Monday, January 30, 2012

U of W Valentine Party 2012

In 1982 Mike and Susan D'Antuono opted to host a Valentine's Day party with a few other couples that had University of Washington ties. Initially, I am sure, they viewed it as a nice one time only affair. As it turned out, everyone had so much fun that it became an annual, much-looked-forward-to event that would be hosted by a different couple every February.

From a simple dinner this party evolved, for a period of time, into a theme party complete with appropriate and, yes, sometimes inappropriate costumes. The parties included Famous Love Couples, a Pajama Party, a Russia oriented gala coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall and a Favorite Criminal Couples soiree among many other themes.

For few years we dined in nice restaurants including the Dar Maghreb Moroccan Restaurant in Hollywood featuring belly dancers.

The highlight of these now 30+ yearly gatherings for me came in 2002 when the four couples met in Las Vegas to dine, then get into a stretch limo and drive to a wedding chapel to all renew our wedding vows with an Elvis Presley impersonator doing the honors.

Or was it really The King . . .

One of the unique features of this party is that because of all of our other commitments, like my leaving for my coaching job with the Thun Tigers in Switzerland in a few weeks, this event has become a movable feast. It has been hosted in the late Spring and even in the Summer months, February has become a mere suggestion. Regardless of the month, it is always a delight and last Saturday night it was our turn to host it for the sixth time.

Let us meet our guests . . .

Joanne and Paul Sabolic

Sherlyn and Pete Claridge

Mike and Susan D'Antuono

These six people have been such a treat over all of these many years, it is always such a great evening because of the fun/joy that each person brings to the night.

The long and the short of it

There is a reason that Pete earned the nickname "The Spear" as a Wide Receiver at Washington in the late 1960's.

Party Gifts

Laurie ordered these nice glass hearts with each couples names on them as gifts. They seemed to be a big hit with the ladies.


Laurie really outdid herself by cooking several dishes that touched on our European adventures including dishes that featured Italian sausages, Lingonberry jam from Sweden and some fondue from Switzerland.

She did a GREAT job.

Laurie and George Contreras

Laurie worked very hard to make this a fun evening and I believe that she succeeded. I was so very proud of her efforts.

Now, it is on to the Claridge's home for Valentines 2013!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Another Steve Berry Novel

Reading is FUNdamental

This book is another interesting, semi-historical thriller from Steve Berry. This is the fourth in his Cotton Malone series and, quite frankly, I liked the first three installments a tad more.

Now, it's on to The Paris Vendetta!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Occidental College Seniors and EuroBall

Occidental College Head Football Coach Dale Widolff graciously allowed me on campus today to meet with some of the Seniors on his team that have finished their college eligibility and have an interest in continuing their football careers overseas.

Dale has been a fantastic host to me as this was the fourth consecutive year that I been able to talk to Tiger Seniors about the process of landing a job playing American football in Europe.

Meeting Room

Every year I meet with the Tigers in a room adjacent to their game field that also serves as an Occidental sports memorabilia museum. Lots of great items to see while I waited for the players to arrive.

I'm older than this ball

But not as wrinkled.


Five of Oxy's Best and Brightest

We had a great 90 minute session with some very good questions being asked and fielded. These young men have a definite interest in playing in Europe and all received excellent endorsements from their coach.

Are you listening EuroBall teams?


Monday, January 23, 2012

Joe Paterno and the AFC & NFC Championship Games

Joe Paterno, QB/CB
Brown University 1948-1949

JoePa working Xs and Os in 1986

Joe Paterno
Head Football Coach at Penn State

We all woke up to the sad news on Sunday that Joe Paterno had lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 85.

After graduating from Brown, he joined his college coach Rip Engle as an assistant at Penn State University in 1950 finally taking over the program's reins from Engle in 1966. In all, he worked at Penn State for over 60 years!

His 46 seasons as the Nittany Lions' Head Football Coach would become the stuff of legends.

Among his on-the-field highlights are:
A won-loss record of 409-136-3.

The 409 wins are the most by any coach in Division I college history.

He coached 37 teams (24 wins) to Bowl games.

He is the only coach in history to record victories in the five biggest, traditional Bowl games. The Nittany Lions won the Fiesta Bowl six times, the Orange Bowl four times, the Cotton Bowl twice and the Rose and Sugar Bowls once each.

His teams won National Championships in 1982 and 1986.

He coached five undefeated teams in 1968, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 1994.

Until the last few months of his life, he was revered for his off-the-field demeanor and excellence as well, that is the JoePa that I always admired and would like to remember.


Great day of NFL football yesterday as the AFC and NFC Championship games were played with the winners earning bids to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on February 5th.

AFC Championship Game
New England Patriots 23 -
Baltimore Ravens 20

It came down to the last play of the game when Ravens' kicker Billy Cundiff missed on a 32 yard Field Goal attempt to send the game to overtime.

Heartbreaking for Ravens followers but of great joy to Patriots fan Shawn Cordiero in Sweden!

NFC Championship Game
New York Football Giants 20 -
San Francisco 49ers 17
in Overtime

Another instant classic that turned on two punt return miscues by the Niners' Kyle Williams that the Giants turned into 10 points including Lawrence Tyne's game winning 31 yard Field Goal with 7:06 left in overtime.

I like the Giants, based on their defense and the way Eli Manning is playing, to win the re-match of Super Bowl XLII four seasons ago won in upset fashion by the Giants 17-14.

Reading is FUNdamental

Yet another book in the Cotton Malone series with more intrique, history and adventure. I liked it.

A lot.

Finally, I would like to thank Mike D'Antuono for hooking me on the FX Channel's family values series Justified! Just what I needed before taking off to coach in Europe.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

IFL's Lazio Marines Chart Bold, New Waters

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Friday, January 13, 2012

This and That

Less than a month now until I take off to Thun, Switzerland for my fourth season of adventure coaching American football in Europe. The hardest thing right now is making sure that I tie up all of the loose ends here before departing.

Equally hard is not being able to be with the Tigers as we start workouts for the season. It is hard knowing what to stress without any first hand knowledge of our personnel.

The Boxed Set of Swedish DVDs

I enjoyed both reading and then viewing the American film version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

At the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Westlake Village this week I purchased this box set of the three Swedish DVDs covering all three of Swedish author Stieg Larsson's crime noir novels.

We watched TGWTDT on Wednesday night in Swedish with English subtitles. Although I found Swedish a very difficult language to make heads or tails of, I still love to hear the melodic rhythm of this Nordic tongue.

On Thursday night we watched the first half of "The Girl Who Played with Fire." This second DVD gave us a "dubbed in English" option which gladly used. We will finish this action packed film on Friday night.

I am sure that the final DVD, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" will be enjoyed before the weekend is out.

Noomi Rapace is a GREAT Lisbeth Salander!!!

Michael Nyqvist is also an excellent Mikael Blomkvist.


Reading is FUNdamental

Another adventure novel in the Cotton Malone Series, this one had several factions in turmoil including Arabs, Jews, Christians, a U.S. Presidential assasination plot and, oh yes, a cabal of international multi-billionaires bent on controlling the known universe.

Simple, straight ahead stuff really.

Eric Slivoskey

The Slivoskeys in Stockholm
Eric, Estalita and their kids

Eric and his family spent two years in Finland while he coached the Seinakoki Crocodiles in the Finnish league's top division. We have been able to communicate by means of all of the social media and we all met up in Stockholm on a nice Summer afternoon in 2010 just before Laurie and I embarked on a cruise to Tallinn, Estonia and St. Petersberg, Russia.

Nice people.

Eric interviewed me about my experiences coaching in EuroBall and was able to get an article published in a Canadian magazine based on our talk. The magazine is named "Verge Magazine - Travel with a Purpose."

The article is titled "Moving Your Passion Abroad." Here is the link to Eric's article:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Scorched Earth!

Reading is FUNdamental

In the first "Jack Reacher" novel that I read, the protagonist destroyed most of South Dakota but for a righteous cause of course.

All right, how much could there be to destroy in South Dakota really?

In this action packed, page turner given to me by Mike D'Antuono, Reacher does his best to rend asunder most of Nebraska as he continues his way East towards Washington D.C. and the mysterious woman known only as Susan.

Do the ends justify the means?

Yes indeed!!!

Watch out Iowa, you're next!

P.S. After reading this book I can no longer be a Nebraska Cornhusker fan.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jo Nesbø ROCKS!!!

Reading is FUNdamental

Our son Mike gave me this book for Christmas. It was the only "Harry Hole" novel from Norway's top crime fiction noir writer that I had not yet read.

It was one of the six Nesbø books in this series that has been translated into English and it was another great read from to start to finish!

Now, if they would only translate the first two books in the series, written in 1997 (The Bat Man) and 1998 (The Cockroaches) and the one just published (Phantom), I would be a truly happy man.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's Day in Las Vegas

After arriving from the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio late Friday evening, Laurie and I were up at zero-dark-thirty on Saturday for the five hour drive to Las Vegas to visit Jenn, Andy and, of course, our grandson Kevin, a.k.a., Tank.

We had a little hitch in our gitty-up when Laurie's Chrysler PT Cruiser broke down in Covina, about an hour into our trip.

A great AAA tow rig driver, a very friendly and helpful AAA approved repair shop and a quick trip to the local Enterprise Rent-a-Car and we were off again after a two hour break in the action.

Vegas, HERE WE COME!!!


Tank and Grandma

Our visits to Las Vegas are nothing like the commercials, we go there to visit family not to go crazy on the Strip.

Our weekend would be a simple one revolving around family, food and football on Andy and Jenn's brand new 70 inch HD TV!

Saturday was New Year's eve with a solid slate of five college bowl games.

Sunday was New Year's day and it offered us a promising full slate of NFL contests.

Monday was Andy's 38th birthday, is that possible? Besides celebrating Andy's big day, the day was also about college football again as six more games were on tap. The Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl games were especially good ones to watch.

Speaking of the Rose Bowl, 38 years ago when Andy was about to enter the world, I suggested to Laurie that we name him after whoever won the Rose Bowl MVP award. the 1974 Rose Bowl saw Southern California taking on Ohio State with the Buckeyes QB winning both the game and the MVP trophy.

His name? Cornelius Greene.

We opted for Andrew.

The 2011 Rose Bowl's Defensive MVP was TCU's LB Tank Carder, thus Kevin's nickname.

Since Mike and Vanessa still have not announced a name for thier son who will be born this March, I would like to point out the two MVPs of Monday's 2012 Wisconsin-Oregon Rose Bowl to them.

Both from Oregon, on offense it was WR Lavasier Tuinei while the defensive winner was LB Kiko Alonso.

Lavasier Contreras.

Kiko Contreras.

Just saying . . .

Tank seemed to like all of the games

Tank bonding with his Dad

Getting our "Game Faces"
on for the NFL games

Jenn teaching Tank
the finer points of the IPhone

A future Legacy H.S. Longhorn

Someday Tank will hopefully be a linebacker at his local high school if the family doesn't move from their current house.

Never too early for school pride.

Big Guy, Little Guy

Jenn is already working on
Kevin's reading skills

You just have to have a
New Year's Day T-shirt

It was a "Colorful Weekend"

After three great days, it was back to SoCal to pick up the car and get back to our normal routines after a fun week of traveling.

But first . . .

We couldn't hit the road on
an empty stomach now could we?

Fried Chicken and Waffles

The two chicken breasts were moist and the waffles were infused with bacon . . . America, WHAT A COUNTRY!!!