November 27, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 24, 2011

Just Smile And Waves

Good morning and greetings, big wave fans. During the summer in Santa Cruz, the surf crowd doesn’t have all that much to get excited about, as the swells are smaller than the chances the Warriors will be playing opening night against the Lakers in November. At this point in my life, I would prefer to “luck out” rather than have a “lockout” of my favorite sport, but as the Dali Lama once told me, “Basketball is life and the rest is just karma.”

But let’s get back to the subject and predicate at hand. In a story written by Suzanne Bohan in the Contra Costa Times, the winter of 2009-10 was more brutal on the coastal erosion front than the Taliban’s continuing campaign against women and education. These super storms, which were faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall seawalls in a single bound, eroded huge chunks of shoreline and my faith in sand bags.

To see this displacement of Mother Earth in action, just stroll
along West Cliff Drive and you get a birds-eye view of the process.
According to a new study by scientists and Al Gore’s pilates
instructor, the coastline may be disappearing faster than Rupert Murdoch’s justification for Fox News, as climate change will be bringing encores of these powerful storm seasons.

During the 2009-10 winter season, waves in the Pacific and my urge to dance were 20 % stronger on average than any other year since 1997, when the whole ballroom obsession thing just took over me. The higher-than-usual sea levels, like my desire to rumba, foxtrot and tango, eroded away California state beaches at “unprecedented levels,” according to coastal geologists and lifeguards who saw their towers washed away. It’s the kind of winters we may continue to experience as global temperatures and out-of-control tuition
hikes for UC schools continue to rise.

In the erosion department, it is natural for the coastlines to be
stripped of sand by the powerful winter waves. In the summertime, it is replenishment city as the sand makes a return engagement on the backs of smaller waves. Unfortunately, after the stormy winter of 2009-10, King Neptune taketh more than he giveth, leaving the beaches more vulnerable to worsening erosion problems from than my thoughts and feelings after watching an episode of “Parenthood.”

Now normally you would blame these big-time storms on our old friend, El Nino, but instead, the finger gets pointed a his second cousin, El Nino Modoki, with Modoki being Japanese for “similar, but different,” or “does that come with teriyaki sauce?” This involves the raising of central Pacific water temperatures along with the salt and dried kelp content of miso soup.

What we’re really talking about is warm sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific flanked on the east and west by cooler waters, a sort of tempura condition. It’s akin to putting your right foot in, then taking your right foot out before putting your right foot back in and shaking it all about. It sounds like a lot of hocus pocus to me but that’s what it’s all about.

So to give you a look at what some of those waves blasting against the coast looked like, let’s journey back to a glorious day along
West Cliff. As you can see, the swell was pumping, bringing with it a high energy feeling and big spray. Photo number four is my favorite, as it’s the new wave hitting the backwash of the previous one and cresting up to form this furious entanglement of white foam. I really wanted to give this spectacular shot of fluid dynamics a clever title and thought long and hard before coming up with, “The Wave.”

We end this photo faire with a couple of landscape shots from
Its Beach during the golden hour from the same day. If anyone out there is cyber space knows how they came up with the name ‘Its’,
please clue me in. I could take a guess, but this blog is rated strictly PG-13.

On to the late night. “While testifying in Parliament, Rupert Murdoch was attacked by a man who threw a pie and yelled insulting names. Murdoch immediately gave the man a show on Fox News. NASA is considering replacing the space shuttle with a space taxi. It can do everything the shuttle can do, except pick you up if you’re black. A panel of medical experts has recommended that health insurance
companies provide free birth control to their customers. The recommendation has been hailed as ‘historic’ by women’s’ groups, and as ’10 years too late’ by Maria Shriver.” –Conan O’Brien

“Rupert Murdoch was testifying in his phone hacking case today, and a man attacked him with a pie. Fortunately, Murdoch knew to move out of the way, because he heard about the plan on the guy’s voicemail.” –Jimmy Fallon “Borders bookstores announced that it will liquidate its stock and close all of its stores nationwide. I don’t think this is what the Republicans meant by ‘closing our borders.’ The United States’ soccer team lost to Japan, which means we’re now losing to Japan in math, science, and penalty kicks.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“It’s rumored that Arnold Schwarzenegger is working on a memoir. Yeah, it’s apparently over 500 pages long — and that’s just the dedication to his kids.” –Jimmy Fallon “Rupert Murdoch said yesterday at the House of Commons that he was shocked, appalled, and ashamed. So apparently he watches Fox News, too.” –Jay Leno
“Sarah Palin’s son Track and his wife are having a baby. They haven’t picked a name yet, but they do know it will be a verb.” –Conan O’Brien

Top Five Surprising Facts About the Moon Landing
10. Was filmed on the same soundstage where they shot ‘Green Acres’ 8. They returned to the moon a week later because one of the astronauts dropped his car keys 6. Buzz Aldrin stuffed his space suit to make himself look bigger 4. Astronauts were charged extra for not returning the capsule with a full tank of gas 1. Neil Armstrong was also the first man on Mrs. Armstrong

So that’s my last blast for July. I’m going to take a couple of weeks off and head to the islands, so look for some aloha action on my return. In the meantime, be grateful for the food on your table as the current famine in Somolia is more horrible than words. It’s worse
than last week’s record-breaking heat and humidity in New York and the truly senseless massacre in Norway. We’ll catch you at home plate. Aloha, mahalo and later, Don Rickles fans.

July 3, 2011

You Could Have Knocked Me Over With A Weather

Good morning and greetings, Independence Day fans. Now, I know the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains, but I had no idea that the rain in
Santa Cruz fell merrily in June. This being the case, much like during the math section of the SAT’s, I was somewhat surprised and bewildered when torrents of moisture dropped down from the sky last Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service in Monterey, where I go to get my international news and latest cricket scores, two inches of rain fell in the month in June. Now, I know this doesn’t seem like much compared to the world’s record rainfall, when 12 inches came down in just 42 minutes back in Missouri in 1947. That, my raindrop-loving friends, was precipitation gone wild.

Tuesday’s surprise rainfall amounted to about .03 inches, which is the
same amount I shrink height-wise each year. When the skies opened up that morning, shocking locals, tourists and sunblock salesman, it went on the books as the wettest June on record in Santa Cruz history, breaking the previous mark set back in 1929, before there was skype, twitter and the newest Republican nut on the block, Michele Bachman.

This storm came spinning down from the Gulf of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, as a result of a strong low pressure system. Or in the words of the great George Carlin, as hippy-dippy weatherman Al Sleet, “the weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused
with a Mexican high.” The storm also brought snow to the Sierras, which meant smiles on the face of skiers, snowboarders and saint bernards as both the slopes and my sinuses are open today on the Fourth of July.

Although this weather didn’t stick around much longer than my plans of going to medical school, it got me thinking about wild weather around this geographically diverse nation of ours. So thanks to Dan Baker at
http://web2.airmail.net, here are some fun and amazing facts that you may not have known or cared about from the weather front.

On February 12, 2010, which I believe was a Thursday, 49 of our 50 states had snow on the ground, with the exception of Hawaii, where snow was banned by the State Board of Tourism and signed into law by Commander Steve McGarrett of the new Hawaii Five-O. This is not really true, as snow recently fell on the Big Island on the slopes of either Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea or some kind of macadamia nut.

On January 11th of this year, snow was on the ground in every state except Florida, which received an exemption due to voting fraud and
the impending free agency of Orlando center Dwight Howard. The reason I bring these snow stats up is that it is very unusual for many of the southern states to have the white-powered ground cover, as it would be if the Republicans supported any legislation by Michelle Obama.

If you like dry spells, but how about the the goings on in Bagdad, California, a ghost town located in the eastern Mojave Desert? They
did not see any rain for 767 days during a two-year period between 1912 and 1914. The only drier period of time in history was the Golden State Warriors just sniffing the playoffs once in the last two hundred years.

When one hears Seattle, we think of Gus Williams, Kurt Cobain and rain.
Well, believe it or not, umbrella fans, although the Emerald City is cloudy 227 days a year, it receives less rain than New York, Miami or Fort Lee, New Jersey. So there goes the joke that it rains only twice a year in Seattle: August through April and May through July.

We think of Chicago as the “Windy City” or the city that Michael
Jordan built with the help of Scottie Pippen. However, when it comes to wind speed, it’s not close to being wind central, as New York’s average wind speed is higher, but that could be from all the hot air that Rush Limbaugh is blowing out over the radio.

And finally, Cherrapunji in northeastern India is considered the wettest place on earth. I always thought it was a mountaintop in Kauai, but obviously I’m no Al Roker. Anyway, in the iron of ironies, these poor folks experience severe water shortages due to pollution and deforestation. As a result, they must walk miles to obtain drinkable water. Thus, they are walking in the rain, but I have a feeling
they’re not singing and don’t have that “glorious feelin’, I’m happy again.”

For today’s photo symphony, we start out with a late afternoon sky full of clouds at Stockton Avenue before heading up to Natural Bridges to take in the sunset. Photo #3 is my salute to Fourth of July as I caught this gull in full regalia. I call this shot “Flying Free,” which is my personal Declaration of independence from British rule and rock.

We then finish up with an image from the same night of the final arch at the Bridges and then the dancing clouds reflecting on the sand. These
peach-like colors were unusual to view at sunset, and their reflection
decorated the beach in just the right way on this enchanting evening.

And now a little late night. “Anthony Weiner is reportedly involved in
choosing his successor. The first question he asked his potential replacements is, ‘What’s the difference between ‘reply’ and ‘reply all?” –Conan O’Brien “Anthony Weiner is back in the private sector now.
When he was a congressman from New York, I think it was his private sector that got him in trouble.” –David Letterman “President Obama was in New York today. There was an awkward moment in Times
Square when he saw the Naked Cowboy and said, ‘Please tell me you’re not a Democratic Congressman.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Michele Bachmann is kind of like Sarah Palin but without the charisma — or marksmanship. “You know, maybe we should stop telling kids that anyone can grow up to be president of the United States.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Michele Bachmann said her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, is the birthplace of John Wayne, when it is actually the birthplace of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. She then said her favorite sitcom from the 80s is ‘Charles Manson in Charge.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat. As the verdict was read, Blagojevich’s face remained expressionless while his hair remained ridiculous.” –Conan O’Brien “Rod Blagojevich was charged with corruption — and unlawful imprisonment of a badger. Have you seen his hair?” –David Letterman “Rod Blagojevich was convicted of extortion, wire fraud, bribery, and
criminal abuse of styling mousse.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Speaking of Sarah Palin, this week, Palin tweeted that her daughter
Bristol’s new memoir is quote ‘shocking, refreshing, honest, inspiring, and perfect.’ Of course, she said the same thing about the movie ‘Cars
2.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Yesterday Sarah Palin said that she read Bristol
Palin’s new book and she found it ‘shocking.’ When asked what was shocking, Palin said ‘the fact I read a book.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Newt Gingrich says he does not support gay marriage. He says marriage is a sacred sacrament that should only be between a man and his first, second, and third wives.” –Conan O’Brien “Newt Gingrich said Republicans shouldn’t be afraid to go into black neighborhoods and tell them Obama failed them. To which every Republican replied ‘You first.’” –Bill Maher

So that’s my Independence Day blast. Birthday wishes go out today to my favorite high school Homecoming Queen, the fabulous Vicki Grimsland. So enjoy the NFL and the NBA lockouts and we’ll catch you at the negotiating table. Aloha, mahalo and later, Novak Djokovic fans.

June 26, 2011

You Look Like You Just Saw A Coast

Good morning and greetings, Golden State fans. Just returned from a lovely five-day sojourn down to the land of endless strip malls and freeways called Southern California. If you ever want to remind yourself of how fortunate we are to live in this coastal oasis we call Santa Cruz, just take a ride on the I-5 south, Marvin Gaye your way through the Grapevine and you will realize how lucky we are to be
residing in this cold water paradise on the northern tip of Monterey Bay.

This is not to say, Laguna Beach fans, that there aren’t some lovely spots down in the southern section of our Golden State. My volleyball tournament playing son and I cruised through some exquisite locales, including Escondido, La Jolla, Claremont, Huntington Beach and Santa Barbara in our So Cal college tour. We saw a singing tree at UC San Diego, an incredibly beautiful northeastern-type premier liberal arts college that was Pomona, the greatness that is UCLA and finished off with a UC situated on the beach next to the mountains in Santa Barbara. It was a variety pack of collegiate delights. Southern California has a lot to offer, including Kobe and the Laker Girls, but what it doesn’t have is the uniqueness of Santa Cruz, where the redwoods
meet the sea of liberals.

Now I can understand why my son wants to go away to school and leave behind the memories and sports posters in his bedroom. After all, I grew up in New Jersey, and ended up getting my diploma seven years later from UC Santa Cruz. This unanticipated journey included pit stops at Syracuse University, the University of Colorado in Boulder, Europe, Africa and then my favorite academic destination, Cabrillo College. This was my manifest destiny, although I wouldn’t recommend it for children under 17 unless they were accompanied by a mature adult.

When it comes to beautiful campuses, I don’t think anything is quite as
breathtaking as our constantly growing little city up on the hill, where you stroll through the redwoods to classrooms that overlook Monterey Bay. But in this great nation of ours, there is quite a buffet of colleges to choose from, and Jason, who is heading into his senior year, is about to make some choices about where he wants to pursue his dream of
academia and perhaps college athletics. I don’t want to say I’m envious, but if he gives me the slightest word, I’m going with him. At least for the first week of disorientation.

What started this whole thought of the natural greatness of Santa Cruz was watching the sun rise up along the I-5 in the central valley. I was hurtling south through time and sportstalk radio when this yellow ball of
light popped up over the mountain. That got me to thinking about the mind-blowing sunrises over the Pacific where the sky just literally explodes with color and I can’t wait to come home and download my
goodies before later sharing it with the Sunrise Santa Cruz nation. I’m not saying that these kinds of moments of double reflection don’t happen in other places up and down the coast, but I know this picture is not being painted on the inland canvas of our state no matter who you vote for.

This isn’t really central coast bragging, it’s just having the local pride
and telling it like it is. The following day was the summer solstice and the sun was going to be departing from the evening sky at 8:39 pm. Now that is what I call a true festival of light as compared to the winter time when it’s dark before the evening news. So to honor the longest day of sun and fun, I thought I would feature a sunrise from one of those classic Santa Cruz mornings of glory.

As you can see, the sky and clouds were having a party this particular dawn session at Lighthouse Point. The colors and reflection action upon Its Beach were as outstanding Dirk Nowitzki’s MVP play in the NBA Finals. Photo #5 really captures the magnificence of the moment, as there were more varieties of color in the sky than Republicans throwing
their sombreros into the Presidential race. This is Santa Cruz, my friends, love it or believe it.

On to a little bit of the late night. “Senator John McCain is in a bit of
hot water after he made an unsubstantiated claim that illegal mmigrants
caused the Arizona wildfires. He kind of backtracked today. Now he’s saying it was just the Metamucil talking. John McCain made his claim that illegal immigrants started the Arizona wildfires without doing his research. The last time he did that we got Sarah Palin.” -Jay Leno

“New Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is fluent in Chinese. In a short period of time the Republicans have come quite a long way. The last Republican president wasn’t even fluent in English. Former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, is running for president. He’s one of those guys that can do everything — he speaks Chinese. In a couple of years we’ll all be speaking Chinese, so who cares?” –David Letterman “Most Americans know Jon Huntsman as ‘the candidate most Americans don’t know.’ Gov. Huntsman’s announcement puts him somewhere between Ron Paul and Count Chocula as the favorite to win the GOP nomination.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Anthony Weiner’s still involved with the internet. Today he started
his own site called MyTube. “And I still don’t think Weiner gets it. Did
you hear what he said at the end of his press conference? ‘Anybody want one last look?’” –Jay Leno

So that will do if for June 2010. Let’s hope the Souris river stops rising
in North Dakota and the wildfires stop raging throughout the country.
Enjoy the rest of the June gloom and we’ll catch you on Independence Day. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jimmer Fredette fans.

June 12, 2011

Everybody Loves A Weiner

Good morning and greetings, twitter fans. Normally I try to stay away from the sordid world of politics, but after following the twists, turns and new day-to-day revelations of this story, much like the man swirling in the center of the controversy, I couldn’t resist.

New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has gotten himself into quite a pickle. Last week, he was all over the news, after first denying then admitting that he tweeted, texted, sexted and carrier pigeoned photos of one of his favorite organs to women he claimed to have never met in person. We know that organ couldn’t have been his brain because it was obviously not in use.

So we’re talking your basic on-line sexual hanky panky, like, hey I’m a Congresssman, want to see the emancipation of my proclamation. It’s hard to believe that after the recent embarrassing escapades of Schwarzenegger, Edwards, Spitzer, Sanford, Vitter, Craig, Lee, Ensign and others, that the
Weiner-meister didn’t know better than to keep his politics in his pants. I think it is safe to say this will not help him in his effort to get elected mayor of New York as Oscar Meyer Weiner has a better shot at this point.

And then to top it all off, we then find out that his wife, who is an aide to Hillary Clinton, herself an expert witness to knowing what it feels like to be cheated on, is pregnant. I’m not asking the Congressman to resign, just quietly go off to a treatment program, pray for your wife’s forgiveness and close down the damn
Facebook account.

So in honor of this sad and bizarre story of cyber lust, I thought in the interest in truth, injustice and very much the recent political way, we’d take a look at a even bigger weiner, the All-American hot dog.

Hot dogs are known by many names. We’re talking frankfurters, franks, you’re welcome, weiners, weinies, dogs, puppies, schnauzers and my personal favorite, meat byproducts in a warm bun.

Hot dogs and franks are staples of the American diet, but despite their production being regulated by the FDA, NBA and CIA, they sometimes get rapped for being made of, let’s say, not the highest quality ingredients. But when I’m looking for some meat scraps of liver, spleen, kidneys or pancreas on a toasted roll, nothing works better than a good old hot dog.

Now here are a few fun facts about my favorite dogs that aren’t golden retrievers. Every second of every day except Jewish holidays, 450 hot dogs are consumed in the United States. All I can say is “wow” and what is the waiting period before you
can become a vegan. The world’s biggest hot dog, not including Donald Trump, was 1,996 feet long, created by Sara Lee Corporation in honor of the 1996 Olympics. For you health nuts and Stanley Cup fans, a 2,377-foot chicken dog was made in 1985 in Canada, although as a gourmet chef I’m still not sure if chicken and dog should be used in the same sentence.

Hot dogs or frankfurters are said to have originated in Frankfurt,
Germany around 1484, right before the discovery of hamburgers, french fries and milk shakes. In 1904, the hot dog was introduced to America at the St. Louis World’s Fair, along with mustard, relish and Zout Stain Remover. And for you die hard romantics, Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore at Pink’s Hot Dog stand in Hollywood.

Americans now eat, inhale or exhume more than 16 billion hot dogs each year, including about 150 million hot dogs on July 4th. Personally, I’m a Hebrew National all beef-frank kind of guy, made with 100% pure kosher beef. As was written either in the Torah or
Bon Appetit, these dogs provide premium taste and high quality every time. Whether at a backyard picnic, bar mitzvah party
or bris ceremony, this is the frank you can depend on.

Back in 1957, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce officially designated July as National Hot Dog Month, so remember next month to grill up and do your part. And when you’re chowing down on that frank, which typically takes about six bites to eat, remember to thank Anthony Weiner and his contribution to this post and the American way of life that we relish.

So because of the reception this Friday honoring yours truly at
Assemblymember Monning’s office, I thought we would photographically go back to my roots and feature a daybreak experience that shows why I got into this cutthroat business.

This was a sunrise at Lighthouse Point that was just off the charts in terms of spectacular beauty. And it was also very unusual in that although it was low tide, because of a giant swell the day before, there was a huge pool of water encompassing Its Beach.

Because of this golden pond, I was able to grab the incredible colors in the sky and the reflection of the lighthouse in the water (photo # 3.) We finish off with the the sun greeting the day at
Steamers Lane. For a dedicated and unmedicated sunrise photographer like myself, mornings don’t get much better than this.

On to the late night. “It’s official. It turns out it was
Weiner’s weiner. At a press conference this afternoon, Congressman Anthony Weiner admitted that he tweeted out that
photo of his crotch. During the press conference, Congressman Weiner was choked up and got a lump in this throat – not as big as the lump in his underwear, but still, very emotional! It’s been a crazy few days. First, Anthony Weiner admitted tweeting that
photo of his crotch and John Edwards was indicted for covering up an affair. Or as Arnold Schwarzenegger put it, ‘Thank you God! This is the best week ever!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“The Anthony Weiner scandal shows that despite the wars and the economy, we’re all really still in 9th grade. Of course, Weiner is now desperately trying to make things better with his
wife. You can tell he’s sorry. Like today he sent her a picture of his penis with a little sad face on it.” –Jay Leno “I mean, call me old fashioned. But I long for simpler times and common
sense values. I want to leave our grandchildren an America where Congressmen bang their secretaries. Sorry if there’s no app for that.” –Stephen Colbert

“Despite the scandal, Weiner will not resign, saying he hasn’t done anything illegal and this is not the most embarrassing photo of him that has ever surfaced. That would be his senior portrait from high school. Weiner’s high school portrait was taken at one of the rare moments when he wasn’t being stuffed into the garbage can.” –Jimmy Kimmel “It turns out that one of the women Congressman Anthony Weiner was communicating with was a porn star. When asked how it was possible to get involved with someone in such a sleazy business, the porn star said, ‘I don’t know.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Sarah Palin’s cross country road trip is not a political event, she says, but just a summer vacation with her family, just like the ones you have. Except my summer vacations generally don’t have a title…Despite the news this week that our cell phones are giving us cancer, users are NOT giving up. They’re like, okay, my cell phone could give me cancer, but actually interacting with people in person is what leads to Chlamydia.” –NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

“That’s right, Michelle Obama is taking Sasha and Malia to South Africa and Botswana and Sarah Palin was like, ‘Wow, they’re going to all the places Paul Revere went.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Donald Trump and Sarah Palin met and had pizza together in New York City last week. There was one embarrassing moment — when the waitress asked Donald if he wanted extra topping and he said, ‘No, my hair is fine.’” –Jay Leno

So that’s our look at Capitol Hill. As we close out this spring of wild weather, massive wildfires continue to rage in Arizona while record-breaking temperatures scorched the east coast last week. So be grateful for the cool weather on the central coast. We’ll catch you on a backdoor cut. Aloha, mahalo and later, J.J. Barea fans.

May 22, 2011

Okay, Who’s Nest?

Good morning and greetings, nature fans. State park officials recently announced that because of budget cuts, seventy state parks across California will close starting in September. Holy Rosa Parks, that’s a 25% slice and dice. We’re talking beaches, redwood forests and parks with historical and cultural significance with rest rooms that haven’t been thoroughly cleaned in years. You would think at a time when vacation money is tight that the parks would be a natural place that would stay open, but this is not the case.

Governor Jerry Brown had to slash the budget and state public services got carved up like a honey-baked ham. Personally, I blame Arnold Swarzenegger for not being able to keep it in his pants.

Fortunately, one California State Park that escaped unscathed was Natural Bridges State Beach. So this is where our journey begins today as we are featuring that sleek, black sea bird that swims like Michael Phelps, the cormorant. Last week I saw a couple of huge flocks flying low to the water, furiously flapping their wings in a v-formation, as they were either on their way to feeding grounds or late for birds-only retreat.

So every weekday morning, after summoning up the courage to get out of bed, I knock back a couple of organic Pop Tarts and drop my kids off at school. I then head over to West Cliff Drive before settling outside the entrance to Natural Bridges, where my wife and I start our four mile, er two miles, er mile and a half stroll along our favorite street in Santa Cruz.

I am always excited in April when the cormorants return to this nesting spot on the edge of the cliff (photo #1) to build their nests, lay their eggs and discuss their hopes and dreams. I’m not sure if this is where they’ll actually mate, but who wouldn’t feel love in the air in a spot where the tides flow in and out, waves crash below you 24 hours a day and you can double date with pelicans.

Last year, a colony of these colonial nesters showed up at the usual time, built their custom homes but then halfway through the party abandoned this prime shelf of real estate. Local birders informed me in hushed tones that word on the street was that there wasn’t enough food and they were starving and forced to move on. It was very disturbing to have them leave so suddenly, but it was nature’s way of telling me something was wrong.

So at this point in late May, the females are sitting on the nests while their mates gather fish n’ chips and talk sports. Actually, both parents take part in building the nest and incubating the eggs, but the males get credit as the general contractor. I shot photo #3 last week so you can see what stage we are at with these sea birds. But just in case we don’t make it to the birth announcement stage, I threw in photos 5 & 6 from a few years back so you could see what these spanking new toddlers look like at birth.

Much like my time at Woodstock, the newly hatched cormorants are blind for their first three days on earth as well as buck naked. For the next five to seven weeks their mothers will sit on them, protecting their newborns from the wind, rain and natural predators like the nature photographer. And like my daughter’s worst nightmare, the babies are fed through regurgitation until they grow big and strong enough to fly off to join larger flocks or enroll in the Peace Corps.

It’s a west side treat to watch this magical event along the edge of the continent, from the flying in of the grasses, seaweed and dry wall for the nests to the lamaze births of the babies, all done out in the open in Pacific Ocean time. If you want to check it out, just park in the upper lot at Natural Bridges and walk outside the entrance and voila, you’re at cormorant nesting central. If things go according to plans, the chicks will hatch and then they’ll hang around through the summer with day trips to the Boardwalk, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Phil’s Fish House. For us locals, it’s like watching Animal Planet on the big screen of life.

On to the late night. “They found so much porn at Bin Laden’s compound that they’re investigating whether the porn was used to send coded messages. So remember guys, from now on when your lady catches you, you’re not looking at porn, you’re analyzing coded messages. ‘Honey, I wasn’t looking at porn. I’m in Al Qaeda.’” –Conan O’Brien “They have found Osama bin Laden’s diary. Some entries: ‘Very unhappy with TV reception. Death to Time-Warner.’ ‘Three wives, one bathroom, you do the math.’ The final entry: ‘Dear Diary, can’t talk now. Someone’s at the door. Hope it’s the Domino’s guy.’” -David Letterman

“President Obama’s approval rating, which got a bump after killing bin Laden, has slipped again. Which is really bad news — not for the president, for Moammar Gadhafi. President Obama suggested that Israel should go back to the pre-1967 borders. Native Americans said, “Why stop there? Let’s go back to the pre-1492 borders.”–Jay Leno

“I’m Conan O’Brien, or as I can now publicly call myself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jr. Schwarzenegger secretly fathered a child outside of his marriage 10 years ago. He told his wife at the time but it took 10 years for her to figure out what he was saying.”—Conan O’Brien “There have been rumors going around for years now about a half Austrian, half Mexican baby who could bench-press a Ford Expedition.” -Jimmy Kimmel

“Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a lovechild back in 2003. He’s been taking care of the child financially, providing healthcare and education — the same stuff he took from every other child while he was governor of California. “I guess ‘love child’ is a nicer term than ‘OK-Maria’s-asleep child.’ The woman was an employee. I’m not sure what she did, but I think she worked on Arnold’s staff.” -Craig Ferguson “Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff. He kept this secret for more than 10 years. You know how he did it? He moved the woman and child into an apartment right down the street from the Pakistani military academy.” -Jay Leno

“Mitt Romney raised over $10 million in eight hours. That’s a dollar for every position he’s had on healthcare.” -Jay Leno “Ron Paul announced that he will run for president, and he supports the legalization of prostitution and heroin. If he does win, it will be one heck of a victory party.” -Conan O’Brien “Al-Qaida has a new leader. It’s quite a success story. He worked his way up all the way from the mail bomb room.” -David Letterman

So that’s our pre-Memorial Day weekend blast. Birthday wishes go out on Wednesday to my life-partner, soul mate and sports-loving wife Allison, who as you can imagine, has put up with plenty from yours truly over the years. And on Saturday, it’s that special day for my Marin-based sister-in-law Wendi, a faithful reader of this blog who lives life like every day is summer camp. So enjoy the singing cicadas, NBA conference finals and we’ll catch you in overtime. Aloha, mahalo and later, Maria Shriver fans.

April 25, 2011

Signed, Elephant Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours

Good morning and greetings, central coast fans. Since we last met cybernetically, tornadoes have continued to blast down across the south and midwest, with hail the size of softballs raining down on unsuspecting infielders and outfielders. This April has set the all-time record for tornadoes and putouts recorded. On Saturday, the airport in St. Louis was struck by the worst tornado in 40 years that left passengers clutching their bags of mini-pretzels and Albert Pujos’ jerseys.

My Kentucky-based field scout Nancy Mager told me last week of storms with howling winds and golf-ball sized hail that came along with thunder and lightning in the middle of the night in Bowling Green. I guess that comes with the territory when you live in tornado or Kirstie Alley.

Moving along to a place with a more gentle weather pattern, during the month of April, I have been focusing on the coastline beween Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the unincorporated community of Davenport and last week it was pesky Pescadero. For today’s action, we’re trapsing halfway between these two coastal oasis as we venture to the Ano Nueva State Reserve, which lies 25 miles north of Santa Cruz, which would be 50 miles south of San Francisco and 3,000 miles west of Yankee Stadium.

Because of my deep cover work, I last visited this sacred spot for elephant seals back in 2007. The Ohlone Indians, no relation to the Cleveland Indians, were the first people known to build condos in the Año Nuevo area. But then around the birth of John McCain in 1791, Mission Santa Cruz was founded and the Indian population, much like like my stock account back in 2009, plummeted due to the various diseases and some bad paella that Spanish had brought with them.

The Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino sailed by the point on January 3, 1603, which I believe was a Wednesday. His diarist, chaplain and flamingo dance instructor on the expedition, Father Antonio de la Ascensión, named it Punta de Año Nuevo (New Year’s Point) for the day on which they sighted it. They had recently stopped in Monterey for some clam chowder, calamari strips and pan-fried sand dabs and passed Año Nuevo while heading north for a rave concert.

Today, Ano Nuevo remains much like the way Vizcaino saw it and the way I see myself-wild, lonely and underdeveloped. What happens on this jutting out stretch of land, like my first year at Syracuse University, is magical and something, like the Supreme Court giving Bush the nod over Al Gore, that I won’t soon forget. Hundreds of elephant seals, seal lions and Navy Seals come ashore to rest, mate and give birth on the beach, sand dunes and private cabanas.

Año Nuevo State Park is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal. The surrounding area is also the number one location on the planet for great white shark attacks, as they love to snack on elephant seals and any other marine mammal that goes for a leisurely swim in this area. I don’t know about you, but being attacked by a great white shark has been something I’ve always wanted to avoid, like taking the SAT’s again.

So if you like to watch giant male elephant seals fighting, goring and tearing at one another to see who gets to be King Inseminator, (and who wouldn’t want to be?), than this the place where you get a front row seat. The top bull, like a Shawn Kemp, typically sires 50 pups each year without breaking a sweat. In one four-year period, a lone dominant male inseminated at least 225 females, after which he signed a few autographs and took a well-deserved nap.

Now here are a few, quick fun facts about elephant seals. Much like teams during the first round of the NCAA tournament, the seals journey thousands of miles as males head north to frolic in the waters near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and females swim west out to sea. During the migration, most of the seals never return to land, which would be a problem for someone like myself, who doesn’t like being in water or conversations that go over my head.

Elephant seals are capable of swimming in waters a mile deep for 90 minutes at a time, then taking a quick breath and going right back down again. Unbelievable. The seals are thought to nap while they dive, which is what I used to do during most of my upper division math classes.

Much like Mother Theresa and Queen Latifa, the females are big-time givers, as for four weeks, they forgo eating, massages and on-line shopping, as they lose as much as 40 percent of their weight in the production of milk and cheese. That’s no Jenny Craig experience. But after home schooling and nursing her pup for a month on land, Mommy abandons the youngster, mates, and heads back to sea for a much need spa treatment. That is, if she makes it by the Great Whites.

These hallowed grounds, much like the NBA Store in New York, is an exotic spot to visit. Since it was April, the seals you see in today’s photos are females and pups just relaxing, flipping around sand and doing crossword puzzles. But the fact that all this breeding, fighting and molting goes on with these gigantic creatures just 25 minutes up the coast is mind-blowing. So do yourself a favor and take the mile and half walk on the wild side. You’ll be glad you did and a grateful nation thanks you.

On to the humor of the late night. “Donald Trump is apparently on top among Republican voters. People are responding to his straight-forward honesty, tough talk, and utter lunacy.”–Jimmy Kimmel “NBC executives say that if Donald Trump does run for president, they will not renew ‘The Apprentice.’ So some good may come out of this.” –Conan O’Brien “Donald Trump is attacking President Obama’s background. And I said, ‘Wait a minute, Trump also is from a mixed background. He’s half jack and half ass.’” –David Letterman

“Donald Trump said that if President Obama releases his birth certificate, Trump will release his tax return. Obama said he won’t run for a second term if Trump releases that thing on his head. President Obama is celebrating Passover with a Passover Seder. After hearing this, Sarah Palin said, ‘Ah, so he is a Muslim. Obama will participate in a town hall meeting hosted on Facebook. So just like everyone else in America, Obama will be on Facebook when he should be working.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama celebrated Passover with a Seder at the White House. This morning, Donald Trump demanded to see Obama’s bar mitzvah certificate.”–Jimmy Kimmel “The governor of Hawaii said he first met President Obama just days after he was born. He knew it was Obama because he kept pointing to his diaper and calling for “change. To celebrate Kim Jong Il’s birthday. North Korea held the biggest magic show ever. Things got out of control when the magician pulled a rabbit out of his hat and it was immediately eaten by 28 million people.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama’s critics are lashing out over him shutting down the poker sites. Sarah Palin called it an overreaction, Tim Pawlenty said it was irrational, and Donald Trump said, ‘Be sure to watch ‘Celebrity Apprentice.” Gambling and Washington don’t seem to go together at all. One’s full of whores and seedy, soulless bastards and the other’s the gambling industry. Forty percent of Americans say they would rather cut their own hair than do their taxes. And then there are people that would rather do neither. I’m talking to you, Willie Nelson.” –Craig Ferguson

“Lenscrafters is upset with Tea Partier Michele Bachmann because she called Planned Parenthood ‘the Lenscrafters of abortion.’ Lenscrafters released a statement today calling her ‘the Costco of crazy.’ The FAA suspended an air traffic controller for watching a movie on the job. The controller said he was only watching a movie because he couldn’t sleep.”–Conan O’Brien “Pakistan says they are slowing down their hunt for bin Laden. Slowing it down? What is it, 10 years now? Could you go any slower?” –Jay Leno “Speaker of the House John Boehner says he will not host a Cinco de Mayo celebration this year. Boehner says he has nothing against Hispanic Americans, and in fact his speaker of the housekeeper is Hispanic.”–Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our last word for April, as time continues to fly by faster than our involvement with non-lethal aid and advisors to the Libyan rebels. I hope you NBA viewers having been enjoying the playoffs, as the first ten days of action has been as good as it gets, unless of course, you’re a New York Knicks fan. The NBA, where amazing comebacks happen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Brandon Roy fans.

April 18, 2011

Are You Catching My Drift?

Good morning and greetings, NBA playoff fans. It’s been another week of wild weather across this great land of ours. We’re talking violent killer tornadoes accompanied by pounding rain, howling winds and Halle Berry.

On Friday, one-fifth of all this year’s tornadoes descended on the south and midwest as the Weather Channel totaled 158 twisters in three days. On Saturday, 62 tornadoes hit North Carolina alone, and the death toll from this entire storm system hit 35. There’s something about 150 MPH winds swooping in and wiping out families and neighborhoods in a matter of seconds that leave me a little on edge, like when I was waiting for the results of my colonoscopy. But that worked out okay, as like Robin Williams, I’m now I’m using it as a film credit.

So in my last post I told you a little something about the history of Davenport, which lies nine miles north of Santa Cruz. Today, on the photo front, we are venturing twenty miles further up Highway 1 to the sprawling metropolis of Pescadero. Now I don’t know too much historically about this coastal enclave, besides the fact that it was a very popular stage coach stop between Santa Cruz and San Francisco and that early settlers to this area discovered that you can make wonderful bread and a delicious cream soup out of artichokes.

I should also mention that each year my son (who dunked a volleyball on Saturday) plays in a preseason basketball tournament in Pescadero. My favorite memory from these back-to-back second place finishes was the first time I spotted the t-shirt for sale that read on the front, “Pescadero”, and on the back, “Who even knew we had a high school.” Classic.

So my brother Paul, who we last heard from when he wrote about his orchidholism (although he now claims to be sober and a succulent man), decided to stop at Pescadero State Beach on a recent trip down the coast. My middle brother has always loved this beach and on this day was child, wife and dog free, so he had all the time in the world to check out the driftwood action, go cliff diving and monitor gray whale traffic.

As you can see, my tennis-playing sibling really caught some good theatre, as he combed the beach like a homicide detective looking for blood splatter and shell casings. Ironically, on my first trip to the Golden State back in 1974, after flying into SFO, my old pal Doug MacKinnon, Paul and I headed down the coast and the first beach we stopped at was Pescadero. I was impressed with the golden sand, endless dunes and magnificent cliffs, and that was just inside the snack bar.

I remember thinking, like a young Balboa, this Pacific Ocean is going to work for me, but after dipping my toes in the water, I knew I was going to have major shrinkage issues. At this point in my middle-aged existence, I need the warm, tropical water to cleanse and rejuvenate my battered body and shattered soul, and 55 degree water just ain’t gonna cut it.

So what do we know about driftwood? What do we know about Norweigian Wood? And for that matter, what really happened to Natalie Wood?

So here are a few quick facts. According to Norse mythology, the first humans before John McCain, Ask and Embla, were formed out of two pieces of driftwood, an ash and an elm, by the God Odin and his brothers, Tito and Jermaine. Most driftwood is the remains of trees or shuttered Starbucks that have been been washed into the ocean due to flooding, erosion, confusion, high winds, garage sales or misplaced Lincoln Logs. And driftwood can be used as decorative furniture, like the couch in my living room and is a very popular element in the scenery for fish and government think tanks.

Here comes the late night. “Donald Trump insists that he is going to run for president. I guess he figures if he can pull off that hairstyle, he can do anything. Maybe he should ease into this — by running for a lower office first, like President of the Hair Club for Men. Trump said he can’t run because he has the #1 show on NBC. Which is kind of like having the nicest house in Haiti.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Donald Trump has a great campaign slogan: ‘A complex world demands complex hair.’” –David Letterman

“Critics say it’s illegal for Donald Trump to run for president while hosting a TV show. It’s also illegal to run for president if your hair wasn’t born in this country. According to a CNN poll, Trump nearly doubled his support from March. Actually, he just combed his March numbers over his current ones.”–Conan O’Brien “Barack and Michelle Obama will appear on Oprah’s show soon. Not to be outdone, Donald Trump’s hair will be making an appearance on Animal Planet.”–Jay Leno

“A meeting between Justin Bieber and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been canceled. No word yet on how this will affect the meeting between Selena Gomez and Hezbollah. President Obama says he misses being anonymous. You know, back when he could blend in with the other Hawaiian Barack Hussein Obamas.” –Conan O’Brien. “Today, President Obama changed his slogan from ‘Yes, We Can’ to ‘Have It Your Way’”–Bill Maher, on the Democrats capitulating to Republican budget demands.

“The air traffic controllers are sleeping, the TSA is groping you, and the pilots are drunk. Who would have thought the most reliable workers at the airport would be the baggage handlers? A New Zealand airline is offering what they call “cuddle class.” Don’t all airlines have that? It’s called “coach.”–Jay Leno “The Pentagon announced that openly gay soldiers will begin serving this summer. When people asked why this summer, the Army said, ‘Because ‘Glee’ will be in reruns.’” –Conan O’Brien

“A new poll shows that only 19 percent of Americans strongly approve of President Obama’s performance. The other 81 percent don’t own gas stations. The price of gas in California is almost $5 a gallon. Coming into work, I passed a van packed with legal Americans. Gas has gone up 20 cents just this week. Shouldn’t we stop calling it crude oil at this point and call it obscene oil? Obama said in an interview that he really misses being anonymous. If he wanted to remain anonymous he should have run for vice president.” –Jay Leno

“Republicans are obsessed with abortion. If they really wanted to protect the weakest, most helpless people, wouldn’t they protect the Democrats? Glenn Beck retired or got fired…and a lot of people are asking who will now speak for the raving lunatics who startle you outside of a parking garage?” –Bill Maher “Because of a holiday, the deadline for taxes is April 18, so you have three extra days to dig through restaurant dumpsters for receipts.”–Jimmy Kimmel

So another post is in the books. And if you enjoyed my brother Paul’s photos, here’s some bonus photography for you. My brother Brad recently posted some incredible pictures and text from his Alaska heliskiing trip. You can check them out at http://www.glutenfreesnowboarder.com/2011/04/alaska-the-last-frontier/. If you want to enlarge the pictures just click on them. And remember, all proceeds go to the send Brad’s oldest brother to Hawaii foundation.

So enjoy the first night of Passover and first round of the NBA playoffs and we’ll catch you around the seder plate. Aloha, mahalo and later once again, Derrick Rose fans.

April 11, 2011

If You’re Interrupting Me, It Better Be Davenportant

Good morning and greetings, west coast fans. There’s an old idiom, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Or was that “elect Bush once, shame on him. Elect Bush twice, shame on America?” Anyway, welcome to my world of unseized moments that comes surrounded with mounds of chocolate remorse and a soft, chewy caramel center.

Last week I wrote of a missed beautiful March sunrise due to technical difficulties somewhere inside my cranial sac. Well, much like the spring tornadoes and hail stones the size of baseballs raining down in the midwest, these things happen. So in keeping with present form and in the tradition of the Masters, this week I went to the sunset card, which teed off Tuesday night in the western sky.

After walking out of the gymnasium following my son’s volleyball game, I observed what had once been a cloudless sky now featured a cloud front coming in from the north. But due to circumstances that were not beyond my control, I ignored this oncoming mass of cumulus configuration and instead opted to make dinner and watch a rerun of “The Office” that I had seen sixteen times.

When I popped my head outside to take a look, I saw the sky was in full living color, so I grabbed my camera and headed west. When I arrived at the overlook, I knew at that moment that I should have been situated atop the bluffs in Davenport taking in this April treat, as it was a full-on spring show over the Pacific. I did take some shots, but they did not do truth, justice or the American way to the moment.

So what to do. I knew there was but one solution, as a do over wasn’t possible and my time machine was in the shop. It was my forever safety valve, a place for me to go for missed moments and traces of love, long ago, that didn’t work out right. That would be my archives, deep inside the fallout shelter of my mind.

When the sun moves across the sky in March, I head up the coast to the cliffs above Davenport for the sunset cruise. The Monterey cypress trees (photo #1) that line the cliffs (photo #2) are just exquisite, and in early evening cormorants gather in these trees to squawk and take in the epic sights. It’s an awesome location to shoot from, so to make up for my latest faux pas, I’ve featured two April nights from the past to give you a little taste of the Davenport experience.

Now here’s a little history of the community that sits nine miles up the coast from Santa Cruz. After the Civil War, Captain John Davenport, a whaler from Tiverton, Rhode Island, decided that he needed to move to a state bigger than Gary Coleman, so he set sail for the west coast and landed in Monterey. Among his claims to fame was that he lived in the first brick house in California. It later housed the funk/soul band, the Commodores, which inspired “Brick House”, “Easy” like Sunday morning and my personal favorite, “Once, Twice, Three Times A Laker.”

When the good captain sailed into the San Francisco Bay in 1851, he passed by a school of whales and triathletes swimming not far from shore. Believing that they would be easy to capture, process for oil and look good in Speedos, he dreamed of creating a whaling business.

He started the first coastal whaling business in California in Monterey, but decided to move it closer to San Francisco because he loved Willie Mays and the Giants. In the late 1860′s, Captain Davenport built a pier in the town of Davenport as travelers along the north coast discovered this scenic coastal oasis with its beautiful shoreline, magnificent weather and fantastic carne asada burritos.

Captain Davenport built a 450 foot long wharf along with a gas station and car wash. This was not a fun time for the hundreds of whales cruising up the coast, who were savagely harpooned for their meat, oil, and whalebone. But despite the blubber melting pots, whale watching tours and a free super wash with a gas fill-up, the whaling business was not a profitable venture and lasted only a decade. The Davenport Landing wharf was abandoned in 1880 and Captain Davenport moved to Santa Cruz where he opened up a massage and meditation Center before he died at the age of 74 while boogie boarding at the Boardwalk.

For almost 50 years, the town of Davenport prospered with hotels, surf shops and the first In-N-Out Burger joint. Then in 1915, a fire destroyed nearly everything except for Blockbuster Video and a Little Caesar’s Pizza. At the time, some believed it was the spirit of the whales seeking revenge that brought on this disaster. Sometimes karma can really be a bitch.

On to the late night. “The rebel army in Libya is just like 1,000 guys in Toyota trucks. The world is asking the question; can 1000 anti-government guys in pick-up trucks with small arms, take over a country of millions? To which I say, ask the Teabaggers.” –Bill Maher “Republican Congressman Tom Marino, who is on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: ‘If we go into Libya, where does it stop? Do we go into Africa next?’ So, you see why he’s not on the Intelligence Committee. Authorities in Mali arrested four people after an aircraft loaded with 10 tons of cocaine crashed. Charlie Sheen called it “the worst air disaster in history.”–Jay Leno

“Fox is adding several new Spanish-language shows to its programming schedule to appeal to the growing Latino population. My favorite one is about that doctor with a cane who plays by his own rules — you know, “Casa.” Many gamers are asking for refunds on the new Nintendo 3DS because it causes headaches and dizziness. It was pretty scary — some gamers became so disoriented, they accidentally wandered outside. Southwest Airlines canceled 600 flights because of a plane that suddenly got a 5-foot hole in the roof. You know American wouldn’t have canceled all those flights. They’d have just started charging a $50 sunroof fee.” –Jimmy Fallon

“There’s a $376 million semi-secret construction project happening at the White House, and it’s rumored that a tunnel is being built underneath. That’s a lot of work for President Obama to get away from his mother-in-law. Let the man have a cigarette. I think he Obama is building an underground Kenya. A new subterranean land so he can Africanize us from below. I heard that on Fox News.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“President Obama said he plans on running for re-election against the Republicans. After the tax cuts for the rich, the bailouts for Wall Street, and the bombing in Libya, I already thought he was the Republican candidate. President Obama said today that Americans are just going to have to get used to higher gas prices. To which Dick Cheney said, “That’s change I can believe in. I like this Obama guy.”–Jay Leno “President Obama revealed that up until a few years ago, he was still paying off his student loans. In response, China was like, “Oh, so you do know how to repay loans.”–Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama announced his re-election campaign. As far as I’m concerned, the election starts with the first attack ad, which should appear in about 20 minutes. I think elections should be quick. If I have an election that lasts longer than four hours, I call the doctor. Experts say this Presidential campaign will be the most expensive in history. A far cry from the very first re-election campaign back in 1792. When George Washington ran against a young Senator named John McCain.” –Craig Ferguson

“Donald Trump is doing well in the polls. He’s in second place among Republican voters. Among tea partyers, he’s in first place. Although to be fair, in the tea party poll, Chuck Norris is in second place and third place is an AK-47.”–Jimmy Kimmel “If Donald Trump loves America so much, why does he keep outsourcing the job of his wife?” –Seth Meyers “Southwest Airlines has a new slogan: “We love the sky — and it shows.”–Jay Leno

“Former first lady Laura Bush said in an interview that she and George W. Bush do everything together. Then she said she had to go because “SpongeBob” was on. Officials at BP have filed for permits to drill for oil again in the Gulf of Mexico. They say the oil is easier to find than ever because it’s mostly on top of the water.”–Conan O’Brien “A man in Ohio received a cable bill for $16 million. When he called customer service, they told him that for another $8, he could get the NFL package.”–Jay Leno

Special birthday wishes go out to my father, Daniel Gilbert, who turns 94 years old tomorrow. Yes, you might say we’ve got some strong genes and cargo shorts that run in our family. My Dad, who lives here in Santa Cruz, spends a good part of his day sleeping, but while awake is working on writing the pilot episode for a new sitcom, “Father Knows Rest,” where he plays the starring role. To have both my parents alive and questioning every move I make at age 58 is a true blessing, and as my mother always says to me, “if we can’t live Hawaii, lucky we live Santa Cruz.” And “could you check and see if there’s any mail?”

So that’s a wrap. I’m just glad that we’re done with Libya, things are going well with the nuclear reactors in Japan and the Pentagon says we’ve had enough time in Afghanistan. It seems worldwide that everything is just peachy and that Donald Trump really isn’t the moron he is pretending to be. And God bless the Republicans and Planned Parenthood.

So enjoy our wild weather we’ll catch you at the start of the NBA playoffs. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derrick Rose fans.

March 28, 2011

March Comes In Like A Lion And Out Like A Glazed Ham


Good morning and greetings, Cinderella story fans. Is it just me, or has this early spring weather been wild and crazy? Torrential rains, howling winds, mud slides, water slides, downed trees, flash flooding, and that’s just in my driveway. So with springtime in the air, I just prance through the raindrops with a little extra hop in my step and a little more snap in my heels. Basically, I’m just river dancing through life, for which I thank my lucky charms.

On the eastern seaboard, where I grew up to be the shell of a man I am today, last week’s weather was also very springlike. Nothing says the baseball season is just around the corner like eight inches of heavy snow, or what Charlie Sheen calls “an appetizer.”

The midwest has been hit by an assault of killer tornadoes, wildfires were raging out of control and destroying homes in Oklahoma and heading back to this coast, a rare water funnel was sighted off of Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Personally, despite my love of condensed milk and water droplets, I have never photographed this rarity in nature, although I once got a good closeup shot of a funnel cake at a county fair.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the sunrise and sunset season ended a couple of months ago, as I have not wanted to shoot anything lately except for my computer. So for March, my expectations for drama in the sky, unlike my cholesterol, has been very low, as there has been little on the spectacular front to text home about in recent years.

The exception to this unwritten rule came on the evening of March 18, 2008. I was driving around aimlessly, hoping to spot a bobcat or leprechaun at dusk, when I glanced up at a somewhat dull sky and saw an opening at the horizon. Well, being the avid photog that I profess to be, I curtailed my hunt for baby chipmunks and eager beavers and parked myself along West Cliff Drive at Stockton Avenue, which is my favorite place to let my freak flag fly.

As you can see from today’s photo lineup, this night was indescribably delicious. The formation of the clouds gave thoughts to the heavens rising or the crown of creation. It was a canvas unlike anything I had ever seen. Throughout the experience, waves of pelicans flew overhead, adding to the festivities of the occasion. I remember standing alone/together out on the point, thinking how fortunate I was to be there at that moment. It wasn’t March Madness, it was pure March Magic.

Before we move on the hilarity of the late night pundits and our Commander-in Chief addresses the nation, I must say a few words about Libya. WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING? Or in the words of Jay Leno, “We’re fighting three wars now. Imagine how many we’d be fighting if President Obama hadn’t won the Nobel Peace Prize.”

As of last Wednesday, we had spent upwards of $1 BILLION dollars on the international assault to destroy Moammar Khaddafy’s air defenses and save the runnin’ rebels from likely defeat. My thought is, could that $1 BILLION have been better spent, like perhaps at home on the hungry, creating jobs or the Yankees’ starting rotation? I’m just stunned by his decision for the air strikes and picking Kansas to win it all. As my mother used tell me every day after packing my lunch box before I left for school, “Geoff, make love, not war.”

On to the late night. “No one can agree on how to spell Gadhafi’s name. He’s like the Hanukkah of dictators.” –Jimmy Kimmel “According to reports, Khadafy is surrounded by an elite corps of female bodyguards, all of whom are virgins. In a related story, today Charlie Sheen invaded Libya.” –Conan O’Brien “They’re using high-pressure water cannons and helicopters dropping seawater to try to cool down the reactor. And they say if that works, they’re going to try that here on Charlie Sheen.” –Bill Maher

“Sarah Palin visited Israel. As if the Jews have not suffered enough. She says she’s very excited to visit the Wailing Wall, because whaling is illegal in Alaska.”–Jay Leno “On a trip to Israel, Sarah Palin asked the Israelis why they’re apologizing all the time. They responded saying, ‘Because we told everyone Tina Fey was coming.’” –Conan O’Brien ”
Sarah Palin visited the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. There was an awkward moment when she said, ‘So this is what keeps the Mexicans out?’” –Conan O’Brien “Sarah Palin visited Israel. She says she likes all religions, ‘whether they celebrate Christmas or Jewish.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama has to cut his trip to Latin America short because of the situation in Libya — and to check on his NCAA brackets.” –Jimmy Kimmel “A man in Texas used his obituary to ask for donations to anyone running against Obama in 2012. And then his ghost was offered a nightly show on Fox News.” –Jimmy Fallon “Donald Trump says that if he’s elected, he won’t let the presidency interfere with the Miss Universe pageant. “How would Trump travel as president? Obviously, he’d use Hair Force One.” –David Letterman
“According to Newsweek, 73 percent of Americans can’t say why we fought the Cold War. This sounds bad until you consider that no one in the White House can tell us why we’re fighting the Libya war. We know more about President Obama’s basketball picks than his plans for Libya.” –Jay Leno

“A problem for our military in Libya is that they can’t tell the rebels from Gadhafi’s military. The U.N. has now declared that the war be fought as ‘shirts vs. skins.’” –Conan O’Brien “Obama said we will send economic aid to Libya to help the Libyan people reach their dreams. And if that works, they’ll try it here.” –Jay Leno

“A miniscule amount of radiation from Japan reached L.A. People panicked and ran out and bought gas masks and radiation suits. Then they went to the tanning salon. Rich people are buying Geiger counters. Poor people are putting bags of microwave popcorn on the windowsill. If it starts popping, get the hell out. “A South Carolina legislator introduced a bill to make it illegal for prisoners to use Facebook. They’re supposed to be doing time, not wasting it.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our last gasp for March. Hope you had a chance to catch some of the late winter storms live and in person. Last Friday, the light was spectacular on the cliff, as the sun’s rays filtered through the clouds and cast an incredible light upon the huge waves heading towards the coast. As the rain came down, a rainbow appeared in the sky and I just had to stop and take in the moment.
As usual, I didn’t have my camera with me because of a vendetta by my computer, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say, it was a moment along the edge of the continent as beautiful as a young Elizabeth Taylor, who like myself, never feared Virginia Woolf.

So once again, keep Japan in your thoughts. What a wacky year this has been, with the shootings in Tucson, the uprising in Eygpt, the tsunami and earthquake, the war in Libya and Duke losing in the semi-finals of western regionals. I’m not even going to mention the outbreak of cholera in Haiti.

So enjoy the return of warm, sunny days and we’ll catch you in Houston for the Final Four. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derrick Williams and Shelvin Mack fans.

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