May 24, 2015

Good Night, David Letterman

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Good morning and greetings, Golden State Warriors fans.  It’s been an exciting week for the Warrior nation, as behind the fabulous play of MVP Steph Curry, the Warriors now have a commanding 3-0 lead over the Houston Rockets in the best of seven western conference finals, with game four on tap for tonight.  Can anyone say “Sweep?”

It has been a long time between championships in Oakland, as we have to go back to 1975 to when the Warriors last claimed the NBA title.  Coincidentally, that was the same year that yours truly moved to the Golden State and planted myself down on West Cliff Drive, until they downloaded me to Hermosa Beach in 1989.

I remember the lazy, hazy days of the 1980′s.  I was living life on the edge of the continent, while spending my working hours on the radio doing ‘Sportstalk’, with my radio partner, the lovely Jerry Hoffman.

Right after we’d finish the show, I would hurry over to Jesse’s SportsPage, a bar with sawdust on the floor in Soquel, to check out a rookie named Michael Jordan.  He was a phenom, as I watched this fantastic rookie from North Carolina tear up the NBA in his rookie year.

Now after one year of a diet of ginger ale and chips, I decided the bar scene wasn’t for me, so I invested in a 12 foot satellite dish, which I had installed in the driveway behind my rented house.  I now had Michael Jordan coming into my home every night, and loved following him on the road trips.  Unfortunately, in his second year, he broke his foot in Oakland and only played 18 games, but I wasn’t dismayed.  The future looked very golden.

Now back in the 80′s, the NBA was tape delaying the playoffs, with games starting at 11:30 PM.  There was a tremendous series going on between the Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle Supersonics, where the first three out of four games went to overtime.  I did not want to miss the fifth game, so I decided to go down to Burdicks Appliance store and get myself a VCR.

I just wanted the basic model so I could record the game and watch it the next day.  Well, I picked up a Magnavox recorder for the price of, if I’m not mistaken, of $1300.  Yes, that is correct, sports fans.  It was state of the art, as I was the first guy on the block with taping capabilities.

Now along with a gigantic satellite came a multitude of programs from all across the sky.  And I soon learned that I could pick up the New York feed of the David Letterman show at 9:30 PM, which my future bride Allison and I enjoyed together. Letterman was an amusing interviewer, skewering some guests along with wacky comedy skits and segments.
So I was taping the Letterman show, and with the addition of another VCR, I started running a master tape of all the best moments, just even one joke or one line of an interview with all the major celebrities, like Cher calling Dave an ass**** or Madonna dropping the F-bombs.  I was also taping Johnny Carson at this time, along with Jay Leno and others.  But it was mostly Letterman, as he was the man.

I continued this practice down in Hermosa Beach, compiling hours and hours of what I thought was the best comedy on TV.  It was fresh and exciting, so inviting to me.

In my master closet today I have over 200 VHS tapes. They range from sitcoms, comedy movie classics, classic NBA games, musical concerts and numerous hours of edited Saturday Night Live from the Belushi-Ackroyd days.  If I had to go into the comedy bunker, I would be entertained for weeks into months.

But with my previous TiVo taping system and now my Direct TV Genie DVR, there is so much to watch on the DVR that I haven’t had time to journey back to the past.  But last week being Dave’s final shows, I went to the closet and pulled out a random tape marked. “Letterman, 1992-93.”
It started out with Howard Stern talking about making a movie, then Sharon Stone “You have lovely legs,” discussing her doing the voiceovers “Yes, yes, yes,” for her movie, Basic Instinct.”  Then it was Rodney Dangerfield on Carson, “Well, Johnny, I can hold my own with women, which is what they tell me to do.”Then it was on to Letterman making fun of Teri Garr, then Dave going door to door in New Jersey doing polling results and then the Smother Brothers, with Tommy doing a great Johnny Carson impression.

But then came the most provocative segment, with Cybil Shepard in the guest seat.  Dave asked her about her time with the Elvis in Graceland, and here is the classic exchange.

Dave “Did you spend any time with him?  Did you get a sense of what he was about?”  Cybil, “I did get to Graceland for dinner.”  Dave, “What did you have?”  Cybil, “Chicken fried steak.  He had a lot of it.  He had a big appetite.  But there was one thing he wouldn’t eat.  Well,…”  A long pause until Dave gets clued in while Cybil is laughing hysterically.

Dave, “Geez, oh my, who would have guessed.  The king of rock and roll.”  Cybil is rolling with laughter. “I’m trying to figure out what you’re having with the chicken fried steak, and, and, and, and boom, it immediately takes a really ugly turn.”  Cybil, “Well, obviously,  our relationship didn’t last too long.”So there you have it.  The reigning king of late night is moving on, and in the words of Jimi Hendrix, and I’m paraphrasing, “Oh, move over Rover, and let the Jimmy’s take over.”

David Letterman was a spokesman, a voice for my generation.  He was funny, quirky, and very clever, and in the early years he could cut a guest to shreds if they weren’t interesting.  But in the last decade he made a lot of sense about what was happening in the world, bringing on important guests to talk about world issues.
But now he is gone, but the late night rating wars will continue.   I’ll miss him and my favorite guests Martin Short, Chris Elliot, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Don Rickles.  Somebody else will anoint the throne.So let me leave you with this quote from the former weatherman from Ball State University, who became a father at 55 and has been a fixture on late night TV since 1982.  In his words,  “I cannot sing, dance or act.  What else would I be but a talk show host?”

Goodbye, David Letterman.  Your country thanks you for your service to the late night comedy nation.
So there weren’t many April showers bringing May flowers, but this week in my garden a solitary bearded iris popped its head out of the ground and made an appearance.  So I thought I would feature some variety of these lovely flowers in this week’s photo segment.   Just like the old song, when Iris eyes are smiling.
On to some late night humor.  “I’ll be honest with you. It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get “The Tonight Show.” Do you know what I’m going to do when I retire? I hope to become the new face of Scientology.  Earlier today, we got a call from Stephen Hawking. He’s a genius, and after 6,028 shows he ran the numbers and he said it works out to about eight minutes of laughter.” – David Letterman

“In about 34 minutes David Letterman is going to air his last episode. In 1993, I took over his iconic late-night show. I was a complete unknown with no experience performing on TV. I was totally unprepared for that enormous job. I don’t think that could happen today. I don’t think the government would allow it.  I was in way over my head, and with my hair that’s saying something.” – Conan O’Brien

“During a charity boxing match on Friday, Mitt Romney lasted two rounds against Evander Holyfield and raised a million dollars. It was just like Holyfield’s fight with Mike Tyson, except Romney chewed off his other ear talking about his 18 grandchildren.” – Jimmy Fallon  “The government released hundreds of documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound. Among the items is a job application for al-Qaida. It’s like a regular job application except it asks questions like, “Where do you see yourself exploding in the next five years?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Police arrested a man on Long Island yesterday after he stripped naked and threatened Costco customers with a machete. Luckily, Costco customers were able to subdue him with a 50-pack of paper towels. Former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson posed naked in the shower for a campaign aimed at saving water in drought-stricken California. And as a bonus, it also reminded people to recycle plastic.” – Seth Meyers

Some birthday wishes go out this week, starting today with my better half, my lovely bride Allison.  I can say at this point in life she’s the happiest she’s ever been, and that takes into account putting up with me.   She gets more beautiful every day, and I’m not saying that just because she lets me hold the TV remote in bed.

Also today, it’s the 66th birthday of my Michigan born Marc Techner, who I might also say he’s the happiest he’s ever been, but that’s because of Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are heading for an NBA championship.
And coming up on Thursday, it is my sister-in-law Wendi’s special day.

.  She is healthy and doing wonderfully well.  I don’t know how she will be celebrating, but rest assured, some form of chocolate will be involved.

So we’ll catch you putting up two back-to back fantastic scoring performances, although each resulted in a loss.  Aloha, mahalo and later, James Harden fans.

September 28, 2014

Don’t Use That Atonement With Me

Good morning and greetings, Indian summer fans. On September 22, which according to my Kim Kardashian desktop calendar was last Monday, we experienced the fall equinox, as the sun’s rays shone directly over the Earth’s midsection, or around the area of what this social media personality is famous for. Or as Kim says, “People don’t understand the pressure on me to look perfect.”

Now during this time, everything is even Steven, as there is equal daylight and darkness hours throughout the world. What this means is that a change of season has occurred, as summer has turned to fall and the baseball playoffs are not far off. Which brings to mind this quote from actress Natalie Wood, “The only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he is a baby.”

Now not all folks in the northern hemisphere are excited about this change of seasons, as in some parts of this country, the weather is basically June and winter. But here in Santa Cruz, Indian summer has arrived, as we have warm weather with daily highs in the mid-seventies, when classic rock ruled.

Not taking into account our medical marijuana outlets, our average high for September is 76 degrees, give a toke or two. This leads to long sunny days and pleasant nights, when we can leave the windows open and experience the sounds of nature, like the raccoons tag team wrestling in my backyard.

These mask wearing bandits are known for their intelligence, because every time I forget to put up the gate on my doggy door, they take it as an invitation to come inside and sample the cuisine.

There’s nothing like coming downstairs in the middle of the night and finding a raccoon sitting in my chair eating chips and pineapple salsa while watching the NFL network. The only thing worse was the time I found a bobcat in my pants, but that’s another story for another time.

As I mentioned last week, we celebrated the Jewish New Year on Thursday, when we dipped apples in honey, and hoped for a sweet year ahead and a New York Giants win over the Washington Redskins that evening. Well, the Giants put 45 points on the board and Derek Jeter knocked in the winning run in classic fashion in his final at bat at Yankee Stadium, making this a New Year’s night to remember.

Now coming up on Friday night is Yom Kippur, which next to Christmas Day, when the NBA shows seven games nationally, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It’s the Day of Atonement, and it’s the one day of the year that the synagogues and temples are packed, as sort of a harmonic convergence of davening and guilt.

We are supposed to fast all day while we pray, to make amends with people we have sinned against over the past year. Fasting is a piece of cake for me, but praying is much more difficult, for my ADD mind is moving faster than the rabbi’s lips, and I read more fluently in Swahili than I do in Hebrew.

There are certain things we are forbidden to do on this holiday. We don’t eat, drink, be merry, bath, wash, luffah sponge, douse ourselves with perfumes, lotions or tanning butter, wear leather shoes, break dance and the toughest of all, engage in marital relations. And my wife is very serious about this, as she has a strict rule about me not dating during the high holy days.

We are also encouraged to wear white clothing, to symbolize one’s purity on this day and our love of tennis.

Now I don’t take this atoning all that seriously, as I know that God is my co-pilot and that he and the NSA have monitored me closely over the past year. But I know I’ll observe this holiday properly this year, as I’ll have made peace with God, my friends and I got $10 off my Direct TV bill this month.

My slate has been cleared with the people who are important to me. I’m not big on forgiveness. But I say, forgive, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because I deserve peace. Those are great words to follow. But rarely do I.

The great Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” So I’m a little weak. I can live with it.

But as a final thought, I’ll turn to the remark producer Paul Boese once said,”Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Interesting thought. Just like my prostate.

But remember, revenge is a dish best served Cold Nidre.

So for today’s photo lineup, I’m going to close out the month with a blast, I am featuring some classic shots from past Septembers. Lots of color, lots of fond memories from these magic moments in the sky along the coast.

On to some late night humor. “In an interview, Bill Clinton hinted that his daughter Chelsea’s baby is due in early October. Though it got weird when reporters asked if it’s a boy or a girl, and Hillary said, “I haven’t decided yet.” Bruce Springsteen is 65 years old today. Now when he’s dancing in the dark, it’s because of cataracts. It’s Sea Otter Awareness Week. It is taking the country by storm. Today Donald Trump put a sea otter on head. No one noticed.” – Craig Fergsuson

“Many of the leaders and assistants to the leaders from around the world were in attendance at the U.N. Climate Summit. They say this was arguably the most high-profile, significant meeting that will in no way change anything whatsoever.” – Jimmy Kimmel “According to a new report, Nigeria owes New York City over $500,000 in unpaid parking tickets for its foreign diplomats. Nigeria apologized and said they’ll pay the fines right away if they we send them our bank account number, our PIN, and our mother’s maiden name.” – Seth Meyers

“A man scaled the White House fence and ran across the lawn to the front door. Is it just me or is “The Amazing Race” running out of ideas? In another celebrity photo leak, nude photos of Kim Kardashian have been posted to the Internet. Kim said she’d be very embarrassed if only she knew how.” – Conan O’Brien

In an interview, Kim Cattrall said there could be another “Sex in the City” movie. An hour later, ISIS surrendered — there’s only so much they can take”. – Conan O’Brien “Tonight is Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium. He’s finally coming to the end of an amazing career that spanned over 20 actresses.” – Seth Meyers

So that’s it for September. We’ll catch you coming out of nowhere this season and catching three touchdown passes in the Giant’s win over the Redskins. Aloha, mahalo and later, Larry Donnell fans.

July 27, 2014

Sweet Home Santa Cruz

Good morning and greetings, large mammal fans. Well, the town was buzzing last week, as the humpbacks put on a show all around Monterey Bay. As the gulls were screeching, the humpbacks were breaching, along with tens of thousands of sooty shearwaters playing follow the leader on the upper level of the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

I feel a certain sort of kinship to the humpbacks as all the activity brought back memories of my entrance to this planet. I was breeching at my birth, as I came into the world butt first.

Yet, I have never been a fan of anchovies, as I’ve never been a fan of this oily, little baitfish, much less swallowed a mouthful of thousands in a single gulp.

But their presence brought the humpbacks to our lovely bay. The whales were first spotted over by Cowells Beach, as Tuesday’s lunch special on the wharf included a choice of soup or caesar salad and 80,000 pound mammals leaping out of the water for dessert. Or you could have substituted gelato.

According to my field scouts, the whales were entertaining the westside crowds at Lighthouse Point, Mitchell’s Cove, Natural Bridges and the CVS on Mission Street. I saw a few gliding by on my morning walks, but I supplemented that by lunge feeding while visiting the Facebook photo pages of Santa Cruz Waves.

Their photos of the humpbacks in breach moments have been fantastic. I haven’t taken any whale watching trips as of late, as I prefer paddle boarding around my bathtub.

So last’s week weather bordered on near perfection, as the days were warm and the coast and my mind were fog free. The air and warm water temperatures brought back memories of my youth, when an all-day trip to the beach was the summer highlight.

Despite the fact that we had to travel over the George Washington Bridge, then get onto the Cross Bronx Expressway, then over the Triboro Bridge before entering onto the Southern State Parkway, then the Meadowbrook Parkway and finally through the Khyber Pass before we finally reached our destination, it was always worth the drive.

I would arise at the crack of the dawn, hitting the bakery when they opened for our fresh sandwiches rolls. We always built up an appetite on a ride, so I made sure we had about eighty sandwiches for my brothers and friends.

We hit the parking lot at Jones Beach at 8am, and then had to wait for the umbrella stand to open so we could then drag it down the sand and park ourselves right at the water’s edge.

We then settled in and it was amazing, sitting oceanfront, while jumping the waves and choosing from a selection of steak, meatloaf, pot roast and vegan cream cheese and jelly sandwiches every fifteen minutes. It was a smorgasboard of delights, with enough fruit, cookies, chips and beverages to feed the Seal Team Six.

But my favorite part of the the day was when everyone left the beach and the sun started to sink in the sky. The golden hour was magnificent, and when we were kids my parents would take us over to another beach park to load up on hamburgers, fries and chocolate milk before setting off on the ride home. I couldn’t wait to get back and play with my sunburn.

So these thoughts leave me with a very good feeling about Santa Cruz, the place I call my home and try to avoid jury duty. I have lived in this cold water paradise for almost thirty years, and I’m still amazed at how beautiful it is.

My wife and I had dined twice in a gazebo last week, which has the fantastic view of the white water break at Natural Bridges Beach. Looking out, the mountains of Monterey were as clear as a bell and the ocean water an exotic blend of aqua blue. Allison peered out over the water and said, “It looks like Hawaii.” There is no greater a compliment.

So I am proud to call this cold water paradise where the redwoods meet the humpbacks my home. As I’ve always said, home is where your house is.

Which leads me to this. I received an email last week from a blog reader, who was hoping I could help getting some info out to others who would like to experience this central coast lifestyle and relocate to Santa Cruz. You can check it out at:

Anything for my readers.

So for today’s photo funpack, we are going back to the evening of February 13. I was shooting from Stockton Avenue as a full moon was rising to the east. The clouds on this night were fantastic.

The photos really don’t do justice to the immense size and colors of these masses of frozen water crystals, but you get the picture. The sky was awash with 360 degrees of various shades of pink, as sunset watchers gathered in droves all along West Cliff Drive to take in the action.

Seinfeld’s George Costanza might have described the enormous clouds as having a “pinkish hue.” To me they were real and spectacular.

On to some late night humor. “NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is back in the news. He says the military at the NSA often shared nude photos that Americans had emailed to one another. So if your girlfriend won’t send you naked pictures, just tell her, do it for the troops. “You can tell this drought is getting really bad. Today at lunch, my waiter asked if I wanted a glass of water or a future for my children. I took the water.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Kennedy said let’s put a man on the moon, and by God, 10 years later we put a man on the moon. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary. Nowadays a big deal for us is we combined the croissant and the doughnut to get a cronut.” –David Letterman ” According to a new poll, two-thirds of people in Colorado think it should be illegal to smoke marijuana in public, while the other one-third are still laughing at the word ‘poll.’” –Seth Meyers

The summer is flying by. We’ll catch you playing the role of Ray Donovan,a professional “fixer” for the rich and famous in LA, who can make anyone’s problems disappear except those created by his own family. Aloha, mahalo and later, Liev Schreiber fans.

April 6, 2014

The Son, The Moon And The Births

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To check out his Alaskan escapade, click on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 9, 2014

Milkweed Does A Body Good

Good morning and greetings, precipitation fans. Well, some rain fell on our drought ravaged central coast last week, but forecasters and soothsayers claim that it was not nearly enough to make up for what so far has been one of the driest rainy seasons on record. What the weather boys and girls are basically saying is that we would have to double the amount of rainfall over the next four months to get back to the normal.

Now that could happen, just like the Democrats and Republicans back in Washington getting together to agree on tax cuts, jobs growth, health care, federal spending and gun rights. I’ll just put away my umbrella for now. As I’ve often remarked, I love walking in the rain because then no one knows I’m crying.

Or as my daughter Aimee says, “I like to cry at the ocean because only there do my tears look small.”

On to another unfortunate subject. In a story written by Mark Stevenson for the Associated Press, there is trouble in the world of the danaus plexippus, which for you non-scientists, are monarch butterflies.

Back in late January, experts and four out of five lepidopterists (butterfly specialists) who recommend milkweed for their patients, say that the incredible and little-understood annual migration of millions of Monarch butterflies spending the winter in Mexico is in danger of disappearing. This was after their numbers dropped to their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1993, as reported by researchers from the Sinaloa Drug Cartel.

The big problem is the loss of the milkweed plant that the monarchs feed on for survival. The finger of blame is being pointed at the genetically modified crops and urban sprawl in the United States and extreme weather trends, along with the dramatic reduction of the butterflies’ habitat in Mexico due to illegal logging of the trees they depend on for shelter and orange flight.

After steep and steady declines in the previous three years, the orange-and-black butterflies now cover only 1.65 acres in the pine and fir forests west of Mexico City, compared to 2.93 acres last year. They covered more than 44.5 acres at their recorded peak in 1996. That was also the year that Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Michael Jackson, though I don’t think there is any connection.

Because the monarchs clump together by the thousands in trees, they pay very little in rent and utilities, and are counted by the area they cover.

While the Monarch is not in danger of extinction, the decline in their population is not a happy thought for butterfly or pinata lovers. For you statistics nuts, it has morphed into a long-term trend and can no longer be seen as just a year-by-year or seasonal event, like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano or the running of the Bulls in Chicago.

The announcement came on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or what we in the business call NAFTA, which saw the United States, Mexico and Canada sign environmental accords to protect migratory species such as the Monarch. And according to my sources at the U.S. Customs, the Border Patrol and Baja Fresh, that is the last thing these three countries were in agreement on.

Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia and one of my favorite experts on bugs says, “The main culprit is now genetically modified herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA, which leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch’s principal food plant, common milkweed.”

This is particularly true in the midwest, where most of the butterflies migrate from. Extreme weather, including severe cold snaps, unusually heavy rains and droughts in all three countries have also played a role in the decline. Hey, but if Sarah Palin says there’s no proof of global warming, that’s good enough for me.

As we know, the migration of monarch butterflies to our California coast has been in steep decline, so we should step up and start planting our own weed, er milkweed, to help out the cause.

In Mexico, their annual trek is the world’s biggest migration of Monarch butterflies and the third-largest insect migration in the world, after a species of dragonfly in Africa and mosquitos coming in through my screen door in the summertime. The migration is a source of pride and heritage to the people of this region and should not be lost or stolen.

Writer and environmentalist Homero Aridjis says, “The governments of the United States and Canada have washed their hands of the problem, and left it all to Mexico. I think President Obama should take some step to support the survival of the Monarch butterflies.”

President Obama is scheduled to visit Mexico on February 19, with events scheduled for Toluca, a city a few dozen miles from the Monarch’s reserve. Then he’ll knock back a couple of chimichangas, down a Corona and try not to see any decapitated heads along the roadside before heading back on Air Force One.

So I say this. There are plenty of monarchs throughout the world, so there is no danger of extinction. But as our Commander in Chief, if you were man enough to call the shots so that Osama Bin Laden to now sleeping with the fishes, you could probably figure out of way to make life easier for our little fluttering friends. Or as Michelle whispered to you in the White House garden, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

So on that note, today I’m featuring some monarch butterfly shots from some classic westside locations. We’re talking Natural Bridges State Park, the Alan Chadwick Gardens at UCSC and the parking lot outside Subway. As they say, “Think fresh, eat fresh. The way a sandwich should be.”

Or in the words of Conan O’Brien, “Subway has announced a major new campaign to get people to eat healthier. I’m no health expert, but maybe the first thing to do is not sell people piles of meat and bread by the foot.”

On to some late night. “The Seahawks had a great slogan: “Why not us?” That’s what they would say to each other before the game. That is much better than the Broncos’ slogan: “Hey, why not hike it over the quarterback’s head?” People were partying in Seattle on Sunday night after the game. They were singing, they were laughing, they were hugging complete strangers, dancing in the streets. Basically, the same thing they’ve done every night in Seattle since they legalized marijuana.” – Jay Leno

“It wasn’t much of a Super Bowl game. The Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8. You know how after the game the winning players go to Disney World? Some of the Seahawks went halfway through the third quarter. It cost $4 million for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. I’m always surprised at which companies elect to pay that. How did a pistachio company afford $4 million? What kind of mark-up are they getting on those nuts?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“After appearing in a commercial during last night’s Super Bowl, people are accusing Bob Dylan of selling out. Today Dylan responded by saying, “Everyone needs to calm down, have a Bud Light, and relax at a Sandals Resort.” – Conan O’Brien “The NFL announced that veteran referee Terry McAulay will lead the referee crew at Sunday’s Super Bowl. So if you had him in your referee pool . . . please contact Gambler’s Anonymous. You have a problem.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton is encouraging Hispanic families to read to their kids. She’s also telling Asian families to ease up on the math so the rest of us can catch up.” – Conan O’Brien “CVS is no longer selling cigarettes. They say, “It’s the right thing to do for our customers and our company in their path for better health.” I go to CVS all the time. If they want to promote better health, maybe they should stop selling Cheese Whiz, Circus Peanuts, Little Debbie jelly rolls and all the ingredients for meth.”- Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s the show. We’ll catch you blazing away like an all-star point guard and keeping your team in the playoff hunt in the western conference. Aloha, mahalo and later, Goran Dragic 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, 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.

July 14, 2013

Out Of The Light And Into The Dark

Good morning and greetings, food lovers. A few years ago, a young friend of mine suggested I write a blog about the variety of meals I prepare for my parents, family and the bands of gypsies who always want to spray my roof or pave my driveway. I never thought it would be that interesting to hear about my adventures with chili sauce, carmelized onions and broken eggs and dreams, as I’ve never followed a recipe when preparing a meal or a lifestyle.

But then I saw an story written in the New York Times that caught my culinary attention. It stated that if chicken producers could breed a bird with four legs, this would more than delight fowl growers, as the demand for thighs and legs is growing faster than KFC spread their finger lickin’ franchises throughout China. Who knew fried chicken and fried rice could ever co-exist so nicely in the land of rising dim sum?

One thought on KFC. A few years ago In Pakistan, anti-American protesters set fire to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. They thought they were attacking a high-ranking U.S. military official named Colonel Sanders. Despite intense interrogation of the employees afterwards, the attackers learned nothing about the Colonel’s eleven secret herbs and spices recipe and were left with just biscuits, cole slaw and a burnt out, extra crispy building structure.

Back in this country, the demographics are shifting and the new kids on the block prefer the darker blend of the bird. This has something to do with the influx of immigrants from Asia, Latin America and the North Shore of Oahu, as the look on grocery shelves is a changin’. Now you’re more likely to see lemon grass and sriracha peppers rather than Lemon Pledge and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club spices.

Now I’ve always been a dark meat man, whether it be chicken, turkey, or carrier pigeon. In my later years I’ve grown particularly fond of boneless thighs, although I haven’t figured out how those chickens roam the free range without a bone in their legs. And after years of exclusively living on the dark side, I admit that I can enjoy the virtues of white meat, as I’ve opened my mind to new ideas and sauces. Who says a leopard can’t change its stripes?

There are thousands of chicken recipes to choose from including piccata, tetrazzini, cacciatore, catchabreak and the American favorite, nuggets, which even chickens find puzzling. And it doesn’t take years of schooling at the French Culinary Institute to learn how to make chicken surrender to good flavor. All you have to do is find any kind of juice, marinade or some concoction that turns into a liquid, pour it over those waiting thighs, pop it in the oven for forty five minutes, and voila, poultry magic. Or as we said back in the old country, “Don’t cook tonight, call Chicken Delight.”

Personally, my favorite recipe involving the boneless wonders is one of my Italian specialities-chicken parmesan. Food critics from around the world and my son agree that this is a big time winner on the scallopini front, as the chicken, when covered by a layer of mozzarella cheese and savory tomato sauce, is as tender and moist as my eyes after watching an episode of “Friday Night Lights.” Clear eyes, full heart, garlic knots forever.

Chicken Parm is just one of my Italian selections, along with meatballs and spaghetti, baked mostaccioli and my pasta a la Sophia Loren. I believe my children would be happy if I served them pasta seven nights a week. I’m just glad it’s nutritious and doesn’t pack any pounds around the the waistline. In the words of British writer George Miller, “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.”

Now since this is a family show, I’m not going to get into the physiological or psychological reasons why there is a difference between white meat and dark meat. Let’s just say it’s all about the energy these birds are extending in parts of their anatomy and leave it at that.

Now according to a study done by the Drumstick Institute, most dark meat contains more zinc, riboflavin, flavoflavin, jennifer flavin, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, orange sunshine and iron than white meat. So although it may be fattier, there are some benefits to the tanner of meats. I believe it was either President Herbert Hoover or Robert Hoover from ‘Animal House’ who said, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” Yes, the time has come to decriminalize dark meat chicken. The skies are not falling.

To sum up my feelings about our nation’s preference changing from white to dark, let me paraphrase Nobel prize winning writer Rabindranath Tagore, who said, “Faith is the bird that feels that light when the dawn is still dark meat.” Thank you and good night.

For today’s photo portion of our program, we are taking a stroll down the street from where I currently reside. For some reason, whether it’s the tilt of the earth’s axis or my past life karma, on two mornings this past year I failed to make it to the edge of the continent for the dawn experience, and I had to settle for shooting on a bluff overlooking the westside. I tried to take advantage of the silhouette action from the trees, as the sky lit up with color and the sun rose without paying much attention to my position. I didn’t capture the vivid color of the clouds reflecting on the water, but I did bring a little something home to talk about around the dinner table.

On to some late night humor. “Great news for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. He’s just been named Cinnabon Customer of the Month in the Moscow Airport.” –David Letterman “NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been offered asylum in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Or as Snowden put it, ‘Prison it is!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“With Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer running for political office, New York City is changing its nickname to “The City That Never Sleeps With Its Wife.” Despite his prostitution scandal several years ago, Eliot Spitzer is running for comptroller of New York. He’s paying someone $800 a day to collect signatures to put his name on the ballot. He said it’s the second best $800 he’s ever spent.” –Conan O’Brien

“Mexico has replaced the U.S. as the world’s fattest nation. The U.S. is now number two. The Mexican government has done a lot of research. It turns out their people eat way too much Mexican food.” –Conan O’Brien “Mexicans now are trying to cross the border just to ask, “Are you going to finish that?” ‘ Jay Leno “It turns out the Pakistan police pulled Osama bin Laden over for speeding. Pulled him over and wrote the guy a ticket. So listen. I don’t want to hear any more of this nonsense about Pakistan being lenient on Osama bin Laden, OK?” –David Letterman

“One of the world’s leading scientists said he believes the human species was probably created when pigs mated with chimps. And that is how we got “Jersey Shore.” So it turns out that men really ARE pigs. There is scientific evidence.” – Jimmy Kimmel “A video has surfaced of Justin Bieber urinating into a mop bucket. Critics are calling it the best thing Justin Bieber has ever released.” – Conan O’Brien

“Last Thursday we celebrated our 237th year of independence from Great Britain. And our 10th year of dependence on the Chinese.” –Jay Leno
“It’s been a bit of a week for the Supreme Court. Yesterday they ruled that it’s okay for gay people to get married. Today, they ruled it’s okay for straight people to rollerblade.” –Craig Ferguson

“It’s now 32 NFL players that have been arrested since the Super Bowl. To give you an idea of how bad it’s gotten, now when a team says they’ve hired a new defensive coordinator, they’re talking about a lawyer. 31 players have been arrested just since the Super Bowl. In fact, a lot of teams are switching to the no-huddle offense because players aren’t allowed to associate with known felons. The show “Cops” is now on the NFL network. That’s how bad it’s gotten.” – Jay Leno

So another week has past as the summer rolls along. We’ll catch you playing in one of the most dramatic finals in Wimbledon history and giving the English fans something to boast about besides their muffins. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andy Murray 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.

March 31, 2013

Don’t Blame Me, I’m Just A Slow Lunar

Good morning and greetings, Final Four fans. This past March had a few memorable sunrise and sunset moments, which came as a surprise as last year at this time, there was less going on in the sky then what my resume shows from college graduation to the present. So I was happily surprised Tuesday night when I saw a cloud bank still open at sunset time. Unfortunately, my timing, like my answers decades ago on the SATs, were slightly off, and I arrived a few minutes too late to capture the prime time moments. It was then that I recalled the words of John Denver, “Sunshine, on the water, looks so lovely. Sunshine, almost always, make me cry.”

So as I dried my tears, my interest and the sun started to disappear into the spring clouds, as I sensed there would be less color forthcoming than could be seen at a Tea Party “Bigger is Better” rally. I was about to hightail it back to the warm confines of my humble westside abode, when all of a sudden, in the words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise,” as a full moon appeared on the horizon. It was, much like finding out that I had made an overpayment on my 2012 taxes, a very pleasant feeling, as I had not been following the phases of the moon as closely as the playoff races in the NBA’s western conference.

So I decided to hang around and watch this beautiful orange sphere rise over my spirit and Monterey Bay. It had been a while since I had photographed a full moon, and it added a little extra skip to my step on a night when I really hadn’t gotten my money’s worth and had been left wanting more. Well, the full moon rising made up for it. It reminded me of the time I met the Buddha on the road. He told me, “Three things cannot be long hidden: The sun, the moon, and the truth. After that I didn’t want to kill him.

So as the moon is one of our constant companions in the sky, let’s take a look at some fun facts about our crater and cream-filled orbiting friend.

The moon is our closest neighbor in space. Much like a waiting room at a Greyhound bus station, it is a rocky, airless world that is the earth’s only natural satellite, unless you have Direct TV. My personal trainer and many astronomers believe the moon was formed after an object bigger than Bill O’Reilly’s ego smashed into our Mother Earth four and a half billion years, around the birth of John McCains’ parents. The material from the Earth and the colliding object eventually came together to form the moon and later the Big East Conference.

The surface of the moon, like a case of bad acne, is loaded with craters, which come from asteroids, comets and Ajax that have collided and colluted with the moon’s surface. Unlike the Shadowbrook Restaurant, the moon has no atmosphere, and with no weather, the lunar craters, like Dick Clark over the years, remains well preserved.

According to AAA, the moon is about 250,000 miles from Earth. To get there traveling by the speed of light would take 1.52 seconds. By rocket ship, we’re talking 13 hours, by car, 130 days with a few stops for gas, and by U.S. mail, ah, just forget it.

Since there is no atmosphere, wind or weather, footprints left on the moon by astronauts or martians will remain visible for at least ten millions years, which adds up to a whole lot of calendars. Water was discovered by the Arrowhead Company back in 2009, along with tiny ice cube trays strewn along the moon’s surface.

When astronaut Alan Sheppard was on the moon doing the broad jump for mankind, he hit a golf ball and drove it 2,400 feet, which is nearly half a mile by the way Sheryl Crow flies. He then choked and missed the putt for par.

When aboard our favorite satellite, you can jump six times further, carry objects six times heavier, but will still have trouble sneezing with your eyes open. And according to Weight Watchers, if you weigh 100 pounds on earth, you would weigh 16.6 pounds on the moon. The moon, “Where No Food is a Sin.”

Despite repeated pleas from Pink Floyd, there is no “Dark Side of the Moon.” The moon happily spends its day rotating around the earth, so all sides of the moon are hit by the Father, the Sun and the Gulf Coast at some point. Temperatures on the moon can drop to 250 degrees below zero, so if you go, you might want to bring a poncho.

In a survey conducted in 1998 by the You Got To Be Kidding Me Institute, 13% of those surveyed believed that the moon was made of cheese. The response was split evenly. 50% said Swiss, 50% went with Monterey Jack.

Canada was the third country to enter the space race. However, instead of sending astronauts, they sent their national hockey team along with a backup goalie from the Montreal Canadians.

Under the category of “I did not know that,” the honeymoon is a named after the full moon in June, as it fell between the planting and harvesting of crops and was traditionally the best month to get married. No word on what moon annulment is named after.

And finally, the Slovakian psychiatrist Eugen Jonas created a method of birth control and fertility based on the full moon. Thus, from his research came the term, “I’m going in for a moon landing.” And I believe it was either the Lennon Sisters or John Lennon who said, “Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, the stars and the sun.” That’s all good and well, but what I want to know is, if Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, who will be the first woman? I’m going with Madonna. Just a hunch.

On to the late night. “Bill Clinton now says he wishes he had supported gay marriage back when he was president. Clinton said at the time he was too busy campaigning for open marriage.” –Conan O’Brien “Last year there was some trouble at the White House’s Easter egg hunt. One kid looking for eggs turned up Obama’s birth certificate.” –David Letterman “Yesterday former CIA director David Petraeus apologized for having an affair with his biographer. He said he hopes this begins a new chapter in his life. It got awkward when he said, ‘Any of you ladies want to write it?’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Happy birthday to retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She’s 83 years old today. And listen to this: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court wished her a happy birthday. Last night President Obama celebrated Passover by hosting a seder at the White House. There was an awkward moment when Sasha asked, ‘Hey, I thought we were Muslim.’ During its trip to the Middle East, President Obama helped restore Israel’s relationship with Turkey. Now, onto the final hurdle – restoring Israel’s relationship with pork.” –Conan O’Brien

“John Kerry visited Iraq and also Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Dennis Rodman.” –David Letterman
“Wal-Mart will test a new delivery method for customers who order online. They’re asking shoppers to drop stuff off for other shoppers on their way home. In exchange, Wal-Mart would give them a discount on their bill. So if you always wanted to work for Wal-Mart but didn’t want to get bogged down with the paycheck and healthcare, this is for you.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“North Korea is warning the U.S. that war with South Korea may break out at any minute. Or as Obama put it, “Can’t believe I’m doing this. Get me Dennis Rodman.” Yesterday President Obama told reporters that his NCAA tournament bracket is busted. Obama said they were the worst picks he’s ever made — then he looked at his economic advisers and said, “Ehh, maybe not.” A man in Pennsylvania was arrested for hunting deer in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart. Or as Jeff Foxworthy put it, “Eh, too easy.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our last lunar blast for March 2013. We’ll catch you hitting a clutch 3-pointer bomb from the outskirts of Dallas that sent the game into overtime and then your Michigan team into the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. As for the Kansas Jayhawks, “All they are is dust, or should I say, Russ Smith in the wind.” Aloha, mahlao and later, Trey Burke fans.

March 24, 2013

Wherein Butterflies The Problem

Good morning and greetings, springtime freshness fans. As we all know, last Wednesday was the first day of spring, also known as the vernal equinox or thank God it’s not winter anymore. It’s a day when the equator, the center of the sun and my car’s brakes are fully aligned, which includes a free rotation of my seasonal conciousness.

For the next three months and throughout the NBA playoffs, the sun will gently warm my heart and the northern hemisphere, which will bring smiles to those living in the Mountain West and Great Lakes region and New England states, where recently it has been colder than a reception for Mel Gibson at a B’nai B’rith luncheon.

On the first day of spring, temperatures were up to 25 degrees below my usual scoring average, with more snow than you could find at a Pablo Escobar stash house. The calendar may have read late March, but the ground was snow covered and frozen, which reminds me of the Woody Allen line, “Who bothers to cook TV dinners? I suck them frozen.”

So how cold was it? It was so cold down at a city morgue, you couldn’t tell the stiffs from the guys who worked there. A guy fell out of bed and his pajamas broke. Republicans were actually hugging Democrats while waiting for the bus. A chicken was seen walking down the street with a cape on. Sherwin Williams needed a third coat. And it was so cold that a guy saw one dog trying to jump start another. At least that’s what he thought he was doing.

The arrival of spring also means thousand of college students heading south across the border to sunny and cartel free Mexico, to celebrate and inebriate the annual ritual of spring break. We’re talking places like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Myself, I was always more interested in fast breaking than spring breaking, as because of my Quaker upbringing I don’t drink alcohol or jump off balconies from my hotel room.

I know the draw of surf, sand, suds and sun is a powerful one, but boozing it up was never my thing, as it interfered with my study of the Torah. I’m just kidding, I was always much more of a Kaballah man. But those decapitating cartel boys, who have total disregard for bystanders, umpires and referees would deter me from heading south to where the party never stops. But being a tanned hard body, I can still relate to the words of Robin Williams, who says “Spring is nature’s way of saying, let’s party.”

So on that note, we’re heading down to Mexico. In a story written by Mark Stevenson for the Associated Press, scientists reported last week that the number of Monarch butterflies making it to their winter refuge in Mexico dropped a shocking 59 percent this year, falling to the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began 20 years ago. It was the third straight year of their decline of the migration from the United States and Canada to spend the winter living in mountaintop fir forests in central Mexico. Six of the last seven years have shown drops, and there are now only one-fifteenth as many butterflies as there were in 1997. This is not good news as I have spent half my life chasing the bright, elusive, butterfly of love.

So what are the reasons? The World Wildlife Fund, one of the groups that sponsored the butterfly census, blamed climate conditions, jealousy of moths and agricultural practices, especially the use of pesticides that kill off milkweed, the Monarchs’ main source of food. The butterflies breed and party in the U.S. in the summer, and then migrate to Mexico in the winter. Mexico says they have down their part to protect the butterfly reserves by eliminating large-scale illegal logging and promoting the movies of actress Salma Hayak, who once said, “I keep waiting to meet the man who has more bats, er balls than I do.”

The loss of milkweed in the U.S. makes it hard for the butterflies to lay eggs, and for their young that do hatch to find enough food to grow to maturity. In addition, unusually hot or dry weather can kill eggs, meaning fewer adult butterflies. South of the border, unusual cold weather, lack of water, tree cover and mariachi bands means that Monarchs are less likely to survive the winter and reach adulthood. And thus they will never see Eva Longoria’s new reality TV show, “Devious Maids,” based a Mexican series that that follows four maids who work in Beverly Hills but dream of their own success. And all this time I just thought she was a desperate housewife. Or as the former Mrs. Tony Parker once put it, “I find it a turnoff whenever men aren’t into some kind of sport.” And that, my friends, is why I watch NBA TV.

Lincoln Brower, an entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, says, “To blame the low numbers of monarchs solely on what is happening north of Mexico is misleading. Herbiciding of soybean and corn fields that kills milkweed is a serious problem, but the historical decline over the past 19 years has multiple causes. All three countries need to face up to the fact that it is our collective activities that are killing the migratory phenomenon of the Monarch butterfly.” So some fingers, including the middle, are being pointed. And I believe it was either actress Jessica Alba or Mexican writer Oscar Funetes who said, “What the United States does best it understand itself. What it does worst is understand others.”

The head of Mexico’s nature reserves, Luis Fueyo, said there are still some problems to be solved at the wintering grounds in Mexico, including some scale-logging and water availability. The Monarchs don’t drink any water throughout their long migration until they reach Mexico, and the mountain streams in the area have been affected by drought, human use and pinata parties. No butterfly lives to make the round-trip. The millions of Monarchs cluster so densely on tree boughs in the reserve that researchers don’t count their individual numbers but rather measure the amount of forest they cover. It’s just another reason why they can’t see the forest through the trees.

This winter, the butterflies covered just 2.93 acres, down from 7.14 acres last year. That doesn’t bode well for us, as who knows what we’ll be seeing this fall in the eucalyptus groves at Natural Bridges and Lighthouse Field. It doesn’t sound promising. So the final word on this situation south of the border comes from Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who said ” I would rather die standing than live life on my knees.” Viva la revolution, and for you Elvis and Ann Margaret fans, “Viva La Vegas.”

For today’s photo enclave, I’m featuring a group of butterflies at play. The final shot shows the Monarchs clustering in the trees at Natural Bridges State Park. When you look up at this sea of orange and black, you’re viewing one of the true wonders of nature, as their migration north to reach this safe haven, much like me trying to get back down to my high school weight, is brutal. Or as Jennifer Aniston once said, “I love the feeling of being in love, the effect of having butterflies when you wake up in the morning. That is special.” I can relate, as I’ve always savored the early stage of being in love, when I woke up feeling like a happy caterpillar.

On to some late night humor. “A guy in Great Britain found a way to make cars run on coffee. The good news is if cars start running on coffee, it means once again I can smoke at the pumps. Are you folks excited about St. Patrick’s Day? It’s the day I tell Irish jokes written by Jewish writers.” – David Letterman “To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Carnival Cruise had all their toilets overflowing with green water.” – Jay Leno “For many colleges, this is spring break. College kids will go to places like South Beach to make mistakes they will cherish for a lifetime. Spring break is an important American tradition. It’s how we grow a new crop of MTV teen moms.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Last night on “The Tonight Show,” during the monologue Jay Leno called NBC executives “snakes.” The response came quickly. “Jay Leno has crossed the line and gone too far,” responded the snakes. The new show “Bates Motel” premiered last night. It was very suspenseful. The whole time watching it I was thinking, “Will that guy get stabbed? Will he survive to see the next week?” I’m sorry, that’s while I was watching “The Tonight Show. Julius Caesar was romantically involved with Cleopatra for 14 years. After he dumped Cleopatra, there were rumors that Julius Caesar fathered an illegitimate child by a housemaid. But those rumors turned out to be false. It was actually Caesar’s cousin, Julius Schwarzenegger.” – Craig Ferguson

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced that he supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Or as illegal immigrants put it, “Who do you think’s going to build that path?” Kate Middleton revealed that she wants to have a boy, but Prince William is hoping for a girl. However, they both agree that no matter what gender it is, its nanny will love it just the same. Burger King is now offering a turkey burger on its menu. Or as horses put it, “Nope, still us.” There’s talk that “Today” show host Matt Lauer is the top choice to replace Alex Trebek when he leaves “Jeopardy.” Or as Alex Trebek put it, “Who is Matt Lauer?” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our Monarch update. I hope you have been relishing the incredible play this week of LeBron James and of March madness, as we are now down to what my daughter will be turning in August, the sweet sixteen. Enjoy the week and the celebration of matzos. We’ll catch you shocking the world by going alley-oop crazy and pulling off the biggest upset in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. Aloha, mahalo and later, Florida Gulf Coast University fans.

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