Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday Night In Monterey

Much fun ensued on Thursday. We checked out of our Oakland hotel, did some laundry, and then drove down to Santa Cruz to visit their boardwalk and beach. The one arcade I went to had a few pinball machines but nothing to write home about. "Cyclone" had weak flippers but played remarkably well for an almost 20-year-old machine. The "World Poker Tour" I played had two bad flippers out of four, but were fairly priced. (Yesterday, I saw some machines on Pier 39 that I dared not touch due to their $1.00 playing price.) The girls and I enjoyed frappes and Dippin' Dots ice cream. It was also a treat to see some Crown Coaches on the way to Santa Cruz. Man, those old buses still hold up quite nicely!

Then, a very easy ride down Route 1 to Monterey. We'd been warned that the road from Santa Cruz to Monterey was twisty and mountainous but we were pleasantly surprised to find it mostly flat and straight. (Tracy did the driving.) We're staying at Casa Munras and it's a very nice hotel! Each room has a DVD player and you can borrow movies from the front desk to watch.

Tomorrow we're spending the day at the aquarium. We'll have some pix up soon of our adventures of the last few days.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Continuing Our Vacation

Today is pretty much going to be a traveling day. We are headed down to Monterey and we're waiting until the Bay Bridge traffic into San Francisco thins out a little bit so we can get down to the Pacific Coast Highway. We will likely make a few stops along the way. I'll report more when we're in for the night.

More Vacation Pix

First, some shots of Alcatraz...

And who's this guy working on a notebook computer?

More pictures later... I promise!

Time out for a baseball report

Even though I went to a Giants game and had a good time today, I never stop being a Mets fan. And the sad news is that they've lost the last four and hopefully it will not be a fifth game in a row on Thursday when they play the last game of their series against the Phillies. This series so far has been more damaging to the Mets' psyches than their record, and it was painful to hear the bullpen screwed Tom Glavine over again the other night. Hopefully I can listen to a little of the game on the way to Monterey tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

AT&T Park, At Last

Right now I am sitting at the Giants game. Harry McCracken is here, as is part of our traveling road show. We were excited to see Barry Bonds playing, but not to go 0-2 so far in the game, which is seeing the Giants at a 7-0 deficit to the Colorado Rockies in the top of the fifth inning. We will be staying in SF for the evening as the rest of my peeps will be joining us after the game for dinner. Tomorrow, we will be leaving for a couple of days in Monterey. But on Saturday we will be back in San Francisco for one final goodbye to the city.

EDIT: Giants lose 8-0 and Bonds didn't get up to bat again in the game. Phooey.

Wednesday Morning, 9 AM

Oakland is turning out to be a damn hard city to get wireless access in, at least in the area around our hotel. Even the wired access, at a steep $9.95 a day (I guess you pay for the security), wasn't working as it should.

Today is the day of the Giants game at AT&T Park (and thank you Nancy and Harry for pointing out my mistake in calling it PNC Park, which I believe is in Pittsburgh). Yesterday we went to San Francisco for the first time this trip, taking the boat tour to Alcatraz Island and then hanging around Pier 39, then taking a cable car ride to Powell Street. More pictures later, hopefully!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday Afternoon At UC Berkeley

The Lawrence Hall of Science on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley was our destination today. (That, and a trip to the North Face Outlet to get a new rain jacket. And lunch at Jimmy Beans - definitely try the Rocky Jr. Chicken!)

The current LHS exhibit is "Circus! Science Under The Big Top", which was originally developed by the Ottawa Science Museum. Unfortunately, this exhibit is closing on September 2, so you should get there if you can (and I don't guarantee the link will still work). It was very fascinating to see the scientific fact behind many circus tricks - how acrobats' routines affect their bodies, the reasons behind balance, the measurements required to get a human cannonball safely into the net. Children can actually try bungee jumping and tightrope walking in very safe simulations.

And different varieties of circus animals' feces. (I think they were really painted wood replicas and not the real things. So happens I read "Everybody Poops" this morning. Apparently it's a very popular book.)

The new exhibit taking over from "Circus" will be "Wild Music: The Sounds & Songs Of Life", beginning on October 6.

Pictures of Crater Lake and Diamond Lake

As promised there are some pictures of my trip so far. There's two of the Diamond Lake resort, and two of Crater Lake. You gotta see this in person someday.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday, 7:00 p.m. - Oakland!

We took a nice trip down U.S. 101 from Eureka down to Oakland today. The redwood trees were very impressive and the ride to Oakland very smooth. Except for the last 40 or so miles of very dense traffic.

Our only planned activities so far for the next three days are a visit to Alcatraz Island on Tuesday and the Giants game at AT&T Park on Wednesday. There will be some pictorial proof.

Sunday Morning, 8:00 a.m.

Now it's Sunday morning, and I was rudely awakened by the alarm that was set by the person who used the room before me. The girls got up just after me. They just got to talk to their dad on the phone, so I think they'll be okay today.

We're all ravenously hungry so I think we're going to find us some breakfast. Later, a report about the giant trees.

A Day at Crater Lake, and Will We Ever Get To Eureka?

It's 1:15 a.m. in beautiful (well, we've only seen it in the dark) Eureka, CA. Our journey here from Crater Lake was not without mishap.

Anyway, to get to Crater Lake first. WOW! Tracy told me afterwards that she wasn't going to be sure of my reaction, but I can honestly say it was a wow.

Yes, I survived the boat ride and especially the hike down and up from the trail head to the boat dock. The tourguide (a most helpful gentleman) said that it's best described as one mile down and ten miles back up. He also compared it to climbing 65 flights of stairs, with its almost 800-foot rise. Once in the boat we had a most entertaining two-hour tour of Crater Lake.

Through an error in judgment perhaps fueled by some bad online mapping (no GPS to speak of in our rental), we went the longish way from Crater Lake to Eureka, CA. Basically we went via Klamath Falls, then caught the 5 in Weed, CA, and then hung a right onto 299. Warning. Route 299 is not intended for those with weak constitutions or are prone to motion sickness. We did have one passenger lose her Burger King dinner en route. The nice thing about the reroute was the girls did get to see Mount Shasta.

But it's now off to bed for me (no idea when I'm going to publish this - no Internet access in this motel). Tomorrow, the giant redwoods and maybe some pix from Oakland. Bye now!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday, 4:10 a.m. - Diamond Lake, OR

It's 4:10 A.M. in Oregon. Tracy, the girls and I had a most exciting day at Diamond Lake Resort, which is not too far from Crater Lake. We were originally going to drop our stuff off here and then drive to Crater Lake, but Tracy and I were so taken with the place that we decided to stay the day here, then do Crater Lake on Saturday.

We got a very nice cabin, about the size of a small house. There are two bedrooms, one bathroom and a living/dining/kitchen area. The only bow to modernness is cable TV. There's only an Internet connection near the lodge, and our cellphones are on the roaming network now. This is about as disconnected as anyone should get in this day and age. Additionally, most of the outlets in the cabins are of the old two-prong variety. (Note to self: bring a grounding adapter next time.)

While not as large as Crater Lake, Diamond Lake is just as scenic. A distant mountain still has a touch of snow cover in late August, just a few months away from new snowfall that will turn this entire place into a winter wonderland. FOr now, there are boat and bicycle rentals and lots of opportunities for hiking. There is a small creek running just outside my bedroom window (it's called Two Bear Creek) and hearing it makes me think it's raining. But today was sunny and 80, and Saturday should be just as nice.

The paddleboats were very tricky to get in and out of with both me and Tracy almost taking an unexpected trip into the water. But once we got out there we had fun pedaling around the lake.

There are lots of very friendly people staying here. I would imagine that due to the decorations around some of the cabins, that there are some year-round residents here. They do have a general store that caters to them, selling delicacies unknown and obscure (did you know that Jeff Foxworthy has lent his name and face to a brand of beef jerky?). Lots of families with kids and you can bring your dog here too. There are some restaurants here and on the south shore there's even a pizzeria.

I turned in early; we were all huddled up on the couch watching "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" (when in Rome...) and I hit the hay around 9:00 p.m., and I reckon the girls weren't too far behind. As soon as the rest of the crew awakens and gets ready to go, we'll be going to Crater Lake, spending some time there, and then going to Eureka, CA to spend the night with the big trees.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Greetings From The Road!

The traveling road show is underway. I am writing this from a fairly decent guest room at the Courtyard by Marriott in Portland, Oregon. I was actually given a choice to stay in Vancouver, Washington, but passed that one up, not realizing that Washington is right across the river from Portland. Maybe we'll just drive by tomorrow.

I picked up a shiny new Chevrolet Impala as a rental and having driven and ridden in Impalas of various vintages, this is a nice one and it carries on the bowtie tradition quite nicely.

Other than a snag with the takeoff time of the flight (originally scheduled for 5:45 but we left sometime after 7:00 p.m.), the flight was uneventful. We did get two movies, "Spider-Man 3" and "Are We Done Yet" (the latter of which had an honest-to-God Wilhelm Scream in it, and I said to those sitting next to me "THAT WAS A WILHELM SCREAM!" Also some news features AND an episode of "The King Of Queens" to round out the entertainment portion of the flight. Plus, I did Nucky's crossword in the inflight magazine before the plane even left the tarmac. (The only xword book I brought with me was a book of Shortz Saturdays. You think I wanna do well in Brooklyn, or what?)

Tomorrow, Crater Lake, and maybe some pictures thereof. See you all tomorrow!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


We're frankly in awe of the Texas Rangers' performance last night in the first game of their doubleheader in Baltimore. They put up 30 runs in the first game, and miraculously, they did it all in four innings. Five in the fourth, nine in the sixth, 10 in the eighth, and another 6 in the ninth. And in the second game they scored another 9 runs. The 39 runs is thought to be the most ever scored by one team in a doubleheader.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Did You Miss Me On "Millionaire"?

See what I looked like some 25 pounds ago when I sat in Meredith's hot seat in a repeat of my appearance last spring on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". The show airs tomorrow (Thursday) in syndication.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Merv Griffin Show

One of those great Merv moments... RIP, Mr. Griffin.

O Rare Bayn Johnson!

Here's a cute sketch from "The Electric Company" which gives Short Circus player Bayn Johnson a bit of a chance to stretch out. In this Fargo North bit, Fargo (Skip Hinnant) goes on vacation and Kelly (Johnson) gets to take over. Crank (Jim Boyd) comes in and then asks Kelly to decode a message.

Johnson (born 1959) was only on "Electric Company" for two years (1973-1975) and was the replacement for Denise Nickerson. She had previously appeared on television on "What's It All About, World?" (a 1969 ripoff of "Laugh-In") and on Broadway in "Curley McDimple" (playing the title role). Almost the entire Short Circus (except for June Angela) was replaced for the 1975-1976 season and another blonde, tall, willowy Janina Mathews, was her replacement. After TEC, Bayn had a few small parts on TV series (I remember her being on "Switch") and pretty much faded from view after 1978.

Unfortunately, this clip comes from a kinescope, but I'd like to think there are nicer copies in Sesame Workshop's vault... buried under all of Elmo's fan mail.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Miss America On The Move Again

The Miss America Organization has announced today a new multiple-year deal with TLC to broadcast the pageant over the next few years, beginning with the 2008 pageant on January 26.

CMT opted not to continue broadcasting the pageant after horrible ratings the last two years, which not coincidentally were the first two the pageant originated from Las Vegas.

TLC has been a network desperately in search of an identity. Once known as "The Learning Channel", the network then went through a few phases. One was the "let's rip apart our house and redo it" phase, spearheaded by the show "Trading Spaces", a few years of which we actually chronicled here at, until the show got too big and too full of itself. "Trading Spaces" is now dead, killed partly by its former carpenter, Ty Pennington, who added mawkishness to the mix with his "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"; suddenly, it, "While You Were Out", "In A Fix", "Town Haul" and the like were all off the air.

TLC seems now populated by a weird mix of Teutuls, Roloffs and tattoo artists, plus the occasional appearances by grotesquely obese people and Clinton and Stacy. Now, we add Miss America to the mix - and TLC is going to hop on that one big time with a planned reality show about the pageant.

Ugh! I remember when Miss America only required three hours of our time once a year - and came to you live from the sun and fun capital of New Jersey, Atlantic City! Now it's out in Vegas and people don't seem to care. Even the Miss America Walk near the new outlet shops stops somewhere around the time Ron Ely started hosting the pageant, sidestepping that whole Vanessa Williams thing (oddly, losing that crown kicked her career in high gear).

TLC, how's this? MOVE THE FREAKING PAGEANT BACK TO ATLANTIC CITY! That's the only thing that can save it. And you.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Late Addition to the Music Calendar

Tomorrow, at the Holmdel Community United Church of Christ, I will be duetting on "How Great Thou Art" with my partner in all things, Ms. Tracy Meyer. Service starts at 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


The Record Book

Home Runs, Lifetime
Barry Bonds................ 756 *
Hank Aaron................. 755
Babe Ruth.................. 714

* Record achieved with the use of steroids.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"It's Madison Time! HIT IT!"

So happens that ABC Family aired the original "Hairspray" film last night, complete with the "Madison Time" sequence that does not appear in the new movie. (A version is in the Broadway musical, with Corny calling the dance moves.)

Here's a clip from the 1988 movie, cut off during Eddie Morrison's call of the Wilt Chamberlain basketball step. That's a younger and portlier Ricki Lake playing Tracy. If you can read choreography notation, here's how you can do The Madison at home, complete with all the steps for all the custom moves, from the Cleveland Box to the big strong Jackie Gleason.

It's interesting to note that The Madison did not originate in Baltimore, but rather in Columbus, Ohio.

7264: Unravelin' Glavine

Well, all Milwaukee was abuzz as to whether Tom Glavine would get his 300th win last night, but when the Brew Crew tied up the game, the point became sadly moot.

Note to Bill Webb: Cool it with the reaction shots of Mrs. Glavine.

Tom Terrific II tries again Sunday in Chicago to join the 300 club.