November 9, 2014

The Warriors Are Butter Because They’re On A Roll

Good morning and greetings, central coast fans. If you looked up the definition of magnificent in the dictionary, and for you kids out there, it’s a book we used in the olden day with lots of fancy words, it would describe our weather last week here in Santa Cruz. As the polar vortex swoops down from Canada, bringing a deep freeze to the midwest and northeast, our weather remained warm and dry in our little cold water paradise where the redwoods meet the sea.

I have been a resident of this surf town for almost three decades. From the first moment that I set foot in this liberal city, I was fortunate enough to call West Cliff Drive my home, where I could stare for hours out my living room window and take in the view of the ocean, the landscape and roller skaters, and not necessarily in that order.

Having Monterey Bay as your front yard was a fantastic place to begin my wonder years, as life is magical along the edge of the continent. The sky and clouds put on a show every day and admission is free. To say I was blessed would be an understatement. It was simply an outstanding way to begin my Californication into the Golden State.

Now God didn’t skimp in the beauty department when he created this place, as nature never takes a vacation. Or as naturalist John Muir liked to say, “The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere.”

Now coming from an east coast state of mind, Santa Cruz was a different animal. People here were laid back, life was free and easy and there just wasn’t that high intensity mentality that I was used to. This was particularly true on the basketball courts, where the motto up at the UCSC fieldhouse was “Friendship through competition.”

At the time, I was coming from a different place, where crushing your opponent felt a lot more comfortable. Or as my power yoga instructor once told me, “The surgeon general says it’s okay to smoke the competition.” Remember, if you come in second, you’re just the first loser.”

Now Santa Cruz was not exactly a bastion of professional sports franchises. Back in the mid 70′s, there were the high school teams and Cabrillo College, and that was basically it. Sure, people rooted for the A’s, Giants, Grateful Dead, Raiders, 49ers, Santana and the Warriors, but there was no big time sports presence in town, unless you counted the Doobie Brother rocking out at the Catalyst.

Well, that all changed back in 2012, when the Golden State Warriors announced that they were relocating their D-League team from Bismark, North Dakota, which was just east of Siberia, to Santa Cruz. Upon hearing this news I was shocked, stunned, mystified and finally posterized.

Professional basketball in Santa Cruz. Who knew? There didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in local hoops. Relocating over the hill In San Jose, where the population center was much greater, would have seemed a much better fit.

Well, unbelievably, the decision was approved by the Santa Cruz City Council in time for the start of the 2012-13 season. They renamed the team the Santa Cruz Warriors and received a $3.5 million loan from the city to build the Kaiser Permanente Arena. I was hoping for an Outback Steak House.

And just like that, we had the NBA logo, Jerry West, chowing down on some frled calamari strips down at the Crow’s Nest, and pro basketball in our little cold water hamlet.

The team has been in the D-League Finals the last two seasons, as the arena is sold out almost every night and the action has been outstanding. The city loves their Warriors and the Warriors have in turn supported the community. It’s been a good fit, a real success story.

Well, it seems not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. In the October 29th issue of the Good Times, in the section of Local Talk, people are asked “What is Santa Cruz’s biggest eyesore? One man answered, “People smoking cigarettes downtown.” Another woman replied, “All the people that are homeless and the desperation in their eyes. It’s more like a heart sore.”

But my favorite answer was from a stay-at-home Mom, who was not exactly a big hoops supporter, when she said, “The basketball stadium downtown.” I guess you can’t please all the people all the time, as the money could have gone to other projects. But it’s here now, so let the games and incessant noise begin.

I attended Media Day last Thursday at the arena with my cohort Jerry Hoffman, and there’s a lot of fresh talent on this year’s squad. According to head coach Casey Hill, “We’re coming into a year where we don’t have as many guys returning. We’ll build a team, not necessarily from scratch, but pretty dang close to it. I’m actually looking forward to it, it will be a fun challenge. It’s the D-League experience.”

So opening night is November 14 against the LA Defenders. The league is all about the players developing their game so they can be called up to the big show, the NBA. If you’re a basketball fan, you’ve got to check it out. It’s the real deal, and it’s in our hometown.

It’s all about following the dream. Or as my rabbi once told me while running out on a fast break, “Reach for the sky or don’t even try.” Shalom.

So for today’s photo journey, we are returning to the evening skies of October 27. When I got down to Stockton Avenue, a distinct ribbon of clouds had formed in the western sky. Over the next half hour, the clouds went through some color changes, from standard white to tangerine orange and then finishing up with ruby red.

Meanwhile, turning back to the east, the clouds were wild and flooding the sky with a pinkish hue color. All in all, for early in the season, it was a good night on the digital front.

On to some late night humor. “For the first time in history, Congress has 100 women in it. Congratulations. Welcome to modern times, America. It’s great having 100 women in Congress. Unless you’re in line for the congressional bathroom.” – Craig Ferguson “On Tuesday, Utah Candidate Mia Love became the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. She’s also a Mormon. Yeah, a black female Republican Mormon. Even unicorns are saying, “Not buyin’ it.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Mary Keitany from Kenya won the women’s race at the New York City Marathon. Mary was fast. Experts say it’s one of the most impressive races they’ve seen a woman run. Then Hillary said, “Stay tuned.”-Jimmy Fallon “It’s been announced that a Union soldier who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama over 151 years after his death. Even better, he finally got an appointment at the VA hospital.” – Seth Meyers

“Daredevil Nik Wallenda broke a record when he walked blindfolded between two Chicago skyscrapers. Wallenda said he didn’t do it to set a record. He did it because that’s the safest way these days to walk through Chicago.”- Conan O’Brien “Discovery, formally the Discovery Channel — they changed it to make it more confusing — has a special on December 7 called “Eaten Alive” that will feature a man being eaten alive by an anaconda. So, if you were disappointed by the fact that Nik Wallenda didn’t fall off that tightrope, this is your show.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So birthday wishes go out on Tuesday to my old backcourt teammate, Doug MacKinnon, who sailed from Plymouth Rock back in the 70′s and landed on West Cliff Drive and saved me a space.

We’ll catch you running the point and bringing excitement to the arena every time you step on the floor. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kiwi Gardner 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: http://www.propertyinsantacruz.com/relocating-to-santa-cruz/

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.

June 29, 2014

I Haven’t Got Time For The Rain

Good morning and greetings, change of season fans. Well, the weather was simply delightful for the first week of summer, with temperatures in the high 70′s and the fog at a minimum. Unfortunately, there is no precipitation in the forseeable horizon, as we are in the midst of a severe drought, with 2103 being the driest year in California history.

Now contrast this historic lack of precipitation to what happened in Minnesota last week, in the land of Kevin Love and a 1,000 Laker fans. Folks in the twin cities experienced severe weather with record rainfall, as the rivers were raging while people were being flash flooded out of the better homes and gardens. In the words of writer Jarod Kintz, “I love it when the streets near my house get flooded, because it’s the only time I can go out and walk my fish.
”

Meanwhile, here on the Central Coast, we’re as dry as my mother-in law’s brisket, while throughout the midwest people are doing the backstroke in their living rooms, as they are dealing with the worst flooding in decades.

It’s not that I would mind boaters canoeing through my bedroom. Hey, I’d like fly fishing from my dining room table, but these extreme summer storms are no joke.

The Mississippi River was at its highest level in 15 years, totally bloated by the torrential amounts of rainfall, as Minnesotans are experiencing their wettest summer on record.

Fortunately, late in the week, the river crested, according to four out of five dentists who recommend Crest for their patients in the Twin Cities area.

Now on to the nuttiest meteorlogical story of the week. Sean O’Connor is one lucky man. Last week, the Georgia resident was about to rake up some leaves in his driveway when a bolt of lightning struck him in his right leg’s steel-toed boot.

A few minutes later he picked himself up off the ground. He had a taste of blood in his mouth and he realized his leg hair was singed. Or as the Bowery Boys’ Slip Mahoney might have put it, “Sometimes bread cast out over the water comes back as burnt toast.

Sean then looked across the driveway and saw that his boots were no longer on his feet and that one of them was smoldering. He then realized he’d been hit by lightning and had taken up smoking.

He quickly headed over to the emergency room, where doctors didn’t initially buy his story. “At first they didn’t believe me, but when I showed them the singed hair on my legs and the boots they all wanted to shake my hand,” said O’Connor. “They said they’d never met someone who lived after being struck by lightning.” The doctors then pooled their money and had Sean go buy them lottery tickets.

An electrocardiogram scan later revealed that O’Connor had an irregular heart rate, a condition associated with lightning strikes. About 71% of all people struck by lightning survive, but often suffer from severe burns, personality changes, insomnia, impaired hearing, constant pain and a craving for rocky road ice cream.

Bottom line, Sean says he’s okay but from now on he’s going to stick to wearing sandals.

According to the National Weather Service, the chances of being struck by lightning or getting an Anthem Blue Cross representative on the phone are one in a million.

Florida is the deadliest spot, as there are twice as many lightning casualties than in any other state. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur during the summer months, when people are involved with activities like boating, swimming, bullfighting, bicycling, golfing, knife juggling, jogging, walking, cliff diving, hiking, camping, and trolling for great white sharks.

So take heed, as the Fourth of July is historically one of the most deadly times of the year for lightning strikes. I’ll close with the thoughts of Dirty Harry, former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood, who once remarked, ““They say all marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning.” When it comes to lightning, you’ve gotta ask yourself this question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

Last week in our photo department I featured two sunrises. Well, this week I am once again featuring the buy one get one free photo experience, but from the sunset files.

Both sunsets were shot from the cliffs above Stockton Avenue. The first displayed some unusual cloud formations, as the zoom lens captured different shades of the yellow and rust colored clouds.

The second sunset highlighted the sun filtering through the clouds and shining through onto the Pacific waters. Two nights, two different experiences along the edge of the continent.

On to some late night humor. “The World Cup has an official song. The official anthem is ‘We Will Find a Way.’ It narrowly beat out the other contender, ‘I Feel Someone’s Teeth in My Shoulder.’ At the World Cup, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit a player from Italy’s team. It’s the third time he’s done it. The last time he bit a Chinese player and then claimed he was hungry an hour later.” –Conan O’Brien

“The next opponent for the U.S. will be Belgium. The Belgians are favored over the U.S. But so far, the Belgians have been cagey about saying if they think they’ll win. That’s right, the Belgians are waffling. A big movie opened today. “Jersey Boys.” I It’s about the hot musical group all the kids love — Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. To be honest, I don’t know how well “Jersey Boys” is going to do. People in Los Angeles can’t relate to a movie about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Because people here have no idea what a season is.” – Craig Ferguson

So June is just about history. You may have noticed a new blog format last week. Credit goes to my webmaster and recent UCSC college graduate Kevin Deutsch, who majored in mathematics and received a masters degree in teaching me how to post my blog.

We’ll catch you turning in 40 in your final year and storied career with the Bronx Bombers. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

June 15, 2014

I’m Walking On Sunshine

Good morning and greetings, college graduation fans. We are less than one week away from the summer solstice on June 21, which coincides with the end of another glorious NBA season. I’ve always been of the opinion that the NBA season is too short, as in an ideal world, wheat would not be the enemy and the the playoffs would go for twelve months a year.

The solstice is a special day on my J.Lo calendar, as we see more sunlight than on any other day of the year. Although with the Santa Cruz’s June gloom in the room, you might want to sleep in. Just don’t let the sun catch you crying.

This plethora of sunshine is due to the earth axis performing a major tilt towards the sun. I believe it was my insurance agent or the great Buddha who once said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” How about my glasses or keys? Obviously, this great Hindu Prince has never vacationed in Santa Cruz in June.

It’s not that I mind the dull, colorless, morning sky. The massive star comprised of hydrogen and helium is not my best friend anymore, as I have paid the price of not having sun blocked during my childhood beach days at Jones Beach or during my Wonder Years living on West Cliff Drive. The sun was frequently shining on the front deck, and those UV rays were a constant guest on my skin.

The King of rock and roll and one of the great hound dogs of our time, Elvis Presley once said, “The truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going away.” So the June gloom will pass as the sun broke through early on a couple of days last week. I was walking on sunshine, and wooah, it made me feel good.

These dreary morning condition were not just limited to the central coast, as the May gray turned to June gloom from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara and beyond.

And speaking of the Gaucho state, my son Jason returned home on Friday after finishing up his second year of studies at UC Santa Barbara. As I mentioned in previous posts, he knew three of the students killed during the shootings in Isla Vista last month. So friends have been asking me, ‘How is he doing?”

I don’t really know, because after a one day off for a memorial service for the fallen, it was back to classes and his life resumed, but things couldn’t have been totally normal. Jason then went into studying for finals mode, as the exams for biology and organic chemistry involve more memorization than my brain could ever have held.

All I know is that my head would have exploded if I had to take in the volume of work. And that’s why I carry my sociology degree in my wallet. Never leave home without it.

Jason is around for only a week before he goes back down south to attend summer school and work on his beach volleyball game. I’m going to miss him, but what is even sadder is that while he’s home, I’m wondering when the next school shooting will be. I know that school’s out but the guns have not been safely locked away.

There have been 74 shootings at schools and campuses since the Sandy Hook massacre back in 2012 in Connecticut. Two weeks after Isle Vista, there was a shooting death at Seattle Pacific University. Then last Tuesday, a 15 year old brought an assault rifle with him on the school bus to high school in Oregon and killed another student.

A longtime family friend told the press that the 15 year old killer,” was very quiet, I never saw him angry, he was extremely even-tempered, he was always at the best possible behavior.” Boy, lucky he didn’t have a temper.

In the aftermath of all the recent shootings, President Obama expressed his frustration on our inability to enact even modest gun control legislation. “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on earth that would put up with this. We’re the only developed country on earth where this happens.”

He went on to say that as a nation we have to do some soul searching, as these school massacres have become the norm. There is no end in sight. I guess the best we can do is duck and cover.

For today’s photo display we are going back to the sun, as we watch it drop into the horizon at sunset back on January 24. The location was Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and while the pelicans floated by, the sky and clouds turned from a nice shade of creamsicle orange to candy apple red. Or fire engine red for you “Rescue Me” fans.

On to the late night humor. “The campaign manager who helped unseat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last night is a 23-year-old man who interviewed for a job at Panera Bread last month. Said Cantor, “Is that position still available?” – Seth Meyers “Kim and Kanye are honeymooning in Mexico. Republicans and Democrats agree that if there’s ever a time to seal the border, this is it.” – Craig Ferguson

“A Whole Foods store in New York will start offering customers cocktails while they shop. It’s part of Whole Foods’ new slogan, “You’d have to be drunk to pay these prices.” One of the top people in a Mexican drug cartel is a woman who apparently looks exactly like Kim Kardashian. The only difference is the head of the drug cartel has a job and is less of a threat to America.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama surprised tourists by walking to a Starbucks near the White House. Even more surprising, he traded five Taliban members for a grande soy latte.” – Seth Meyers “President Obama faced some criticism for chewing gum during a D-Day ceremony. He said, “Sorry, but if I don’t get my Nicorette, there’s going to be another war on this beach.” -Jimmy Fallon

Last night was Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. The air conditioning stopped working during the game, which made it feel like 90 degrees inside. Or as football players, baseball players, tennis players, soccer players, and runners put it, “Must be rough.” That’s right, LeBron James sat on the bench for the final four minutes of the game. And what’s crazy is his teammates still kept passing him the ball. I can’t believe how hot it got during that game. It was so hot that even the LOSING team dumped Gatorade on its coach.” – Conan O’Brien

So here’s a salute to all you fathers out there. We’ll catch you at 22 years of age playing like an all-pro at both ends of the court in the NBA Finals. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kawhi Leonard fans.

January 5, 2014

In One Year And Out The Other

Good morning and greetings, New Year’s fans. Someone asked me last week if I had made any resolutions for the upcoming year. Up until that point, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind, as New Year’s resolutions for me have always gone in one year and out the other. Or as Jay Leno once said, “New Year’s Eve, where auld acquaintance be forgot. Unless, of course, those tests come back positive.”

But I thought I would give it the old junior college try, as I usually look forward to the new year to get a fresh start on old habits. I wanted to do something significant to really challenge myself and prove that even at this advanced age, there were still some frontiers I could conquer besides walking more and watching less.

I was thinking about for some self improvement, and if that wasn’t possible, just doing something nice for people. There were so many directions I could go in, like eating healthier, exercising more or stop biting other people’s nails.

I could attempt to be a more positive person, to laugh more often at the news, to just enjoy life a little bit more. I could work on my career, or perform better at my job. But that would entail getting a job, and thus lied the problem. That would putting the cart light years ahead of the horse.

I could try to improve my inner and outer self by becoming more organized, as at this stage of my life, 98% of my time is spent looking for something I had in my hands just moments before. That might help reduce some stress. It’s not like I’m in a hurry, or as Mohandas K. Gandhi once tweeted, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Personally, I’ve always ascribed to the Chinese proverb, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. Chow fun is where you want to be.”

I could volunteer to help others, try new foods or stop procrastinating, but I think I’ll start on that one next month. None of these resolutions felt right. So I decided to just go with what felt natural and stop eating chocolate for a hour each day. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but over a year’s time the numbers add up. That’s a two week, all-expense saved vacation from chocolate.

I’m just following the theory that chocolate slows down the aging process. It may not be true, but who am I to argue with science? Or as French actress Brigette Bardot once remarked, “It’s sad to grow old, but it’s nice to ripen.’ I’m just worried about being left on the vine too long.

So the holiday season has come and gone, and it will be missed. I got to see two movies, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ which I reviewed last week, and ‘American Hustle,’ which took us inside the world of a brilliant con man, a Congressional sting operation and Amy Adam’s cleavage. As she said, “You’re not nothing to me until you’re everything.” Everybody hustles to survive. I enjoyed this flick, although I was hoping for a little better.

So this being the first blog of the new year, I wanted to start it off in star spangled banner style. So we are heading back to the evening of December 17, when fire was burning in Big Sur and skies were torched with color. The previous evening’s sunset (which I posted back on December 22) was off the charts in beauty, or as my friend Bill Babcock described it, “the best sunset I can recall on the coast.”

So we were coming off a spectacular night, and this was to be the second half of a back-to-back, off the wall, plastic fantastic experience. For me as a sunset chaser, the only back-to-back evenings to surpass this experience came in January of 2008, when there were two nights of explosive color and light that set the bar. It was two nights of magical brilliance that I will never forget. But these December nights came awfully close to challenging for the gold.

I was shooting from Stockon Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and you can see early on that something big was underway. This night was a 360 degree viewing experience, as the entire sky was filled with glowing clouds. To the east it was pink city, to the west golden orange and ridiculous red. I was spinning like the Four Tops taking in this marvelous show.

If you look up world-class sunsets in the dictionary, you might see photos from this night. Moments like this is why I got into this business, being I’m a sunrise/sunset guy. It’s nice putting your arm around a memory.

So my resolution to my cyber audience is to bring you the best of what I see on land and in the skies above Monterey Bay, along with a little something to make you laugh and think. And not necessarily in that order.

Enjoy the NFL playoffs. We’ll catch you showing the basketball world why the Warriors are in a roll and you were an NBA all-star last season. Aloha, mahalo and later, David Lee fans.

November 10, 2013

Four Hundred, But Who’s Counting?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:24 am

Good morning and greetings, Veteran’s Day fans. Well, I have arrived at another benchmark along the long and winding cyber road. According to the folks at WordPress, where I purchase all my slacks, today’s posting is my 400th. Yes, the cryogenically frozen Ted Williams, the last man to hit over .400 in the major leagues, would be very proud. Or in his words, “God gets you to the plate, but once you’re there you’re on your own.”

So how did it all begin, this journey of over 400,000 words that has left me with a sense of peace, resentment and a thirst for more episodes of ‘Homeland?’ I’ve fallen in love with this show and now draw my inspiration from Clare Danes, as bi-polar CIA agent Carrie Matheson. In her words of the events of 9/11 ” I missed something once before. I won’t… I can’t let that happen again.” That’s the same way I feel about shooting sunrises.

Or as my wife said to me on the morning of our 25th wedding anniversary, ” You’re a disgrace to your nation, Sargeant Nicholas Brody. You’re a traitor and a terrorist, and now it’s time you pay for that.” Hey, I would have been happy with just a card.

I’ve always liked to write. I believed I may have penned my first sonnet on the walls of my mother’s womb. It started out, “There was a boy from Nantucket.” I had discovered my inner voice. However, after I exited my mother’s tomb, my voice was then labeled as colicky, which led to writer’s block as I suffered from postpartum depression.

I started my official writing career in junior high, when I had a poem published in the 7th/8th grade school magazine. I was a shy child who was interested in nature, and I believe it it was reflected in my literary prose. Here’s the third and final stanza from a poem very appropriately titled ‘Spring.’

“In the city the buses are clattering. In the forest the animals are chattering. The hustle and bustle is too much for me. I like to watch spring show up quietly.” Now I know why my teachers referred to me as Robert Frost Jr.

I continued to write in high school and had a couple of humorous pieces published in our high school literary magazine. Back then I had great ambitions, as I either wanted to be a investigative reporter, a marine biologist or a Playboy photographer. But writing was in my blood. And besides, it beat saying everything out loud.

After graduation from college, most of my writing over the next few decades was NBA basketball, top ten lists and checks. My first official blog was posted back in June of 2007, and after that, there was no turning back. I was on a mission, as I could finally do something creative with those voices playing in my head. The problem was, lots of time they were speaking in Hebrew, and I had no idea what they were talking about.

I created Sunrise Santa Cruz as a place to showcase the beauty of our cold water paradise, with the emphasis on the skies above it. But as I’ve learned over the years, being beautiful isn’t enough, and that’s why I added the text because what is better than laughter? I mean besides living in a world where everything is chocolate.

I’ve tried to amuse and confuse your hearts and minds with jokes from the best late night writers on the planet. Now throw in over 2,400 digital photo images and you’ve got over six years extracted from my mind’s eye that I’ll never get back. I’m just looking to make you laugh and think. After all, in the words of Will Rogers, “An onion can make people cry but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.” Unless you consider a cucumber funny.

So for today’s landmark photo lineup, we are returning to one of my favorite spots along West Cliff Drive, the cliffs above Stockton Avenue. For fourteen wonderous years, I lived 100 yards from this location, and rarely did I miss a sunset or a game involving Michael Jordan. This spot, like Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore of Oahu, is sacred, as I’ve always felt so powerful standing there overlooking the Pacific, thinking about the chicken katsu lunch plate.

On this evening, I didn’t need Phil Collins to tell me something was coming in the air that night. When I hit the cliff, the sky was glowing in a wonderful and magical way, and it proceeded to get better and better. The sky kept changing to different shades of red, while the reflection turned the ocean into something looking like cherry punch. These photos say it all. October fantastic.

On to some late night. “The new mayor of New York City is a progressive Democrat with an African-American wife who used to be a lesbian. Or as Fox News reported, the apocalypse is upon us. The new mayor is married to a woman who used to be a lesbian. His campaign slogan: ‘If I turned her around, imagine what I can do for New York City!’” –Conan O’Brien

“Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, keeps getting into trouble. They say he actually plagiarized an entire section of his 2012 book, ‘Government Bullies.’ When asked for comment, Paul said, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Forbes magazine has named evil Russian President Vladimir Putin as the most powerful person in the world. People magazine also named him the sexiest dictator alive.” –David Letterman

“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is hoping to win re-election tomorrow, and polls show that he’s winning by a 19-point margin. Christie has really worked hard on the campaign. I heard he spent all weekend shaking hands and kissing bagels.” –Jimmy Fallon “Chris Christie won by such a wide margin that pundits say this will give him the impetus he needs to run for president. And he’s got a new slogan: ‘Put the oval in the Oval Office.’” –Jay Leno

So 400 posts are in the book. That’s lots of words, verbs and hor d’oeuvres. We’ll catch you putting up numbers no other player has ever posted through the first five games of the NBA season. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kevin Love fans.

October 13, 2013

I Just Met A Girl Named Sharia

Good morning and greetings, debt ceiling fans. What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on in Washington? When I wrote about the government shut down last week, I figured by this time, some blood had flowed into the brain of the Tea Party boys and that the orange tinted Johnny Boehner would have come to his senses and gotten his party in line to end this embarrassing and costly crisis. I believe it was Paul Revere’s brother who said “Instead of just wringing our hands, we should be wringing some Congressional necks.”

And then on Wednesday, when I thought it couldn’t get any nuttier, those fun-loving Taliban Islamist militants, who we are fighting in the 12th year in the war in Afghanistan, posted comments on their website, taunting Washington over the government shutdown and accusing US politicians of “sucking the blood of their own people.” A spokesman for the American Vampire Party immediately demanded an apology and a retraction of that statement.

Now I would not normally write about a group as evil as these misogynistic tribesman, but the totally lunacy of events in Washington has created an atmosphere of disbelief. As Jay Leno noted last week, “This is unbelievable. The government is shut down. Even Al Queda couldn’t do this.”

This merry band of Pashtun pranksters stated that US institutions were “paralyzed” and “The American people should realize that their politicians play with their destinies as well as the destinies of other oppressed nations for the sake of their personal vested interests.” This from an organization whose members would rather spend quality time with a goat rather than a woman.

These equal rights rebels then closed their statement with a flourish, stating “Instead of sucking the blood of their own people… this money should be utilized for the sake of peace.” And then to celebrate the release of their announcement, these fellows went out and arranged a public lashing of a woman for watching an episode of ‘The Ellen Show’ before courageously burning down a school for girls.

The US embassy press staff in Kabul had no comments on this verbal attack from the Taliban’s website. And I certainly do not like being a mouthpiece for this brutal group of fanatics, who are quite fond of Sharia law, which forbids everything fun except breathing.

Now I don’t want to say these guys are strict, but according to Wikipedia, (and if it’s written there, you know it’s true,) here are some previous lawful activities that the Taliban prohibited while they were in power in Afghanistan from 1996 through 2001.

Eating anything pork, so there go the barbecued spare ribs, wearing anything made from human hair and no wearing baseball hats backwards. No satellite dishes, so no NFL Sunday Ticket, movies, musical instruments, pool tables and the food courts at Costco. No alcohol, no beer at public executions, computers, television, frisbees or anything that promoted sex and music, except MTV, because Taliban leader Mullah Omar was a big fan of “Jersey Shore.”

Wine, lobster, shrimp scampi, nail polish, fireworks, egg rolls, Starbucks, jelly donuts, shaved ice, statues, pictures, Instagram, Snap Chat, Christmas cards and especially mistletoe. Basically, anything that could be characterized as a fun or frivolous activity that would bring a smile to the face of the long-suffering Afghan people.

In addition, under Sharia Law, not to be confused with Jude Law, these Talibaners got rid of employment, so no unemployment benefits, education, sports for all women including beach volleyball, dancing, surfing, clapping during sports events, the wave, kite flying, skate boarding and giggling. And finally, any symbols of living things, including drawings, paintings, photographs, etch-o-sketches, stuffed animals, dolls, hula hoops and especially anything Justin Beiber.

In June 2013, the Taliban opened an office in Doha, Qatar, where they sell posters, t-shirts, sweatshirts and calendars featuring freedom fighters of the month. Now I could drone on and on about what level of insanity we have reached in Washington, as the Tea Party has brought craziness in the nation’s capital to new heights. Bottom line, when a hardline Islamic movement can issue statements about our government that has a ring of truth to it, then something is very, very wrong with this picture.

Transitioning from hard line extremists to the soft pastel colors, today I’m featuring the second night of gorgeous back-to-back September sunsets. Two weeks ago, I showcased the Sunday night action from Labor Day weekend when the sky simply blew up. On a 1 to 10 scale that night, we were hitting close to the decade mark.

Today’s photos are from the following night, and although they didn’t quite blow the doors off my camera lens, the colors were spectacular. I was shooting from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and the swirling clouds dipping down from the west gave this night an unusual look. With a warm breeze blowing, the sky proceeded to turn a passionate shade of orange. What a wonderful way to close out a holiday weekend.

On to the late night humor. “A new survey found that 9 percent of Americans have considered giving up their U.S. citizenship because of the constant arguing in Washington. Today, even Obama was like, ‘Are you SURE I wasn’t born in Kenya?’ This government shutdown has been such a big mess that Republicans are looking to Senator John McCain to negotiate a deal to end it. When asked if he could bring them together, McCain said, ‘Hey, I did it with the Pilgrims and the Indians.’” –Jimmy Fallon

Stephen Colbert explains the GOP strategy: “The rules are I go first, and I refuse to take my turn. And you can’t take yours until I’m done. I know you’re upset, but we’re both at fault here, so let’s negotiate. I agree to take my turn if you agree that I win.” “Winner: the Tea Party. It’s always nice to see a vocal minority get their way. You’re like the naked lunatic that gets his own subway car. So congrats on soiling yourself into power.” -Cecily Strong “Winner: Canada. Senator Ted Cruz was born in Canada, so while we were worried about Iran, China, and North Korea, a Canadian shut down the U.S. Government. Well played, Canada.” -Seth Meyers

“A mentally unstable woman tried to ram the barricades in front of the White House yesterday. Apparently she held the delusional belief that she was communicating with Obama, and that they were involved in some sort of back-and-forth. You know, like John Boehner. The Republican who summarized it best was Indiana Republican Marlin Stutzman, who said, ‘We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this, and I don’t even know that is.’ Say what you will about a toddler throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. At least he knows he wants Coco Puffs.” –Bill Maher

“Starbucks is offering something called the duffin. It’s a combination of a donut and a muffin. Who says America has lost its exceptionalism? The duffin is a combination of a donut and a muffin, and if you eat enough of them you get a combination of diabetes and heart disease. After four or five years of eating the duffin, they’ll put you in a cuffin. It’s day nine of the government shutdown. Are you like me? Are you beginning to miss the days when we were ruled by a mad English king?” –David Letterman

So another week of leaping dolphins, breaching whales and baseball playoffs is in the books. We’ll catch you showing people how with everything on the line last week you looked the best pitcher in baseball. Aloha, mahalo and later, Justin Verlander.

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.

January 8, 2012

You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 2:54 pm

Good morning and greetings, NFL playoff fans. For the lovers of pro football, January is prime-time, as this past weekend featured chop blocks, gang tackling and vicious helmet-to-helmet hits, and that was just fans tailgating in the parking lot. And let’s not forget enough scantily-clad cheerleaders and beer commercials to make my head explode. When you throw in college football’s Rose Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and my personal favorite, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl that came with sour cream and chives, it was quite a week on the pigskin front.

There was also some interesting moments in the skies above Monterey Bay. As I mentioned in my last post, my Canon Rebel EOS suffered a stroke and died on the morning of New Year’s Eve, leaving me digitally challenged. And for some unexplained reason, I don’t have a backup camera to get me through prime times like this, which leaves me and Dusty Springfield wishing and hoping and thinking and praying that the skies don’t light up on a spectacular level when I’m lensless. Well, it may not have been Murphy’s Law taking effect, but last Wednesday night was one for the ages on many levels.

Now in my own weakside defense, and I really have none, I had brought along my daughter’s camera just in case the sky blew up on this night. All afternoon it looked as if the sunset had more potential than the 2011 New York Jets, and I knew there would be a window between my son and daughter’s basketball games to take in the sights and sounds. So when I exited the gym at 4:30 and checked out the sky, I could see the motherlode was coming, so I took off for Stockton Avenue to take in this midweek wonder.

The sky was already blowing up with unusual colors and texture as I hit West Cliff Drive. I took out my daughter’s Kodak Easy Share camera and prepared to shoot away. The only problem was, NOW HER CAMERA WASN’T WORKING. I thought to myself, relax, take a deep breath and try to enjoy this upcoming incredible experience that you won’t be capturing. Enjoy the moment. Of course, if you know me, you know this really wasn’t totally possible.

Now people always say to me, “Geoff, can’t you just enjoy watching the sunset?” Well, I could if I wasn’t a photographer and didn’t have a photo blog where each week I attempt to showcase the best from the skies and byways of the central coast. And just my luck, my Etch A Sketch was in the shop so I was out there alone, just me and a sky that would turn into clouds of purple mountain majesties. This was way above the fruited plain on a night oh so beautiful with spacious skies and amber waves of greatness.

So I sucked it up and accepted my photographic fate like a real man by sobbing uncontrollably for about ten minutes. In reality, I know looking at the bigger picture, there are worse fates, like if my TiVO went down. It was just disappointing to know what was coming and that my cyber audience was not going to be part of the festivities. Okay, so I’m a giver. Just don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

My daughter’s game was now underway so I returned to the gym at Natural Bridges. I stood by the door and went to check the sunset every couple of minutes, as the skies were now a 360 degree canvas of unbelievable colors and designs.

To the east, the sky was as passionately pink as I’ ve ever seen it at sunset, while to the west there were riveting ribbons of orange and later red. My neighbor said it was like looking into a fire, a burning caldron of January color and pagentry. The reflection upon the ocean and sand was off the charts, although I didn’t have the emotional strength to go and look. Plus, my daughter was seeing some first-half minutes, and I didn’t want to miss any crossover action.

So the bottom line was, this was the most fantastic sunset that I’d ever seen but not photographed. So when I walked through the door at home after watching my son and daughter combine for two wins and 24 points, I wondered, what’s for dinner and what can I do to make up for this missed opportunity of greatness? At times like this, there’s only one place I can go. No, not to Disneyland, but to my photo archives.

We’re heading back to the evening of January 22, 2008, which was an epic night on the central coast. It was a most extreme low tide day (photo #3) as I was able to walk completely around the arch at Its Beach, something I’ve only done twice in my short but defense-oriented life.

I was shooting the exposed barnacles and sea stars when someone said, “Do you see the rainbow through the arch? (photo #4.) Then a snowy egret flew through and I shot it landing in the exposed kelp beds in front of the arch. I could just sense that this evening, much like my first chocolate milk shake, was going to be very special.

As you can see, the sky just went off from here, ending with a very colorful canvas (photo #6) that had friends and anemones buzzing. But here’s the kicker, and I don’t mean the guy that missed the three field goals for Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.

The next night, I photographed my all-time favorite, Santa Cruz sunset up at Natural Bridges. We’re talking back-to-back, world-class nights in the skies above the central coast. To check it out, go the archives on the right, click on January 2011 and “Does This Sunset Make Me Look Fat?” will pop up like A-Rod with the bases loaded in a playoff game.

So the good news is that I’ve ordered a new camera and I should be back in business before Rick Perry exits the presidential race. I hope some of you caught the spectacle in the January 4th sky. In the words of my old pal Marc Techner, a West Cliff regular at sunset time, “It was magical. The colors, from the different shades of pink and purple and fuchsia just lit up the whole sky. It was totally incredible, one of the best ever.” Thank you and stay thirsty, my friends.

On to a little late night. “As I was coming out here, CBS News predicted the winner of the Iowa Republican caucuses: President Obama. So now that Michele O’Bachmann is out, that leaves Mitt Romney with best hairdo.” –David Letterman “Rick Santorum’s campaign is celebrating the Iowa caucuses with a pizza party. Here’s the embarrassing part: It was delivered by Herman Cain.” –Jay Leno

So that’s a wrap. Enjoy the warm winter weather, the ongoing NFL playoffs and we’ll catch you in the end zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Tim Tebow fans.

November 27, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since there’s no late night humor this week I’ll substitute my annual Thanksgiving joke. A turkey farmer was always experimenting with breeding to perfect a better turkey. His family was fond of the leg portion for dinner and there were never enough legs for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store. “Well I finally did it! I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!” They all asked the farmer how it tasted. “I don’t know” said the farmer. “I never could catch the darn thing!”

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

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

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