March 16, 2014

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Tournament

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:58 am

Good morning and greeting, March Madness fans. Well, it’s that time of year, when the NCAA college basketball tournament moves over to the forefront of American sports. It’s three weeks of the best in collegiate sports, with a spotlight on cinderella stories, fantastic finishes and according to the FBI, $2.5 billion illegally wagered on these highly contested contests.

As Paul Newman said in the ‘Color of Money,’ “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” However, when it comes to my betting strategy, I’ll go along with humorist Kin Hubbard, who once said, “The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.”

The term “March Madness” was brought into the American vernacular back in 1939 by Henry V. Porter, who used it to describe an Illinois high school basketball tournament. It has also been referred to as “The Big Dance,” a giant mambo contest with 68 teams vying for the ultimate prize, a national collegiate title and the right to cut down the nets.

And why is everybody so jacked up about these three weeks of hoops hysteria? In the words of former NBA G.M. Dick Vertleib, “Basketball is the second most exciting indoor sport, and the other one shouldn’t have spectators.” Amen.

What makes the tournament so exciting it’s that it is one and done. You lose and you’re going home. So you have schools from the smaller conferences going up against the major powerhouses, and as we have seen in the past, upsets are always on the menu. All the games are televised, so you can fill out you own brackets and watch as the field goes from 64, to 16, to the Final 4 and then the crowning of the eventual champion.

For the players, it’s what they have been striving for, the reason they go to college for one year, to win a national championship before they head off to the NBA and a million dollar payday. But there are some exceptions. Former NBA Coach Frank Layden asked a player who wasn’t reaching for the dream, “Son, what is it with you. Is it ignorance or apathy?” He replied, ‘Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.”

From the casual fan to the hard-core basketball nut, the nation is hooked on bracketology. As a result of this obsession, American businesses lose an estimated $1.2 billion in worker productivity during the NCAA tournament as fans try to pick winners. But to quote my rabbi, “Forget the tournament. Bet on yourself instead.” As for myself, I have the same chance of picking the winners of the tournament brackets whether I fill them out or not.

Now, the odds of picking a perfect bracket randomly are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1, or more than nine quintillion to one. Or in the words of Jim Carrey,’ “So, you’re saying there is a chance.” It seems you would have a better chance of being hit by a meteor, struck by lightning or getting an Anthem Blue Cross representative on the phone.

So courtesy of www.washingtontimes.com, here are a few fun facts you may not have known about “March Madness.”

In 1994, before Monica Lewinsky was old enough to down a glass of Manischewitz, Bill Clinton became the first sitting president to attend an NCAA tournament game, watching his Arkansas Razorbacks beat the Michigan Wolverines to get to the Final Four. He also attended the championship game, where Arkansas defeated Duke and later partied down with the Razorback cheerleaders.

Back in 1973, the championship game went viral as it was broadcast for the first time in prime time. With his pals, the Grateful Dead looking on, the big redhead, center Bill Walton, put on a fantastic show, hitting 21 of 22 shots and scoring 44 points in leading the UCLA over the Memphis State.

As Walton said later, “The Grateful Dead, they’re my best friends. Their message of hope, peace, love, teamwork, creativity, imagination, the dance, the vision, the purpose, the passion, all the things I believe makes me the luckiest Deadhead in the world. And nobody runs the pick and roll better.”

With the win, it was all sunshine and daydreams in Southern Cal. And that winning tradition was established by Coach John Wooden’s, the ‘Wizard of Westwood’, whose UCLA Bruins dynasty defined college basketball for more than a decade. Under Wooden, UCLA won ten national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row starting in the early 60′s. That’s what you call the pyramid of success.

Moving along, the University of Connecticut is the only Division I school in history to win the men’s and women’s basketball championship in the same year. Catholic universities have won the national championship eight times. They includes Holy Cross, LaSalle, the University of San Francisco, Loyola of Chicago, Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova. Yeshiva is still looking for their first title.

So as the tournament gets underway this week you’re probably wondering about my Final Four picks. Well, since I’m really an NBA guy, I’m going to turn this space over to my esteemed colleague Dr. Michael Schur, who in his heyday claims to have blocked one of Michael Jordan’s, er Dean Smith’s jumpers during an intramural game in the Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill.

In his words, “Geoffrey, I’d first like to thank our sponsor, Sherman’s Deli, with two convenient locations in the Palm Springs area. My Final Four picks are Florida, Duke, Villanova and Arizona. As for the 2014 NCAA champions, while teams may be able to stop Duke’s super frosh Jabari Parker, the somewhat overlooked Mr. Rodney Hood, who may be the most unsung NBA ready player in the tournament will lead the Blue Devils to the promised land and it will be Mike Krzyzewski Blue Devils cutting down the nets at the AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on April 7.”

So for those of you who like shooting colorful sunrises and sunsets, it’s wait till next fall, as the skies have gone silent over the last month. So today we are heading back to the evening of November 10, when the clouds were swirling and twirling and the pelicans were in full formation mode. Just an outstanding digital night of flight along the edge of the continent.

On to some late night humor. “The crisis in Ukraine still has people worried. Today John McCain led a group of senators there to get a firsthand look. When they landed, McCain said, “This is a disaster, these people are living like animals!” And then someone said, “We have a layover — this is LaGuardia Airport.” The College Board says it’s revamping the SAT to focus more on what students will need in college. In fact, the SAT is now just one question: ‘How much money do your parents have?’” –Jimmy Fallon

“It’s not such a great day for a family in Florida recovering after eating steak laced with LSD. About halfway through dinner they realized there was a problem when someone asked for a side of mashed potatoes, and that someone was the steak. A family in Oregon called 911 after they were trapped in a bedroom by their cat. I’ll say it again. They were trapped in their bedroom by their cat. Apparently the cat held the family hostage until its demands were met. Its demands were food and sleep.” – Craig Ferguson

“A family called the police because their cat cornered them in a bedroom. They would’ve climbed out the window but their hamster was blocking the way. fal Yesterday Edward Snowden urged technology companies to improve their encryption techniques in order to prevent hacking. Then he said, “But not right away. I’m still using Obama’s Netflix password to watch ‘House of Cards’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law is on trial right now. He produced all of al-Qaida’s videos. Not only is he on trial but he would like to let you know that the first season is available on Netflix. President Obama’s wife Michelle has highlighted her hair. She has blond highlights in her hair. And those will probably be the only highlights of his second term. – David Letterman

So enjoy the last few days of winter. We’ll catch you being a magician with the ball and being the greatest scorer in college basketball history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Pistol Pete Maravich fans.

September 22, 2013

The Hunt For Red September

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 1:17 pm

Good morning and greetings, autumn equinox fans. Back in 1966, the song that rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts was “Cherish,” a pop hit recorded by the Association. As I told my my wife numerous times while I was courting her, “You don’t know how many times I wished that I could hold you. You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could mold you into someone who could cherish me as much as I, cherish you.” She was a tough nut to crack.

That same year, the Happenings had the #3 hit, as they harmonized with, “See you in September. See you when the summer’s through.” It’s funny how summertime comes around in our little cold water paradise. To quote the lovely Mandy Pepperidge from the comedy classic “Animal House,” the weather this past June through August, “It really wasn’t that great.”

And then all of a sudden, it’s September, and the hot fun in the summertime returns to our central coast. The tourists have left, the kids are back in school, and my liver enzymes are returning to normal. And best of all, we are experiencing the warmest month of the year, with the skies clearer than my colon after prepping for the colonoscopy I had last week.

Fortunately, I came through this procedure with flying colors and it’s now on my resume as a film credit. I’ve always maintained that true happiness starts inside and one needs to look within. However, for the next ten years I’ll be probing my mind, not the silver lining of my intestines.

Which brings us back to September, which according to my Miley Cyrus Rocks calendar, is the month back in 1850 that California became the 31st Golden State in the union. I believe it was either Jimmy Kimmel or the Dali Lama’s barber who reminded me of this quote for September. “You may be only one person to the world, but you may also be the world to one person.” And in the words of Billy Joel, “But she’s always a woman to me.” From the mouth of one of four men to be divorced from Christie Brinkley.

Labor Day is the only legal holiday in September. It brings back childhood memories, as I always labored on this holiday, making sure my parent’s nursery school, which was located in our home, was set to go the next day for the rampaging youngsters. It was a day of painting tricycles and footsteps leading into the school. As I carefully painted the small footprints, this quote would come to mind. ‘Others will follow in your footsteps easier than they will your advice.” Hey, I just didn’t want them to end up in the neighbor’s backyard.

So back on Labor Day weekend, I wasn’t expecting any digital action, as the skies had been fog-free with few clouds to tweet home about. Besides, over the past nine years, I could count the sunsets I’ve photographed in September on one hand, so my expectations were lower than rainfall totals in Death Valley this summer.

But then on Sunday over the holiday weekend, a boatload of moisture surged into the atmosphere, which brought clouds and drama to the sky. As I peered out in the late afternoon at the formations and fronts moving in, I saw there was a window of clear sky at the horizon, indicating that could be a ruckus down at the junction in the near future.

My instincts were correct, as the sky blew up on this night. With a warm breeze blowing, the clouds just kept getting brighter and brighter, as people flowed into Natural Bridges to take in this unexpected sight. From where I was shooting, the brightest hues appeared over the sand and trees at the Bridges, denying me some of the incredible reflection that would have painted the Pacific waters. But to to be alive and experience something like this was a gift, an incredible visual display of light and color that I simply did not want to end. I was at peace, and so thankful to have captured these magical moments.

Moving along, I had one of those bittersweet moments on Saturday, as my son left home to start his sophomore year at UC Santa Barbara. I’m happy for him as he is loving the college experience. However, it’s sad to see him go as part of my heart goes with him. But he did make some history last Thursday, as he became the first Gilbert to reach the Jewish summit of Mount Everest. As he wrote on his Facebook page, “I just dunked a basketball. Now what do I do with the rest of my life?” Either way, I figure he’s now a lock to get into medical school.

On to the late night humor. “President Obama warned that the government could shut down in two weeks. Obama added, ‘Not because of a budget impasse but because we’ll all be watching the last episode of ‘Breaking Bad.’” “The CEO of Starbucks is asking customers to stop bringing guns into the coffee chain stores. He said, ‘It’s our job to rob you guys.’ Kevin Trudeau, the king of infomercials, has been sent to jail for fraud. The judge sentenced him to 10 years. But then he said, “Wait, there’s more,” and added another five years.” – Conan O’Brien

“For the first time ever, Miss America is a woman of Indian descent. The judge asked her three questions: Why do you want to be Miss America?, What will you do with the prize?, and How do I get my laptop to reboot?” – Conan O’Brien “For the first time an Indian-American has won Miss America. A 24-year-old named Nina Davuluri won by answering a question no one else could possible answer: “What is the name of last year’s Miss America?” – Jay Leno “The big controversy in the pageant this year was that Miss Kansas had tattoos. Miss America’s main competitor is the Miss USA Pageant, which is run by Donald Trump. Trump said tattoos made Miss Kansas look silly. Then he stuck his head into a cotton candy machine to whip up a fresh batch of hair.” – Craig Ferguson

“Saturday night was the big fight in Las Vegas between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez. Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne actually walked Floyd Mayweather to the ring. It really psyched out Alvarez. When he saw the three of them together he was like, “I don’t know who to hit first.” Yesterday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco actually missed the birth of his son so that he could play with his team against the Browns. It was 8 pounds, 7 ounces. Not the baby — the diamond Flacco had to buy his wife to make up for it.” – Jimmy Fallon “Dairy farmers now warn that there could be a jump in the price of milk by the end of the year. Milk could be as much as $6 a gallon. Today Senator John McCain outlined a new plan to invade Wisconsin.” – Jay Leno

So the summer of 2013, like the New York Giants getting a first down rushing this season, is now history. We’ll catch you amazing the baseball world that you can win division titles with a tiny payroll in back-to-back seasons. Aloha, mahalo and later, Oakland A’s fans.

August 11, 2013

A Walk Is Better Than A Hit

Good morning and greetings, summer vacation fans. About ten years ago, my personal physician suggested that I should get more exercise. Now up until until my mid- forties, I had been playing full court basketball five a days and week and playing half court on Saturday, as it was my people’s Sabbath. I was in fairly good shape and was considering a career as a personal fitness trainer and hand model.

But then reality came calling, and it was a bitter pill to swallow. Work. I remember walking during this time and spotting a youngster dribbling a basketball, as he headed over to the park to play hoops. My heart sank like an open jumper, as the realization set in that I was no longer footloose and fancy free and that my life had changed.

But I was determined to make the best of it. It was not an easy task. Looking back on it today, those five days of work were longest days of my life.

So I discussed with my physician the exercise options that were open to me. Swimming was out, as I may have drowned in a past lifetime. I could go bike riding, but I never really built up a sweat riding my beach cruiser along West Cliff. And riding a stationary bike is just not that scenic, although it saves a lot of wear and tear on the tires.

Bowling, badminton and cliff diving just weren’t vigorous enough, so it came down to running. I had run track in high school, but those were the short sprints. I was never really excited about running long distances as my shoulders hurt from this activity. It was probably because I’m highly sensitive to the feelings of everyone around me and that I had the body fat of a young veal.

So I decided to start running around my neighborhood to work up a sweat, so that my heart knew I was still alive. I started strong, as I used to be able to run a good mile and a half before the heart palpitations set in.

And then something nutty happened. Instead of getting stronger so I could leap tall bushes in a single bounce, I found the more I ran, the weaker I got. This was not a case of what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. I had to face a harsh reality. My Olympic dream was over.

But out of this darkness came shining light, as my failings led me to my weekday strolls along West Cliff Drive. I still needed to get some exercise, and what better place to take in the sights while kick starting my heart and soul.

So the weather last week was not unusual here on the central coast. It’s nothing like what I experienced in the summertime back east, when it was hazy, hot, and most consistently, humid. I’m not saying it was like that all the time, as there were pleasant summer days, but the unbearable humidity dominated the headlines. It was hot when I awoke and the air conditioners would still be humming when I drifted off to sleep.

This is in contrast to last Wednesday morning, when I woke up to a light mist or what the locals calls rain. I remember putting the heat on in my car as I headed down to the cliff thinking, I can’t believe they refer to this as summer weather. Still, there was a certain charm to walking through the dreary fog and precipitation, as the pelicans, cormorants and gulls weren’t giving it a second thought.

Then came Thursday, and the sun was peeking through the clouds as I exited my westside abode. When I got to the parking lot at Natural Bridges, there were the faint signs of a fading rainbow alongside the remaining arch. I took this as a good sign. The ground was wet but the air was warm. We’re talking short sleeve weather, a rarity on summer mornings. I’m always somewhat shocked to see the sun or my under eye circles in the early part of the coastal day.

I was more than pleasantly surprised at this rapid turn of events, but I shouldn’t have been, as I had been down this road before. As I strolled along with my faithful golden companion, the sun was gleaming across the water, and a gorgeous cloud bank painted the eastern sky above Lighthouse Point.

As I headed south, a seal popped its head out of the water at Stockton Avenue, while further out, a great egret was hanging out in the kelp beds. The air was a glorious temperature, and despite the fact that I had woken up at 4:40 am and couldn’t get back to sleep no matter how many sheep I counted, life was good at that moment.

However, by the time I returned home, the clouds had come in and and erased all this morning majesty. I got lucky on this day, so I guess timing is still everything. Just a great day to take a walk on the mild side in this cold water paradise.

For today’s photo conclave, I am featuring moments from three sunrises for the price of one. The first and third were taken from the end of my street along the upper westside. The skies above Monterey Bay conveniently lit up on these two January mornings, which made the silhouette of the tree of life that much more vivacious.

The middle rise was shot during the same month from the cliffs above Cowell’s Beach, looking across to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. For you folks keeping a scorecard at home, last January was a fabulous month for sunrises. Just goes to show that they do make sunrises like they used to.

On to the late night humor. “U.S. embassies are closed all around the Middle East this week due to a terrorist threat. What happened was the U.S. intercepted a conference call of 20 al-Qaida operatives. Twenty on one conference call! Who is their carrier? I go under a bridge and my cellphone drops the call, but they can get 20 people in one call from a cave? I guess you all heard about this terrorist threat the president warned us about. One of the reasons al-Qaida is upset with the United States is because we are giving aid to Yemen. We didn’t have a choice. When life hands you Yemen, you give them Yemen aid. This story just gets crazier: Two more women have come forward to accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual misconduct. That brings the total to 13 — or as Filner calls it, a groper’s dozen.” -Jay Leno

“As our studio audience knows, the security today for President Obama was incredible. In fact, first lady Michelle Obama already had the Secret Service sweep the president’s dressing room for chips, pizza, ice cream. This weekend President Obama celebrated his 52nd birthday. For his birthday, Michelle Obama jumped out of a cake and told him he’s not allowed to have any. Happy birthday to President Obama! He will be 52 years old on Sunday. If you’d like to get the president a gift, you can’t go wrong with Edward Snowden. He would love that. You can see that the President is getting a little grayer. In fact, they are starting to call him “The Silver Fox.” That’s because most of the silver in his hair was caused by Fox.” – Jay Leno

“Alex Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for using performance-enhancing drugs, but then he appealed, so technically he can still play. Last night he played his first game since the suspension and hit a bloop single. And then he said, “Imagine how far that would have gone if I was still on steroids!” Baseball suspended 13 players for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, most notably baseball’s highest paid player, Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. A-Rod is suspended for 211 games. That is an odd number, but .211 is what they calculated his batting average would have been without the drug.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Fifty years ago today was “the great train robbery.” Robbers got away with $63 million in cash from a postal train in Britain. My father worked for the post office at that time. He was supposed to be working on the night that it was robbed, but he had the flu. He called in sick. Coincidence? All I know is right after the great train robbery, we ate well around my house. Yes, that is the night we got a brand new potato. I like heist movies. “Oceans 11″ was a good one. Then there was “Oceans 12″ where they robbed the people who went to see the movie.” – Craig Ferguson

“The Boston Globe newspaper has been sold for $70 million, even though 20 years ago it went for $1.1 billion. I couldn’t believe that story when I saw it for free on the Internet. LeBron James of the Miami Heat had to report for jury duty today. Of course there will be 11 other jurors to help decide the case, but you know he’ll wind up doing it all by himself. The NFL is about to get its first full-time female referee. Good for them. It will be a little different though. When a player asks her what he did wrong, she’ll say “Oh, you know what you did.” – Jimmy Fallon

So let’s it for August. I’m taking some time off and heading to the Garden Isle in South Pacific to study the mating habits of the chocolate covered macadamia nut. I shall return on September 2nd.

We’ll catch you showing the world the Australians can produce great TV crime dramas. Aloha, mahalo and later, “Underbelly” fans.

February 17, 2013

Have Gun Will Unravel

Good morning and greetings, NBA All-Star game fans. As a citizen of the world, I like to watch the national news on a nightly basis. I’m a big fan of NBC’s Brian Williams, who hails from the Garden State of New Jersey and is one my favorite guests on Late Night with David Letterman. My favorite guests are comedian Chris Elliot, a former Late Night writer and performer who loves to zing his former boss, and actor Martin Short, who never fails to bring down the house. He loves kidding Dave about his youthful looks. On an appearance from last fall, Marty quipped, “I was watching backstage. I thought, is that one of the Winklevoss twins? They’re usually inseparable.” Especially when they’re counting Mark Zuckerberg’s money.

So two of the hottest news stories of 2013 have been the issue of gun control and Katy Perry’s dress at the Grammys. Here at Sunrise Santa Cruz, I try to turn my attention towards certain kinds of news stories, like flying squirrel epidemics, wild monkeys out of control and great new Valentine’s Day gifts. I tend to stay away from topics like crime, war, disease, poverty, global warming and Republican think tanks, because there is no humor in these subjects, except if you like tea parties.

But the talk of guns is everywhere. Last month, President Obama urged Congress to ban assault weapons, limit magazines to ten bullets and called for background checks for all gun buyers and Secretary of Defense candidates. In his State of the Union address last week, the president again issued the challenge to Congress for gun control while at the same time questioning if Derrick Rose will play for the Chicago Bulls this season and if there should have been a penalty called on that crucial last pass play in the Super Bowl.

Both sides feel strongly about the volatile issue. People on the left say you don’t need an assault rifle to defend yourself or to shoot Bambi, Thumper and friends. People on the right say that it doesn’t matter what Congress does, criminals will always have guns, and if you take them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, all hell will break loose.

As we have seen, Americans are fascinated with guns. As playwright Irwin Shaw noted,” If football players were armed with guns, there wouldn’t be stadiums large enough to hold the crowds.” And that’s not because of those bullet-proof clad cheerleaders.

So I’m not going to talk about the senseless and ongoing gun violence, as there are no simple answers to this problem that is plaguing our nation and destroying families on a daily basis. But I have some other thoughts.

I don’t own a gun, rifle, pistol or fire hose. I don’t carry around a knife for protection, but I do have a fork and spoon in my car for take out situations and spontaneous picnics. I believe as I child I was fascinated by guns, as I have a picture of myself along with my brother Paul and a future eco-terrorist marching in a Fourth of July parade with a .38 magnum tucked into my waistband. I remember lots of waterguns, particularly the Eliot Ness tommy gun with a laser scope that would have drenched small cells of Al Queda. I did arm myself as a youth, as I purchased a sling shot after hearing the story of David and Goliath. I didn’t cut my hair for a year after hearing the tale of Sampson and Delilah. My friends and I owned a number of pea shooters, until one day when our rabbi confiscated them during a Purim Carnival.

When I was growing up, Chuck Connors starred as “The Rifleman.” When I went to sleep away camp in the summer, I was known as “Rifle Boy,” as I was a crack shot at the rifle range and on the tether ball court. I was disappointed when I discovered that tether ball was not a sanctioned NCAA sport, because as a child I had full ride scholarship written all over me.

I can understand why people like to own guns. I’ve been hot as a pistol on the basketball court but have never been pistol whipped. I like run and gun basketball but off the court, when I see a gun, I run. Face it, I’m an NBA, not NRA fan. Besides, I’m allergic to bullets.

So here’s the crux of the matter. When I leave my house, I’m not packing heat. Sometimes I bring a sandwich, some chips and a drink. Living here in Santa Cruz, I don’t feel the need to carry a gun for protection. I savor every day that I don’t run into someone with one who’d like to rob or harm me. At this point in my life I can’t image shooting anyone or anything except with a camera. And some day I want the sun to see me rise.

I certainly understand why someone would feel safer owning a gun. There are a lot of bad people out there and some of them have radio shows. You can’t live with blinders in today’s world. You never know who’s driving down the street with a loaded gun in their car. That’s why I always tell my children before they head out, remember, nothing good happens after 8 p.m.

So for today’s photo lineup, we are heading to the sky for some midday photo action. We start out some thunderheads filling the skies from above Cowells Beach. We then head up to UC Santa Cruz, where we get a nice view of Pogonip and the brown meadows on campus before going back down to the beach. Here we see a huge mass of liquid droplets and ice crystals above the Municipal Wharf, before finishing up with some surfers hanging ten or eleven at Cowells, where the waves are long and gentle and seem to break forever.

My mother often asks me if I ever studied meteorology. The answer is no, I’m just fascinated by weather and sports. I really don’t know why the weather does what it does, but I love photographing the results. When she questioned me about the pictures I posted today, I told her what Joni Mitchell once whispered to me. “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now. From up and down, and still somehow. It’s cloud illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all.”

On to the late night. “Earlier tonight President Obama gave his State of the Union address. This is a real break with tradition. When the president walked into the chamber, instead of “Hail to the Chief,” they played “Hey, Big Spender.” – Jay Leno “President Obama gave his State of the Union address tonight. The rebuttal will be given by Marco Rubio. Or as he’s known in the Republican Party, “our black guy.” The Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address was given by Senator Marco Rubio. It’s just one more example of rich white guys getting a Hispanic to do a job they don’t want to do.” – Conan O’Brien “Be honest. How many of you never heard of Marco Rubio until last night? How many thought Marco Rubio was a game you played in a pool with the kids?” – Jay Leno

“Tomorrow President Obama gives his annual State of the Union address. If you’re not familiar, the State of the Union is where the president faces Congress and asks them to work together and fix America’s problems and Congress says, “No.” – Jimmy Fallon “Hillary Clinton is finished as secretary of state. They had a going away party for Hillary. She had a couple of drinks and admitted she doesn’t know the difference between Paraguay and Uruguay. Pope Benedict is quitting. He said he just wants to spend more time with his wife and kids.” – David Letterman “The Navy SEAL responsible for killing Osama bin Laden says he’s having trouble finding work. My advice: Charge $10 per high five. He will be a billionaire by the weekend.” – Conan O’Brien

So that’s our show. Birthday wishes go out on Friday to my Marin County brother Paul, who coaches his son’s Joshua’s basketball team. They’ve had a good season and Paul is the front-runner for middle school coach-of-the-year with the smallest starting lineup ever.

We’ll catch you celebrating your 50th birthday and perhaps being the the greatest NBA player of all time. Aloha, mahalo and later, Michael Jordan fans.

November 27, 2011

Turkeys Fly Over The Rainbow, Why Then Why Can’t Thighs?

Good morning and greetings, post holiday fans. Last week was different from others throughout the year, as many of us were able to deviate from our normal midweek routines and shift our focus to the festival of thanks, giving and gravy. It was a huge week for stuffing, as I personally made enough to feed a small Caribbean nation. After then roasting a 23 pound self-basting turkey along with some extra thighs to satisfy the dark meat side in all of us, it was on to leftover city as we all waited for the bell to sound for round two.

Ah, Thanksgiving. The holiday congers up many a pleasant thought in the hearts and minds of so many people. We’re talking a virtual plethora of food, family and football. I hadn’t been left with that warm a feeling since our thermostat got stuck on 85 degrees a couple of years ago.

We started our Thursday extravaganza with a variety of appetizers, continuing a tradition that would have made Trader Joe’s proud. Personally, I try to avoid much of the pregame meal, as in my role of George Washington Carver, after I’m done surgically performing my magic on the carcass crammed with moist, flavor-packed stuffing, I’m already half full. Or would that be half empty?

But this is not a great day for the turkeys or their relatives. And what do we really know about this main component of the Thanksgiving meal? Well, thanks to Sarah Ganly of Yahoo’s Associated Content, here are some fun facts about our recently exhumed holiday bird.

Turkeys have Jim roamed the planet for almost ten million years. Wild turkeys sleep in the low branches of trees at night, which means they can fly. They spend their days like Washington lobbyists, foraging for foods like acorns, seeds, berries, small insects, Congressional aides and gluten-free stuffing. A turkey can fly as fast as 55 miles per hour, sprint like Usain Bolt at 25 miles per hour, and do the hokey pokey, because that’s what it’s all about. Turkeys can glide without flapping their wings or gums for about a mile, which really impressed the Wright Brothers. Unfortunately, domestic turkeys can’t fly, except off the shelf at holiday time.

According to research by the Drumstick Institute, more than 45 million turkey are cooked and eaten in the U.S. and Puerto Rico at Thanksgiving. We’re talking enough gravy to fill Lake Michigan. Wild turkeys have a very different taste from farm-raised turkeys. Almost all of the meat is “dark,”, which drives Tea party members crazy. However, there is no documented evidence of any difference between wild and domesticated stuffing.

Turkeys have no external ears, but are experts at reading lips. These big birds can have heart attacks just like humans, and was proven when turkeys died from the shock of jet planes flying overheard and Herman Cain leading the Republican field of candidates. And sadly, if a turkey looks up when it’s raining, it can drown, which can also happen when smothering gravy on the white meat.

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey, instead of the bald eagle, to be the national bird of the United States. He said the balding eagle had “bad moral character” and that in comparison, the turkey was “a much more respectable bird, a true original native of America and a bird of courage.” And all this time I thought Larry was the national bird.

So have you ever wondered why we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November? Or why the eagle flies on Friday? Well, we can thank Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer who penned the nursery rhyme “Mary had little lamb with mint jelly.” She wrote to President Abraham Lincoln, encouraging him to set aside the last Thursday in November “as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer.” She said “we have too few holidays and that Thanksgiving, like the Fourth of July, should be considered a national festival and observed by all our people, especially those who like dark meat.”

Hale was a writer and a visionary, whose fleece was white as snow. She thought this holiday would be therapeutic for our country and a catalyst in preventing the outbreak of civil war. Unfortunately, insanity reigned, and as civil war waged throughout the nation, President Lincoln issued the proclamation creating this national holiday of green beans, cranberry sauce and pumpkin lies. I give Ms. Hale much credit for detesting war and bringing about this holiday that joins families and the nation together in watching the NFL Network. Like I told my draft board, I’m a pacifist and not even comfortable when the the North plays the South in college football’s Senior Bowl.

Since there’s no late night humor this week I’ll substitute my annual Thanksgiving joke. 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!”

For today’s photo playbook we are returning to last weekend, as I shot back-to-back sunsets from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive. I didn’t get those outstanding fall colors I was hoping for, but the clouds definitely caught my attention, and when I put the zoom lens on, that’s when things really got interesting. It reminded me of the bachelor party I never had.

So another Thanksgiving is in the books. Now it’s on to high school basketball and some Christmas Day NBA tripleheader madness. We’ll catch you breaking the school record for most career touchdown passes. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andrew Luck fans.

July 3, 2011

You Could Have Knocked Me Over With A Weather

Good morning and greetings, Independence Day fans. Now, I know the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains, but I had no idea that the rain in
Santa Cruz fell merrily in June. This being the case, much like during the math section of the SAT’s, I was somewhat surprised and bewildered when torrents of moisture dropped down from the sky last Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service in Monterey, where I go to get my international news and latest cricket scores, two inches of rain fell in the month in June. Now, I know this doesn’t seem like much compared to the world’s record rainfall, when 12 inches came down in just 42 minutes back in Missouri in 1947. That, my raindrop-loving friends, was precipitation gone wild.

Tuesday’s surprise rainfall amounted to about .03 inches, which is the
same amount I shrink height-wise each year. When the skies opened up that morning, shocking locals, tourists and sunblock salesman, it went on the books as the wettest June on record in Santa Cruz history, breaking the previous mark set back in 1929, before there was skype, twitter and the newest Republican nut on the block, Michele Bachman.

This storm came spinning down from the Gulf of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, as a result of a strong low pressure system. Or in the words of the great George Carlin, as hippy-dippy weatherman Al Sleet, “the weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused
with a Mexican high.” The storm also brought snow to the Sierras, which meant smiles on the face of skiers, snowboarders and saint bernards as both the slopes and my sinuses are open today on the Fourth of July.

Although this weather didn’t stick around much longer than my plans of going to medical school, it got me thinking about wild weather around this geographically diverse nation of ours. So thanks to Dan Baker at
http://web2.airmail.net, here are some fun and amazing facts that you may not have known or cared about from the weather front.

On February 12, 2010, which I believe was a Thursday, 49 of our 50 states had snow on the ground, with the exception of Hawaii, where snow was banned by the State Board of Tourism and signed into law by Commander Steve McGarrett of the new Hawaii Five-O. This is not really true, as snow recently fell on the Big Island on the slopes of either Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea or some kind of macadamia nut.

On January 11th of this year, snow was on the ground in every state except Florida, which received an exemption due to voting fraud and
the impending free agency of Orlando center Dwight Howard. The reason I bring these snow stats up is that it is very unusual for many of the southern states to have the white-powered ground cover, as it would be if the Republicans supported any legislation by Michelle Obama.

If you like dry spells, but how about the the goings on in Bagdad, California, a ghost town located in the eastern Mojave Desert? They
did not see any rain for 767 days during a two-year period between 1912 and 1914. The only drier period of time in history was the Golden State Warriors just sniffing the playoffs once in the last two hundred years.

When one hears Seattle, we think of Gus Williams, Kurt Cobain and rain.
Well, believe it or not, umbrella fans, although the Emerald City is cloudy 227 days a year, it receives less rain than New York, Miami or Fort Lee, New Jersey. So there goes the joke that it rains only twice a year in Seattle: August through April and May through July.

We think of Chicago as the “Windy City” or the city that Michael
Jordan built with the help of Scottie Pippen. However, when it comes to wind speed, it’s not close to being wind central, as New York’s average wind speed is higher, but that could be from all the hot air that Rush Limbaugh is blowing out over the radio.

And finally, Cherrapunji in northeastern India is considered the wettest place on earth. I always thought it was a mountaintop in Kauai, but obviously I’m no Al Roker. Anyway, in the iron of ironies, these poor folks experience severe water shortages due to pollution and deforestation. As a result, they must walk miles to obtain drinkable water. Thus, they are walking in the rain, but I have a feeling
they’re not singing and don’t have that “glorious feelin’, I’m happy again.”

For today’s photo symphony, we start out with a late afternoon sky full of clouds at Stockton Avenue before heading up to Natural Bridges to take in the sunset. Photo #3 is my salute to Fourth of July as I caught this gull in full regalia. I call this shot “Flying Free,” which is my personal Declaration of independence from British rule and rock.

We then finish up with an image from the same night of the final arch at the Bridges and then the dancing clouds reflecting on the sand. These
peach-like colors were unusual to view at sunset, and their reflection
decorated the beach in just the right way on this enchanting evening.

And now a little late night. “Anthony Weiner is reportedly involved in
choosing his successor. The first question he asked his potential replacements is, ‘What’s the difference between ‘reply’ and ‘reply all?” –Conan O’Brien “Anthony Weiner is back in the private sector now.
When he was a congressman from New York, I think it was his private sector that got him in trouble.” –David Letterman “President Obama was in New York today. There was an awkward moment in Times
Square when he saw the Naked Cowboy and said, ‘Please tell me you’re not a Democratic Congressman.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Michele Bachmann is kind of like Sarah Palin but without the charisma — or marksmanship. “You know, maybe we should stop telling kids that anyone can grow up to be president of the United States.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Michele Bachmann said her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, is the birthplace of John Wayne, when it is actually the birthplace of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. She then said her favorite sitcom from the 80s is ‘Charles Manson in Charge.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat. As the verdict was read, Blagojevich’s face remained expressionless while his hair remained ridiculous.” –Conan O’Brien “Rod Blagojevich was charged with corruption — and unlawful imprisonment of a badger. Have you seen his hair?” –David Letterman “Rod Blagojevich was convicted of extortion, wire fraud, bribery, and
criminal abuse of styling mousse.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Speaking of Sarah Palin, this week, Palin tweeted that her daughter
Bristol’s new memoir is quote ‘shocking, refreshing, honest, inspiring, and perfect.’ Of course, she said the same thing about the movie ‘Cars
2.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Yesterday Sarah Palin said that she read Bristol
Palin’s new book and she found it ‘shocking.’ When asked what was shocking, Palin said ‘the fact I read a book.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Newt Gingrich says he does not support gay marriage. He says marriage is a sacred sacrament that should only be between a man and his first, second, and third wives.” –Conan O’Brien “Newt Gingrich said Republicans shouldn’t be afraid to go into black neighborhoods and tell them Obama failed them. To which every Republican replied ‘You first.’” –Bill Maher

So that’s my Independence Day blast. Birthday wishes go out today to my favorite high school Homecoming Queen, the fabulous Vicki Grimsland. So enjoy the NFL and the NBA lockouts and we’ll catch you at the negotiating table. Aloha, mahalo and later, Novak Djokovic fans.

June 19, 2011

Summer Better Than Others

Good morning and greetings, summer solstice fans. This spring was a walk on the wild side on the weather front, as killer tornadoes, ravaging floods, raging wildfires, record-breaking heat, Anthony’s weiner
and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child all made national headlines. It was a very difficult time that many Americans and particularly Maria Shriver won’t soon forget.

But as Monday is the final day of our annual spring fling, I thought we
would look ahead to summer and all the fun that is Santa Cruz. When the words summer and fun are combined with free admission, all day-ride passes and a lost children’s center, we can only be talking about one place. That would be the only remaining major seaside amusement park on the West Coast, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Before there was the Boardwalk, there was just a beautiful,lifeguard-free, white sand beach. Back in 1865, before Safeway, Starbucks
and Panda Express splashed onto the scene, an enterprising gentlemen named John Leibrandt opened a public bathhouse near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Holy SPF 50 ultra sweatproof sunblock, Batman! Soon other bathhouses followed along with boogie board rental shops as tourists of every race, creed and color began visiting Santa Cruz.

They had heard of the Catalyst and of the healing properties of salt water, so they traveled by planes, trains and automobiles to immerse themselves in this highly-touted “natural medicine.” This was bigger than clam chowder in a bread bowl as soon more stores and businesses opened including Sears, Jamba Juice and Pizza My Heart as tourists flocked to the central coast to take the cold water plunge.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was founded in 1904 by local businessman and entrepreneur Fred Swanton, who wanted to create a Coney Island on the west coast. We’re talking Nathan Hot Dogs on a sour dough bun along with an amusement park full of fun, games and a variety of souvenirs to satisfy everyone from Grandma to the annoying friend who’s afraid to go on any ride. All this along an incredibly beautiful mile long stretch of the Pacific Ocean. It was just the way Spanish explorers envisioned this prime piece of oceanfront real estate
when they first sailed into Monterey Bay.

So Fred Swanton erected a domed casino on the beach along the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Unfortunately, less than two years later, the building, much like LeBron James and the Miami Heat in this year’s NBA Finals, went down in flames, along with a salt water taffy stand. But this Santa Cruz-based visionary would not be deterred, and he soon built a new casino, ballroom, boardwalk, pleasure pier, indoor swimming pool, ashram and meditation center.

The grand opening of the new boardwalk inspired an inaugural ball, with one band being directed by John Philip Sousa and the other by Mr. Eddie Money. There was also a congratulatory email message from President Theodore Roosevelt and a twitter from Sarah Palin, who claimed that she was just on a summer vacation with her family and that this road trip had nothing to do with her trying to sell more books.

The Boardwalk’s top attraction is the Giant Dipper, a wooden roller coaster built in 1924, when Al Davis bought the Oakland Raiders. Giant Dipper creator Arthur Looff once said the ride’s design was intended to evoke a “combination earthquake, balloon ascension and aeroplane drop,” or how Bin Laden might have felt when he realized it was not Domino’s Pizza but Navy Seals knocking down his door.

Now, I don’t want to say that that I’m not a big roller coaster fan,
but if I want to experience the highs and lows, thrills and excitement and gentle terror that is the Giant Dipper, I’ll just watch my stock portfolio play along with the Dow Jones average. And I don’t even
have to be buckled in.

The Giant Dip was built in just 47 days at the cost of $50,000, or what I spend each year on electroshock therapy and Chinese food. The Dipper and the Looff Carousel are both on the United States National Register of Historic Places along with the new “Burger” restaurant on Mission Street. The Boardwalk itself is a California State Historic Landmark. For summer seaside fun with an assortment of rides and attractions that make visitors wish they could afford to live here, the Boardwalk is the place to be.

For today’s photographic faceplate we are serving up six shots of the
Boardwalk that you won’t find in National Geographic or Popular Mechanics. The first photo was taken during a pelican feeding frenzy in the waters of Cowells Beach. We continue with a shot from later that evening followed by more photos from this prime piece of real estate that considers the Wharf, Steamers Lane and Lighthouse Point close and personal friends.

On to the late night festivities. “Congressman Weiner has entered a
treatment program. Amazingly, it’s the only thing he’s entered during the entire Weinergate scandal.” –Conan O’Brien “Congressman Anthony Weiner has just checked himself into a treatment center for people battling chronic sexual dysfunction. Checked in? He’s already
there, it’s called Congress. Congressman Anthony Weiner has announced that he’s not resigning in the wake of the scandal. One thing we know about Weiner is that he knows how to stand firm.” –Jay Leno

“The Chairman of the Republican Party Ed Cox said that he would use the incriminating pictures from Anthony Weiner to defeat him. So now we have Cox versus Weiner. This just doesn’t stop!” –Jay Leno “Anthony Weiner wants to be mayor of New York City. So we may go from a guy that looks like a jockey to a guy that likes how he looks in
Jockeys.” –David Letterman “After searching online for eight minutes for pictures of a congressman’s penis you have to start questioning yourself. And now we find out Weiner’s wife is pregnant. The only thing that could make this right is if it turns out she got pregnant by Arnold Schwarzenegger.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Arnold Schwarzenegger’s housekeeper says Maria Shriver became suspicious after noticing similarities between Arnold and her 13-year-old son. For instance, after serving as class president, he left the sixth grade with a $42 billion deficit. The housekeeper said the affair wasn’t all Arnold’s fault because “it takes two.” Then Anthony Weiner said, “Actually, it only takes one.”–Conan O’Brien

“President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have agreed to play a round of golf together. Imagine the two of them at the end of that golf game? Boehner will be crying over his score and Obama will be giving three explanations as to why his score is actually better than it appears. One of bin Laden’s wives said he was a sex machine. In fact, he was the only man who could find her jihad spot.” –Jay Leno

That’s our last blast for spring 2011. Congratulations go out to my Santa Cruz-based parents, Lee and Daniel Gilbert, who on Saturday celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary. Being their oldest has really been a treat. Or as my father likes to say, “Lee, why didn’t we have a daughter first?”

So get ready for summer and we’ll catch you running the break. Aloha,
mahalo and later, NBA draft fans.

June 12, 2011

Everybody Loves A Weiner

Good morning and greetings, twitter fans. Normally I try to stay away from the sordid world of politics, but after following the twists, turns and new day-to-day revelations of this story, much like the man swirling in the center of the controversy, I couldn’t resist.

New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has gotten himself into quite a pickle. Last week, he was all over the news, after first denying then admitting that he tweeted, texted, sexted and carrier pigeoned photos of one of his favorite organs to women he claimed to have never met in person. We know that organ couldn’t have been his brain because it was obviously not in use.

So we’re talking your basic on-line sexual hanky panky, like, hey I’m a Congresssman, want to see the emancipation of my proclamation. It’s hard to believe that after the recent embarrassing escapades of Schwarzenegger, Edwards, Spitzer, Sanford, Vitter, Craig, Lee, Ensign and others, that the
Weiner-meister didn’t know better than to keep his politics in his pants. I think it is safe to say this will not help him in his effort to get elected mayor of New York as Oscar Meyer Weiner has a better shot at this point.

And then to top it all off, we then find out that his wife, who is an aide to Hillary Clinton, herself an expert witness to knowing what it feels like to be cheated on, is pregnant. I’m not asking the Congressman to resign, just quietly go off to a treatment program, pray for your wife’s forgiveness and close down the damn
Facebook account.

So in honor of this sad and bizarre story of cyber lust, I thought in the interest in truth, injustice and very much the recent political way, we’d take a look at a even bigger weiner, the All-American hot dog.

Hot dogs are known by many names. We’re talking frankfurters, franks, you’re welcome, weiners, weinies, dogs, puppies, schnauzers and my personal favorite, meat byproducts in a warm bun.

Hot dogs and franks are staples of the American diet, but despite their production being regulated by the FDA, NBA and CIA, they sometimes get rapped for being made of, let’s say, not the highest quality ingredients. But when I’m looking for some meat scraps of liver, spleen, kidneys or pancreas on a toasted roll, nothing works better than a good old hot dog.

Now here are a few fun facts about my favorite dogs that aren’t golden retrievers. Every second of every day except Jewish holidays, 450 hot dogs are consumed in the United States. All I can say is “wow” and what is the waiting period before you
can become a vegan. The world’s biggest hot dog, not including Donald Trump, was 1,996 feet long, created by Sara Lee Corporation in honor of the 1996 Olympics. For you health nuts and Stanley Cup fans, a 2,377-foot chicken dog was made in 1985 in Canada, although as a gourmet chef I’m still not sure if chicken and dog should be used in the same sentence.

Hot dogs or frankfurters are said to have originated in Frankfurt,
Germany around 1484, right before the discovery of hamburgers, french fries and milk shakes. In 1904, the hot dog was introduced to America at the St. Louis World’s Fair, along with mustard, relish and Zout Stain Remover. And for you die hard romantics, Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore at Pink’s Hot Dog stand in Hollywood.

Americans now eat, inhale or exhume more than 16 billion hot dogs each year, including about 150 million hot dogs on July 4th. Personally, I’m a Hebrew National all beef-frank kind of guy, made with 100% pure kosher beef. As was written either in the Torah or
Bon Appetit, these dogs provide premium taste and high quality every time. Whether at a backyard picnic, bar mitzvah party
or bris ceremony, this is the frank you can depend on.

Back in 1957, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce officially designated July as National Hot Dog Month, so remember next month to grill up and do your part. And when you’re chowing down on that frank, which typically takes about six bites to eat, remember to thank Anthony Weiner and his contribution to this post and the American way of life that we relish.

So because of the reception this Friday honoring yours truly at
Assemblymember Monning’s office, I thought we would photographically go back to my roots and feature a daybreak experience that shows why I got into this cutthroat business.

This was a sunrise at Lighthouse Point that was just off the charts in terms of spectacular beauty. And it was also very unusual in that although it was low tide, because of a giant swell the day before, there was a huge pool of water encompassing Its Beach.

Because of this golden pond, I was able to grab the incredible colors in the sky and the reflection of the lighthouse in the water (photo # 3.) We finish off with the the sun greeting the day at
Steamers Lane. For a dedicated and unmedicated sunrise photographer like myself, mornings don’t get much better than this.

On to the late night. “It’s official. It turns out it was
Weiner’s weiner. At a press conference this afternoon, Congressman Anthony Weiner admitted that he tweeted out that
photo of his crotch. During the press conference, Congressman Weiner was choked up and got a lump in this throat – not as big as the lump in his underwear, but still, very emotional! It’s been a crazy few days. First, Anthony Weiner admitted tweeting that
photo of his crotch and John Edwards was indicted for covering up an affair. Or as Arnold Schwarzenegger put it, ‘Thank you God! This is the best week ever!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“The Anthony Weiner scandal shows that despite the wars and the economy, we’re all really still in 9th grade. Of course, Weiner is now desperately trying to make things better with his
wife. You can tell he’s sorry. Like today he sent her a picture of his penis with a little sad face on it.” –Jay Leno “I mean, call me old fashioned. But I long for simpler times and common
sense values. I want to leave our grandchildren an America where Congressmen bang their secretaries. Sorry if there’s no app for that.” –Stephen Colbert

“Despite the scandal, Weiner will not resign, saying he hasn’t done anything illegal and this is not the most embarrassing photo of him that has ever surfaced. That would be his senior portrait from high school. Weiner’s high school portrait was taken at one of the rare moments when he wasn’t being stuffed into the garbage can.” –Jimmy Kimmel “It turns out that one of the women Congressman Anthony Weiner was communicating with was a porn star. When asked how it was possible to get involved with someone in such a sleazy business, the porn star said, ‘I don’t know.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Sarah Palin’s cross country road trip is not a political event, she says, but just a summer vacation with her family, just like the ones you have. Except my summer vacations generally don’t have a title…Despite the news this week that our cell phones are giving us cancer, users are NOT giving up. They’re like, okay, my cell phone could give me cancer, but actually interacting with people in person is what leads to Chlamydia.” –NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

“That’s right, Michelle Obama is taking Sasha and Malia to South Africa and Botswana and Sarah Palin was like, ‘Wow, they’re going to all the places Paul Revere went.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Donald Trump and Sarah Palin met and had pizza together in New York City last week. There was one embarrassing moment — when the waitress asked Donald if he wanted extra topping and he said, ‘No, my hair is fine.’” –Jay Leno

So that’s our look at Capitol Hill. As we close out this spring of wild weather, massive wildfires continue to rage in Arizona while record-breaking temperatures scorched the east coast last week. So be grateful for the cool weather on the central coast. We’ll catch you on a backdoor cut. Aloha, mahalo and later, J.J. Barea fans.

June 5, 2011

I Don’t Know Weather I’m Coming Or Going

Good morning and greetings, June gloom fans. The human mind, much like Rafael Nadal at the French Open, works in amazing ways. For example, every time I drink some Kern’s Nectar Guava juice, the thought of Hawaii blows through my cranium like a late afternoon trade wind. Just one taste and I’m back on the sand at Sunset Beach. It’s an amazingly easy way to go tropical when every sip is like a bite of fresh fruit.

What’s also amazing was the weather last week in Santa Cruz. On the final day of May, the weather was cold and rainy, or what San Franciscans refer to as “summer.” If I didn’t own a calendar, I would have thought it was mid-winter or just another holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, in other parts of our great United States, cities were experiencing slightly warmer temps. Phoenix hit the century mark at 100, Richmond, Virginia clocked in at 98 Memphis was a cozy 96 degrees. On this day, Santa Cruz was a tad cooler as the thermometer hit 58. On the eve of what many scientists, historians and lifeguards refer to as the beginning of summer, neither chivalry or shivering was dead.

I should also mention that downtown Baghdad hit a high of 114, but thank goodness we’ve gotten all our troops out of there and Afghanistan, so our brave men and women are no longer in harm’s way. Or as we like to say on the westside, “Mission Street Accomplished.”

Then came Saturday’s spring storm which brought driving rain, high winds and thunder clouds you don’t normally see this time of year. This while many around the nation sweltered under July-like temperatures with the bonus of high humidity. But then again, who doesn’t love winter weather in June.

I didn’t catch the forecast for Tripoli, but it’s reassuring to know that after 11 weeks of NATO bombing, Moammar Khadaffy has vowed to never give in, even after missiles knocked out his Direct TV satellite dish, which means that his catching the first episode of the new season “Men of a Certain Age” was in grave doubt.

But you would not have known this if you had tuned into NBC national news, as there was no time for a mention of Libya, Syria or Capitola. Brian Williams and his gang only have 22 minutes to cover the day’s events. So one might be left to wonder, what’s the update with Japan and that whole little nuclear reactor meltdown situation? Although it’s no longer a hot item, I’ve got to believe that many viewers might be wondering about this curious incident that had Chernobyl watchers sitting up straight in their seats.

Returning to the news, the aftermath of the destruction from the Joplin, Missouri tornado was moved back in the lineup, as the lead story on this chilly final day of May was the report of the dangers of cell phone use. A World Health Organization panel concluded that cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic”, and put these playful little devices in the same category as the pesticide
DDT, engine exhaust or any program broadcast by Fox News. This does not mean they are cancer causing, just that it is possible.

Now that is very reassuring to know, being that every child in America owns a cell phone and we certainly would not want to leave any child behind. Personally, I’m not a big cell phone user. I’m much more of a walkie-talkie fan, especially when I can’t get good reception on my ham radio. But I believe the cell phone companies when they say that these devices aren’t dangerous. After all, isn’t that what the tobacco companies assured us years ago?

I can’t say that watching the world news is a positive experience, as it often leaves me shaking my head. When my dog does that, I know it’s a sign of an ear infection, but for me it’s my way of saying, “what is going on in this world? But then I realize, I can always turn the TV off, grab my camera and head out into the sunset.

And that brings us to today’s photo experience. I wanted to start off the new month with some fabulous color from a fall sunset from a few years back. The place was Natural Bridges and the swell was pumping as surfers were out in force. The sky turned from orange sherbert to a lovely cherry jubilee, giving off a reflection in the sand and in the Pacific that was well worth texting home about. Or as I like to say, just another good night at the office.

Here’s a little late night. “Sarah Palin may run for President. Doesn’t that thought make you nostalgic for last week when you only thought the world was going to end? This weekend Sarah Palin begins a nationwide bus tour, which I think is a good way for her to learn the names of all the states. I think Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin would be the perfect ticket. She can’t answer basic questions, and he has two answers for every question.” –Jay Leno

“Sarah Palin met with Donald Trump in New York yesterday. Then Sarah Palin left by helicopter and shot that thing off Trump’s head. Today in New York City, Sarah Palin had a meeting with Donald Trump. Now, experts say if those two joined forces on a Presidential ticket it would be the greatest gift ever given to comedy.” –Craig Ferguson “Sarah Palin had dinner with Donald Trump in New York. The first thing she did when she walked into the restaurant was shoot the rodent off his head.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our first blast for the month of June. Rumor has it we’re not done with the rain here on the central coast. So enjoy another week of the NBA Finals and we’ll catch you at the scorer’s table. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dirk Nowitzki fans.

April 4, 2011

You Can Run But You Can’t Low Tide

Good morning and greetings, no fly zone fans. Is it just me, or is our air assault and maybe we’ll supply these fun lovin’ rebels with arms approach constitute the nuttiest war yet? When I turn on Brian Williams with NBC News and they flash to Richard Engel in Libya with the rebel army, I’m not sure if I’m watching live coverage or a remake of Woody Allen’s “Bananas.”

Growing up, this film, along with the “Play It Again, Sam and Annie Hall” were my favorite Allen flicks. I love the Wood Man. Woody, as Fielding Mellish, plays a consumer products tester, who’s dumped by his political activist girlfriend because she was looking for someone with more leadership potential. He then heads down to San Marcos, where he joins the rebels and becomes President. You may remember the classic line when the rebels are discussing how to deal with snakebites,” you have to suck out the poison.” Or “he comes to the palace and he doesn’t bring an assortment?”

Anyway, when I see the incredibly brave Mr. Engel risking his life to report this story from behind enemy lines, and the rebel he is interviewing is carrying a PLASTIC gun into battle against Kadaffy’s troops, I am beyond amazed and distressed. These ragtag rebels have no commanders, fire rockets in the wrong direction and are constantly leaving runners in scoring position. I have sympathy for the Libyan people but this is not our battle. I’m more concerned about the simple things, like why there’s no funding so that our libraries can be open on Fridays. So I say, think globally, act locally, drink responsibly and remember, the tie always goes to the gun runner.

As I declared in these pages just last week, I put the sunrise season in the books. So it was much to my surprise, chagrin, consternation, amusement, suicidal tendencies and par for the course that last Tuesday, a shockingly beautiful sunrise appeared in the morning sky. After uncurling out of the fetal position, I hit the streets to check out the action, and it had, much like my IQ, peaked. Fortunately, I felt a whole lot better when my neighbor walked by with his dog and said, “oh, you should have seen it a half an hour ago, it was unbelievable.” Check, please.

Now, in my defense, which is always man-to-man, I was suffering from a really bad cold that morning and was looking forward to some periodontal surgery at 9 am. So I wasn’t really bringing my ‘A’ game to the plate. Still, that is not an excuse, and my psyche is still slightly black and blue from kicking myself for missing this morning magnificence that lit up the skies above Cowells Beach.

So I thought to myself, what could I do to make up for this faux pas for my audience who has supported me unconditionally and non-monetarily for close to six years? There was only once place to go (no, not Hawaii) and that was to the archives, where mucho sunrises, sunsets and cloud conferences lay dormant, waiting for their chance of renewed recognition for past greatness they have performed on the Monterey Bay stage, which is just slightly off Broadway by the way Sheryl Crow flies.

So let’s journey back to a morning of soft breezes in early April of 2006, before Kadaffy had gotten his latest tummy tuck. The tide was extremely low, which set up the possibility for tremendous reflection action as I headed down to Cowells Beach to scope out the morning festivities.

It turned out to be even better than I thought, as good April sunrises happen about as often as the Warriors appear in the playoffs. It does not compare color or texture-wise to what I semi-witnessed last Tuesday, but if you’re a fan of the movie “Endless Summer,” then photo number five is about as close as the Ansel or Don Adams in me is ever going to get.

Moving along, It’s a big week on the birthday front. Let’s start with an outside hitter, as my son Jason turns 17 on Thursday. It’s been quite a year for my first born, as in between taking four AP classes, my junior point guard son was named MVP of his basketball league as he led his team to an undefeated championship. He’s also co-captain of his volleyball team, and watching him hang, float and kill is a thing of absolute beauty, like my daughter’s face when I ask her if she wants cheese in her scrambled eggs in the morning.

But here’s the best part. My jump float serving son has told me that this summer he will be working on a jump program so that next year he’ll be dunking during the basketball season. That, along with the upcoming NBA playoffs and new episodes of “The Chicago Code ” have given me reasons to live and continue to floss. So that’s why I have included today’s special bonus photo #7. I call it “A Dog and his Boy.”

Joining him in Thursday festivities is my youngest brother Brad, who will be celebrating his special day by heli-snowboarding in Alaska. I really wanted to go with him, because nothing excites me more than being dropped off on the top of a glacier and be expected to make it down to the bottom in one easy piece. It’s not that I’m afraid of falling, it’s just that not myself when I’m in a coma. I give my brother credit, as I don’t want to say I’m a boneless chicken, but if you put some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top of me, I’m parmesan done.

And finally on Friday, the guy who made this blog possible, my webmaster, psychic advisor and karate instructor, Kevin Deutsch, celebrates his last birthday before he becomes a high school math teacher. Kevin and I are like two peas in a pod as we both live for solving calculus equations, swimming in golden pools of pad se ew and Lady Gaga acoustic concerts.

On to lots of late night fun. “President Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan, he sent the Navy in to shoot at pirates in the Indian Ocean, and now he’s attacking Libya. It’s like he took the Nobel Peace Prize as an insult.” –Jimmy Kimmel “President Obama said the United States has clear and focused goals in Libya. He said he would share those goals with us as soon as Hillary shares them with him.” –Jimmy Fallon “Congress is mad at President Obama because he didn’t consult them before the war in Libya. Congress got us into two other wars and put us 14 trillion dollars in debt. I can’t imagine why he didn’t consult them.” –Jay Leno

“Donald Trump might be running for president and he just released his birth certificate. It lists his eyes as “blue” and his hair as “ridiculous.” Conan O’Brien “Donald Trump showed his birth certificate to reporters. Who cares about his birth certificate? I want to know if that thing on his head has had its vaccinations.–Craig Ferguson “President Obama had to use another door to get into the White House yesterday after he got home and the entrance to the Oval Office was locked. When he couldn’t get in, Obama said ‘Holy cow, is it 2012 already?’” –Jimmy Fallon

“The latest episode of “Dancing With the Stars” was preceded by Obama’s new show, “Dancing Around the Objectives in Libya.” Critics were saying Obama seemed defensive and slightly angry during his speech on Libya. Sounds like somebody’s March Madness bracket isn’t doing so hot.”–Jimmy Fallon “We’re down to the final four now. Only four Middle East countries we haven’t attacked. Obama is being criticized by both parties for not having a clear strategy to get out of Libya. But neither does Moammar Gadhafi, so it’s OK.”–Jay Leno

“Sarah Palin continues to make significant contributions to the English language. She asked, ‘Is Libya a war, an intervention, a squirmish, what is it?’ Squirmish is how I feel every time I hear Sarah Palin talk.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Sarah Palin said we’re in a “squirmish” with Libya. After she was corrected, she said “I shouldn’t be expected to get everything Acura. President Obama says that he prays every night before bed. Or as Fox News reported, ‘Obama in Daily Talks With Allah.’” –Conan O’Brien

David Letterman’s “Top Five Ways Moammar Gadhafi Can Improve His Image” 10. Less murdering 8. Release hit novelty song ‘Moammar Said There’d Be Days Like This’ 5. Promote himself from colonel to general 3. Just for fun, throw in some more Qs 2. Go on tour with Hosni Mubarak as the ‘Original Dictators of Comedy’

“President Obama didn’t throw any first pitches for opening day. Of course, he did throw us that curveball on Libya. President Obama’s approval ratings are so low now, Kenyans are accusing him of being born in the United States. If Moammar Gadhafi goes into exile, there are only three places that would tolerate a raving madman like that: Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Fox News.”–Jay Leno “Moammar Gadhafi has been described as a maniacal despot clinging to power. Wait a minute, that’s me.”–David Letterman

“A man and a woman who met on a British dating site eventually figured out that they were brother and sister. And since they live close by, they can actually carpool to therapy.”–Jimmy Fallon “Whole Foods, the organic grocery chain, is putting bars in some stores that will serve beer and wine. Their goal is to get you so drunk that you don’t notice the prices.–Jay Leno

“On Fox News, Donald Trump said Obama’s birth certificate could indicate that he’s a Muslim. Trump said he doesn’t trust anyone with a foreign-sounding name, and neither does his daughter Ivanka. Al-Qaida has a magazine, and the spring issue features a profile of Moammar Gadhafi. It also features a women’s section called “Death to Cottage Cheese Thighs.”–Conan O’Brien

So enjoy tonight’s NCAA championship game and we’ll catch you at midcourt for the trophy presentation. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jason Gilbert fans.

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