Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sicilian Invasion of SoCal

I have been remiss in my duties as blogmaster the past few weeks so today is a good day to catch up on the activities of the last two weeks. Rather than post everything in one blog I will post by order of key events.

The first fun event was the arrival at Los Angeles International Airport of two of Sicily's brightest, best and most enchanting ladies Cecilia Mangano and Roberta D´Antona.

They were on a two week vacation having already spent time in San Francisco and Las Vegas before moving on to San Diego and New York City after two days in the greater Los Angeles megalopolis.

After picking them up at LAX, our first stop was . . . 

Venice Beach 

Our connection to Roberta and Cecilia was, of course, through our two seasons of coaching American football in Catania, Sicily.

The Elephants star Wide Receiver, Claudio Mangano, is Cecilia's brother and Roberta's significant other.

Venice Beach Skateboard Park 

We were entertained by several daredevils near the Pacific Ocean.

Sharing their first ever Frozen Banana
Roberta on the left, Cecilia on the right

If you ever come to SoCal and use me as a tour guide, be ready to eat.

A lot.

After about 90 minutes of checking out all of the, shall we say, interesting sights and people that Venice Beach had to offer, we were off to our next stop, Beverly Hills.

Rideo Drive to be exact

As famous and iconic as this high end shopping street is, I had never been there.

Bring your credit card.

"Heaven, I'm in Heaven . . ."

Shiny Things

Bling . . . LOOK BUT DO NOT TOUCH!!!

Where else but Rodeo Drive would
you see a Bugatti parked on the street?

I was surprised that they showed incredible sales resistance as the ladies did not enter even one store.


As is typical when friends from Europe come to America, Roberta and Cecilia carried a shopping list for products to bring back for family and friends back in Italy. Thus we were off to West Hollywood to find a store that sells special tanning lotions for Claudio.

We found the store
and the tanning lotion 

Only in West Hollywood

This wound up being a quick stop that transitioned easily into our next stop . . .


The famous Chinese Theater 

The theater's courtyard sports the footprints and signatures in cement of hundreds of Hollywood's most illustrious movie stars. This is a must for anyone visiting L.A.

Why the barricades? 

As it turned out, the Chinese Theater was hosting the premier of the movie Expendables 2. Thus, the closest we could get to the courtyard was the sidewalk across the street from the theater.

A bump in the road to be sure, but we could come back the next day and see it.

Time to eat dinner in East L.A.

One of SoCal's best Hole-in-the-Walls 

We shared a Manuel's Special

I always believed that this was the biggest burrito that they served full of equal parts pork, guacamole, rice and beans.

I was wrong.

The four guys sitting next to us ordered a Foot Long Burrito which was at least twice the size of our burrito. It should be billed as the Meter Long Burrito.

As Cecilia and Roberta said, they were not eating many times in a day but when they did eat, they wanted to eat "American Crazy Food."

They came to the right place.

We weren't done yet.

At Old Pasadena's Cheescake Factory

After the short drive to Pasadena, we decided that a dessert was needed.

It was oh so good for us too!

My Mother had very generously offered the ladies a room in her house in San Marino for their two nights in Los Angeles as a cost cutting move for their stay. They were pretty tired, more from their time in Las Vegas than anything else I suspect, and crashed relatively early.

Day II we awoke at a decent hour and were off to . . .

Hollywood Movie Magic
at Universal Studios 

Of course, the first order of business was the tram ride that took us on the tour of the backlots where all of the movie magic happens.


Chicks Dig Minions . . .

. . . But NOT Jaws!!!


It may have been one of the worst movies made in the history of Universal Studios but it is one fun water show at Universal Stuidos featuring water, fire, high dives and lots of very wet spectators.

"Quiet on the Set!!!" 

Biggest thing to hit Hollywood from
Italy since Loren and Lollobrigida!!! 

After a solid day at the studios, we returned to the Chinese Theater only to get shut out again due to yet another premiere, this time Sparkle. Thus they were not able to see the courtyard.

I didn't even know that they still did old time premieres anymore.

Philippe's Original French Dip

Yet another L.A. culinary landmark. We had to eat.

Olvera Street
A trademark Mexican shopping street

Again, it was look but don't touch/buy.

I was amazed.

Back at the Cheesecake Factory

Another desssert was called for. Who was I to say no?

So, our two days of fighting intense L.A. traffic were over other than to drop them off at L.A.'s Union Station early the next morning for their train ride to San Diego and their next adventure.

I had a good time. I hope that they did too.

Reading is FUNdamental!!!

I am a big fan of Martin Walker's character, Bruno the police chief of a small, rural city in France.

This is the fourth and most recent installment in the series. I loved it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Las Vegas Weekend

Last weekend we traveled to North Las Vegas to visit Andy and Jenn while celebrating Tank's first birthday.

Great Aunt Linda sent
this fine set of baloons

Kevin was prepared for
the big weekend except . . .

He needed a good looking shirt

For us, it was another GREAT
weekend with both Grandsons

What's this?

Tank stripped down for his first birthday cake mini-style.

Hands only, no utensils needed


Practicing Italian sign language

Birthday Bonanza

Some cake for the rest of us

Kevin's cousin Jacob
seemed to like the goings on

Lots of kids were present

Michael, Jacob, Kevin and Andy

Nice bib, er, I mean cape

We had a GREAT time and can't begin to tell you how much we enjoy being with these two little people.

The Thun Tigers Invade Las Vegas
Toni Bettschen and Adrian Jüsy

Saturday night, after Kevin's birthday party, I was off to the New York New York casino on the Vegas strip to meet two of our Tigers who were winding up a week in Sin City.

It was good to see them and share a beer while talking some football with them again.

Sunday Night Action

Months ago this game was scheduled to be Real Madrid vs. Juventus but the Italian team had to back out thus the Mexican team replaced them for this game on a very hot Las Vegas evening.

After warming up at the Hofbrähaus for a few hours, Andy, Mike and I headed to Sam Boyd Stadium for what turned out to be a very entertaining evening of soccer/futbol.

The game ended in favor of Real Madrid by a 2-1 count. The two tipsy guys in front of us were funny and as entertaining as the game itself.

All in all, a FANTASTIC weekend.


Coach Mike Contreras
with the snapping stick

I got a call from our son Mike on Tuesday asking me to help his Newbury Park H.S. Varsity team for the rest of the week while their defensive line coach was out of action for a few days.

Working Fit Drill 

It was good to get back out on the field and work with yet another good group of coaches and players if only for four days.

I definitely enjoyed this short but sweet coaching assignment!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons Sign a QB

Over the weekend I received the very good news that the Falcons had reached an agreement with an import QB for our 2012-13 season.

We have signed a QB who played his high school football just up the road from us at Leigh H.S. in San Jose, California. He was the stasrting Varsity QB there for three seasons.

After starting for two years in JC ball at West Valley College, also in San Jose, he transferred Kansas Weslyan University.  

Doug Webster
Kansas Weslyan University 

Doug was a two year starter for the Coyotes and enjoyed a stellar Senior season in 2010.

He can pass

In 2010, Doug threw for 2,938 yards while completing 63% of his passes.

He had an incredible TD pass to Interception ratio of 34 TD passes to only 5 Interceptions!

He can run too!

In 2010, Doug also ran for 814 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and scoring 8 TDs.

In two seasons as the Coyotes starting QB, Doug accounted for 5,705 yards of Total Offense and an astounding 59 TDs!!!

This is going to be a REALLY
good season for the Falcons!!!

Doug is a large lad who stands 6'3" and weighs in at 195 lbs.

I believe, based on his highlight tape and the glowing recommendations that we got from all of his former coaches, that we signed a good one in Doug.

Here is a link to Doug's highlight tape:

The Adventure continues . . .

Santa Barbara's Fiesta Days

It's been a great week since I last posted. We'll start with last Thursday's trip up to Santa Barbara to partake in their annual Fiesta or at it is officially called . . .

It happens every Summer during
the first weekend in August

It is a fine excuse for a five day street party celebrating this splendid coastal city's Spanish heritage.

Street stalls are everywhere
selling everything including . . . 

Not again, MORE fans

Young Flamenco dancers
were performing in the main square

Laurie was decked out for the occasion

She still works three days a week in Santa Barbara and we met for lunch . . .

. . . and shopping

One of the Fiesta's cottage industries is the making of confetti eggs to smash on top of friend's and stranger's heads.

Good ice breakers.

Fancy ones sell 4 for $1

Great coloring ideas

Plain ones go 5 for $1 

Lots of eggs everywhere 

Lots of work for 25¢

Lots of good food as well
at reasonable prices 

Mariachi Bands were . . . 

. . . all over town

One of S.B.'s best places to eat
and enjoy a STIFF adult beverage 

After lunch with Laurie, I decided to go for a long walk down to Santa Barbara's beach area.

Dolphins at the entry to the Pier 

Beach Volleyball is a must,
especially during the London Olympics

Cartwheels are fun too!

These horses will take part in the
big parade in town on Friday

It was a very good day indeed!

If you are ever in California the first weekend in August, visit Fiesta in Santa Barbara.