Monday, January 25, 2010

Everyday Life in Camarillo

Every day in Camarillo is not a celebration. Unlike Catania, some weeks go by and not one fireworks display is seen anywhere in the night sky. Thus one must improvise.

First up was a soccer game at Rio Mesa against Pacifica with our son Mike.

Can you guess which shadow
belongs to Mike?

Spartans on a break-away

Defending a Pacifica Corner Kick

Not a good day for the Spartans as Pacifica outplayed us and won rather easily.

El Niño

El Niño is a weather condition that hits Southern California about every five or six years.

2010 is indeed an El Niño year. This means lots of rain, tornadoes and even water spouts off our nearby coast.

At Casa Contreras, El Niño means cleaning out the culvert behind our bougainvillea plants so that the hard charging water coming off our hillside can safely avoid flooding our back yard.


A couple of shovels, some rakes and rain gear . . .

Mission accomplished, the culvert was cleared as we faced a week of rainstorms with no damage to our home!


The Galloping Ghost
Dylan Moore

We had our good friend Dylan over for dinner the other night along with his Mom, Cyndy, and Grandmother, Debi.

Food, Wine and Friends

Good times don't have to be spectacular if any of the above three factors are in place.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Today was the day of the AFC and NFC Conferenece Championship games to determine who would play in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami in two weeks.

First up was the AFC with the Indianapolis Colts (15-2) hosting the surprising New York Jets (11-7). The difference here was the Colts run defense and Peyton Manning at the helm for Indianapolis. Manning's 3 TD passes were enough to put the Colts into their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history with a 30-17 victory over the Jets.

In their first two Super Bowl appearances theColts represented the City of Baltimore when they lost Super Bowl III (1969) to the New York Jets 7-16 and won Super Bowl V (1971) over the Dallas Cowboys 16-13. After moving to Indianapolis, they defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI (2007).

Now for the main event, the Bret Favre led Minnesota Vikings (13-4) at the New Orleans Saints (14-3). The Saints were a three point favorite at kickoff mostly because of their home field advantage.

Laurie was primed and ready
from the git-go!

Such INTENSITY watching
a great see-saw battle!!!

A break in the action for a Birthday Timeout

Mike is holding the new traditional birthday cupcakes as Scott Borchart had a birthday yesterday and Vanessa has one tomorrow.


What a GREAT game!

14-7 Minnesota after one period

14-14 at the half

21-21 after three quarters

28-28 at the end of regulation!


A few shots of our favorite Saint, #55, OLB Scott Fujita courtesy of both the City of Camarillo Chapter and Rio Mesa H.S. Chapter of the Scott Fujita Fan Club

Helping bury Favre

Pressuring Favre

Chasing a loose ball

Chasing another loose ball

Sorry Adrian and Brett,
Scott's all over this one!

This fumble recovery was HUGE just before the Half as the Saints' Reggie Bush had just fumbled away a punt DEEP in Saints territory.

The Vikings' Adrian Peterson fumbled the ball back to Scott and the Saints on Second and Goal at the FOUR YARD LINE with less than a minute left in the second quarter.


The Saints won the coin flip and drove down the field after a fine Kickoff Return by Pierre Thomas.

It finally came down to a fourth down and a 40 yard Field Goal attempt by Saints' kicker Garrett Hartley.


SAINTS WIN 31-28 in O.T.!!!




Scott on the left behind Drew Brees on the Victory Platform

Their were two keys to the game.

The first key was the obvious Turnover Margin advantage. The Vikings lost three fumbles and Favre threw two interceptions, the last one with seconds left in regulation on Third Down with the Vikings in Field Goal range. The Saints meanwhile only had one lost fumble and no interceptions.

The other key was the Saints ability to protect Drew Brees while the Vikings' line allowed Favre to be knocked down several times, many on just plain wicked hits.

This will be the Saints franchise's first trip ever to a Super Bowl.

So Super Bowl XLIV is set for Sunday, February 7 in Miami and for the first time since 1993 will feature the #1 seeds from both the AFC and NFC.

I see on the Internet that the 16-2 Colts are already being touted as three point favorites over the 15-3 Saints.


By the way, if you want to go to the game in person go to the NFL Ticket Exchange website. They have 2,260 tickets on sale ranging from an endzone seat in the upper deck for $1,865 to a seat in a luxury box on the 30 yard line for a mere $180,800!

Not a misprint, I did say . . . $180,800!!!

What, $180,000 was not enough, you REALLY NEED that extra $800?

So much for the average Saints or Colts fan from attending the game in person.

Regardless . . . GEAUX SAINTS!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI New Blog Fan

This just in from our highly placed Protestant insider, Jason Johnson . . .


Pope Benedict XVI

Well maybe His Holiness is not a big fan of this blog in particular but MSNBC reported today that he is urging Roman Catholic priests to use blogs and all other forms of modern communication and technology to get the Church's word out to the multitudes!

Laurie, having a bad hair day,
by Galileo's grave in 2008

In a related story, Italy's RAI 3 television station reports that groans have been heard all day coming from the grave of Galileo Galilei located inside the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Preliminary 2010 Hässleholm Hurricanes Football Schedule

The Swedish American Football Federation announced its second preliminary 2010 regular season 10 game schedule today. Hope this begins to help those of you who are planning on traveling to Sweden to catch a game or two this Spring/Summer.

Remember to contact me FAR in advance to try to get you prime tickets to one of our games.

Changes are still possible but here is the
Division I Södra schedule:

May 8 Limhamn Griffins 1:00 p.m.
May 16 at Lugi Vikings 2:00 p.m.
May 22 Ekeby Grey 1:00 p.m.
May 30 at Ystad Rockets 2:30 p.m.

June 5 Oskarshamn Dockers 1:00 p.m.
June 13 at Carlshamn Oakleaves 1:00 p.m.
June 19 Kristianstad C4 Lions 1:00 p.m.

Six Week Summer Break

August 8 at Oskarshamn Dockers 1:30 p.m.
August 14 Carlshamn Oakleaves 1:00 p.m.
August 21 at Kristianstad C4 Lions 1:00 p.m.


Monday, January 18, 2010

The NFL Playoffs and Anthony Bourdain

The NFL continued its march to the Super Bowl this past weekend with four Divisional playoff games.

In the Saturday NFC game, it was our beloved New Orleans Saints (13-3) at home against the Chicago-St. Louis-Phoenix-Arizona Cardinals (11-6) fresh off of a wild 51-45 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in a Wildcard game.

Things got off to a rocky start as the Cardinals Tim Hightower gashed the Saint defense on the first play of the game on a 70 yards TD run!

The Saints were up to the challenge as the New Orleans offense scored three TDs in the first quarter and added two more in the second period to reach the half leading 35-14!!!

The unlikely hero/X-Factor for the Saints . . .

Reggie Bush???

I would have to say that this was his best game ever as a pro.

He for once ran with authority (5 carries for 84 yards and a TD), caught the ball well out of the backfield (4 for 24 yards) and returned 3 punts for 109 yards including an explosive/spectacular 83 yards one for a TD just for giggles.

Kurt Warner

The Cardinal QB has always been one of the GREAT stories in NFL history and I believe he deserves to someday be in the Hall-of-Fame.

Unfortunately, this image will be a lasting one from this game. He had just thrown an interception, was trying to make the tackle and got lit up by Saints DL Bobby McCray. Warner garners such great respect in the league that it seemed as if all of the Saints wanted to apologize for the clean, legal but devastating hit.

This happened just before halftime, Warner missed one series but was back at it the entire second half.

Final Score: New Orleans 45 - Arizona 14

As for the other three games, in the other NFC Divisional playoff game it was:
Minnesota (12-4) 34 - Dallas (12-5) 3
(Sorry Matteo)

In the two AFC Divisional playoff games it was:
Indianaplois (14-2) 20 - Baltimore (10-7) 3
New York Jets (10-7) 17 - San Diego (13-3) 14

The Conference Championship game will be played this coming Sunday. The match-ups are:

NFC Championship
Minnesota (13-4) at New Orleans (14-3)

AFC Championship
New York Jets (11-7) at Indianapolis (15-2)

My best guesses?

In the NFC, my heart wants the Saints to win but I am VERY concerned about the Vikings' relentless pass rush. My head says that "Defense Wins Championships!" and if that is true, I'd have to favor the Vikings.

Much has been made of Brett Favre throwing an 11 yards TD pass with 1:55 left in the game and the Vikings winning 27-3. Cowboys' LB Keith Brooking went off calling it ". . . totally classless and disrespectful!".

My first thought, Cowboys shut up and play defense. It was not the Vikings fault that you were so poorly prepared defensively.

My MUCH BIGGER second thought, that no one on talk radio has mentioned, is what is Brett Favre still doing in the game at this point? Do you remember Carson Palmer getting his knee rolled up accidently in the playoffs a few years ago? I know that it was at the very beginning of a game vs. Pittsburgh but my point is why do you still have the key to your season out there being exposed to potential injury long after the game is out of reach?

Karma can be an unforgiving wench.

I'll go with my heart, home field advantage and positive karma as I pick the Saints to go to the Super Bowl in Miami.

In the AFC, it is hard to pick against Peyton Manning but I like the Jets' playoff swagger.

Since I was an AFL fan in the 1960's and the Jets won Super Bowl III with Joe Namath's swagger, I'm going to say . . . "JETS, JETS, JETS!!!" A great Jets defense and an outstanding offensive line make my sentimental pick easier. The QB match up of Peyton Manning vs. Mark Sanchez doesn't.

Sports trivia: Name the five NFL franchises that have never been in a Super Bowl game? Put your answer on the comments tab below.

On the Travel Channel
Anthony Bourdain - NO RESERVATIONS

I watched an episode of this show this week and it featured the food and culture of Sicily. Most of it centered on the west side of Sicily featuring the cities of Palermo and Trapani as well as the nearby islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria.

In Palermo

Anthony had a spleen sandwich here, so did I!

Later as Anthony walked around Palermo, he stopped in a tailor shop that featured two tailors playing their mandolins rather than stitching new clothes together. By shear accident, I videotaped these same two gentleman at play two years ago with Christie and Jason.

The Taormina Film Festival

When the show did finally go to the east side, it stopped to have a picnics on Mt. Etna's crater and at the Greek Theatre in Taormina just before the Film Festival got started.

While they did do a nice segment on Sicilian cannoli, they failed to highlight the gelato.

How can they do a Food/Travel show on Sicily and not go to Jonathan's Panineria, Etoile d'Or or Al Tubo's, nor eat horse meat and not savor Spaghetti al Nero?

I think we need to do a Sicilian insider's Good/Travel show for American TV!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rumor Mill

The NFL's Seattle Seahawks suprisingly fired their Head Coach, Jim Mora, after just one season yesterday.

The hot rumor this morning is that USC Head Coach Pete Carroll is about to accept a five year contract worth $35,000,000 to coach the Seahawks. Now this rumor sounds just peachy keen to me!

The second and by far more disturbing rumor of the day would send current University of Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian back to USC to replace Carroll.

Sarkisian was a long time assistant at USC before leading the Huskies to a solid turnaround in 2009 in his first year at the Husky helm.

On sale at Barnes and Noble

I may need to buy it AND one in Swedish, if they have it, to fully express myself if Sarkisian leaves the UW for USC!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Alabama 37 - Texas 21

What a wonderful day in Pasadena for the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship Game between #1 Alabama (13-0) and #2 Texas (13-0)!

A cloudless, warm (77˚F = 25˚C), sunny day with lots of friendly banter between the fans of the two combatants leading up to the 5:00 p.m. pre-game festivities.

Greed was the only negative vibration in attendance this fine day!

Parking was NOT cheap

One large corporation, that is the take-off point for the free shuttles from Old Town Pasadena to the Rose Bowl, even sent their workers home at noon in an effort to free up more of these parking spots for the revelers.

As I said in my last post, this was to be my fifth BCS National Championship Game. How things have changed.

In 1999, the first ever BCS National Championship Game was between Tennessee and Florida State at the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. When I arrived at the Phoenix Airport that day, there were several people trying to scalp tickets at $10-$15 over their face value of $100. . .life was so simple then! Tennessee was the big winner that day.

In 2004, we were off to the BCS National Championship Game Sugar Bowl in New Orleans to watch LSU beat Oklahoma. The ticket now had a face value of $150.

2006 brought the BCS National Chamopionship to Pasadena's Rose Bowl as Texas upset USC. The tickets now sold for $175 face value.

The 2007 BCS National Championship Game was the first one that now was now separate from the BCS's original Big-Four Bowl Games. It was held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona a week after the tremendous Fiesta Bowl was held there when Boise State stunned Oklahoma. The price of a ticket to watch Florida dismantle Ohio State was now up to$325!

Now here was a stunner, yesterday the price of a ticket to the BCS National Championship Game was "only" $275! While the ticket's face value was down from three years ago, it must be remembered that the Rose Bowl has seats for about 30,000 more fans than the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Want a beer? $8 please. They were due to cut off sales of alcohol at the end of halftime. No problem, they just flat out ran out of beer before the end of the first half!

Pre-Game with the Bama Faithful

We had a GREAT time with these Crimson Tide fans that we met at the pre-game festivities.

On the left is Jake and his Dad Jimmy. Jake just graduated from Alabama as did his Dad many years ago. Good people, I just wish I had caught their last names.

In the middle are Tonya and John McGuire, two more die hard Bama fans and very funny people.

On the right are Ritchie and Paige Russell. Again, awesome and Crimson! Ritchie's parents, Frank and Mary secured tickets for Mark and I to the 2003 LSU at Alabama game. . .


Jimmy's Pants

WOW! Red pants with little Elephants embroidered all over them.

Why didn't I have a pair like these the last two years when I was coaching the Catania Elephants???

The Rose Bowl Stadium
with Mark Johnson

As predicted, Mark was in full Husky purple. I opted for subtelty when I decided to wear only my hat commemorating Washington's 1960 National Championship.

When we were asked about wearing Washington gear and not Texas or Alabama oriented clothes, I simply responded, "The Tide and Horns are both fortunate that we lost those 7 games this season or we would be here kicking both of their sorry asses!!!"

They universally laughed and suddenly we had several new friends in the South.

Jason "Lessons in Positology" are starting to rub off on me I think.

Mike Contreras trying to crash the party

Mike showed up sans a ticket and hoped to buy one from a scalper if the price was right.

It wasn't, as the cheapest ticket he could find, after the game had already started, was being offered at a "mere" $300, way too rich for his newly married blood.

For me, the fun things about college football are the passionate fans, the color, the traditions and the pagentry. I enjoy all of these things at least as much as the game itself.

For example. . .

Roll Tide!

Is that an Elephant on her head or is she just happy to see me?

What if I had one of these hats with a pair of Jimmy's pants in Catania?

New Catania Head Coach Mel Galli, are you listening???

Hook 'Em Horns!

Now she IS very cute but how often do you see a guy wearing chaps to a game?

Probably a lot in Austin, Texas I would hazard to guess.

A Texas fan taking exception to
Bama Court Jester, John McGuire

Lots of giggles here, death if it were Chelsea and Man U!

But, the Winners are. . .

The Bama Pimp and his Crimson Ho

Texas had no answer for these two suspects of interest.

Texas linemen warming up

Two old friends at another BIG Game!

Here come the Longhorns!

Bama Pride Counters!


Bama's Freshman RB #3 Trent Richardson getting the Tide out of poor field position.

For the most part, this was a game about two very stout defenses, Texas' opportunistic Special Teams and one injured QB.

Texas Senior QB Colt McCoy went down with a pinched nerve on the first drive of the game, BIG ISSUE! I thought that his back-up, Freshman Garrett Gilbert, did OK given the situation he was thrust into. Unfortunately, nerves, a strange throwing motion plus several dropped passes did not help the Horns.

The key of the game for me was Texas' decision to try to put together a drive, down 17-6, deep in their own territory with about 25 seconds left in the half when their offense had been really struggling instead of sitting on it and trying to regroup at halftime.

The result of a second down Shovel Pass was that the soft toss ricocheted off the receiver into the hands of Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus who rumbled 28 yards for a Crimson Tide TD with only 3 seconds left in the half. That made the score 24-6 Alabama with "Big Mo" wearing a bright red outfit.

To the Longhorn's credit, they would score the first two TDs of the second half to narrow the Alabama lead to 24-21 with 6:15 left in the contest.

I really hoped that this was not Mike
sneaking into the game.

Happy to report that it wasn't him!

Let's see now, 94,906 times $275 per ticket equals. . .


That's $26,099,150!!!

Don't forget the $6 for a Cinnabun or the $3.75 for a small bottle of water.

Crimson Tide RB Trent Richardson finishes off Texas.

This score from two yards out, with 47 seconds left in the game, iced it for Alabama and irritated some of the Longhorn fans around us.

Quit crying and play better goal line defense if you ask me.

Nobody did.

The Final Score

It's Over and It's Official!!!

Alabama wins it's 13th National Championship!

Title in hand, the Bama Crew
was pumped up to say the least!


I leave you with this bit of college pageantry.
They may have lost the game but
the Texas band was awesome!