Saturday, January 04, 2014

When Huell Howser Met David Hockney | Retro Huell | TV Talk | KCET

Friday, January 03, 2014

This just in:

Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was executed by being eaten alive by 120 starving dogs. Or as the North Korean dogs call that: poetic justice.

"Sideways" crew with fellow New Trier alum, Virginia Madson*

The Freeze Bowl Cometh . . .  Again

It is both utterly shocking and yet totally believable that it has been 32 years since the Freeze Bowl when the San Diego Chargers lost to the Bengals in Cincinnati’s 59- below -with -the- wind-chill factor. (Although wind-chill numbers are suspect. As the former weatherman, David Letterman, once observed; how come when it is 89 and windy they don’t say it’s 70?)

The emotions of watching that game come back like they happened a week ago; the pride of living in Santa Barbara, California when it was so freezing in my hometown Midwest; the sympathy from having played a football game in subzero conditions. (Nothing you can do voluntarily can hurt that much. The ground is rock solid. Every joint hurts) The thrill of watching an exciting game. (Although the game was a slight letdown compared to the possibly-greatest-game-ever played between the Chargers and the Dolphins the week before)

At the time, my titles had dropped significantly. Just a year before, I was a UCSB student/athlete/Decathlete, a Sigma Chi fraternity rush chairman, a Delta Gamma sorority big brother, a speech communication part-time teacher’s assistant, and a waiter at the Elegant Farmer in Goleta.

By the Freeze Bowl, I was just a 23-year-old waiter, a newly ex-Decathlete and  – to really stretch credulity – a part-time windsurfing tech/tester for the lovely-in-every-way owner of the Sundance Windsurfing Company, Peggy O’Toole. (I had continued Decathlon training that summer, but by Fall I was mostly windsurfing on Peggy’s brand new Windsurfer-brand boards, bless her generous heart)

When Fall came around, I didn’t want to be one of those losers who hung around campus after they graduated, so I felt isolated. My then-girlfriend, Julie, had moved back to her Northern California home of Danville. My social life was at night with my fellow waiters and bartenders and that was good. Really good. But the days, at that time, were lonely. Lots of windsurfing with Budweiser’s and burritos immediately following.

In retrospect, working out, windsurfing, waiting tables and chasing Santa Barbara women does not sound like a bad gig; but at the time, all I could do was worry I was wasting my prime;  my high school and college friends were getting real jobs or advanced degrees or both. 

The Goleta house I was living in was exactly like the house/dump Paul Giamatti character in “Sideways”* had to break in to get back the wallet and engagement ring of his idiot friend - Thomas Haden Church's "I am going to get my bone smooched" character. The faux-wood paneling, indoor/outdoor carpeted living room had four things: a torn, stuffed leather chair, a big, crappy TV, a ping pong table and a pinball machine.

The back yard did have an avocado tree, but I think that was a local-Goleta requirement/law. It also had a rusty, broken gas grill and rusted-out motorcycle parts. 

Since I answered a want-ad, I did not know my two roommates prior to moving in and would not have moved in if I had. You wonder who the idiots are who tune up their dirt-bikes at one in the morning? It was these two mouth-breathers.

The guy who leased the house was a tall, stooped, toe-haired goofball named Ted. He had a reliable job fixing broken septic tank pipes. He would come home each night covered from head-to-toe with, what I hoped was, mud. 

Ted had  an on-and-off-again girlfriend who was as ugly as she was mean, short and fat. To say their relationship was volatile is putting it mildly. When they weren’t having loud sex, they were screaming and punching each other. Sometimes both at the same time.

Our other roommate, Marcus, was an economics graduate student on a grant from some Canadian college. (My opinion of the Canadian educational system has not been good since) He was a goofy ex-gymnast who was a social clod. He was the kind of guy who truly believed he was hilarious because he could tell a lot of racist jokes, albeit badly.
(Being a racist Canadian, he specialized in “Newfie” i.e. Newfoundlander jokes: How does a Newfie count his fish? One, two, and another one, and another one, and another one . . . ) 
Marcus had a great dog, though; a black and white, blue-eyed Huskie/mix named Lucas. Lucas would follow me on my runs on the bike path beside the nearby railroad track.
On the bright side, Marcus was good-looking enough to date the attractive undergrads he taught; he liked to show them off and paraded them around the house. (Big mistake on his part) Around the third date or so Marcus’s dirt-dull personality would wear the women down. 

On three separate occasions, I covertly flashed these clearly bored women a “call me” sign, when Marcus wasn't looking, and we subsequently, well, hooked up, as the kids say. This is not what I normally would consider good roommate behavior, but I did not like Marcus, so stealing his women seemed fair. (Never, however, would I have treated Lucas, his dog, in such a shoddy manner. Him I respected)
In a scant few weeks later, I would get a fancier-sounding job selling CPT Word Processing computers and I moved into a nicer house on a hill in downtown Santa Barbara at the end of Anapamu Street. Then Wall Street and then back to my beloved San Diego, where I am now. 
But 32 years ago, I was in that sad, dingy, ugly, one-story broken-down stucco house with my two gearhead chuckle-head roommates and one great dog watching a great game.

This Sunday, I will watch the game in my warm but masculine man-cave on my big screen, hi-def TV. With my lovely wife and daughter in the house - but not in the m. cave - along with our great, great dog, Wally "Two Biscuits". 

Go Chargers.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

First random thoughts of 2014
“I’ve got a great idea. Write 2013 in the sand closer to the waves with 2014 above it and film the wave washing out 2013,” said every local news assistant producer in the country.
There are three kinds of people in the world: those with a big shopping cart full of groceries who let people with only a couple of items go in front of them and those who don’t. And then there is the lady with a full cart who cut in front of me with my two items. That one is a bitch.
The nicest thing you can say about fish and cheese is that it doesn’t taste like fish and cheese. Nicest thing you can say about a cat is that it acts like a dog.
Here’s hoping talking becomes the new texting.
Whoever combined waffles and fried chicken? Well done, my friend, well done.
Here’s hoping the gay community votes “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson as the 2014 Bear of the Year.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014