Archive for November, 2018

Our 25th Wedding Anniversary at the Big Sur

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

This post is somewhat at odds with the chronological order of recent entries, but I am the owner and editor of this blog, and therefore I can do what I damn well please.

In June my wife and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Not bad for two middle-aged divorcees. We spent part of our honeymoon at the Big Sur in California, and what better place to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary. Big Sur is situated on Highway 1 which is arguably the most picturesque drive in America. Moving onto our itinerary:

Friday: Flew to San Jose after surviving a grungy flight attendant. Rented a car and drove to Embassy Suites, Monterey. Had lunch at the Sand Bar Grill near the harbor where we enjoyed “she crab” soup.

Saturday: Visited the famous Cannery Row in Monterey which was a touch on the cheesy side. Fisherman’s Wharf was likewise. My wife had raved about the Monterey Aquarium, but it’s not a patch on the Atlanta Aquarium. Our first hour was relatively  quiet, but it wasn’t long before we were overrun by hordes of screaming kids.

Sunday: Drove to Big Sur, stopping on the way to undertake the 17 mile Pebble Beach Golf tour. I marveled at the golf courses and oceanic scenery the first time I did the tour, but it was a little underwhelming this time and dominated by too many tourists. Why do Orientals assume they can invade your personal space to take a photograph?

We finally arrived at the Deetjens Big Sur Inn which was to be our accommodation for our stay. In the early 1930s, Helmuth Deetjen, a Norwegian immigrant, purchased 120 acres of land in Castro Canyon and began building a homestead. Before Highway One was completed in 1937, Castro Canyon was a traditional stopover for travelers making their way along the coastal wagon road. The Deetjens welcomed overnight guests, and the Big Sur Inn was born. Over the years Deetjen built Norwegian-style rooms and gave each them a name: we stayed at the cosey Castro Cabin with no WI-FI, no cell phone service  and no TV or radio. It was surreal yet magical. All work was done by Deetjen and friends using locally milled , scavenged redwood.

The Inn exists today because, when Deetjen died in 1972, he left the Inn “to be forever enjoyed by transient guests wanting to experience the peace, friendship, and beauty of this place.” The Inn is a registered National Historic Site. We had dinner at Deetjen’s restaurant and enjoyed a fabulous steak.

Monday: had brunch at Nepenthe where the views from the terrace offer outstanding ocean vistas. Just down the road we visited the Henry Miller Library, author of “Tropic of Cancer.”

Tuesday: We made it to our 25th Anniversary. Drove to Gorda to enjoy all the magnificent scenery that Highway One had to offer. We had our Anniversary dinner at Deetjens, and I was so entranced by my beautiful bride, I can’t remember what I ordered. I know we each had a glass of champagne to celebrate, but it was all a blur after that.

Wednesday: we  decided to take the Big Sur Lighthouse Tour which proved to be very informative and entertaining. The contrast in temperature between the top of the hill where the lighthouse was perched and sea level was incredible. Lunch was partaken at the River Inn which served very tasty baby back ribs.

Thursday: no trip to the Big Sur is complete unless you visit Pfeiffer Big Sur Beach. The shape of the cliffs and archways eroded away by on rushing waves is spectacular. We enjoyed another drive along Highway One, and stopped to have a pleasant lunch at Lucia Bar and Grill. The Henry Miller Library whetted our appetite for a little more culture, and we attended the International Short Film Screening Event.  It was tantamount to stepping back to the Sixties. Hippies, the unwashed and pot smokers were in full attendance strewn around the outdoor theatre facility enjoying the ambience.

Friday: it was unfortunately back to reality as we bade farewell to Deetjens and the Big Sur, and drove to San Jose in readiness to fly home to Atlanta the following day. We walked around San Jose for a while before returning to our minimalist and sterile hotel.  It’s a very disappointing  city with little character to speak of save for a profusion of electric bikes attempting to maim or injure innocent pedestrians. Note to whom it may concern: electric bikes traveling as 15 miles an hour cannot safely share the sidewalk with pedestrians. To paraphrase Ron White: “You can’t fix stupid!!!”

Saturday: Homeward bound. A very enjoyable and memorable trip which enhanced our 25th Wedding Anniversary.


Tottenham Hotspur-An Enigma Wrapped Up in The Old Onion Bag

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

The “Glory Glory Hallelujah” days  when Spurs won the Double in 1961 and rampaged through Europe are confined to history now. That was the last time Spurs won the Title (which became the Premiership in 1992.) Spurs have won nothing since 2008. They have enjoyed impressive moments over the past few seasons, but sadly they flatter to deceive.

Mauricio Pochettino was appointed head coach on May 27 2014, becoming their tenth manager over a 12 year span. In his first season they reached the final of the League Cup only to be beaten by Chelsea. Tottenham were in contention to win the league in 2015-2016, but in the penultimate game of the season they drew 2-2 with Chelsea, handing the title to Leicester City.

The 2016-2017 season  began with a series of 12 unbeaten  league matches that ended with a defeat away to nemesis Chelsea in late November. Spurs only won three of their 13 matches between October and mid-December, and went out of both the Champions League and League Cup. Results improved later in the season, but their earlier inconsistencies meant they fell some way behind eventual Champions, Chelsea, and had to settle for second place.

In 2018, Pocchettino signed a new five-year contract to keep him at White Hart Lane until 2023, at least in theory. In July 2017, White Hart Lane was demolished to be replaced by a new stadium. Construction began in 2016 and the new stadium is scheduled to open during the 2018-19 season. However, here lies the rub. Spurs were earmarked to play their opening fixture at the new stadium in October, but it appears that this will not happen until at least the new year.

There is no doubt that uncertainty over the new stadium has affected the manager and the players. But that would be naïve to lay the blame on their nomadic existence rather than their inconsistent performances on the playing fields. Some days the team resembles a well oiled machine while at other times they perform like a spluttering spark plug.

When they have their first choice eleven on the field firing on all cylinders they are a match for anyone in the Premier League, even in Europe. However, they haven’t learned the art of grinding out results when they are not on the top of their game. The squad has no depth compared to Manchester City or Liverpool. Indeed City could field two teams in the Premiership and hold their own.

Apparently, Pocchetino wanted to sign new players in the summer to strengthen the squad, but was told by ownership that would not happen until the Club was settled in their new stadium. It would therefore appear that the January transfer window will not be available to Pocchetino, and he will have to twiddle his thumbs until next summer before he can sign new players. But will he? Clearly Pocchetino is very unsettled by recent turn of events which is exacerbated by the fact that Real Madrid  recently sacked their manager. Pocchetino has always been on Real’s radar, and he has expressed a wish to manage them one day.

On the playing side, the problem lies with the formation of the team. It is too reliant on three players: Harry Kane, Dele Ali, and Christian Eriksen. The team doesn’t function half as well if any of these players do not bring their ‘A’ game. Take for example the recent match against Manchester City. Ali and Eriksen were on the bench recovering from injuries. The midfield comprised Sissoko, Dier, Dembele and Lamela; none of whom possess a creative bone in their body. Harry Kane was clearly out of sorts without the aid of his two amigos, and resorted to drifting out wide in search of the ball.

Clearly, several of the squad are not Champions League material: Davies, Aurier, Rose, Dimbele, Sissoko, Winks, Lamela, LLorente, Lucas, and Wanyama are reasonable players who would find a home at mid-table teams, but they will not win you any titles. Pocchetino is not blameless either because he was instrumental in assembling this squad. I get a sense that he doesn’t have a “Plan B” when a match is not going according to plan. The style of play is sometimes too predictable and occasionally fragile.

They are probably exiting the group stage of the Champions League very shortly, and could be outside the top four of the Premiership by Christmas. Maybe Pocchetino has taken the team as far as he can, and it may prove mutually  beneficial to  the flawed genius and the club if he was hooked by Real Madrid.