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.

March 30, 2014

What Kind Of Fool Am I?

Good morning and greetings, Final Four fans. Well, according to my Olsen Twins calendar, today is the final day of March, meaning the madness is soon coming to an end. We are now heading toward that one shining moment, when the NCAA champion is crowned, as every other team in the field of 64 will have ended the season on a losing note.

Finishing off a year in this fashion is always painful, for some more than others. Or in the words of former basketball coach Bill Musselman, “Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.”

This year’s NCAA basketball tournament certainly has lived up to the hype. Last Sunday’s heavyweight battle between undefeated Wichita State, riding a 33-game winning streak, and the much ballyhooed freshman of Kentucky was an all-time classic, one of the best ever. The Wildcats emerged as the victors as the Shockers got screwed in the bracket matchups.

But my favorite game was an opening round tilt between Mahattan College and the defending champion Louisville Cardinals. It pitted an emotional coaching confrontation between the teacher, Rick Pittino and his former student and assistant coach, Steve Masiello.

The 13th-seeded Jaspars almost pulled off the upset, as they had the lead with a few minutes to go, but a couple of mistakes proved to be their undoing as the Cardinals prevailed. This led to Friday night’s epic battle of the Blue Grass State between Kentucky and Louisville, with the young Wildcats prevailing as the champions were dethroned.

To read a tremendous story about the behind-the-scenes drama coming into the Manhattan game, click on http://grantland.com/features/ncaa-tournament-manhattan-college-louisville-cardinals-steve-masiello-rick-pitino/

For basketball fans and endodontists, this is must read material.

So with March leaving the arena, April takes center stage tomorrow at the midcourt stripe.

And if it’s April 1, we are talking April Fools’ day. Which brings to mind an old Chinese proverb, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, get a free order of egg rolls.

Or as English writer Charles Lamb once observed, “Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.” Love the optimistic take.

Now no one, besides perhaps Carnac the Magnificent, knows how this day actually came about. Word has it that back in 1582, around the birth of John McCain’s great, great, great grandparents, King Charles IX of France put out the word that the New Year, which was then celebrated from March 25 to April 1, be moved to January 1, so that the peasants could get a bigger bang for their bucks on calendars.

Now this was during a time in history when internet access was limited and there was no television or radio, so word spread slower than I make changes. So people who forgot about the change or didn’t accept the new date system were goofed upon, as they were given funny gifts, invitations to nonexistent parties or a trip the guillotine. When asked for a comment, Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat sponge cake.”

Or as Mark Twain later wrote, “Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.”

Now some say it was actually Pope Gregory in 1562 who introduced the new calendar to the Christian world, but his website has been removed and his people did not return my calls.

As for myself, I don’t really participate in any April Fools’ pranks or jokes, as I prefer to fool or tell people white lies throughout the rest of the year. Over the first trimester of my nine year courtship, my future bride’s favorite question would always be, “Really?” And as I used to say, if you have to ask me that question, you already know the answer, a remark she always found quite endearing.

As to why I would mislead or run the misdirection play, who knows, it’s just in my DNA. I’ve always loved fooling people, of course, not maliciously, or as my wife likes to say, “He’s kidding.” Or as the great Winston Churchill once put it, “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

So April 1 is a day for hoaxes, pranks, bloopers, blunders and practical jokes. Like putting ‘kick me’ signs on people’s butts. Humorist Will Rogers once remarked, “The trouble with practical jokes is that they very often get elected.

So courtesy of abs-cbnnews.com and wierdfacts.com, here are some of the more amusing April 1 jokes and pranks played over the years.

In 1957, the BBC television program Panorama ran a famous hoax, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. Millions were duped by the report, with many of them asking how they can grow their own spaghetti trees. Still even more called in asking if they knew of any trees that grew sauce.

In 1996, Taco Bell pulled the wool over Americans’ eyes when they took out full-page ads in major newspapers, claiming they had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. Now that’s thinking outside the bun.

In 1998, Burger King introduced the “Left-Handed Whopper.” This juicy burger supposedly included the usual condiments in original Whopper sandwich, but these were “rotated 180 degrees” to suit left-handed customers. And that’s why God gave us two hands to hold a Whopper.

In 2010, Google “officially” changing its name to “Topeka”, then in 2011 released a new product called “Gmail Motion” that supposedly let users send and receive e-mails using gestures. Last year, Google announced the shutdown of its popular video-sharing site YouTube, which drove young social media users into the panic over the possibility of having to read a book.

And finally, back in 1969, Dutch TV reported that the government had introduced a new way to detect hidden televisions by simply driving through the streets with a new detector. At that time, all households had to pay for a television license. The only way to avoid your television from being detected, was to pack the television in aluminum foil. Within a few hours all aluminum foil was sold out throughout the country.

So let that be a reminder to you ladies out there. Sometimes a knight in shining armor turns out to be a loser in aluminum foil.

So what’s a fool to do? For my money, I’ll go with the Beatles. “The fool on the hill sees the sun going down. And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.” And then he blogs about it. Enough said.

Which leads us into today’s photos, a collection of shots featuring birds in flight, accompanied by the sun dropping into the Pacific. This past fall was a fantastic time for pelican viewing at dusk, and these photos reflect some of the magic moments along with a few gulls that came along for the ride.

On to some late night humor. “Intelligence officials say they had a hard time predicting Russia’s invasion because Vladimir Putin doesn’t own a cellphone or use the Internet due to fear of being tracked. You can tell Putin doesn’t spend much time online. When he says “LOL,” he means “Look out, Latvia.” They’re considering a new 10-cent fee on grocery bags here in New York. My mom said, “Who’s laughing at the eight-thousand bags under the sink NOW?” – Jimmy Fallon

“First lady Michelle Obama is in China right now. Today she was busy doing some official business. She placed a wreath on the grave of General Tso, the creator of spicy chicken.” – David Letterman “There’s a new website that helps you write elaborate works of personalized fiction. It’s called Match.com.” – Conan O’Brien

“The NFL made a big announcement yesterday that will greatly impact how players celebrate in the end zone. The league has banned players from dunking over the goal post. If I want to watch a sport without dunking, I’ll watch the WNBA. Toronto held the first mayoral debate of 2014 tonight. Rob Ford faced four challengers. None of the other candidates specifically mentioned drugs. They let Mayor Ford say over and over again that he’s the only candidate with a proven track record. He’s also the only candidate with a proven crack record.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Americans have been given another month to sign up for Obamacare as long as they check a box on the website saying they tried to sign up before the original deadline. It’s expected to be answered as truthfully as boxes that say “Yes, I am 18.” In an interview with “Meet the Press,” former President Jimmy Carter said he won’t send emails because he believes the NSA is reading them. And also because he can’t find the “send” button on his typewriter. Google announced last night that it will launch a new security feature to make it harder for situations like the NSA spying program to happen in the future. Then they went back to driving around and taking pictures of the street you live on.” – Seth Meyers

So if you’re keeping scorecard at home, this is my 420th post. We’ll catch you being the best shooter in the NBA while wowing the crowds and willing your team to victory at crunch time. Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

March 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 2, 2014

The Wheat Shall Perish

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:46 am

Good morning and greetings, cereal grain lovers. Today we are talking wheat, which is grown throughout the world, as it’s delightfully nutritious and a highly useful grain. It’s a staple food used to make flour for bread, cookies, cake, pad see ew, cereal, chips, donuts, green onion pancakes, pasta, pizza, bagels, soup, fried chicken, chocolate bars and chow fun noodles.

So basically, we are talking about everything that I’ve eaten on a daily basis for the last sixty years, except when I’m atoning on Yom Kippur, when I get by on my good looks and a hot bowl of steam.

According to the folks at Wikipedia, where I shop for my kosher meat, wheat is grown on more land area than any other commercial food. It is one of the three most produced crops in the world. Wheat is the leading source of vegetable protein in human food, having a higher protein content than the other major cereals, which includes corn, rice, Coco Crispies and Count Chocula.

Wheat has been cultivated for over 10,000 years, or around the birth of John McCain’s great grandparents. It is one of the first cereals, along with Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, known to have been domesticated. Archaeological records suggests that this domestication first occurred in a small region of southeastern Turkey, by the Isle of Cranberry Sauce. Wheat’s ability to self-pollinate has been the envy of the other cereals, as it has facilitated the selection of many distinct domesticated varieties, including Apple Jacks, Cap’n Crunch and Sugar Smacks.

Now why am I talking wheat? Well, back in December, my primary care physician threatened to put me on a statin, as my cholesterol was higher than she liked. It’s always been on the high side, but I had been taking red rice yeast, a supplement that been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for poor circulation, indigestion and to remove rust from cars. It’s also good for lowering cholesterol, which it did for me a few years back.

But since then my cholesterol has gone back up, and the Dr. Adkins Haagen-Daz diet didn’t seem to be working. So my doctor gave me two months to get my numbers turned around, or be flogged in a public square.

At around this time my wife gave me a book entitled, ‘Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health.’ Written by cardiologist Dr. William Davis, this lunatic, er physician, wrote that it you cut out the wheat, the weight will melt away.

Now I was a bit skeptical but a somewhat desperate, as I did not want to go on any medication, for my body is a sacred place of non-perscription devotion.

So I decided to give it a try and cut out as much wheat as I could for two months. This meant no bread at any meals, no sandwiches, pasta, rice, chips, cakes, or cookies. What I could eat was meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, avocados, cheese and nuts. Fruit was out because of the sugar, but I ignored that because I had to eat something. I’m not a big salad guy, although I am starting to come around to the ruffage revolution in my sixth decade.

So basically I was living in low carb city. Well, the first few weeks were rough, as I was hungry like Virginia Wolf all the time. But I knew it was for a worthy cause and continued sucking down chicken and broccoli like it was milk and cookies.

Over the past month I have eaten more roasted broccoli than I have in my entire life, and I’ve fallen in love with this deep-green stalked vegetable whose large flower head is full of large clusters of tight buds.

And beyond joining the cabbage club, I started walking at least an hour every morning. And then Holy Lipitor, Batman, after a few weeks, my weight started dropping like the Dow Jones. Every morning I would get on the scale and see a lower number, which gave me a sense of accomplishment, which would inspire me to go around hungry all day. I truly thought that I would never, ever lose this weight without doing something drastic, like going on a program or swearing off cream cheese. Never, ever, ever.

So last Thursday morning I hit a new low on the scale, and then skipped off to get my blood tested. I will be disappointed if my cholesterol levels haven’t gone down, but will react calmly before launching a class-action lawsuit against Dr. Davis for loss of glutin and chocolate.

So now I’m waiting and hoping. I believe it was Albert Brooks or Albert Einstein who once said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Which reminded of the proverb, “He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything.” And that’s what separates the wheat from the chaff.

Moving on, today’s photo follies feature a sunset shot back on November 26. I had already posted some images of it back in December, but there were so many good shots of pelicans on the move at dusk that I had break them out for an encore.

The rust and orange colors on the horizon were exceptional this night, and as we HBO viewers know, Rust Cohle never sleeps. It was a night of pure tangerine joy as the pelicans just kept coming while the sky quietly blew up.

On to some late night humor. “The Arizona legislature passed a bill that would allow business owners asserting their religious beliefs to deny service to gay customers. Some businesses have already put up signs that read: ‘Nice shirt, nice shoes, no service.’” –Seth Meyers “CNN is canceling Piers Morgan’s talk show. Yes, it’s been 238 years since the Declaration of Independence, but it still feels good telling the British guy to get out.” –Craig Ferguson

“Yesterday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked about the slow pace of his weight loss and said, quote, ‘Rome was not un-built in a day.’ In fact, Christie and Rome have a lot in common: one was built by Julius Caesar, and the other was built by LITTLE Caesar.’ It’s rumored that Sandra Bullock will end up making $70 million from the movie “Gravity.” “That’s great!” said the real astronauts making $59,000 a year. -Jimmy Fallon

“A former Target employee is accusing the store of hiring only attractive people as managers. Apparently he’s talking about a Target store I’ve never been in. In California the owner of a Christian medical marijuana dispensary says God told him to sell pot. The dispensary owner said it’s right there in the book of Dude-eronomy.” Conan O’Brien

“In a new interview, the Dalai Lama says watching TV is a waste of time. What we should do is make more shows that appeal to the Dalai Lama. How about shows like “Two and a Half Monks,” “The Big Buddha Theory” and “CSI: Tibet”? Or what about “Parks and Reincarnation”? A married couple in California were walking through their backyard and they found a treasure trove of rare gold coins. It’s the biggest discovery of valuable coins since Stedman cleaned out Oprah’s couch.” – Craig Ferguson

So that’s the show. We’ll catch you finally staying healthy and putting up numbers like one of the top young power forwards in the NBA. Aloha, mahalo and later, Anthony Davis fans.

December 8, 2013

Something Cold, Something New

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:13 am

Good morning and greetings, December fans. Well, there was a bit of a change in the weather last week, as the temperature dropped below freezing. How cold was it? I spent most of last week walking around with a toaster in my shorts.

Now I don’t want to say that it’s cold in my house, but I actually go outside to warm up. It’s an igloo with central heating. The furnace barely makes a dent in heating the frozen tundra which is our downstairs. It was so cold last week that I had to salt the hallway. I shouldn’t be able to hear my breath.

The fun continued. When I turned on the shower I got hail. My daughter’s new rabbit tried to hop in bed with me. I had to put on skates to go to the bathroom at night. I tried to take the garbage out but it didn’t want to go.

When I came downstairs Thursday morning, I looked at the thermometer and it read “ouch.” If that thermometer had been an inch longer I might have frozen to death. I turned on my computer to check the local temperature and it was 26 degrees. That’s a bit cool for a Mediterranean climate. I looked outside and saw Smoky the Bear grab a box of matches and run shivering into the woods. The mailman came by, I told him to watch out for polar bears.

I got in my car and started it by yelling “mush.” I would have been better off driving a zamboni. It was so cold I chipped my tooth on some soup. So I headed over to Starbucks where they wear serving coffee on a stick. The line was too long, so I drove over to Costco, where kids were fighting for turns on the rotisserie.

There was a politician standing out in front of the store who actually had his hand in his own pocket. The store was crowded and pickpockets were sticking their hands in stranger’s pockets just to keep warm. After I left the store I saw a hitchhiker holding a picture of his thumb and a sign that read, “Anywhere above 40 degrees.” Yes, the morning was a bit chilly.

So how cold was it last Wednesday? Well, icy air sweeping down from the arctic helped Oakland set a new record low of 33 degrees. San Jose and San Francisco tied their low record marks for the day at 29 and 40 degrees. It was 16 degrees in Morgan Hill and inside our home high school basketball star Morgan Green was writing in a flannel notebook. The National Weather Service said there was a chance of snow flurries in my kitchen.

On the national weather front, it was 15 degrees below zero at the Denver Airport on Thursday morning. The jet stream was pulling air into Colorado from Siberia, making it nice and toasty for Denver Bronco fans. Maybe they should weatherstrip the Canadian border. And if you’re keeping a weather map at home, the record low temperature for the Rocky Mountain state is −61 °F, set back in 1985 in northwestern Colorado. I believe Snapple and Peyton Manning freezes at that temperature.

My morning walks along West Cliff were exhilarating, as the skies were clear, the air cold and crisp and my epidermis frozen. With the skies being absent of clouds and drones, I spent time analyzing the early season play of the Warriors’ Steph Curry and his backcourt mate, Klay Thompson, not be to confused with Nucky Thompson, who seemed at odds with himself in the excellent season four finale of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

So for today’s photo ensemble, we are heading back to warmer times and November 26. This day started out in spectacular fashion, with a world class sunrise that I featured in last week’s post. As the day moved along glorious clouds remained in the sky, so it appeared there would be some commotion down along the ocean.

The sky turned beautiful colors at sunset, but the most amazing part was the pelican action. As I stood on the cliffs along West Cliff Drive at Stockton Avenue, thousands and thousands of pelicans were in transit heading north. As I turned and looked south, I could see them coming in endless waves against the gray sky. Glory, glory, hallelujah.

But as they passed and I looked north, their formations blended into the multi-colored sky, which was turning various shades of exotica. This was a magical time, as the pelican migration was in full force while the sky was blowing up. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday evening.

On to some late night humor. “The president said despite the initial problems, it’s working better now and going to continue to improve. A million people visited on Monday, mostly to see if they were covered from injuries suffered at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Amazon announced plans for an amazing service called Amazon Prime Air. When you order something from Amazon that weighs five pounds or less, a robot will drop your package on your doorstep. It’s all part of Amazon’s pledge to drive your dog insane.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“You know in some countries seeing an unmanned drone means your village is about to be destroyed. In America it means you ordered Mad Men on Blu-ray.” –Jimmy Kimmel “A new miniseries premiered tonight called “Mob City.” It’s about the 1940s when gangsters came from the east to L.A. In those days L.A. was overrun by gangsters — swarthy animals who stopped at nothing to shake people down for a few bucks. Today that role is filled by Kardashians.” – Craig Ferguson

According to a new report, America’s teenagers are 30th in the world in math. Luckily, America’s teenagers will never understand the report because they’re 85th in reading.” –Conan O’Brien “A new study found that the state where people cursed the most, where they used the most profanity, is Ohio. Most of those curse words are directly followed by the word “LeBron.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So it’s my birthday on Thursday and I plan on celebrating it the usual way, with a 24 hour fast, silent meditation and some Chinese take out. We’ll catch you showing NBA fans in the early season why you might be the next up and coming superstar. Aloha, mahalo and later, Paul George fans.

November 24, 2013

Why Do Birds Fly North?

Good morning and greetings, college basketball fans. If you’re someone like me who thinks the NBA season is too short (eight months,) then you can always double your hoops pleasure and double your fun by tuning in to the college game. This year’s crop of incoming freshmen are an exceptional group, as NBA general managers are salivating at the thought of adding a piece of this young talent to their squads. In the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “One person can make a difference.” I think Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan’s agent would back him up on that.

Now normally, I’m too busy to take in the college game, as being a life long learner and a gold card member of the NBA League Pass Club doesn’t leave me much time to watch these collegians toil away in the college ranks before being allowed to apply for NBA membership. And if I’ve learned anything from the folks at American Express, it’s that membership has its privileges.

So these highly-sought-after prospects attend universities of higher learning for a year and then before you can say, “one and done,” they’re are out the door and on their way to million dollar paydays. Not all are ready to go, but when you’re offered the opportunity to earn more money than you can spend in a thousand lifetimes, it’s tough to say no.

But they’re not all happy endings. Some of these players should have stayed in school, as an education might have been more helpful than being planted at the end of the bench or playing in the NBA’s Developmental League. In the words of NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, “I’m not comfortable being preachy, but more people need to start spending as much time in the library as they do on the basketball court.” And he should know, because the Kareem always rises to the top.

Speaking of the NBA D-League, the 2013-14 season opened up on Friday night at the downtown Kaiser Permanente Arena, and the Santa Cruz came away with a 121-102 win. The building was sold out and the crowd was rocking, as the Warriors have an exciting young team that is well worth the price of admissions for fans who don’t want to make the drive to Oakland but want to see NBA caliber basketball. As the saying goes in the D-League, “The dream starts here,” which is the same thing that happens every night when my head hits the pillow.

For my preview of the upcoming Santa Cruz Warrior season, go to http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/11/19/previewing_the_santa_cruz_warriors_season or check last week’s edition of the Santa Cruz Weekly.

So my morning strolls along West Cliff were once again wonderful last week, as the rush hour traffic of gulls, cormorants and pelicans was bumper to bumper. Now I realize that I’ve been writing about this aviary activity for months, but the action is still hot and heavy. Each morning, I see thousands of birds in flight, and the same thoughts always come to mind. Where are they going, how do they decide on who is the leader, and are they having trouble signing up for Obamacare?

During the morning commute, most of these frequent fliers are headed south towards Macy’s and the Capitola Mall. The number of cormorants flying by last week was off the charts, as these sleek sea birds flap their wings at a furious pace and always seem to be in a hurry. But I have no idea where they’re headed, and I always get the feeling that they’re late for an appointment, as they never have time to chat or share a scone. I just stand along the coast and stare in amazement, as people pass by and wonder, “Doesn’t he ever wear long pants?”

So for today’s photo society, we are harkening back to the evening of November 2. There was a pleasant gathering of clouds in the western sky, and I knew there was action heading in my direction. But the bonus on this night was the unending chains of pelicans flying north. We’re talking about thousands of birds flying by in single file, in flocks that were longer than the lines on Thanksgiving Day that are going to form outside Walmart, Kmart and Get Smart. Sorry about that, chief. Missed it by that much.

I was lucky enough to capture a group of silhouetted pelicans as the passed by the sun on the horizon. After the sun set, this harmonic convergence of flight continued as the sky turned into a magical array of colors. Then as darkness came, they kept on coming, cradling little flashlights in their beaks. It was ever so lovely. It brought to mind an old Chinese proverb, “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” And the glow from that night is still alive, warming my heart and a few other organs.

On to some late night humor. “Here we go again. Freshman Congressman Trey Radel of Florida has been arrested for possession of cocaine in Washington, D.C. He admitted he is an alcoholic and pled guilty to possession of cocaine. The judge sentenced him to four years as mayor of Toronto.” –Jay Leno “Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he’s not going anywhere, even after his recent crack scandal. He said he hopes to run for prime minister of Canada one day. When asked what party he’d choose, he said, ‘Why choose one? I usually hit, like, five parties a night.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Former President George W. Bush is on the show tonight. We’re very excited about that. As you know, his nickname is 43 because he was the 43rd president. President Obama is nicknamed 44 because that’s how many people have signed up for Obamacare.” –Jay Leno “Obama and other Democrats have even stopped using the term ‘Obamacare,’ when referring to the new healthcare law. Yeah, now they’re calling it ‘The Affordable Care Act.’ Americans were like, ‘Just let us know when you can call it ‘fixed.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“The New York Times is calling this Obama’s Katrina. Which of course is great for George Bush. He loves this. He called up Obama today and said, ‘You’re doing a heck of a job, brownie.’” –Bill Maher “So far, only 106,000 people have signed up for Obamacare. Even more disappointing is that it turned out to be one man who accidentally signed up 106,000 times.” –David Letterman

“Obama is wrestling with the healthcare rollout debacle. He urged Americans not to be put off by the Obamacare website and offered alternative ways to enroll, such as using the mail. Then the president got on his horse and rode off to spread the news to the next town.” –Conan O’Brien “A growing number of women are joining the CIA. The CIA is now 46 percent women. Which explains that new method of torture: the silent treatment.” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our pre holiday report. Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family, and remember, the best attitude is gratitude. With lots of stuffing.

We’ll catch you setting a Santa Cruz single game scoring record with 36 points in your first game of D-League action. Aloha, mahalo and later, Seth Curry fans.

November 17, 2013

Feedings, Nothing More Than Feedings

Good morning and greetings, sea bird fans. As the millions, er thousands, er hundreds, er dozens of readers to this site know, last week I posted my 400th blog. The director from the Office of Sponsored Programs from a unnamed university (Western Kentucky) had asked me earlier in the week what I was going to do celebrate this blessed event. I told her I wasn’t doing much and was just hoping for dial tone when I woke up.

But then I thought to myself and was reminded by the Hollywood press corps that 400 postings is quite an accomplishment, if for nothing else than the consistency that goes into the making of the experience. I’ve come to realize that no man is an island. I’m much more of a peninsula.

As Mark Twain once tweeted, “Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to share it with.” Thus, that would be you, members of my cyber audience and NSA analysts. Or in the words of Albert Einstein, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is that nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Believe me, it’s an act of God that I’ve penned this many words without receiving one plugged nickel. lt can only mean one thing. Loneliness has no boundries.

Of course, I’m just kidding. Not everything in life has to have a price tag on it or be measured in dollars and cents. I’m getting something that’s much more valuable than money out this experience. And if someone could let me know what that is, I would really appreciate it.

So after launching four century marks worth of free flowing thoughts and photos into cyber space, I knew I had to do something special to mark the occasion. I thought, maybe purchase some new cologne, an expensive bottle of wine, preferably Manischewitz, or some fuzzy bedroom slippers. Or maybe just renew my AARP card.

Yes, I’m living large. Remember, it’s not about the breaths you take, it’s about the moments that take away your breath.

So I invited my birth mother, who I rarely have lunch with more than four or five times a week, to join me for a celebration down at our most visually favorite dining location, the Santa Cruz Wharf. I was in the mood for seafood, and just my luck, the panko breaded parmesan crusted chicken was featured as the catch of the day.

But food was not to be the highlight of this outing, as when we approached the entrance to the wharf, I could see swarms of pelicans and seabirds going wild, diving into the ocean after anchovies. The pelicans were coming up with a pouch fulls of fish while the gulls moved in screaming for leftovers. The action was non-stop, and as we ate lunch, I could barely concentrate on my meal, as the activity outside the window was dreamier than my double order of mashed potatoes.

Adding to the festivities, dozens and dozens of sea lions were herding the schools of anchovies so they could enjoy a meal on the go. They were swimming in battalions, and the activity was happening on both sides of the pier. These feeding frenzies went on all afternoon. The action was so outstanding that I passed on the praline chocolate mousse dessert with a dark chocolate cookie crumb base and just munched on some crispy kale chips, because that’s the way I roll.

It was an exhilarating experience, a celebration of nature for the ages. But then the day got a little better when I learned 19 killer whales had been spotted in Moss Landing at an all-you-can-eat sea lion buffet. This day was the culmination of perhaps the greatest two months in the history of Monterey Bay. We’re talking about miles long schools of anchovies, endless chains of pelicans, jacked up pods of sea lions, more humpbacks whales ever spotted in the bay, and for the grand finale, a large group of orcas going wild. This was the bay at its nature’s best.

I came back to the wharf on Thursday to check out the scene, and the gulls, pelicans and sea lions where still going anchovie wild. However, when I returned Friday, all the pelicans and flowers were gone, and the sea lions were sleeping on the pilings under the wharf, stuffed from the appetizers and hors d’oeuvres.

So for today’s photo menu I’m serving up a healthy portion of pelicans, sea gulls and sea lions. The bird action was from last week, and since size matters, I’m featuring the largest pod of sea lions I’ve ever observed from this spot. As interesting as these photos are, it doesn’t truly capture the outrageousness of the moment, which is more suited to video. But if you take a close look at the first two shots, you can see the pelicans were jammed in together like sardines, making these photos rich in vitamins, minerals and memories. It’s the magic at the edge.

On to some late night humor. “Yesterday at the White House, President Obama met with various leaders of the American Indian tribes. He promised them, ‘If you like your medicine man, you can keep your medicine man.’ A new record was set today in the 100 meters. It was set by Senate Democrats running away from Obamacare.” – Jay Leno

“As you may know, Thanksgiving began in 1621 when the Pilgrims feasted with the Indians and promised them, ‘If you like your land, you can keep your land.’” – Jay Leno “It turns out that a lot of children could lose their dental insurance under Obamacare. So kids might not be able to go to the dentist. Parents were really upset, while kids said, ‘Four more years! Four more years!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Today a reporter asked Chris Christie, ‘What do you think of 2016?’ And Christie said, ‘I think it’s a good weight to get down to.’” –Jay Leno “In a new interview today, Sarah Palin refused to endorse Chris Christie. Afterward, Christie told Palin, ‘Thanks, I owe you one.’” –Conan O’Brien “’60 Minutes’ had a story that turned out not to be true about Benghazi. They had to apologize. And then today they were embarrassed again. It turns out the stopwatch on ’60 Minutes’ is not accurate.” –David Letterman

So that’s my pelican brief. We’ll catch you making the Warriors looking like early season title contenders with your all-around play. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andre Iguadola fans.

November 3, 2013

I Haven’t Got Time For The Chains

Good morning and greetings, NBA fans. Well, the baseball season is finally over, as a bunch of guys with beards from the New England area took home the World Series crown. Now being a New York Yankee fan, this series between the Cardinals and the Red Sox did not hold a lot of interest for me, as I am more fascinated by Alex Rodriquez’s lawsuit against Major League Baseball, where he alleges he was forced to take steroids in order to compete with the caliber of Derek Jeter’s girlfriends.

If anything, I think A-Rod should be charged with impersonating a major league hitter after going 3-for-25 in the 2012 playoffs. This was before he was eventually benched for running out of the basepath to date Madonna.

The end of the baseball season signaled the start of the NBA season, which kicked off last Tuesday night with two games but really swung into full gear on Wednesday, with 14 games on the slate. This brings out the beauty of Direct TV’s NBA League Pass, which allows the casual fan to watch every game from the comfort of their home. For the NBA faithful, this is the gift that keeps on giving, as much like the NSA surveillance programs, there is action every night.

Now I don’t want to get too excited, but expectations this season for the Golden State Warriors, like the Dow Jones, are at an all-time high. And judging by the way they blew the Kobe-less LA Lakers off the floor on opening night, there may be good reason for the Warrior faithful to get aboard the love train and ride this wave of love and unselfish play into the month of June, when teams and my teeth get crowned.

If you took in any action from last week, you saw fabulous plays, big upsets, buzzer beaters, an unconscious mascot and enough heartbreak and disappointment to make you want to go right back at it the next night. The NBA journey for the ring begins in late October and doesn’t take a breather until June. That’s a good eight months of wall-to-wall NBA action, which is available to me without ever having to leave my fallout shelter. It all goes back to what I learned in Hebrew school. NBA is life, the rest is just details and Kabbalah.

Moving from courtside to the upper promenade, over the last seven days, I’ve witnessed the sight of thousands of brown pelicans migrating along the coast. We’re talking morning, noon and night. On Saturday evening, they flew by in long chains, amidst a backdrop of colorfully changing clouds. It was a real post Halloween treat, but without the sugar, calories or chocolate guilt.

These chains, like the need for my rabbi’s approval, are endless. It’s an Aretha Franklin festival as they fly high and low over the water, usually in some sort of V-formation or in single, double or x-file, which I call the Fox Mulder special.

Now my memory isn’t what it never was, but I never remember ever seeing this many pelicans doing fly bys along the coast. You can just park yourself along West Cliff Drive at seemingly any time of the day, and witness these never-ending flight patterns of this wonderful species, who go back around 30 million years, or around the birth of John McCain’s grandparents.

Adding to the festivities, last Monday I was treated to a fantastic light show as I strolled along the cliff. The sun was shooting through a mass of morning clouds, and the light kept changing faster than the number of shirts I tried on before selecting the one I wore to dinner for my 25th wedding anniversary celebration at the Shadowbrook the following night. The morning was quite delicious, and the same could be said of the baked brie appetizer and miso-marinated Hawaiian butterfish. And to think, Jack Bauer said we’d never make it past 24.

That Monday afternoon, my mother and I witnessed a pelican feeding frenzy. I knew she was excited to see the action first hand, as the sight of hundreds of pelicans diving into the water while the gulls screamed was simply amazing. Or in her words, “I’m not getting out of the car. I can see them from here.”

So today’s photo gallery are shots from a day long feeding frenzy along West Cliff. I never tire of viewing these moments as nature’s volume is always turned way up. It’s quite a show and admission is always free.

On to the late night humor. “According to a new report, more than 700 fake Obamacare websites have been created. Security experts say it’s simple to identify the phony sites because they are easy to log on to. I tried to log on to the Obamacare website today. I don’t think I’m doing it right. I lost 300 bucks playing Texas Hold ‘Em. People have been speculating lately about what President Obama will do when he leaves office in 2016. The one thing I think we can safely rule out – website designer.” –Jay Leno

“Saudi Arabia is now threatening to sever diplomatic ties with the United States over Syria. I hope that doesn’t cause them to do something drastic, you know, like overcharge us for oil.” –Jay Leno “Today Obama was in so much trouble he called Hillary Clinton and he said, ‘Could you start early?’” –David Letterman

“The U.S. has been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel for more than 10 years. Merkel actually called Obama to say that eavesdropping on allies ‘is not acceptable.’ Then Obama said, ‘Yeah, well that’s not what you said to England.’” –Jimmy Fallon “If the NSA agents are like most men they were probably only pretending to listen to what she was saying anyway.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“A new study found that 30 percent of Americans admit to getting most of their news on Facebook. You can tell news anchors are trying to compete with Facebook because tonight Brian Williams’ top story was just a picture of his cat.” –Jimmy Fallon

I had the pleasure of seeing lots humpback whales heading north up the coast last week. This is always a thrill. As I like to say, “You breach, I teach.”

We’ll catch you showing the baseball world that you still had something left in your bat as you helped your team capture the 2013 World Series. Aloha, mahalo and later, David Ortiz fans.

September 29, 2013

Birds Of A Feather Dine Out Together

Good morning and greetings, fall weather fans. Last Saturday, folks on the central coast were surprised as rain showers from a cold front blew in and soaked local basketball courts. It was the first significant amount of rain we had since the end of June, as the summer weather was a rather dry. How dry was it? A salmon knocked at my door asking for a drink of water.

But lo mein and behold, it’s been ever drier in the Bay Area, as they have received less rain from January 1 to mid-September than in any year in recorded history, which goes back to the gold rush and early years of Joe Montana.

According to Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury, only 3.94 inches of moisture has fallen since New Year’s Day in San Francisco, not including the amount of tears shed by 49er fans after recent losses to the Seahawks and Colts. San Francisco has the oldest rain gauge and strip clubs west of the Mississippi, dating back to 1850, around the birth of John McCain. At least that’s why Carol Doda told me.

San Jose and Oakland are also experiencing record dry years for 2013. Now I don’t need a weatherman to tell me which way my hair is blowing, but I would think that our little community would be on close to a record pace. In the words of either Julius Erving or Irving Berlin, “Nobody knows how dry I am.”

But according to clinical psychologists and local meteorologists, the lack of precipitation is not as bad as it looks. Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey says, “Don’t panic yet. We need to look at all the winter rain from the end of last year to put this in perspective.”

Which reminds me of a story. Two frogs fell into a bowl of cream. One didn’t panic, he relaxed and drowned. The other kicked and struggled so much that they cream turned to butter and he walked out. And then God created ice cream.

It rained 50 percent more than normal in November and December in the the Bay Area. Those early winter storms filled reservoirs and had Golden State fans getting soaked in the parking lots outside Oracle Arena.

Now unlike the chances of the Warriors making the playoffs this year, the odds of having a wet winter aren’t looking good. Water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean indicate an El Niño year of a wet winter is not in the cards. According to four out of five climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who chew sugarless gum, the chance of an El Niño developing through Dec. 31 is only 6 percent, or the same odds that the Oakland Raiders will be a playoff team this year.

But then again, if weather forecasters were really able to predict what lies out there on the weather front more than a month from now, they’d be in Las Vegas, playing roulette and doubling down on Wayne Newton. And when it comes to large cities, Las Vegas gets the least amount of rain in the country. But it does get the most degenerate gamblers pouring into town. So I guess you could say it’s a wash.

So once again, pelicans took center stage of my morning strolls along West Cliff last week. On Wednesday I had to stop twice in my tracks to admire the formations flying by, as they were easily each 200 to 300 strong. Their flight patterns were amazing, and as I stood there, an old Chinese proverb came into my mind. “You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but can can prevent them from building nests in your hair.” And that’s why I wear I baseball hat whenever I walk.

Then on Thursday, after having breakfast on the wharf with my brother Paul, we took a leisurely drive along West Cliff and as we approached the parking lot at Natural Bridges, all hell broke loose. In the water and the air were hundreds and hundreds of pelicans dive bombing head first after the anchovies. Every time a group would hit the water, the gulls would scream like they were at a Justin Bieber concert.

There were thousands and thousands of gulls and various shore birds stretched out a half mile along the coast, as they were twisting and shouting all morning and then late into the afternoon. It was a spectacular sight that also included some seals, sea lions and enough anchovies to make Caesar salad dressing to fill Lake Michigan.

The only thing missing were the whales, but field scout Jerry Hoffman reported seeing them breaching along the coast in Aptos that afternoon. And then the next morning, as I patrolled along the shoreline, the vast majority of birds were gone, with just a few stragglers to entertain the troops.

It had been one of those magical moments which lasted for hours. This event brought to mind a Turkish proverb that says, “God finds a low branch for the bird that cannot fly.” Yet this is the same guy who couldn’t find his way to let me dunk once. I guess no one said life is fair.

On to the late night humor. “So to express your opposition to Obamacare, you go to the book about a stubborn jerk who decides he hates something before he’s tried it, and when he finally gets a taste, he has to admit after he’s tasted it, ‘This is pretty f**king good.’” –Jon Stewart on Sen. Ted Cruz reading Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor. “Texas Senator Ted Cruz had quite a day yesterday. To protest a government bill that would fund Obamacare, he decided to take the floor of the Senate and keep speaking until he was no longer able to stand – at which point he would collapse, be taken to the hospital and be treated for exhaustion by Obamacare.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Ted Cruz read “Green Eggs and Ham” aloud. That has now replaced jumping on Oprah’s couch as the weirdest thing done by a Cruz on television.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Breaking Bad” airs its final episode on Sunday. It’s about a chemistry teacher who has cancer and starts making meth to help cover his medical bills and provide for his family. Or as Republicans call that, a legitimate alternative to Obamacare.” –Jay Leno “Thanks to “Breaking Bad,” the ratings for AMC have skyrocketed. You know what else has skyrocketed? — the number of high school kids now taking chemistry.” – Conan O’Brien

“The U.N. General Assembly is here in New York City. Today, President Obama gave a big speech on the Middle East. The leaders from the Middle East said, ‘You have touched our hearts, and from now on we shall have peace.’ And Obama said, ‘Really?’ and they said, ‘No, but the look on your face was priceless.’ Another study says parents are biologically programed to dislike their children’s spouses. I asked my father-in-law if that was true, and he was like, “Not now, I’m watching “Craig Ferguson.” – Jimmy Fallon

“The NBA is considering introducing jerseys with players’ nicknames rather than their last names. Players like the nickname jersey because it’s easier for fans to relate to them and harder for women looking for child support to find them.” – Conan O’Brien ” A North Carolina woman stabbed her roommate’s ex-boyfriend because she claimed he wouldn’t stop playing Eagles music. He’s OK, but apparently she stabbed him with those steely knives but she just couldn’t kill the beast.” – Jay Leno

So that’s my last blast for September. We’ll catch you making your last appearance on the mound at Yankee Stadium one of the great moments in baseball history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mariano Rivera 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.

Newer Posts »
Follow Sunrise Santa Cruz on Twitter
Sunrise Santa Cruz in the news!