July 24, 2011

Just Smile And Waves

Good morning and greetings, big wave fans. During the summer in Santa Cruz, the surf crowd doesn’t have all that much to get excited about, as the swells are smaller than the chances the Warriors will be playing opening night against the Lakers in November. At this point in my life, I would prefer to “luck out” rather than have a “lockout” of my favorite sport, but as the Dali Lama once told me, “Basketball is life and the rest is just karma.”

But let’s get back to the subject and predicate at hand. In a story written by Suzanne Bohan in the Contra Costa Times, the winter of 2009-10 was more brutal on the coastal erosion front than the Taliban’s continuing campaign against women and education. These super storms, which were faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall seawalls in a single bound, eroded huge chunks of shoreline and my faith in sand bags.

To see this displacement of Mother Earth in action, just stroll
along West Cliff Drive and you get a birds-eye view of the process.
According to a new study by scientists and Al Gore’s pilates
instructor, the coastline may be disappearing faster than Rupert Murdoch’s justification for Fox News, as climate change will be bringing encores of these powerful storm seasons.

During the 2009-10 winter season, waves in the Pacific and my urge to dance were 20 % stronger on average than any other year since 1997, when the whole ballroom obsession thing just took over me. The higher-than-usual sea levels, like my desire to rumba, foxtrot and tango, eroded away California state beaches at “unprecedented levels,” according to coastal geologists and lifeguards who saw their towers washed away. It’s the kind of winters we may continue to experience as global temperatures and out-of-control tuition
hikes for UC schools continue to rise.

In the erosion department, it is natural for the coastlines to be
stripped of sand by the powerful winter waves. In the summertime, it is replenishment city as the sand makes a return engagement on the backs of smaller waves. Unfortunately, after the stormy winter of 2009-10, King Neptune taketh more than he giveth, leaving the beaches more vulnerable to worsening erosion problems from than my thoughts and feelings after watching an episode of “Parenthood.”

Now normally you would blame these big-time storms on our old friend, El Nino, but instead, the finger gets pointed a his second cousin, El Nino Modoki, with Modoki being Japanese for “similar, but different,” or “does that come with teriyaki sauce?” This involves the raising of central Pacific water temperatures along with the salt and dried kelp content of miso soup.

What we’re really talking about is warm sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific flanked on the east and west by cooler waters, a sort of tempura condition. It’s akin to putting your right foot in, then taking your right foot out before putting your right foot back in and shaking it all about. It sounds like a lot of hocus pocus to me but that’s what it’s all about.

So to give you a look at what some of those waves blasting against the coast looked like, let’s journey back to a glorious day along
West Cliff. As you can see, the swell was pumping, bringing with it a high energy feeling and big spray. Photo number four is my favorite, as it’s the new wave hitting the backwash of the previous one and cresting up to form this furious entanglement of white foam. I really wanted to give this spectacular shot of fluid dynamics a clever title and thought long and hard before coming up with, “The Wave.”

We end this photo faire with a couple of landscape shots from
Its Beach during the golden hour from the same day. If anyone out there is cyber space knows how they came up with the name ‘Its’,
please clue me in. I could take a guess, but this blog is rated strictly PG-13.

On to the late night. “While testifying in Parliament, Rupert Murdoch was attacked by a man who threw a pie and yelled insulting names. Murdoch immediately gave the man a show on Fox News. NASA is considering replacing the space shuttle with a space taxi. It can do everything the shuttle can do, except pick you up if you’re black. A panel of medical experts has recommended that health insurance
companies provide free birth control to their customers. The recommendation has been hailed as ‘historic’ by women’s’ groups, and as ’10 years too late’ by Maria Shriver.” –Conan O’Brien

“Rupert Murdoch was testifying in his phone hacking case today, and a man attacked him with a pie. Fortunately, Murdoch knew to move out of the way, because he heard about the plan on the guy’s voicemail.” –Jimmy Fallon “Borders bookstores announced that it will liquidate its stock and close all of its stores nationwide. I don’t think this is what the Republicans meant by ‘closing our borders.’ The United States’ soccer team lost to Japan, which means we’re now losing to Japan in math, science, and penalty kicks.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“It’s rumored that Arnold Schwarzenegger is working on a memoir. Yeah, it’s apparently over 500 pages long — and that’s just the dedication to his kids.” –Jimmy Fallon “Rupert Murdoch said yesterday at the House of Commons that he was shocked, appalled, and ashamed. So apparently he watches Fox News, too.” –Jay Leno
“Sarah Palin’s son Track and his wife are having a baby. They haven’t picked a name yet, but they do know it will be a verb.” –Conan O’Brien

Top Five Surprising Facts About the Moon Landing
10. Was filmed on the same soundstage where they shot ‘Green Acres’ 8. They returned to the moon a week later because one of the astronauts dropped his car keys 6. Buzz Aldrin stuffed his space suit to make himself look bigger 4. Astronauts were charged extra for not returning the capsule with a full tank of gas 1. Neil Armstrong was also the first man on Mrs. Armstrong

So that’s my last blast for July. I’m going to take a couple of weeks off and head to the islands, so look for some aloha action on my return. In the meantime, be grateful for the food on your table as the current famine in Somolia is more horrible than words. It’s worse
than last week’s record-breaking heat and humidity in New York and the truly senseless massacre in Norway. We’ll catch you at home plate. Aloha, mahalo and later, Don Rickles fans.

May 22, 2011

Okay, Who’s Nest?

Good morning and greetings, nature fans. State park officials recently announced that because of budget cuts, seventy state parks across California will close starting in September. Holy Rosa Parks, that’s a 25% slice and dice. We’re talking beaches, redwood forests and parks with historical and cultural significance with rest rooms that haven’t been thoroughly cleaned in years. You would think at a time when vacation money is tight that the parks would be a natural place that would stay open, but this is not the case.

Governor Jerry Brown had to slash the budget and state public services got carved up like a honey-baked ham. Personally, I blame Arnold Swarzenegger for not being able to keep it in his pants.

Fortunately, one California State Park that escaped unscathed was Natural Bridges State Beach. So this is where our journey begins today as we are featuring that sleek, black sea bird that swims like Michael Phelps, the cormorant. Last week I saw a couple of huge flocks flying low to the water, furiously flapping their wings in a v-formation, as they were either on their way to feeding grounds or late for birds-only retreat.

So every weekday morning, after summoning up the courage to get out of bed, I knock back a couple of organic Pop Tarts and drop my kids off at school. I then head over to West Cliff Drive before settling outside the entrance to Natural Bridges, where my wife and I start our four mile, er two miles, er mile and a half stroll along our favorite street in Santa Cruz.

I am always excited in April when the cormorants return to this nesting spot on the edge of the cliff (photo #1) to build their nests, lay their eggs and discuss their hopes and dreams. I’m not sure if this is where they’ll actually mate, but who wouldn’t feel love in the air in a spot where the tides flow in and out, waves crash below you 24 hours a day and you can double date with pelicans.

Last year, a colony of these colonial nesters showed up at the usual time, built their custom homes but then halfway through the party abandoned this prime shelf of real estate. Local birders informed me in hushed tones that word on the street was that there wasn’t enough food and they were starving and forced to move on. It was very disturbing to have them leave so suddenly, but it was nature’s way of telling me something was wrong.

So at this point in late May, the females are sitting on the nests while their mates gather fish n’ chips and talk sports. Actually, both parents take part in building the nest and incubating the eggs, but the males get credit as the general contractor. I shot photo #3 last week so you can see what stage we are at with these sea birds. But just in case we don’t make it to the birth announcement stage, I threw in photos 5 & 6 from a few years back so you could see what these spanking new toddlers look like at birth.

Much like my time at Woodstock, the newly hatched cormorants are blind for their first three days on earth as well as buck naked. For the next five to seven weeks their mothers will sit on them, protecting their newborns from the wind, rain and natural predators like the nature photographer. And like my daughter’s worst nightmare, the babies are fed through regurgitation until they grow big and strong enough to fly off to join larger flocks or enroll in the Peace Corps.

It’s a west side treat to watch this magical event along the edge of the continent, from the flying in of the grasses, seaweed and dry wall for the nests to the lamaze births of the babies, all done out in the open in Pacific Ocean time. If you want to check it out, just park in the upper lot at Natural Bridges and walk outside the entrance and voila, you’re at cormorant nesting central. If things go according to plans, the chicks will hatch and then they’ll hang around through the summer with day trips to the Boardwalk, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Phil’s Fish House. For us locals, it’s like watching Animal Planet on the big screen of life.

On to the late night. “They found so much porn at Bin Laden’s compound that they’re investigating whether the porn was used to send coded messages. So remember guys, from now on when your lady catches you, you’re not looking at porn, you’re analyzing coded messages. ‘Honey, I wasn’t looking at porn. I’m in Al Qaeda.’” –Conan O’Brien “They have found Osama bin Laden’s diary. Some entries: ‘Very unhappy with TV reception. Death to Time-Warner.’ ‘Three wives, one bathroom, you do the math.’ The final entry: ‘Dear Diary, can’t talk now. Someone’s at the door. Hope it’s the Domino’s guy.’” -David Letterman

“President Obama’s approval rating, which got a bump after killing bin Laden, has slipped again. Which is really bad news — not for the president, for Moammar Gadhafi. President Obama suggested that Israel should go back to the pre-1967 borders. Native Americans said, “Why stop there? Let’s go back to the pre-1492 borders.”–Jay Leno

“I’m Conan O’Brien, or as I can now publicly call myself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jr. Schwarzenegger secretly fathered a child outside of his marriage 10 years ago. He told his wife at the time but it took 10 years for her to figure out what he was saying.”—Conan O’Brien “There have been rumors going around for years now about a half Austrian, half Mexican baby who could bench-press a Ford Expedition.” -Jimmy Kimmel

“Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a lovechild back in 2003. He’s been taking care of the child financially, providing healthcare and education — the same stuff he took from every other child while he was governor of California. “I guess ‘love child’ is a nicer term than ‘OK-Maria’s-asleep child.’ The woman was an employee. I’m not sure what she did, but I think she worked on Arnold’s staff.” -Craig Ferguson “Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff. He kept this secret for more than 10 years. You know how he did it? He moved the woman and child into an apartment right down the street from the Pakistani military academy.” -Jay Leno

“Mitt Romney raised over $10 million in eight hours. That’s a dollar for every position he’s had on healthcare.” -Jay Leno “Ron Paul announced that he will run for president, and he supports the legalization of prostitution and heroin. If he does win, it will be one heck of a victory party.” -Conan O’Brien “Al-Qaida has a new leader. It’s quite a success story. He worked his way up all the way from the mail bomb room.” -David Letterman

So that’s our pre-Memorial Day weekend blast. Birthday wishes go out on Wednesday to my life-partner, soul mate and sports-loving wife Allison, who as you can imagine, has put up with plenty from yours truly over the years. And on Saturday, it’s that special day for my Marin-based sister-in-law Wendi, a faithful reader of this blog who lives life like every day is summer camp. So enjoy the singing cicadas, NBA conference finals and we’ll catch you in overtime. Aloha, mahalo and later, Maria Shriver fans.

April 25, 2011

Signed, Elephant Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours

Good morning and greetings, central coast fans. Since we last met cybernetically, tornadoes have continued to blast down across the south and midwest, with hail the size of softballs raining down on unsuspecting infielders and outfielders. This April has set the all-time record for tornadoes and putouts recorded. On Saturday, the airport in St. Louis was struck by the worst tornado in 40 years that left passengers clutching their bags of mini-pretzels and Albert Pujos’ jerseys.

My Kentucky-based field scout Nancy Mager told me last week of storms with howling winds and golf-ball sized hail that came along with thunder and lightning in the middle of the night in Bowling Green. I guess that comes with the territory when you live in tornado or Kirstie Alley.

Moving along to a place with a more gentle weather pattern, during the month of April, I have been focusing on the coastline beween Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the unincorporated community of Davenport and last week it was pesky Pescadero. For today’s action, we’re trapsing halfway between these two coastal oasis as we venture to the Ano Nueva State Reserve, which lies 25 miles north of Santa Cruz, which would be 50 miles south of San Francisco and 3,000 miles west of Yankee Stadium.

Because of my deep cover work, I last visited this sacred spot for elephant seals back in 2007. The Ohlone Indians, no relation to the Cleveland Indians, were the first people known to build condos in the Año Nuevo area. But then around the birth of John McCain in 1791, Mission Santa Cruz was founded and the Indian population, much like like my stock account back in 2009, plummeted due to the various diseases and some bad paella that Spanish had brought with them.

The Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino sailed by the point on January 3, 1603, which I believe was a Wednesday. His diarist, chaplain and flamingo dance instructor on the expedition, Father Antonio de la Ascensión, named it Punta de Año Nuevo (New Year’s Point) for the day on which they sighted it. They had recently stopped in Monterey for some clam chowder, calamari strips and pan-fried sand dabs and passed Año Nuevo while heading north for a rave concert.

Today, Ano Nuevo remains much like the way Vizcaino saw it and the way I see myself-wild, lonely and underdeveloped. What happens on this jutting out stretch of land, like my first year at Syracuse University, is magical and something, like the Supreme Court giving Bush the nod over Al Gore, that I won’t soon forget. Hundreds of elephant seals, seal lions and Navy Seals come ashore to rest, mate and give birth on the beach, sand dunes and private cabanas.

Año Nuevo State Park is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal. The surrounding area is also the number one location on the planet for great white shark attacks, as they love to snack on elephant seals and any other marine mammal that goes for a leisurely swim in this area. I don’t know about you, but being attacked by a great white shark has been something I’ve always wanted to avoid, like taking the SAT’s again.

So if you like to watch giant male elephant seals fighting, goring and tearing at one another to see who gets to be King Inseminator, (and who wouldn’t want to be?), than this the place where you get a front row seat. The top bull, like a Shawn Kemp, typically sires 50 pups each year without breaking a sweat. In one four-year period, a lone dominant male inseminated at least 225 females, after which he signed a few autographs and took a well-deserved nap.

Now here are a few, quick fun facts about elephant seals. Much like teams during the first round of the NCAA tournament, the seals journey thousands of miles as males head north to frolic in the waters near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and females swim west out to sea. During the migration, most of the seals never return to land, which would be a problem for someone like myself, who doesn’t like being in water or conversations that go over my head.

Elephant seals are capable of swimming in waters a mile deep for 90 minutes at a time, then taking a quick breath and going right back down again. Unbelievable. The seals are thought to nap while they dive, which is what I used to do during most of my upper division math classes.

Much like Mother Theresa and Queen Latifa, the females are big-time givers, as for four weeks, they forgo eating, massages and on-line shopping, as they lose as much as 40 percent of their weight in the production of milk and cheese. That’s no Jenny Craig experience. But after home schooling and nursing her pup for a month on land, Mommy abandons the youngster, mates, and heads back to sea for a much need spa treatment. That is, if she makes it by the Great Whites.

These hallowed grounds, much like the NBA Store in New York, is an exotic spot to visit. Since it was April, the seals you see in today’s photos are females and pups just relaxing, flipping around sand and doing crossword puzzles. But the fact that all this breeding, fighting and molting goes on with these gigantic creatures just 25 minutes up the coast is mind-blowing. So do yourself a favor and take the mile and half walk on the wild side. You’ll be glad you did and a grateful nation thanks you.

On to the humor of the late night. “Donald Trump is apparently on top among Republican voters. People are responding to his straight-forward honesty, tough talk, and utter lunacy.”–Jimmy Kimmel “NBC executives say that if Donald Trump does run for president, they will not renew ‘The Apprentice.’ So some good may come out of this.” –Conan O’Brien “Donald Trump is attacking President Obama’s background. And I said, ‘Wait a minute, Trump also is from a mixed background. He’s half jack and half ass.’” –David Letterman

“Donald Trump said that if President Obama releases his birth certificate, Trump will release his tax return. Obama said he won’t run for a second term if Trump releases that thing on his head. President Obama is celebrating Passover with a Passover Seder. After hearing this, Sarah Palin said, ‘Ah, so he is a Muslim. Obama will participate in a town hall meeting hosted on Facebook. So just like everyone else in America, Obama will be on Facebook when he should be working.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama celebrated Passover with a Seder at the White House. This morning, Donald Trump demanded to see Obama’s bar mitzvah certificate.”–Jimmy Kimmel “The governor of Hawaii said he first met President Obama just days after he was born. He knew it was Obama because he kept pointing to his diaper and calling for “change. To celebrate Kim Jong Il’s birthday. North Korea held the biggest magic show ever. Things got out of control when the magician pulled a rabbit out of his hat and it was immediately eaten by 28 million people.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama’s critics are lashing out over him shutting down the poker sites. Sarah Palin called it an overreaction, Tim Pawlenty said it was irrational, and Donald Trump said, ‘Be sure to watch ‘Celebrity Apprentice.” Gambling and Washington don’t seem to go together at all. One’s full of whores and seedy, soulless bastards and the other’s the gambling industry. Forty percent of Americans say they would rather cut their own hair than do their taxes. And then there are people that would rather do neither. I’m talking to you, Willie Nelson.” –Craig Ferguson

“Lenscrafters is upset with Tea Partier Michele Bachmann because she called Planned Parenthood ‘the Lenscrafters of abortion.’ Lenscrafters released a statement today calling her ‘the Costco of crazy.’ The FAA suspended an air traffic controller for watching a movie on the job. The controller said he was only watching a movie because he couldn’t sleep.”–Conan O’Brien “Pakistan says they are slowing down their hunt for bin Laden. Slowing it down? What is it, 10 years now? Could you go any slower?” –Jay Leno “Speaker of the House John Boehner says he will not host a Cinco de Mayo celebration this year. Boehner says he has nothing against Hispanic Americans, and in fact his speaker of the housekeeper is Hispanic.”–Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our last word for April, as time continues to fly by faster than our involvement with non-lethal aid and advisors to the Libyan rebels. I hope you NBA viewers having been enjoying the playoffs, as the first ten days of action has been as good as it gets, unless of course, you’re a New York Knicks fan. The NBA, where amazing comebacks happen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Brandon Roy fans.

April 11, 2011

If You’re Interrupting Me, It Better Be Davenportant

Good morning and greetings, west coast fans. There’s an old idiom, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Or was that “elect Bush once, shame on him. Elect Bush twice, shame on America?” Anyway, welcome to my world of unseized moments that comes surrounded with mounds of chocolate remorse and a soft, chewy caramel center.

Last week I wrote of a missed beautiful March sunrise due to technical difficulties somewhere inside my cranial sac. Well, much like the spring tornadoes and hail stones the size of baseballs raining down in the midwest, these things happen. So in keeping with present form and in the tradition of the Masters, this week I went to the sunset card, which teed off Tuesday night in the western sky.

After walking out of the gymnasium following my son’s volleyball game, I observed what had once been a cloudless sky now featured a cloud front coming in from the north. But due to circumstances that were not beyond my control, I ignored this oncoming mass of cumulus configuration and instead opted to make dinner and watch a rerun of “The Office” that I had seen sixteen times.

When I popped my head outside to take a look, I saw the sky was in full living color, so I grabbed my camera and headed west. When I arrived at the overlook, I knew at that moment that I should have been situated atop the bluffs in Davenport taking in this April treat, as it was a full-on spring show over the Pacific. I did take some shots, but they did not do truth, justice or the American way to the moment.

So what to do. I knew there was but one solution, as a do over wasn’t possible and my time machine was in the shop. It was my forever safety valve, a place for me to go for missed moments and traces of love, long ago, that didn’t work out right. That would be my archives, deep inside the fallout shelter of my mind.

When the sun moves across the sky in March, I head up the coast to the cliffs above Davenport for the sunset cruise. The Monterey cypress trees (photo #1) that line the cliffs (photo #2) are just exquisite, and in early evening cormorants gather in these trees to squawk and take in the epic sights. It’s an awesome location to shoot from, so to make up for my latest faux pas, I’ve featured two April nights from the past to give you a little taste of the Davenport experience.

Now here’s a little history of the community that sits nine miles up the coast from Santa Cruz. After the Civil War, Captain John Davenport, a whaler from Tiverton, Rhode Island, decided that he needed to move to a state bigger than Gary Coleman, so he set sail for the west coast and landed in Monterey. Among his claims to fame was that he lived in the first brick house in California. It later housed the funk/soul band, the Commodores, which inspired “Brick House”, “Easy” like Sunday morning and my personal favorite, “Once, Twice, Three Times A Laker.”

When the good captain sailed into the San Francisco Bay in 1851, he passed by a school of whales and triathletes swimming not far from shore. Believing that they would be easy to capture, process for oil and look good in Speedos, he dreamed of creating a whaling business.

He started the first coastal whaling business in California in Monterey, but decided to move it closer to San Francisco because he loved Willie Mays and the Giants. In the late 1860′s, Captain Davenport built a pier in the town of Davenport as travelers along the north coast discovered this scenic coastal oasis with its beautiful shoreline, magnificent weather and fantastic carne asada burritos.

Captain Davenport built a 450 foot long wharf along with a gas station and car wash. This was not a fun time for the hundreds of whales cruising up the coast, who were savagely harpooned for their meat, oil, and whalebone. But despite the blubber melting pots, whale watching tours and a free super wash with a gas fill-up, the whaling business was not a profitable venture and lasted only a decade. The Davenport Landing wharf was abandoned in 1880 and Captain Davenport moved to Santa Cruz where he opened up a massage and meditation Center before he died at the age of 74 while boogie boarding at the Boardwalk.

For almost 50 years, the town of Davenport prospered with hotels, surf shops and the first In-N-Out Burger joint. Then in 1915, a fire destroyed nearly everything except for Blockbuster Video and a Little Caesar’s Pizza. At the time, some believed it was the spirit of the whales seeking revenge that brought on this disaster. Sometimes karma can really be a bitch.

On to the late night. “The rebel army in Libya is just like 1,000 guys in Toyota trucks. The world is asking the question; can 1000 anti-government guys in pick-up trucks with small arms, take over a country of millions? To which I say, ask the Teabaggers.” –Bill Maher “Republican Congressman Tom Marino, who is on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: ‘If we go into Libya, where does it stop? Do we go into Africa next?’ So, you see why he’s not on the Intelligence Committee. Authorities in Mali arrested four people after an aircraft loaded with 10 tons of cocaine crashed. Charlie Sheen called it “the worst air disaster in history.”–Jay Leno

“Fox is adding several new Spanish-language shows to its programming schedule to appeal to the growing Latino population. My favorite one is about that doctor with a cane who plays by his own rules — you know, “Casa.” Many gamers are asking for refunds on the new Nintendo 3DS because it causes headaches and dizziness. It was pretty scary — some gamers became so disoriented, they accidentally wandered outside. Southwest Airlines canceled 600 flights because of a plane that suddenly got a 5-foot hole in the roof. You know American wouldn’t have canceled all those flights. They’d have just started charging a $50 sunroof fee.” –Jimmy Fallon

“There’s a $376 million semi-secret construction project happening at the White House, and it’s rumored that a tunnel is being built underneath. That’s a lot of work for President Obama to get away from his mother-in-law. Let the man have a cigarette. I think he Obama is building an underground Kenya. A new subterranean land so he can Africanize us from below. I heard that on Fox News.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“President Obama said he plans on running for re-election against the Republicans. After the tax cuts for the rich, the bailouts for Wall Street, and the bombing in Libya, I already thought he was the Republican candidate. President Obama said today that Americans are just going to have to get used to higher gas prices. To which Dick Cheney said, “That’s change I can believe in. I like this Obama guy.”–Jay Leno “President Obama revealed that up until a few years ago, he was still paying off his student loans. In response, China was like, “Oh, so you do know how to repay loans.”–Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama announced his re-election campaign. As far as I’m concerned, the election starts with the first attack ad, which should appear in about 20 minutes. I think elections should be quick. If I have an election that lasts longer than four hours, I call the doctor. Experts say this Presidential campaign will be the most expensive in history. A far cry from the very first re-election campaign back in 1792. When George Washington ran against a young Senator named John McCain.” –Craig Ferguson

“Donald Trump is doing well in the polls. He’s in second place among Republican voters. Among tea partyers, he’s in first place. Although to be fair, in the tea party poll, Chuck Norris is in second place and third place is an AK-47.”–Jimmy Kimmel “If Donald Trump loves America so much, why does he keep outsourcing the job of his wife?” –Seth Meyers “Southwest Airlines has a new slogan: “We love the sky — and it shows.”–Jay Leno

“Former first lady Laura Bush said in an interview that she and George W. Bush do everything together. Then she said she had to go because “SpongeBob” was on. Officials at BP have filed for permits to drill for oil again in the Gulf of Mexico. They say the oil is easier to find than ever because it’s mostly on top of the water.”–Conan O’Brien “A man in Ohio received a cable bill for $16 million. When he called customer service, they told him that for another $8, he could get the NFL package.”–Jay Leno

Special birthday wishes go out to my father, Daniel Gilbert, who turns 94 years old tomorrow. Yes, you might say we’ve got some strong genes and cargo shorts that run in our family. My Dad, who lives here in Santa Cruz, spends a good part of his day sleeping, but while awake is working on writing the pilot episode for a new sitcom, “Father Knows Rest,” where he plays the starring role. To have both my parents alive and questioning every move I make at age 58 is a true blessing, and as my mother always says to me, “if we can’t live Hawaii, lucky we live Santa Cruz.” And “could you check and see if there’s any mail?”

So that’s a wrap. I’m just glad that we’re done with Libya, things are going well with the nuclear reactors in Japan and the Pentagon says we’ve had enough time in Afghanistan. It seems worldwide that everything is just peachy and that Donald Trump really isn’t the moron he is pretending to be. And God bless the Republicans and Planned Parenthood.

So enjoy our wild weather we’ll catch you at the start of the NBA playoffs. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derrick Rose fans.

March 28, 2011

March Comes In Like A Lion And Out Like A Glazed Ham


Good morning and greetings, Cinderella story fans. Is it just me, or has this early spring weather been wild and crazy? Torrential rains, howling winds, mud slides, water slides, downed trees, flash flooding, and that’s just in my driveway. So with springtime in the air, I just prance through the raindrops with a little extra hop in my step and a little more snap in my heels. Basically, I’m just river dancing through life, for which I thank my lucky charms.

On the eastern seaboard, where I grew up to be the shell of a man I am today, last week’s weather was also very springlike. Nothing says the baseball season is just around the corner like eight inches of heavy snow, or what Charlie Sheen calls “an appetizer.”

The midwest has been hit by an assault of killer tornadoes, wildfires were raging out of control and destroying homes in Oklahoma and heading back to this coast, a rare water funnel was sighted off of Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Personally, despite my love of condensed milk and water droplets, I have never photographed this rarity in nature, although I once got a good closeup shot of a funnel cake at a county fair.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the sunrise and sunset season ended a couple of months ago, as I have not wanted to shoot anything lately except for my computer. So for March, my expectations for drama in the sky, unlike my cholesterol, has been very low, as there has been little on the spectacular front to text home about in recent years.

The exception to this unwritten rule came on the evening of March 18, 2008. I was driving around aimlessly, hoping to spot a bobcat or leprechaun at dusk, when I glanced up at a somewhat dull sky and saw an opening at the horizon. Well, being the avid photog that I profess to be, I curtailed my hunt for baby chipmunks and eager beavers and parked myself along West Cliff Drive at Stockton Avenue, which is my favorite place to let my freak flag fly.

As you can see from today’s photo lineup, this night was indescribably delicious. The formation of the clouds gave thoughts to the heavens rising or the crown of creation. It was a canvas unlike anything I had ever seen. Throughout the experience, waves of pelicans flew overhead, adding to the festivities of the occasion. I remember standing alone/together out on the point, thinking how fortunate I was to be there at that moment. It wasn’t March Madness, it was pure March Magic.

Before we move on the hilarity of the late night pundits and our Commander-in Chief addresses the nation, I must say a few words about Libya. WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING? Or in the words of Jay Leno, “We’re fighting three wars now. Imagine how many we’d be fighting if President Obama hadn’t won the Nobel Peace Prize.”

As of last Wednesday, we had spent upwards of $1 BILLION dollars on the international assault to destroy Moammar Khaddafy’s air defenses and save the runnin’ rebels from likely defeat. My thought is, could that $1 BILLION have been better spent, like perhaps at home on the hungry, creating jobs or the Yankees’ starting rotation? I’m just stunned by his decision for the air strikes and picking Kansas to win it all. As my mother used tell me every day after packing my lunch box before I left for school, “Geoff, make love, not war.”

On to the late night. “No one can agree on how to spell Gadhafi’s name. He’s like the Hanukkah of dictators.” –Jimmy Kimmel “According to reports, Khadafy is surrounded by an elite corps of female bodyguards, all of whom are virgins. In a related story, today Charlie Sheen invaded Libya.” –Conan O’Brien “They’re using high-pressure water cannons and helicopters dropping seawater to try to cool down the reactor. And they say if that works, they’re going to try that here on Charlie Sheen.” –Bill Maher

“Sarah Palin visited Israel. As if the Jews have not suffered enough. She says she’s very excited to visit the Wailing Wall, because whaling is illegal in Alaska.”–Jay Leno “On a trip to Israel, Sarah Palin asked the Israelis why they’re apologizing all the time. They responded saying, ‘Because we told everyone Tina Fey was coming.’” –Conan O’Brien ”
Sarah Palin visited the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. There was an awkward moment when she said, ‘So this is what keeps the Mexicans out?’” –Conan O’Brien “Sarah Palin visited Israel. She says she likes all religions, ‘whether they celebrate Christmas or Jewish.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama has to cut his trip to Latin America short because of the situation in Libya — and to check on his NCAA brackets.” –Jimmy Kimmel “A man in Texas used his obituary to ask for donations to anyone running against Obama in 2012. And then his ghost was offered a nightly show on Fox News.” –Jimmy Fallon “Donald Trump says that if he’s elected, he won’t let the presidency interfere with the Miss Universe pageant. “How would Trump travel as president? Obviously, he’d use Hair Force One.” –David Letterman
“According to Newsweek, 73 percent of Americans can’t say why we fought the Cold War. This sounds bad until you consider that no one in the White House can tell us why we’re fighting the Libya war. We know more about President Obama’s basketball picks than his plans for Libya.” –Jay Leno

“A problem for our military in Libya is that they can’t tell the rebels from Gadhafi’s military. The U.N. has now declared that the war be fought as ‘shirts vs. skins.’” –Conan O’Brien “Obama said we will send economic aid to Libya to help the Libyan people reach their dreams. And if that works, they’ll try it here.” –Jay Leno

“A miniscule amount of radiation from Japan reached L.A. People panicked and ran out and bought gas masks and radiation suits. Then they went to the tanning salon. Rich people are buying Geiger counters. Poor people are putting bags of microwave popcorn on the windowsill. If it starts popping, get the hell out. “A South Carolina legislator introduced a bill to make it illegal for prisoners to use Facebook. They’re supposed to be doing time, not wasting it.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our last gasp for March. Hope you had a chance to catch some of the late winter storms live and in person. Last Friday, the light was spectacular on the cliff, as the sun’s rays filtered through the clouds and cast an incredible light upon the huge waves heading towards the coast. As the rain came down, a rainbow appeared in the sky and I just had to stop and take in the moment.
As usual, I didn’t have my camera with me because of a vendetta by my computer, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say, it was a moment along the edge of the continent as beautiful as a young Elizabeth Taylor, who like myself, never feared Virginia Woolf.

So once again, keep Japan in your thoughts. What a wacky year this has been, with the shootings in Tucson, the uprising in Eygpt, the tsunami and earthquake, the war in Libya and Duke losing in the semi-finals of western regionals. I’m not even going to mention the outbreak of cholera in Haiti.

So enjoy the return of warm, sunny days and we’ll catch you in Houston for the Final Four. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derrick Williams and Shelvin Mack 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.

February 6, 2011

Let’s Go, I Don’t Want To Miss The Opening Snack

Good morning and greetings, football fans. Well, yesterday was the national holiday we call Super Sunday, which led into what I like to refer to as Malcontent Monday. For all you gamblers, midnight ramblers and pigskin lovers, the 2011 season, much like my dream of opening a kosher vegan deli is now history.

So what do we really know about this day of endless commercials and catastrophic caloric consumption? Scientists and 7 Eleven clerks have determined that it is the second largest food consumption day of the year behind Thanksgiving, but with a whole lot less cranberry sauce. The big ticket item on this day is our friend the avocado. According to my confidential sources inside the California Avocado Commission, somewhere between eight million and 150 billion pounds of avocado were consumed yesterday, and that was just during the pregame show.

The CAC, not to be confused with ABC, which is as easy as 1, 2, 3, says most avocados, which is actually a fruit, not a vegetable, were consumed through the process of guacamole. That meant Americans ate the amount of chips, were they lined them up in a row, would circle the earth 16,000 times without stopping once for gas or more dip.

We’re talking Lay’s Classics, Ruffles with Ridges, Cheesy Nacho Doritos, Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips, Maui Onion Kettle Chips and my personal favorites CHiPS, Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox, who was just sentenced to three years probation for conspiracy to commit securities fraud. As they say in Las Vegas, let the chips, including tortilla, fall where they may or as I like to say, what ever happens never happened.

But this was not just a day of gorging on incredible amounts of the unhealthiest foods on the planet. Forget about the 300 million pounds of snacks like pretzels, popcorn, acorns, nuts, mental patients, pizza, cake, steak, Tums, ice cream and Benedryl. According to Hallmark Cards, the Super Bowl represents the number one at home party event of the year, surpassing my Bar Mitzvah party, my 50th birthday bash, and the viewing of the pilot episode of “Southland.”

Of course, there may have been some alcohol consumed along with a little wagering done yesterday. I myself, being a devout Quaker with Amish leanings, do not partake in the spirits or believe in gambling. Instead, I keep my money in a safe, conservative place called the stock market. So in honor of the 30 trillion dollars that were bet yesterday on Super Sunday, here’s a gambling joke that makes me chuckle.

One day, at a casino buffet, a man suddenly called out, “My son’s choking! He swallowed a quarter! Help! Please, anyone! Help!” A man from a nearby table stood up and announced that he was quite experienced at this sort of thing. He stepped over with almost no look of concern at all, wrapped his hands around the boy’s gonads, and squeezed. Out popped the quarter. The man then went back to his table as though nothing had happened. “Thank you! Thank you!” the father cried. “Are you a paramedic?” “No,” replied the man. “I work for the IRS.”

Let’s move on to our photo parade. The skies have been sunny and clear as I haven’t shot a sunrise or a glance in weeks. So today we are going back to the morning of December 29th down at Lighthouse Point. This was a quiet and gentler time, before Egyptians started rioting in the streets because they wanted more jobs, cheaper food, political change and MTV.

It was a wonderful way to start the day, as the clouds made me feel like I was floating on a bed of frosted Pop Tarts. The colors in the early morning sky were outstanding, and to be able to share it with my cyber audience is why I got into this non-paying business. Well, that and to meet celebrities and reconnect with my old Guardian Angel buddies.

On to the late night. “Things are not looking good for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Today he canceled his Super Bowl party. That’s a bad sign. Protestors in Egypt are telling their government to “accept the realities of the modern age we live in.” Then they were attacked by guys on camels with whips.”–Jay Leno “The bookies have put the odds out for this weekend. The Packers are slightly favored over the Steelers and the rioters are slightly favored over President Mubarak. “Egypt has shut off cell phones and the internet. It’s like visiting your parents’ house.” –David Letterman

“The Midwest got over a foot of snow; it rained ice pellets in Dallas; it’s wet and freezing in New York. I was complaining about it all day to my friend in Egypt.”–Jimmy Fallon “It was so cold in Washington, D.C., that they needed jumper cables to get Dick Cheney started.”–Jimmy Fallon “There’s so much snow in Chicago, earlier today Oprah gave everyone a snowplow.”–David Letterman

“Today Al Gore blamed the current snow storms on global warming. Al Gore said, ‘a rise in global temperature creates havoc ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, increasing violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.’ And finally Tipper said, ‘Al will you just pay the kid for shoveling the walk, please.’” –Jay Leno

“It’s the Year of the Rabbit. I was born in the Year of the Tiger, which doesn’t make sense because I was actually raised by a pack of wild ferrets. I think rabbits are adorable. I love how their noses twitch and their feet make little key chains.”–Craig Ferguson “MTV announced that Season 4 of “Jersey Shore” will be shot in Italy in the spring. Some Italians are calling it an insult, while some Americans are calling it payback for the Olive Garden.”–Jimmy Fallon

Some big birthdays to celebrate this week. On Tuesday, my mother, the woman who gave breached birth to me, will be 85 years young. To have her living just 1.1 miles away is indeed a blessing, as she does all my worrying for me and is a huge fan of this blog. She taught me much of what I know about life and meat loaf. So in honor of your special day, Mom, here’s a joke right up your alley.

A woman goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doctor, you’ve got to do something about my husband — he thinks he’s a refrigerator!” “I wouldn’t worry too much about it,” the doctor replies. “Lots of people have harmless delusions. It will pass. ” “But you don’t understand,” the woman insists. “He sleeps with his mouth open, and the little light keeps me awake. ”

Also celebrating her birthday this day is my niece Samantha, the Maria Sharapova of Marin County. And on Wednesday, it’s my old grammar school friend, Denise Cinquino Ayre, who I recently reconnected with after she left me on hold over the the phone for 40 years. Denise reminded me that I had twice invited her to go to Woodstock with me back in 1969, but she had to say no because of a modeling assignment. I told her she missed nothing except for three days of peace, love, music and mud.

So that’s our first blast for February. This has always been an interesting month on the weather front and this past weekend was no exception. The warm trade winds that blew with gale force on Saturday gave the central coast a tropical feeling I haven’t felt since devouring my last lemon chicken plate lunch from Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore. Throw in a couple of scoops of macaroni salad and wash it down with a mango coconut smoothie and you’ve captured the true aloha spirit.

So I hope you had an enjoyable Super Sunday as we now get back to focusing on the more the important things in life, like high school, college and NBA basketball. We’ll catch you at midcourt. Aloha, mahalo and later, Howard Stern 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.

November 21, 2010

Open The Window, It’s A Little Stuffing In Here

Good morning and greetings, cranberry sauce fans. That’s right, we’re just three shopping days away from Thanksgiving, the holiday where families gather together to give thanks that this occasion occurs only once a year. Then throw in some turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, the Detroit Lions losing and some dysfuctional family behavor. Top it all off with with a little tryptophan pudding and bring on Black Friday.

So in honor of this festival of gravy and leftovers, I thought we would take a stroll down Plymouth Lane and look at some of the more interesting and unusual aspects that make this day so damn special.

According to my sources at KFC, the food that would have been on the first Thanksgiving Day menu consisted of venison (deer), wild fowl (geese, duck, wild turkey, eagles, parakeets), seafood (lobster, eel, cod, pirana), dried corn, pumpkin, nuts (walnuts, acorns, Ross Perot), and fruits (plums, grapes, Liberace).

There was no milk, cookies, cheese, cheetos, bread, butter, sweet potatoes, pringles, cranberry sauce, apple, peaches or pumpkin pie at the original Thanksgiving Day feast. The Pilgrims ate their first dinner with only spoons and knives as all the forks were in the road.

There is no official reason or declaration for the use of turkey on Thanksgiving. Along with chipmunk, possum and prairie dog, it just happened to be the most plentiful meat available at the time of the first celebration in 1621. Fossil evidence shows that turkeys roamed the Americas 10 million years ago, approximately 5 million years before the invention of gravy.

The Guinness Book of Records states that the greatest dressed weight recorded for a turkey was 86 lbs, at the annual “heaviest turkey” competition held in London, England on December 12, 1989. For some reason, that date rings a bell. Turns out it was a free range, honey basted turkey packed with bowling ball stuffing.

Being a bourbon man like myself, wild turkeys, while technically the same species as domesticated turkeys, have a very different taste from farm-raised turkeys. Almost all of the meat is “dark” (even the breasts) with a more intense turkey flavor. However, there is no difference between wild and domesticated gravy.

Wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour over short distances. Domesticated turkeys cannot fly but can sprint like a barbecued chicken. Only male turkeys gobble. The gobble is actually a seasonal mating call which I perfected back at Syracuse. Turkeys have great hearing skills but no ears. Thus you will never hear a turkey say, “I can’t believe how cold it is. My ears are freezing.”

History states that only five women Pilgrims survived the first year at the Plymouth settlement and they were the first ones to cook and prepare the first meager celebration meal, in 1621. Journals say the celebration lasted 3 days after which the women were left to do all the dishes while they men drank beer and then fell asleep watching football.

Twenty percent of cranberries consumed are eaten on Thanksgiving. However, I dine on the Ocean Spray of life 52 weeks a year. Contrary to popular belief, Native Americans did not eat cranberries, but found them extremely useful for dying fabric, decorating pottery and hurling them at unsuspecting Pilgrims.

The first Thanksgiving involved no cranberry sauce or hot dinner rolls. Cranberries were everywhere, but sugar, which is an even more important ingredient in cranberry sauce than the cranberries themselves was a huge luxury good at the time. So that meant no Haagen Daz on the pumpkin pie.

Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and America’s first female magazine editor, wrote to five U.S. presidents over 40 years urging that Thanksgiving be made a national holiday. She was eventually successful with Abraham Lincoln and her fleece was white as snow.

And finally, the average person consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. And that’s just while carving the bird.

We continue with a joke I never tire of. A turkey farmer was always experimenting with breeding to perfect a better turkey. His family was fond of the leg portion for dinner and there were never enough legs for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store. “Well I finally did it! I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!” They all asked the farmer how it tasted. “I don’t know” said the farmer. “I never could catch the darn thing!”

Moving along, for today’s photo montage we head to over to Natural Bridges State Beach. I was going to feature a beautiful sunset from last Saturday but then Thursday evening came along and Derrick Rose to the head of the class.

I could see that the late afternoon clouds had some unusual texture, which bode well for some much needed color in my life. And as you can see from the last two images, it was a blanket of orange in the sky, and I knew then that this was what I needed to bring to this week’s post. Only the best for my cyber audience and imaginary friends.

Lots of late night fun this week. “Sunday night was the debut of the reality show, ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska.’ It got huge ratings. Even people over in Russia were watching and they didn’t need TVs. They could see it from their porch. The new Oxford dictionary has declared Sarah Palin’s made-up word ‘refudiate’ the 2010 word of the year. When asked for her reaction to the dubious honor, Palin said she would not ‘dignitate’ it with a response.” –Jay Leno “Sarah Palin has a new show. She takes viewers all around Alaska, and shows them where she water-boarded Levi Johnston.” –David Letterman

“President Bush is everywhere talking about his book and he’s being very candid. In one interview, he said that he used to do stupid things while he was drunk. But think about it, who among us hasn’t had a couple of drinks and invaded Iraq? “Former first lady Laura Bush used to be a librarian. Coincidentally, she’s the only thing George W. Bush ever checked out at the library.” –David Letterman “They just had the groundbreaking ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It’s easy to get into the building, but then you spend 10 years trying to find an exit strategy.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The day before Thanksgiving is National Opt-Out Day, where people are being asked to boycott the TSA’s full-body scanners. Sponsors of the event say people shouldn’t be made to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable while traveling. That’s what Thanksgiving with your family is for.” -Jimmy Fallon “People are concerned that the new airport security scanners could lead to pictures of their genitals ending up on the Internet. Apparently no one has told them that without pictures of genitals, there would be no Internet.” –Conan O’Brien

“It was bad enough when the TSA agents would go through your underwear in your luggage. Now they’re going through your underwear while you’re wearing it. Now, to make it worse, the airlines are charging a $15 molestation fee.” –Jay Leno “In San Diego, a man refused to be patted down by airport security and some people are calling him a hero. I don’t mind being patted down by airport security, but I don’t like it when the guy says, ‘Now you do me.’” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s our pre-holiday report. On Thursday, take a moment to reflect how fortunate you are to be among family and friends. For many, this day is not all fun and games and stuffing, as many people and families are just happy to be fed a hot meal. So savor those warm feelings and try and be grateful for more than the leftovers on Friday. And remember, it is always better to thanksgive than receive.

We had some wild weather this weekend as a cold front traveling south from Alaska brought buckets of rain, hail, thunder, lightning and a beautiful full arch rainbow that graced the early morning sky on Sunday. It reminds me of the old joke, what’s the technical term for a warm, sunny day which follows two days of rain? It’s called Monday.

So enjoy the four-day weekend and we’ll catch you in the end zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mark Sanchez 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.

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