides my head literally exploding, I don’t think my family is ready to move to Canada, Cancun or the Canary Islands.

I’m grateful there is gravy. Without it, Thanksgiving for many would be like living in Kansas or the Sahara Desert. Very dry. Man cannot live on jellied cranberry sauce alone.

I’m extremely grateful that I have my health. Unlike a friend of mine, and I’m not going to mention Steve Margolin’s name, I’m not excited about getting older. Every time I feel a pain in my chest, I wonder, am I having a heart attack? At this poinsettia in my life, I’m just happy to play basketball and come home in the same clothes I left in. As I’ve said before, I’d like to strangle the guy who coined the phrase, “you’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” Listen, I may come off as “Mr. Positive,” but soon-to-be 58 is not the new 57. That’s Heinz.

I’m grateful for my wife, children and our golden retriever Summer. Without my lovely Allison, how else would I have ever known there is sometimes another way to look at situations? Without my children, every Saturday of my life would have been spent sitting in the dark at the movies digesting some form of chocolate, followed by Chinese cuisine. Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound too bad. And without Summer, and with my apologies to my daughter Aimee, who else would I look at 100 times a day and say, “you’re such a good girl.”

Of course I’m grateful for my brothers, my imaginary sister, extended family and special friends, and those reading it know who I’m talking about. I’m especially fortunate to have two parents who are still alive and have allowed me to open a catering service that provides them with home cooked meals that you won’t find being prepared on the food network. Hot and ready to go, gratuity already included.

I’m also damn grateful to be living on the central coast of California and not doing a tour of duty overseas in Afghanistan or Iraq. How difficult it must have been for the thousands of military families on Thanksgiving with a loved one so far away and playing hardball with the Taliban or Al Queda. For many of us, the war is a forgotten item on the news but for those families it’s the lead story every night.

There is so much more I am grateful for but I don’t want to get too mu shu or pen the sequel to “War and Peace.” Let me just say I’m so lucky to have this forum to be able to write about whatever sprints across my mind and share it with you readers. The fact that I can throw some world-class sunrises and sunsets from this cold water paradise only adds fuel to the fire of my mind. If I’ve made you think or laugh or say, “wow, that’s gorgeous,” well, in the words of my favorite Hanukah Bush, “mission accomplished.”

That brings us to today’s photo op. This was a Saturday night a couple of week’s back, where the clouds and sky brought many along the westside to their feet with almond joy and late afternoon delight. I was perched along West Cliff Drive at Stockton Avenue, and this sunset glowed for a long while after dusk, leaving me not only with the satisfaction of knowing that I would be sharing it with all of you, but that I could almost leave behind the thought of recent sunsets missed. As I said, almost.

On to some great late night. “TSA says they are going to crack down on the invasive pat-downs. In fact, one agent was transferred to another parish.” –David Letterman “This year marks the first Thanksgiving in which travelers will get molested before they get to their uncle’s house. You know, if I wanted somebody halfheartedly patting my groin without eye contact, I’d get married.” –Seth Meyers “The TSA has issued some special packing tips for travelers before Thanksgiving weekend. They say not to bring food, sharp tools, or any shred of dignity.” –Jimmy Fallon

David Letterman’s “Top Seven Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a TSA Agent”
“Do I need a degree in groping?” “Am I only doing this for the sweet TSA uniform?”
“If I find explosive underpants, may I keep them?” “Should I practice by frisking people on the street?” “In five years, whose pants do I see my hands in?” “Do I really want to know what a fat guy’s thighs feel like?” “May I frisk myself?”

“Former President George W. Bush has published his memoirs, called ‘Decision Points.’ Bush was asked if he used a ghost writer and he said, ‘Nah, I stopped believing in those after I turned 12.’” –Jay Leno “At the dedication of his Presidential Library, George W. Bush said it’s long been his dream to build a building for teenagers to drink behind.” –Seth Meyers “Sarah Palin’s new book can be found right next to George W. Bush’s new book in the ‘Apparently Anyone Can Write One of These’ section.” –Jimmy Fallon

“That’s right, Palin has a brand new book. And you thought Thanksgiving dinner makes you drowsy.” –David Letterman “In her new book, Sarah Palin says she once gave up chocolate for an entire year just to prove she could do it. Still think she’s not qualified to be President?” –Jimmy Fallon “I’ll tell you how confident Sarah Palin is about the upcoming Presidential election. She’s already started writing her inaugural address on her hand.” –Jay Leno

Well, that’s our show and the last blast for November 2010. I hope the Thanksgiving holiday was a pleasant and a leftover-filled experience. And for those those menorah fans, let me wish you a Happy Hunakah, when I begin the always memorable apple sauce and sour cream-filled journey to latke city. For those of you keeping stats, it starts on Wednesday. We’ll catch you in punting formation. Aloha, mahalo and later, Blake Griffin fans.

September 12, 2010

When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie, That’s Pepperoni

Good morning and greetings, NFL football fans. That’s right, the smell of the kickoffs and baby back ribs are in the air, and for lovers of this sport involving running, passing, blocking and trying to drill your opponent into the turf so he doesn’t know what time zone he’s in, life once again has real meaning, giving us the opportunitity to set new goal posts for ourselves.

Personally, I don’t get emotionally involved when watching my New York Giants. I remain cool, calm and collected, never getting too high or low. After all, it’s just a game being played by a bunch of guys who prefer to hug each other in the end zone after a touchdown instead of the cheerleaders.

And most importantly, for many fans in this pigskin nation, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but whether your team covers the point spread. Yes, it’s a special time for football lovers. I don’t want to say Jason was happy when the season kicked off, but I hadn’t seen him that excited since he starting ball-faking like Stephen Curry. Of course, that was until he witnessed yesterday’s Raider debacle and reality set in.

So for this beautiful late summer day let’s check out some memories from September’s past. For our photo entree we are journeying down to It’s Beach and Steamer Lane to check out a couple of glorious evenings with the full moon rising. Creedence Clearwater Revival might say it was “bad moon rising” but for me this experience was all good and better. So let’s get to it, the lunar the better.

The first shot shows the bad boy up close and in full regalia as it rose in late afternoon. The next photo was shot thru my favorite arch as then we move on to the beach itself, with the beautiful glow on the sand from the colors of dusk.

We then shift our focus to Steamer Lane, where I photographed the next full moon to rise in the company of sailboats and reflective action. You might notice the different colors on the moons and if you look really hard you can see the cow struggling to jump over it.

So what do we really know about the moon? Then again, what do I really know about myself? Well, Buzz Aldrin fans, I’m glad you asked. So thanks to our friends at space.com, here are some fun facts about my favorite satellite orbiting our planet. Of course, with the exception of DirecTV.

So for starters, and I’ll have the calamari and the shrimp cocktail, how did the moon form? According to the “giant impact” theory, about 4.5 billion years, the young Earth had no moon, no hope and no fear. At some point, a rogue planet, larger than Mars, struck the Earth in a great, glancing blow, like Ali’s left jab that knocked down Frazier in the Thrilla in Manilla.

Instantly, most of the rogue body, and a sizable chunk of Earth, Wind and Fire were vaporized. The crowd went wild as the cloud rose to above 13,700 miles altitude, where it condensed into innumerable solid particles that orbited the Earth. They they aggregated into ever larger moonlets, which eventually combined to form the moon which then led to the formation of moon river, which is “wider than a mile, I’m crossing you in style, someday.”

The Moon’s heavily cratered surface is not the result of childhood acne, but rather the result of intense pummeling by space rocks 4.1 billion ago. The scars of this war, seen as craters, have not eroded much for two main reasons: The Moon, much like my social life, is not geologically very active, so earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain-building don’t destroy the landscape as they do on Earth. With virtually no atmosphere or ambiance, there is no wind or rain, so very little surface erosion. Or in the words of Diana Ross, “no wind, no rain, no winter’s cold, can stop me babe, if you’re not cold.”

The rotation of the moon, the time it takes to spin once around on its own axis, takes the same amount of time as the moon takes to complete one orbit of the Earth, about 27.3 days, or about the same amount of time it used to take me develop a new dance move for Soul Train.

This means the moon’s rotation is synchronized in a way that causes the moon to show the same face to the Earth at all times, unlike myself, as I constantly change my facial expressions to show joy, serenity and frustration, like when my Giants dominate in statistically in the first half but can’t score in the red zone. One hemisphere always faces us, while the other always faces away. The lunar far side, or for you Pink Floyd fans, the dark side of the moon, has been photographed only from spacecraft and northern New Jersey.

The Moon is not round. Instead, it’s shaped like an egg with a side order of toast and hash browns. The airless lunar surface bakes like Betty Crocker in the sun at up to 243 degrees Fahrenheit for two weeks at a time, as the lunar day lasts about a month. Then, for an equal period, the same spot is in the dark. The dark side cools to about -272 degrees Fahrenheit, so you might want to bring a sweater.

The moon is sheathed by a rocky road of rubble created by constant bombardment by meteoroids, asteroids, comets and internet bloggers. There is no water, no air, no restrooms on the moon. The shape of the moon appears to change in a repeating cycle when viewed from the Earth because the amount of illuminated moon we see varies, depending on the moon’s position in relation to the Earth and the sun. Or in the words of Phillip Bailey and the gang, “you’re a shining star, no matter who you are, shining bright to see, what you can truly be.”

We see the full moon when the sun is directly behind us or someone drops their pants, illuminating a full hemisphere of the moon. Like today’s photo ensemble, the full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. The full moon is the only moon that will be overhead in the middle of the night. Only 59% of the moon’s surface is visible from earth. No word on how much surface is visible from Neptune, Jupiter or Uranus.

The surface gravity of the moon is only one-sixth that of the Earth. The force gravity exerts on a person determines the person’s weight. Even though your mass would be the same on Earth and the moon, if you weigh 132 pounds on Earth, you would weigh about 22 pounds on the moon. How’s that taste, Jenny Craig? The moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth is the main cause of the rise and fall of ocean tides. Or as I like to think of it as, this time from the Outlaws, “green grass and high tides forever, castles of stone, soul and glory.”

When Neil Armstrong took that historical step of “one small step for man, one giant step for mankind” it would not have occurred to anyone that the step he took in the dust of the moon was there to stay. It will be there for at least 10 million years, or until the Merry Maid service arrives by rocket ship. When Alan Sheppard was on the moon, he hit a golf ball and drove it 2,400 feet, nearly one half a mile. Unfortunately, it missed the green and landed in the sand trap, which led to a double bogey and his dropping off the leader’s board.

The term “honeymoon” is derived from the Babylonians who declared mead, a honey-flavored wine, the official wedding drink, stipulating that the bride’s parents be required to keep the groom supplied with the drink for the month following the wedding. Either that or pay for the tux rental and the “entertainment” at the bachelor party. And finally, in a survey conducted in 1988, 13% of those surveyed believed that the moon is made of cheese. No cheese has ever been found on the moon, although crackers were found by the first Soviet cosmonauts.

Let me end with a quote from my old racquetball partner, Mahatma Gandhi. “When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.” I know where you’re coming from, my man.

Here’s a little taste of the late night. “U.S. commanders in Afghanistan are ending their zero-tolerance policy on corruption and allowing local officials who are on our side to be ‘moderately’ corrupt. It’s the same policy we have in Congress. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer stopped speaking during an interview and stared blankly at the camera for 30 seconds. The good news is, she’s now eligible to be governor of Alaska. Hillary Clinton opened the Middle East peace talks and said, “People with a history of conflict can learn to live together.’ And believe me, she knows what she’s talking about.” –Jay Leno

So that’s it for our last full week of summer. Clouds returned to the sky last week, which means it’s time to dust off my camera as change is in the air. Also caught a gorgeous crescent moon in the twilight on our way home from the basketball court on Friday night, which gave this post and Jason posting me up greater meaning.

On a sad note, condolences go out to the family of Jamie and Marylu Hall, whose son, Rafael, passed away on September 5. Rafael loved the beach, was full of life and will be remembered in his family’s hearts forever.

So I hope you enjoyed the first weekend of football as much as I enjoyed the first episode of the new season of “Sons of Anarchy.” Nothing like good, wholesome family entertainment. We’ll catch your in the corner of the end zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, Arian Foster fans.

February 28, 2010

Pedal To The Medals

Good morning and greetings, ice dancing fans. Yes, February 2010, much like my keen eyesight, razor-sharp hearing and six pack abs, is now history. Our second month of the year is unique, as much like my status in my high school hoops days, it is the shortest month on the calendar and flies by faster than my son in the open court with his new driving permit.

February also brought us the Winter Olympics from Vancouver, Canada. For those of you who may have missed out any news from north of the border, today we are featuring complete gold medal coverage from our award-winning correspondent from north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Now here, in his own words, is the guy who followed me out our mother’s birth canal, Paul Gilbert.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been a visitor in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Well, it’s been more of a virtual vacation, as I’ve been riveted to my TV set watching the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. I didn’t think I’d be anywhere as interested in them as the Summer Games, but once the curling competition started, I was hooked. C’mon, name another sport where your team includes people sweeping brooms like they’ve just had 50 triple espressos? I wish they would come over and clean our house.

There was such a potpourri of athletic competition to choose from, it was like sifting through the menu at a Cheesecake Factory. To get things off on the right ski, I was curious to see if Lindsay Vonn would look as good in high def as she did in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Actually, I was hoping that Brooklyn Decker would qualify in the Super G-string and wear her cover outfit, which was the size of a large snowflake.

As it turns out, Vonn ended up riding a roller coaster on the slopes. Gold medal, crashes, disqualifications, and the media doing everything it could to provoke a cat fight with her teammate, Julie Mancuso, who clearly did not enjoy playing second fiddle, especially after getting the unintentional shaft in the slalom, when Vonn did a pinky swear with the snow fence. The fact is both are great athletes and male or female, it takes a lot of balls to compete in a sport where you’re hurdling down an ice-covered mountain at 90 MPH.

Loved those crazy, high-flying snowboarders working the half-pipe (which they used to smoke after each competition, until the Olympic drug-testers ruined the party). Shaun White was truly amazing, as evidenced by replays that compared his run with the second place finisher and White was about 20 feet higher (OK, insert joke here). We all know he created his best tricks on the private half-pipe his sponsor, Red Bull, built him in Colorado and the question is, does his famous Double McTwist 1260 come with fries?

I enjoyed some of the speed skating events, especially the short tracks where competitors jockeyed for position like New York City cab drivers. The South Koreans were amazing, I wonder when they became a speed skating superpower, id the North Koreans threatened a nuclear response? I think the Dutch coach might want to take a long vacation before heading home for his public execution and I’m now considering wearing a red headband, growing a little soul patch and changing my name to Apolo. Oh-yes.

In deference to my lovely wife, I also watched some of the ice dancing. There are moments of grace and artistry, but whoever designs those costumes must be the rejects from the first round of Project Runway. It’s hard to take a sport seriously where the athletes dress like Halloween on Acid on Ice.

The figure skating competition felt a little drawn out, but since I can barely stand on a pair of skates, I have to admire the skill of these athletes and their ability to perform under pressure. I was glad to see Evan Lysacek beat that sourpuss, sore loser Russian. That’s what you get for dressing like Lenin doing Liberace and having a bad shag haircut.

On the women’s side, Yu Na Kim of South Korea breathtaking and seemingly effortless performance was mesmerizing. And whose heart didn’t go out to Joannie Rochette, the Canadian skater whose mother died on her way to watch her compete? This reminded me of the many side stories that make up a whole other side of the Olympics, which is how an athlete’s parents sacrifice their time, energy and money to support their children and then, have to live vicariously through the both victories and the defeats. Truly, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

As usual, NBC decided to tape delay the most popular events and play them back in prime time. That meant I had to avoid reading the news online or watching SportsCenter before I tuned in for my nightly Olympics fix. And since the New York Times is my browser homepage, it’s hard not to notice when you see a headline like USA UPSETS CANADA!! Then again, haven’t the Canadians been upset with us for the last forty or fifty years?

The USA hockey team beating Canada in the first round was immensely satisfying. I don’t watch a lot of hockey, except for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which are incredibly intense, but this was just as riveting. My adrenaline was pumping so hard that I was throwing crosschecks into my son and got called for high-sticking the dog.

The gold medal game was equally intense, a fitting end to the Olympic competition. Just when it looked like Canada had it in the bag, Team USA scores with twenty-four seconds left to send it into overtime, which put the entire population of Canada on suicide watch and sent our puppy into a frenzied “who let the dogs out, eh?” But in the end, hockey’s best player, Sidney Crosby, did what the great ones do. Will his way to victory. So as for as a repeat of “do you believe in miracles?” let’s see if the Knicks sign LeBron.

As for the TV coverage, there were so many commercial breaks that Bob Costas might as well have said “we’ll be right back after this brief glimpse of actual sports action to bring you more commercials from Vancouver.” I don’t quite understand how NBC can claim to have lost $200 million on these Games, when they ran 200 million commercials.

Got to give Costas his due, he’s the consummate pro. He switches seamlessly from sport to sport and brings out the best in his guests. NBC pulled out all the stops on the various commentators and expert analysts in each sport, but one person who received mixed scores in my book was Mary Carillo. Some of her up close and personal pieces were good, but when it comes to late night comedy, she ain’t exactly Wanda Sykes.

All kidding aside, the reason I enjoyed watching the Winter Games so much was to see great athletes competing at the highest level of their sports. They have put in thousands of hours of practice, endured injuries and hardship, and basically dedicated their entire lives to perfecting their performances. While some are multi-millionaire professionals, the majority are not making the big bucks. They’re doing it for the love of their sport, the honor of representing their country and the ultimate challenge of being the best in the entire world at what they do. No matter how bureaucratic and corporate the Olympics have become, in many ways, it’s still the purest and deepest experience in the sports universe.

So it was a great ride while it lasted and now, looking ahead to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, my daughter is immersed in her training for Olympic Gold in Downhill Texting. And knowing her, she’s already planning the photo shoot for Sports Illustrated.

Do me a favor, cancel your subscriptions, now.

Whew. Thank you, brother. Now, being a big fan of the lunar year, I’m always jacked up for the start of the new month and flipping to a fresh page of the calendar. It’s the same feeling I get when popping off the top of a Tropicana Orange Juice or ripping open a package of Pepperidge Farm Orange Milano cookies, a semi-religious experience without the jolt of sugar. I was going to blast out some fabulous winter color to welcome the Ides of March, but then Friday evening came so we shifted Disraeli gears.

Ominous-looking storm clouds and herbal tea had been brewing all morning, as the heavy rain started to fall in the early afternoon. Throughout the day, the sky was as gray as Richard Gere’s hair at a Free Tibet fundraiser. Towards early evening, I gazed into the western sky and spotted an opening in the horizon (photo #1.) At the same time, clouds were coming forward from the east and a small rainbow made an appearance (photo #2.) It paled in comparison to the rainbows I viewed on Saturday in San Jose, which were as fabulous as the dialogue in “The Hangover.”

The wind was whipping off the coast as the sun slowly dropped thru the cloud cover and cast a gorgeous shining light on the churning waves (photos #3-4-5) before disappearing and heading to China. Adding to my dusk delight, hundreds of gulls were cruising south as a full moon appeared from behind the clouds (photo #6). Bingo! A fantastic end to a day that had shown no potential for greatness just minutes earlier. Kind of like Conan O’Brien’s final “Tonight Show” appearance.

On to some late night humor. “The Winter Olympics is apparently a big thing for a lot of people, and America has won the most medals. The only sport I really get into is snowboarding because that’s the only sport where they perform a half pipe just after smoking a full pipe.” –Bill Maher Dick Cheney loves snowboarding. He thinks it’s waterboarding, but colder.” –David Letterman “Tiger Woods was adamant that his wife Elin never hit him with a golf club. I guess his Escalade fell down the stairs.” –Jimmy Kimmel

It’s a great day for former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was released from the hospital today. He’s doing well. Doctors say he’ll be up and shooting lawyers in no time.” –Craig Ferguson “Something weird happened in the hospital. When they were putting the electrodes on him for the EKG, he suddenly started screaming, ‘Stop! I’ll tell you everything you want to know! It was a fun day for the head of Toyota U.S.A. today. He had to appear in front of Congress. “I have to say, it was actually refreshing to see a car company C.E.O. appear before Congress and not ask for $10 billion.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our first blast for the month of March. Coming up next week, we’re going to continue the guest mode as we’ll feature nature photographer Judy Bingham on these cyber pages. This will be a pick six pack of photos you will not want to miss. So I hope you enjoyed our Olympic coverage as we can now return our full attention to the NBA and SCCAL varsity volleyball. We’ll catch you in the paint. Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

January 31, 2010

Beauty And The East

Good morning and greetings, State of the Union fans. Let's start off today's festivities with a quick no-look pass at the national scene. President Obama just celebrated his first year anniversary in the White House with cake and ice feelings. A year ago, he took the oath of office, promising to be, according to Dick Polman of the Philadelphia Inquirer "a transformational president who would cure our ills and cleanse our politics." Today, only 39% of people said they would vote for him again and over 70% put the blame for his failures on his being lefthanded.
As Obama himself has conceded, the country "has the right to be deflated," writes Sean Wilenz in the New York Daily News. My jump shot is in better shape than the President's health-care reform, the economy is unemployed, and Iraq and Afghanistann are a bigger mess than my garage. A year ago, Americans were talking about electing "another Lincoln." Adds Wilenz, today Obama looks "less like a political messiah and more like a victim of unrealistic expectations." Which sound hauntily familiar to my first year of coaching basketball at the Boys & Girls club.

On the other hand, the economy, unlike my archilles tendon eight years ago, didn't collapse (actually , I was kicked,) and unlike when I started losing my basketball quickness, the country didn't suffer through a depression. For those Americans who were looking for instant results or instant karma, there's been a lot of frustration, much like the feeling of missing a wide-open layup.

Overall, it's been a trying year for our Commander-in-Chief, who walked into a situation that was trickier than the questions in the math section of my SAT's. The question is, are we better off now than we were a year ago? Remember, Jim Rome wasn't built in a day, but for many Americans, these are very stressful times, particularly if you're a Golden State Warrior fan.

Moving right along, in the Declaration of Independence, which ranks right up there with the Gettysburg Address and John Belushi's "Animal House" rantings, "Over? Did you say 'over?' Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the German's bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!," provides us with "life, liberty and the pursuit to view sunrises. Which leads me into today's point of interest. I ran across an article written by Abby Goodnough in the New York Times from January 5th. In it she wrote, in a new setback for a controversial wind farm proposed off of Cape Cod, which is not to be confused with a wind bag like Rush Limbaugh, the National Park Service announced that Nantucket Sound was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, guaranteeing further delays for the project.

Known as Cape Wind, the project is the nation’s first planned offshore wind farm and would cover 24 square miles in the sound, an area roughly the size of Manhattan, which we got from the Indians for $24 and a signed Derek Jeter baseball card. The park service decision came in response to a request from two Massachusetts Indian tribes, who said the 130 proposed wind turbines would thwart their spiritual ritual of greeting the sunrise, which requires unobstructed views across the sound, disturb ancestral burial grounds and change the television reception they receive for Red Sox home games.

In seeking the historical designation, the Wampanoag tribes — whose name translates to “people of the first light” — said their view to the east across Nantucket Sound was integral to their identity and cultural traditions. “Here is where we still arrive to greet the new day, watch for celestial observations in the night sky, follow the migration of the sun and stars in change with the season and watch Celtic games,” wrote Bettina Washington, historic preservation officer for the Aquinnah Wampanoag, in a letter to federal officials.

So this is where I pick up the story. What these two Indian tribes are asking for is the right to view an unobstructed sunrise, something they have done for a bit longer than I've been posting Sunrise Santa Cruz. They, more than anyone else, know that there is something spirtually cleansing to viewing the magnificence and beauty that daybreak brings to the dawning table. And I can relate to the "people of the first light," as at this stage of my life, I need some kind of light to read anything. The eyes may be the window to the soul, but I need those cheater glasses to see it. In conclusion, if it's important to Abby Goodnough, well, then that's good enough for me.

So for our photo journey, I have selected a montage of two shots of three different sunrises from the first eleven days of the new year. I could have gone with one more photo, but that would have been 7 from the first Eleven and that's just too much slurping for me.

Anyway, the first series is from January 2, just a wild display of some orange-tangerine wonder in the eastern sky above Lighthouse Point. We then move to the following day, where I was able to add my favorite arch to our photo ensemble. But my favorite sunrise of the year came eight days later on January 11, when I was shooting from Fair Avenue along West Cliff Drive and the sky just blew up with color. I shot from this spot to get a good overall view of the skies above Monterey Bay and it was just plastic fantastic. The windows of the houses along the cliff were glowing like my mind when people tell me that they were thinking about me while experiencing a beautiful sunrise. Reggie Jackson was known as "Mr. October." I'm thinking of myself as Mr. November, December and January.

Because of reruns, late night was a little light this week but here we go. "John McCain's wife and her daughter, Meghan, have posed for pictures endorsing gay marriage here in California, although Senator McCain — well, he's still very traditional. He believes marriage should be between an older man and a really hot-looking younger woman.
"Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. They're going to the Super Bowl. The Saints beat the Vikings. Former President George Bush Sr., he was at the game. Now, his son George W. was invited. But you know him, when it comes to New Orleans, he's always, like, two weeks late." - Jay Leno

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that California can save money by no longer incarcerating illegal immigrants and just sending them to Mexico instead. Well, actually, today, the immigrants had three words for Schwarzenegger - 'I'll be back.'" "Wal-Mart announced it's cutting over 11,000 jobs. "That's an amazing amount of people: The problem is they made the announcement in English, so everybody kept showing up for work." –Jay Leno "It's Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff's birthday today and he celebrated, spent the entire day waving to Sarah Palin." –David Letterman

So that's our first blast from the month of February. Last week I mentioned rumors of a guest blog, but much like Brett Favre going to Miami, it just didn't happen. But it shall and there are also major snow drifts on the horizon. And don't worry, I've got lots more sunrises waiting on the cyber runway. And just to keep the presidential record straight, President Obama would like to see the Saints win it all next Sunday. Michelle, on the other hand, is excited about checking out Peter Townsend and the Who at halftime. Or as she put it to her hubby the other day, "Barack, can you hear me"? That's it Tommy fans, enjoy Super Bowl Sunday and we'll catch you on the winner's podium. Aloha, mahalo and later, Archie Manning fans.

November 15, 2009

Nice Skies Finish Last

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:00 pm

Good morning and greetings, NBA fans. Per my psychiatrist’s orders, I was walking along West Cliff Drive last week, hoping that the edge of the continent would help enlighten me as to what to write about. And then, while being serenaded by the crashing waves, chains of pelicans and lost tourists, I remembered my wife telling me that I was soon going to turn 57. Fifty-seven! The number blows my mind. Holy middle age, Batman.

When I think fifty-seven, I usually think Heinz 57 Sauce, not the amount of candles atop my birthday cake. That’s a little too close to the big six oh. And here I am, at age 56, and I still haven’t decided whether I want to be a fireman, policeman or vice-president when I grow up.

So that got me to thinking, at this stage of the game, and we’re talking middle innings, I should write about what I’m grateful for. I’m not trying to get too personal, just trying to give you cyber readers and blog stalkers a little insight inside the mind, the spirit and occasional psychotic breaks that go into making Sunrise Santa Cruz.

Both are my parents are alive and living in Santa Cruz. My father is 92 and my mother, who didn’t breast feed me, is 83. Some thirty-odd years ago, on a hot summer night back in New Jersey with the humidity over 100%, I told my parents they should move to Santa Cruz. I wasn’t sure if they heard me over the whirring of the air conditioner, but a few years later they showed up on my doorstep at West Cliff Drive, wondering if they could stay for the night. Turns out they had sold their house and business, put their stuff in storage and manifest destinied to the west coast.

Well, that one night turned into five months, before I had to have them evicted for too many late night parties. At the time my modeling career going full bore and I needed my beauty sleep. They are now living happily in semi-retirement, enjoying the good life in Santa Cruz while running a small interstate bookmaking operation.

The house on West Cliff Drive, where I spent my wonder years (1975-89), is also where I met my wife, Allison. I was advertising for a quiet, female roommate and she showed up, spied the ocean view and asked when could she move in. I explained to her it wasn’t that simple. She then told me her father had Laker’s season tickets at the Fabulous Forum (3rd row across from the visitor’s bench) and I said, in that case, forget last month’s rent and a deposit, you’re in.

Then, after nine years, we rushed into marriage and the rest is AP World History. She is the greatest thing to ever happen to me, not including the time my freshman basketball coach stormed into the lockerroom at halftime and screamed, “Dammit, no one is playing any defense out there except for Gilbert.” Ah, high school memories.

Our marriage has produced two children and a golden retriever. Jason is a 5′ 10″ high school sophomore, with a 5′ 9″ wingspan, who speaks Spanish like the maitre de at the Tacqueria La Cabana. He is a smart, sensitive, funny kid who someday would like me to pay for his medical school. I still remember the day he told me, “Dad, I either want to be a doctor or the Oakland A’s video guy.” I am extremely proud of him and will be even prouder the day he dunks a basketball in traffic off the fast break.

My daughter Aimee is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed gift from God. She is a gifted artist who also has big ambitions. She told me one day that she either wanted to be a lawyer or a hair dresser. She knows how to make her father laugh. She has the smile, the glow and an aura surrounding her, and most importantly, can throw strikes all day as a lefty softball pitcher.

Which brings me to our golden retriever, Summer. Some say there’s no such thing as love at first sight, but when I saw that tubby, little six-week-old ball of fur, I was hooked, line and sinker. Unlike Jason and Aimee, she hasn’t mentioned any plans for the future, just that she wants to be fed and covered by President Obama’s new health care program.

That’s the immediate family. I’ve got two brothers and an imaginery sister. My brother Paul lives in Marin County and created all the “NBA action, it’s fantastic” promos when he was Director of Video Promotion for the league back in New York. He claims I didn’t speak to him for a week after he beat me in ping ping for the first time (never happened,) and even if he did, it wouldn’t have been more than two or three days.

My brother Brad resides in Boulder, Colorado and is CEO, President and head chef at People Productions, which involves Intelligently Integrated Media and delicious gluten free desserts. My youngest brother is very devoted to his work, as exemplified by the example he sets for his employees by snowboarding in as much fresh powder as possible during office hours.

And finally, as Jennifer Aniston once told me, you’ve got to have friends. Over the past year, through some difficult days, many of you have touched my heart, pancreas and other vital organs. Now, there are way too many of you to mention here, although if any of you had sponsored this blog, you’d have top billing. In any case, I’ll mention a few.
I had lunch on Friday with my oldest non-New Jersey pal, Doug, whom I’ve known for 38 years, yet, still don’t know his last name. I have a incredible friend and confidante named Nancy Mager, whom I speak to almost every day, and who fortunately allows me to call her collect. And then there is my old Garden State pal Steve, who I struck out swinging twice in our minor league championship game and who still remembers the grin on my face. Steve and I go way back, I knew him before there was history.

All right, enough of my life story. For our photo runway, we’re heading over to Natural Bridges State Beach. This would come under the heading, something old, something new. The first three shots are from a sunset from this week back in 2005, before Michelle Obama started going sleeveless. The last three images are from an outrageous night back on October 26, when this cloud formation lit up the western sky and dazzled partygoers, sports fans and focus groups gathered along the West Cliff Drive.

On to some late night humor. “Sarah Palin announced that she’s gonna travel across the country on a bus to promote her new book. She’ll be hard to miss ’cause it’ll be the only bus on the road with a dead moose strapped on the hood.” –Conan O’Brien “On Monday, Oprah Winfrey and Sarah Palin will sit down and they’re going to talk for an entire hour. And I was thinking, too bad John McCain didn’t do that with her before he chose her as his running mate.” –David Letterman “CBS News is reporting that President Obama has decided to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Obama says it’s all part of his plan to finally deliver on the campaign promises made by John McCain” –Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama is traveling to Asia this week. He’ll be making a trip to China. While he’s there, Obama plans to visit the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and America’s money.” –Conan O’Brien “Al Gore was here in New York yesterday signing copies of his new book ‘Our Choice’ at Barnes and Noble. It was strange, Gore wouldn’t write his name. He just signed each book, ‘I’m sorry, tree.’” –Jimmy Fallon “The AMA is urging the Federal Government not to classify marijuana as a dangerous drug and do more research. That’s what they said. It’s a big story, yeah. Yeah, that request came not only from the AMA but also from KFC.” –Conan O’Brien

“Three young Americans have been charged with espionage in Iran after straying into the country while hiking in Iraq. Now, obviously, we all pray for their safe return. But hiking in Iraq? I mean — you know, if you’re hiking in Iraq and Iran, you might want to get a you new travel agent. I mean, who goes hiking in Iraq? What was the rafting trip to Somalia all booked up?” –Jay Leno “Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was forced to resign because he used prostitutes, will deliver a lecture tomorrow at the Harvard center for Ethics. Yeah, if you want to check out the speech, it costs $500 for half an hour, $900 if you want to stay for the whole hour.” –Jimmy Fallon “Chrysler announced it’s coming out with a new logo that’s going to appear on all of its cars, and they hope it will boost sales. And it should help, because the new logo says, ‘Toyota.’” –Conan O’Brien

That’s it for our mid-November report. I’d like to welcome some new folks to the blog, who I met this weekend at the Autumn Artisans Faire. Glad you’re along for the ride. And thanks to everyone out there who has read this far down in this posting. So enjoy the November skies and we’ll catch you on the far sideline. Aloha, mahalo and later, Peyton Manning fans.

November 8, 2009

I Can See It In Your Sunrise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:55 pm

Good morning and greetings, Perry Mason fans. About a month ago, I received the following notice in the mail: SUMMONS FOR JURY SERVICE. Now, I was hoping for CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE WON A MILLION DOLLARS or YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL, but in retrospect, the notice for jury duty ranked a close second or at least took home the bronze.

Now, as we all know, the right of a trial by jury is a privilege afforded to every citizen in the U.S not currently residing at Guantanamo Bay. Personally, when I’m thinking privilege, it’s more along the lines of meeting a President Obama or bringing joy to a sick child, not being judged in a courtroom by a group of my peers, most of whom wish they were elsewhere. This right to a trial by jury is guaranteed by the Constitution and the NBA, where caring happens.

Nevertheless, I was prepared to perform my civic duty, so I picked out something from my Clarence Thomas fall collection and headed down to the court house. We were first directed into the jury assembly room, where prospective jurors were greeted with a luxurious spread of hot hors d’oeuvres, my favorite being the little quiches in the shape of gavels. It was a nice way to say hello although the stuffed mushrooms were a little overdone and the bailiffs ate most of the shrimp.

We were then called out by name and directed to head over to Department 7. I was thrilled that the woman who did the name calling pronounced mine correctly. It’s the same feeling I get when I go to a doctor’s office for the first time and when asked on the questionaire, “what do you like to be called?”, I always answer “Brad Pitt, or sometimes “George Clooney.” It’s my way of giving back.

We were then warned by a Sheriff’s deputy that the following items would not be allowed in the court building. Knives of any size, pocket tools, screwdrivers, whiskey sours, scissors, knitting needles, pine needles, mace, pepper spray, pepper steak, handcuff keys, nail files, wallet chains, fast food chains, forks, glass bottles and inflatable life rafts.

Then it was on to the courthouse, where we then sat outside the courtroom before being given the magic words to enter. As I strolled through the courtroom doors, I immediately spotted the long-haired defendant, looking very dapper in his jailhouse khakis. He was looking around and smiling like a jaybird, or maybe that’s jailbird. He was seemingly thrilled that all these people had come to pass judgement on him. Either that, or he was just a lunatic. I then wondered, what crime was this gleeful soul accused of and did I remember to put the parking pass on the windshield of my car.

A distinguished-looking, white-haired judge then welcomed us and starting off by thanking us for appearing to fulfill our civic duty. And then before you could say “Judge Judy, “jurisprudence” or “Dear Prudence,” his honor declared that “the parties had agreed that they no longer required the services of a jury so we’ll see you in two years.”

Well, the joy in the room was overwhelming. I hadn’t seen that many happy people gathered together since McDonalds introduced the McRib sandwich. I was back in my car and headed home before you could say “will the defendant please rise.” They say justice is blind. I say, every once in a while, the blind squirrel finds an acorn.

So now that the verdict is in, let’s move on to this week’s photo funhouse. I was going to feature a sunset that I shot back in October that had greatness written all over it. But then on Wednesday morning, this sunrise came along and moved to the front of the pack. Unlike in poker, a full house sunrise beats a royal flush sunset.

I had been up since 3:15 am that morning, working on my doctorate on the causes and effects of enormous tv viewing by middle-aged men. When I looked outside at 5:50 am the sky showed great potential, much like I exhibited back in my junior high basketball days. So I headed down to West Cliff and when I arrived at the coast, I was greeted by a beautiful orange and gray canvas of November clouds. As the creator and co-star of Sunrise Santa Cruz, these are the kinds of mornings that make me it all worthwhile. Well, that and being able to find my car keys.

Along with my trusty golden retriever, we proceeded to Its Beach. It felt good to be in the sand shooting away, as this was the first classic sunrise of the fall season. By 7 am, the sky was a whitish gray and you would never have known that there had been morning majesty in the air. And that is what Sunrise Santa Cruz is all about, capturing those moments and bringing them to this blog. Well, that and being a comedic forum for anything that flows through my stream of conciousness.

So let’s bring on the late night humor. “It’s interesting what former presidents do when they leave office. Bush is now working as a motivational speaker. And if you want to be motivated, who better to turn to than the guy who invaded the wrong country and started a depression.” -David Letterman “President Obama planted a tree on the north lawn of the White House this week, in a spot where Bush planted one that did not take. Apparently, nobody had the heart to tell Bush that his tree was actually a coat rack. ‘I’m going to go water my tree!’ ‘Whatever you say, Mr. President.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Some bad news for Sarah Palin. I don’t know if you heard this, according to a recent survey when asked, 7 out of 10 people said Sarah Palin is not qualified to be president. 7 out of 10. Yeah. Even worse, the question was, ‘Are you happy with your long-distance service?’” –Conan O’Brien

“Abdullah Abdullah just quit next week’s runoff election against Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzi. Abdullah Abdullah said, he was just following in the footsteps of his role model, Palin Palin.” –Jimmy Fallon “Yeah, no runoff election in Afghanistan. Apparently a second election would be way too expensive to rig. So Abdullah Abdullah says he is pulling out because he wants to spend more time with his wife, Paula Abdullah. Abdullah Abdullah may be out of the race, but they say in four years his idiot son will be on the ballot. That would be Abdullah W. Abdullah.” –David Letterman

“Do you believe it’s been a year since Barack Obama was elected president? Amazing, huh? Well, actually, there’s been some changes. His new slogan is now, ‘Yes, we can, but don’t hold your breath. The White House has approved a new plan to pay — they’re going to pay members of the Taliban to change sides and support the U.S. And if it works there, they’re going to try it with Fox News.” –Jay Leno “President Obama has made a stunning announcement. President Obama has approved a new plan to pay members of the Taliban to switch sides and support the United States. Yeah, apparently he’s promised them 72 virgins and full dental coverage.” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s our pre-Veterans day report. Shot another gorgeous sunrise yesterday morning on the final day of the Coldwater Classic down at Steamer Lane. It was epic conditions as the swell was up and waves were pumping. And congratulations to go out to Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees for winning their 27th World Championship. It just goes to show that, in the words of the Beatles, “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love,” but it can sure can help purchase starting pitching and hitting. We’ll catch you in the end zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, Bronx Bomber fans.

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