April 6, 2014

The Son, The Moon And The Births

Good morning and greetings, April fans. Well, last week we started off the new month with some spring showers, which according to my Mariah Carey wall calendar, will then lead to May flowers.

However, at my humble abode on the highly desirable upper westside of Santa Cruz, the gophers and rose bushes are already in full bloom, as my front yard is bursting with color, fragrance and a network of freshly dug tunnels that the recently captured Mexican cartel boss El Chapo would be proud to list on his resume.

Yes, the smell of spring is in the air. As I said to my wife the other day, “If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, I’d be picking roses for a lifetime.” And she replied, “Just remember to turn on the dishwasher before you come upstairs.” Ah, another Hallmark moment.

It was back in 1967 that the Beatles released their psychedelic studio album, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ Which brought us this classic Lennon and McCartney line, “It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper’s taught the band to play.”

So with a shout out to Billy Shears, I thought we might take a quick look back at what was happening two decades ago. Because if you don’t remember the past, you’ll never remember the future.

Taking a look at 1994, ‘Forrest Gump’ was number one at the box office and ‘Seinfeld’ was TV’s most popular show, as they were all masters of their domain. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The number one hit on the song charts was ‘All I Wanna Do’ by Sheryl Crow, a baseball strike cancelled the World Series and the Wonderbra was relaunched and celebrated as one of the greatest fashion innovations in history. Who knew?

And it was twenty years ago today, on April 7, 1994, that the world witnessed the start of the Rwandan genocide, where for a 100 day period, an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 Rwandans were slaughtered, going down as one of the most horrific and shameful events to occur in our lifetimes.

But out of darkness on this day came a shining light, in the form of a child, the birth of my son, Jason. He was supposed to have entered the world a day earlier, but due to my wife’s reluctance to go to the hospital after her water broke, his entering into the universe was delayed.

Now April 6 was a day to remember. We arrived in the morning at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, where I sensed that getting a kosher lunch was going to be a little tricky. All the birthing rooms where full, so they led us to the kitchen area and told us to wait. Ironically, there were bagels and cream cheese there to greet us, so the kosher action might still be a go.

We were supposed to meet our doula, who was going to be Allison’s labor coach. She was also a custom’s agent, and it turned out that day she had to go on a raid and was a no-show. This put me right up on the front line, as I was now husband, coach and the lifeline to our doctor, who didn’t want to make an appearance until our son’s cranium was crowning.

Allison took a long time before being fully dilated. As her coach, I kept flashing the bunt sign, but the runners weren’t moving. Finally, at 1:47 am, Jason flew the coop, and we were no longer just a couple, but now a family.

The next 60 minutes were the highest moments of my life, as I couldn’t believe what had popped out of my wife. We just sat there and stared at him like mental patients. Eventually a nurse came in to clean him up and took my order for some matzo brie.

Jason is now a second year pre-med student at UC Santa Barbara, majoring in biological sciences and beach volleyball. He’s grown into a compassionate young man with an thirst for knowledge, who still will occasionally let me beat him playing one-on-one. He really wants to make a difference. It just goes to show that sometimes the apple falls far away from the cherry tree and keeps rolling.

But Jason already had some company on this day. Back in 1959, in Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital, my brother Brad entered the picture. Neither my brother Paul or I attended the birth, as we were too busy watching ‘Crusader Rabbit,’ the first animated series produced specifically for television
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Brad grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Amherst College and then headed west to seek his fortune. When he is not snowboarding, he is the President and CEO of People Productions, a video and digital based media company based in Boulder, Colorado.

Now Brad is his middle-aged years has become somewhat of a daredevil, unlike yours truly, who won’t leave his feet. His favorite hobby is heli-snowboarding, where the helicopter drops you off on the top of the glacier. I always feel that urge to accompany him on these trips, but I’m just not myself around avalanches.

So a couple of weeks ago, the helicopter dropped my youngest brother off at the summit of an Alaskan glacier, and while he was sitting on a cornice, it collapsed underneath him, sending him tumbling down a sheer 800 foot drop. He thought he was going to die, or at the least have something great to blog about.

It was a terrifying situation and when he finally stopped falling he was alive. However, his left knee took the brunt of the fall, with all the ligaments blown out like strands of linguine.

So for Brad’s 55th birthday, he’ll be at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado, prepping for major knee reconstruction surgery the following day. The outcome could have been much worse, but he’s facing a lengthy rehab program, with lots of physical therapy and sponge baths.

I’m just glad he got out alive and with use of all his limbs. Like his Denver Nuggets, he won’t be seeing any postseason action this year. But along with the Nuggets’ small forward Danilo Gallinari, who’s been sidelined all season with a knee injury, he’ll be back in uniform some time next year. So happy birthday, brother.

To check out his Alaskan escapade, click on http://www.glutenfreesnowboarder.com/2014/04/not-every-powder-tale-has-a-happy-ending/

As I mentioned earlier, we started off last week with some wet weather, and this brought some spectacular rainbows into prime time viewing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in photo mode, but it did not stop me from going back into the archives and bringing a few back into the light.

We start off with a lovely full arc double rainbow over the Santa Cruz Wharf, followed by another double shot off of West Cliff Drive.

We then jet over to the South Pacific, with a couple of doubles on Kauai’s beautiful Hanalei Bay. We finish up with the grand finale at Sunset Beach on Oahu’s famous North Shore, just step’s away from Ted’s Bakery, home of the world famous chocolate haupia cream pie.

I love these multicolored masterpieces of reflected and refracted light. It’s like what Charlie Chaplin had to say about rainbows. “You’ll never find one if you’re looking down.” Unless, of course, you’re at a gas station.

Or as my rabbi once told me, “We may run, walk, stumble, drive or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or to miss a chance to see a rainbow along the way.” Because that’s where happy little bluebirds fly.

On to some late night humor. “The Secret Service arrested a man today after he tried to scale a fence at the White House. They reportedly said to the man, ‘Sorry, but you still have two more years, Mr. President.’ A new study on unemployment shows that it is now harder to get a job at Wal-Mart than to get accepted at Harvard. Of course, it’s a lot easier if your dad went to Wal-Mart.” -Seth Meyers

“Willie Nelson’s stuffed armadillo has been returned after being stolen from a Las Vegas show. And I’m sure Willie was happy to get it back, considering what it’s probably stuffed with. That’s right, 75 percent of Americans think marijuana eventually will be legal, while the other 25 percent said, “What, it’s illegal?” – Seth Meyers

“California is having to drive 30 million salmon to the ocean because this year’s drought has dried up the rivers that normally get them there. Unfortunately, to make the salmon comfortable, the truckers had to drive against traffic.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Everybody’s excited about the beginning of baseball season. The Yankees are off to a rough start. They are 0-and-2. Alex Rodriguez, who is no longer a Yankee, sits home nights watching the games and injecting himself with dip.” – David Letterman

“The Discovery Channel just announced plans for a new miniseries. It’s hosting a race to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. So technically savvy individuals can compete to see who can get their spacecraft to the moon first. It will be televised live. The show aims to prove that people who are bright and determined and work hard can accomplish anything we already accomplished 50 years ago.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So enjoy tonight’s NCAA basketball championship. By the way, after viewing the top prospects in the McDonald’s All American Game last week, our college basketball guru, Dr. Michael Schur, has the Duke Blue Devils once again cutting down the nets in next year’s NCAA Final in Indianapolis. Seems the Dukies have reloaded.

So we’ll catch you coming back from a knee injury and displaying the explosiveness that makes you one of the top young guards in the game. Aloha, mahalo and later, Eric Bledsoe fans.

September 15, 2013

The Bay Of The Jackal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 26, 2013

All We Are Is Gusts In The Wind

Good morning and greetings, extreme weather fans. It was a bit breezy on the westside of town last week, as the trade winds were gusting along the coast. The winds brought with them chains of pelicans, who flew by in glorious formations, with many stopping at the remaining arch at Natural Bridges to shower, shave and recharge their cell phones, which they keep in their bills. That’s right, cell phone bills. Can you hear me now?

So you may be wondering, how windy was it? It was so windy that on my wife’s birthday on Saturday, she didn’t have to blow out the candles. Unfortunately, her wish did not come true, as when the candles were extinguished, the basketball season still wasn’t over.

My wife and I follow the advice of that wise sage Phyllis Diller “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” Our marriage is still a work in progress, although she is constantly saying that I never listen to her. At least that’s what I think she said.

So getting back to my wife’s hoop dreams, if you’re an NBA fan, last week was a good one for you, as there were back-to-back overtime thrillers at the start of the conference finals. I realize that professional basketball on TV is not watched by every American with a pulse, with the main reason being the lack of constant violence, as players don’t smash into one another play after play until only the non-conscussioners are left standing. Basketball is a much more graceful sport, played by seven foot ballerinas with wing spans the size of pterodactyls and contracts even bigger.

But as basketball nuts were rejoicing, it was not a good week for the folks in Moore, Oklahoma, as a killer tornado packing 200 mile an hour winds tore through the city, leveling everything in its path. The photos of the destruction were terrifyingly amazing. I remember being instructed as a young child to wait 30 minutes after eating before going swimming and never turn your back on a tornado. And the world’s most dangerous food is wedding cake.

It was a scene of total devastation, as buildings, homes and schools were leveled by a storm that lasted less than an hour but will affect lives forever. It seems, like my subconcious wanderings, that the weather continues to get wilder and wilder, and if this is not global warming, than God is really pissed off about something. And he wanted me to remind you, his last name isn’t “Dammit.”

Perhaps he’s peeved because people litter. I originally supported the death penalty for litterers, but I’ve mellowed over the years and life without the possibility of an egg roll would suffice. I’m still amazed that as I stroll around in 2013, some morons still treat the earth like their personal ash tray. Listen, if you want to suck in that tar and nicotine into your lungs, be my guest. But I would really appreciate if you would not exhale, thereby not polluting my air space and that way getting double the carcinogens to build a straw mind and an unhealthy body. That may sound cruel, but I’m not living in Marlboro country.

And don’t get me started on the slaughter of African elephants by poachers fulfilling the Chinese insatiable need for ivory. I’m not of big fan of extinction, but that’s where these giant creatures of the forest are headed. And Asian gangs are to blame, as I may have to call for an international ban of all chow fun products. What do you get if a herd of elephants tramples Batman and Robin? Flatman and Ribbon.

Continuing on the litter front, the other day I was driving by a fast food establishment, which will remain nameless, (Burger King) and I saw a woman toss her lunch out of her window and onto the ground of the parking lot. My immediate reaction was wanted to strangle her and then go in and order the new Memphis pulled pork sandwich with an Oreo shake. This woman needed a severe scolding or a lobotomy, although I doubt either would have helped. So I opted for the strawberry banana smoothie and some blood pressure medication.

I’m always wondering, where are these people’s consciences, where are their souls? Now, this isn’t the world’s worst offense, like murder or pirating a cable signal, but it leads me to believe that these people, like the batteries in my transistor radio, are dead inside. Which brings to mind the words of Marilyn Monroe, firing back at her critics when she said, “It’s not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on.” Works for me.

So where is this all leading? Well, while our military is racked by gross sexual misconduct, troops still dying in Afghanistan and the IRS being called in for a major audit, spring flowers, gently prodded by April showers, continue to bloom.

We had a little rainfall on the morning of May 12, so I put on my Doobie Brothers raincoat, grabbed my camera and headed out into the pleasant storm. I didn’t have to travel much further than my front yard, as this year, the roses are blooming faster than I can make bouquets. I’d like to think that it’s my organic gardening technique, but that would be giving myself more credit than when I graded myself in college at Syracuse.

I cut back these beauties in the winter, and as a way of saying thanks, they came back with a vengeance I haven’t seen since Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas hit the big screen in ‘War of the Roses.” Let me end with a flowery quote from former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. ““I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” Thank you and good night.

On to some late night humor. “During a Senate hearing yesterday, Senator John McCain said it was too hard to always have to update apps on his iPhone. No one has the heart to tell him the device he was holding was a garage door opener. A new international poll finds the least popular country in the world is Iran. After hearing this, North Korea said, “What do we have to do?” –Conan O’Brien

“Anthony Weiner has formally announced he is running for mayor of New York City. “Weiner said, ‘Nobody will work harder to make it better.’ As opposed to his first campaign promise, which was ‘Nobody will work better to make it harder.’” –Jay Leno “Everything’s going bad for President Obama with Benghazi and other controversies. But Obama’s trying to turn things around. He’s sending in SEAL Team 6 to bring back Justin Bieber’s monkey.” –David Letterman Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia the head of the religious police said he believes that Saudi citizens who use Twitter will go to hell. Let me get this straight. Tweeting leads to damnation. But filling a palace with kidnapped beauty contestants — that’s OK?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Really, Tea Party? Really? You’re surprised that you’re targeted by the IRS? You named yourself after a group of people who proudly and historically violated tax laws! Look, if I had a vanity license plate that said ‘Weed 420,’ I might expect to get pulled over now and then. “Prince Harry this week toured the Jersey Shore with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. It was the first meeting between the Prince, of the House of Windsor, and the Governor, of the House of Pancake.’” –Amy Poehler

“If you think Benghazi is worse than slavery, the Trail of Tears, Japanese internment, Tuskegee, purposefully injecting Guatemalan mental patients with syphilis, lying about WMDs, and the fact that banks today are still foreclosing on mortgages they don’t own, then your hard-on for Obama has lasted more than four hours, and you need to call a doctor. “The Obama administration is experiencing multiple scandals, and the Republicans are having multiple orgasms. Three scandals at once? Rush Limbaugh today said, ‘I feel like I’m on Oxycontin again.’” –Bill Maher

So that’s our last blast for May. Birthday wishes go out on Tuesday to my sister-in-law Wendi Gilbert, who lives by the simple philosophy that any day involving chocolate is a good day.

We’ll catch you showing the Miami Heat and a national TV audience why you look like an-up-and coming NBA superstar. Aloha, mahalo and later, Paul George fans.

October 7, 2012

Float Like A Butterfly, Blog Like A Bee

Good morning and greetings, baseball playoffs fans. The weather on the central coast went wild and crazy last week, as in a 24-hour period, we went from Indian Winter to Blazing Saddles. To kick off October, the mercury skyrocketed like the price of gas, as the thermometer hit triple digits with an impressive 100 degree showing. This sudden heat wave caught tourists and local shamans in this normally Mediterranean climate off guard, as there is usually separation of fog and state.

I don’t want to say it was hot, but I was sweating like President’s Obama’s advisors after the first debate. I hadn’t perspired like that since the mailman arrived years ago with an envelope containing my SAT scores. As Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson once said, “The person who scores well on an SAT test will not necessarily be the best doctor, lawyer or businessman. These test do not measure character, leadership, creativity, perserverance or the potential to one day become an unpaid blogger.”

Because of the intense heat, I had to get out of the kitchen, so I grabbed my camera and headed up to the Alan Chadwick Gardens at UC Santa Cruz. Formerly known as the UCSC Garden Project, this two-acre wonderland was created back in 1967, when I was still two years away from my non-life changing Woodstock experience. What kills me today is that I can’t find the ticket that I bought for this blessed event of peace, mud and music. I could sell it on E-Bay and be set for life, or at least through Groundhog Day.

The Garden was created back at a time when the redwood forests were being bulldozed, and there was a need for something as beautiful and as natural as my skin tone. I remember years ago, as a premed law student at UC, going to the garden to cut fresh flowers, which was an option for all students in the honors program.

It was a place where I sought refuge from the pressures of endless studying, intensive paper writing and full-court hoops action at the East Fieldhouse. And all that peace, love and full-court happiness led me to getting my degree in sociology, which today, with $1, will get me a USA Today and all the pie charts I can eat.

So I headed up to the garden to go one-on-one with nature’s blooms. But then, in the words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise,” as when I entered this orgainic arena in search of a floral appetizer, I was greeted with the Monday’s special, medallions of butterflies, who were flittering and fluttering all over the hillside. It was quite a pleasant surprise. Or as Russian poet Boris Pasternak once said between shots of vodka, “Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.” I’d go with a new car.

I paused at this beautiful sight and thought, love is like a butterfly. It goes where it pleases and pleases where it goes. I can very much relate to these little self-propelled flowers, as we delight in their beauty, but rarely admit the changes they have gone through to achieve that beauty. As a former hand model, I’ve been through it all. As George Carlin said, “The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”

So it was mid-morning on the first day of October, and it was already so hot, even Donald Trump’s hair wouldn’t have gone outside. On my way up to the university, I saw a guy holding a sign, “Will work for shade.” I walked by a woman wearing a pantsuit without the pants. Bottom line, it was scorching. How hot? My sweat was sweating.

As I walked up into the garden, I saw that the fruit trees were exploding with apples, a scene that reminded me of a dream I once had about being trapped inside a jar of Mott’s raspberry flavored apple sauce. I believe it was Johnny Appleseed’s nutritionist who said, “Great trees give more shade than fruit, but we’ll let the redwoods to speak for themselves.

So back to this upper westside Garden of Eden. I had gone in search of the beauty and colors of the autumn flowers. But instead, what really got me excited was the plethora of butterflies, who were sucking down the sweet nectar like it was a carton of Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice.

Now, I admit, I’ve been a loyal Tropicana man all my life. However, I was recently introduced to some Odwalla 100% Pure Squeezed All Natural Orange Juice and it blew the Trop right out of the park. That’s nourishing the body whole. There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, “The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” Or as I once googled my rabbi, if nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies. Or need for rainbow calendars.

So today’s photo gallery offers up the best of my journey to the Alan Chadwick Garden. While I was shooting away, the hummingbirds were on full alert, zooming around from plant to plant, enjoying the best of what the nectar gods had to offer.

I relished the benefits of this brief, unexpected heat wave, which lasted another 24 hours before the natural coastal air conditioning kicked in and the fog returned with a vengeance. I think my morning could be summed up by the words of Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, who tweeted while stand up paddling down the Amazon, “You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life when we fully allow the unexpected to happen.” And that’s why I carry the American Express card. Never leave home without it.

On to the late night. For tomorrow’s debate, President Obama’s advisers have been working with him to keep his responses short. In fact, the only words the president plans on saying are ‘bin Laden’ and ‘dead.’ That’s it The presidential debate is on Wednesday. Mitt Romney has been preparing for the debate by debating a Republican senator who plays the part of President Obama. Meanwhile, President Obama has been preparing for Romney by debating an ATM machine.” –Conan O’Brien

“Well, last week in Vermont, the guy from the Dos Equis beer commercials — you know “the most interesting man in the world” — he hosted a fundraiser for President Obama. See, that shows you how things have changed. Four years ago the slogan was hope and change. Now it’s ‘stay thirsty my friends.’” –Jay Leno “It’s rumored that in a recent Univision interview, Mitt Romney wore makeup to appeal to Latino voters. I can’t wait to see Romney’s appearance on BET.” –Conan O’Brien

“The first debate is tomorrow night and I heard that the Obama campaign is a little worried because during his flight to Nevada on Sunday the president watched four hours of football instead of studying — although it did mark the first time all year that Obama has actually seen something get passed.” –Jimmy Fallon “Today was not only the first presidential debate, it was also President Obama’s 20th wedding anniversary. I think the president got a little confused. At one point, he told Michelle that she was out of touch with the middle class and Romney looks as beautiful as the day they first met.” –Conan O’Brien

“The presidential debates were earlier tonight, and I think most of the nation’s all thinking the same thing – just one more day until Thursday Night Football.” –Jay Leno “Arnold Schwarzenegger was on ’60 Minutes’ promoting his book. He said you can’t run from your mistakes. You have to confront them. Yeah, especially if they look exactly like you and keep calling you dad. “In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new book, he says his first clue that the housekeeper’s son was his was when the boy started looking like him. His second clue was when he was the only Mexican kid with an Austrian accent.” –Conan O’Brien

That’s another blast for October. And speaking of blasts, on Saturday, an Arctic blast swept over two-thirds of the country, bringing snow, freezing rain and 74 record-low temperature marks. Sheridan, Wyoming, was a toasty five below. Check, please.

So we’ll catch you being the first player to win the baseball’s triple crown since 1967 and being a team that was picked to finish last, only to end up in first place on the last day of the season, the only day in which you were on top. Aloaha, mahalo and later, Miguel Cabrera and Oakland A’s fans.

May 6, 2012

April Showers Bring Gennifer Flowers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 8:56 pm

Good morning and greetings, President Clinton fans. Well, time continues to fly like an eagle, as my Beyonce calendar says we’re into the merry, merry month of May. Or as the the Dalai Lama once told me, “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” I replied, “You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.” Then the Dali came back with, “Don’t sweat it, for today is tomorrow you worried about yesterday. So I got that going for me, which is good.

So April, much like my hopes of figuring out what we’re still trying to accomplish in Afghanistan, is now history, as another month has been filed into my memory and Tyra Banks.

Alas and Iraq, some rain fell during our fourth month, and one morning
I grabbed my camera and headed up to the Arboretum at UCSC to do a
little California dreaming. I love shooting the flowers when they’re moist, as it makes the experience more enjoyable than catching all the green lights.

Then either coincidentally, ironically or for you Spirit fans, Dr.
Sardonicusly, last Monday, when I decided to feature these flowery
photos in the first blast of the new month, the headline story written
by Cathy Kelly in the Santa Cruz Sentinel was about a memorial service
for the founding director of the Arboretum, Ray Collett, who passed away February 22 at the age of 79.

During my wonder years back in the 1960′s, Ray Collett took about 130
acres of empty pasture land and converted it into a horticultural
wonderland, which today is known for its collections of exotic plants
from Australia, New Zealand, Yankee Stadium and South Africa, as well
as some California beauties. We’re talking about a selection of plants
unmatched anywhere in the world, including my own Garden State of New Jersey.

Much like myself, Ray Collett was a visionary. This oasis of international beauty came about when a gentlemen from Hollister needed a home for his fine collection of eucalyptus trees and Hanukkah bushes.

Today, this lovely piece of real estate overlooking Monterey Bay is a
flowing canvas of space-age looking plants along with gangs of rabbits
and occupying hummingbirds. The current director, Brett Hall, says “The Arboretum is Ray’s Living Memorial.” I hope to be as lucky one day, or at least leave behind a few dandelions, a mulberry bush or a small patch of poison oak.

So what do we really know about flowers? Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said that “flowers are the stars of the earth.” They have been an important part of civilization since before cable. Much like my early modeling years, they have been worshipped for their beauty and grown wherever the grass was green. More importantly, they are given to loved ones to symbolize powerful emotions or when begging for forgiveness.

Like Chaz Bono, flowers can either be male or female. Male flowers
have a stamen that is coated with pollen, thus the derivation of the
words stamina. Hummingbirds, insects and tiny paratroopers fly from
flower to flower and become coated with pollen. The pollen is
eventually transported to a female flower by the pollinator through
various social networking techniques. Flowers use a variety of these
techniques to attract potential pollinators, including tasty nectar,
color displays and offering free websites.

Now here are a some things you may not or may not have wanted to know about flowers. Broccoli is a flower as well as a vegetable, which might explain why I love the beef and broccoli lunch special at Tam’s on
Mission Street. Scientists discovered the world’s oldest flower in 2002, in northeast China. The flower, named Archaefructus sinensis, bloomed around 125 million years ago, resembles a water lily and was found growing in a wheelchair.

According to Better Homes and Garden and Maxim magazine, the
scientific name for plants which produce flowers are called angiosperms, derived from the Greek word “angos” and “sperm” meaning “seed bearing”. The tulip, a symbol of life, love and immortality, actually dates back to the time of Confucius. And as Confucious says, man with one chopstick will go hungry.

And my laurel and hearty congratulations go out to the the Titan Arum.
Not only is it the world’s largest flower it is also the world’s smelliest. This fragrant native of the central Sumatran rainforests is known affectionately as the Corpse Flower for its heady perfume of rotting flesh. Which might lead to the question, “I love your perfume. Is that ten-day old pork chops?

Now to top it off, here are some of my favorite sayings about flowers.
“Earth laughs in flowers”-Ralph Waldo Emerson. “I’d rather have guns
and roses on my table than diamonds on my neck”-Emma Goldman.
Perfumes are the feelings of flowers”-Heinrich Heine.

“I hope some day to meet God, because I want to thank Him for the
flowers”-Robert Brault. “With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures, some books and a freezer full of Haagen-Dazs bars, I live without envy”- Lope de Vega. “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them”-A Milne.

“We say we love flowers, yet we pluck them. We say we love trees, yet we cut them down. And people still wonder why some are afraid when told they are loved. I like flowers, I also like children, but I do not chop their heads and keep them in bowls of water around the house”-George Bernard Shaw. “At my age flowers scare me” -George Burns

On to the late night. “Now allegations are coming out that the Secret
Service were partying with strippers and hookers, not just in Colombia
but in El Salvador, Buenos Aires, Moscow. You got to hand it to these
guys. A lot of us look at the world and say, ‘F**k it.’ These people
actually do it.” –Bill Maher “A new campaign video by Barack Obama
implies that Mitt Romney would not have killed Osama bin Laden if he
had been president. Today Romney shot back. He said not only would he have killed bin Laden, he would have strapped him to the roof of his
car and taken him on vacation with him as well.” –Jay Leno

“Mitt Romney is going to have to pick a vice president and apparently
it is between Chris Christie and the senator from Florida, Marco Rubio. So it’s between a Cuban American and a cubic American. Other people say that Mitt should balance the ticket by picking someone who has taken all of the opposite positions of him, like himself.” –Bill Maher

“New Rule: If the Indians have a rocket that works, but the North Koreans don’t, we have to stop being scared of North Korea and start being scared of India. Now, you may ask, why would the Indians launch a missile at us? Well, as Sarah Palin points out we did steal their land. New Rule: Let’s follow Canada, and get rid of the penny. It costs more to make than it’s worth. And we don’t need another copper-colored reminder that government is a useless, stupid boondoggle. We already have John Boehner.” –Bill Maher

“So let me get this straight. Republicans, you’re annoyed by the arrogance and braggadocio of a wartime President’s political ad. You
think he’s divisively and unfairly belittling his opponents, I see. I have a question: ARE YOU ON CRACK??? Were you alive, lo, these past ten years? It seems unseemly for the President to spike the football. Bush landed on a fucking aircraft carrier with a football-stuffed codpiece; he spiked the football before the game had even started!” -Jon Stewart, blasting GOP hypocrisy over President Obama’s Osama bin Laden ad

That’s our first journey into May. It was a good week on the whale watching front, as the humpbacks are traveling along the coast. Last Thursday there were three hanging in the kelp beds off of West Cliff less than 100 yards off shore. Always a pleasant way to start the day.

And I’m not a big fan of war, but a book written by prize-winning war
correspondent Dexter Filkins titled “The Forever War” is one you will
not want to put down. He was there for the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and when Saddam was toppled in Iraq. It is brutally honest, sad and compassionate. Just something to pick up if you’re looking to do some light reading. Dexter Filkins is simply outstanding and, like myself, incredibly courageous.

So it’s early May and soon to be 38-year-old Derek Jeter is hitting
.397 to go along with a league-leading 48 hits. Too bad he can’t
pitch. We’ll catch you shagging flies in the outfield. Aloha, mahalo
and later, Mariano Rivera fans.

May 30, 2010

I’m Still Wasted And This Garbage Can’t Find Its Way Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:17 pm

Good morning and greetings, Memorial Day fans. In honor of this national holiday, I want to confess to a little secret. No, it’s not that I shook Richard Nixon’s hand back in 1969, or that I once cheated on a prostate exam or that I am of zero help to my children with their math homework. It’s the fact that I fantasize about Hawaii on a daily basis.

As much as I love being Sunrise Santa Cruz boy and blogging from this cold water paradise, I would love to be residing in the islands. But because of my family and certain restrictions regarding the Witness Protection Program, I’m living the central coast experience. But whenever Hawaii is in the news, my mind flashes back to my hula dancing days. Your life is never the same after performing on a breezy day in a loin cloth.

Today’s story comes to us from writer Michael Cooper and the New York Times. Sitting neatly stacked in an industrial park in Kapolei are more than 20,000 tons of shrink-wrapped garbage waiting to be exported to the mainland. The bales have been neatly stacked and trimmed like Tom Selleck’s mustache, and are ready to ship the 2,300 miles across the Pacific.

But much like the growth spurt that was supposed to put me over 6 feet, this “opala’s”,(the Hawaiian name for garbage) passage has been delayed again and again since it first began piling up in the tropical heat last September. Now, when the trade winds blow, it offers a sweet and pungent reminder of how Oahu’s latest plan to dispose of some of its trash has gone awry.

For this 44-mile-long volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the options for getting rid of garbage and overripe pineapple are limited. That is how officials and producers from “Hawaii Five-O” hit upon the idea of shipping some of their garbage to the mainland. But what was supposed to be a quick fix has turned into a long-running problem after the company that was hired to ship the trash failed to get necessary permits from the federal government and the Jack Lord fan club. In the words of Detective Steve McGarrett, “Book em’, Dano.”

Some environmental groups, including the Citizens for Better Teriyaki, were leery of the idea from the start. “It’s not exactly the type of aloha we want to be giving,” says Robert D. Harris, the director of the Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club. “We’d prefer sending boxes of Kona Coffee glazed macadamia nuts. You know, for a taste of the tropics.”

So here’s the deal. A private company, Hawaiian Waste Systems, said it could ship trash to a landfill in Washington by Kayak and canoe for $99.89 a ton — roughly half of what the other bidders said it would cost. The company was granted the contract, even though it lacked a crucial approval from the United States Department of Agriculture, which must ensure that no pests, jugglers, insects, boogie boarders or plant diseases are exported with the garbage.

Thinking the approval was imminent, the company began collecting garbage and stamps in September and shrink-wrapping it in plastic. For a time they stored the garbage at the docks and with some nurses, drawing complaints about gnats from neighboring businesses and young spellers. This month the State Department of Health fined the company $40,400 for storing the waste for too long and overcooking the kalua pig at their company’s luau.

Hawaiian officials, in an attempt to educate residents, offer the “Tour de Trash,” a popular educational tour to show Hawaiians where their garbage goes. But the tour proved to be unpopular with tourists, who preferred to visit the Sunset Beach, Pearl Harbor and the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory on the Big Island.

The island and natives with a strong sense of smell will hopefully get a solution to its garbage-bale problem soon. But officials say they will always need to use a landfill to dispose of at least some of Oahu’s waste. “What do we do with expired meats, canned goods, milk and chocolate hula pies? What about when a whale or a loan shark turns up on the beach?” asks Tim Steinberger, the director of the Honolulu Department of Environmental Services. “There are just certain things that you can’t turn into energy or recycle, that you can’t ship off island.”

I am in agreement, although I believe it was Gandhi or Steve Martin who once said that one man’s garbage is another man’s gold. This sanitation problem is everywhere, as New York City now ships some of its garbage by rail as far away as Virginia, South Carolina and the old Yankee Stadium. It’s in the NBA, when a game has already been decided and starters are on the bench, we’re talking garbage time. But in this situation regarding garbage in paradise, the final word will come from Horace Greely, who in his reverse doctrine of manifest destiny said, “go east, young rubbish, go east.”

Let’s move to our Memorial Day photo montage. May has been a rather moist month, so one afternoon after the drops stopped falling, I headed up to the Aboretum at UCSC. This wonderland of color features plant life from exotic locations from all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand and New Jersey. The space age looking flowers in photos # 3-5 are proteas, also known as sugarbushes, which are as wild-looking as pictures of myself from my long-haired days of the 70′s.

The variety, shape and colors of the proteas are amazing. As you walk the grounds, you see rabbits scurrying into the brush, hummingbirds flapping their wings and lion cubs grazing in the tall grass. For the camera, it is an oasis of nature’s magnificence, a treat for both the young and old, and most importantly, parking is free.

Let’s move on to the late night comedy. “Hey, today is National Tap Dancing Day. Yes, this is the day we honor BP executives trying to explain the gulf oil disaster. One of the big gambling Web sites published odds on what species would be the first to become extinct from the oil spill. Unbelievable. You know the odds-on favorite? Democrat. Sarah Palin has now weighed in on the gulf oil spill. Finally, the voice of reason. Well, folks, it seems that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, much worse than British Petroleum first reported. You know how bad it is? Yesterday, I checked the oil in my car, had seawater on it.” –Jay Leno

“John McCain is angry with British Petroleum. But in all fairness, he’s had a grudge against the British since the Revolutionary War.” –David Letterman “And because of the ocean currents, experts say oil from the Gulf could easily spread up the East Coast all the way to the Carolinas. In fact, today, people in North Carolina said they hadn’t seen anything this slick and slimy since the John Edwards campaign. And a Montana man has admitted that he killed a bald eagle, but his alibi is he thought it was a porcupine. How blind do you have to be to mistake a bald eagle for a porcupine? Anyway, the guy pleaded guilty so he could get back to his regular job inspecting oil rigs.” –Jay Leno

“Well, Memorial Day weekend is ahead. I know it’s only Wednesday, but you want to get a jump on being stuck at the airport for 24 hours. Memorial Day is the day we honor military heroes with a mattress blowout sale at Sleepy’s.” –David Letterman “And last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderóne spoke at the White House. He called for a ban on assault weapons, and he also wanted to know why do we keep calling Taco Bell Mexican food?” –Jay Leno

So that’s our last post for the month of May. NBC News and I friend of mine named Katrina reported on Thursday that somewhere between 19 and 39 million gallons of oil have been spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. We’re 41 days in and this catastrophe is still growing.

On May 30th, the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will pass $1 trillion. I guess that’s why our libraries are closed on Fridays. But on the plus side, NBA playoff fans got their money’s worth during the western conference finals between the Suns and Lakers. The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant, showed once again why he’s mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Jordan and Jack Bauer. He’s an assassin in sneakers.

So have a relaxing Memorial Day and perhaps take a moment to reflect on what this holiday is all about. Well, either that or just savor the special feeling one gets from the three day weekend experience.

And finally, here’s some good news, as a new remake of “Hawaii Five-O” is coming back to CBS this fall. So although I may not be living the aloha lifestyle, I can proudly proclaim, “Lucky I TiVo Hawaii.”

On that Polynesian note, congratulations to all those people in the cap and gown mode. You and your families have a lot to be proud of. So get ready for the Celtics and the Lakers and we’ll catch you behind the three point line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Steve Nash fans.

May 2, 2010

You’re So Rain, I Bet You Think This Blog Is About You

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — geoff @ 8:49 pm

Good morning and greetings, offshore drilling fans. It’s not a pretty scene off the coast of Lousiana, as millions of gallons of bubbling crude, black gold, Texas tea are spilling out into the ocean water off the coast of Louisiana. In the words of Bill Maher, “the Gulf of Mexico is now the Gulf of Texaco.”

It would be nice if we could send those Goldman Sachs boys down there to clean up the mess, but they only seem to be interested in profiting from other people’s misfortune while denying any wrongdoing. Watching Senator Carl Levin and his gang grill those executives was truly stunning political theatre. I haven’t seen that kind of anger from our elected officials since they upped the prices of smoothies at the Senate Snack Shack. As Olivia Newton John once told me about Wall Street, “greed is the word.”

As many of you know from my CB handle, I like to think of myself as “Mr. Positive.” When I look at my sippy cup, it is always half full. With this in mind, the other day my wife sent me an email describing the 89,000 ways sugar is bad for you. This was followed by a report on NBC News on the evils of added sugar and its relation to heart disease. A few days later came another NBC report on our over intake of salt. My first thought was, I’ve got to stop watching so much news. But then it hit me like a Muhammad Ali left hook-when did everything besides TV become bad for us?

Now, I don’t mean there aren’t still good things in life, like the smell of a rose, the laughter of a child or TiVo, but I’m referring to our more basic needs. Without going into any depressing details about our air, food, water or Chinese food, it seems as though the basic things we ingest all contain materials that are not good for us. Even the sun is harmful. My question is, what happened? In the words of the group Ambrosia, “how long has this been going on? Why is McDonald’s not a happy meal?

So as of late, I’ve been watching my added sugar intake like my golden retriever watches the Judge Judy. They say women can handle 100 grams a day and men 150 grams. The report said a can of soda had 170 grams of sugar with no nutritional value. In that case Mountain Dew, I say, Mountain Don’t. They also said one scoop of vanilla ice cream contained 92 grams of added sugar. Since that day, I’ve stuck with chocolate. And you know, dark chocolate is good for you. Yeah, the Easter Bunny told me that.

The bottom line is, I LOVE SUGAR. I love sweet and sour sauce or when someone says I’ll keep it short and sweet. Chocolate, cookies, chocolate, anything sweet works for me. But one of my daughter’s vocabulary words last week was moderation and that’s my new key. I’m going to have my blood tested today to check my cholesterol levels and then I’m seeing my doctor next week. So it could be goodbye, my old friend sugar, it was nice knowing you. But do me a favor, please leave me your forwarding address.

On to this week’s photo regalia. Last Tuesday brought us one last day of April showers. Since I didn’t have anything in mind for this week’s lineup, I laced up my hiking boots and headed into my front yard to shoot some flowers in the rain. And then to make it into a cardio workout, I walked around the block to complete the neighborhood watch package. You can see that a little precipitation performs wonders on the photographic front. Or as Lili Von Shtupp would say about photo #4, “a wed wose. How womantic.”

Let’s head to the late night action. “Last week, President Obama gave a speech in New York City about his plan to reform these rules on Wall Street. And one embarrassing moment. When the head of Goldman Sachs was going through security, he was asked to empty his pockets and five Republican senators fell out. During the economic meltdown, employees at the SEC were using government computers to watch pornography. Ironically, while they were watching porn, the other employees were watching Goldman Sachs screw the entire country. One good thing came out of this volcano in Iceland. Economists say consumers can expect a huge drop in the price of lava lamps.” –Jay Leno

“Former President George W. Bush is working on his memoirs. The title is ‘Decision Points.” It narrowly edged out his original title, which was ‘My Bad.’ Crown Publishing has given a November release date for what they’re saying is an incredibly honest account of key decision in the President’s life. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to smooth vs. crunchy.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Former President Bush is writing his autobiography about his eight years in the White House. He’s not done with it yet, but he’s already put up the mission accomplished banner.” –David Letterman ”

David Letterman’s Top Ten Thoughts That Went Through George W. Bush’s Mind As He Wrote His Memoirs
9. ‘Is 36 pages enough?’ 6. ‘How cool is it that I was president? Come on, up high!’ 4. ‘Chapter Eight: The day I went 5-for-5 in White House T-ball. And no gimmies. All ropes!’ “1,000 signed, cloth-bound copies will be sold for $350 each. Each one will say: ‘Thanks for reading about my decisions. Sincerely, Dick Cheney.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“You know what happened today down in Washington, D.C.? The world champion New York Yankees visited the White House. It was a beautiful day. President Obama charged them $25 for a hot dog and a warm beer. It was quite a change for the New York Yankees, going from ‘The House That Ruth Built’ to ‘The House That Bush Wrecked.’ Here’s a nice story. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, took the weekend off. They went hiking in North Carolina. Had a great time. And so he wouldn’t get lost, Obama left behind a trail of cigarette butts.” –David Letterman

“Arizona’s Governor had been stalling on signing the immigration bill. She said it did not reflect any ambivalence. She just wanted to make sure her pool was clean and her lawn was mowed before she signed.” –Bill Maher “The movie ‘Avatar’ is out on DVD today. James Cameron wanted it to be released on Earth Day because nothing says ‘save the planet’ like millions of plastic DVD cases.” –Craig Ferguson “President Obama is now considering giving approval for the development of a hyper-supersonic missile that can reach anywhere in the world in an hour. It’s a joint venture between the U.S. military and Domino’s Pizza.” –Jay Leno

So that’s the first blast of fun and color for the new month. For NBA playoff watchers, April was fairly fantastic. Let’s just say I’m not unexcited about May. And let’s hope that they can put a cap of that oil well or this newest spill will make the Exxon Valdex incident look like a plate of Baked Alaska. We’ll catch you along the baseline. Aloha, mahalo and later, Deron Williams fans.

August 30, 2009

Behold, His Majesty, The Dahlia Lama

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — geoff @ 8:57 pm

Good morning and greetings, Ted Kennedy fans. The Senator from Massachusetts passing was a sad day and the final note played by three incredible brothers.

On Wednesday morning, I was strolling along West Cliff Drive, wondering what to feature in this week’s photo funhouse. Pelicans were cruising by over the tops of the waves, causing me to pause in my tracks and gaze at the magnificence of these prehistoric looking creatures. I immediately thought, only along the edge of the continent do you see this kind of magic. Or on PBS, the Pelican Broadcasting System.

At the same time, the sky was a dull gray, unlike the exciting gray of my New York Giants sweatshirt. But soon this drabness turned to excitement, the same kind Alexander Graham Bell must have felt when he called for Watson to get the hell in there. I knew what I wanted to bring to the Sunrise Santa Cruz table. No, not the usual Chinese buffet with egg rolls, beef chow fun and sweet and sour chicken. It was serving up an entree of fabulous color for my cyber audience at early bird prices. And you don’t even need to bring a coupon.

Then on Thursday, the weather broke and we had deep blue skies and wild-looking clouds along the coast. And it was hot! How hot was it? A saw a dog walking after a cat. I thought this change may have signaled the start of our annual Indian Summer, which is not to be confused with Native American winter. But that was not the case as the following day the thermometer hit 99 degrees on the central coast, breaking the previous record of 97 set in 1962. All this heat was the result of a high-pressure system that had double parked along the coast, essentially shutting off the usual Pacific Ocean breeze. It was so hot that even my goldfish were sweating.

Friday morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise, as the sky glowed orange to the east and pink to the west. Unfortunately, I was still camera-less as I believe the parts required to fix my digital Rebel are coming to Santa Cruz by rowboat. It was the first color-coordinated morning of the summer and it was painful not to shoot it but as the Dalai Lama once told me, the sun will rise again. So I’ve got that going for me, which is good.

Let’s continue with Disney’s wonderful world of color. As I drive along the westside, I pass a front yard that explodes with pinks and reds-it is dahlia city. Ah, dahlias. They are spectacular summer and autumn flowering plants who are native to the mountains of Mexico, Central America and certain sections of the New Jersey shore. It is also the national flower of Mexico and goes quite well with any kind of quesadilla, be it cheese, chicken or my personal favorite, carne asada.

In the 16th century Spanish conquistadors, while busy pillaging and wiping out the Aztec Indian nation, took some time out from their conquering and listening to Charo CD’s to get in touch with their feminine side. In between their dividing and conquering they managed to do a little exploring and turned these little side trips into a collection of new world plant life, Spanish rice and the first Antonio Banderas film festival.

The dahlia is named after 18th century Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, who was a very attractive man. It was actually from him that the expression was coined, “Hey, dahlface.” But I digress. In 1872, a box of dahlia roots were sent by FedEx overnight from Mexico to the Netherlands. Only one of the plants and a Three Muskateers bar survived the long journey, but it produced brilliant red flowers with petals that were pointed, rolled back and were later big hits at Christopher Columbus book signing events.

Nurserymen, nursery school teachers and hair stylists from all over Europe bred from this one plant. These are the progenitors of the thousands of varieties of today’s modern day dahlias. Colors include orange, pink, purple, red, scarlet, yellow, white and apples, peaches and pumpkin pie, the last three courtesy of Jay and the Techniques.

I shot these photos on a foggy morning, thus the shots of dew on the petals are particularly prevalent in photos 3 & 4. Or as Jerry Garcia once said to Mountain Girl, “Walk me out in the morning dew, my honey.” Well, that’s it on the flower power front. Time for me to just kick back, pop some kettle corn and watch that Clint Eastwood classic, “A Fistful of Dahlias.”

Onto the some political humor. And it’s all from CBS’s late night king, David Letterman. “Congress has been agonizing over health care for months now. Squabbling, fighting, the town hall meetings going crazy. Meanwhile, while they’re arguing about health care, we’re stuck in two wars that were rubber-stamped in about 10 minutes. What? How does that make any sense when you think about it? The Obamas taking a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. When something like that happens, it’s like a big deal for the community. And people on Martha’s Vineyard are going crazy and they’re buying Obama T-shirts, they’re buying Obama mugs, they’re buying Obama caps. The only thing they’re not buying is Obama’s health-care plan.”

“You folks excited about the Afghanistan election? Well, don’t get too excited because there’s already reports of irregularities in Broward and Dade County. The current Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is opposed by the Taliban. You know the Taliban? Over here, the Taliban, we call them healthcare protestors. But one of the guys on the ballot is a candidate named Abdullah Abdullah. He had what I thought was a great campaign slogan if you’re running for office in Afghanistan. You know the slogan? It’s ‘Is your goat better off today than it was four years ago?”

“But the Miss Universe pageant is fascinating. It’s judged on poise, judged on beauty, and also how you walk in high heels. What a coincidence, it’s also how the Republicans pick a vice presidential candidate. The same criteria. But you know, this is a great thing about the United States of America. We take any situation, make it something good. You know, we are a glass half full country. Mrs. Paul’s, the fish sticks people, they heard about the mercury in the fish and they’ve come out now with a tasty new fish stick which you can also use to take your temperature.” –David Letterman

So that’s it for our last blast of August, 2009. Coming up is September, which is the warmest temperature month of the year in Santa Cruz but more importantly, signals the start of NFL football. So enjoy the warm days and nights and we’ll catch you somewhere near the foul pole in right field. And be thankful for your good health. Aloha, mahalo and later, Don Mattingly fans.

July 26, 2009

It’ll Costa Rica You An Arm And A Leg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:41 pm

Good morning and greetings, summer lovers. Last week, we journeyed on a trip south to Costa Rica, where monkeys roam the jungle landscape like Republicans roam the Congressional floor in their campaign in to snuff out plans for national healthcare. Well, today here at Sunrise Santa Cruz, we are raising the skirt stakes as we’re bringing in another guest blogger. He’s been on the pre-med path since exiting the womb, but more importantly, has been shooting with confidence and knocking down his three pointers this summer, which will be of great benefit to the thousands, er hundreds, er, dozen PCS basketball fans and his teammates next season. On that note, I present to you, in his own words, a point guard who loves pushing it up in the open court, Jason Sean Gilbert.

Hola, and welcome to this week’s blog. I was thinking about writing this whole thing in Spanish for bilingual readers, but I would have to re-read my Espanol 2 textbook to figure out how to say “Late Night Political Jokes”. Since my sister did last week’s write up, I felt obligated to share with you my experience of the beautiful Rich Coast (Costa Rica). And my dad was bugging me to do it.

Anyway, our journey first landed us in Arenal; a small town named after it’s active volcano that spits out more fire than Stan Van Gundy during a timeout. This segueways into this week’s backup blog titles “Arenal these Pictures Great” and “Why Arenal the Blogs as Good as this One?” The first picture is the magnificent view outside our window. At night, if it’s not cloudy, one is able to see the red lava on the top like a flame at the end of a candle. And here would be my dad’s first rock and roll reference, The Doors “Light My Fire”.

The second picture (top right) is from a hike that we took to get to the beach one morning. It’s an amazing picture that defines the natural beauty of Costa Rica. These types of shots are almost ubiquitous around the country, just like gallopinto (rice dish served on all the menus), soccer, and mosquito bites.

The next picture is of 11 crocodiles relaxing in Rio Tarcoles (accent on the “i” and “a”). I was talking to our driver (in his native tongue, of course) and I asked him if there were any crocodiles near the Pacific Coast. He said, “Si” and he drove us to the river and parked the car. At first, we couldn’t see them but sure enough as we walked along the narrow sidewalk on the highway, we saw these giant, dinosaur-like creatures. They were scaly beasts that looked almost unreal. They were floating around, wading in shallow waters, not really doing much, kind of like the Golden State Warrior’s defense. It was an incredible site that I had never seen before.

For our next image, we see an iguana. In my in-depth google research, I could not figure out which type of iguana this is. Nevertheless, one day, this reptile surprised us while we were eating lunch and parked itself right under the table, like our dog Summer. It was just two feet away from each of us and thankfully it didn’t try to take any of our legs off. Iguanas do bite although they have very small teeth. We saw many different iguanas during our stay in Manual Antonio, including one across the way up in a tree. This was a green iguana, although some are not green in color. It was beautiful with a reddish hue, or maybe it was just wearing a new Trevor Ariza jersey. (Let’s see how many basketball references I can make in one blog)

The fifth picture is of a toucan we found in the Manual Antonio National Park. I put this picture hear (misspelled for pun) to symbolize all the noise that the birds were making. There was always a background noise of chirping, squawking, and yelping (oh wait, that was my cousin Miles). The birds had a constant rhythm going. The loudest bird noise was from the Three-Wattled Bell birds. They omit a high, screeching sound that gives one a genuine jungle feel.

The last but not least picture is of another capuchin white-face monkey. Aimee did a pretty good job of explaining what they were so I won’t bore you and explain it again. Plus, she stole the better picture. These monkeys were right up above our heads, eating coconuts then dropping it on us. It was incredible how they moved around, jumping from tree to tree with ease. They were very friendly and the tour guide told us we could have reached out and fed them.

All in all, Costa Rica was an amazing experience that I will forever remember. Now it’s time to go back to the blogger who can still hit the three, unfortunately when playing me one on one. Adios!

Thank you, Jason. You know what they say in Hawaii, the papaya doesn’t fall far from the tree. Now on to the important late night political jokes of the week.

“Good News for California. This just came out. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has apparently found a way to close the state’s $26 billion budget shortfall. Now I can’t get into all the details, but in short, Fresno is now part of China. “Gov. Sanford is still trying to recover from his sex scandal. This is the latest. This weekend, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wrote an editorial apologizing for his behavior. I’m not sure he’s sincere, though, because it starts out, ‘Dear Penthouse.’” –Conan O’Brien “Several weeks ago, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disappeared without explanation for five days. Now of course, as it turns out, he didn’t really disappear. It turns out he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Which is a trail that starts in Maine and ends in an Argentine woman’s vagina.” –Jon Stewart

President Obama recently said that the best way to pay for his health care plan is to raise taxes on people like him. As a result, the government is raising taxes on all half-Kenyan, half-Kansan presidents who were born in Hawaii.” –Conan O’Brien “Did you guys see Michelle Obama last night? She just got a new haircut. It’s the first real cut of the Obama Administration.” –Jimmy Fallon “The Republicans had been running a surprisingly effective campaign against the proposal for national healthcare, but the President found a very clever way to get them on board. Behind the scenes, he offered a key provision that would provide free breast implants for their girlfriends.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“This weekend, it’s very cool. It’s the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, considered by some to be mankind’s greatest achievement. … Unless, of course, you count the time we put the cheese inside the pizza crust.” “Yesterday, Sonia Sotomayor’s questioning finally came to an end. Sotomayor said that she had received a ‘gracious and fair’ hearing. Her exact quote was, ‘Thanks a lot, you old honkies. I’m outta here. You can kiss my a**.’” –Conan O’Brien The tag Republicans kept throwing to hang around Sonia Sotomayor’s neck was ‘reverse racist.’ They said, you know, it’s reverse racists like her that give regular racists like them a bad name.” –Bill Maher

“Here’s news from Pakistan. They believe now, intelligence believes, that a US missile attack about six months ago killed one of Osama bin Laden’s sons. And the CIA believes that it was the hot-tempered Sonny.” –David Letterman “Walter Cronkite’s influence on the news is still felt today, in that news anchors still wear ties. Other parts of his legacy have become obsolete. For instance, dispassionate reporting is fine for covering the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, but not for an issue as complex as Octomom. Sadly, Cronkite’s passing is not getting the kind of cable news attention I believe it deserves. I watched the coverage this weekend and I didn’t see one helicopter shot of his home. I don’t even think his family has booked the Staples Center yet.” –Stephen Colbert

So that ends our latest installment of “What my children did on their summer vacation.” And speaking of children, congratulations go out to my daughter Aimee, who yesterday celebrated her Bat Mitzvah before a packed house here on the westside. This provided me the opportunity to acknowledge the love and joy that friends and family bring into our lives. It was a tremendous day and one I shall cherish and remember forever, or at least till Aimee says to me, “Dad, this is my boyfriend, Todd.”

As I write this, I can still feel the warm glow eminating from my heart after yesterday’s family affair. So enjoy the summer as it rolls along and we’ll catch you on the warning track. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ronnie Guidry fans.

February 8, 2009

Dew Looks Like A Lady

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — geoff @ 9:56 pm

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Good morning and greetings, tax-paying fans. Well, we finally got some much-needed moisture here on the central coast as a storm system from the Eastern Pacific blew in on Thursday which was ollowed by a second system from the Gulf of Alaska on Friday, bringing smiles to the faces of children, farmers and umbrellas salesmen.

Which brings to mind the question, what to do on a rainy day besides go to work? Some people like to stay curl up inside and read a good book, others like to hit the movie theatres and then they’re people like my friend Dan who went for a hike in Nisene Marks State Park to “see what all this long overdue moisture was doing for the local fungus community.” He sent me some beautiful photos-I haven’t seen mushrooms that colorful since they rested on a bed of extra wide egg noodles from my most recent culinary entanglement with beef stronganoff.

So as the rain fell I thought, let’s head outdoors and check out the wonders of moisture. But where to go to feel those raindrops keep falling on my head-West Cliff to see the surging sea, Four Mile to check out the bird life or to the University to see the majestic redwoods? Ultimately, I opted for the sidewalk less traveled and just walked around the block to check out the local scenery so as not leave a carbon footprint, just a size 11.

The morning rain always does wonders for the close-up shots. There were so many flowers and brilliant colors to choose from in Mr. Rogers neighborhood as the plants seemed as happy as Pittsburgh Steeler fans to be taking in the precipitation. I encourage all of you to go for a walk in the rain or to paraphrase Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, “Take a walk on the wet side.”

On to our political humor segment. Not a whole lot really caught my eye this week but here are a few that brought a smile to my face and a hug to my heart. “This week, on CNN, they have been showing a blueprint of the White House to help viewers visualize the layout of the West Wing. Yeah, when he saw it, former President Bush said, ‘So that’s where the bathroom was.’” -Conan O’Brien. In an interview with Al-Arabiya, an Arab-language news channel, President Obama said that he wanted to persuade Muslims that the Americans were not your enemy. In an early sign of improvement, the crowd of protestors outside began chanting, ‘Injury to America.’ So that’s better.” -Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live. And “right after Sunday’s Super Bowl, President Barack Obama placed a congratulatory phone call to the Steelers from his BlackBerry. Meanwhile, John McCain called the Cardinals from his ham radio.” -David Letterman.

And here’s a few more from the late night boys. “This weekend, the Republican National Committee elected their first-ever African-American chairman. His name is Michael Steele, or as he’s known in the Republican Party, ‘the black guy.’” -Conan O’Brien. “Tuesday was Groundhog Day, and I don’t know why this stuff always goes haywire in Alaska. Here is what happened. A little bit of trouble. Groundhog comes out of its hole. Sarah Palin shoots it.” -David Letterman.

Now, moving on to the Governor du jour. “Oh, boy, the Illinois senators were mad, they voted to impeach 59-0. Not only was he Blagojevich convicted, his hairdresser was given the death penalty.” -Jay Leno. And for our last note on politics, “You know it’s interesting, when Bill Clinton needed stimulus for his package, he just called an intern.” -David Letterman.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to send birthday wishes to my favorite mother. On Sunday, she celebrated her 83rd birthday and it harkened me back to the moment we first met. All of a sudden, the warm, soothing hot tub I was relaxing in disappeared and I bravely began my journey down the birth canal. Like a salmon heading upstream to spawn I breached the Manhatten air, looked up and thought, “Are both those for me?” Before I could say “Help, Dr. Spock” a nurse shoved a bottle in my mouth, and I was left in state of shock and disappointment, or the same feelings I experienced when I saw my SAT scores. Anyway, I let go of those lingering emotions months ago and now I can look at my mother and say, “Ah, maybe next time.” That’s what being an adult and being responsible for your emotions is all about.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s show. If I’ve learned anything on my brief time here on this planet, it’s just to take life one day at a time. That’s really all we can do. Well, that and always carry a litter bag in your car. Because in the words of Steve Martin, “If it fills up, you can always throw it out the window.”

So now that the NFL football season is finally over we can now focus on something more important than someone carrying a pigskin across a goal line-NBA basketball. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are on a mission which will be interesting to watch come playoff time. One more note. Besides my mother’s birthday, the highlight of the weekend was seeing my son pull off a 360 spin move in the air and finish with a layup. Fortunately my brother Brad was there to see it experience the moment with me. You know what they say, Coast Athletic League Basketball, “Where Amazing Things Happen.” We’ll catch in the low post. Aloha and later, David Lee and David Lee Roth fans.

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