April 6, 2014

The Son, The Moon And The Births

Good morning and greetings, April fans. Well, last week we started off the new month with some spring showers, which according to my Mariah Carey wall calendar, will then lead to May flowers.

However, at my humble abode on the highly desirable upper westside of Santa Cruz, the gophers and rose bushes are already in full bloom, as my front yard is bursting with color, fragrance and a network of freshly dug tunnels that the recently captured Mexican cartel boss El Chapo would be proud to list on his resume.

Yes, the smell of spring is in the air. As I said to my wife the other day, “If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, I’d be picking roses for a lifetime.” And she replied, “Just remember to turn on the dishwasher before you come upstairs.” Ah, another Hallmark moment.

It was back in 1967 that the Beatles released their psychedelic studio album, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ Which brought us this classic Lennon and McCartney line, “It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper’s taught the band to play.”

So with a shout out to Billy Shears, I thought we might take a quick look back at what was happening two decades ago. Because if you don’t remember the past, you’ll never remember the future.

Taking a look at 1994, ‘Forrest Gump’ was number one at the box office and ‘Seinfeld’ was TV’s most popular show, as they were all masters of their domain. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The number one hit on the song charts was ‘All I Wanna Do’ by Sheryl Crow, a baseball strike cancelled the World Series and the Wonderbra was relaunched and celebrated as one of the greatest fashion innovations in history. Who knew?

And it was twenty years ago today, on April 7, 1994, that the world witnessed the start of the Rwandan genocide, where for a 100 day period, an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 Rwandans were slaughtered, going down as one of the most horrific and shameful events to occur in our lifetimes.

But out of darkness on this day came a shining light, in the form of a child, the birth of my son, Jason. He was supposed to have entered the world a day earlier, but due to my wife’s reluctance to go to the hospital after her water broke, his entering into the universe was delayed.

Now April 6 was a day to remember. We arrived in the morning at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, where I sensed that getting a kosher lunch was going to be a little tricky. All the birthing rooms where full, so they led us to the kitchen area and told us to wait. Ironically, there were bagels and cream cheese there to greet us, so the kosher action might still be a go.

We were supposed to meet our doula, who was going to be Allison’s labor coach. She was also a custom’s agent, and it turned out that day she had to go on a raid and was a no-show. This put me right up on the front line, as I was now husband, coach and the lifeline to our doctor, who didn’t want to make an appearance until our son’s cranium was crowning.

Allison took a long time before being fully dilated. As her coach, I kept flashing the bunt sign, but the runners weren’t moving. Finally, at 1:47 am, Jason flew the coop, and we were no longer just a couple, but now a family.

The next 60 minutes were the highest moments of my life, as I couldn’t believe what had popped out of my wife. We just sat there and stared at him like mental patients. Eventually a nurse came in to clean him up and took my order for some matzo brie.

Jason is now a second year pre-med student at UC Santa Barbara, majoring in biological sciences and beach volleyball. He’s grown into a compassionate young man with an thirst for knowledge, who still will occasionally let me beat him playing one-on-one. He really wants to make a difference. It just goes to show that sometimes the apple falls far away from the cherry tree and keeps rolling.

But Jason already had some company on this day. Back in 1959, in Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital, my brother Brad entered the picture. Neither my brother Paul or I attended the birth, as we were too busy watching ‘Crusader Rabbit,’ the first animated series produced specifically for television
Brad grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Amherst College and then headed west to seek his fortune. When he is not snowboarding, he is the President and CEO of People Productions, a video and digital based media company based in Boulder, Colorado.

Now Brad is his middle-aged years has become somewhat of a daredevil, unlike yours truly, who won’t leave his feet. His favorite hobby is heli-snowboarding, where the helicopter drops you off on the top of the glacier. I always feel that urge to accompany him on these trips, but I’m just not myself around avalanches.

So a couple of weeks ago, the helicopter dropped my youngest brother off at the summit of an Alaskan glacier, and while he was sitting on a cornice, it collapsed underneath him, sending him tumbling down a sheer 800 foot drop. He thought he was going to die, or at the least have something great to blog about.

It was a terrifying situation and when he finally stopped falling he was alive. However, his left knee took the brunt of the fall, with all the ligaments blown out like strands of linguine.

So for Brad’s 55th birthday, he’ll be at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado, prepping for major knee reconstruction surgery the following day. The outcome could have been much worse, but he’s facing a lengthy rehab program, with lots of physical therapy and sponge baths.

I’m just glad he got out alive and with use of all his limbs. Like his Denver Nuggets, he won’t be seeing any postseason action this year. But along with the Nuggets’ small forward Danilo Gallinari, who’s been sidelined all season with a knee injury, he’ll be back in uniform some time next year. So happy birthday, brother.

To check out his Alaskan escapade, click on http://www.glutenfreesnowboarder.com/2014/04/not-every-powder-tale-has-a-happy-ending/

As I mentioned earlier, we started off last week with some wet weather, and this brought some spectacular rainbows into prime time viewing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in photo mode, but it did not stop me from going back into the archives and bringing a few back into the light.

We start off with a lovely full arc double rainbow over the Santa Cruz Wharf, followed by another double shot off of West Cliff Drive.

We then jet over to the South Pacific, with a couple of doubles on Kauai’s beautiful Hanalei Bay. We finish up with the grand finale at Sunset Beach on Oahu’s famous North Shore, just step’s away from Ted’s Bakery, home of the world famous chocolate haupia cream pie.

I love these multicolored masterpieces of reflected and refracted light. It’s like what Charlie Chaplin had to say about rainbows. “You’ll never find one if you’re looking down.” Unless, of course, you’re at a gas station.

Or as my rabbi once told me, “We may run, walk, stumble, drive or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or to miss a chance to see a rainbow along the way.” Because that’s where happy little bluebirds fly.

On to some late night humor. “The Secret Service arrested a man today after he tried to scale a fence at the White House. They reportedly said to the man, ‘Sorry, but you still have two more years, Mr. President.’ A new study on unemployment shows that it is now harder to get a job at Wal-Mart than to get accepted at Harvard. Of course, it’s a lot easier if your dad went to Wal-Mart.” -Seth Meyers

“Willie Nelson’s stuffed armadillo has been returned after being stolen from a Las Vegas show. And I’m sure Willie was happy to get it back, considering what it’s probably stuffed with. That’s right, 75 percent of Americans think marijuana eventually will be legal, while the other 25 percent said, “What, it’s illegal?” – Seth Meyers

“California is having to drive 30 million salmon to the ocean because this year’s drought has dried up the rivers that normally get them there. Unfortunately, to make the salmon comfortable, the truckers had to drive against traffic.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Everybody’s excited about the beginning of baseball season. The Yankees are off to a rough start. They are 0-and-2. Alex Rodriguez, who is no longer a Yankee, sits home nights watching the games and injecting himself with dip.” – David Letterman

“The Discovery Channel just announced plans for a new miniseries. It’s hosting a race to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. So technically savvy individuals can compete to see who can get their spacecraft to the moon first. It will be televised live. The show aims to prove that people who are bright and determined and work hard can accomplish anything we already accomplished 50 years ago.” – Jimmy Kimmel

So enjoy tonight’s NCAA basketball championship. By the way, after viewing the top prospects in the McDonald’s All American Game last week, our college basketball guru, Dr. Michael Schur, has the Duke Blue Devils once again cutting down the nets in next year’s NCAA Final in Indianapolis. Seems the Dukies have reloaded.

So we’ll catch you coming back from a knee injury and displaying the explosiveness that makes you one of the top young guards in the game. Aloha, mahalo and later, Eric Bledsoe fans.

February 9, 2014

Milkweed Does A Body Good

Good morning and greetings, precipitation fans. Well, some rain fell on our drought ravaged central coast last week, but forecasters and soothsayers claim that it was not nearly enough to make up for what so far has been one of the driest rainy seasons on record. What the weather boys and girls are basically saying is that we would have to double the amount of rainfall over the next four months to get back to the normal.

Now that could happen, just like the Democrats and Republicans back in Washington getting together to agree on tax cuts, jobs growth, health care, federal spending and gun rights. I’ll just put away my umbrella for now. As I’ve often remarked, I love walking in the rain because then no one knows I’m crying.

Or as my daughter Aimee says, “I like to cry at the ocean because only there do my tears look small.”

On to another unfortunate subject. In a story written by Mark Stevenson for the Associated Press, there is trouble in the world of the danaus plexippus, which for you non-scientists, are monarch butterflies.

Back in late January, experts and four out of five lepidopterists (butterfly specialists) who recommend milkweed for their patients, say that the incredible and little-understood annual migration of millions of Monarch butterflies spending the winter in Mexico is in danger of disappearing. This was after their numbers dropped to their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1993, as reported by researchers from the Sinaloa Drug Cartel.

The big problem is the loss of the milkweed plant that the monarchs feed on for survival. The finger of blame is being pointed at the genetically modified crops and urban sprawl in the United States and extreme weather trends, along with the dramatic reduction of the butterflies’ habitat in Mexico due to illegal logging of the trees they depend on for shelter and orange flight.

After steep and steady declines in the previous three years, the orange-and-black butterflies now cover only 1.65 acres in the pine and fir forests west of Mexico City, compared to 2.93 acres last year. They covered more than 44.5 acres at their recorded peak in 1996. That was also the year that Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Michael Jackson, though I don’t think there is any connection.

Because the monarchs clump together by the thousands in trees, they pay very little in rent and utilities, and are counted by the area they cover.

While the Monarch is not in danger of extinction, the decline in their population is not a happy thought for butterfly or pinata lovers. For you statistics nuts, it has morphed into a long-term trend and can no longer be seen as just a year-by-year or seasonal event, like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano or the running of the Bulls in Chicago.

The announcement came on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or what we in the business call NAFTA, which saw the United States, Mexico and Canada sign environmental accords to protect migratory species such as the Monarch. And according to my sources at the U.S. Customs, the Border Patrol and Baja Fresh, that is the last thing these three countries were in agreement on.

Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia and one of my favorite experts on bugs says, “The main culprit is now genetically modified herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA, which leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch’s principal food plant, common milkweed.”

This is particularly true in the midwest, where most of the butterflies migrate from. Extreme weather, including severe cold snaps, unusually heavy rains and droughts in all three countries have also played a role in the decline. Hey, but if Sarah Palin says there’s no proof of global warming, that’s good enough for me.

As we know, the migration of monarch butterflies to our California coast has been in steep decline, so we should step up and start planting our own weed, er milkweed, to help out the cause.

In Mexico, their annual trek is the world’s biggest migration of Monarch butterflies and the third-largest insect migration in the world, after a species of dragonfly in Africa and mosquitos coming in through my screen door in the summertime. The migration is a source of pride and heritage to the people of this region and should not be lost or stolen.

Writer and environmentalist Homero Aridjis says, “The governments of the United States and Canada have washed their hands of the problem, and left it all to Mexico. I think President Obama should take some step to support the survival of the Monarch butterflies.”

President Obama is scheduled to visit Mexico on February 19, with events scheduled for Toluca, a city a few dozen miles from the Monarch’s reserve. Then he’ll knock back a couple of chimichangas, down a Corona and try not to see any decapitated heads along the roadside before heading back on Air Force One.

So I say this. There are plenty of monarchs throughout the world, so there is no danger of extinction. But as our Commander in Chief, if you were man enough to call the shots so that Osama Bin Laden to now sleeping with the fishes, you could probably figure out of way to make life easier for our little fluttering friends. Or as Michelle whispered to you in the White House garden, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

So on that note, today I’m featuring some monarch butterfly shots from some classic westside locations. We’re talking Natural Bridges State Park, the Alan Chadwick Gardens at UCSC and the parking lot outside Subway. As they say, “Think fresh, eat fresh. The way a sandwich should be.”

Or in the words of Conan O’Brien, “Subway has announced a major new campaign to get people to eat healthier. I’m no health expert, but maybe the first thing to do is not sell people piles of meat and bread by the foot.”

On to some late night. “The Seahawks had a great slogan: “Why not us?” That’s what they would say to each other before the game. That is much better than the Broncos’ slogan: “Hey, why not hike it over the quarterback’s head?” People were partying in Seattle on Sunday night after the game. They were singing, they were laughing, they were hugging complete strangers, dancing in the streets. Basically, the same thing they’ve done every night in Seattle since they legalized marijuana.” – Jay Leno

“It wasn’t much of a Super Bowl game. The Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8. You know how after the game the winning players go to Disney World? Some of the Seahawks went halfway through the third quarter. It cost $4 million for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. I’m always surprised at which companies elect to pay that. How did a pistachio company afford $4 million? What kind of mark-up are they getting on those nuts?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“After appearing in a commercial during last night’s Super Bowl, people are accusing Bob Dylan of selling out. Today Dylan responded by saying, “Everyone needs to calm down, have a Bud Light, and relax at a Sandals Resort.” – Conan O’Brien “The NFL announced that veteran referee Terry McAulay will lead the referee crew at Sunday’s Super Bowl. So if you had him in your referee pool . . . please contact Gambler’s Anonymous. You have a problem.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton is encouraging Hispanic families to read to their kids. She’s also telling Asian families to ease up on the math so the rest of us can catch up.” – Conan O’Brien “CVS is no longer selling cigarettes. They say, “It’s the right thing to do for our customers and our company in their path for better health.” I go to CVS all the time. If they want to promote better health, maybe they should stop selling Cheese Whiz, Circus Peanuts, Little Debbie jelly rolls and all the ingredients for meth.”- Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s the show. We’ll catch you blazing away like an all-star point guard and keeping your team in the playoff hunt in the western conference. Aloha, mahalo and later, Goran Dragic fans.

September 15, 2013

The Bay Of The Jackal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:41 am

Good morning and greetings, late summer fans. You know, life is full of surprises and prizes, and I don’t just mean the kind you find in a box of Cracker Jacks. If you keep your eyes open and your wings spread, you never know what you’ll encounter in the the journeys that lie ahead.

So with that thought, let’s go back to last Tuesday, when a light rain and my radio career were falling when I awoke. Since the coast looked drearier than the news I had received the day before, I decided to try and clear my head by walking around my neighborhood. It’s not nearly as exciting as skipping along the edge of the continent, but it does get my heart pumping and that’s just what my psychiatrist ordered.

So with my Steely Dan poncho on my back and my trusty golden companion leading the way, we set off into the mist. What immediately came to mind was a couple of classic Woody Allen lines, “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable,” and ‘Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering-and it’s all over much too soon.” Okay, so I was a little down.

But what happened next caught me completely by surprise, as standing not 30 feet away was a large coyote, who was licking his lips like wanted to order something off the menu. Now I’ve partied with a few of these jackals on the westside, and my greatest coyote moment was when I photographed one in the rain outside of Natural Bridges State Park. The amazing thing was that when I first saw him, I was without my camera, so I raced home and luckily when I returned, he was still there, talking to an insurance salesman.

So there he stood, his tan pelt dusted with moisture, eyeing my two legs like a couple of medallions of cocker spaniel. I waited at the edge of the arroyo, hoping for a roadrunner to zoom by so as to distract him from sizing me up like a Yom Kippur appetizer. And after a few minutes, this wily creature trotted down the street and disappeared back into the Animal Planet. I stood there and quietly took my place back at the top of the animal kingdom.

Now early one morning two weeks ago, I watched the movie “Life of Pi,” the story of a boy who is shipwrecked and ends up stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger and Cincinnati Bengal’s cheerleader. The film was a visual masterpiece, and the 3D images of fish, waves and clouds were extraordinary. With these images seared in my mind like some ahi tuna, I headed down to West Cliff, and was immediately taken in by the flocks of the birds flying over the water.

In my mind I was back in movie mode, but this was the real thing, and it was fantastic. I then equated the relationship between the boy and the tiger onto my oceanside journey with my golden retriever. While there was not a life and death issue at stake, she can be as dangerous as the big cats if you don’t pet her enough.

Right then a large chain of pelicans came upon us. Now flocks of pelicans flying by are no big deal, but this group seemed to have no end. I immediately started to count, and I gave up when I hit 160. The gathering was at least 200 strong, and I just stood there and watched in amazement as these prehistoric-looking birds kept changing formations and exchanging tweets as they headed north up the coast.

This image marinated in my mind all week, and then last Wednesday, I was back again on West Cliff in search of answers to the question, “Why do bad things happen to people with good hair?” But before I could take a look within, wave after wave of pelicans flew by in formations on their way south. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. There was something incredible happening to the south in Monterey Bay, and it wasn’t the combo seafood sliders at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing.

I later learned these fish-loving sea birds were joining an epic number of humpback whales, who were feasting on the massive anchovy blooms in the bay. In an article written by Nadia Drake for wired.com, marine biologist Nancy Black says there were “tons and tons” of anchovies in the area, more than have been seen in years. She spotted one school estimated to be 200 feet deep and more than a mile long by the way Sheryl Crow flies. Black estimated that there were 250 whales in the bay, the most she’s seen in her 26 years in the area, which has provided folks with the best whale watching since the humpbacks left Notre Dame.

And best of all, sports fans, this wild scene with the humpbacks blowing giant underwater bubbles to herd the fish into a bait ball and then go to town was happening right in the giant submarine canyon located in our front yard. It’s nature gone wild on Monterey Bay. I chalk it up to another prize awarded along the journey, but one that requires some dramamine for those of us who aren’t so crazy about the motion of the ocean, if you catch my continental drift.

So for today’s floral display we are heading back to our 50th and most tropical state. My brother Brad joined us on our recent adventure to the Garden Isle, and the home he stayed in had grounds that looked like botanical gardens. The variety of exotic plants were simply amazing, with one flower more vibrant and exotic than the next. But being a simple man, its the basic garden variety plumeria (photo #8) that does it for me. The fragrance of these flowers drives my olfactory system aloha wild. It is the true scent of the islands. Well, either that or Old Spice.

On to the late night humor. “Fox opposes a Syria peace plan because its modus operandi is to foment dissent in the form of a relentless and irrational contrarianism to Barack Obama and all things Democratic, to advance its ultimate objective of creating a deliberately misinformed body politic whose fear, anger, mistrust, and discontent is the manna upon which it sustains its parasitic succubus-like existence.” –Jon Stewart

“You can tell that fall is coming. The leaves are changing faster than the White House position on Syria. “A new survey found Americans clicked on Miley Cyrus stories 12 times more often than stories about Syria and President Assad. Well, that makes sense. Wouldn’t you rather watch a twerk than a jerk?” –Jay Leno “John Kerry has given Syria one week to hand over its chemical weapons. And if they don’t . . . he’ll give them another week.” –Jay Leno

“Secretary of State John Kerry said that Arab countries have offered to pay the entire cost of unseating Syria’s president if we take the lead militarily. They will pay for the whole thing. See, this is how global politics works. We invade Syria to get money from Saudi Arabia that they got from us for putting their oil in our Japanese cars so we can pay back China all the money we owe them.” –Jay Leno

“The United States is going to make a deal with Russia and Syria. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s the deal: Syria will turn over their stockpiled chemicals and we send them Alex Rodriguez. Syria is now saying they will agree to give up their chemical weapons if Miley Cyrus agrees to give up whatever it is she is doing. McDonald’s is now serving steak. Nothing says fine dining like rolling down your car window and screaming out, “medium rare!” – David Letterman

“Today was the primary for mayor of New York City. The city had to use old, lever voting machines from the 1960s because the electronic machines were too hard to program. Of course, it was awkward when Anthony Weiner said, ‘That’s not a lever.’” –Jimmy Fallon “If Christine Quinn wins the New York City mayoral race, she’ll be the city’s first lesbian mayor. Which is why her campaign slogan is, ‘Christine Quinn: as far away from Weiner as you can get.’” –Conan O’Brien

So the final post of summer 2013 is in the books. For all of you Rosh Hashanah fans, I hope the upcoming year will be a sweet one. For New York Giant football fans, you have my severe sympathy.

We’ll catch you doing more than signing autographs and wowing a national audience by throwing for a career-best 464 yards in the loss to number one ranked Alabama. Aloha, mahlao and later, Johnny Manziel fans.

August 11, 2013

A Walk Is Better Than A Hit

Good morning and greetings, summer vacation fans. About ten years ago, my personal physician suggested that I should get more exercise. Now up until until my mid- forties, I had been playing full court basketball five a days and week and playing half court on Saturday, as it was my people’s Sabbath. I was in fairly good shape and was considering a career as a personal fitness trainer and hand model.

But then reality came calling, and it was a bitter pill to swallow. Work. I remember walking during this time and spotting a youngster dribbling a basketball, as he headed over to the park to play hoops. My heart sank like an open jumper, as the realization set in that I was no longer footloose and fancy free and that my life had changed.

But I was determined to make the best of it. It was not an easy task. Looking back on it today, those five days of work were longest days of my life.

So I discussed with my physician the exercise options that were open to me. Swimming was out, as I may have drowned in a past lifetime. I could go bike riding, but I never really built up a sweat riding my beach cruiser along West Cliff. And riding a stationary bike is just not that scenic, although it saves a lot of wear and tear on the tires.

Bowling, badminton and cliff diving just weren’t vigorous enough, so it came down to running. I had run track in high school, but those were the short sprints. I was never really excited about running long distances as my shoulders hurt from this activity. It was probably because I’m highly sensitive to the feelings of everyone around me and that I had the body fat of a young veal.

So I decided to start running around my neighborhood to work up a sweat, so that my heart knew I was still alive. I started strong, as I used to be able to run a good mile and a half before the heart palpitations set in.

And then something nutty happened. Instead of getting stronger so I could leap tall bushes in a single bounce, I found the more I ran, the weaker I got. This was not a case of what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. I had to face a harsh reality. My Olympic dream was over.

But out of this darkness came shining light, as my failings led me to my weekday strolls along West Cliff Drive. I still needed to get some exercise, and what better place to take in the sights while kick starting my heart and soul.

So the weather last week was not unusual here on the central coast. It’s nothing like what I experienced in the summertime back east, when it was hazy, hot, and most consistently, humid. I’m not saying it was like that all the time, as there were pleasant summer days, but the unbearable humidity dominated the headlines. It was hot when I awoke and the air conditioners would still be humming when I drifted off to sleep.

This is in contrast to last Wednesday morning, when I woke up to a light mist or what the locals calls rain. I remember putting the heat on in my car as I headed down to the cliff thinking, I can’t believe they refer to this as summer weather. Still, there was a certain charm to walking through the dreary fog and precipitation, as the pelicans, cormorants and gulls weren’t giving it a second thought.

Then came Thursday, and the sun was peeking through the clouds as I exited my westside abode. When I got to the parking lot at Natural Bridges, there were the faint signs of a fading rainbow alongside the remaining arch. I took this as a good sign. The ground was wet but the air was warm. We’re talking short sleeve weather, a rarity on summer mornings. I’m always somewhat shocked to see the sun or my under eye circles in the early part of the coastal day.

I was more than pleasantly surprised at this rapid turn of events, but I shouldn’t have been, as I had been down this road before. As I strolled along with my faithful golden companion, the sun was gleaming across the water, and a gorgeous cloud bank painted the eastern sky above Lighthouse Point.

As I headed south, a seal popped its head out of the water at Stockton Avenue, while further out, a great egret was hanging out in the kelp beds. The air was a glorious temperature, and despite the fact that I had woken up at 4:40 am and couldn’t get back to sleep no matter how many sheep I counted, life was good at that moment.

However, by the time I returned home, the clouds had come in and and erased all this morning majesty. I got lucky on this day, so I guess timing is still everything. Just a great day to take a walk on the mild side in this cold water paradise.

For today’s photo conclave, I am featuring moments from three sunrises for the price of one. The first and third were taken from the end of my street along the upper westside. The skies above Monterey Bay conveniently lit up on these two January mornings, which made the silhouette of the tree of life that much more vivacious.

The middle rise was shot during the same month from the cliffs above Cowell’s Beach, looking across to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. For you folks keeping a scorecard at home, last January was a fabulous month for sunrises. Just goes to show that they do make sunrises like they used to.

On to the late night humor. “U.S. embassies are closed all around the Middle East this week due to a terrorist threat. What happened was the U.S. intercepted a conference call of 20 al-Qaida operatives. Twenty on one conference call! Who is their carrier? I go under a bridge and my cellphone drops the call, but they can get 20 people in one call from a cave? I guess you all heard about this terrorist threat the president warned us about. One of the reasons al-Qaida is upset with the United States is because we are giving aid to Yemen. We didn’t have a choice. When life hands you Yemen, you give them Yemen aid. This story just gets crazier: Two more women have come forward to accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual misconduct. That brings the total to 13 — or as Filner calls it, a groper’s dozen.” -Jay Leno

“As our studio audience knows, the security today for President Obama was incredible. In fact, first lady Michelle Obama already had the Secret Service sweep the president’s dressing room for chips, pizza, ice cream. This weekend President Obama celebrated his 52nd birthday. For his birthday, Michelle Obama jumped out of a cake and told him he’s not allowed to have any. Happy birthday to President Obama! He will be 52 years old on Sunday. If you’d like to get the president a gift, you can’t go wrong with Edward Snowden. He would love that. You can see that the President is getting a little grayer. In fact, they are starting to call him “The Silver Fox.” That’s because most of the silver in his hair was caused by Fox.” – Jay Leno

“Alex Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for using performance-enhancing drugs, but then he appealed, so technically he can still play. Last night he played his first game since the suspension and hit a bloop single. And then he said, “Imagine how far that would have gone if I was still on steroids!” Baseball suspended 13 players for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, most notably baseball’s highest paid player, Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. A-Rod is suspended for 211 games. That is an odd number, but .211 is what they calculated his batting average would have been without the drug.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Fifty years ago today was “the great train robbery.” Robbers got away with $63 million in cash from a postal train in Britain. My father worked for the post office at that time. He was supposed to be working on the night that it was robbed, but he had the flu. He called in sick. Coincidence? All I know is right after the great train robbery, we ate well around my house. Yes, that is the night we got a brand new potato. I like heist movies. “Oceans 11″ was a good one. Then there was “Oceans 12″ where they robbed the people who went to see the movie.” – Craig Ferguson

“The Boston Globe newspaper has been sold for $70 million, even though 20 years ago it went for $1.1 billion. I couldn’t believe that story when I saw it for free on the Internet. LeBron James of the Miami Heat had to report for jury duty today. Of course there will be 11 other jurors to help decide the case, but you know he’ll wind up doing it all by himself. The NFL is about to get its first full-time female referee. Good for them. It will be a little different though. When a player asks her what he did wrong, she’ll say “Oh, you know what you did.” – Jimmy Fallon

So let’s it for August. I’m taking some time off and heading to the Garden Isle in South Pacific to study the mating habits of the chocolate covered macadamia nut. I shall return on September 2nd.

We’ll catch you showing the world the Australians can produce great TV crime dramas. Aloha, mahalo and later, “Underbelly” fans.

July 14, 2013

Out Of The Light And Into The Dark

Good morning and greetings, food lovers. A few years ago, a young friend of mine suggested I write a blog about the variety of meals I prepare for my parents, family and the bands of gypsies who always want to spray my roof or pave my driveway. I never thought it would be that interesting to hear about my adventures with chili sauce, carmelized onions and broken eggs and dreams, as I’ve never followed a recipe when preparing a meal or a lifestyle.

But then I saw an story written in the New York Times that caught my culinary attention. It stated that if chicken producers could breed a bird with four legs, this would more than delight fowl growers, as the demand for thighs and legs is growing faster than KFC spread their finger lickin’ franchises throughout China. Who knew fried chicken and fried rice could ever co-exist so nicely in the land of rising dim sum?

One thought on KFC. A few years ago In Pakistan, anti-American protesters set fire to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. They thought they were attacking a high-ranking U.S. military official named Colonel Sanders. Despite intense interrogation of the employees afterwards, the attackers learned nothing about the Colonel’s eleven secret herbs and spices recipe and were left with just biscuits, cole slaw and a burnt out, extra crispy building structure.

Back in this country, the demographics are shifting and the new kids on the block prefer the darker blend of the bird. This has something to do with the influx of immigrants from Asia, Latin America and the North Shore of Oahu, as the look on grocery shelves is a changin’. Now you’re more likely to see lemon grass and sriracha peppers rather than Lemon Pledge and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club spices.

Now I’ve always been a dark meat man, whether it be chicken, turkey, or carrier pigeon. In my later years I’ve grown particularly fond of boneless thighs, although I haven’t figured out how those chickens roam the free range without a bone in their legs. And after years of exclusively living on the dark side, I admit that I can enjoy the virtues of white meat, as I’ve opened my mind to new ideas and sauces. Who says a leopard can’t change its stripes?

There are thousands of chicken recipes to choose from including piccata, tetrazzini, cacciatore, catchabreak and the American favorite, nuggets, which even chickens find puzzling. And it doesn’t take years of schooling at the French Culinary Institute to learn how to make chicken surrender to good flavor. All you have to do is find any kind of juice, marinade or some concoction that turns into a liquid, pour it over those waiting thighs, pop it in the oven for forty five minutes, and voila, poultry magic. Or as we said back in the old country, “Don’t cook tonight, call Chicken Delight.”

Personally, my favorite recipe involving the boneless wonders is one of my Italian specialities-chicken parmesan. Food critics from around the world and my son agree that this is a big time winner on the scallopini front, as the chicken, when covered by a layer of mozzarella cheese and savory tomato sauce, is as tender and moist as my eyes after watching an episode of “Friday Night Lights.” Clear eyes, full heart, garlic knots forever.

Chicken Parm is just one of my Italian selections, along with meatballs and spaghetti, baked mostaccioli and my pasta a la Sophia Loren. I believe my children would be happy if I served them pasta seven nights a week. I’m just glad it’s nutritious and doesn’t pack any pounds around the the waistline. In the words of British writer George Miller, “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.”

Now since this is a family show, I’m not going to get into the physiological or psychological reasons why there is a difference between white meat and dark meat. Let’s just say it’s all about the energy these birds are extending in parts of their anatomy and leave it at that.

Now according to a study done by the Drumstick Institute, most dark meat contains more zinc, riboflavin, flavoflavin, jennifer flavin, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, orange sunshine and iron than white meat. So although it may be fattier, there are some benefits to the tanner of meats. I believe it was either President Herbert Hoover or Robert Hoover from ‘Animal House’ who said, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” Yes, the time has come to decriminalize dark meat chicken. The skies are not falling.

To sum up my feelings about our nation’s preference changing from white to dark, let me paraphrase Nobel prize winning writer Rabindranath Tagore, who said, “Faith is the bird that feels that light when the dawn is still dark meat.” Thank you and good night.

For today’s photo portion of our program, we are taking a stroll down the street from where I currently reside. For some reason, whether it’s the tilt of the earth’s axis or my past life karma, on two mornings this past year I failed to make it to the edge of the continent for the dawn experience, and I had to settle for shooting on a bluff overlooking the westside. I tried to take advantage of the silhouette action from the trees, as the sky lit up with color and the sun rose without paying much attention to my position. I didn’t capture the vivid color of the clouds reflecting on the water, but I did bring a little something home to talk about around the dinner table.

On to some late night humor. “Great news for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. He’s just been named Cinnabon Customer of the Month in the Moscow Airport.” –David Letterman “NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been offered asylum in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Or as Snowden put it, ‘Prison it is!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“With Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer running for political office, New York City is changing its nickname to “The City That Never Sleeps With Its Wife.” Despite his prostitution scandal several years ago, Eliot Spitzer is running for comptroller of New York. He’s paying someone $800 a day to collect signatures to put his name on the ballot. He said it’s the second best $800 he’s ever spent.” –Conan O’Brien

“Mexico has replaced the U.S. as the world’s fattest nation. The U.S. is now number two. The Mexican government has done a lot of research. It turns out their people eat way too much Mexican food.” –Conan O’Brien “Mexicans now are trying to cross the border just to ask, “Are you going to finish that?” ‘ Jay Leno “It turns out the Pakistan police pulled Osama bin Laden over for speeding. Pulled him over and wrote the guy a ticket. So listen. I don’t want to hear any more of this nonsense about Pakistan being lenient on Osama bin Laden, OK?” –David Letterman

“One of the world’s leading scientists said he believes the human species was probably created when pigs mated with chimps. And that is how we got “Jersey Shore.” So it turns out that men really ARE pigs. There is scientific evidence.” – Jimmy Kimmel “A video has surfaced of Justin Bieber urinating into a mop bucket. Critics are calling it the best thing Justin Bieber has ever released.” – Conan O’Brien

“Last Thursday we celebrated our 237th year of independence from Great Britain. And our 10th year of dependence on the Chinese.” –Jay Leno
“It’s been a bit of a week for the Supreme Court. Yesterday they ruled that it’s okay for gay people to get married. Today, they ruled it’s okay for straight people to rollerblade.” –Craig Ferguson

“It’s now 32 NFL players that have been arrested since the Super Bowl. To give you an idea of how bad it’s gotten, now when a team says they’ve hired a new defensive coordinator, they’re talking about a lawyer. 31 players have been arrested just since the Super Bowl. In fact, a lot of teams are switching to the no-huddle offense because players aren’t allowed to associate with known felons. The show “Cops” is now on the NFL network. That’s how bad it’s gotten.” – Jay Leno

So another week has past as the summer rolls along. We’ll catch you playing in one of the most dramatic finals in Wimbledon history and giving the English fans something to boast about besides their muffins. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andy Murray 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.

January 30, 2011

Does This Sunset Make Me Look Fat?

Good morning and greetings, Indian winter fans. I don’t want to say the weather has been pleasant recently, but last week I felt a warm breeze brush up against my cheek and thought, is this really Santa Cruz? It felt more like Hawaii or downtown Fiji. But after this luau of tropical thoughts cleared my mind, I knew this feeling of winter warmth was just temporary, like the crown on my upper right back molar.

But who am I to complain, as the temperatures across the country have been colder than the center of the petite filet I ordered last week at the Sizzler. I have been receiving satellite photos from back east of the snowfall and I am astounded at how much white powder has fallen out of the sky this winter. It’s like the Mexican cartels have taken over the Weather Channel.

Let me pass along a few facts about the fluttering flakes. This January is on record as the snowiest in history. The northeast has had six major snowstorms (we’re talking heavy, wet snow) since Hanukah. Cities like New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Syracuse and Beaver Falls have set new record snowfall totals. Unbelievable! I wish I could be back there to enjoy the blinding snow, black ice and heavy shoveling, but that would require wearing boots, gloves and a jacket, which would be in violation of my eleventh commandment, thou shall always wear shorts and not freeze like a popsicle.

But here it is late January, and the skies have been clearer than my complexion at my senior prom. Last week, the plum trees blossomed at the field where I run my golden retriever, producing thousands of pink flowers that decorated the trees and covered the ground with a layer of color of a pink, creme-filled Hostess Sno Ball. For a Ring Ding Jr. man like myself, this cornucopia of spring colors in the middle of the winter was a visual treat, like any episode featuring the lovely Sofia Vergara on “Modern Family.”

Moving along, much like the Rodney Dangerfield movie classic from 1986, last week I went back to school. I’ve always valued the importance of knowledge and have tried to further my education as much as possible. I want to keep my mind sharp as I battle the middle ages, so I made sure I had my notebook in place and pencils sharpened when I signed in for Traffic School.

Now the reason for this back-to-school moment was, I was traveling a tad above the speed limit on my way to San Francisco in December. Thank God that officer got me on his radar, and when he U-turned around and put on his flashers, a feeling of calm came over me, like angels dusting my face with baby powder. Ever since receiving this ticket to the CHP’s Ball, I have slowed down on the road. It was a valuable lesson that will stick with me for the rest of my life, or at least the next 18 months.

There were so many schools to choose from in the online classroom. There was the Too Lazy For Traffic School, the Not Guilty Traffic School, The Speeders Network and The Comedy School for Less, among others. Being someone who’d like to be in the islands, I chose the Aloha Traffic School. All in all, it was a valuable learning experience about rules and safety on the roadway, as I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun without laughing. I will carry that certificate of completion near to my heart as this is as close as I’m going to get to receiving a master’s degree.

For our photo runway, I was going to blast out a gorgeous winter sunrise, but instead I am upping the ante and bringing out the big guns. This my favorite sunrise from our first month, taken back in January of 2008. Everything came together this night at Natural Bridges as the sky, the clouds, the sand, colors and reflection action were just off the charts. I remembered standing on the beach during the final shots and thinking about how lucky I was to be experiencing this moment of incredible beauty while wondering if I had locked my keys in the car. God gives and I take.

On to the late night. “In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama focused his speech on how to bring prosperity back to America. It basically involves all of us convincing Oprah we’re her half sister. That’s the plan.” –Conan O’Brien “The Republican response to the President’s State of the Union speech was fairly gracious. They said it was a pretty good speech for a foreigner.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Three Supreme Court justices — Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas — did not attend the State of the Union address. Taking their place was Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson.” –Conan O’Brien

“The White House held a state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma was there. It’s the first yoyo we’ve had in the White House since George W. Bush.” –David Letterman “There was one really awkward moment when Hu found out that Obama was a Nobel Peace Prize winner and, out of force of habit, tried to have him arrested.” –Jay Leno “At the state dinner, Hu opened a fortune cookie that said, ‘You will lend us another trillion dollars.’” –Conan O’Brien

“John Boehner was subject to some controversy because the President hosted President Hu of China this week, and Boehner was invited to the State Dinner and did not come. President Hu was very disappointed. He promised his friends back home that he would get a picture with ‘orange man who leaks.” –Bill Maher “A Washington Post columnist is proposing a ‘Sarah-Palin-Free February,’ a whole month in which she’s not mentioned. This is stupid. Don’t pick February, the shortest month.” –Jay Leno “Egypt is in the second day of angry street protests. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling for calm. Because nothing calms an enraged Arab country like a powerful woman ordering it around.” –Conan O’Brien

“A social networking revolution has started in Saudi Arabia. Over 10 million Saudis are now online. In fact, the most popular social networking site for women in Saudi Arabia: ‘Cover-Your-Facebook.’” –Jay Leno “The U.S. Postal Service announced plans to close an additional 2,000 branches after losing $8.5 billion. Maybe in retrospect, making people wait in line while you slowly finish your bag of fiery hot Cheetos isn’t such a good idea.” Taco Bell pulled its ads during MTV’s new show “Skins” because of its inappropriate content. MTV was like, “Really, Taco Bell? We have inappropriate content? Have you seen what’s inside a chalupa?”–Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our last blast for January. Birthday wishes go out this Saturday to my friend, confidant and translator for these blogs, Nancy Mager. Nancy is from back in the old country and although she would be too modest to mention it, developed the first recipe for baked ziti. She herself, is quite the Italian dish. When you have a Yankee fan like this in your life, you are very fortunate indeed.

So enjoy the national food and beverage holiday we call Super Bowl Sunday we’ll catch you at the championship trophy presentation. And remember to try and appreciate every day for what it is. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kevin Durant fans.

January 16, 2011

Have Gun, Will Unravel

Good morning and greetings, NFL playoff fans. Well, the world-wide weather picture has gotten off to a flying start in 2011, as there was horrific flooding in Australia, torrential rain and killer mudslides in Brazil and enough snowfall back east as to waltz into a winter wonderland. Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is Lobster Newburg.

The big news this week continues to come out of the desert in Tucson, Arizona, where the nation tried to make sense of the tragedy that left six dead and 13 wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. This shooting by a deranged gunman played out all over the world and led my daughter to ask, “Dad, do you own a gun?”

Now the Beatles said “happiness is a warm gun” but I’ve always been more of a Guns N’ Roses, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” kind of guy. My first thought was to tell her, yeah, it’s in my bottom drawer, next to the hand grenades and my missle launcher. But that would have been wrong. Let me state for the record that I do not own a gun, water pistol, pea shooter, rifle, shotgun, sling shot, bazooka, machine gun or sherman tank.

The only time I’ve fired a weapon was during riflery at summer camp, and I will admit I enjoyed checking the target to see my marksmanship. However, that was the only time I was packing any heat, although a couple of times I’ve left my house concealing my garage door opener on my belt.

Since I’m not a policeman, prison guard or currently in the military, I really have no interest in drawing my weapon and firing at anyone. I do my shooting with a camera, and all my aiming is to please. The concept of shooting someone, with the exception of any Taliban, Al Queda or the boogie man does not really appeal to me.

It’s not so much that I’m a pacifist, it’s just that I’m allergic to bullets. Or as Woody Allen once told me, “years ago, my mother gave me a bullet and I put it in my breast pocket. Two years after that, I was walking down the street, when a berserk evangelist heaved a Gideon bible out of a hotel room window, hitting me in the chest. Bible would have gone through my heart if it wasn’t for the bullet.”

Now I normally don’t quote the President of the United States or the American League in these pages, but in case you missed the Obama eulogy in Tucson, I thought I’d pass on a few words. Barack Obama said he wanted to “make sense out of that which seems senseless. When a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations – to try to impose some order on the chaos. But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

He added these words when speaking of nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, who was gunned down while meeting her congresswoman at the local Safeway. “I want us to live up to her expectations. I want her democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

These are the kind of words I enjoy hearing coming out of the mouth of our elected leader rather than “mission accomplished.” They were written by the President, chief speechwriter Jon Favreau, senior adviser David Axelrod and Cody Keenan, a former writer for late Senator Edward Kennedy. The reason I mention this is because unlike the President, I wrote this post alone, with an assist from my spellchecker/senior grant writer Nancy Mager of Tucson, who drove by the shooting site twenty minutes before it happened and was horrified that this tragedy happened in her wacky, gun-loving state.

Let’s move from lack of gun control to something a little more colorful and relaxing. Today’s photosynthesis brings us back to the lovely sands of Natural Bridges State Beach on the evening of January 6. It was a night of intense color and big waves, as the swell was pumping and surfers were out in droves. And if you check out photos two and five, I actually caught a couple of wet-suited boys in action with my tow-in photography. It’s like I always said, if it swells, write it.

As you can see, the heavens turned some lovely shades of orange, red and purple, just another winter sky on Santa Cruz’s north shore. Colors like this always pump me up, which is the same feeling I got watching the world’s most dangerous closer, Kobe Bryant, going up against the Warriors on Wednesday night. Both the sunset that night and Kobe’s late game heroics were performances you see once in a lifetime. No two are the same and then they are gone in a flash, not to be repeated because last time I checked, nobody was TiVoing sunsets.

Let’s head to the late nite. “Sarah Palin’s reality show will not be returning as she contemplates a possible run for president in 2012. When a candidate walks away from a reality show, that’s when you know they’re serious about being president of the United States. A new study shows that a woman’s tears can chemically lower the level of testosterone in a man. When that happens, the man will also start to cry and then eventually be elected speaker of the House.” –Jay Leno “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a speech urging Arab leaders to enact real reforms. Halfway through the speech, Arab leaders looked at each other and asked, “Why is a woman talking?” –Conan O’Brien

“The two biggest websites right now are Wikipedia, where you go to learn about things you care about, and Facebook, where you go to learn about people you stopped caring about years ago.” –Craig Ferguson “There’s a new website that allows you to use Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, surf the web, and read all the news in one place. That one place is called “work.” –Conan O’Brien

“So far this winter, it has snowed in 49 out of 50 states, but not Florida. So now, your grandparents can complain that the snow doesn’t visit them either.”–Jimmy Kimmel “Astronomers discovered the smallest star in a far-away galaxy, called a dwarf star. I had about 50 jokes about the dwarf star and, what a coincidence. They all ended with Tom Cruise.”–David Letterman

So in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, Jason and I are headed up to the Oracle Arena today to see the Warriors take on the Carmelo Anthony-less Nets. Last year when we went my growing boy brought a sign, “I also have a dream-the Warriors in the playoffs.” I couldn’t have been any prouder. Like son, like father.

So let me leave you with the most famous of quotes from Dr. King from 1963. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’” That is, everyone except Michael Jordan in his prime.

And Warrior fans all over the bay area share in his dream, as despite years of ineptness ny management, they have risen up in their seats and shouted in unison, “oh, deep in my heart, we do believe, we shall overcome and make the playoffs some day.”

A final thought. I took my all-time favorite sunrise shot back on Dr. King’s birthday back in 2005, so this day is special in many ways. So enjoy what’s left of the three-day weekend and we’ll catch you running a cross pattern. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dorell Wright fans.

November 21, 2010

Open The Window, It’s A Little Stuffing In Here

Good morning and greetings, cranberry sauce fans. That’s right, we’re just three shopping days away from Thanksgiving, the holiday where families gather together to give thanks that this occasion occurs only once a year. Then throw in some turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, the Detroit Lions losing and some dysfuctional family behavor. Top it all off with with a little tryptophan pudding and bring on Black Friday.

So in honor of this festival of gravy and leftovers, I thought we would take a stroll down Plymouth Lane and look at some of the more interesting and unusual aspects that make this day so damn special.

According to my sources at KFC, the food that would have been on the first Thanksgiving Day menu consisted of venison (deer), wild fowl (geese, duck, wild turkey, eagles, parakeets), seafood (lobster, eel, cod, pirana), dried corn, pumpkin, nuts (walnuts, acorns, Ross Perot), and fruits (plums, grapes, Liberace).

There was no milk, cookies, cheese, cheetos, bread, butter, sweet potatoes, pringles, cranberry sauce, apple, peaches or pumpkin pie at the original Thanksgiving Day feast. The Pilgrims ate their first dinner with only spoons and knives as all the forks were in the road.

There is no official reason or declaration for the use of turkey on Thanksgiving. Along with chipmunk, possum and prairie dog, it just happened to be the most plentiful meat available at the time of the first celebration in 1621. Fossil evidence shows that turkeys roamed the Americas 10 million years ago, approximately 5 million years before the invention of gravy.

The Guinness Book of Records states that the greatest dressed weight recorded for a turkey was 86 lbs, at the annual “heaviest turkey” competition held in London, England on December 12, 1989. For some reason, that date rings a bell. Turns out it was a free range, honey basted turkey packed with bowling ball stuffing.

Being a bourbon man like myself, wild turkeys, while technically the same species as domesticated turkeys, have a very different taste from farm-raised turkeys. Almost all of the meat is “dark” (even the breasts) with a more intense turkey flavor. However, there is no difference between wild and domesticated gravy.

Wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour over short distances. Domesticated turkeys cannot fly but can sprint like a barbecued chicken. Only male turkeys gobble. The gobble is actually a seasonal mating call which I perfected back at Syracuse. Turkeys have great hearing skills but no ears. Thus you will never hear a turkey say, “I can’t believe how cold it is. My ears are freezing.”

History states that only five women Pilgrims survived the first year at the Plymouth settlement and they were the first ones to cook and prepare the first meager celebration meal, in 1621. Journals say the celebration lasted 3 days after which the women were left to do all the dishes while they men drank beer and then fell asleep watching football.

Twenty percent of cranberries consumed are eaten on Thanksgiving. However, I dine on the Ocean Spray of life 52 weeks a year. Contrary to popular belief, Native Americans did not eat cranberries, but found them extremely useful for dying fabric, decorating pottery and hurling them at unsuspecting Pilgrims.

The first Thanksgiving involved no cranberry sauce or hot dinner rolls. Cranberries were everywhere, but sugar, which is an even more important ingredient in cranberry sauce than the cranberries themselves was a huge luxury good at the time. So that meant no Haagen Daz on the pumpkin pie.

Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and America’s first female magazine editor, wrote to five U.S. presidents over 40 years urging that Thanksgiving be made a national holiday. She was eventually successful with Abraham Lincoln and her fleece was white as snow.

And finally, the average person consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. And that’s just while carving the bird.

We continue with a joke I never tire of. 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!”

Moving along, for today’s photo montage we head to over to Natural Bridges State Beach. I was going to feature a beautiful sunset from last Saturday but then Thursday evening came along and Derrick Rose to the head of the class.

I could see that the late afternoon clouds had some unusual texture, which bode well for some much needed color in my life. And as you can see from the last two images, it was a blanket of orange in the sky, and I knew then that this was what I needed to bring to this week’s post. Only the best for my cyber audience and imaginary friends.

Lots of late night fun this week. “Sunday night was the debut of the reality show, ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska.’ It got huge ratings. Even people over in Russia were watching and they didn’t need TVs. They could see it from their porch. The new Oxford dictionary has declared Sarah Palin’s made-up word ‘refudiate’ the 2010 word of the year. When asked for her reaction to the dubious honor, Palin said she would not ‘dignitate’ it with a response.” –Jay Leno “Sarah Palin has a new show. She takes viewers all around Alaska, and shows them where she water-boarded Levi Johnston.” –David Letterman

“President Bush is everywhere talking about his book and he’s being very candid. In one interview, he said that he used to do stupid things while he was drunk. But think about it, who among us hasn’t had a couple of drinks and invaded Iraq? “Former first lady Laura Bush used to be a librarian. Coincidentally, she’s the only thing George W. Bush ever checked out at the library.” –David Letterman “They just had the groundbreaking ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It’s easy to get into the building, but then you spend 10 years trying to find an exit strategy.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The day before Thanksgiving is National Opt-Out Day, where people are being asked to boycott the TSA’s full-body scanners. Sponsors of the event say people shouldn’t be made to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable while traveling. That’s what Thanksgiving with your family is for.” -Jimmy Fallon “People are concerned that the new airport security scanners could lead to pictures of their genitals ending up on the Internet. Apparently no one has told them that without pictures of genitals, there would be no Internet.” –Conan O’Brien

“It was bad enough when the TSA agents would go through your underwear in your luggage. Now they’re going through your underwear while you’re wearing it. Now, to make it worse, the airlines are charging a $15 molestation fee.” –Jay Leno “In San Diego, a man refused to be patted down by airport security and some people are calling him a hero. I don’t mind being patted down by airport security, but I don’t like it when the guy says, ‘Now you do me.’” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s our pre-holiday report. On Thursday, take a moment to reflect how fortunate you are to be among family and friends. For many, this day is not all fun and games and stuffing, as many people and families are just happy to be fed a hot meal. So savor those warm feelings and try and be grateful for more than the leftovers on Friday. And remember, it is always better to thanksgive than receive.

We had some wild weather this weekend as a cold front traveling south from Alaska brought buckets of rain, hail, thunder, lightning and a beautiful full arch rainbow that graced the early morning sky on Sunday. It reminds me of the old joke, what’s the technical term for a warm, sunny day which follows two days of rain? It’s called Monday.

So enjoy the four-day weekend and we’ll catch you in the end zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mark Sanchez fans.

September 5, 2010

Does This Blog Make Me Look Facts?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — geoff @ 7:34 am

Good morning and greetings, Labor Day fans. This holiday symbolizes the end of summer for many across our great nation. For locals, it means the beginning of Indian summer, as September is the warmest month of the year emotionally and temperature wise here on the central coast. I don’t want to say that it’s been chilly the past few months, but a few times on my early morning walks it was so cold I put a toaster in my shorts.

So since we have a few more weeks of summer lovin’, I wanted to continue with the wonderful world of color. Those dahlia shots got rave reviews from the foreign press a couple weeks back, so I’d thought continue with the floral roll, which comes with side order of cole slaw, potato or macaroni salad.

Today we are thinking shades of pink, and I’m not talking Alecia Beth Moore, the singer-songwriter, musician and acrobat known as the Pink one. The first three shots are from dahlia central on Delaware Avenue, where rows these bushy, tubereous beauties live to frolic and play.

The fourth image is a homegrown product that is now appearing with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in my front yard, along with the dew-covered pink rose that follows. The final shot of the white tuxedo is from just down the street and just goes to show what Mother Nature is capable of if she really puts her mind to it. You know what they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the hydroponic fence.

So in honor of this threee day weekend that we Americans treasure so, for today’s post I thought we might go with something light and fluffy, like a cheese souffle, angel food cake or FEMA’s response to the citizens of New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina crisis. By the way, it’s called angel cake because of it’s lightness that is said to be “the food of angels.” Well, that and angel hair pasta, which is the thinnest of all capellini, which is not to be confused with former Boston Patriot star Gino Cappelletti.

Today we’re going to look at the world of fun facts. You may have heard of some of these before and if that’s the case, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care. Cause my master degrees gone away.

Most lipstick is partially made of fish scales, yet you never see a trout or salmon wearing lipstick. Ants never sleep, but I have a couple of uncles who tend to nap. The human brain is 80% water and 20% juice. The first coast-to-coast telephone line was established in 1914. The first wrong number was dialed a few minutes later. And a car traveling 100 mph would take more than 29 million years to reach the nearest star, or 30 million years if it stopped for gas and directions.

Mosquitoes have 47 teeth yet never floss. No word in the the English dictionary rhymes with “month” except for fonth and gonth. A sneeze and statements you wish you could take back travel out your mouth at over 100 m.p.h. Other than fruit and Hostess Twinkies, honey is the only natural food that is made without destroying any kind of life. Tourists visiting Iceland should know that tipping at a restaurant is considered an insult, as is holding the chef hostage.

Only three states’ names begin with double consonants, Florida, Rhode Island and Hhawaii. Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than all of the Nike factory workers in Malaysia and football players from USC combined. In Mel Brooks’ ‘Silent Movie,’ mime Marcel Marceau is the only person who has a speaking role. Remember, a mime is a terrible thing to waste. The first toilet ever seen on television was on “Leave It To Beaver”. However, the first flush was seen on NBC’s “Las Vegas.”

The female lion does ninety percent of the hunting. The male lion does ninety percent of the housework and shopping. Elephants and white men are the only animals that can’t jump. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave, balls always turn right. Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn’t wear pants. The cigarette lighter was invented before the match. Cancer came before both.

If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. However, it would take 9 years, 5 months and 4 days of sucking down lozenges to soothe your throat so you could drink the coffee. Every minute in the U.S. six people turn 17. A minute later twelve people forget someone’s birthday. A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes, which is very helpful when flirting with killer whales. Two-thirds of the world’s eggplant is grown in New Jersey near where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.

40,000 Americans are injured by toilets each year, mostly from not having their seatbelts fastened. It’s impossible to sneeze, sleep or watch Fox News with your eyes open. Some baby giraffes are more than six feet tall at birth, but very few go on to play in the NBA. Wedding cake was originally thrown at the bride and groom, instead of eaten by them. Thus, the first word said by a married couple to each other often was “duck.” Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose, ears and ego never stop growing.

The average person falls asleep in seven minutes. My daughter is not the average person. Only 7 to 10 percent of the population are lefties. Aimee is a lefty but still won’t fall asleep in seven minutes. One in fourteen women in America is a natural blonde. Only one in sixteen men is. Aimee is blonde but it still doesn’t help her fall asleep.

They say you cannot snore and dream at the same time. I know that you can snore and be kicked. By the time we die, most of us will have spent a quarter of a century asleep, of which six years or more will have been spent dreaming—and almost all of those dreams are forgotten upon waking, except the ones where I’m naked, haven’t studied for my test, can’t find my car keys, can’t see where I’m going or can’t find my way home. Oh, wait a minute, that’s Stevie Winwood’s dream.

No president of the United States was an only child, but George Bush had the mind of a child. George Washington, known as the “Father of the Country,” never had any children. During the 6 years that the TSA has been screening passengers, none of its employees anywhere has discovered a single terrorist inside a container of bottled water.

The world’s youngest parents in history were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910. To this day they still deny rushing into marriage. The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time television were Fred and Wilma Flintstone. The first couple shown showering together were Barney and Betty Rubble.

America’s first nudist organization was founded in 1929, by 3 men. After ten minutes in the sauna, they opened up the membership to women. The kiss that is given by the bride to the groom at the end of the wedding ceremony originates from the earliest times when the couple would actually make love for the first time under the eyes of half the village! Now that’s what I call a hot hors d’oeuvre.

Here’s a little taste of the late night. “Last night in only his second Oval Office address, President Obama announced the end of Operational Iraqi Freedom. He said we have given the Iraqis a Western-style government. Well, we certainly have, haven’t we? Their economy is in shambles, their Congress is corrupt, the country is broke, welcome aboard! President Obama was in New Orleans for the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Halfway through his speech, FEMA finally showed up. President Obama said that too many Americans are struggling to find jobs. You know what these Americans are going to be called? Democrats.” –Jay Leno

So that’s the first blast of the new month. Congrats go out to my brother Paul, who blasted down from Marin on Saturday and did a guest DJ spot on the grateful 88, KZSC, playing classic rock and live music the just the way our parents hated it.

His wardrobe and musical selection were tremendous, just like our repartee was the back in the 70′s when we did Sports Rap on Sunday nights on the same radio dial. I don’t want to say I spoke quickly back then, but Paul sometimes brought along an interpreter just to be sure he understood what I was going off about. Anyway, a superb four hours of radio, once again proving that you can go home again, unless you’re picked off third.

So keep on rocking and rolling and enjoy your children’s laughter and the rest of the holiday weekend. We’ll catch you on the way to the 20-win mark. Aloha, mahalo and later, CC Sabathia fans.

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