May 17, 2015

Put Your Funny Where Your Mouth Is

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — admin @ 8:54 am
 Good morning and greetings, NBA playoff fans.  Last week, I discussed the serious implications of the California drought.  My head almost exploded when writing about the severe conditions affecting us here in the Golden State. Or as the French writer Chamfort once said,” The most wasted of all days is that in which we have not laughed.”
So now that the Golden State Warriors are moving on to the Western Conference Finals to face the Houston Rockets, I thought I would go back to a more comfortable place and take a trip down memory lane.  Journey on back to a light and breezy world of my younger years, when life was sweet and innocent and all I had to worry about was what was for dinner and getting my homework done as quickly as possible.
Or in the words of Mark Twain, “The human race has only one effective weapon and that is laughter.”

I got hooked on the tube in my early years growing up in the Garden State of New Jersey.  I remember the days of black and white TV and being entranced by cartoons, including “Crusader Rabbit,” the first animated series produced specifically for television.

Crusader Rabbit’s buddy was Ragland T. Tiger, known as Rags.  Their running joke was a character would ask Rags what the “T” stood, to which he’d reply, “Larry.  My father couldn’t spell.”Then in was on to  “Rocky and his Friends,” starring Bullwinkle, the anthropomorphic moose and Rocky, a flying squirrel, pitted against their man adversaries, the Russian spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. This was early cold war drama.  We were also introduced to Mr. Peabody and Sherman, who traveled through history using a WABAC time machine.
Then we move on to the more sophisticated comedy, starting with the slapstick hilarity of “The Three Stooges, starring Moe, Shemp and Curly Howard, joined by Larry Fine.  Curly was a totally unique character, with a high-pitched voice and quirky vocal expressions.  He loved making sounds like “nyuk, nyuk, nyuk,” “woob, wwob, woob,” and “sointenly,” as well as barking like a dog and using his teeth as a typewriter.He was also known for his outrageous physical comedy, as he was always getting poked in his eye, slapped around or banged on his head.  As his older brother Moe often told him, “Remind me to murder you later.”
My brothers and I could sit for hours and watch episodes of “The Three Stooges,” and this was when we were in our 20′s and 30′s.  I then moved on to expanding my horizon, with the “The Great One,” Jackie Gleason, so named by Orson Welles after and long and alcohol-filled night on the town, and his sidekick Art Carney, starring in “The Honeymooners.”
Ralph was a bus driver and Norton a sanitation engineer, er sewer worker.  There were just 39 episodes of this dimly lit sitcom made about their gritty Brooklyn lives in the 50′s.   Ralph was always trying to strike it rich, but never succeeded.  He never made it on the $64,000 question.
But he thought he was the king of the castle, and had the love of his life in Alice, although as he often threatened, “One of these day, Alice, bang, zoom, right to the moon.  And he wasn’t too fond of his mother-in-law.  “She’s a blabbermouth, Alice, a blabbermouth.”
One of my favorite lines from the show was when Norton asked Ralph if he could smoke.  Ralph replied, “I don’t care if you burn.”
And then there was “The Phil Silvers show,”  starring Phil as Master “Sergeant Earnest G. Bilko,” who was always working on his get rich quick schemes and gamblings promotions in his lonely outpost of Fort Baxter, Kansas.   In real life, Silvers was a compulsive gambler, but he was a true genius as a military man, always sticking it to Colonel Hall, Sgt. Rupert Ritzik and the boys in his platoon.    Larry David has called “The Phil Silvers Show” his favorite television program.
And there were more, as I was entranced with the comedy of “Laurel and Hardy,” “The Bowery Boys,” and “Abbott and Costello, and “The Little Rascals,” just to name a few.  I remember Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Stymie, Chubby, Darla, and the lovely Mrs. Crabtree. According to film historian Leonard Maltin, the “Our Gang” crowd put boys, girls, whites and blacks together as equals, something that broke new ground.  Who knew?
Then color came into my life, and the comic Woody Allen moved to the center stage.  His early movies including “Take The Money and Run,” ‘Bananas,” and “Play It Again, Sam” were comic gems.  In the words of the Woodman, “Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, and it’s all over much too soon.”
There have been numerous sitcoms that have come along and entertained me over the years.  Starting with “Cheers,” “Taxi,” “All in the Family,” “The Wonder Years,” and one season of Leslie Nielson and “Police Squad,” which led into the “Naked Gun movies” and “Airplane,” one of the funniest movies of all time, which produced this line, “Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?”

Getting back to the sitcom, there was the “The Larry Sanders Show,” “,Married With Children,” “Roseanne,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Office,” and the leader of the pack, “Seinfeld.”  And from the lips of George Costanza, “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

And of course, there were the great comedy movie classics, starting with the Mel Brooks comedy bonanza “Blazing Saddles,” It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World,” “Caddyshack,” “Annie Hall,” “Dumb and Dumber,” and the cult college classic of all-time, “Animal House, starring John Belushi, which gave us, “Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft?” and “Do you mind if we dance with your dates?”
Doug Kenney co-wrote the screenplays for “Animal House,” and Caddyshack,” along with co-founding National Lampoon magazine.  But he was an alcohol and drug abuser and sadly, back in 1980, at age 33, he died while in Kauai after falling from a 30-foot cliff at the Hanapepe Lookout.  His friend, Harold Ramis, said at the time, that Kenney “probably fell while he was looking for a place to jump”.
Kenney’s pal Chevy Chase told Rolling Stone magazine that in his hotel room they found jokes, notes for projects and an outline for a new movie.  They also found written on the back of a hotel receipt, a gag line: “These last few days are among the happiest I’ve ever ignored.”

So when we see what is alive in the sitcom world today, ‘Modern Family” comes to mind, along with the “The Goldbergs” on ABC.  There’s Julia Louise Dreyfus on “Veep” and the second season” of “Married” on FX.  Unfortunately, I think we’ve seen of the last of  Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but you can always check out “Inside Amy Schumer.”

Now of course I’m leaving out lots good shows and great movies, but the Marx Brothers, the Zucker Brothers and the Farrelly Brothers have to be mentioned. As the late, great Milton Berle, who dated Marilyn Monroe once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”  And it’s cheaper than a week in Hawaii.

So for today’s photo entree, we are returning to the skies over Monterey Bay on the evening of February 22.  There was a large cluster of clouds in the sky and as the sun set into the horizon, the pelicans came flying in from the east, creating a nice backdrop with the crimson sky.
On to some late night humor.  “Hillary Clinton’s younger brother Tony is facing criticism for using the Clintons’ political connections to help his career. So on the down side, she has a sketchy brother named Tony. On the up side, she just locked up every vote in New Jersey.  It turns out Hillary’s brother could damage her campaign. But then Jeb Bush said, “I think we all get a pass on who our brothers are.” – Jimmy Fallon
“It was announced yesterday that Tom Brady will be suspended for the season’s first four games for his alleged role in the deflate-gate scandal. Though the NFL says his punishment could be reduced if he commits a real crime.” – Jimmy Fallon  “The NFL has suspended Tom Brady for four games over deflate-gate. They’re going to punish him by making him stay home in his mansion with his supermodel wife and think about what he did wrong.” – Conan O’Brien
 ”I have nothing against the North Koreans but this Kim Jong Un has got a screw loose. A member of his cabinet, his security minister, nods off, falls sleep. We’ve all done it. Kim Jong Un takes the guy out and has him executed, just for just falling asleep. Oh, and he was also deflating footballs.  New York City has a rat problem. There must be three to four million rats running loose, but finally, Mayor de Blasio has declared war on rats. Here’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to bring in more coyotes.” – David Letterman

“Barbara Walters admitted to stealing an artifact from the White House. She said, “I was young, and I didn’t think President Lincoln would mind.  McDonald’s is starting to introduce kale into their salads. McDonald’s customers heard this and asked, “What’s kale, and what’s a salad?” – Conan O’Brien

So we’ll catch you shut down playing like a true NBA MVP and taking down the Memphis Grizzlies.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

September 8, 2013

No Man Is A Garden Island

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 8:32 am

Good morning and greetings, NFL fans. Maybe it’s a delayed reaction from the 1987 Harmonic Convergence or just Murphy’s Law of tourism, but as soon as our out-of-town visitors exited from our lovely, kelp-filled shores, the weather turned as glorious as the 49ers chances of returning to the Super Bowl this season. And much of it depends on the health of star QB Colin Kaepernick, who has more biblical phrases inscribed on his skin than were on the bathroom walls of Noah’s Ark.

The above statement about our meteorological conditions is not completely true, as the weather for Labor Day weekend was as outstanding as quarterback Peyton Manning’s seven touchdown passing performance against the Ravens on Thursday night.

Summertime comes late here on the central coast, as we have recently been blessed with warm, fog free days accompanied by soft breezes that drive my endorphins crazy. It’s a season with a special feeling. There’s a Swedish proverb that says “A life without love is like a year without summer.” But I much prefer the lyrics, “I could live without love if I wanted to in this lonely room. But I don’t want to so I leave it up to you to wash away my gloom.” And that is why I didn’t get married until age 36.

So I’ve been back from Kauai for over two weeks, yet remnants and traces of love from long ago and the aloha experience are stuck in my mind like gum on the bottom of my flip flops. It’s not easy coming home and transitioning back to the realities of everyday life. It brings on feelings of anxiousness, depression and auditory hallucinations. But it’s an adjustment we all have to make. Which brings to mind something very poignant my wife said to me a few weeks back. “You’ve been on vacation since the day I met you.” Lucky I’m not Mr. Sensitive.

So despite the fact that I like to get away from it all while off the mainland, I will admit to watching a tiny bit of TV over in the islands, so as just to keep up on the local news and any new Seinfeld episodes. I’m totally captivated by the channel that lists what’s being shown currently on the cable, as it’s a 24 hour Hawaiian islands weather report of trade winds, nautical conditions and monk seal sightings.

I love when they drone on about the latest water temperature, buoy and tide reports, sunrise and sunset times, and the amount of lava and macadamia nuts flowing from the Big Island. It’s this constant droning that served as my island mantra. It fills in many of the gaps in my life and covered commercial breaks while watching the University of Hawaii Sports Channel.

We viewed this station rather extensively during the hottest part of the day, when we were forced indoors and replenished ourselves with ladels of guava and orange passion juice. I don’t want to say my son and I watched a lot of previously taped women’s NCAA volleyball, but by the end of our trip, I knew Jane Croson and her Rainbow teammates better than the results of my last blood test.

Ah, Honolulu. What a lovely place to attend an institute of higher learning. I’ve always been a big fan of the University motto, Ma luna a’e na lahui a pau ke ola ke kanaka, meaning above all nations is humanity and don’t worry about your SAT scores.

Immediately upon my arrival in the South Pacific, I adjusted to Hawaiian time and thus slept in until 3:38 am the first morning. I then lay there like a vacationing gecko, waiting for the monsters and darkness to go away. Fortunately, I was not alone as every rooster and cornish game hen on the North Shore had been notified of my arrival.

Finally, at 6 am, I left our beach cottage and headed to where Anahola River meets the Pacific Ocean. There I stood at the ocean’s edge, a warm breeze blowing, alone and unafraid. At that point I knew the challenges that lay ahead. My mission was to shoot all seven vacation sunrises, and later post the highlights of the best mornings in a blog. That’s me, always working. At least till 7 am.

So the sun rose and I took it in. Nothing too spectacular, at least compared to Santa Cruz, but each morning had a few James Worthy moments. Truthfully, it didn’t matter because I was in Hawaii, a tropical paradise, and I get all the sunrises I need and more in the Cruz. And each morning, when I listened closely, I heard like a soft breeze the words, aloha wau la ‘oe, which means I love you and give the islands back to the Hawaiians.

So today I’m featuring the best sunrise shots from a week of shooting from the northeast coast of Kauai. And just for nostalgia sake, I’m throwing in my favorite sunrise shot from last year. It’s always exciting when the sun makes it’s first appearance of the day along the horizon. It’s something, unlike the thought of the U.S. getting involved in the horrific mess in Syria, that I will never tire of. It brings to mind the words Detective Steve McGarrett uttered in every preview episode of the original “Hawaii Five-O, “Be there. Aloha.”

On to the late night humor. “This weekend, leaders from the NAACP met with leaders from the KKK. After seven hours of talks both sides agreed that they don’t really care for Bryant Gumbel. Yesterday a news anchor accidentally hung up on Oprah while he was interviewing her. He is survived by his wife and children. – Conan O’Brien

“Happy Rosh Hashanah. In honor of the Jewish new year, Mayor Bloomberg has banned the 16-ounce brisket. Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage. She swam all the way from Cuba to Miami — accompanied by five Cuban pitchers.” – David Letterman “Senator McCain was caught playing poker during a hearing. The worst part is that he didn’t even know he was playing poker. He was just trying to text his wife. “How’d I lose $1,500 asking Cindy what’s for dinner?” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama is trying to get congressional approval before we attack Syria. And if that works, there’s talk we might even consider bringing back the rest of the Constitution. President Obama is pretty clever. Did you see what he is doing to get Congress to approve the attack? He told them Syrian President Assad supports Obamacare.” – Jay Leno

“All the big-time world leaders are at the G-20 summit. All eyes are on Obama because of Syria. He wants to use military strikes. Even his allies don’t agree with him. Britain wants to use economic embargoes. France wants to use sarcasm. Tonight was the NFL’s season opener, with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens playing the Denver Broncos. I ordered a pizza while we were watching the game — which got weird when Tim Tebow delivered it.” – Craig Ferguson

Over the Labor Day weekend we had amazing back-to-back nights of sunset delight along with a sunrise that wasn’t too shabby. Just goes to show you always have to expect the unexpected.

We’ll catch you putting up perhaps your greatest NFL quarterbacking performance at age 37. Aloha, mahalo and later, Peyton Manning fans.

August 4, 2013

Tune In, Turn On, Look Out

Good morning and greetings, August fans. There’s a special feeling to the start of a new month, as those not-so-distant memories of July are replaced by fresh images of August on calendars throughout my heavily fortified office. A few years back, there were 28 different calendars adorning my office walls, which meant the nature and landscape changed significantly from month to month. Still, I never knew what day it was.

Now I’ve mentioned on occasion that I’m a fan of the machine that transmits and receives moving images, known to some as the “boob tube.” Now this moniker has a couple of different meanings, of which I’ll let Gloria Steinem do the explaining. To some it’s known as the “idiot box.” I say you’d be an idiot not to own one.

The world is full of critics of this medium, which for too many folks becomes extra large over time. Ernie Kovaks called television a medium because, “It is neither rare or well done.” ‘Star Trek’ creator Gene Roddenberry fired back, with “they say ninety percent of TV is junk. But, ninety percent of everything is junk.” And you know what they say, one man’s junk is another man’s TiVo pleasure.

I would disagree with 90 percent, as I’m more comfortable with a solid eighty-five. But for me, that fifteen percent of the written word, translated into dialogue and action, is just heavenly. It’s an escape into a world that always welcomes me with a smile and a handshake, as we are very comfortable old friends. It’s one of the longest relationships I’ve ever had, dating back to the fifties when life wasn’t as nearly as colorful, and all things, including my future, was in black and white.

Television is not for everyone, as there are some major front and side effects. The real danger is its effect on children, teenagers and some family pets. The tube is locked and loaded with programs that present risky behaviors such as premarital sex, alcohol and drug use and not studying for the SATs as cool and exciting. The problem is, they rarely portray the dark side of the consequences that go along with these actions. If you don’t believe me, just watch sixty seconds of “The Jersey Shore.”

I’m not here to preach about the dangers of children watching televison. We all know that children who are glued to the tube have seen more acts of violence involving murder, mayhem and destruction they will see in real life in a thousand lifetimes. There is nothing beneficial in any of this programming. Children think the behavior they see on the tube is the norm and acceptable, and some will try to imitate it. I got caught up in it during my Don Johnson/Sonny Crockett faze with ‘Miami Vice.’ “You gotta know the rules before you break ‘em. Otherwise, it’s no fun.” Now that man had a sense of fashion.

Young children can’t distinguish televison programs from commercials, especially if their favorite character is pushing some sugary product. Television plays an enormous role in the lives of the citizens of this great nation. In the words of humorist Dave Barry, “If you surveyed a hundred typical middle-aged Americans, I bet you’d find that only two of them could tell you their blood types, but every last one one of them would know the theme song from ‘The Beverly Hillbillies.’

But there is another danger out there involving young children and television, which I wasn’t aware of until I ran across this story written by Andrew M. Seamen for Reuters. And it’s a shocker.

In a new study, a child is rushed to an emergency room in the U.S. every 45 minutes with an injury that’s related to a falling television. And all this time when I thought the sky was falling, it was actually flat screen TVs. Even Chicken Little is shaken.

From 1990 through 2011, researchers found that about 381,000 children and teenagers were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for TV-related injuries. More than half were caused by falling TVs, another 38 percent by children running into the them. The majority of the injuries were to boys and about 64 percent of the injuries were to children less than five years old. Two-year olds were the age group most likely to be hurt. As I child, I remained unscathed, although I once suffered a paper cut while thumbing through TV Guide.

Here’s what’s happening. Flat-screen TVs are selling faster than hotcakes from the griddle. The older televison sets, which we used to adore but are bigger and bulkier, are being relocated to bedrooms, playrooms, top of dressers, tunnels, safehouses and underground bunkers. The problem is these dinosuars of yesteryear may tip over, because their new locations were never designed to support TVs. And that’s how the dinosaurs went extinct.

But there is a simple way to protect your children from the dangers of falling televisions. “If you have a TV at home, it doesn’t matter if it’s a flat screen or a tube model, that TV must be anchored to a wall,” says former Navy man Gary Smith, the President of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance who headed the study.

And all this time I thought it was the programs the kids were watching that was the enemy to be feared. I knew there were certain dangers in life for our youngest, but I always thought it was cars, MTV and going into the water too soon after eating. It’s our youngest of our youth who must beware of what’s falling from the skies and counters. As poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “As soon as there is life, there is danger? Who knew he was talking about TV?”

For today’s photo adventure, we go back to the evening of January 9, when I headed out to the end of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and I shot this beautiful sunset. I don’t often get to include the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse in my evening shots, as I like to shoot further north along West Cliff, but on this night, while shooting west across the water, it was a welcome addition.

I love the wharf, as there’s usually some photographic action that goes well with warm sour dough bread and creamy clam chowder. And if you’re out there, stop by Gilbert’s Gift Shop, and check out some images of my work that are available for purchase or just for your viewing pleasure.

On to some late night. “A new poll came out and says that most Democrats think Anthony Weiner has basically lost his mind. Weiner said, ‘The important thing is I haven’t lost my phone.’” –Conan O’Brien “Anthony Weiner has vowed to continue to fight. He said he is staying in the race because he cares deeply about the people of New York — except for the one he is married to.” –Jimmy Kimmel “It seems an audio sex tape that Monica Lewinksy recorded for Bill Clinton at the height of their affair back in the 1990s has now been leaked to the National Enquirer. With all these scandals involving Anthony Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, it’s nice to see an old pro come out of retirement and show these guys how it’s done.” –Jay Leno

“Edward Snowden, the guy who leaked all that information about the NSA, finally got to leave the Moscow airport this morning after being held there for five weeks. When asked what he wanted to eat, he said, ‘Anything but Cinnabon.’ Congress has a month-long vacation coming up, but House Republicans are being pressured to use their time off to reach out to women, young people, and minorities. So they all got together and decided to go to a Selena Gomez concert.” –Jimmy Fallon “In a new interview, Republican Senator John McCain implied that he might vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. McCain’s getting old. He also said he’d consider voting for oatmeal.” –Craig Ferguson

“Russian President Vladimir Putin was on vacation last week, and apparently he caught a giant 46-pound fish. Putin called it a crowning achievement, while the manager of the aquarium said, ‘What am I supposed to do? He’s president.’” –Jimmy Fallon “A high school in Arkansas is letting teachers carry concealed weapons. So now when students want to ask a question, they raise both hands.” –Conan O’Brien “It is not looking good for Alex Rodriguez. There’s a good chance he could be banned from baseball for life. How good? He got 2-to-1 odds from Pete Rose.” – Jay Leno

“More problems for America’s creepiest mayor, San Diego’s Bob Filner. An eighth woman has now come forward to say that she was sexually harassed by him. She said she would’ve come forward sooner but the line was too long. In what has to be the most outrageous defense ever – this is real – Filner’s lawyer said if there’s any liability, it’s the city liable for failing to give the mayor sexual harassment training. Oh, come on now. Just shut up!” –Jay Leno “Facebook has a new feature that allows you to see what you were posting a year ago. You just log on to Facebook and click on the “I’m wasting my life” button.” – Conan O’Brien

So that’s our first blast for August 2013. Sweet 16 birthday wishes go out on Wednesday to my lovely daughter Aimee, who pitched two shutout innnings and made the defensive play of the game on a line drive shot up in middle in her victorious GALS championship softball game last week. Got to love a lefty who can throw strikes all day.

We’ll catch you showing the world that great new shows appear on cable networks like FX in the summertime. Aloha, mahalo and later, “The Bridge” fans.

February 24, 2013

If At First You Do Succeed, Blog, Blog Again

Good morning and greetings, late February fans. Well, time continues to fly by. Days, months, years, TV seasons just seem to go by faster and faster as I get older. Having children really gives you a sense of how quickly time goes. One day you’re pushing them on a swing, and then the next they’re pushing their lawyer to file emancipation papers. As writer Oscar Wilde noted, “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes, they forgive them.” It’s statements like that which harken me back to my son’s first question, “Daddy, what’s a beneficiary?”

The reason I bring up the subject of time is that this post is my 365th. What this means is that once a day, over a period of time it takes for Oprah to orbit the sun, I have sat down on my computer, clicked the publish key, and voila, six photos and approximately 1,500 words have appeared on the screen due to my compliance. And I admit, when I first view the new post, it’s still a thrill, like striking out the last batter, hitting a game-winning jumper or figuring out how to add an attachment to my email.

So you might ask, Geoff, why do you continue to do it, why spend your precious time writing a somewhat humorous blog when you could be spending life’s precious moments on something more important, like trying to figure out how you ended up with all this free time in the first place. Well, that is something I don’t want to delve into, an underworld of thoughts that best remains buried as deep as the Oakland Raiders were in the final standings this year. Suffice to say that maybe God put me on his good green earth to spread a little cheer in a time of when we could certainly use a laugh, chuckle or a big tax return.

I can say with complete conviction that these words have brought joy to some, or one, as I had my mother write down her praise and had the document notarized. There’s an old Jewish proverb that says, “God couldn’t be everywhere, so he created mothers.” I thought that’s why he created TV. Or as the fabulous Phyllis Diller once said, “I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford. And then I want to move in with them.”

So now you might be wondering, (that is, if you’re still reading,) have I learned anything from these five plus years of posting a photo blog into cyber space, allowing the free world to experience the river of thoughts that circulate through my mind? Yes, I have. For one thing, the Pulitzer Prize committee is very picky. Two, it’s not that easy to bribe a Pulitzer judge. I guess that’s just the difference between me and four-time winner Robert Frost. As he said, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the less traveled, and that has made all the difference.” I did the same thing and just got lost.

I have also learned that I still love to write, and more specifically, rewrite. It always thrills me when I can make a joke just a little bit better, because let’s face it, writing this much for a Red Cross salary has to have some conjugal payback on the spiritual level. As a young man growing up, I loved the humor of Woody Allen. He was the man and that was my comic sensibility. Now, I’ve never considered marrying one of Mia Farrow’s adopted children, but in my earlier years people sometimes said I reminded them of the Woodman and that was the ultimate compliment. However, I quickly came back down to earth when one day I ran into former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen and the told me, “I know Woody Allen, and you’re no Woody Allen.”

So I continue to plug away at my arts and craft, with the hope that the beauty and humor from these pages makes the world a little better place. At the same time, and for purely for sociological purposes, I continue to extensively monitor the world of television in attempt to stay in shape by being well-rounded and tropical, which includes watching enough NBA basketball to bring down a herd of small elephants. And if you haven’t checked out the new show on FX, “The Americans,” about a KGB sleeper cell in America, you might want to take a gander. Or in the words of that Soviet party animal Nikita Khrushchev, “We will bury you,” a quote that I read on the wall inside the FBI building in Washington, D.C., when I visited there as a young diplomat. I’ll never forgot those words, which were accompanied by a hammer, sickle and shovel.

So I can’t say how long I will continue to bring you the best of what I see in the earth and sky, but I can guarantee this. As long as I have clear eyes, a full heart, my readers can’t lose. Sunrise Santa Cruz forever. Or at least through spring break.

So for today’s photo snack bar, we are heading back to the morning of December 28 at Lighthouse Point. Mornings like this is why I’m a sunrise photographer, when the sky just blows up with color and and I can stand along the edge of the continent and capture the incredible reflection on the Pacific Ocean. This fascination (some might say obsession) of capturing the morning magnificence started back in 2003, when I saw a photo from the late photographer Galen Rowell of a beautiful sunrise on a pond in northern California, with the reflection captured perfectly in the still water. I said to myself, “This is what I want to do,” and I’ve been doing it ever since. To paraphrase the Doobie Brothers, “What was once a vice is now a habit.”

On to some late night humor. “Former Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. pled guilty to misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign funds for personal use, including buying a $43,000 Rolex watch. How ironic is that? All that money on a watch, and now he’s going to wind up doing time. You knew this was going to happen. Dozens and dozens of lawsuits have already been filed against Carnival Cruise Lines. Well, if you thought the ship was filthy, slimy, and disgusting, wait until these lawyers get involved. Over the weekend, President Obama played golf with Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods gave the president some very valuable tips. The most valuable one? Erase all of your text messages.” – Jay Leno

“I’ve got the latest Oscar buzz. Many Pakistanis are saying that Zero Dark Thirty contains factual errors. Then someone explained to the Pakistanis that being directed by a woman does not qualify as a factual error. A top food manufacturer is reporting that some of their pasta meals contain horse meat. So if I were you, I’d stay away from the ‘Rigatoni, My Little Pony.’” – Conan O’Brien “Lent officially began yesterday. Do you know what the Lakers are giving up for Lent? The playoffs.” – Jay Leno

“They’re going to miss Pope Benedict. He’s very underrated. This is the guy who wanted to replace Communion wafers with unlimited bread sticks. Pope Benedict is deaf in one ear. He’s deaf in one ear and also a little bit blind, but boy, he sure could play a mean pinball. It’s day five of that Carnival Cruise trip. You know you’re on a bad cruise if you wake up on day two, you look out your little porthole, and you see the captain and the crew in a lifeboat.” – David Letterman

“It’s a great day for the city of Los Angeles. We’ve become the first city to synchronize all of our traffic lights. This will make it easier to get downtown and watch the Lakers lose. It’s a great day for a bunch of thieves in Belgium. They got away with more than $50 million worth of pure, uncut diamonds. This diamond heist is the biggest robbery ever pulled off at an airport if you don’t count them charging $25 to check a bag. Most stores are open on Presidents Day. What better way to celebrate our presidents than by offering a sale on tires? Yes, four score and 20 years ago, our forefathers got two-for-one on steel-belted radials.” – Craig Ferguson

So that’s our last blast for February. Birthday wishes go out on Wednesday to my old Ivy League pal, Amy Zimmerman, who I believe is the only woman in America to watch “Silver Linings Playbook” three times in the same day.

We’ll catch you showing everyone that even in your mid-thirties, you’re as dangerous a scorer as you’ve ever been. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kobe Bryant fans.

May 27, 2012

It’s Just A Click Away

Good morning and greetings, season finale fans. As some of my followers in cyber space may have picked up on, every once in a while I have to force myself to relax, which inevitably leads to some TV research. I try to limit myself to under 50 shows a week, which includes sports, sitcoms, dramas, late night, national news, fake news, and any news magazine program involving true crime. It’s a tireless, daunting task, but as I’ve asked myself many times as I zip through the commercials, “If not me, then who?” It’s like being on a mission from Neilson gods.

So when I read this story last week, it hit me like a ton of Philadelphia cream cheese bricks. In a article written by Carla K .Johnson for the Associated Press, Eugene Polly, who is credited with perhaps the world’s greatest invention besides the Slinky, died last Sunday in Chicago at the age of 96. His invention, the first wireless TV remote control, began as a luxury, but with the introduction of hundreds of channels, it became a necessity, much like my Ultra Plush electrically heated toilet seat.

Back in the black and white days in 1955, if you wanted to switch channels from the Phil Silvers show to The Honeymooners, you had to do what the early pioneers and Donner party did. You had to get up off the couch stroll across the room and turn a knob. For the youth of today, this would be considered prehistoric. It would be like living with a modern stone age family like the Flintstones, except there was no yabba dabba doo time.

But then came Eugene Polley’s miracle invention. Thanks to Geno, you could purchase a new Zenith television with a wireless remote control called the Flash-Matic. It was a green, ray gun-shaped contraption with a red trigger that was very temperamental, requiring precise angling to work successfully. It was a huge advancement from Zenith’s first TV remote, a device called the “Lazy Bones,” which was connected to the TV set by a wire cord. With the Flash-Matic, it was channel surfing city.

The advertising at the time promised “TV miracles.” Zenith and the Parent Televison Council claimed the “flash tuner” was “Absolutely harmless to humans!” And most intriguing of all: “You can even shut off annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen.” Gadzooks and great balls of fire, this man was a genuis. Now if he had just invented something that could help me find my remote, I’d be in TiVo heaven.

Polley’s Flash-Matic pointed a beam of light at photo cells in the corners of the television screen. Each corner activated a different function, turning the picture and sound off and on, and changing the channels. This is beyond my realm of understanding, as I still don’t know how the TV picture gets inside the screen. Or how cell phones can work so quickly or computers come up with searches instantaneously. Or as George Orwell once told me, “He who controls the present, controls the past. And he who controls the past, remote controls the future.”

To wrap this up, here’s a thought from David Lazarus at “Gush all you want about Facebook, Twitter and other recent tech innovations. I’d stack Eugene Polley and his TV remote against all of them. After all, which would you be more willing to give up — Facebook or your remote? … Thought so.” Dave, I couldn’t have tweeted that better myself.

Moving along, last Wednesday, as I walked along West Cliff on a low tide morning, I spotted two great blue herons standing in the sea grass. I looked on in amazement, as over a period of 27 years, I could count on three fingers the numbers of herons I had actually spotted in the ocean. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I returned to one of the locations the next day and there it was (photo #1.) I’ve included three other photos of some great blues from over the years to keep this great bird company.

In other aviary news, the comorants have set up shop and built their nests at the end of West Cliff Drive (photos 5 & 6,) just outside of Natural Bridges State Beach. The females will lay their eggs, the babies will hatch and their will be new life along the cliff. It’s a reassuring sight to see on a daily basis, and I’ll keep you updated as to when the storks arrive.

On to some late night. “Here’s an election update. Today Mitt Romney met with a group of wealthy Latino business owners. Or as Romney calls them, ‘the Juan percent.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Mitt Romney and his family have a big two-day weekend plan. They’re going to hike to the top of his money.” –David Letterman

“I know why you’re happy. Facebook went public and you’re all billionaires now. It is worth one hundred and four billion dollars. There has got to be a cheaper way to find out if your ex-girlfriend got fat. For the first time in our history, more minority children were born in America than white children. And today the Octomom said, ‘I’m on it.’” –Bill Maher

“Mark Zuckerberg got married a couple of days ago. At their wedding, Zuckerberg’s wife wore a dress that cost nearly $5,000. That is until the dress went public. Now it’s worth $2,000.” –Conan O’Brien “There has been another new development in the Secret Service prostitution scandal… (Some agents) say this kind of thing is so common that internally they refer to it as the Secret Circus. Which explains why they were trying to pay the hookers peanuts.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our last blast for May 2012. Birthday wishes go out today to my lovely sister-in-law Wendi, who turns the big 50. She is the queen of comments here at Sunrise Santa Cruz and someone who really gets it. Who doesn’t love a woman whose wedding invitations were made out of chocolate?

And our Thursday, my snow boarding brother Brad’s favorite son Miles becomes a teenager. Congratulations and follow your shot.

So spend a moment today thinking what Memorial Day is all about and the sacrifices our military families make. We’ll catch you having your knee drained and then taking it to the hoop like a madman. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dwyane Wade fans.

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