December 14, 2014

62 And Still Don’t Have A Clue

Good morning and greetings, December fans. As you may have known, last week I celebrated my 62nd birthday in the usual fashion, with cake, ice cream, animal balloons and pony rides. It was a fine day, starting out with a stroll along the ocean as the big waves battered the coastline.

At the end of my walk, I passed by a gentlemen wearing a “Life is Good” sweatshirt. I smiled, and knew I had a theme for the day.

So it was off to a tremendous start, as I was then greeted at home with several very clever top ten list birthday cards, which evoked laughter, a key to birthday celebrations. Then it was on to the phones, as I connected with many friends and family throughout this great land of ours. The festivities also included a fabulous Italian lunch and a dinner fit for a king.

All in all, it was day for the ages and I was left with a really warm feeling, like a piece of cinnnamon French toast.

And that was good, because at this point in my life, I like to keep my birthday celebrations low key, as my focus is on having a career by 70. Because you know you’re getting old when the only thing you want for your birthday is not to be reminded of it.

And that’s the downside. Much like Rodney Dangerfield, ” I know I’m getting old. Last week I walked by a cemetery and two guys came running after me with shovels,” I’m not crazy about this aging process. Yeah, I know 62 isn’t 92, but it sure ain’t 32. So it doesn’t thrill me when I hear an opponent on the basketball court say to his teammates while matching up squads, “I got the old guy.”

At that moment, I don’t have to look around and wonder who he’s talking about. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re playing with guys 40 iPads younger. I’m playing with all young bucks, and when I mention I went to Woodstock, they think I’m talking about pizza.

The aging process is catching up with me. I’ve got one toe, two fingers and a computer with arthritis. I’m beginning to like accordion music. Garden care has become a big thing in my life. Now fortunately, I haven’t gotten to the age of comedian George Burns, when he uttered, “When I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.”

Now I have heard unconfirmed reports from a few years back that there are at least 28 deceased classmates from my high school graduating class of 1970. Now despite turning 62, which makes me eligible for lots of insecurity and Social Security, God willing, it looks like the odds of my being around on the planet for a while are pretty good, being that my father is 97 and my mother 88. Unless, of course, they never told me about the adoption.

Now I’m no math major, but what this means is come next February and April, they will be 98 and 89. Holy smokes. When I was living in an outdoor health club called Hermosa Beach in the 90′s, I used to come up to Santa Cruz for the Thanksgiving holiday and when I left to go back to the southland, I would always think, “Will this be the last time I see my father?”

Well, two score and fifty drumsticks later, he is still ticking, although, unfortunately, is a shell of his former self. His dementia has robbed him of most of his short term memory, as his life is lived in a very small circle. But yet he lives on, with the heart of a grazing bison.

So to avoid early dementia, I try to keep my mind sharp as a tack, by doing things like writing this blog, reading non-fiction true crime, ordering egg rolls with every Chinese meal and immersing myself in the world of television. That’s what we call in social media business being well-read and well-viewed.

So I walk three miles each weekday to make sure my heart keeps pumping. This harkens me back to the Ellen DeGeneres line,”You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

So I don’t know exactly where my life is leading me, as I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for 29 years and could be ready for a change. But as long as my parents are hanging around their ponderosa a mile down the road, the central coast is where I will be. It’s pretty much I don’t know where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been. So stay tuned.

But I do know that wherever I’m at, I’ll be shooting photos, and this week’s selection are quite colorful. The year was 2010, and the place was Natural Bridges State Beach. As you can tell from the first shot, with the way the clouds were situated in this December sky, there was vast potential for some very deep visual activity.

Well, we got that and more, as there was fire in the sky, as the sand and water turned from tangerine to radical orange to ruby red. Just a spectacular night to be on the coast, as the sky was blazing and the sand was a disco inferno.

On to some late night humor. “New research has found that 84 percent of vegetarians and vegans ultimately return to eating meat. It turns out the way animals are treated is nothing compared to how people treat vegetarians. Last week my wife and I welcomed our second child, Frances Cole Fallon. Now I live with three females. Or as Obama put it, “Who’s laughing now, funny man?” – Jimmy Fallon

“Scientists say they’re getting closer to developing a pill to replace exercising. Americans heard this and said that it better come in cool ranch flavor. This week Apple stores are holding free computer programming classes for children. Or as that’s called in China, a job fair. A woman on a Southwest Airlines flight gave birth to a baby. As soon as he was born, the baby said, “I had more leg room in the womb.” – Conan O’Brien

“After the game in a gesture of friendship, LeBron James put his arm around Princess Kate. You’re not supposed to do that. You can’t touch royalty, as I continually remind my staff. A company has developed a grease burn protection so you can fry a skillet full of bacon naked. I did that once. I’m so embarrassed. I thought it would be fun to cook bacon naked. And then Denny’s fired me right on the spot.” – David Letterman.

“A flight headed from San Francisco to Phoenix had to make an emergency landing in L.A. today after a passenger gave birth midflight. The parents called the birth a miracle while the airline called it a second carry-on. The woman gave birth in the middle of a flight. I’m happy to report that the mother and child are doing fine, while the guy who was sitting next to her is not.” – Seth Meyers

“Today Prince William went to Washington, D.C., and he met with President Obama. He said, “It feels weird being in the White House because I’m not an American.” And then Prince William said, “Yeah, me too.” The meeting with Prince William took place at the White House because Prince William wanted to see where the president spent his days, but the golf course was covered in snow.” – Craig Ferguson

So birthday wishes go out today to my old basketball buddy, Jim Berry, who’s relocated from south county to Colorado, but not for those preventive glaucoma reasons you might think. If you catch my drift.

So I hope you’re enjoying the Golden State Warriors’ 16 game winning streak. We’ll catch you coming back from a hand injury and picking up right where you left off, as the most explosive guard in the NBA. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

November 23, 2014

Jolts And Quotes From The Gravy Boat

Good morning and greetings, turkey day fans. According to my Nicki Minaj desktop calendar, Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday. For most, it is a week filled with joy, as families reunite and share in a bounty of food, drink and tryptophan. My favorite amino acid helps the body in making niacin, an important B vitamin, which works well as both a floor wax and a dessert topping.

So this week, the airports are packed and people take to the highways like lemmings. Or as the late, great Johnny Carson once observed, “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then they discover once a year is too often.” Hiyo.

Now when I look back into my blogging archives, it seems that I wax nostalgic about my favorite national holiday in the even years, as in 2010, 2012 and 1846.

So for today, I hope you’ll pardon me if I bring back some of the greatest celebrities quotes and a few new ones about this festival of turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and enough stuffing to fill the Grand Canyon.

So Thanksgiving is always a November to remember, as uncontrolled violence, er football, takes center stage on this holiday. Or as comedian John Caponera put it, ‘Who knew the Pilgrims liked football so much?”

It’s a time of bonding, when relatives and friends come together. Jon Stewart, coming off his directorial debut of his new movie, “Rosewater,” grew up in the Garden State of New Jersey and enjoys reminiscing about the holiday. “I celebrated in an old fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then killed them and took their land.”

It seems that the Indians got a raw deal in this whole Thanksgiving story. Or as Native American comedian Larry Omaha puts it, “My mother won’t celebrate Thanksgiving. She says it represents the white man stealing our land. But she’s not angry, she figures, what the hell, we’re taking it back one casino at a time.”

For the host family, a good part of the day is spent in the foxhole, better known as the kitchen, preparing for a feast that will be prepared by a few, eaten by many and cleaned up by less. Unfortunately, many people will go hungry on this day, and that is a sin. No one in America should go hungry.

Or as Mother Theresa once tweeted me from a Backstreet Boys concert, ‘If you can’t feed 100 people, feed one.”

There is something vaguely satisfying about putting together a meal that feeds so many. I just love cramming stuffing into the bird’s cavity, as the instructions always say to ‘lightly stuff” the bird.

Well, after I finish jackhammering the delightfully flavored mix of bread crumbs, celery, and unions into the self basting butterball, I place it in a plastic bag, and it does all the work. It’s like magic. There’s a great future in plastics.

Or as Roseanne Barr once described the filling of the crevice, “Here I am at five o’clock in the morning, stuffing bread crumbs up a dead bird’s butt.”

George Carlin had this take on the holiday. “We’re having something a little different this year for Thanksgiving. Instead of a turkey, we’re having a swan. You get more stuffing.” And it’s always so moist.

So it makes for a long day, but it only comes around once a year, and you have 365 days to recover from it. It can be a little stressful when the families reunite. Or as Stephen Colbert once noted, “Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.”

Thanksgiving is celebrated by most all in America, from the common working stiff to high profile celebrities in Hollywood. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzeneger, who is busy man due to the double family front on this occasion, made a keen observation when he quipped, “I love the Thanksgiving turkey…it’s the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts.”

Now my favorite TV talk show host, David Letterman, is retiring from the late night wars sometime in 2015. He will be missed. Here’s his take on the holiday. “Thanksgiving is the day when you turn to another family member and say, ‘How long has Mom been drinking like this?’ My mom, after six Bloody Marys, looks at the turkey and says, ‘Here kitty, kitty.’”

As the world know, David Letterman is a huge admirer of the world’s most powerful woman, Oprah Winfrey. As I’ve said before, Oprah is a saint, a woman with a huge heart that overflows with love and generosity. She changes lives on a daily basis, and if you want to model yourself after someone, the Big O would be a good starting point.

This is her thought on the day. ‘Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.” Or as comedian Kevin James once spouted, “Thanksgiving. Not a good day to be my pants.”

Which leads me to the words of writer William A. Ward, who so eloquently once said, “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”

Well, I believe I have. I am particularly thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. But I would also like the give thanks to you, the readers of this blog, who take time out each week to decipher whatever humorous thoughts sprint across my mind. It’s all about the laughter. The photos are the icing on the cake.

So for my final thoughts on this day before we celebrate Black Friday, I will defer to one of the funniest and palest men in American, comedian Jim Gaffigan, to put the holiday in the proper prospective. “Thanksgiving. It’s like we didn’t even try to come up with a tradition. The tradition is, we overeat. ‘Hey, how about at Thanksgiving we just eat a lot?’ ‘But we do that every day!’ ‘Oh. What if we eat a lot with people that annoy the hell out of us?’”

So in honor of the turkey day, for our photo follies, we are featuring a cluster of their distant cousins, the pelican. The day was November 14th, and I had heard a rumor of a mass gathering at Natural Bridges State Beach. Sure enough, they were packed in on the rocks like sardines and with the gulls down on the sand.

We then return to November of last year, as we head down to the Municipal Wharf and take in a couple of outrageous feeding frenzy moments, as the birds were going anchovie crazy. There was non-stop action with the volume turned up.

We then move on to a big flock of pelicans in flight heading north before we finish up with a delightful shot along West Cliff Drive of these amazing birds moving through the sun as it dips into the horizon.

On to some late night humor. “There are reports that leaders from ISIS and al-Qaida met at a farm house in Syria last week, and agreed to work together against their common enemies. That story again: Two radical terrorist groups managed to do what two American political parties cannot. The Keystone XL pipeline would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It’ll be the biggest underground structure leading into the U.S. Then people in Mexico said, “Eh . . . second biggest.” – Jimmy Fallon

I don’t know if you know this but Hitler was a painter and one of his watercolor paintings is being auctioned off. It’s expected to sell for over $60,000. So if you’re looking for a wedding gift for Charles Manson.”- Conan O’Brien “Today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln wrote it on his way to the site of the speech on the back of an envelope. One guy on the back of an envelope wrote the great Gettysburg Address — while every night it takes six guys to write this crap!” -David Letterman

“Germany has overtaken the United States as the world’s favorite country. The favorite country survey was based on more than 20,000 people in 20 countries. Isn’t it a little bit unfair that they did this before the McRib came back?” -Jimmy Kimmel “David Bowie’s new album is a greatest hits collection called “Nothing Has Changed.” On the cover he looks in the mirror and he says nothing has changed. When I look in the mirror I say, “Hello, grandpa.” – Craig Ferguson

“Scientists say the European space probe that landed on the comet has detected organic matter. This means there could be either life in space or a Whole Foods. We just don’t know. This week a group of activists, known as Anonymous, hacked the Twitter account of the KKK. The KKK is furious. They said Anonymous is just a bunch of cowards who don’t have the courage to show their faces.” – Conan O’Brien “A man in California was arrested after he stabbed his potential employer during a job interview. Well, at least now he knows where he sees himself in five years.” – Seth Meyer

So that’s my big holiday post. Enjoy this gathering for what it is and perhaps take a moment to think about the military families that are apart on Thanksgiving.

We’ll catch you slinging touchdown passes and putting up big numbers on the board week after week. Aloha, mahalo and later, Aaron Rogers fans.

February 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Presidents

Good morning and greetings, three-day weekend fans. According to my Selena Gomez calendar, today is Presidents’ Day, an American holiday that is celebrated on the third Monday in February, although it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government and survivors of the Battle of Saratoga.

President George Washington’s actual date of birth is February 22, but the holiday was moved in 1971 in an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers and get Abraham Lincoln in on the action. Presidents’ Day is now viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present, with the exception of George Bush.

President’s Day may just be one holiday in February, but in a great American tradition, retailers and dispensaries use it as an excuse for sales all month. It’s the first major sales day of the year by the retail industry, and you can save on big ticket items like cars, computers and vaporizers to enhance your medicinal experience.

But l say forget the memory foam mattress and get into the intended spirit of the occasion by honoring our presidents. So today we’ll take a look at some wild and wacky things you may not have known about a couple of these icons, courtesy of the staff at the National Constitution and Manali Oakat at buzzle.com.

Let’s start with our first Commander-in-Chief. George Washington was a farmer, and was way ahead of his time as he grew marijuana and promoted it’s growth. However, the crop was grown mainly for its usage as industrial value as hemp, soil stabilization and enhancing Saturday morning cartoons. He is also credited with introducing the mule to American farms, which comes as a real kick in the ass.

G.W. never wore a powdered wig, as was the custom for men at the time, preferring a Yankee baseball hat. He adored Derek Jeter. Washington never shook hands with people, preferring the high five, low five or chest bump.

He was homeschooled by his father and brother and never took the SAT’s or went to college. He frequently got confused with spellings having letters ‘i’ and ‘e’. He loved ice cream, with his favorite being Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia. He was the only president who never lived in Washingon D. C. preferring to commute by boat from his home in Mount Vernon to the Oval Office.

Fox hunting and fishing were his favorite sports, as he loved anything with a hook in its mouth. He bred hound dogs that he treated like members of the family. He gave them the names like True Love, Sweet Lips and Ben Franklin. He had six white horses in his stable and had their teeth brushed and flossed everyday. He was a big fan of Betsy Ross and the Supremes.

Washington’s image is a National symbol for the United States. His picture is on the dollar bill and was the first President to be on a postage stamp. His bust has been carved on Mount Rushmore. The state of Washington is the only state to be named after an American, with the exception of Esther Rolle who played Florida on ‘Good Times.’

George Washington used to snore loudly. This was the first reported case of sleep apnea. He suffered from toothaches throughout his life. At the time of his inauguration, Washington had only one tooth as all his teeth were pulled by the time he was the President. At times he wore dentures and was a spokesman for Polident.

He never told a lie as he admitted to once chopping down his father’s cherry tree, Before he died, he told his doctor, “I die hard, but I am not afraid to go. His final words were.”Tis well and I just don’t know where the next season of Homeland is headed. ”

On to our 16th president. Abraham Lincoln was born in a small one room cabin and given no middle name by his parents. As a child he had an averson to killing animals and never hunted or fished. People thought he was lazy, as during those times frontier families depended on fish and game to survive. Often a young Abe could be seen shooting the breeze with baby squirrels and chipmunks.

Lincoln only had 18 months of formal education, including summer school. He loved reading, education and taking Berlitz classes. He practiced law without a degree and was very disorganized. He carried important papers in his stovepipe hat so he wouldn’t misplace them, along with his driver’s license and a pack of chiclets.

Lincoln and his wife would have four sons, but only one of whom would survive past the age of 18. Robert Lincoln, the only son who would live to raise a family of his own was almost killed at a train station in New Jersey near the start of the Civil War. He slipped from a platform and would have fallen in front of the train had he not been grabbed by the collar and pulled to safety by Edwin Booth. Later Edwin’s brother, John Wilkes, would shoot and kill Lincoln, becoming the first president to be assassinated.

Lincoln was the only president to ever obtain a U.S. patent for the invention of the Lincoln Logs. He was the first major leader to feel that women should be allowed the right to vote. He was in the forefront of American Politics for just six short years, but in that time he became the most hated and the most loved president in the history of the United States. He was credited with tearing the country apart and bringing it back together. And for all he did, they only put him on the penny.

He never belonged to an organized church but read the Bible and the New York Post daily. He was a simple man who didn’t drink, smoke or chew tobacco. He hated being called Abe, as he preferred being called by his last name or the “‘White Mambo.” He established Thanksgiving as a national holiday. His cat ate at the White House dinner table and loved Little Friskies.

He was the first president with a beard. His Gettysburg Address, made at the end of the Civil War that ended slavery, is one of the most oft repeated speeches throughout history. It started out “Four score and seven years,” which ironically, is how I started out my first blog post.

If Honest Abe had been asked about today’s Tea Party, he would have responded “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Had he had the opportunity to read my writing, this would have been his response. “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” So I continue on.

For today’s photo lineup, we are returning to the evening of November 14. The place was Natural Bridges State Beach. Expectations were low on this night but then things went surprisingly well, with the sky turning different shades of red and pink, which was certainly preferable to the lighter shade of pale

February has been a great month for shooting sunrises and sunsets, and they are starting to stack up on my computer like 747′s on the runway at JFK International. So check for times and dates at a theatre near you.

On to some late night humor. “Norway currently leads the medal count with 12, followed by the Netherland and Canada, followed then by white-sylvania and albino-stan. The Winter Games are really the only games that to do well, you have to look exactly like the surface you’re competing on.” –Jon Stewart “Bob Costas had to take a break from hosting the Olympics coverage due to an eye infection. In fact, his eyes are so bloodshot, he’s been made an honorary member of the U.S. snowboarding team.” – Conan O’Brien

“They are very upfront about the fact that you should have no expectations of privacy if you go there to Sochi. The phones immediately are hacked, your computers are hacked, the rooms are bugged; one hotel – their slogan is ‘we’ll leave the mic on for you.’” –Bill Maher “It’s Fashion Week in New York City. I was walking to work today and I thought oh, my God, there’s a giant icicle. But it was a frozen supermodel.” – David Letterman

“Yep, tonight is the 969th and final episode of “Late Night.” Or as my dad put it, “Couldn’t make it to a thousand, huh? Quitter.” We’ve done over 10,000 monologue jokes over the last five years. And in case you missed any of them, the best way I could summarize those jokes is that Joe Biden needed Obamacare after Anthony Weiner texted Justin Bieber a picture of Chris Christie dating a Kardashian on the Jersey Shore — with Rob Ford. – Jimmy Fallon

So not only is February 22 the birthday of George Washington and Dr. J, Julius Erving, but it is also the day my brother Paul came flying out the chute, so birthday wishes go out to him while he still in his 50′s.

We’ll catch you turning 60 after gaining worldwide fame by appearing on three consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues back in the late 70′s and early 80′s. Aloha, mahalo and later, Christie Brinkley 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.

July 7, 2013

Here’s To The Red, White And Blue Whales

Good morning and greetings, marine life fans. Let’s face it, life is good if you live on Monterey Bay. When I walk along West Cliff Drive, I’m always fascinated by the waves, the changing skies and the people who pass by who don’t make eye contact. I see seals, dolphins, broncos, sea otters, sea lions, sea biscuits and the passing whales. I always stop in my tracks and watch them glide through the water, surface and then go back under as I await their next appearance. That’s the view you get from being a land bound creature. However, offshore is where the real action is, and that’s where we’re headed today.

You may have missed this story from back in mid June written by Jason Hoppin in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The description of the events in our front yard called Monterey Bay blew what little is left of my mind, as it described a kind of excitement unseen by yours truly.

It seems on this late spring day the bay was teeming with a lunch special for a variety of whales. This brought about a sight seen by a few but missed by the masses. The action was so spectacular that I wanted to bring it back into the July light.

The date was June 15, and giants of the deep were putting on an unbelievable show. Boat captains and calamari lovers estimated that at least 30 blue whales, which, next to the cast of “Baywatch,” are some of the most spectacular creatures ever to grace the ocean’s water, were involved in a feeding frenzy seven miles off shore in a place called Soquel Canyon. I have extensively researched these so-called “frenzies” at various all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets. It’s a world where mu shu pancakes meets Animal Planet and anything can happen, especially if there’s any sweet and sour sauce lurking in the area.

Now on a good day, blue whales measure about 90 feet. If you are thinking in terms of sports, this is the length of a basketball court, or almost a third of a football field, which means you’d need three first downs to just go end to end with these giants. Their tails alone are as wide as a Greyhound bus. Just imagine the earth’s largest dinosaurs swimming in the ocean. Now imagine them all jacked up and feeding on krill like a Yom Kippur fast had just ended.

If you could find a scale big enough, these big boys and girls would weigh in between 100 and 150 tons. Don’t bother them with Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig as much like myself, they’re not interested. Their tongues are the size of a Buick and get better mileage. And I don’t want to say that whale calves are big, but after a year of formulating inside their mother’s womb, these cute little babies emerge weighing three tons and measuring 25 feet. Try fitting that into a car seat.

And if you think your baby was a big eater, listen to this. For the first year, a whale calf dines on nothing but mother’s milk and cookies and gains 200 pounds a day, which leads to body issues during the teenage years. And in case you were planning a vacation, you can fit about 100 people inside a blue whale’s mouth. And these mammals have no need for cell phones, as they can communicate with relatives and other whales over a thousand miles away.

So what happened on this day all came about because of the wind. The spring breezes shoved the warmer surface water aside, which allowed much cooler water, which was filled with more nutrients than a Jamba Juice Peach Pleasure smoothie, to come up from the ocean floor. This process is called upwelling, which is great for hungry whales but not so good for family members of the lower species like krill, squid or members of the NRA, because on this day, they were the “blue plate special,” with a pun definitely intended.

Let’s just say that blue whales have a large appetite. How large? At one meal they can down four tons of krill along with a dinner salad and small dessert. According to Ken Stagnaro of Stagnaro Charters, on this Saturday, the ruckus out at Soquel Canyon was put in play by the krill getting trapped against the canyon walls by the tides with no way out. This led to “side by side, dozens of blue and humpback whales continually surface lunging (which is also my favorite way of eating) at the massive schools of krill, sometimes swimming within yards of the boat. We sat nearly motionless for nearly 90 minutes as the largest animals in the world gorged on the sea surface for everyone to see.” And all meals include an 18% gratuity added to the total before any discounts.

What made this day even more remarkable was that the blues don’t usually make an appearance until the NFL preseason, making this open sea dining experience that much more remarkable. There are usually humpback whales in the bay, but the blues were an unexpected late spring treat. Also on display were the orcas, the killer whales who like to dine on seals, dolphins and baby gray whales, and who along with Japanese and Norwegian whalers and Sarah Palin are the only natural predators of the blues.

It was nature gone wild this June day on Monterey Bay, which was first discovered by the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo back in 1542 while searching for a junior college. And it was all made possible by the wind, which brought to the surface more culinary riches than could be found at all the Red Lobsters, Long John Silvers and Bubba Gump Shrimp Companies in America. Monterey Bay, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Stop by, admission is free.

For today’s photo entree, we are going back to March 15. This day started on a fabulous note, as I photographed a beautiful sunrise down at Lighthouse Point. And then that evening, color returned to the sky, as I started my photographic trek at Stockton Avenue before moving up to Natural Bridges to complete the daily double sunrise/sunset experience. Any time you can get two for the price of one is a good day on the photography front.

There’s no late night action this week so I’ll throw in a joke. A woman stormed up to the front desk of the library and said, “I have a complaint.” “Yes, ma’am?” “I borrowed a book and it was horrible!” “What was wrong with it?” “It had too many characters and there was no plot whatsoever.” The librarian nodded and said, ‘Ah. So you must be the person who took our phone book.”

So that’s our first blast for July. Hope you enjoyed the holiday week as now the summer of 2013 is in full swing.

We’ll catch you surprising the NBA world by turning down more money and signing a free agent contract with the Golden State Warriors. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andre Iguadola fans.

June 16, 2013

The Old And The Beautiful

Good morning and greetings, late spring fans. Another week has flown by and become a pleasant, yet quickly fading memory. Last week, both my children experienced some closure, as my son returned home from his freshman year at college and my daughter finished her sophomore year in high school. I have no memory of how I felt at those two junctures in my life, or for that matter, my thoughts at a good number of semi-momentus occasions from my past. No matter which way I slice it or dice it, my cranium is ripening like a golden papaya. As Mark Twain said, “What is human life? The first third is a good time, the rest remembering about it.”

I then must ask the question, is it really important to remember what I was thinking or feeling when these events occurred? I believe it was either Justin Beiber’s barber or the Dali Lama’s second cousin who had this thought. “One day at a time-this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone, and do not be troubled by the future, for it is yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it is worth remembering.” As a photographer, I capture the present, then share the past in the future. I believe that was a Kodak moment.

I’ve got to admit, I’m a little concerned about my legacy, because at this point, no one will ever accuse me of being a workaholic. The words “I wish I had spent more time at the office,” will never be uttered from my lips. That’s why I got a little nervous when I ran into this quote from Theodore Roosevelt. “There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering?” Well, in the words of Charles Barkley or Charles Dickens, “Never say never.” And never, never, never look away.

These days I try to focus ahead, because all the stuff that happened in the past doesn’t really seem quite as important. I don’t plan on living forever, although my father is going somewhat strong at age 96, so I figure I’ve got a few more Chinese birthday dinners in me. Sometimes it’s just about the cream cheese filled wontons. That’s crab rangoon if you’re keeping score at home.

Bottom line, the only things we’ll never know is how much time we have on this earth and when that jury duty summons is coming. But it seems through advances in medicine and energy drinks that people are living longer and longer. Just my luck, I’m finally getting my head together and my body is falling apart.

I know my hearing isn’t what it used to be. I’ve turned the response of “What?” into an art form. It doesn’t surprise me, as neither of my parents have heard a word since the Carter Administration. It’s like the old joke. A guy is talking to his neighbor telling him about the new hearing aid he just got. “It costs a fortune, but it was worth it. It works perfectly.” “Really,” said the neighbor. “What kind is it?” “Ten thirty.”

Speaking of aging, last week in Japan, the world’s oldest person besides Johh McCain, and the oldest man to have ever lived died of natural causes at age 116. Jiroemon Kimura, who was born in 1897, died last Wednesday morning from old age. Kimura was was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living person in December 2012, after a woman from the United States died at the age of 115 after a surfing accident.

That month he also broke another record when he was verified as the oldest man ever to have lived, after reaching the age of 115 years and 253 days. And this was without ever commenting on the weather, asking what time it was or changing his TV channel. He was but a simple man.

Although he was the only the third man in history to reach 115 years of age, he was well off the all-time record set by French woman Jeanne Calment, who surrendered in 1997 at the age of 122, when she was run over by a squirrel gathering acorns, making her the longest living person in history to be done in by a small rodent.

Kimura worked at a post office for about 40 years. Friends say that’s what killed him. After retiring he took up farming, which he continued to do until the age of 90, when he got a computer and spent all this free time cruising dating sites. He did not smoke and only ate until he was 80 percent full. But neighbors say he drank like a fish. Kimura’s motto in life was “to eat light and live long,” means I may have to back off the chocolate cake in the morning.

“Jiroemon Kimura was an exceptional person,” said Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records. “As the only man to have ever lived for 116 years, he has a truly special place in world history.” The new oldest living man is James McCoubrey, an American who was born in Canada on Sept. 13, 1901. He’s 111 years old, which makes him the 32nd-oldest living person in the world. And all those who are older are women.

I think I know why women live longer. They are born with stronger immune system, which gives them the inner strength to deal with the opposite sex. They come with a better set of instruments, which leads to greater understanding and insight. They know they’re going to be around longer, so they can kick back and go with the flow. So that’s why my wife lets me hold the remote control when we watch TV. Because she knows time, time, time, is on her side, yes it is.

For today’s photo galaxy we are heading to Natural Bridges State Beach on the night of February 2. The orange and red tone of the clouds and the reflection on the sand was a sight to behold. I took it as a good sign for the days to come from our shortest month. I never tire of photographing the last remaining arch, as once their was three and now there is one. And in the words of Three Dog Night “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one, its the loneliest number since the number one.” Joy to the world.

On to some late night humor. ” The NSA has been listening in on phone calls. It’s people with cellphones. You know your phone is being tapped when you’re having a conversation and you hear the attorney general breathing. Happy birthday to the president’s daughter Sasha, who is 12 years old. For her birthday, her father gave her Justin Bieber’s phone records.” –David Letterman “There’s talk that boy band One Direction is trying to win over Justin Bieber’s fans who aren’t happy with Bieber’s recent behavior. Those guys from One Direction better be careful, or this could result in the world’s most adorable fistfight.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton finally joined Twitter yesterday and racked up more than 200,000 followers in only five hours. Yeah, they were like, “Hillary in 2016!” and “Washington needs Hillary!” and “Hillary for the White House!” That’s not her followers. Those were her tweets. As part of a senior prank, students at a high school in Washington spray-painted all over their school, but they actually misspelled the word “senior” twice. That probably explains why they didn’t get into “collage.” – Jimmy Fallon

“There are reports that female terrorists are being fitted with exploding breast implants. How many guys are going to use this as an excuse? “Honey, I’m not looking at her breasts. I’m working for Homeland Security.” The guy who blew the whistle on the NSA scandal is a former security worker named Edward Snowden. He is a high school dropout. He was making $122,000 a year. He lived in Hawaii. He was engaged to a beautiful former ballerina. And he gave it all up. So not only is he a whistleblower. He’s also a moron. – Jay Leno

“House Speaker John Boehner called NSA’s Edward Snowden a traitor. But only because he leaked the name of his tanning bed. McDonald’s has started introducing breakfast items at night for what it calls an after-midnight menu. It’s all part of McDonald’s’ new slogan, “Welcome alcoholics.” – Conan O’Brien

So enjoy the NBA Finals. We’ll catch you showing NBA fans why, despite painful knee problems, that you can still light it up any night. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dwyane Wade fans.

June 2, 2013

A Mime Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Good morning and greetings, rock and roll fans. Music is my mistress, as many days I walk around with a certain song playing over and over in my head, drowning out the voices that I normally hear and cherish. And cherish is a word I use to describe all the feelings that I have for you cyber readers inside.

Speaking of cherish, not to be confused with cherries, which are bursting with flavor and sweetness this time of the year, it was the first song played when my wife and I hit the dance floor at our wedding. It was either going to be that or the Guess Who’s’ American Woman,’ but “American woman, stay away from me,” really didn’t set the tone for what is an ongoing, twenty-four year journey of love, trust and Tivo, and definitely not in that order.

My wife and I have become inseparable, like two snow peas in a pod. She makes sure I’m balanced and rotated, like a good set of Michelin tires. I’m not sure she feels the same way, as the other day she quoted feminist Gloria Steinem, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” She then followed with this doozy from the former undercover Playboy Bunny, “The surest way to be alone is to get married.” I broke down and I cried. Hallmark couldn’t have said it any better.

After dropping off our daughter at school in the morning, we walk together on beautiful West Cliff Drive. It’s a magnificent way to start the day. She tells me about her hopes, dreams and aspirations, while my mind wonders about what I’ll be making for dinner that night. But through my nodding and inane comments she knows that I’m listening, a trait that is not easy for me, as my mind races faster than the earth rotates around Oprah. As she once told David Letterman, “When I look into the future, it’s so bright it burns my eyes.” And that’s why I wear sunglasses, because I’m finally getting the feeling that at this belated date, my future is ahead of me.

But stop the presses. Five minutes after I wrote the line about my brightening future, I had to remove my shades, as I received a phone call from a long time compatriot that put a damper on my previous statement. I found it somewhat ironic that less than 300 seconds after I had written the most optimistic sentence in my blogging career, I was suddenly no longer in that moment of joy and excitement. I was in a place that I had visited way too often in my life, where I didn’t need to make an appointment as it seemed they were expecting me. The future just ain’t what it used to be.

The situation brought to mind a scene from Woody Allen’s “Play I Again, Sam,” where he’s in a museum, attempting to pick up a woman who’s looking at a painting. Woody: That’s quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn’t it? Woman: Yes, it is. Woody: What does it say to you? Woman: It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation, forming a useless, bleak straitjacket in a black, absurd cosmos. Woody: What are you doing Saturday night? Woman: Committing suicide. Woody: What about Friday night?

Life is so strange, but with all the good and bad, it’s really just how you perceive it between your two ears. It seems like every day I’m getting older. Pablo Picasso said it takes a long time to grow young. I don’t want to say I’m getting old, but the most exercise I get is looking for my glasses. I’ve already lived the lives of five golden retrievers. And yet I still want to chase that tennis ball.

However, for a young man in his 60′s, I’m great shape. Despite waking up to go to the bathroom 13,000 times a night, I’m always fresh and raring to go in the morning. I know I don’t get enough sleep, and perhaps that’s why I spend a good part of the day opening my mouth involuntarily while taking a long, deep breath of air. I believe the medical term is called yawning and is a result of stress, tiredness and extreme virility. Throw in the fact that I snore like a banchee and next to Lou Gehrig, my wife might be the luckiest man alive.

The most important thing for me is keeping my mind active and making sure my DVR is plugged in. That’s why week after week I pound away at this key board, like Mozart with a jump shot, trying to put together some words and sentences together that don’t violate the Volstead Act. And who knows what the future holds? I could be sitting on a gold mine. So stay tuned.

For today’s photo appetizer, I’m finishing what I started two weeks, ago, when I featured a gorgeous late January sunrise shot at Steamers Lane. The mid afternoon cloud action over the bay was incredible. Today’s photos are the second half of the daily double, which was the fabulous sunset I shot that same night.

I started out my photographic adventure at Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and then like Lewis and Clark without the services of Sacagawea, made my way up to Natural Bridges for the grand finale. Just a beautiful night from the winter of 2013 on Monterey Bay. Days like this is why God invented the sky.

No late night humor this week so I’m going with a few jokes. A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later, there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says “What the hell was that all about?”

A guy enters a bar carrying an alligator. Says to the patrons, “Here’s a deal. I’ll open this alligator’s mouth and place my genitals inside. The gator will close his mouth for one minute, then open it, and I’ll remove my unit unscathed. If it works, everyone buys me drinks.” The crowd agrees. The guy drops his pants and puts his privates in the gator’s mouth. Gator closes mouth. After a minute, the guy grabs a beer bottle and bangs the gator on the top of its head. The gator opens wide, and he removes his genitals unscathed. Everyone buys him drinks. Then he says: “I’ll pay anyone $100 who’s willing to give it a try.” After a while, a hand goes up in the back of the bar. It’s a woman. “I’ll give it a try,” she says, “but you have to promise not to hit me on the head with the beer bottle.”

A newlywed couple moves into their new house. One day the husband comes home from work and his wife says, “Honey, you know, in the upstairs bathroom one of the pipes is leaking, could you fix it?” The husband says, “What do I look like, Mr. Plumber?” A few days go by, and he comes home from work and his wife says, “Honey, the car won’t start. I think it needs a new battery. Could you change it for me?” He says: “What do I look like, Mr. Goodwrench?” Another few days go by, and it’s raining pretty hard. The wife finds a leak in the roof. She says, “Honey, there’s a leak on the roof! Can you please fix it?” He says, “What do I look like, Bob Vila?” The next day the husband comes home, and the roof is fixed. So is the plumbing. So is the car. He asks his wife what happened. “Oh, I had a handyman come in and fix them,” she says. “Great! How much is that going to cost me?” he snarls. Wife says: “Nothing. He said he’d do it for free if I either baked him a cake or slept with him.” “Uh, well, what kind of cake did you make?” asks the husband. “What do I look like,” she says, “Betty Crocker?”

So that’s our first blast for June. We’ll catch you stepping up in the playoffs and showing NBA fans why you’re the best young center in the eastern conference. Aloha, mahalo and later, Roy Hibbert fans.

April 21, 2013

Should We Eat Here Or Get It To Escargot?

Good morning and greetings, rock and roll fans. If you’re a baby boomer and music is your mistress, then you might have a memory of February 7, 1964, the day the Beatles arrived in New York to party with Ed Sullivan. I remember the excitement when they stepped off the Boeing 707 at Kennedy Airport before Pan Am lost their luggage. There was pandemonium on the tarmac, as people were sobbing, screaming and waving banners, and those were just the skycaps and taxi drivers. It had been a hard day’s flight for these lads, who had been working like dogs. The British Invasion had begun.

This was the start of a classic period, when British pop stars and rock and rollers came to the USA and blew the ears and minds of American youth. Many people were caught by surprise, as even Paul Revere didn’t know they were coming. We’re talking groups like The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Dave Clark Five and Herman’s Hermits. Yes, Mrs. Brown certainly had a lovely daughter, as these groups would have an impact on the US music scene that has lasted longer than my membership to 24 Hour Fitness.

Now some thirty years after the twenty years ago today when Sgt. Pepper taught his band to play, there’s another invasion hitting the shores of America, but it doesn’t involve super groups or groupies. In a story written by Barbara Liston for Reuters, South Florida is fighting a growing infestation of one of the world’s most destructive invasive species. No, not the Justin Beiber music tour, but the giant African land snail, which can grow to be the size of a rat, and whose favorite hobbies are gnawing through stucco, plaster and retirement communities.

More than 1,000 of these marauding mollusks are being caught in speed traps each week in Miami-Dade County, while some have been spotted taking in Heat games at American Airlines Arena. Over 117,000 in total are now in custody facing deportation charges since the first snail was spotted by Ponce de Leon Jr. in September 2011.

And there are more on the way, as the snails will soon emerge from underground hibernation at the start of the state’s rainy season. Denise Feiber, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture, says the snails attack “over 500 known species of plants, pretty much anything that’s in their path and green.” That being said, I have a message for all cucumbers. Run!

According to Billy Ocean, in some Caribbean countries like Barbados, the snails’ shells blow out tires and hair on the highway and turn into hurling projectiles from lawnmower blades. At the same time, their slime and excrement coats pavements and walls, which is driving the local taggers crazy.

A typical snail can produce about 1,200 eggs, a pound of bacon and a side order of toast each year. These slow-moving creatures, like telemarketers, are a real pest for homeowners, as they have a fondness for stucco, which they devour for the calcium content they need for their shells. Researchers have found that snails pay very close attention to their intake of calcium so as to meet the daily nutrient requirements for healthy mollusks.

The snails also carry a parasitic rat lungworm that can cause a form of meningitis, which can really be a downer at parties. Fortunately, no such cases have yet been identified in the United States or Hawaii.

These are not the first exotic species to invade the Sunshine State. Numero uno would be the infestation of the giant Burmese pythons, which have took taken up home in the Everglades and are reproducing faster than the Octomom on her best day. Burmese pythons can grow to be 26 feet long and more than 200 pounds, and they have been known to swallow victims as large as alligators or a Rush Limbaugh. Constrictors snakes kill their prey by coiling around it and suffocating it, unlike Rush, who suffocates his victims with billowing hot air.

There is a long list of destructive non-native species that thrive in the state’s moist, subtropical climate, with many of them now starring in their own reality shows. Experts gathered last week to seek the best ways to eradicate the mollusks, including use of a stronger bait approved recently by the federal government and providing them with one way bus tickets to western states.

Investigators are trying to trace the snail infestation source. One possibility is a Miami Santeria group, a religion with West African and Caribbean roots, which was found in 2010 to be using the large snails in their rituals. This was the premise for an episode on “Miami Vice,” a show I watched religiously for fashion tips. But according to Ms. Feiber, many exotic species come into the United States unintentionally in freight or tourists’ baggage or colons.

“If you got a ham sandwich or an orange from Jamaica or the Dominican Republic, and you didn’t eat it all and bring it back into the States and then discard it, at some point, things can emerge from those products,” Feiber says. That’s why when I’m vacationing in the Caribbean, when I order I always ask for my mollusks on the side.

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The last known Florida invasion of the giant mollusks occurred in 1966. A young boy, who was a big “Magnum, P.I.” fan, returned to Miami from a vacation in Hawaii and brought back three snails and and an “Eddie Would Go” t-shirt. His grandmother eventually released them into her garden, where the population grew in seven years to 17,000 snails. The state then spent $1 million and 10 years eradicating them. Hey, kid, next time, when you want to bring back a souvenir, I got two words for you-macadamia nuts.

Feiber says many people and an anesthesiologist in the Satellite Beach are unfamiliar with the danger when viewing the snails as cute pets. “They’re huge, they look like they’re communicating with you, and people enjoy them for that.” The bottom line is, when large snails like this are released into an environment where, unlike myself, they have no natural enemies, they will thrive and cause massive devastation.

It was Russian author Ivan Turgevev who once said, “Time sometimes flies like a bird, sometimes crawls like a snail, but man is happiest when he does not even notice whether it passes swiftly as slowly.” And that, my friends, is why I never wear I watch. And finally, I believe it was either Tom Selleck’s barber or the Dali Lama’s brother who came up with this nugget of wisdom.” The week seems to go by at the speed of a snail. Unless it’s the weekend. Then the snail rides a F****** ferrari.”

I have partied with these giant snails on my trips to the Garden Isle of Kauai, and have posted an image of one in today’s photo fun pack. And we are heading back to the skies today, as I have over twenty sunrise and sunsets from the fall and winter sitting on the runway of my archives, waiting for clearance. This sunset was a beauty from the night of January 7 at Natural Bridges State Beach, when both the sky, sand and my heart and lungs glowed with beauty and joy. I always love photographing the remaining arch, because not only is this art, but it’s history. And erosion, like time, waits for no one.

On to a some late nght humor. “The Coachella Music Festival started today. It’s held every year in the California desert. A whole weekend of peace, love, and $10 bottles of water.” – Craig Ferguson “For those of you who aren’t familiar with Coachella, it’s a big music festival in the California desert. If you didn’t get tickets or if you’re too far away, just get high and pass out in a dumpster behind Trader Joe’s. Just like being there.” – Jimmy Kimmel “According to a new study, our views on immigration are changing. For example, when asked if they support a path to citizenship, 40 percent of the respondents said, “Si.” – Jay Leno ”

“It was revealed today that someone sent President Obama a suspicious letter containing the poison ricin. It’s a deadly poison made from beans. They said it’s the third worst substance you can send in the mail behind anthrax and packing peanuts. A man in New York City is convicted of stealing more than $376,000 worth of copy machine toner from the law firm he worked for. They’re known for their work with big corporations and investment banks, and also for not ever having any toner in their copier.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“A 14-year-old boy from China is the youngest golfer to ever compete in The Masters. During his round of golf today, the Chinese boy made two birdies, an eagle, and an iPad. DC Comics introduced its first-ever transgender character. The character is called “Wonder If It’s a Woman.” A new report claims that almost half of Justin Bieber’s 37 million Twitter followers are fake. Even more disturbing: The other half is real. Tom Cruise made his first public comments about his divorce from Katie Holmes. He said, “I didn’t see it coming.” Apparently Katie kept her divorce papers on top of the refrigerator.” – Conan O’Brien

So that’s a wrap. A birthday shout out goes today out to my Stanford cycling pal, Jim Buser, the creator of Duck and Cover, who was the first person to ask the world,”What if the hokey pokey isn’t what it’s all about?”

So as we try to wash away and the evil and madness around us, try to enjoy the first round of the NBA playoffs. We’ll catch you coming into your own after the all-star break and showing NBA observers who was the best shooter in the league this year. Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

February 10, 2013

Does Anybody Really Know What Valentime It Is?

Good morning and greetings, Valentine’s Day fans. What a great day this has become for chocolate lovers, romantics and stalkers of the world. On this day, one can display his or her affections with a card that someone else wrote (“I never believed in miracles and then I found each day has turned into one because of you,”) some sugar that we probably don’t need, or some jewelry that we can always sell on eBay if the relationship doesn’t work out. Meanwhile, many folks not involved in a relationship get left out in the cold and hope this day passes as quickly as possible. Now that may be a little cynical, but I think I’m right on the Eddie Money without two tickets to paradise.

But being a hopeless romantic, I always get caught up in the holiday spirit. However, last year, when I presented my wife with a box a chocolate matzos, she seemed a tad disappointed. I’m not sure if chocolate covered unleavened bread conveyed the thought of thanks for loving me, always being there and sharing the same DVR taping system. So this year, I’m going to do it right and go with dark chocolate pretzels.

I was immediately smitten when I met my future bride. I remember early on, an offer I made when she was looking to move into the oceanfront house I was living in. “Come live in my heart and pay no rent.” She then asked if that included utilities. An hour later, I told her that a hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for her. She blushed and then went out and bought a dozen defibrillators.

So Valentine’s Day is always a special occasion for us. I remember last year as she told me between commercials, “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” And then I held her closely and said, “If I could be anything in the world, I would want to be a teardrop, because I would be born in your eyes, live on your cheeks, and die on your lips.” And then I lobbed this winner, “When we met, it was not my ear you whispered into, but my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” Now that, my friends, is a Hallmark moment.

So in honor of this day of love and chocolate, here’s a joke that made me chuckle. A prince was put under a spell so that he could speak only one word each year. If he didn’t speak for two years, the following year he could speak two words and so on. One day, he fell in love with a beautiful lady. He refrained from speaking for two whole years so he could call her “my darling.” But then he wanted to tell her he loved her, so he waited three more years. At the end of these five years, he wanted to ask her to marry him, so he waited another four years. Finally, as the ninth year of silence ended, he led the lady to the most romantic place in the kingdom and said, “My darling, I love you! Will you marry me?” And the lady said, “Pardon?”

So it was a good week on the weather front, as we had sun, clouds, rain, light, darkness and some golf. Last Wednesday, on a crisp morning at Natural Bridges, frost was covering the sand as I observed nineteen snowy egrets lined up in a row like bowling pins. Of course, being a semi-professional photographer, I didn’t have my camera or passport with me, so I raced home, grabbed it and was back before you could say “Zero Dark Thirty.” Or in the words of Jessica Chastain to CIA chief Tony Soprano, “I’m the motherfu****** who found this place.”

By the way, last three flicks I’ve seen all been big-time winners, tremendously enjoyable cinematic experiences. We’re talking “Argo,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” I walked out of all three saying , “Wow, that was great at a matinee price.

So getting back to the beach, the snowys were still there when I returned but in a slightly rearranged order, so I headed down to the far end of the beach to shoot these birds of a feather huddled together in the cold weather (photo #1). Also included is a smaller group shot and one of a dynamic duo. Then it was on to photographing a group of pelicans that had gathered for their morning coffee and sardines on the remaining arch. It was a great way to start off a chilly day on Monterey Bay.

The final photo is my Valentine’s day shot, as a caught a group of lovebirds, er pigeons, perched on a telephone wire basking in the morning sun. Next week we’ll return to the fabulous winter sunrise and sunset experiences, as I have many sitting on the runway waiting for clearance. They range from good to classic fantastic, and all will be seen. Because that’s the way we roll at Sunrise Santa Cruz.

On to some late night humor. “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he wants to become the first Iranian to go into outer space. He wants to study the effects of anti-gravity on anti-Semitism. Monopoly is getting a big makeover. They want to make the Monopoly game more modern and bring it up to date to reflect our current culture. Like, in the new version of Monopoly, the banker never goes to jail. This is kind of disturbing. The Justice Department has concluded that the president can order drone strikes on American citizens. And today, Rush Limbaugh came out in favor of Obamacare.” – Jay Leno

A Justice Department memo claims that President Obama has the right to order the assassination of an American anywhere in the world. Isn’t that crazy? In a related story, Donald Trump has gone into hiding. The justice department is saying that President Obama can order drone strikes on American citizens, that he can do that. In a related story, this is the last Obama joke I’m ever doing on this show. U.S. employers just added 157,000 jobs to the economy. Of course, most of those were for backup dancers for Beyoncé. During the Super Bowl there was a 35-minute blackout. Afterwards Lindsay Lohan said, “So that wasn’t just me.” – Conan O’Brien

“Pakistan is opening an amusement park and a zoo in the same town where the raid on Osama Bin Laden took place. The zoo is pretty cool, but I’ve heard you won’t be able to see the seals until it’s too late. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently got a smart phone. And you can tell it’s a smart phone because today it left North Korea. Last night runners from around the world competed in the annual race to the top of the Empire State Building. But there’s already a scandal brewing. It turns out one of the competitors tested positive for elevator.” – Jimmy Fallon

“A new report by economists lists the world’s most expensive cities. It turns out the most expensive city is Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo unveiled their new tourism slogan today. Their slogan is: “Tokyo: We’ll leave you brokeo.” – Craig Ferguson “This weekend a couple from Connecticut will have the longest marriage ever recorded in the U.S. They got married more than 80 years ago. They said the secret to their long-lasting marriage is love, compromise, and the fact that neither one of them has been able to hear a word the other one has said in more than 30 years.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our Chinese New Year report. I think the Year of the Snake is going to be a good one for my cyber readers and burmese pythons. We’ll catch you showing NBA fans why you’re the top scoring point guard in the league and an all-star in just your second season. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kyrie Irving fans.

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