April 5, 2015

The Golden State Of Birth

Good morning and greetings, Final Four fans.  Yes, in just a few short hours, a new college basketball champion will be crowned, which brings to a close  three weeks of March Madness.  In the end, only one team will be left standing, and as the victors cut down the nets and CBS plays “One Shining Moment” to a backdrop of fabulous plays and cheerleaders in tears, one thing stands out at this moment.

People love to gamble.  That is the secret to the madness, as the tournament has drawn its best ratings in more than two decades.  Seems college hoops fans were checking their brackets like lemmings marching to the sea.
And for you who were not watching Saturday night, the Wisconsin Badgers

knocked off the previously undefeated Kentucky Wildcats to advance to the championship game, where they will face the Duke Blue Devils.  The king is dead.  Who knew?

And with the college basketball season coming to a close, this means the NBA once again takes center stage. With just over one week left in the regular season, the Golden State Warriors continue to lead the NBA in excitement and execution, and have elevated their game to a very high level.
Now this does not guarantee a championship, but it’s a good place to start.
So mark your calendars for April 18, when the the postseason journey begins to determine who will be  coming home with the Larry O’Brien championship trophy.  The Warriors have been the best team all season, but when the playoffs start, everyone’s record is 0-0, as the slates have been wiped clean.
The Warriors have set a record for franchise wins and have locked up the number one seed.  In the words of all-star point guard Stephen Curry, ” It’s a testament to how focused we’ve been over the course of the season. We’ve had a big lead in the standings, but we understood the big goal in mind. We kept our focus and we kept our commitment to what we are doing on the floor.”
But before the playoffs get underway, there is an important day in the lives of my family.  Coming up on Tuesday, April 7, my son Jason turns 21 years old.  This is a special occasion, as this means four years from now, he will be able to drive the rental car on our Hawaiian vacations.  That is the true aloha spirit.
Jason is a junior and majoring in biochemistry at UC Santa Barbara.  He is on the premed track and hopes to attend medical school somewhere in the western hemisphere.  He’s always wanted to be a doctor, and God knows, we’re going to need someone in the family who knows about the aging mind.
I’m very proud of him and what he’s accomplished so far.  I had a ringside seat to see him grow from a tiny infant to the young man he is today.   We were connecting basically every day until he went off the college.  We played basketball, we talked basketball and we watched basketball.  It was a bonding element.
I always knew where I could find him, up in his room watching “The Office” or writing some sort of essay to get into some kind of program when he wasn’t playing beach volleyball.  And he has followed in my path in the culinary department, as he marinates his chicken and makes mango salsa like a young Wolfgang Puck.If I had any complaints, it would be that now he has his own life to live.  He’s become a man, and after graduation from college, will soon be off on another adventure, adding new chapters to his life.  I won’t be going along on his journeys, but my heart will be with him.  But how I miss the day to day contact.
And I always say, laugh and the world laughs with you.  Skype, and you skype alone.
But his isn’t the only birth that occurred on this day.  That’s right, as my brother Brad also celebrates his trip down the birth canal.  And we are lucky to have him around, because back in the early spring 2014, while on a heli snowboarding trip to Alaska, Brad was sitting on top of a glacier when the cornice collapsed under him, sending him tumbling down the mountain.
When he finally finished his free fall, he was buried in the snow and dazed and confused.  He was alive and but unfortunately, on the way down the slope, a bomb had gone off and destroyed his left knee.  All the ligaments, attachments and things you need to function were kaput.
So began a very painful chapter in my brother’s life.  My brother Paul flew up to Colorado to survey the damage, and the carnage was something neither would want to see or go through again.  My youngest brother was a wreck and there was nothing we could do.
When the swelling finally went down and the heavy narcotics began to wear off, Brad had major reconstructive surgery on the knee in Colorado.  This led to gut wrenching days and the agony of sleepless nights.  We were all helpless in his fight against pain.Then began the second act of physical therapy, which turned out to be more painful than his injury. Now Brad could have given up and not gone headlong into the PT, but this boy wants to get back on the slopes. I admire him for that, because for me, I’d be at the lodge snorkeling in the hot tub while sipping hot chocolate and downing some scones.

His doctor says his knee has progressed well.  He’s not done with physical therapy, but I admire his attitude and never give up spirit.  In the mornings, he takes a long hike with his golden retriever up into the foothills, and as he looks down the slope, realizes he’s a lucky man.  And so are we who know him.

So happy birthday, boys.  And rest up, as the playoffs are approaching.
So for our photo viewing this week, we are heading back to the morning of January 16.  The clouds put on a nice orange glow early on, as I was shooting from along various locations on West Cliff Drive.  As the sun started to rise, soft pastel colors appeared and the sky came to life and all was good.
On to some late night humor,  “According to a new study, the marijuana in Colorado is almost twice as strong as it was 20 years ago. Of course, people had some questions for the scientists, like “How can I get your job?”  Taco Bell is replacing the “Waffle Taco” with its new “Biscuit Taco,” which is a taco-shaped biscuit filled with eggs, sausage, or chicken. That story again: Weed is twice as strong as it used to be.” – Jimmy Fallon
“For the first time, a vegan gluten-free bakery has opened at Disney World. The place is called “It’s a Sad World After All.”  Nigeria just held their election and their incumbent president, whose actual name is Goodluck Jonathan, lost the race. He was beaten by his rival, Betterluck Jonathan.” – Conan O’Brien”McDonald’s is going to test all-day breakfast at their restaurants in San Diego. Which means stoners now have absolutely no motivation to get up before 10:30.  All-day breakfast is good for McDonald’s customers, but I think it’s sad for the workers. It seems to me the most fun part of their job was telling people that breakfast is over.” -Jimmy Kimmel
So we’ll catch you having an MVP type season while putting up 51 points on the Kings last week and  leading the league in scoring.  Aloha, mahalo and later, James Harden fans.

February 8, 2015

We’ll Head ‘Em Off At The Pass

Good morning and greetings, football fans.  Well, we are more than a week removed from the Super Bowl, and what a fantastic finish it was to the most hyped game on the planet.Well, with the exception of Seattle fans, like my old grammar school pal Neal Friedman, who was a bit upset with the outcome, as the Seahawks managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Now this game again personified the excitement and greatness of sports.  No one, not Alfred Hitchcock, the Farrelly Brothers or Mad Magazine could have scripted out the final few moments.  Throughout all of America, people could be heard shouting, “Unbelievable, why, why, why, and where are my pants?”  as the final seconds counted down.

Here’s the set up.  With the Patriots leading 28-24, Seattle had the ball on New England’s one yard line.  All QB Russell Wilson needed to do was hand the ball off to the human battering ram, running back Marshawn Lynch, to get the final yard and into the end zone for the game winning touchdown. Just one yard and the celebration is on.

Now on the other side, New England fans and bettors were set to commit hari kari. The Patriots had trailed 24-14 earlier in the game, before they mounted a fourth quarter comeback and scored two touchdowns against a Seattle defense that hadn’t allowed a fourth quarter touchdown in the last sixty years.

But at this moment, hopes were fading, as it looked like Paul Revere and the Patriots were going down to another late game defeat.

Now Seattle had quickly gotten down to the Patriots one yard line, as receiver Jermaine Kearse made a spectacular catch while laying on the field after juggling the ball, in a version of hot potato.   It was reminiscent of the New York Giants David Tyree’s unbelievable “Helmet Catch” in Super Bowl 42, that ruined the Patriot’s undefeated season.  You just don’t see mind blowing, miracle catches like this every day, no less when the Super Bowl title is on the line.

This was heavy sports drama, folks.

So Russell Wilson drops back into a shotgun set and fires a slant pass to his receiver on the goal line, only to have the ball intercepted by the Patriot’s Malcolm Butler.  What!  An interception!  Somebody pinch me.

Pandemonium then ensued as no one could have imagined this turn of events.  Up in the NBC broadcast booth,  a stunned play by play announcer Al Michaels described the play as “Unreal.”  Michaels, who was behind the mic for the “Miracle on Ice ” hockey game in Lake Placid when we upset the Russians, had counted down the final seconds of that call with, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!
Well, this wasn’t quite on par with that Olympic moment, but it was damn close.  For Seattle fans, this should not have happened in their lifetime.NBC’s color analyst Chris Collingworth was also stunned by the play call, not believing what he saw take place.  His immediate reaction, “I cannot believe the call.  You got a guy (Marshawn Lynch) who’s been borderline unstoppable in this part of the field.  I can’t believe the call.”
Well, Chris, neither could the rest of America.
Here is the play on You Tube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7rPIg7ZNQ8&feature=player_embedded
It was a shocking turn of events.  Reaction to the call came fast and furious to what was being called the worst coaching decision of all-time.  Former Cowboys running back Emmit Smith described it as “The worst play call in the history of football.”  Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson chimed in with “WCE.  Worst Call Ever.  Beast Mode in the backfield and you throw it?”And finally Donald Trump, who these days has what looks like a blond muskrat sitting on his head, said “It must have been President Obama that called in what will go down as the DUMBEST PLAY IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL.”  You’re fired.
And everyone who was anyone tuned in and turned on.  Super Bowl XLIX was officially the most-watched television broadcast in history, as the game was seen by 114.4 million total viewers, beating out the “Parenthood” series finale.

For the Seahawks and their fans, they will be forever left wondering, why didn’t they hand the ball off on their final offensive play of the season?  Seattle Coach Pete Carroll, who took responsibility for the pass call, had this to say about the play and his team a few days later.

“I don’t think at this point that everyone’s on the same page about the sequence.  We’re going to make this right by getting to the truth. By facing up and talking about it, letting everyone clear their mind.  When you finally gather and you’re ready to take the next step, we’re going to places that will be extraordinary.”
Well, it’s sounds like a story of redemption, and according to the coach, “It’s well under way.”  Only time will tell.
For today’s photo countdown, we are returning to the morning of December 9. I started shooting this beautiful sunrise along West Cliff Drive, and then headed down to Its Beach to capture the vibrant reflection of the colorful clouds in the sand. I then hit Steamers Lane to catch the surf action as the waves were pumping.  As the sun rose over the mountains, the colors started to fade, and it soon disappeared behind the clouds. Just another late fall classic.
On to some late night humor  “The city of Boston today held its Super Bowl victory parade. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle held Seahawks coach Pete Carroll out a window by his ankles.  Tom Brady says he wants to give the truck he was given as the Super Bowl MVP to the guy who won the Super Bowl for the Patriots. So Brady’s giving his truck to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.” -Conan O’Brien”Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted this week that he’s cried and lost sleep thinking about his controversial pass call at the Super Bowl. He just keeps running it over and over in his head. Well, actually he keeps passing it over and over.” – Seth Meyers  ”President Obama unveiled a $4 trillion budget for 2016 that would increase taxes on the wealthy and spend more money on education. He also made a snowball and put it in the oven, just to see which would last longer, his budget or the snowball.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush admitted that he smoked a notable amount of pot in school. He said, “You would too if your parents had named you ‘Jeb.’

Scientists have discovered that a 5,000-year-old mummy is covered with at least 60 tattoos. Scientists are calling him the earliest known member of the NBA.” – Conan O’Brien

So I’m one day late, but birthday wishes go out to my beloved mother Lee Gilbert, who turned a young 89 yesterday.  This past year has been a tough one, but she’s still smiling and in the running for sainthood.
And there was great news on the medical front for my old pal Jerry Hoffman, who had been going through some tough times recently, but got some fantastic news on Friday that left all of us stunned and elated.  It’s a new ballgame, my friend.
So we caught you Friday night looking like one of the top players in the NBA, after hitting your first three point shot of the season that was a game winner at the buzzer.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Anthony Davis fans.

January 25, 2015

The Balls Never Lie

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

November 30, 2014

The Good, The Bad And The Stuffing

Good morning and greetings, December fans. Yes, the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, as records were shattered in the consumption of stuffing department. I am left with a very pleasant memory, along with 72 cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce to commemorate this blessed occasion.

To year round cranberry sauce lovers, I say, crave the wave. Your taste buds will thank you.

Now in last week’s post, I looked ahead to the holiday, previewing how others celebrated this glorious gathering of food and stress. So with the sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and green beans now just a low carb memory, I thought I would take a look back at the holiday that brings some families together while ripping others apart.

As I’ve always maintained, be someone that brings out the best in you, not the stress in you.

Now first of all, the Pilgrims did not celebrate this festival with Trader Joe’s turkey gravy. Back in 1621, they decided to throw themselves a rave party to celebrate the harvest, so for the fixings, the men went “fowling,” as in the hunting of wild birds. Then a group of Wampanoag Indians showed up with five deer and enough deviled eggs, spinach dip and stuffed mushrooms for 50.

Looking back upon this first feast, the menu was quite exotic for the times. There was lobster, fish, sushi, chicken, rabbit, flank steak, squashes, dried fruits, aging movie stars, eggs, goat cheese, tater tots, chestnuts, hickory nuts, shrimp toast and spring rolls.

Not making it to the table were mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, bagels, corn on the cob, cranberries, whitefish salad and the most important item, gravy, which we all know is a key component to the success of the meal. And no forks were used for this feast, as this utensil didn’t make an appearance in North American until the 19th century. So we’re talking spoons, knives, fingers, chopsticks and slingshots.

Historians say the party raged on for three days, and included the 50 surviving Pilgrims and 90 Indians, as they ate, played party games, shot guns for fun and watched football and the Macy’s Day Parade.

Now according to my sources in the South Pacific, long before the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower, native Hawaiians were celebrating the longest Thanksgiving in the world. This holiday was called Makahiki, and lasted four months, from November through February. During these months of celebration, work, war, surf contests and reruns of “Magnum, P.I.” were forbidden.

So there was no mention of turkey at this original Thanksgiving. And let’s face it, when we think about this holiday, turkey is the number one bird on the hit list. The great American statesmen, Ben Franklin, wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. Me, I always favored the peacock.

So here’s a few fun facts about the approximately 45 million turkeys that were consumed and then exhumed on Thanksgiving.

There is evidence that turkeys have been around for 10 million years, or right around the making of the pilot episode of “Law and Order.”

Only male turkeys can pull off the gobble gobble routine, which is a seasonal call that drives the females crazy during their mating periods. Hens prefer to cluck, like in get me the cluck out of here.

Domesticated turkeys, or farm raised, cannot fly. So they go Amtrak. The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at a hefty 86 pounds, about the size of a large German Shepard or an small Austrian sheep herder.

Now here’s an unusual fact. Due to white meat being the most delectable and popular part of the turkey, these large birds have been bred to have huge breasts. As a result, the female’s backs are always killing them.

Now this takes all the fun out of the equation for both sexes because the domesticated turkeys are no longer able to mate, due to the breasts getting in the way of the mounting of the female. So they have to settle for a romantic dinner, a movie, then on to some heavy petting before they call it a night. Chickens have all the luck.

And finally, let’s give a shout out to Sara Josepha Hale, a magazine editor who is the author of the popular nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little lamb.” She urged President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving, as until 1863, the holiday had not been celebrated annually since the first feast back in 1621. She believed the day would unite Americans in the midst of dramatic social and industrial change and awaken our hearts for love and home and country.

And most importantly, it would create a day for Americans to wake up at the crack of dawn, so they can get in line to wait for the stores to open at great malls of our nation. We know it as Black Friday, a consumer’s dream come true, and just the way God created it. Because only in America, do people trample other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.

So for our holiday photo session, we are returning to Thanksgiving morning, 2014. I had slept in till 6:30, but when I saw that red glow on the eastern horizon, I dashed out of the house, parked the car at Bird Rock and sprinted down West Cliff to catch the amazing glow of the red clouds above Monterey Bay, before catching the sunrise over at Steamer Lane. Just a spectacular way to the start off the holiday.

On to some best of late night humor. “Yesterday New Jersey Governor Chris Chistie was asked about the slow pace of his weight loss and said, quote, ‘Rome was not un-built in a day.’ In fact, Christie and Rome have a lot in common: one was built by Julius Caesar, and the other was built by LITTLE Caesar.” – Jimmy Fallon “Ted Cruz of course, was furious that the big storm back east shut down the government. He said, ‘That my job!’ But you know, there is a big difference between Ted Cruz and snow. Both are white and everyone’s sick of them – but eventually snow goes away.” – Bill Maher

“The Arizona legislature passed a bill that would allow business owners asserting their religious beliefs to deny service to gay customers. Some businesses have already put up signs that read: ‘Nice shirt, nice shoes, no service.’” – Seth Meyers “Presidents Day, of course, started out as celebration of Washington’s birthday. Then someone remembered it was Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th. So now we celebrate Washington, Lincoln and all the other Presidents. I have no idea how this led to mattress sales. It’s probably something do with Bill Clinton.” – Craig Ferguson

“Yesterday the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks advanced to the big game, which means this year’s Super Bowl will have teams from the two states where recreational marijuana is legal. Or as pizza delivery men put it, ‘Pray for us.’” After the president’s State of the Union address, there will be three separate Republican rebuttals. Obama said, ‘Yeah, I live with two daughters, my wife and my mother-in-law. Three people telling me I’m wrong is a holiday.’” – Jimmy Fallon

So welcome to December. We’ll catch doubling your scoring average for the third straight season while nailing the three ball. Aloha, mahalo and later, Draymond Green fans.

November 16, 2014

Numb And Number To

Good morning and greetings, polar vortex fans. Now if I’m being perfectly honest, I really don’t like the feeling of being cold. Or for that matter, being imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp.

Nor do I like feeling hot, except when I’m raining down jumpers on the basketball court. I just get into a zone. Auto Zone.

So when I heard last week that the midwest and rockies were preparing for a blast of polar air that was to send temperatures and toilets plunging, I knew Snowvember was upon us. Pardon my french, but to quote either Elton or Tommy John, “The bitch is back.”

Holy guacamole. Meteorologists and Al Roker’s cousin were calling it the “Arctic Outbreak.” We’re once again talking about a huge mass of whirling and swirling cold air that sent thermometers soaring downward. It had been a hundred years since Denver had been this cold this early, as the thermometer dropped faster than the Dow Jones average did a month ago.

Last Wednesday, the thermometer didn’t rise above the six degree mark all day in Denver. How cold was it? Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick. The only thing colder was the Denver Nugget’s defense that night at Pepsi Center, as they gave up 84 points in the first half in the loss to Portland.

Denver set a new record with a recording of minus 14 below. So how cold was it outside the arena? Ladies of the night were charging twenty bucks just to blow on your hands.

So what in the wide, wide world of weather is this polar vortex? For those of you who have forgotten or don’t give a rat’s behind, it’s a large pocket of the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere that swoops down from the north, leading to bitter cold freezing conditions while making life miserable for the masses, unless you’re a badger or wolverine.

Residents of Chicago are still in a panic. That’s what 32 feet of snow last year will do to you. And just in case you were wondering where the coldest spot in the nation was on Wednesday, the honor went to Casper, Wyoming, where it was a bone chilling 26 below. Pickpockets were sticking their hands in stranger’s pockets just to keep them warm.

So I say, America, let’s band together and send this weather back to where in belongs, to a land with ten provinces, three territories and one escaped Bieber. Canada. America’s attic. Or as they like to say about themselves, “We’re not colder, we’re cooler.”

Now I have nothing against Canadians, although I have never made love in a canoe. I may have on occasion sampled some their bacon in eggs benedict. A Canadian is sort of like an American, but without the gun. Or as the gangster Al Capone once said, “I don’t even know what street Canada is on.”

So while it’s 81 degrees in Palm Beach County, Florida, there’s four feet of snowing dropping in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, California bathes in sunshine and the drought continues to rage on. Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite fair, but if we didn’t have the weather to talk about, what would we start our conversations with?

So to update a previous post, I have remained in touch with my old friend Dennis, who’s doing quite well, but for security purposes did want me to reveal his last name (Haggar). My old high school buddy celebrated his 62nd birthday on Thursday with cake, ice cream and animal balloons. We had been out of touch for 44 years, but now we are reunited, and it feels so good.

But under the category of, “Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear,” low and behold, last Wednesday, I received an email from my closest comrade from grammar school, who I also hadn’t been it touch for over four decades. He somehow ran across my blog and reached out to me.

It was a glorious reunion. But out of respect for his privacy, he wanted me to keep our conversation on the down low, so as not to reveal his profession, (attorney), relationship status (married), hobbies (jazz music) and most importantly, his Pacific Northwest location (Seattle.)

Turns out my old Fort Lee running buddy is a big NBA hoops fan, and has named all his sons after Shawn Kemp. I had been dreaming about his mother’s banana cake for years. It was a blast heading back to the past, and where we go from here is basically a jump ball.

But if these things happen in threes, I’m ready, because if something else is coming down the pike, I really hope it’s a pony.

So for today’s photosynthesis, we are returning to West Cliff Drive on the morning of October 26. I wanted to get a wider shot of the sunrise over the bay, so I set up shop at Fair Avenue. The sky was vivid red and orange before the sun rose, casting a painted canvas look at the heavens above Monterey Bay.

The sun then rose, the sky turned blue, and I packed up my stuff and drove home to confront the ghosts of my future. I’ve got a great past in front of me.

On to some late night humor “I’m so excited. Jay Leno is on the show tonight. He brought some really funny jokes and some great stories. Although I’m a little concerned he also brought his old desk and Kevin Eubanks.” – Jimmy Fallon “At the economic summit in China, Vladimir Putin is being accused of flirting with the first lady of China. Then again, Putin does have a history of not respecting boundaries.” – Conan O’Brien

“”Director Oliver Stone says he’s going to make a movie about Vladimir Putin. I can’t believe anyone would want to work with that insane communist. And Putin is a little crazy as well.” – Craig Ferguson ” Welcome to our special “Sons of Anarchy” show. I’m a huge fan. When I was a young man, I ran with a gang of redheaded punks. We were called the Ginger Snaps. Our biggest enemy was sunlight. “Sons of Anarchy” is the No. 1 show in its time slot. They were No. 2 but then they had the No. 1 show executed in an abandoned warehouse.” – Conan O’Brien

“Pepsi is testing a new drink flavor, which is a mix between Mountain Dew and Doritos. Or as stoners call it, “instant breakfast.” The October jobs report was released and it showed that unemployment has hit its lowest point in six years. Also hitting its lowest point: anyone who tried that new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew.” – Jimmy Fallon “PepsiCo is developing a Doritos Mountain Dew called Dewitos. I think I’ll wait until they come out with Diet Dewitos.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Pepsi has a new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. No, we don’t have an Ebola vaccine, but we do have the Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. You know Kim Jong Un, the evil dictator of North Korea? Apparently, a guy in his inner circle used his ashtray while smoking and Kim Jong Un had him executed. I remember the same thing happened when a guy used Martha Stewart’s personal lemon zester.” – David Letterman

“The Secret Service said there have been 40 fence-jumping incidents at the White House in the past five years. Half of them were intruders trying to get in. The other half was President Obama trying to get out.” – Conan O’Brien “A tiger has been seen running around Paris. Citizens were told to stay indoors and do whatever’s necessary to protect the wine and cheese. They should leave home only to smoke and to judge others.” – Craig Ferguson

So full speed ahead, as clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. We’ll catch you making great comedy movies classics for American audiences. Aloha, mahalo and later, Bobby and Peter Farrelly fans.

August 3, 2014

Summer-Don’t Leave Home With It

Good morning and greetings, August fans. Now what red and white blood celled American doesn’t look forward to a summer vacation? Whether it’s renting a cabin on Mosquito Lake, visiting Yosemite or the Grand Canyon or just sitting around in your backyard relaxing like a mental patient, everyone loves a summer sabbatical.

For our nation’s students, it means two to three months weeks away from the grind and pressure of homework, tests, incessant bullying and the cafeteria’s salisbury steak.

But it wasn’t always like this. According to the folks at tidbit.com, back in the early 1800s, around the birth of John McCain’s babysitters, schools went year-round as the National Lampoon and summer vacation had not yet been invented.

Then along came a spider and Horace Mann, the great education reformer, who worried that overstimulating the minds of children could lead to mental breakdowns, insanity and worst of all, low SAT scores. Educators worried that if there were no breaks to take children away from schools, the insane asylums would be filled with teachers. Or in the words of Woody Allen, “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

So in the 1840s, the summer break was created. Everyone was now happy as a clam, as teachers and students got that much needed break from one another. Meanwhile, doctors no longer had to be concerned about children spreading disease while packed in like sardines inside sweltering classrooms.

As the sign reads at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., “There are three good reasons to be a teacher-June, July and August.”

Now transitioning into August, it tis the season when the Gilbert Family Robinson takes their annual trip to the South Pacific. It is a time for relaxation, rejuvenation, reincarnation and macadamia nut elation, in a land filled with aloha spirit, fresh papayas and angry Hawaiians.

Unfortunately, our son Jason will not be going to the islands, as he’s in Santa Barbara taking an organic chemistry lab class, which I never had the pleasure of partaking in as a sociology major. It’s the first time the four of us will not be together enjoying chicken katsu and macaroni salad in this tropical paradise. But we’re taking our daughter’s friend along because we like even numbers.

So we are heading over to Anahola Bay, on the northeast shore on the Garden Island of Kauai. We rented a house right on the water, so life shouldn’t be too stressful. I’ve been looking forward to it all year, and can’t wait to feel the trade winds and the sand beneath my feet while exploring the Napili coast and the food aisles at the Costco in Lihue.

So I’m taking a two week break from the blog, and shall return to these pages on August 25. So let me say to all of you aloha kakou, which translated means may there be love between us and don’t bother texting me.

So for today’s photo conference, we are heading down to West Cliff Drive on the morning of February 18. It wasn’t a spectacular sunrise by any means, but the sky lit up with some gentle red clouds which turned into a light orange sherbert sundae float. And then the sun rose up through the lighthouse and all was good on a winter’s morning.

On to some late night humor. “According to French officials, the gardens at the Louvre have become overrun with rats. Officials later apologized and promised to refer to us as Americans in the future. Wikipedia is now accepting donations using the online currency Bitcoin. So now you can support information you’re not sure is true with currency you’re not sure is money.” – Seth Meyers”

Seventeen siblings from New Jersey just won $20 million in the lottery. When asked how they plan to spend the money, they said, “Remodeling the shoe we grew up in.” The TSA is offering a $5,000 reward for the best idea on how to speed up airport security lines. So far the best idea is making a line for people who know what they’re doing and another line for people who have never been to an airport before.” – Jimmy Fallon

Actor Orlando Bloom threw a punch at Justin Bieber last night during an argument at a night club in Spain. Orlando’s hand was pretty sore today, you know, from all the high-fives he got. A new study found that having a sense of purpose can actually help you live longer — While having a sense of porpoise can help you swim longer. – Jimmy Fallon

So birthday wishes go out this week to my daughter Aimee, who is turning sweet 17 on Thursday. She’s beautiful and ambitious, and I am very proud of her and the rabbit ranch she’s currently running out of her bedroom.

Also celebrating his birth on this date is my old Hermose Beach pal and financial consigliere Bruce Meyers, who smiles every time he hears the word “strand.”

So that’s my story. We’ll catch you making blockbuster trades as GM of the Oakland A’s, as you’re going for it all this baseball season. Aloha, mahalo and later, Billy Beane fans.

March 23, 2014

Clothes, But No Cigar

Good morning and greetings, springtime fans. Well, March Madness got underway on Thursday, and it was the greatest opening day in 35 years, as there was major drama, wild upsets and fabulous finishes.

Then Friday started off with the Duke Blue Devils, picked in these pages last week by college guru Dr. Michael Schur and my son Jason to win it all, go flaming down in defeat to the Mercer Bears. It was upset city, baby, as brackets around the nation started crumbling.

Having surveyed the remaining field, despite their opening round loss, the good doctor still likes the Blue Devils to cut down the nets in Arlington.

So we have gone from a field of 64 teams down to the Sweet 16, which just happens to be the age of my ice cream scooping daughter Aimee, who performs her sundae-making, milk shaking, chocolate covered strawberry magic at Sweet Treats on Mission Street, when she’s not hostessing or waitressing at the new “Your Place’ restaurant next door.

At her tender age, she can work 48 hours a week, and she is going for the gold. Or should I say the green?

Now this is basically her first real job, and she’s hit the ground sprinting. She’s got that strong work ethic, as she believes in its inherent ability to strengthen her character. And buy clothes.

As she told me the other day, “Dad, those on top of the mountain didn’t just fall there.” Or as columnist Ann Landers once tweeted out, “Nobody has ever drowned in their own sweat.”

Her new occupation struck a chord with me, as when I was her age, I took a summer job in the Garment Center in Manhattan, New York. As defined by the boys and girls at Wikipeda, “The Garment District is a dense concentration of fashion-related companies, home to the majority of New York’s showrooms and major fashion labels.” It’s packed into an area less than one square mile, just down the road from the very seedy Times Square district. And with not a tree in sight.

This was back in the years before Mayor Rudy Guiliani rode in and cleaned up the area, and if you were looking for sex shops, adult theatres or a little companionship for an hour, Times Square was the place to be. Or as the welcome sign reads down at the Manhattan Visitors Center, “New York. New Jersey is our bitch.”

As a child growing up in the aforementioned Garden State, I would take the bus into the Big Apple with my father. We’d hop off and head to the Greek barbershop on 42nd street, where he’d get a haircut and I was first introduced to the wonders of Playboy magazine. Of course, I only read the interviews.

Then we would head up the street to Tad’s Steak House to dine on salad, garlic bread, baked potato and steak for just $1.29. Fantastic. Of course, the taste of that steak would ruminate through my digestive system for days, but it was worth it.

The Garment District is the center for fashion manufacturing and design in the U.S. For me, it was to be a lucrative adventure, as I was a young man on the loose on the mean streets of New York.

I thought I was being hired as a showroom model, but ended up working in the shipping department of a company called Judy Bee, a manufacturer of children’s clothing. We were shipping out garments to all the major stores in the tri-state area, and I was responsible for making sure the right dresses got on the racks that the truckers came to pick up. It was interesting work, as I was the youngest person in the shipping department and certainly the only one with a possibility of one day landing on the Dean’s List.

I would take the bus through the Lincoln Tunnel and be deposited at the New York Port Authority on 41st Street. From there it was just a short walk through the bustle and the hustlers to work. Most of my fellow workers were immigrants from throughout the hemisphere. It was a melting pot of working souls.

Sometimes we had to deliver our goods to trucking facilities, so we would take the racks down the freight elevator and hit the pavement of the Big Apple. It was wild scene, pushing racks of clothing by whizzing taxis through the streets of Manhattan. For me, this was a summer job. For everyone else, it was their pasts and their futures.

The man running the shipping department was an older gentlemen from the Caribbean named Danny, and a few weeks into my employment he suffered a heart attack. I guess there were limited replacement candidates available, as they offered me the opportunity to take over running the department at a very tender age.

I was thrilled at the time, because of two words. Overtime pay.

I then began working a fourteen hour day. My parents were traveling in Europe and neither of my brothers were around, so I was home alone with our golden retriever. I basically woke up, went to work, came home and then repeated the pattern, as the hours on my time card took on a life of their own.

One of the thrills was when the day shift ended, and I got to order out dinner from one of the many restaurants in the area. I was living large, and although Danny came back to work and ended my brief in foray into management, I look back upon that time with a smile. It was day to day grind, but the my spirits were high and my paychecks kept rising.

Now I didn’t want to make it my life’s work, and I turned down an invitation to go back again the next summer. It was a time of learning, yearning, but especially earning. Opportunity knocked on my door and I answered it. I knew if I hadn’t, that it would be ringing my doorbell for years.

So for today’s photo chronicles we are going back to the final morning of 2013. The clouds were positioned a little further to the east than normal, so I shot this sunrise along a different section of West Cliff Drive. The clouds did their job as they rotated from red to orange to tangerine. After the sun rose, I took the final shot from Bird Rock to take in the waves, the lighthouse and the sky, all in one final December scoop.

On to some late night humor. “President Obama released his March Madness bracket this morning, picking Michigan State to win the tournament. In response, Vladimir Putin started moving troops into Gonzaga. The Obama administration announced it is going to require colleges and vocational schools to demonstrate that they are properly preparing students for jobs after college. So don’t be surprised if your chemistry class tomorrow is all about how to make a cappuccino.” –Seth Meyers

“Vice President Biden said today that the U.S. is considering sending troops to the Baltic states bordering Russia. According to Biden, the Baltic states are the territories located just past Boardwalk and Park Place.” –Seth Meyers “Some American cities go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. In Chicago they dye the river green. In Boston everyone wears green. In Colorado, they smoke the green. Then someone tells them it’s St. Patrick’s Day.” – Criag Ferguson

“St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal here in New York City. Two million people turned out today for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It’s the one parade where the horses are the ones that have to watch where they step. Lawmakers here in New York are considering a plan to bring slot machines to LaGuardia Airport. Of course there’s always that other way to gamble at LaGuardia — checking a bag.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our first post for spring 2014. We’ll catch you perhaps rethinking your plans about entering the NBA draft and going back to college for another year. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins fans.

January 19, 2014

The Resolution Will Not Be Televised

Good morning and greetings, warm weather lovers. At the time of year when we’re supposed to be battening down the hatches and bonding with our umbrellas, summer has broken out in the Bay Area. Last Wednesday was the hottest January day ever recorded at the San Francisco Airport, as the runways hit 73 degrees. Santa Cruz had record breaking high temperatures, as the thermometer on my rain gauge hit a comfortable 82 degrees. Yes, it was hot. How hot was it? When the temperature dropped back down to 75 I felt a bit chilly.

I’m not saying that I mind Indian summer in January. Last week, as I was lounging around in my swimwear while bodysurfing the web, I ran across an article written by Nicholas St. Fleur for the Mercury News. This story was right in my wheelhouse. According to four out of five scientists, because of the lack of wind and rain, the skies along the west coast have been putting on tremendous aerial displays at sunrise and sunset. And the key to it all is the increased pollution particles in the sky. Kansas was right. All we are is dust in the wind.

Now as you know, I’m a sunrise and sunset chaser and a part time hand model. I’ve taken an solemn oath to try and record all the early morning and twilight action along West Cliff Drive and serve it up on a cyber platter. Last Saturday and Sunday I photographed two gorgeous back-to-sunrises down at Lighthouse Point, but since then the skies have gone dry and I’ve not shot a look, nod or glance since. So for me the lack of rain is a two-sided coin, as no clouds equals no breathtaking, mind-blowing, thank God I’m alive moments. All clear and no clouds makes Geoff a dull boy.

But let’s get back to why it happens, why at dawn and dusk the sky puts on a celebration for the middle-aged. These particles of pollution create a collusion of colors which are responsible for the confusion that scatters the light, which then brings on the fireworks we observe in the sky. Yes, pollution is the solution.

Without any weather patterns in the region, tiny particles of soot, dust and rust from cars, rickshaws, fireplaces, sweat lodges, construction sites and men’s gentlemen clubs hang around in the atmosphere much longer. These articles of particles bring us the exotic skylight canvases that have the smartphone phone boys and girls clicking away at dusk like it’s candy. Or as young poet Mattie Stepanek once wrote. “Sunset is my favorite color, and rainbow is second.”

Weather forecasters say that there is no rain on the horizon because of a high-pressure ridge that has been double parked off the West Coast for more than a year. This prevents Pacific weather storms from moving through and screws with my HBO reception. This giant zone of high pressure in the atmosphere is huge, even by Orson Welles standards, at nearly four miles high and 2,000 miles long. Try finding a pair of sweat pants to put around that.

We are also experiencing offshore flows, which are not the usual wind patterns that blow clean air inland from over the Pacific Ocean. If you add the atmospheric inversion that occurs at night, when a level of warm air rises above the cold air and remains trapped like rats near the ground, then the pollution has no place to go, which creates more fun with contaminants.

These three factors come together with sunlight to create a trilogy which results in the sunrises and sunsets, with God, Chris Christie and the Port Authority of New York cast in the supporting roles. It’s a fabulous show. I’m just hoping I make it into the credits.

So after that explanation of why the skies have been so deliciously inviting, I feel it only right that I take you to a recent photofest along West Cliff Drive. The day was January 6, which started off in spectacular fashion, as the sunrise was NBA fantastic. There were tremendous clouds in the sky all day, as sunset watchers were licking their lips in anticipation of the evening festivities.

But when the witching hour came around the clouds suddenly stifled the sun, and what once looked like an all-star Saturday petered out. I was surprised and momentarily disappointed-how could I have misread the signs? It was turning into anticlimatic city. Why would a loving God allow this to happen?

But patience has its virtue, and as I waited, all of a sudden the sky started to light up, with brilliantly vivid colors filling the horizon. It was unexpected, even though I should know to expect the unexpected. It was a wonderful culmination to a full day of light and anticipation. Or as novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson might have described it, “The sky broke like an egg into a full sunset and the water caught on fire.” I couldn’t have said it any better.

On to some late night humor. “We’re learning more about this George Washington Bridge scandal. During the traffic jam, a two-block commute that would normally take five minutes took 45 minutes to an hour. As we call that in L.A., ‘making pretty good time.’” –Jay Leno “Christie apologized and promised the bridge will stay open for cars, trucks, and the buses he’s throwing his staff under. New Jersey Chris Christie is still digging himself out of this Bridgegate scandal. In fact, some experts are now saying he could be impeached. When he heard that Christie said, ‘Mmmm, peach.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A new report found that more than half of the people who have signed up for Obamacare are older than 45. Which is no big deal until you find out they were 25 when they first tried to log onto the website.” –Jimmy Fallon “Police are searching Justin Bieber’s home for evidence in an egg-throwing vandalism scandal. You know you’re a real gangster when the police raid your home looking for something from the dairy aisle. Justin Bieber reportedly caused $20,000 in damage to his neighbor’s home by egging it. It’s being called the most pointless use of an egg since the fertilization of Justin Bieber.” – Conan O’Brien

“The White House announced that President Obama will visit Pope Francis in the near future. Pope Francis thinks Obamacare can be a success. Sure, he’s the Pope. He has to believe in miracles. They say that most airline seats on planes today are meant for 170-pound passengers. The last time the average American weighed 170 pounds, the Wright Brothers were flying the plane. Health officials are now warning that pot smoking can cause apathy. In fact, a recent poll shows that most pot smokers couldn’t care less.” – Jay Leno

So that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. We’ll catch you scoring a new career high of 54 points last week while showing NBA fans why you’re the second best player on the planet. Aloha, mahalo and late, Kevin Durant fans.

January 12, 2014

So How Cold Was It?

Good morning and greetings, NFL playoff fans. Well, if you like watching football played inside a freezer, there was a game for you last Sunday, as the San Francisco 49ers took on the Green Bay Packers on the frozen tundra called Lambeau Field. Temperature at kickoff time was 5 degrees, as 70,000 fans braved the icy conditions to root on their Packers. The team handed out free hand warmers, coffee, hot chocolate and blast furnaces you could put down your pants. But there was not joy to be in frozen Mudville, as San Francisco prevailed in the NFC wild card game to move on in the playoffs.

So why was it so damn cold, and why was 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick not wearing any sleeves, gloves or mittens?

The cause was the polar vortex, which I mistakenly thought was the material in the lining in my jacket. What swooped down from the north is what some might refer to as rare air, which are the strong winds that circulate around the Arctic Circle, that come with a smooth aroma with touches of vanilla and patchouli.

This dense, frigid air, which had everyone but native Hawaiians shivering last week, came down from Santa’s place at the North Pole, where I purchase the ice for my annual Super Bowl party. We’re talking about extreme cold air brought down by the jetstream that hadn’t been seen in decades. We’re talking weather history here, folks. Word on the street has it that if you were under 40, you would have never experienced this kind of bitter cold. Or have an appreciation for ‘The Honeymooners.’

The coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere flooded half the nation with record breaking low temperatures. This arctic cold front affected 187 million people and a baby. I don’t know about you, but when I’m in sub-zero temperatures, I tend to get a little cranky. I hate it when I have thaw out my pajamas.

This little vortex party that engulfed the nation also came with deadly snowstorms, that had residents digging out in bitter cold conditions. Combine this with icestorms, the constant blowing of dangerous winds and the image of Al Roker in snow pants and you have a week that had the Weather Channel throwing a party to celebrate their Neilson ratings. It was so cold champagne was being served in slices.

So let’s look at some of the extreme lows from last week’s hypothermia festival. Chicago smashed a subzero record with -16 below, with a wind chill factor that made it seem like -40 below. Records fell in Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas, as three states had wind chills of 40 below. Virginia and West Virginia shattered marks that had stood for 60 years. It was 30 below in Vermont, where there is, believe it or not, an ongoing heroin epidemic. North Dakota was so cold it seceded from the Union. It was so cold paramedics were checking houses for people trapped under the weight of blankets.

New York City’s Central Park broke a 118-year-record last Tuesday when the temperature dropped to 4 degrees, a record that had stood since 1896. International Falls, Minnesota had a wind chill factor of 55 below last Monday. Residents in Embarrass, Minnesota thought they might break their record-cold temperature of 64 below zero. When you live in a place where the thermometers go to 100 below, you better be tough. The radio was broadcasting iceberg warnings to motorists.

When it’s colder in Tennessee than it is in Alaska, something is wrong with this weather picture. On the set of the television drama ‘Nashville,’ rival country singing stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere were hugging each other just to stay warm. It was so cold in ‘Music City’ that parents were encouraging their kids to play with matches.

Last Tuesday, all 50 states saw freezing temperatures at some point. That included Hawaii, where it was 18 degrees atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and the company which provides me with a constant flow of macadamia nuts. It was so cold that surfers were de-icing their boards on the North Shore.

In Chicago, the zoo’s lone polar bear had to be brought indoors, as she was missing the extra layer of blubber she’d have developed in the arctic. I wish I could say the same. At this point in life all my favorite food are seconds.

Just so you know, according the National Weather Service, exposed flesh can freeze in as little as five minutes with wind chills colder than 50 below. We’re talking rapid frostbite and that’s why tank tops are never a big seller at the Arctic Circle.

And finally, in the midst of this polar vortex invasion, the U.S. set a record last Tuesday for demands for natural gas. It was a day burrito lovers will never forget.

So since I would consider being in 50 degrees below conditions a semi-religious experience, for our photo follies today we are going back to a morning which has religious significance. I’m referring to Christmas, the day that they NBA has now made all its own, with five consecutive nationally televised games, which basically means 13 straight hours of NBA bliss.

I was shooting the sunrise from the cliffs above Fair Avenue along West Cliff Drive. As you can see, the backdrop was decorated for the holiday, as the morning sky was filled with red and orange streaks. Not a bad way to start off the day, as I was happy with the gift Santa brought me, although I was hoping for a pony.

On to some late night humor. “Chris Christie is dealing with a scandal after it was revealed that a top aide shut down access to the George Washington Bridge to get back at a mayor for not endorsing him. Christie was furious when they blocked the bridge. He thought they said they were blocking the fridge.” –Jimmy Fallon “Apparently someone in Governor Chris Christie’s office closed the bridge. This is what I don’t understand. You’ve got a major political figure and the busiest bridge in the world. Don’t put anything in writing. Do what I always do when I have something top secret to discuss. I go to a bowling alley and use the pay phone.” –David Letterman

“It’s warming up a little bit here in the northeast. The polar vortex has departed. It was supposed to leave Monday night but it got stuck on the George Washington Bridge.” –David Letterman “In advance of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Russian government announced that, contrary to popular belief, people in Russia will be allowed to protest. But only in a special protest zone – known as ‘Siberia.’” –Jay Leno

“Dennis Rodman took six former NBA players to North Korea to play against a local team in celebration of Kim Jong Un’s 31st birthday. I guess after years of playing alongside Michael Jordan, Rodman is very comfortable with totalitarian dictators. Dennis Rodman is like the uncle that Kim Jong Un never had killed.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Dennis Rodman has brought some former NBA stars to North Korea. Not to promote diplomacy – to avoid child support payments.” –Conan O’Brien

“Mayor de Blasio says he wants to get rid of horse-drawn carriages in Central Park, saying they are inhumane. Meanwhile, thousands of unemployed New Yorkers are saying, ‘I’ll pull the carriages. How much an hour?’” –Jimmy Fallon “The postal service is now saying that they are raising the price of a stamp from 46 cents to 49 cents. They would have made it an even 50 but that would have made the line at the post office go too fast.” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s weather and sports. We’ll catch you averaging 32 plus points over the last five games and being the top lefty scorer in the league. Aloha, mahalo and later, James Harden fans.

January 5, 2014

In One Year And Out The Other

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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