March 29, 2015

No Need To Worry, We’ve Got Steph Curry

Good morning and greetings, early spring fans.  The insanity of March Madness continues to carry on, as we are now down to the Final Four teams.  Two weeks ago, I wrote that the finale was going to be a little anticlimatic, as the highly favored University of Kentucky team, who entered tournament undefeated, has just continued to roll on, compiling an very impressive 38-0 mark.
Or as former Butler head coach Joe Sexson once said, “Kentucky players put their pants on the same way our players do. It just takes them a little longer to pull them up.”
 Of course, as Ashley Judd, Kentucky’s most notorious fan reminded me, their starting front line is bigger than most NBA teams.  Gigantic doesn’t begin to describe them.  This vaunted college basketball program continues to find a way to win, as the Wildcats inch closer to a possible NCAA title, which will be decided next Monday night in Indianapolis.
As Kentucky’s vanquished opponents have proclaimed, “Coach John Calipari, tear down this wall.”
But truth be told, I’m not caught up in the hysteria of the college tournament, as there is something even bigger brewing in the Bay Area.  And that, my friends, are your Golden State Warriors.
And if you haven’t heard, there’s still time to jump aboard the Warriors bandwagon.  But don’t make any plans on hopping off until the middle of June, when the NBA championships will be decided.
 It has been a dream season for Warrior fans, something that is so magically delicious that you can’t take your eyes off the screen.  With nine games remaining in the regular season, Golden State has clinched their first Pacific Division title since the 1975-76 season, or when Rick Barry still had some natural hair on his head.
As point guard Steph Curry said last Tuesday night after clinching the title, “It feels great.  It’s my sixth year and we haven’t done it before.  It’s a big accomplishment, but obviously, we have a lot more to accomplish this year with goals in mind.  But this is a good stepping stone for us to win the division and keep it moving.”The blue and gold  have also shattered their all-time franchise record for wins in a season by securing their 60th on Saturday night, while at the same time breaking the mark for wins (26) on the road.  As they say, there’s no place like away.
Rookie head coach Steve Kerr’s squad has been blowing away opponents at home at the Oracle Arena, compiling a very impressive 34-2 mark.  The Warriors have a high octane offense, that involves a lot of ball movement and three point shooting, which really gets the crowds roaring.
The Warrior’s offense is predicated on moving the ball side to side, getting the best shots on every possession.   Everyone is involved in touching the basketball, and this unselfishness leads to good things happening.A longtime observer of the east bay sports scene, Bruce Meyers, says it best. “It’s magical.  It’s poetry in motion.”
But what really revs up the fan base at Oracle is the way the Warriors play defense.  Led by undersized power forward Draymond Green, the Warriors’ defense is a testament to tenacity, as the Warrior defenders have been stifling the opposition like never before.  Inevitably, at some point in the game, lately the third quarter, the Warriors play shut down defense and take their opponents out of the game, and then the rout is on.
Golden State has been magnificent at home, as it has been a party every night.  They are led by all-star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who have been touted as the best outside shooting tandem of all-time. But what makes this squad so effective is their depth, as they have twelve players they can run in and out of the lineup.  The team is hungry and focused, and has played at an extraordinary level all season long.Steve Kerr, with the input from veteran assistant coaches Ron Adams and Alvin Gentry, has transformed the Warriors into a title contender in his first season as head coach.

As owner Joe Lacob said at the time of his hiring, “Steve Kerr was incredibly prepared.   He covered every detail you could imagine.  He knew our roster in and out. He had assistant coaches he wanted to go after. It was like a tour de force. At the end of the day, I know he knows a lot about basketball.”
Golden State, unlike many other franchises, has remained relatively injury free, which is an immense blessing.  Teams like Oklahoma City, Portland and Chicago have been decimated by injuries, with players like the Bull’s Derrick Rose and last year’s MVP Kevin Durant’s futures in doubt.
The key to the excitement at the arena is the team play and it’s orchestrator, Stephen Curry.  Having just celebrated his 27th birthday, he is generally considered, with no disrespect to Russell Westbrook or LeBron James, the most exciting performer in the league.
He is a magician with the ball, and an amazing no look passer.  But what brings the crowds to their feet is his variety of dipsy doo moves to the hoop and his incredible three point shooting.  No one shoots threes better than Steph, and when he launches, it’s nothing but net.
And being 6’3″ and not bulked up, he’s easy to relate to, as a relatively small figure in a big man’s game.  He’s the best player on the best team, and a prime candidate for Most Valuable Player.
But he’s not after that award.  The Warriors are eyes are on a bigger prize, and that is an NBA championship.  It’s going to be tough, but they have they home court advantage, where they have been virtually unbeatable.
So it’s two weeks and counting till the end of the regular season.  And then the big show hits the stage, the NBA playoffs, which will be delectably brutal.  But the Warriors have what it takes, and they are confident that this could very well be their year. So keep the faith and stay tuned.
For our photo study this week, we are returning to the Natural Bridges State Beach on the evening of January 9.  I sensed early on that there would be some fireworks in the sky, and this night did not disappoint.I started shooting from the upper parking lot, and then headed down to the sand, where I caught the reflection of the clouds in the large pond of water.  It was a beautiful sight, as the sky and water were aglow with vivid color.  Game on.
On to some late night humor. “Ted Cruz released a presidential campaign video in Spanish. Cruz explained, “It’s important for me to reach out to the people I’m trying to deport.”  People are questioning if Ted Cruz can legally run for president because he was born in Canada. And the last thing we want to do is pave the way for a President Bieber.” – Conan O’Brien
“Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for president. But if you see a T-shirt that says “Ted Cruz 2016,” those aren’t election shirts. That’s just how old he thinks the Earth is.” – Seth Meyers  “Republican candidate Ted Cruz said recently that in the 36 hours after he announced that he’s running for president, he’s raised over a million dollars. And Hillary Clinton closed her checkbook and said, “Happy to help. Can’t wait.” – Jimmy Fallon

“McDonald’s is introducing a Big Mac clothing line. Of course there already is a clothing line for Big Mac lovers. It’s called a hospital gown.  According to a new study, human waste contains gold and other special minerals. In the future this could make things awkward when a cashier asks, “How would you like to pay for this?” -Conan O’Brien

“Kraft Foods and Heinz will merge to create the fifth largest food and beverage company in the world. The merger will combine brands like Kraft Mac & Cheese, Heinz ketchup, Oscar Mayer wieners, and Philadelphia cream cheese. Or as stoners put it, “Already did that, bro.” – Jimmy Fallon”Today is the 20th birthday of the Starbucks Frappuccino. The CEO of Starbucks wrote in his book about the story of the Frappuccino: “It’s experimental, it’s adventurous, it fires people up and engages their imagination.” Does it, though? Seems like a coffee milkshake to me. ” – Jimmy Kimmel
So that our last blast for March.  We’ll catch you scoring 23 points in a win over North Carolina, and then going for a season-high 27 in the win over Arizona Saturday night to get to your Wisconsin team into the Final Four.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Sam Dekker fans.

March 15, 2015

The Insanity Of March Madness

Good morning and greetings, college hoop’s fans.  There is excitement in the air throughout the college basketball nation, as the NCAA tournament is once again upon us.  College basketball fans and gamblers waited all year for a chance to see their teams go to the big dance and come away with a winning lottery ticket.

It’s three weeks of wall-to-wall excitement, end-to-end action and fantastic finishes, as 68 teams will vie for the chance to cut down the nets and walk away with the title of NCAA champion.  Who will be this year’s Cinderella team?  Who will be the last team standing for that one shining moment?  And who will catch me when I fall?

Unfortunately, for some, the fun has been taken away, as this year March Madness has been tainted with some March Sadness.   It seems this year’s champion has already been preordained, and that would be the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Now I’m not saying the fix is in, but this year’s powerhouse squad blitzed through their opponents during the regular season, leaving them undefeated, with a perfect 34-0 record.   This team is as loaded as Charlie Sheen on a Friday night.

Now this has happened because Coach John Calipari has recruited enough McDonald’s All-Americans to stock the running of the Kentucky Derby.  You’ve got first year diaper dandys sitting on the bench, patiently awaiting their time until they’re drafted into the NBA.  There’s a gross surplus of more than moonshine in the blue grass state.

We’re talking basketball royalty, as the Wildcat’s basketball team is the winningest program in NCAA Division I history.  They lead all schools in NCAA tournament appearances, as they rank first in wins, are second to the UCLA Bruins in championships and third in their cheerleaders GPA scores.

Now Kentucky was once coached by the Baron of Lexington, Adolph Rupp, a college basketball legend who was as winning a coach as he was a possibly a racist.

One of the biggest games during Rupp’s career was the 1966 NCAA championship game. It featured Kentucky’s all-white starting five playing against an all-black starting five from Texas Western University. Texas Western came out on top in a dandy of a contest, and it helped lead to the integration of black athletes into college basketball during the days of the civil rights movement.

This game was so significant that it was made into a full length feature film,”Glory Road, starring Josh Lucas.  I give it two thumbs up, as it’s an inspiring story about an underdog upsetting mighty Goliath, with all the trials and tribulations they go through to win the championship.
Or in the words of God’s greatest basketball creation, Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

This is not to take away from the hoopla and hysteria surrounding this year’s tournament. It’s possible that the number one overall seed Kentucky will be knocked off their perch, but I believe the boys in Las Vegas already know who will be left standing at the alter when the final buzzer goes off.

After all, basketball is not a complicated game.  In the words of former Texas coach Abe Lemons, “There are really only two plays: Romeo and Juliet, and put the darn ball in the basket.”

Now it’s kind of a shame because in my younger days, I had a lot more interest in college hoops.  That was because when players were recruited to colleges, they stayed for four years.  You could follow them throughout their collegiate days and seem them matriculate into future NBA players. NCAA basketball was a farm system for the NBA.

But then back in 1975, two high school players named Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby went directly from high school to the NBA, and all bets were off.  Their thinking was, if I’m ready to play with the big boys, why do I have to go to college?  They wanted to be paid.

For some, like Emmy winning award sportscaster Dan Patrick, the college regular season is now unwatchable.  For me, I’m totally tuned into the NBA and don’t have time for the college game.   You see very few talented seniors on the floor, because the NCAA has a one and done rule, as in you must attend college for one year before your eligible to be drafted into the NBA.

This is really a joke, because one season does not make a college career.  Of course, a few of the highly touted high school players are ready for the big show, but the rest should stick around for a while and learn the fundamentals of the game before going to the big top.  Perhaps get an education.  But the lure of money is a big pull.

Now March Madness is not just for the maniacs.  Anyone can check out the brackets and pick the winners down to the Final Four, and if there’s money involved, it’s even better. It’s all about picking the winners and predicting the upsets.

Personally, I’m picking Syracuse Orangemen to come out on top. They’re not eligible for the tournament due to numerous recruiting violations, but they’re still my emotional favorite.

I spoke last Thursday with senior college basketball analyst Dr. Michael Schur, who for some unknown reason (Florida International University booster), was left off of this year’s selection committee.  Here are his thoughts on the Final Four.

‘I’m only selecting three teams because everybody’s picking Kentucky.  So here’s my Final Three.  The Duke Blue Devils, the Wisconsin Badgers and Notre Dame.  I like the Irish and their defensive intensity.  They’ve got three point shooters and are able to score from the inside and outside.  And I always loved the movie ‘Rudy.’”

So the question remains, who will take down these mighty Wildcats?  Stay tuned.

For today’s photo selection committee, we are featuring some March magic.  The year was 2008 and I was shooting from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive.  There were lots of clouds during the day, and the sunset didn’t look promising, but much to my surprise, an opening appeared on the horizon late in the day and the sky just blew up.

It was a spectacular March night, one that I won’t soon forget because of the peculiar shaped clouds coming down from the heavens that I have conveniently forgotten the name of.

On to some late night humor.  “Mayor de Blasio has legalized ferrets. Now you can legally own ferrets in New York City. I want to tell you something. If I want to see anymore beady-eyed little weasels, I’ll just keep riding the subway.  The new Apple Watch is out. It gets email. You can send texts. It has a corkscrew, nail clipper, tooth pick, scissors, tweezers, a compass, and if you put it on the floor and stand on it and it will tell you how much you weigh.” -David Letterman

“Now in Utah if you get the death sentence, they have the firing squad. In Russia, they call that early retirement.  Because Utah is largely Mormon country, the firing squad’s a little different. You’re blindfolded but no cigarette.” – David Letterman

“President Obama’s trying to work out a nuclear deal with Iran, and the Republicans are steamed. They got together and sent Iran a letter about the nuclear deal. They said if this doesn’t work, by God, they’re going to send Seth Rogen and James Franco.  The ayatollah in Iran says he believes that he got the letter, but he thinks he accidentally threw it out with his Crate & Barrel catalog.” – David Letterman

“This is a very big week for us here. Tomorrow night on our show we get a visit from President Obama, which means that all of you here tonight just missed having to get a cavity search to get in here tonight.  There’s a new study that says giving your child too much praise can harm them later. They become more narcissistic. Narcissism is a condition of excessive self-interest that affects approximately one out of every one Kardashian.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So we’ll catch you wowing the NBA nation by scoring a NBA season high and career-high 57 points against the Spurs last week.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Kyrie Irving fans.

January 25, 2015

The Balls Never Lie

 

 Good morning and greetings, football fans, and welcome to my fully inflated Super Bowl preview.   Coming up on Sunday, the nation will be consumed with food, alcohol, TV and football, as the New England Patriots battle the Seattle Seahawks for the bragging rights to see who is the baddest of the bad, with the NFL championship trophy on the line.
Last year, Super Bowl XLVIII became the most-watched American television program in history, barely beating out the “Sons of Anarchy” season finale. So if you didn’t catch the games last weekend, you missed out on an utterly fantastic, unbelievable finish that still has the Green Bay Packer nation in a severe depression.So let me give you a little recap of the action leading up to Super Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.

Representing the American Football Conference are the New England Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, who I am often mistaken for.   He has led his team to three Super Bowl titles.  He also has a child with the most attractive assistant D.A. in America, actress Bridget Moynahan from the CBS series “Blue Bloods.”  This golden boy is married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bunchen, whom he met on a blind date.  Some guys have all the luck.

And speaking of luck, to get to the Super Bowl, the Patriots crushed quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game by a 44-7 score.  It was a total beatdown, as once again, the highway to the Super Bowl runs through the New England thruway.

There was not doubt about the outcome of this game.  But there was big hullabaloo afterwards, as it seems the Patriots used 11 footballs in the game that were deemed to be, much like my ego, deflated by the NFL’s standards.   When the balls are deflated, it makes them easier to grip when throwing a pass downfield.  This would give the Patriots a seemingly unfair advantage.
The footballs were questioned after the game and had no comments on advice of their attorneys.  When asked about the allegations of “DeflateGate,” Tom Brady called the accusations “ridiculous” and maintained his innocence. “I feel like I have always played within the rules,” Brady said. “I would never break the rules.”  Now bending them, that might be a different story.

New England Coach Bill Belichick, known in some circles as “The Hoodie” for his wearing of sweatshirts along the sidelines, says he was shocked to learn about the story and has never talked to anyone on his staff about football air pressure, the function of atmospheric conditions or his recipe for linguini with red clam sauce.

 

The Patriots say they will continue to cooperate with the investigation.  But this where the story gets interesting.

 

Back in 2007, the NFL determined that New England had violated league rules when a Patriots staff member videotaped signals by opposing coaches.  This undercover operation became known as Spygate.  The team was fined and stripped of their 2008 first-round draft pick.  The NFL then fined Belicheat, er Belichick, the maximum allowed $500,000 for this black ops affair, the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league’s 87 year history.

A report described the league office as “disappointed, giddy, angry, euphoric and distraught,” after learning of the ball alterations.   The Patriots could lose future draft picks, a couple of cheerleaders or one of Belichick’s favorite hoodies if the league confirms the balls were deflated.

 

Hey, if you don’t get caught, it’s not cheating.  And if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

Now for the Seattle Seahawks, the road to the Super Bowl was a bit tricker, as they found themselves trailing with four minutes to go,  19-7, to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.  At this point, Packer fans, known as the cheeseheads, knew they were headed for the Super Bowl and were going wild, celebrating with swiss cheese fondue, melted brie inside puff pastry and my personal favorite, crab rangoon.  The game was in the bag.

 

But then, the greatness of sports finishes took over, as the Seahawks came back from the dead, and in a finish that you wouldn’t believe, went ahead and won in overtime, after taking the lead in final two minutes, only to have the Packers drive downfield in the final minute of regulation to tie the score.

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call must-see TV.  The Packer nation was left in shambles, or as longtime Packer fan told me, ‘It’s the worst loss in my lifetime.”

 

The last four minutes of the game was surreal, as it was the largest comeback ever in a conference title game.  It was so unscripted.  You had to see it to believe it.  I saw it and I still didn’t believe it.

 

After the game, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who claims Jesus came to him in a dream when he was 14 years old, said,“That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special. I’ve been through a lot in life, and had some ups and downs. It’s what’s led me to this day.”

Packer QB Aaron Rodgers had a slighty different take on the subject.  I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome. He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”  Amen, brother.

 

One more note on the game.  It seems the Las Vegas initially screwed up the point spread and made the Seahawks an early 3 point favorite.  Well, 80% of the bets in the first 24 hours were on the Patriots, which means the big gamblers thought the spread was wrong and put a ton of dough on New England.  So the big money is riding on New England, and if the Patriots win, Las Vegas is going to take it the shorts.  Big time.  Count on it.

 

Remember, it’s doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s whether or not you beat the spread.

 

For our Super Bowl viewing session, we are going to back to a series of photos I shot back on a Sunday night back in February 2006.  The place was Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive, and on this night the sky did not disappoint.  The cloud color went from soft tangerine to vivid orange orange before finishing up with the grand finale of a blood red.  Meanwhile, the waves were pumping and the crowds along the cliff were loving it, making it a perfect, super Sunday night.

On to some late night humor.  “Tonight President Obama gave the State of the Union address. The Obamas invited 22 guests to the speech, including a former Cuban prisoner, an astronaut, and a doctor. Either that or he was setting up the weirdest bar joke of all time.  The RNC released its first presidential debate schedule, which includes at least nine debates in different states across the country. As opposed to the Democratic debates, which will just be Hillary staring at her opponents until they burst into flames.” – JImmy Fallon
“Last night was the State of the Union address, and everyone’s excited about the huge special appearance by a guy we haven’t seen in a really long time: 2008 Barack Obama. That guy had swagger.” – Jimmy Fallon  “Last night President Obama gave the State of the Union address, and I just have to say that I don’t know what union he was describing. But I want to live there. I want to move. It sounds outstanding. There’s a middle class. They have small businesses. It sounds great.” – Seth Meyers 

“Vice President Joe Biden said he has privately met with 17 Republican senators at his home to try and connect on issues like tax reform. Biden asked what he can do to speed up negotiations, while Democrats asked, “Does this door lock from the outside?”   A new helicopter service called Gotham Air is now offering users cheap flights from Manhattan to JFK or Newark airports that start at just $99. If there’s two words I trust together in the same sentence, it’s “cheap” and “helicopter.” – Jimmy Fallon

“A new study revealed Vermont businesses could benefit financially by legalizing marijuana. And by Vermont businesses I mean specifically Ben & Jerry’s.  In Florida, a teenage boy was arrested for posing as a doctor. After hearing about it, Dr. Phil said, “Wait, it’s illegal to pose as a doctor?” – Conan O’Brien  “This fall Pope Francis will host Mass at Madison Square Garden. And unlike the New York Knicks, he will have a prayer.” – Seth Meyers
More on Super Sunday next week.  Enjoy the game and we’ll catch you putting on one of the all-time greatest shooting performances while setting an NBA record by scoring 37 points in the third quarter Friday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Klay Thompson fans.

December 14, 2014

62 And Still Don’t Have A Clue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 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.

October 12, 2014

Let’s Go, The Meder’s Running

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:54 am

Good morning and greetings, October lovers. What a great time to be alive and a sports fan on this planet. The baseball playoffs are in full swing, we’re one third into the NFL regular season, and the NBA preseason games are underway, which means the real deal is right around the corner. Ah, to be young and concussion free.

Now at the age of 61, I still have a heavy case of the Basketball Jones. For the last fifteen years, I have been playing half court pickup games on Saturdays out in Aptos. Fortunately this involves not a lot of running but a fair amount of sweating, which pleases my doctor to no end.

It’s a game of constant motion and jumping, although I only leave my feet if it’s an emergency. I’m a poster boy for playing at half speed.

So I look forward to hitting a few threes, making some no-look passes, and giving a lot of weakside help, which I think is one the reasons God put me on this great green earth. For you non-basketball folks, weakside help means basically leaving the man you’re guarding and creating a nuisance by double teaming opposing players.

It’s part of the old Magic Johnson philosophy, “Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.”
Now it’s not all that glamorous, but this giving gratifies me like taste of any flavor of Haagen Daz. I know I’ve lost a step or two or three, but my hands are still are still my calling card, as the quickness is still there. And according to my rabbi, I have a very high basketball IQ.

So why am I telling you this? Well, the games at Willowbrook Park have ended. It was a gradual slow and painful process, as the players became disillusioned and stopped showing up. So not only do I miss my weekly workout, but the male bonding with the boys from the south county. You can’t put you arm around a memory.

So what’s a fella to do? Well, I’ve started playing over on the westside at Meder Street Park, where I used to run back in the 80′s. It’s a beautiful location, as the court has a lovely view of the eucalyptus trees. And there’s action every day.

The problem is, I’m now mostly running full court, something I thought I had left in the past, along with dating, trick or treating and leaking out on the fast break. Yes, this game now involves actual running, not just sashaying around the half court making clever comments while picking and rolling.

So right after playing I’m usually sore, so I head to the hot tub, where I soak up before I head into the the oxygen tent. I’m usually in traction the next day, but it’s nothing that a ventilator can’t fix. There’s a fine line between exercise and a heart attack.

My son Jason recently said that if he could build his life around anything, it would be playing basketball. Or establishing world peace through beach volleyball. The macadamia nut didn’t fall far from the cherry tree.

But it’s sometimes awkward at the park when there are fifteen guys there and I’m the only one who’s ever seen an episode of Magnum, P.I.. So I explain that I’m prematurely silver and a graduate student in Buddhist philosophy. Or as former Laker Coach Phil Jackson said, “If you meet the Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball.”

Sometimes before we run start running I get in a few games of half court. It feels so good to be moving and knocking down those open jumpers, bringing me back into the light.

It just goes to show that as one door closes, another back door play opens up. As the saying goes, some want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen. Refuse to lose, defend till the end.

It’s all about standing tall, talking small, playing ball Get a life. Play basketball.

So for today’s photo display, we’re moving into the light, as we are heading down to Lighthouse Point and the arch at Its Beach. All the shots were taken at the golden hour around sunset time, when the sun is low in the sky and the colors and reflection delight.

I’m fond of the last shot of the wave exploding through the arch. This was a magical moment, and my favorite photo from this location.

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On to some late night humor. “A group in Russia has nominated Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize. When Putin heard this he said, “I’m all about achieving piece — piece of Ukraine, piece of Poland.” – Jimmy Fallon “Today is Vladimir Putin’s 62nd birthday. He celebrated the way he always does: having someone try his cake before him. It must be tough buying him a gift. What do you get for the man who has everywhere?” – Craig Ferguson

“The Obamas celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary. It was a quiet late-night supper. It was just the Obamas and a couple of White House fence jumpers. They’re doing everything they can to tighten security at the White House. Today, on the roof of the White House, they added one of those fake owls. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has resigned, and in her closing statement she said, “I’m leaving, not because of the breaches in security, but I don’t think I can take the pressure of the upcoming trick-or-treaters.” – David Letterman

“At the Eiffel Tower they’ve installed a new glass floor that lets tourists see what’s going on hundreds of feet below them. It celebrates France’s favorite pastime: looking down on people.” – Jimmy Fallon “The New York Post says that Oscar Wilde is responsible for Kim Kardashian’s rise to fame because he was the first person “famous for being famous.” When asked her thoughts about it, Kim said, “Is Oscar the one that lives in a trash can?” – Seth Meyers

“The speed limit here in New York City used to be 30 miles an hour. Now it is 25 miles an hour. I’ve gotten out of a cab moving 25 miles an hour. They’re now putting in speed bumps too. For years. it was just pedestrians. Nobody had seen North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for a week, then a month, and now six weeks have gone by and nobody’s seen him. They really started to get worried when he didn’t show up at the Clooney wedding.” – David Letterman

So the games go on and I’m loving it. We’ll catch you creating a TV sitcom called “The Goldbergs” that highlights my Wednesday night. Aloha, mahalo and later, Adam Goldberg fans.

September 21, 2014

Slow Down, What’s The Rosh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 8:48 am

Good morning and greetings, High Holy Day fans. Coming up Wednesday night, people of my tribe will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It’s basically the same as Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, but with a slightly kosher twist.

Instead of a huge ball dropping in Times Square, we start the countdown in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. At the count of 10, a hand-made matzoh ball, about the size of a volleyball, gets passed around the table, and at 1, this tasty little dumpling made of butter, eggs, salt, pepper and some finely minced parsely plops down into the chicken soup and the celebration begins.

Of course, I’m just kidding. It’s more like the size of a tennis ball.

Rosh Hashanah is a day when we stay home from work, which isn’t a stretch for me. It’s an occasion when children of other religions wonder, “why can’t I be Jewish” and “what’s this bar mitzvah deal all about?” Hey, membership has its privileges.

And it is a time for introspection, to look within and without at the mistakes of the past year. I tend to gloss over this part rather quickly, as I tend not to want to dwell on the past, because I’m bound to make the the same mistakes in the future.

It is also a time to plan changes to be made in the new year, but I tend to file that under the “later” or “never” department. Snails are laughing at the speed I make changes.

Food is a big deal on this holiday, as we like to start off the new year with a good taste in our mouths and minds. So on the first night we dip apple slices (I prefer fuji or golden delicious) into honey to symbolize hopes for a sweet new year and for the Dow Jones to stay above 17,000.

Every Friday night, we have a Shabbat dinner with the family, which during the school year includes just my wife and myself, as our son is off at college and my daughter is off to the Hamptons on weekends. On this night we begin with the prayer over the Kedem Pure Grape Juice, my wine of choice.

We also eat a braided egg bread called a challah, which my wife used to make but we now purchase downtown at Noah’s, where their classic New York signature gourmet bagels are fresh-baked in-store every day.

The challah is usually shaped like a football, but on Rosh Hashanah they make them round with raisins, symbolizing the continuation of life and the celebration of the New York Giants picking up their first win of the season.

For me, it’s all about the meal. My wife is very much into the songs and prayers. I am too, in that I’m praying the service will end soon so we can move on to the culinary portion of the program.

So throw in some sweet brisket, honey cake and some freshly caught gefilte fish, and it’s a merry new year. All that’s left is the blowing of the chaufeur, er shorfar. We blow this ram’s horn on the holiday to call to mind the beginning of the new year, to remind people that the British are coming, to recall the inspiring words of the prophets and the hope that one day NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL will take domestic violence as seriously as his Super Bowl Sunday sponsors. Shofar it hasn’t been so good.

Now not only is Rosh Hashanah the start of the high holy days, but it also kicks off the new fall TV season. But I’m still reeling after seeing the opening episode of the “Sons of Anarchy,” as I can no longer recommend it as a family show.

The two-hour premier was shocking from the start, as the brutality, torture and savagery was way over the top. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a drama series about an outlaw motorcyle club or a recruiting tape for ISIS. But it will all come to an end soon, as in the words of executive producer Paris Barclay, “We can’t kill everybody.”

But there is good viewing on the way. Returning shows like “Newsroom,” and “Boardwalk Empire” are in their final season. “Parenthood” is ending its powerful run and creator Jason Katims of “Friday Night Lights” fame says his goal “is a great finish.” You can bet on it.

James Spader and “The Blacklist” returns tonight, and if you can get beyond Megan Boone’s wig and acting you might want to tune in.

So if you’re in need of some entertainment, tune in a “Justified,” “The Americans,” “The Good Wife,” “Ray Donovan,” “House of Cards,” ‘Homeland,” “Mad Men,” or “The Bridge.” These shows are written by the best in the business.

I’m not saying watching television is better than reading a good book. There have been many times I couldn’t put a book down, but I’ve never had trouble turning the TV off.

Nonetheless, there is a lot of good programming to choose from. So enjoy this magic box for what it is. Adulthood is a short season.

So since this is the start of the new year, I figure it is only right to close out the old one. These photos are from the evening of February 20, the final glorious sunset from last winter. I was shooting from Stockton Avenue, and what made this night special was the glow and colors that stuck around long after the sun had set.

It was a proper sendoff, as the sky filled with ribbons of orange clouds before turning impressively red for the locals on West Cliff.

On to some late night humor. “During a speech last night, President Obama announced that the U.S. will lead a huge multinational coalition to fight the terror groups in Iraq. Of course, most people just turned it off because they thought it was a rerun.” – Jimmy Fallon “In his speech the other night, President Obama announced that he’s counting on the support of an international coalition. Right now, we can’t get the support of the International House of Pancakes. – David Letterman

“They’re now selling parking places in New York. You can buy a premium parking place for $1 million. When President Obama heard that, he said, “Hey, wait a minute. I’ll give you $2 million if you will take the place I’m in.” New York City is now selling something like 10 prime parking spots. Each parking spot will cost you a million dollars. In a related story, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will pay you a million dollars for the spot he’s in. – David Letterman

A Michigan funeral home is offering a drive-thru viewing option. Or as they’re calling it, “Jack Actually in the Box.” – Conan O’Brien “At San Francisco’s airport last Tuesday, customs officials confiscated 20 giant millipedes. You should never bring a millipede on an airplane. There’s just not enough leg room.” – Craig Ferguson

“Earlier tonight President Obama spoke to Americans. Obama is getting tough with ISIS. He’s now going to force them to sell their NBA team.” – David Letterman “It’s been discovered that a healthy 24-year-old woman in China has lived her whole life without a major part of her brain. Scientists are calling her “the lost Kardashian.” – Seth Meyers

So let me say l’shanah tovah, which means have a good year and never take the Raiders and the points. We’ll catch you ending your Hall of Fame career and playing your final home game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

September 7, 2014

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Good morning and greetings, NFL fans. Well, the 2014 football season is underway, and already my hopes for the New York Giants going to the Super Bowl have been dashed, by a preseason performance best labeled as “dismal.”

Although the Giants did go unbeaten in the preseason, this perfect record will not mean anything after tonight, when they face the Detroit Lions on opening night of Monday Night Football. In the words of renowned sportscaster Al Michaels, “Those three words resonate like no other.”

At this point, there is a little hope for optimism. Quarterback Eli Manning, the guy who runs the show and has two Super Bowl rings, is coming off a terrible 2013 season, where he threw 27 interceptions and was a complete mess. New York started out 0-6, and although they finished the year at 7-9, I had completely given up on the season after their first three possessions on opening night. Seriously.

I kid you not. There I was, happily looking forward to a semi-successful season of Big Blue football, but in their opening game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Giant’s first three possessions resulted in a fumble and two Manning interceptions. At this point I was horrified, mortified and needed to be anesthetized.

I couldn’t believe how upset I was over their abominable play. It was at this point, not ten minutes into the freaking 2013-14 season, that I cut the emotional chord for the team that I had rooted for my entire lifetime.

Now even though the Giants played well in the second half and had a chance to win the game, I had given up. I had no forgiveness in my heart for Eli Manning. I realized this was just a football game and it’s a long season, but I was too discouraged to root on. I had lost my Giant’s mojo.

So the past is hopefully not my future, and I’m all set to go with my sixteenth year of the NFL Season Ticket package, which will enable me to watch all 16 regular season New York Giant games from the comfort of my living room. Some years have been pure ecstacy, while others have had my questioning my existence on the planet.

As all New York Giant fans know, we’ve had lots of memorable wins and incredible moments over the past couple of decades, but with it also comes a lot of pain and emotional suffering. I can honestly say that many of the greatest days of pure orgasmic joy have come from watching the Giants squash the opposition, whether it be Joe Montana and the 49ers, Tom Brady and the Patriots or Tony Romo and the Cowboys.

I remember the Conference Championships back in 2000, when the underdog Giants took on the Minnesota Vikings and destroyed them, 41-0. Up until this point, this was happiest day of my life. The Giants kept scoring touchdown after touchdown, and my andrenaline was running super high. I remember thinking, why can’t I feel like this every day? And if birds fly over the rainbow, why then, why can’t I?

I recall back in 1986, watching the Giants take apart the 49ers by a 49-3 score. My brother Brad called me during the game, and after he hung up, I thought to myself, that’s the happiest that I ever heard him sound. And I’m sure at that moment my father, my brother Paul and the rest of the Giant football nation were partying like it was 1999.

So once again this season, I have the RedZone Network that shows you the highlights of every scoring play of every game. Just when you thought your TV entertainment experience couldn’t get any better, DIRECTV takes it to a whole new level.

So that horror show on opening day is now a season of the past, and a fresh slate of games is upon us. We’ll see what happens tonight, as Eli Manning still looks out of sync and has a lot to prove. The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, not to be confused with Jean Paul Belmondo, said that, “In the football match, everything is complicated by the presence of the other team.” And that’s why they paid Jean Paul the big bucks.

So I guess I’m still a believer. I know things could be worse. Just ask my son Jason. He’s a Raider’s fan.

So for today’s photo display, we are heading back to the skies above Monterey Bay. There have been a few outstanding sunsets that have made headlines this summer, and if you were lucky enough to see the sky last Friday, you were treated to a spectacular sight.

I could see from the late afternoon clouds that something special was in the air, but I decided to have dinner with my wife and just shoot the closing act. So just before desert I drove over to a park nearby and caught the colors peaking over the Santa Cruz mountains. It was fantastic.

They don’t make them much better than that. It was world class, Santa Cruz.

On to some late night humor. “The NFL season kicked off officially tonight. It’s that magical time of the year when millions of Americans transition from checking Facebook all day at work to checking their fantasy football lineups all day at work.” – Jimmy Kimmel ” Football’s back. Surprisingly, only two teams played tonight, but the Oakland Raiders have already been eliminated from the playoffs.” – Craig Ferguson

“A spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence, one of the people who had nude photos leaked, is calling her nude leaked photos a violation of privacy. Meanwhile Kim Kardashian is calling her nude leaked photos “stuff I was going to release next week. Five geckos sent into space as part of an experiment have all died. On the bright side, they were able to save 15 percent on their car insurance.” – Conan O’Brien

“The NFL season kicks off tomorrow night. And then Friday is the start of the Super Bowl pregame show. What an awful day today. It’s 90 and insufferable. No, wait a minute. That’s me. Here’s how hot it is. I got on the subway this morning and I saw a rat eating a Dove Bar. – David Letterman

“The drug store CVS announced that the corporation is changing itself to CVS Health, and they’re no longer selling cigarettes. The CEO estimates the company will lose about $2 billion this year because they’re not selling cigarettes. It is part of their customer health focus. Competitors of CVS, like Walgreens and Rite-Aid, have no plans to follow suit. As much as they understand the consequences of smoking they also understand the wonderful consequences of making $2 billion a year.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our football report. We’ll catch you and the gang wreaking havoc on fellow outlaw motorcycle clubs tomorrow night on your final season opener on FX. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jax Teller and “Sons of Anarchy” 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.

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